Review: Traveller Starter Set

There are some games that I pretty much always buy again when a new edition comes out, mostly out of nostalgia I suppose. These are Dungeons & Dragons (although I have resisted 5th Edition so far), Savage Worlds, All Things Zombie, and Traveller


This is the starter set for Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition, which at the time of writing costs £50-55 in dead tree format and a bit over £30 as a PDF download. As a starter set, it’s aimed at inexperienced players and intended to introduce them to the hobby.

I’ve already reviewed Mongoose Traveller 2 here, so this will be a quick overview with a focus on what’s different from the core rulebook; mostly, it has pregen PCs and a few ready-to-run adventures.

Do I Need This?

If you’re reading my blog, probably not; but if you know some kids around 12 or so and want to introduce them to SF roleplaying, this would be one good place to start. (Alternatives would be the Classic Traveller Starter Set or Stars Without Number.)

I thought at first that £50 was a bit steep, when my first set of Traveller cost me £6; but taking into account inflation over the 40-odd years since then, that would be the equivalent of over £40 today. As Albie Fiore used to say, “Where else can you get an evening’s entertainment for six people for that kind of money?”

I was disappointed in the adventure and the enemy aliens, but bear in mind I am not the target demographic; twelve-year-old me would have been all over it like a rash in a cheap suit.

Tell Me More…

The first thing one notices is that the starter set is several items rather than one big book. Specifically, the set contains:

Book 1: Characters and Combat (129 pages). This has an introduction, and the rules for character creation, skills, tasks, combat, equipment and vehicles. Think of it as the players’ guide; it’s basically the bits of the core rulebook you need to play a character, and it looks to me like they have been simply copied from the main book.

Book 2: Spacecraft and Worlds (105 pages). This is more of a Game Master guide, and covers encounters, environmental hazards, spacecraft, ship operations and ship combat, psionics, trade, and world creation. Again, looks like the main book reformatted.

Book 3: The Fall of Tinath (105 pages). This is a campaign in four main scenarios which pits the travellers against the Esseray, aliens previously hinted at in Traveller 5 but (so far as I know) not detailed before. This book covers the Athwa subsector, the world of Tinath where much of the action occurs, a GM’s view of the Esseray, a cast of NPCs and advice on how to run the game, aimed at the inexperienced GM.

You can find Tinath on the Traveller Map, but it is pretty much on the other side of the galactic core from Charted Space. There’s a story to be told there about how humans got there, and when, and why their civilisation and equipment is so much like that of the Third Imperium. The key thing is it’s far enough away that it’s completely isolated from other Traveller products, giving the referee a free hand. It’s the only subsector in Calidan which has been detailed, and the GM is encouraged to fill in the blanks.

There are six pregenerated player characters, and a variety of maps; Athwa, Calidan, blank subsector, blank sector.

The PDF version also includes some printer-friendly deck plans, which I like because I don’t get on with the isometric ones Mongoose currently prefers. I don’t think they are in the hard copy version.

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