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Valkyrie Magazine and RPGnet are happy to provide this review.

Fire, Fusion and Steel
Technical Architecture Book
Traveller: The New Era Rules Supplement
[sterling]9.95 - 160pp

Fire, Fusion and Steel is designed to allow Traveller referees to do one of two things: it allows you to modify anything you want if you are running a Traveller campaign using the 'official' background, or it allows you to design equipment to use with a campaign based on a completely different background. This book is not for the faint-hearted, as it is packed with tables, charts and text allowing you to create anything from an individual bullet to a starship.

The book is subdivided into three sections - major systems (starships, vehicles and aircraft), subsystems (controls, power plants, etc.) and weapons. You also get a copy of the T:TNE upgrade booklet which includes updates and errata for the Traveller rulebook, as well as half a page of errata for Fire, Fusion and Steel!

The major systems section is probably the easiest part of the book to use. The design sequences are fairly linear and easy to follow. The ship-building rules are the same ones from Brilliant Lances (as you'd expect) and the aircraft and vehicle design rules follow on logically from them.

The subsystems section covers the widest variety of material in the book. It begins by dealing with materials from which to create all your equipment. It deals with faster-than-light travel, detailing a number of options which can be used instead of T:TNE's jump drive (or as well as it - alien technology doesn't have to conform to expectations), such as stutterwarp and stargates.

The rest of the section runs through the sort of subsystems that you might expect to find in the vehicles you can create in the major systems section. Then you turn the page and find the cybernetics chapter - thus proving, once and for all, that there really is no future so dark that it can't get a little darker. Now, at last, you can play Traveller with smartgun links and skill chips hardwired into your soul.

I haven't delved much into the weapons design rules yet, because there is so much else to look at first. The rules are logically sub-divided, starting with small-arms and working up to starship weaponry. It all gets pretty technical (there are three pages on how lasers work, for example) and there is an awful lot of it to go through. There are appendices giving you some standard weapons to fit aboard starships, and some basic design examples.

Conclusion: Fire, Fusion and Steel is a tool kit, nothing more. If you want to modify your Traveller campaign at all, this book will be invaluable.

Review by: Dave Elrick

Product Supplied by Hobbygames

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