2300ad was originally published in 1988 by Game Designer’s Workshop. It was a spin off of their popular Twilight: 2000 line, and as the title suggests it was set 300 years after World War III broke out in the late 1990’s. 2300ad’s back-story was developed using a grand strategic simulation the developers played out, each one taking control of one or more nations. The result was a mildly dystopian, relatively hard sci-fi setting that combined the atmosphere of movies like Blade Runner, Outland, or Alien with an analogue to age-of-sail colonialism. In spite of some major setbacks (as the line taking a somewhat jarring turn to Cyberpunk to follow the gaming market of the time, the fact that its back-story was largely invalidated by the fall of the Soviet Union, and the demise of GDW), the game has retained a loyal following. A number of fan-sites have sprung up, the biggest of which are still running: “Pentapod’s World of 2300” and Laurent Esmiol’s “Etranger” site (to name my two favorites). There was an ill-fated d20 version that only ever made it into .pdf form, written by Colin Dunn. While I really didn’t care for the Traveller 20 ruleset 2320 was written for, the book was otherwise excellent. Colin has managed to secure a deal to get 2300ad re-published, this time under Mongoose’s Traveller license.
I’ll warn you, this review is really long. I’ve broken it up by chapter, so if you’ve got a specific area of concern you can just scroll down to the relevant heading. I’ve also got “Comparisons to the Original” and “Pros” and “Cons” at the bottom for those who don’t want the level of detail I like to provide.
“DAMN that thing is big!” was my first thought when I took my copy out of the box. The book is a 310+ page hardcover, with evocative if somewhat dark cover art (appropriate given the dim red sun illuminating the scene). It definitely favors substance over style: the text is dense but readable, margins are decent, and artwork is sparse. Most of the art is functional: deck plans or planet maps, but I’d say the rest of the artwork ranges from decent to pretty good (all of it is black & white). With one or two exceptions the tables are well done if a bit plain. The book has numerous “side-bar” style anecdotes that either add extra description or can serve as adventure seeds.
The book opens with a short introduction to the setting, giving a quick overview of the essentials of the 2300ad and since the book is officially a part of the traveler line how it relates to Traveller. Other than the core rules, it really doesn’t. The different technological assumptions from standard Traveller are described, which can come in handy if you have one of the other sourcebooks and want to incorporate them into your 2300 campaign. Meson guns and the various gravity-related Traveller technologies are absent, and starships use a “stutterwarp” drive that (depending on local gravity fields) can work as either an STL or FTL drive.
The original near star list (based on the Gliese II survey from the late 60’s) is retained in spite of more accurate astronomical data being available. Given the fact that this book is essentially Colin’s solo project I’d say that was the best decision possible, as current stellar data would require a major re-write of the whole setting.
Now we get into a more detailed telling of the 280+ years between the present & the titular start date of the setting. The late 90’s NATO vs. the Commies slugfest is dumped in favor of a somewhat nebulous series of unfortunate events in the middle 21st century. The details are vague, owing to the destruction of digital official records and possible government suppression. What is known is that it involved a limited nuclear exchange, cyberterrorism, economic & social collapse, and the odd pandemic or two.
France somehow managed to avoid the worst parts of “Twilight” and eventually became 2300ad’s closest equivalent to a superpower. Much of the remainder of the 21st century is spent recovering, spurred by a new space race spearheaded by the French (in part to divert a planet-killer asteroid). Stutterwarp is discovered in the early 2100’s, by the middle of that century various nations are sending starships to explore different star systems, with the first colonies sprouting up later in mid-to late part of the century.
The 2200’s are marked by rapid expansion, in part fueled by perfection of DNA modification techniques to help the colonists adapt to the often hostile conditions of the Frontier worlds. Most of 2300AD’s alien species are encountered in the middle of this century, and the 23rd century closes out on a bit of a down note. Economic downturns and wars mark the 2280’s & 90’s, culminating in the collapse of the French economy & government. The resurgent nationalism that marked post-Twilight Earth is fading in the colonies, and at the dawn of the 24th century the balance of power is shifting in unpredictable ways.
The chapter closes out by summarizing the traditional international rivalries & co-operations.
This chapter starts out with a short story that I think does an excellent job of describing life in the Core. It reminds me of a combination of Ghost in the Shell with touches of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 411 or Minority Report. We next get a more detailed run-down of Core world lifestyle & culture. The Core Worlds are Earth and Tirane (the oldest human colony world in the nearby Alpha Centauri system). They contain most of the human population, and life there is simultaneously idyllic & stifling. The average life span is 100 years, most people are college-educated, and the typical work-week is 20 hours. This is all in exchange for 25% unemployment and a total lack of privacy.
Important planets and space stations in both the Sol & Alpha Centauri systems are described. Some changes are made to the standard Traveller Universal World Profile (UWP). The starport code is replaced by the interface code. The combination of the lack of anti-grav technology and the fact that stutterwarp drives don’t work in close proximity to planets means that other means (such as rockets or space elevators) must be used to get to & from orbit. Tech Level in 2300AD refers to local manufacturing capability rather than knowledge. A TL 5 world isn’t filled with bumpkins who have never seen a laptop computer, it just means that laptops have to be imported from somewhere else. We also get introduced to the Universal Nation / Settlement Profile (UNP / USP). This is like a UWP, except that the UNP / USP’s first 3 digits are land area, transportation infrastructure, and communications infrastructure.
The major nations and all the Tirane settlements are given write ups, and there’s a table that lists all the nations by region, with the nations primary language. Nations are broken up into 4 tiers, determined mainly by interstellar presence. The nation table could have used some better formatting: it’s hard to tell at first glance that it’s actually two columns, and where the region breaks are, at first glance.
There’s also a couple of editing errors. The population exponents are off on a couple of nations (I don’t think Germany’s population is supposed to be 50,000), and there is no UWP or map for Tirane. The UNP / UWP errors are pretty easy to fix based on reading the descriptions. From the city sizes, I can tell that Germany’s population is probably 50 million instead, and Tirane is a near-twin of Earth so I’d just drop the interface type & population code 1 digit, and possibly the law level. I personally thought Tirane was always a tad boring, and it’s not like there’s much chance for exploring the undiscovered country there anyway so the lack of a map isn’t a deal-breaker for me.
Like the previous chapter, this one starts out with a short story involving the former neighbor of the point of view character from the last chapter. Again, this does a great job of outlining life in the 24th century frontier as well as introducing the new transhumanist elements. We next learn about the more common dangers of the frontier (disease & environmental differences) and the necessity of DNA modification. We also learn of the prejudice that’s developed in the Core against modified humans. This seems to come from a combination of the Core’s emphasis environmentalism & contact with the Pentapods (who play with DNA like tinker toys).
There’s a list of settlements, giving a brief overview not only of the 30 colony worlds but also a variety of minor outposts and enclaves on alien home worlds. Due to peculiarities of the stutterwarp drive, human exploration of interstellar space has been limited three arms. Each arm is named for the dominant nation in it: American, Chinese (actually Manchurian) and France. There’s a brief description of each arm, giving us a sense of the arm’s unique character, and a star-map of the arm. The maps look pretty good even in black & white, although there’s a couple places where converting 3-d space to a 2-d map led to some confusing overlaps (although they’re way better than in the original books). The only annoying thing is that I’d have liked to have seen light-year distances on the maps.
Finally, each arm has descriptions of the major colonies in each arm and their planets. All but Kanata (home to Canada’s sole colony) have maps, and the planets have brief but concise descriptions that give a sense of the unique conditions to each planet. We also get a description of DNA modifications common to that world’s colonists. The worlds range from very Earth-like, to very hostile either due to extreme environments (such as King’s crushing gravity & toxic atmosphere) or dangerous local wildlife (everything on Cold Mountain wants to eat you). While you don’t have the 11,000 worlds of the 3rd Imperium, you do get more detail and better sense of the unique character of each planet and its colonies.
Exploratory worlds are also described for each arm: 1-2 planets that have yet to be discovered or developed into a full-blown colony.
Foundations, Corporations, & Terrorists
This chapter details the non-governmental organizations that often have as much or more influence on the Frontier than governments (two even have their own colonies). 3-4 examples of each type are given detailed treatments (11 in all), and there are other examples of foundations and corporations given a quick listing. For some reason they didn’t mention any but the 3 detailed terrorist groups.
This chapter gets into the details of how you create a character for 2300ad using the Traveller rules. Overall, it’s the same basic process as Mongoose Traveller, with some new editions to better fit the setting. You’ve got to pick a nationality, and then an exact home world.
The most significant rules addition are the character traits: these are advantages and disadvantages a character can acquire in a variety of ways. Traits can be physical, mental, or social and are graded on a scale of minor, major, and critical. The social traits include the ally / enemy / contact / rival rules from the core rulebook, and several are direct copies of the alien species traits in the core rulebook. Gaining the same trait more than once often increases it a level, and if you gain contradictory traits (such as Fast & Slow) they cancel each other out. I think this section could be used in any Traveller game if you wanted to add more depth to characters, or simply want a quantifiable means to balance certain character traits.
Guidelines for determining a character’s height & weight are added, and in a nod to the original GDW game, body types are available based on home world gravity. The non-normal ones grant character traits, and they also have modifiers to the character’s height. Personally I think the body types are an unnecessary complication, but the fact that “normal” is available in all gravity types means you can easily ignore this rule if you want to.
Background skills are allocated differently: you get more homeworld skills and fewer education skills. Home world skills are based on Core or Frontier world rather than trade code.
Characters get “background options” based on home world type and nation tier. The options can include character traits or gear.
Next, there is the character’s focus. This is similar to the old “NPC Motivations System” in the original game. There are four personality traits, each tied to a playing card suit: clubs for violence, hearts for social, diamonds for wealth and spades for curiosity. You can either pick a focus or draw a random card, and then roll on the appropriate table for advantages and disadvantages.
Most of the changes to careers are “flavor” changes: there’s a description of how the given career works in the 2300ad setting. A neat addition are the charts of military rank names six biggest militaries in interstellar space. Every career gets a new mustering out table, and the Citizen career is split into two complete careers for Core and Frontier citizens.
There are some skill changes, mostly to adapt the specialties to the setting. The only characters that can take Gun Combat (energy weapons) are military characters and Frontier citizens that join the militia. A new skill called Informatics is added, which covers researching computer databases. It’s not explicitly stated but I think it’s implied that Computers is now solely related to programming and hacking.
The chapter closes out with some new skill packages and a character creation example.
This chapter introduces us to the alien races of 2300AD. In keeping with tradition, there is no information for aliens as player characters. For me, the great fun of the original setting was the fact that all the aliens were like puzzles the players had to figure out.
5 species have been encountered so far, most of them around 40-50 years ago. A description of each species is given, and the home worlds of two are detailed. For some reason, we get a re-peat of the map of Kormoran from the Frontier Worlds chapter. Game statistics and sample NPC’s are given for all but the Kaefers.
The Sung look sort of like short, benign gargoyles and have an intensely technocratic culture and a reputation for slavery. The Xiang are spider-like, non-technological creatures that humans liberated from the Sung. Ebers are vaguely humanoid, formerly star-faring race currently living at Renaissance-level technology. Pentapods look like squids with 5 legs in place of the tentacles, they specialize in biotechnology and seem only interested in trade. Kaefers are a combination of humanoid & insect traits, combining the ugliest aspects of both. The “bugs” were first encountered two years ago, and so far their only interaction with humans is with the business end of a gun.
Uplifted dolphins, one of several examples of DNA-modified animals, are included in here as well. My only problem with this chapter is that it should have been put farther back in the book.
Cybernetics & DNA Modifications
This chapter covers both game mechanics and the social ramifications of the various types of body modification 2300AD characters can obtain. There are 4 main types of modifications: drug treatments, surgical enhancements, cybernetics, and DNA modification.
Drug treatments are performance enhancing drugs. Two examples are given: a strength booster and a memory enhancer. Both can have some pretty nasty side effects.
Surgical enhancements (as well as vat-grown replacement limbs & organs) are the most popular form of medical enhancement since there are fewer adaptation or treatment issues. This is one of the reasons full cyborgs or cybernetic limbs are fairly rare.
Cybernetics come in two broad types: prosthetics or bionics. A prosthetic is a direct replacement for a limb, or a relatively minor enhancement like a neural jack to interface directly with gear. They are relatively un-regulated and fairly common. Bionics are more dramatic enhancements, and tend to require licensing or are only available to the military. The fact tat cyborgs require specialized medical attention & high-tech repair parts makes them fairly rare outside of the Core.
Guidelines are also given for using other Traveller books like Central Supply Catalogue or Cybernetics. I’d say you could use gear from Hammer’s Slammers minus any of the powerguns as well without breaking the setting.
DNA modifications are essentially a use of the trait system. The modifications use retroviruses to carry the modification out, a process that takes several months. The modifications are often relatively minor, such as the “standard” package of immunities & anti-allergens to deal with an alien world’s ecology. Others are more exotic, such as the “Merman” package or the King package to deal with that planet’s hellish conditions. A character can undergo multiple modifications (essentially swapping one for another), but this gets increasingly dangerous.
Science & Technology
This chapter details the technological assumptions of 2300AD, which are based on fairly conservative predictions. Plausible explanations for the lack of certain sci-fi tropes are given. In Traveller terms, humans are Tech Level 12, and as high as 14 in electronics and cybernetics and 16 in genetic engineering.
Relative to today, materials science is highly advanced. The greatest achievement in this area is the “beanstalk” space elevator.
Petrochemicals are no longer used for energy, although they’re still critical to synthetic materials production. Energy is produced by fusion reactors or beamed power from solar power satellites for large installations, and fuel cells or MHD turbines for smaller vehicles & portable generators.
Robotics and automated factories are extensive, and medical science has eliminated most forms of inherited disease. Computer technology has plateaued for a while, and true artificial intelligence has yet to get past the experimental stage. The problem with AI’s seems to be keeping them stable. However, interfaces are very advanced, with voice control and neural interfaces being common. A form of mechanical telepathy has been developed: it’s not very portable and it’s used as a sort of lie detector.
Nanotechnology exists mostly in the form of advanced materials, industrial fabrication, and medicine rather than the “magic grey goo” found in some science-fantasy stories.
Equipment, Weapons, & Armor
This chapter covers everything from basic survival gear to weapons. A lot of old standbys from the original are in here, put in more Traveller-esque terms.
Various Pentapod biological constructs are in here, although they’re a mixed bag as the Pentapods are somewhat clueless about their customers. For instance the “food converter”: it was intended for sale to colonists on planets where the native life has dextro amino-acids and is thus inedible for humans. Things already start out bad with the converter looking like a fat snake-like creature, and get worse when the method conversion is to feed the snake local organic matter and then excrete edible material. For some reason, the Pentapods failed to grasp the fact that nobody was willing to eat snake poo. No price is included for this hilarious item, and I’m pretty sure that’s not an editing error.
A rather broad selection of weapons are given, and some errors slipped through: some of the guns have odd-number autofire values, and Colin has suggested via the 2300ad Facebook group that you simply round down to the nearest even number. Many of the old favorites are in here, plus some new ones. There’s also a selection of Pentapod weapons, which can serve as either. The weapons use the armor piercing rules from Central Supply Catalog, but the relevant rules are provided.
The armor section includes some new rules. Armor is described as rigid or non-rigid, which has effects on how much protection they give versus certain attacks. Torso-only armor can be stacked with full-suits, although there is an additional DM to physical tasks. Helmets give a protection bonus when stacked with other types of armor.
There’s an instance (the weapon offenses rule on page 147) where the author absent mindedly did a cut & paste from the 2320 book & forgot to correct it. There are four other instances where this happens throughout the book.
Robots & Drones
This section details some common robots and remote-control drones used in 2300ad, most are pretty standard fare except for the “surveillance swarm.” The Swarm consists of about 100 little robot bugs that can sneak in and send a composite image to their operator. It’s a pretty neat idea marred by the fact that the exact range isn’t listed, although I’m guessing from the description it can’t be more than 50 meters.
This chapter has detailed rules for the “mechanical telepathy” mentioned in the technology chapter. The process requires the rather bulky Cortescan 3000 machine and a surgically enhanced operator, plus the subject. Cortex hacking can be used to read thoughts, perform interrogations, or even perform a “mind wipe” on a subject.
If you’ve already gotten the new vehicle handbook, some of this chapter includes the basic vehicle rules from there. The chapter starts out with rules for sensor use, vehicle-mounted weapons range, vehicle movement, and specific rules for a variety of vehicle features and equipment.
Around two dozen civilian & military vehicles are listed, including ground vehicles, tanks, aircraft, and both military and combat walkers. The chapter closes out with vehicle weapons and ordinance specific to 2300ad setting.
This chapter covers designing starships for 2300ad using the Traveller ship construction rules from both High Guard and the Core Rules. However, the relevant High Guard rules are included in 2300ad. Overall, the process is the same as in Traveller, with added details for the setting. Hulls are sized in displacement tons, with most “adventurer class” ships in the 100-600 ton range. The biggest known starships only in the 10,000 ton range (way smaller than the 100,000+ giants of the Original Traveller Universe).
Streamlining is a little more complicated: there are three options for streamlined hulls, and a table to calculate takeoff and landing runs (or you can spend some tonnage and megalivres to go VTOL). There’s some structural options, and a new armor table reflecting the materials available in the setting.
The rules for reaction drives for interface craft also include takeoff and landing times, and a variety options ranging from conventional rockets to ion and plasma drives.
If you member the original Star Cruiser there was a fun little cube root formula for figuring out stutterwarp performance. The new 2300ad uses a table format similar to standard Traveller: you cross reference hull size in displacement tons with desired performance & get a drive letter. You then pick from one of three columns on the Stutterwarp Drive table (old commercial, new commercial / old military, and new military) to determine the drive’s size & price.
Power plants can be either be fuel cells, MHD turbines, or Fission or Fusion reactors. Each one is only available in certain sizes: fusion reactors are very bulky, but don’t need refueling for decades, while fuel cells are common for small craft. Starships also have to mount radiators to deal with waste heat from the powerplant, if the radiators are damaged the ship must power down or start slowly cooking the crew.
Crew requirements in 2300ad are fairly robust at first glance: however these assume full crew for 3 full watches. If you don’t mind the inherent dangers your party can probably operate a ship with a skeleton crew. Many of the new accommodations & accessories from High Guard are included, as well as new luxury appointments like theatres or swimming pools.
“Artificial gravity” is required for comfort on long voyages, and is generated in the form of centrifugal force. This can come from methods ranging from simply spinning the whole ship, to spin capsules attached to a rotating section of the hull by large stanchions / access tunnels. Starships also have a “comfort rating” which can affect crew performance and how well a commercial ship attracts paying passengers.
The weapons rules are re-worked, and add “firing aspects” for weapons mounts based on a hex-grid map. As in the core rules, a ship has a single hardpoint per 100 tons. The weapons selection is all-new, reflecting the differences in space combat rules. Most weapons are some form of beam weapon: either in the form of ship mounted lasers & particle accelerators, or submunitions and warheads utilizing battery-powered or detonation lasers. Rules are also included for adding vehicle weapons to a starship. Weapons mounts and fire control rules are also changed somewhat, to deal with the new combat rules.
Defensive weapons include point defense lasers, armor, and “screens.” These involve strips of reflective or ablative “chaff” that the ship launches and suspends in a magnetic field. The screens absorb energy from incoming fire as they are vaporized, and ships have a limited number of reloads.
Starships, Spacecraft, & Spacestations
This section has some sample craft, and contains a selection of every basic type of craft adventurers might commonly encounter or use, each with a full deck plan (except the passenger liner).
The ships included are: Star Carrier XV cargo rocket, AB400 passenger spaceplane, OVL-22 utility SSTO, CIT-IIIA combat lander, Beanstalk passenger capsule, the Thorez Class Courier, Anjou class Cargo Hauler, SSV-21 special services vessel & its SLV-50 lander, City-class passenger liner, Astral Class bulk carrier, OQC cutter, Martel fighter, Aconit class frigate, JFK class fast missile cruiser, and a modular space station.
Space Travel & Space Combat
This chapter starts with a description and rules for interface operations of all types, including sutational rules and travel times. Detailed rules for gravity effects and spin habitats are next: anything less than 1g causes problems for most humans over time.
Finally we get to the stutterwarp travel rules, including interstellar navigation, as well as the various thresholds where only STL travel is possible (the “shelf” or “shallows) as well as where drive becomes effectively useless (the “wall” or “beach.”) Trying to push a drive more than 7.7 light years of continuous travel will cause the drive to overload, irradiating the ship and damaging or destroying the drive.
The next section covers operating costs & crew salaries as well as charter rates for both interface travel and interstellar trips.
Space combat is significantly different than in standard Traveller, owing to the workings of the Stutterwarp drive. The distance scale is 300,000 kilometers (one light-second) per hex or band (depending on how abstract you want to be), and a round represents 3 minutes of time. Overall space combat is more reminiscent of submarine warfare than age-of-sail gunnery duels. Owing to a combination of realistic physics and the radiation signature of stutterwarp drives, detecting the presence and general location of a starship is relatively easy. The trick is getting a firing solution on the target.
Owing to the rapid “velocity” of starships, it’s very difficult to get a solid firing solution: the sensor operator must attempt to get a solid “lock” before the gunners have any chance to hit them. The dominant weapons are large stutterwarp missiles, with gunnery being secondary. Ships also carry submunitions (sort of like mines), sensor drones, and decoys. Since many missiles use nuclear-bomb-pumped lasers for warheads, missiles are only legal for military ships.
A conventional thrust-only spacecraft (or a starship with it stutterwarp drive disabled) is a sitting duck: they are hit easier and suffer double damage.
Essentially, this is a re-casting of the encounters section of the Core Rulebook in 2300ad terms. Tables are included for the Core and all three Arms, and is sub-divided for portions of the star system.
NPC’s and Animals
The NPC motivation system from the original 2300ad game is more or less repeated here. You draw two cards, with the highest face value being the NPC’s prime motivation & the other being the secondary. You then read the appropriate table to determine what that personality trait is. There are also rules for “quick NPC’s.” There is a table for combatants, and non combatants, each rated by experience level from Green to Elite. At each level, there are suggested characteristics, and a list of skills and suggested skill levels and traits.
A variety of sample human NPC’s are listed after that, followed by various animal encounters representing a variety of fauna from various colony worlds as well as “Neos.” The Neos are domesticated animals with enhanced intelligence, developed as companion animals for particularly hazardous worlds.
2300ad Referees Guide
This contains suggestions for how to run various styles of campaigns: Exploration & Alien Contact, Ground Combat, Space Combat, Troubleshooting, Trade & Commerce, and Counterterrorist.
There’s also a run-down of goals & motivations, cast in the form of the various sources of conflict in the 2300ad universe: Core vs. Frontier, Organizations vs. Independents, Human vs. Aliens, Transhumanists vs. Normals, and National Rivalries. I’d also add Humans vs. The Environment, from some of the colony world descriptions you could easily play an adventure around dealing with some alien pandemic or some sort of natural disaster.
There’s also a bibliography of the original 2300ad for historical reference, and a variety suggested movies works of fiction movies, etc for inspiration.
The last pages of the book include a calendar for the year 2300 (complete with major holidays) and the 2300ad Near Star List. Most annoyingly, there is no index.
Comparisons with the original
I’ve seen some scathing reviews of this product and I while some include valid criticisms: the .pdf version has no bookmarks, or that you also have to buy another rulebook to have all the rules you need to play it. However, some comments seem to coming from the basis of comparing a single rulebook to a the complete original line of boxed set, tactical space combat board game, 6 sourcebooks, 9 adventures, and 1 campaign book.
The original version of the 2300ad boxed set included the near star poster map, a 96 page adventurer’s guide, and a112 page directors guide, a 32 page near star list & forms booklet, and a page of errata. The two guides were lavishly illustrated, although to be honest much of that art was pictures of gear (including such exotic items as binoculars or high-tech kleenex). And then there was the gun-porn: page after page of line drawings of guns that looked like either customized 1980’s assault rifles or knock-offs from the movie Aliens.
At the time I agree the 2300ad boxed set was ground-breaking, but detail on the colony worlds was minimal, and the only adventure included was a “choose your own adventure” solo adventure. There were very few details on the colony worlds: a pargraph or so. Even the “Colonial Atlas” sourcebook (which ironically contained no actual maps of any of the colony worlds) omitted key details on several planets like surface gravity or atmospheric conditions.
I do agree some of the artwork is a little odd: the alien races illustration in the new book could have been better: the Kaefer’s “face” is indistinct. Let’s just hope in future products Mongoose doesn’t make the GDW mistake and go back & forth on whether or not the Kaefers have noses in official artwork. The illustration in the new book for the DNAM’s doesn’t make any sense compared to the text: especially “giraffe man” and “bird man.”
However, for those of you own the original in some form & said that the vehicle artwork in the new book was crap, let’s play a little game: go to page 180 & 181 in the new rulebook and take a look at the Kangaroo IV and AC-8 illustrations. Now look at the two vehicle illustrations on page 57 of the Adventurer’s Guide (the Military ACV-APC & the AC-8). Are you still going to tell me that that the new pictures are crap? Now go to page 9 of the Director’s guide & explain to me what the hell that picture is doing in a professionally published product by one of America’s top gaming companies. Finally, look up the usable deck plan for the Thorez-class courier in the boxed set…. oh sorry, you can’t do that.
I’ve also seen complaints about the lack of Kaefer gear or stats in the core rules. Again this may seem like an oversight, but while stats for the bugs were given in the original, there weren’t any weapons or vehicles in the core rules either. You had to get Kaefer dawn or the Aurore sourcebook to go bug-hunting.
Overall, I think this product is superior to the original most respects: there’s enough detail you can start playing adventures on most of the setting right out of the box: create your party, gear them up, stick them on a Thorez or SSV-21 and start troubleshooting, meeting aliens, fighting terrorists, or exploring new worlds. Plus, it’s actually still in print and further products are in the pipe-line, including planned sourcebooks for the American & Chinese Arms (which never saw much attention in the original line).
The update to the setting’s backstory is plausible, and the updates to things like DNA mods and cybernetics make the setting more relevant without breaking it. What Mongoose 2300 tends to get “wrong” it gets “wrong” in the same way the original does.
A setting book with the right combination of detail and breadth of coverage to get you started in gaming in one of the most interesting sci-fi settings ever created. The traits system could easily be added to other Traveller settings.
The black & white interior and sparse artwork may be a turn-off considering the book’s price. Contains some annoying errors and omissions.