This review originally appeared on rpg.net in May of 2014, and is reprinted here and in the October 2015 issue with permission.
Career Companion. John Watts
Gypsy Knights Games http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com
59pp. Softcover or PDF
Half of this book, I did not like and the other half is truly brilliant.
However, together they do make a very good supplement to what is already on the market in Gypsy Knight Games’ Alternative Traveller Universe – the Clement Sector.
To begin with, what I do not like is the uplifting lesser species into sentience – usually referred to as Uplifts. Uplifts in contemporary Science Fiction are a good substitute of reinforcing the alien-ness of Science Fiction without having to resort to creating aliens. And, aliens are tough to do. Unquestionably, everyone can have Klingon surrogates based upon the Shōgunshoku but after a while that becomes a cliché; more interesting is to speculate what forms of new civilization will appear as we adapt to life among the Stars. Poorly done uplifts will feature lots of different civilizations that are dwarf-like due to adaptations to heavy gravity worlds or aquatic merfolk or when dolphins/bears/apes or even killer whales have been given sentience. However, I do recognize that my opinion is not shared by all. And, indeed Traveller throughout its history has had uplifts. Thus, what Gypsy Knight Games have done here is merely continuing a trend a trend that was pre-established. Fortunately, the uplifts are not as bad as those found in GURPS Traveller Humaniti but it does come fairly close. Where there is room for Uplifts it involves giving them a culture and a unique signature rather than cloning some pre-existing culture. And, this is where Traveller (and sadly, Gypsy Knight Games) has gotten sloppy. I would hold that uplifts in Dune or the works of David Brin are done right – but here we are treated to a sketchy and vague culture that is a pastiche of other Science Fiction worlds, ranging from the Planet of the Apes to a crude facsimile of Brin’s work. So, unfortunately, while the rules here are good, they revert to a more childish version of Traveller than I play or would describe Traveller to others. However, those who played with GURPS Traveller Humaniti (and there are some good cultures in there) or Traveller20 whose Gateway “races” were abhorrent and represented the worst in Traveller might find some merit. But, in my own opinion – meh.
Then comes the best parts of the book which justify the whole cost of the item. New aging rules update Traveller from the 1950s, when life expectancy was lower. Rejuvenation and genetic therapies. These rules bring Traveller more up to date with forecasts of Science Fiction – when the genetic revolution will mean being able to live longer and look younger.
Next up is the revision of the Social Standing statistic, for here we have an improvement of using Social Standing akin to Credit Rating or status within society.
Next up we see the additional modifications for different careers. And, this in my humble opinion is the most brilliant part of the book. Traveller since its inception has rather mundane careers/classes. In most cases, they reflect an older sensibility in regard to Science Fiction, where careers were thought of as extensions of 1960 careers. The career follows the same logic, except, it cleans up the tables for life events to bring them more in line with a more gritty and realistic set of events. Mongoose tables for the most part represented some the most gonzo of situations in some of their outcomes. This provides a useful corrective against gonzo play.
The rules are good and solid. There is very little in the way of purple prose, but the artwork is good and really sets the mood, even though (like previous Gypsy Knights Games offerings) it’s all Poser art.