Mongoose Traveller - Scoundrel
This article originally appeared in Issue #000 of the downloadable PDF magazine.
Scoundrel. Gareth Hanrahan
Mongoose Publishing: http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
Mongoose Publishing's series of books for their Traveller line is extended to the sixth career supplement with this book, covering some of the less-savory possibilities for characters’ prior careers.
On the Shelf
As usual for expanded career books, the green Traveller logo is prominently displayed in the center of the black cover. The tag line for this book is "Honesty's a Fool".
Scoundrel breaks from past career supplements, in what this reviewer feels is a positive way: the body text for the book, instead of being in FF Scala Sans, as has been the standard in the past, is in Helvetica, and is somewhat easier to read. Organization and artwork are consistent with past career books; it appears that a majority of the artwork is of the photo-realistic type - but is not excessively dark. Scoundrel concentrates on characters on the fringes of society, not all of whom will be criminals - belters and scavengers are included. Beyond the character generation section, there are section on criminal organizations, piracy, intrusion, smuggling, fencing and illegal goods, equipment., tramps and thieves, belt mining, odd jobs, scavenging, gambling and con games, and lost worlds. It should be noted that there was a significant editing/proofing failure; the page heads at the top of eight pages of the Piracy section are instead headed "Intrusion". Mongoose Publishing has so far maintained a policy of making good on issues of this nature if the customer so desires, providing an exchange policy when a corrected edition is released. This reviewer hopes (and believes) that the policy will continue.
On Closer Inspection
The Career section offers twenty-one career paths covering seven general career areas. These include perfectly legal, if poorly-thought-of, pursuits such as Barbarian, Wanderer (gypsy/hobo/hitchhiker, as well as the shadier bandit or tramp), or Scavenger (salvage as well as tomb robber), in addition to a cross section of more unsavory types, ranging from the Intruder (burglary and computer hacking) through Organized Crime and Smuggling to Piracy. New skills and benefits are also included. As Mercenary stood as an expansion of the Army and Marine careers, and High Guard of Navy, this book stands as an expansion of both the Rogue and Drifter careers of the core rulebook.
The sections on Piracy, Smuggling, and Intrusion should need no explanation; they provide good detailed information and rules for using those careers in play. As characters from them are likely to come into possession of goods not immediately useful to themselves, but of value to others, they may find it worthwhile to seek out a Fence; the section on Fencing and Illegal Goods provides rules for the Referee to manage this activity (and starts out by acknowledging that some players may not want to bother with the details, so just declare that they got a certain percentage of the value of the goods).
The section on Scavenging is little more than an overview, but more than what is provided really isn't needed. The section on Criminal Organizations gives only the basics of defining the structure of one; the majority of the section is profiles of five different (and presumably "representative") criminal organizations.
The "Tramps and Thieves" section is perhaps misleadingly named; this section consists of ship profiles and plans, focussing on ships that would be used by scavengers, pirates, or belters, or that a drifter/Wanderer might take passage on. There are also designs for two different types of Customs ship, and one "Q-ship" based on the Type R (Subsidized Merchant) design. Some of the ships have associated small craft; it should be noted that these craft are priced in accordance with the rules for craft construction in High Guard, rather than those in the core rules.
Most campaigns will not address what the characters do between adventures, when they are at loose ends (and perhaps with empty pockets); the section on Odd Jobs provides descriptions of 36 appropriate activities, numbered to allow selection by rolling d66, in the form of "Adventure Seeds", similar to those in Freelance Traveller's "Getting Off The Ground" section.
The section on Belt Mining is a summary description and rule set for the Belter (Asteroid Miner) career, which is really outside the scope of this book, but would overlap with scavenging and possibly smuggling. Adventure 1: Beltstrike is a better source for information on the Belter (Asteroid Miner) career, as it is fully detailed there.
The equipment section lists equipment ranging from toolkits and electronics to armor and clothing to robots and drones to ship components, any of which might be useful to a character pursuing one of the careers in this book, and some of which might well be useful to characters acting strictly on the up-and-up. Equipment that would reasonably be expected to cause official suspicion of the character's intentions is indicated.
Finally, the section on Gambling and Con Games provides some useful "color", describing a number of such activities. These may provide inspiration for the referee to part the player-characters from some of their hard-earned (for various values of 'earned') credits, or similar inspiration for the player-characters to earn (again, for various values of 'earn') those same credits.
Barbarians have to come from somewhere; the section on Lost Worlds answers that question. This short section provides descriptions of a few types of worlds that Barbarians may come from, and also provides rules for (a) adventuring on lost worlds, and (b) bringing a barbarian character into the more familiar Traveller milieu. This section also discusses the idea of Technological Familiarity
Scoundrel maintains the standards previously set by Mongoose Publishing, and is worth its price. The expanded and detailed careers, along with the relevant supporting information, provides a much richer set of options for play even if the player-characters are not themselves 'scoundrels', but may need to interact with some.