Creatures of Distant Worlds Compendium 1
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of Freelance Traveller.
of Distant Worlds Compendium 1. Dale C. McCoy, Jr., and Alex
Jon Brazer Enterprises http://jonbrazer.com
On the Shelf
This product is available only via the online store at Lulu.com, so you won’t actually see it on a shelf. The cover is abstract, with a design in the center suggestive of a wormhole or spacewarp, framed in what might be stained glass bossed with hemispheres of a pink- or purple-and-black stone. This display is overprinted with the company name in black with red ‘glow’ near the top, the title in yellow near the center, and the Traveller Compatible Product logo and authors’ names (the latter in yellow) near the bottom. As a whole, the volume is quite slim, and if shelved, spine out, between equivalently-sized books of any significant thickness, it would get “lost”.
In comparison with other products at this price point, this volume is perhaps disappointingly slim. However, Lulu is the modern-day equivalent of the vanity press of the latter part of the last century, so the purchaser is paying for that. Nevertheless, what substance the volume does have appears well-organized, with the sort of detail that will appeal to “gearheads” and to the typical player both.
On Closer Inspection
There’s not a lot beyond what you see in the initial impressions. The introduction promises 30 creatures, but only twelve are described (counting Jump Angels separate from Jump Demons, even though they share an entry). A further twelve standard Terran animals have stat blocks in Appendix I, but that still doesn’t bring the total to the promised 30. The creatures described are a mixed bag, with most seeming like reasonable variations on familiar terrestrial creatures. A few, however, seem aimed at horror or “space fantasy” campaigns, and are unlikely to find homes outside such campaigns. Each creature described gets roughly a full page of description, including a picture and a stat block. Descriptive material includes some behavioral information and the creature’s ecological niche, possibly some historical and social information, and a few ideas for use. Three appendices provide stat blocks for terrestrial animals (as mentioned above), symptom and game effect data for a selection of diseases, and effects of a selection of poisons. The Intro-and-contents page and the text of the OGL round out the volume.
I really wanted to give this volume a better review, but there simply wasn’t the backing for it in the product. For what you get, $9.99 isn’t a bad price—but it’s not a good price, either. If you’ve been looking at getting the individual Creatures of Distant Worlds in PDF form, you might want to get this instead; it represents a noticeable saving off the individual purchases.