This article originally appeared in issue #004 of the downloadable PDF magazine.
The Third Imperium: Alien Module 1: Aslan. Gareth Hanrahan
Mongoose Publishing: http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
The Third Imperium setting for Mongoose Traveller is expanded, with a whole new sector an an alien race with its own interstellar empire.
On the Shelf
Like the previous Third Imperium setting book, The Spinward Marches, this book places the Traveller logo at the bottom, below a picture, and places the setting branding for The Third Imperium above the picture.
If there is a single better source for information on the Aslan, for any version of Traveller, I have not yet seen it. This book appears to combine everything official ever said about the Aslan, from the original Classic Traveller Alien Module on, and organize it between its covers.
On Closer Inspection
The alien-ness of the Aslan is apparent right from the beginning of character generation; in addition to some modifiers to the standard attributes, the player is required to roll Gender, which affects which careers and specializations are available to the character, and Clan and Territory attributes, which can and do affect various of the character's tasks during play, especially in situations where the core rulebook would have Social Standing as an influential attribute. Both Territory and Social Standing are more fluid among Aslan than Social Standing is in the Core Rulebook, and the player should keep careful track of changes in both - especially since Territory can trump Social Standing in social contests between Aslan. In addition, a simulation of a Rite of Passage is included, and the roll for this can also affect character generation later on, especially in career enlistment, which generally uses the Rite number as a DM.
Careers for Aslan broadly parallel, but do not match exactly, careers from the core rulebook. Most notably, many career tracks are not open to all characters (with Gender being the determinant).
Aslan in general are portrayed as culturally somewhat less flexible than would be expected in the Imperium. This is reflected in the limitation of some skills to one Gender or the other, and in the inclusion of the Tolerance and Independence skills - Tolerance is used to modify the reaction of an Aslan character to actions by a non-Aslan character that would, in another Aslan, be considered inappropriate or insulting, and Independence (available to and needed by Aslan male characters only) is a measure of how well an Aslan male understands the value of money (and can thus operate in society without a female 'keeper').
Extensive cultural information follows the career-related material. This includes a solid treatment of the Aslan concept of Honor, and how it affects interactions between Aslan, up to and including the codification of inter-clan wars. Overviews of Aslan legal, clan, corporate, and military structures is included. This is followed by a section on Aslan history, including a major civil war over fundamental philosophies, and a sketchy overview of the state of relationships between the Aslan and other interstellar powers.
A section on Aslan equipment could serve as a supplement to the Central Supply Catalogue, with the explicit caveat that Augments, though available, are generally frowned upon other than functional prosthetics. A small number of vehicles is included in the equipment section.
A section on Aslan starships follows, using the standard format for specifications, and including plans (still too small for use with miniatures). A wide range of plans is included, but none of the ships are large - the largest, an Assault Carrier, is only 2000 tons, and carries only 160 troops.
Encounters are the focus of the following section, with both single-line descriptions of Aslan encounters (both Ally/Contact/Rival/Enemy and generic random encounter) and a selection of somewhat more detailed potential Patrons. The Patron encounters are in the standard Adventure Seed format, a couple of paragraphs of situation information, followed by six alternative denouements. Some differences between standard (Imperial) starports and cities and their Aslan counterparts are also described. There is a page of Aslan animal encounters.
The remainder of the book is a look at the Trojan Reach sector, at about the same level of detail as the Spinward Marches setting book.
The Aslan have a rich culture, and one that is very different from the stock Imperial culture, but that culture is presented here in a way that makes it easy to "get into" and play. While one could play in the Third Imperium setting without having this volume, adding it to the collection enriches the setting far out of proportion to the price - this is most defintiely a worthwhile purchase.