Saturday, October 25, 2014

Alien Module 3 Vargr - review

This is a review of the PDF of the third alien module for the ancient sci fi RPG, Traveller.

The PDF is 52 pages long, and is a scan of an original well  worn 1984 printing. The cover is rather worn and showing its age. The text inside is perfectly readable and can be searched, although the scan isn't always as straight as you might wish.

The purpose of this module is to introduce a new sentient and playable race into the classic Traveller game, and from the outset I can tell you it does this very well.

The book starts by telling you what the Vargr are, a sentient bipedal race descending from Terran wolf stock, this leads to some major differences in appearance and character from humans. Namely that they look a good deal like upright dogs/wolves, and everything about their society is built around the pack mentality.

After the general introduction the module details their physiology, psychology, history, society, government, and military is covered in some depth. This is necessary as one of the stated aims of the module is to demonstrate just how "alien" these aliens are, They think differently, the behave differently, they are not to be thought of as humans with fur.

After this essay is a section on the Vargr language. As with the first two alien modules this section not only explains how it's structured and sounds, but gives you the tools to generate Vargr names and words, in fact the entire lexicon if you're mad enough to roll that many dice!

The next section gives you a grounding in Vargr character generation, explaining how the process is similar to, yet different to normal human rules. Those familiar with the core game's rules for character generation will find this easy to work through.

Next comes a section called "Gvurrdon's Story" . This section starts by giving a a short dictionary of Vargr words and then presents an ancient Vargr legend written entirely in the Vargr language. If you have players excited enough to do the translation, you should be scared, they are obviously nutters!

A full page diagram gives you a map of the Gvurrdon sector (not sub sector) for the players.

Then come additional character generation rules for the the Vargr equivalent of High Guard. Then come some rules for the Vargr Corsairs, a sort of Scout/Navy/Pirate mixed service.

The next section of essays informs us about the Vargr homeworld and gives the referee additional notes about the race when being used as Patrons and NPCs.

Then comes a short adventure based around the ancient Vargr text presented earlier, including a translation for the referee to use. The sector map is presented again with more detail for the referee along with the planetary stats. It's really more of an adventure seed than an full adventure.

In the classic Traveller style of book layout, there is very little art within the pages. In fact the only internal art is a medical diagram of a generic Vargr and a line art drawing of a Vargr 100-ton Scout. That's it. Really the only inspiration to be drawn from artwork is the cover of this work.

I stated at the start of this review that I liked this book. I do. The essays are a fascinating read, and if the author has managed to describe a government structure, in a way to keep me interested late at night then he must have done it pretty well! After reading this book, you get a good idea of how the Vargr are to be played as a race, and how they might fit in amongst a party of humans.

If you're playing classic Traveller, I would say this is a must-have for the referee. Not needed of course, as the core rules give you a complete game, but by adding the Vargr into the mix, you'll make your game worlds so much richer. At a price of just a couple of pounds, this PDFs was a bargain, and well worth it
I'm an author, I write adventure game books.

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