The price refers to the higher priced paper copy, naturally a cheaper one ($5.00) exists in PDF. But, my preference is always for hardcopy/dead tree as I do not have access to a printer to print out some these gorgeous books and I am a tactile person so I do not like eBooks and never know when eBooks might no longer be aviable through changes in the licenses or publisher´s whim (yes, there is a lot of us who are still bitter at Wizards). So, it is greatly appreciated that the publisher has opted for a Print On Demand option.
This is a magnificent little book that covers all features of the Reprieve-class Escape Pod that is the run of the mill escape pod in the Traveller RPG. I am aware and fairly certain that of your first reaction would be like mine, “how could that be possibly interesting?” – a lifeboat in space. How wrong I was? Read on and find out. This was engaging discussion about this amazing little workhorse from the onset the author uses a nice bit of purple pose or narration to get the reader right into the moment of a heated battle where a pod is going to be used. This was very much of the use of prose in Hard Times and some of the other classic GDW products and very much in tune with what Traveller seems to be lacking in other publishers – narration plus rules.
The next section that follows by a technical section, in which the writing is comprehensible and accurate yet is able to keep the interest of the reader. It covers all aspects of pod use including the 20MCr question – “in the vastness of space how you survive so long?” and well as for the other 20MCr question, extensive recycling facilities (and if you do not know what I mean – well Traveller uses the fresher to cover quite the range of things that need not detail, as does this book in a tasteful concise manner). There is a brief comparison between the different escape options when you know that it is time to abandon ship – bubble, pod and vacc suit. Naturally, pods are better for durability and survivability in the hostile environment of space and can actually make planetfall. Problem in lies, each ship will only have a limited number of pods compared to ship’s crew and as a single person craft, players that own a ship wanting to really have the ultimate in safety better invest in something larger than a pod – but death comes quick and deadly in Traveller. Then comes a hefty section on heavy duty technical specs of this particular type of escape pod but written, as noted above in an informative and entertaining way ranging from the pod’s propulsion system, power system, computer system, etc. taking the mundane and making it into something stimulating and appealing to read by humanizing the text. Next up, there is a section on Endurance of the craft and performance in space. There is minimal handwaves just those that already exist in the Original Traveller Universe.
What follows, is a section of lists in which we get the standard survival equipment because all too often one forgets that Traveller is about survival in hostile environments. Followed by the critically important Random Malfunction and Damage tables, followed four formal adventure hooks (formal because hooks, like purple poses exist throughout the text). Lastly, there is a data sheet that sums up everything nicely. And, to make it really extra special the PDF has the ability to make paper models and supplies a grid in which to lay it upon.
The art contained within is computer generated images, which is very nice for ships and equipment but less good for people. If the decision is to go with computer generated art, why not then use photo manipulations starring real people’s faces overlaid with poser art? I am a big fan of realism in art for Traveller. If it is to be sketches, then sketches should have expression but computer generated people tend to leave me cold. Photo manipulation is the way that Traveller ought to and at the same time save on some of the costs associated with traditional art unless you are pals with the artist.
All in all, I am very impressed with this product and there is little to complain about – for it is an excellent product. This is the first product in their Captains Manuals line and I eagerly await more in this line definitely value for money.