Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Review: JTAS, February – March, 2013

My subscription is running out! Time to take a close look at this online magazine….

Mark Gellis currently gets something in every single issue. The work that he is doing developing the lesser known corners of the Third Imperium is impressive. (When I first wanted to referee Traveller, I was terrified that the players would go off the edge of the sector map. Of course, that’s silly, but… it’s just cool to see that someone has done a great deal of work fleshing out what’s just on the other side of the border.) It’s a pity that the canonicity of this work is ambiguous mostly just because it is simply ignored.

Short Adventure:

  • All In by Richard Crowley — This is an unusual adventure set in the time of Milieu Zero. Cleon is emperor and there’s a deal of a mess to sort out between the Corporations, the Senate, and a Pocket Empire.

Casual Encounter:

  • People You Might Meet on Qevar by Mark Gellis — This is the fourth article about this world in JTAS. This article gives an overview of Qevar followed in-depth write-ups of two personalities: a freedom fighter and a journalist/spymaster. I am impressed by how much depth there is here… and how the wider politics of the Imperium is incorporated.
  • Three Personalities from Nusku Part I by Andrea Vallance — This is a Vilani convert to an “Ecumenical” church and who served as a chaplain in the Third Interstellar War. Full GURPS Fourth Edition stats are provided; he seems most likely to be used as a patron, either to help send missionaries into Vilani space or else tackle some sort of military objective that the “powers that be” refuse to deal with. [This guy is too realistic-ish to find his way into my game. Based on this one article, it seems that Interstellar Wars material caters more to nuanced world building and sophisticated role playing. I’m just not smart enough to run that sort of game.]
  • Three Personalities From Nusku: Part II by Andrea Vallance — This is Mother Theresa adapted to Traveller… with the option of adding some Shepherd Book type background if it suits you. I can completely see her approaching player characters to smuggle someone off-world .. and then the players just saying, “no.” I wonder how she could leverage the players into doing anything…. (The whole rogues-with-hearts-of-gold thing is just in movies. Player characters are an entirely different animal.)


  • Small Worlds and Small Settlements by Mark Gellis — An exhaustive breakdown of the technical details of small moons and asteroids. Also included are details on the type of ores you can find, how much you’d get for them, and how hard they are to find with a Prospecting skill roll.

Campaign Setting:

  • Adventures in the Shen-Yang System by Mark Gellis — Located in the Star Lane subsector of the Deneb sector, Shen-Yang sports a scout base and a diverse dinosaur style ecology. A breakdown of all the worlds in the system is provided. Most of the information here concerns the animal life of the main world. The adventure seed seems to assume that players will not be staying long; the players are travellers, after all. The concept of squatters detailed here provides a rare reason for the players to visit the minor worlds of a star system. [This is not a bad world, but being campaign setting material it is of course extremely high level. This successfully fleshes out a raw world profile into something that seems real, but the work of developing an adventure here is obviously left as a task for the referee.]
  • Adventures in the Estrada System by Mark Gellis — This world is in a lesser-used sector of the Traveller universe– it is coreward and spinward of the Solomani Rim: the Daibei sector. The author has concluded (with Loren Wisemen’s blessing) that the GEnie/Sunbane data is flawed and should be ignored, so this article begins with the sparse Atlas of the Imperium canonical data and works from there using the GURPS Space for 4th edition rules. As this world has a new name, it does not show up on most existing Traveller maps. Estrada is a low population twilight world with arcologies and the adventure seed here deals with feuding extended families. (Think Romeo and Juliet in The Caves of Steel.)
  • Rediscovering Lekarraa 5 by Richard Crowley — This is a world detailed for a Reformation Coalition Bootstrap scenario. It sounds like the World Tamer’s Handbook is required to run this. The base unit of game time is one month… and though random animal encounters sound like a big part of the scenario, none are detailed here. This appears to be the world development component of a 4X game.

2 responses to “Review: JTAS, February – March, 2013

  1. Douglas Cole April 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    This is a phenomenal amount of work by only one or two authors. Mark writes good, sensible stuff on the SJG Forums, but wow that’s a lot of content for only one issue.

    • jeffro April 2, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Blog-fail! (I skipped the who-what-when-where.) Remember, JTAS is more like the pre-PDF online Pyramid. The above articles are from four separate issues.

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