Mongoose Traveller Supplement 1: 760 Patrons, Second Edition
This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issue of the downloadable magazine.
Mongoose Traveller Supplement 1: 760 Patrons,
Second Edition. August Hahn
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
This is the book that many Traveller referees have been waiting for, as the previous edition missed the mark by not understanding what a patron fundamentally is in Traveller. In the first edition of 760 Patrons, Mongoose appeared to think that a patron was akin to an encounter, whereas it has been long established in Traveller that a patron is a job offer. So, while the first edition is highly useful for generating colourful and interesting NPCs in a flash – they contained no seeds for adventure. Therefore, bravo to Mongoose to revising their initial offering to conform to the pre-existing and established criteria.
Now, this book is also a monster of a book. Fully detailing 760 individuals each with 1-6 different ideas/seeds for adventure is a monumental task and they made it a hardcover to boot. Therefore, this book is a valuable tool for those referee that either need something in a pinch while players are in-between the main adventures to facilitate a sandbox play or simply need to generate ideas in which to construct an adventure of their own design. Either way, this is a good book for them. One regrettable omission is art detailing the patrons. Whereas, the first book had all sorts of art – some good, some bad and some just in-between. This book is almost without any art save a few sketches done or inspired by the same Careers art those who appear in the main rulebook. Fortunately, the jokey aspect has been for the most part purged. It would be nice but wholly unrealistic to expect 760 portraits without upping the price tag even more. However, it still would have been nice to have a little more art and one could wish that Mongoose had employed an artist who had a better eye for the Traveller milieu (grim, dirty realism), like a Blair Reynolds or Richard Sparke or at the very least the interior artist who did much of their Darrians book. What Traveller art is missing is diversity. Hardly any African, east Asian or Amerindian representations grace the interiors – to say nothing of the non-Terrestrial humans, or recognized Traveller aliens. Too much of the Traveller artwork omits what Star Trek has done for decades now. Anyway, enough ranting about the art…
Although, I could not digest all 760 Patrons – many of the seeds are credible and fit well with the description. The most important thing to remember is that Traveller in this book is a generic Science Fiction universe. Although some of these employment opportunities would be very odd in the Original/Official Traveller Universe (OTU) – yes, I am looking at you, Star Deity and Demon – they are not entirely without precedent or enjoyment factor in the Science Fiction literature. So, if you are a player/referee who plays a specific game either set in the OTU or another setting – you will have to be highly selective in these encounters/employment opportunities. This is not say they cannot be tweaked to work within another universe – say, have the Star Deity or Demon be Grandfather in disguise. But, tweaking is required which rather negates the random engine. Also, it would have been nice, if rather than Star Base, the term Starport which would be consistent with the Main Rulebook would have been employed. So perhaps in the future we might hopefully see that builds upon this book and makes it OTU specific for all the raw material is already there. So, I think the author could have done a little more by referencing some of the Gamelords, GDW, and DGP stuff that is already out there – not copy but more actively reference or mimic their style and ideas.
Is this book worth the money? If you are a Referee who has long spells of writer’s block like I am then most certainly – you will find a seed or several dozen to plant yourself a venerable garden and your players will enjoy the harvest. However, if creativity is not a problem for you and that you can read a newspaper and generate ten plot points from just skimming the headlines then perhaps you should look to other Traveller books instead. All-in-all this book is a significant improvement over the previous edition, aside from the rather minor quibbles noted above. It is a solid addition to what is proving to be a solid line from Mongoose.
This is a beneficial and first-rate book that will give you 760 beginnings for adventure that either viewed as seeds or fertilizer to germinate into a full garden that will allow your imagination to flourish.