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Travellers' Aide #1 - Personal Weapons of Charted Space

As the name suggests this supplement covers those weapons a Traveller might expect to be carrying about his person, or will find being used against him. These essentially consist of civilian and paramilitary weapons, as well as typical melee weapons (ranging from TL0 Stone Clubs to High Tech Boarding Axes) and lower TL ranged weapons (Bows, Black Powder Firearms, Slings etc). It does not cover purely military or support weaponry per se, except where rules pertain to both civilian and military weapons, and these are to be covered in a forthcoming supplement. What it does do is collect all the weapons of CT that are not pure military in one place, with complete descriptions and statistics for each. The product is aimed at the T20 and Classic Traveller Markets, though obviously GMs and players familiar with other versions of Traveller should have little difficulty converting the stats and rules provided.

The supplement is well presented, with a reasonably attractive full colour cover, and contains 43 interior pages, of which 40  contain the meat of the product. The layout suffers slightly from being a pdf document rather than an actual printed book, as the page background and borders, while attractive and pleasing to the eye, will be difficult to print out unless you have access to a good quality colour printer, and the onscreen layout suffers from the usual drawback of pdf, in that in order to make the text legible, you cannot have the whole page on screen at once necessitating a lot of scrolling up and down.

There are 4 main types of information to be found in the text: Flavour, Description, Rules, and Background. The flavour text is quite entertaining, mainly consisting of a retired Marine Lt Colonel, with a rather gung-ho attitude to weaponry, A Naval Lt Commander who would appear to want the 3rd Imperium rid of weaponry outside the Military, as civilians are too incompetent or lack discipline to use them properly, and the occasional representative of one of the Major Arms Manufacturers.

The Rules cover useful things such as Licences, Avoiding Searches, Burst & Autofire, Area & Suppresive Fire, and Panic Fire. The rules themselves are fairly clearly laid out, though I don't necessarily agree with all of them. For example, the Area fire rules have it that even if you are in solid cover (a trench or a concrete wall etc), if you are in the primary target area you cannot avoid being hit by at least one bullet... Or at least, you can't using T20. The CT Area fire rules presented here take no account of cover, but even standing in the open you can avoid being hit...

There are several areas where such inconsistencies occur, though I suppose this is to be expected somewhat due to the nature of the game mechanics in the different versions, but in some places it is not clear whether a particular modifier is for use only with T20, only with CT, or equally to both. e.g., A laser dot pointer "gives the firer an advantage in rapid point-and-shoot situations. This equates +2 to hit in T20, but "only at close range", but a HUD "gives the user a firing bonus at any range:+3 to hit at all ranges" and a Squealer gives a penalty to attack for the victim "This penalty is -2 to all rolls in T20,or a DM of -1 on all rolls in CT." So the -2 T20 penalty cause by the Sqealer equates to a -1DM in CT... so does the +2 T20 to hit modifier for a laser pointer also equate to a +1DM in CT, and is the +3 Modifier for HUD for T20, CT or Both?

Actually, it isn't too difficult to figure out these things for yourself, but for the Novice GM it would help if there was consistency applied in the descriptions.

There are also a few minor errors in the text, and in the Area fire Table the results of making your Reflex save if you are in the secondary area of effect have been transposed... so according to the table if you make your save you are hit by one bullet, if you fail it you are missed... which is the opposite of the correct version in the text. These are not particularly serious errors, but it would be advisable for the proofreading at Quiklink to be improved. At least with Electronic Publication and Distribution it is relatively easy to amend errors such as these.

Most of the rest of the supplement is devoted to the description of the assorted weaponry, and the collation of the game specific information into numerous tables. For T20 statistics each weapon gets a fairly bland one line entry, though this does cover everything you need to know about a weapon in the d20 System. The CT stats are copious, with first the range modifiers for each weapon in one large table, followed by the Armour penetration modifier table. Finally a catalog of specific versions of the generic weapon types is presented. A nice addition is slight modifiers to the weapons based on which specific model you buy. Descriptions of a wide variety of weapon manufacturers are included, for extra background.

On the whole I feel that this supplement is a promising start in a line that will hopefully go from strength to strength, and I would award it 7/10.