Hub Federation Navy
This review was originally posted to RPG.net in May 2004, and reprinted in the May/June 2017 issue. It refers to the first edition of the product, which is no longer available. UK price is based on a current conversion rate of US$1.25=UKú1.00
Federation Navy. Michael Johnston
Gypsy Knights Games http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com
94pp., softcover and PDF
Traveller frequently gets criticized for being a game with numerous tables and charts and not enough role playing action. Nowhere is this truer than in the character generation. Character generation in Traveller is heavily oriented toward a simulation of reality, where characters are not young ones who have been ejected from the home and must seek adventure but adults who have left their careers (or, under some variations of play, never leave their career) to engage on adventures.
Nowhere is this sentiment stronger than in games that centre on naval campaigns. The lure of a space navy is the Star Trek and Golden Age of Sail aspect of Traveller that gets often referenced. Gypsy Knights Games have now brought out a supplement that deals with their own Interstellar Navy – it is nowhere as impressive as the Grand Fleets of the Third Imperium and well suited to a scaling sort of play where small squadrons co-exist with massive battle tenders. In Classic and Mongoose publications, there was a supplemental set of rules called High Guard that patched together this dynamic of a big ship universe while giving room for a small ship universe, as well as fleshing out the Navy than just an option. Classic Traveller did a great job for its time, but, it remained grounded in a sort of 1970s and 1950s sensibility. Mongoose did a good job of renovating and updating those same rules, but did not really alter the feel.
Gypsy Knights Games have come forth with a new feel that is superior and incorporates the new vibe to be found in military Science Fiction of the likes of David Weber, Timothy Zahn, John Ringo, or S. M. Stirling. This is a universe of where starships, while large and bulky, can make death-defying maneuvers and operate fully in a three-dimensional battlespace, and will have characters who can truly rise through the ranks and become heroes in battle or in death. There lies the most interesting part of this supplement – it can be viewed as just a boring book of chargen or it can be used a jumping off point in which referees create the campaign to live or role play out the dice rolls. Littered throughout the book are fabulous Poser art pieces that give the right vibe for the book’s descriptions. They remain grounded in the Alternative Traveller Universe of the Clement Sector, which is a combination of Space Opera (ß lÓ Star Trek) and Hard SF. Thus, the uniforms harkening back to current uniforms of the armed forces (namely of the NATO bloc) with a little bit of a twist. Subsequently, it is nice to see that there are not people strutting around in pajamas (Star Trek: The Next Generation) but sad that the art is not more original. However, the artist has managed to capture one important element – action. Previous Traveller art has been rather stale, as it captures just portraits or just stills of potential characters completing an action or just like they are looking to be photographed. The art, here, even, though it is computer generated is highly realistic and raw. Well done, Gypsy Knights Games for capturing the excitement of Traveller. And, it does so without being cartoonish or gory.
So, if you like the milieu of the Clement Sector, you most certainly should rush and get this book. If you are not certain about Traveller and need a good way of making your space naval games realistic, you should pick up this game. If you want a book that will fill in the works of Martin Dougherty dealing with the Imperial Navy details with chargen (though you’ll have to tweak it for Imperial ranks), then this is a book for you. However, if you want a vanilla Traveller universe, stick with what is already there. Gypsy Knights Games are re-inventing Traveller and undertaking the much needed modernization that has long been asked for by fans of this Grand Old Game – one supplement at a time.