[Editor's Note: Thanks to an agreement between BITS and Steve Jackson Games, all BITS supplements are available in North America through Steve Jackson Games. You can find contact information for Steve Jackson Games in the Traveller FAQ in the Freelance Traveller Information Center. Ordering information for all BITS products can be found on the Steve Jackson Games Catalog page.]
Once again, Andy and Sarah Lilly, the husband and wife team, have created a BITS book that referees will find enormously useful. Once again BITS have produced a generic aid (is that like a hearing aid for genes?) that those Travelling in any era will be able to appreciate.
An introduction and a glossary sandwich the main bulk of the text described below. The introduction explains the raison d'etre of the book as well as describing the layout of each entry. The glossary expands on some of the (very generic) background used in this book and other 101 titles. These entries are not fully-fledged Library Data entries but do enable a bit of detail to be added to particular entries without increasing the length of the book dramatically. An index brings up the rear and simply lists the travellers in the order given in the book.
The main bulk of the book, some 36 pages all told, contain the actual travellers. These are divided into Middle and High passengers and further divided into individuals, groups of 2-4 and larger groups. This gives six categories of which the largest two are the Middle Passage individuals (41 entries) and the High Passage individuals (25 entries).
Each entry follows the same format so it is simple to locate any required information very quickly. Firstly the personal details give the UPP, race, sex, age, skills and credit of the traveller(s). If they have any special luggage it is noted here. Second, an 'introduction' gives a basic description which can be given direct to players as their first impression of those they're meeting. Thirdly the traveller's background and reason for travelling usually makes up the largest part of the entry and provides the referee with the details needed to round out the character. Lastly 'play options' give ideas for role-playing possibilities should the referee require them after all the preceding information.
As is usual with BITS books, the role-playing utility of the text is emphasised throughout. Thus there are no illustrations of anyone or extraneous factual details to get to bogged down in but, again, this doesn't detract from inventiveness of the entries. A good cross-section of people are detailed and there should be something here for everyone's taste. While the travellers would require much more work to become fully rounded characters, there is enough detail here for NPCs to feel real and avoid the 'can't be important as the ref's made them up on the spot' kind of attitude of some players.
Scratching around for adventure ideas or caught on the hop in the middle of play, this book should be close at hand for anyone refereeing Traveller.