Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society On-Line
This article originally appeared in the November 2011 issue.
Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society. Steve Jackson Games.
Steve Jackson Games http://jtas.sjgames.com
$20/two years; includes access to full archive
When Steve Jackson Games took on a Traveller license and started to produce and release GURPS Traveller books it also started to publish Traveller articles in its in house magazine, Pyramid. However they took this one stage further and revived the Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society magazine, but this time it did it on line.
1st February 2000 saw the premier issue released, and this is still available as a sample issue at http://jtas.sjgames.com/archives/2000/02.01.html.
It has been over 10 years since that first issue and the zine is still going. It started with weekly releases, but after about a year and a half went fortnightly. Its standard format is three articles and an editorial by Loren, or the editor at the time, but this has changed recently to two articles and an editorial as Loren recovers. Not only do you receive new articles every two weeks you also gain access to the archive since the first issues, and so far there are over 1,350 separate articles.
The content of the webzine covers that of the original JTAS and a little more falling into the following categories; Amber Zone, Bestiary, Casual Encounter, Contact, Ship’s Locker, Deck Plans and Maps, Variant, From the Editor, Campaign Setting, Short Adventure, Designer’s Notes, and Reviews. And it is predominantly based in GURPS Traveller; however, there are significant numbers of articles that also provide additional stats for Classic Traveller and MegaTraveller as well.
Don’t let the GURPS Traveller focus distract you too much; as it’s Traveller, it’s very easy to convert between systems, and the good people of BITS have provided quick and easy references to do just that with the BITS’ Task System and the BITS’ Non Player Characters Attributes and Skills Table.
The quality of the vast majority of the articles is good to excellent, including ones such as “Primitive, But Not Stupid” by Paul Drye, that explains that even if a culture is low tech doesn’t mean its population lack intelligence; “The Rule of Man” by Kurt Brown and James Maliszewski, setting a framework to adventure in the second Imperium; and “Things Grandfather Never Told You” by Joe Webb, a variant on the history of the ancients. There are also a host of NPCs with their motivations for your to use/borrow/steal for your own games, hundreds of adventures, campaign settings, and adventure seeds to use or spark your imagination, and equipment and deckplans for you to use and adapt. Loren provides insights into roleplaying, refereeing, GDW and life in general, while reviewers (myself included) provide their opinion of various Traveller-related products. There is just such a wealth of varied and interesting material that any Traveller referee can use to enhance their games.
Check out the sample issues and see what you think; in addition to the one mentioned earlier, there’s http://jtas.sjgames.com/archives/2000/02.08.html.
Not only can you receive great content, you can create it as well. Loren takes articles from all Traveller versions, not just GURPS. Timothy Collinson recently submitted a Mongoose Traveller Gravhome. Not only might you get published but you’ll also get paid for it, in cash or product.
Most people want to know if the product they are thinking of buying is worth their money. They want to know its value. $20 provides you with more quality Traveller content than you will be able to purchase anywhere else for the money. Yes, it’s a subscription and you don’t get a file or a book, but you do get two years to go through the back catalogue, pick the bits that give you inspiration and use them to enhance your games, and on top of that you get more content every two weeks. To me, a subscription to JTAS is superb value, and I have no problems about recommending it to any Traveller referee.