Review: An Introduction to Traveller

Posted: 17 April 2013 in Reviews

As often happens when there is a long gap between sessions, I started wondering about other games. This time, as I’m returning to SF gaming, I started wondering about Mongoose Traveller.

Now, I’ve already reviewed the main rulebook, but at 194 pages it’s a bit chunky and I was looking for something a bit easier to digest. That led me to Book 0: An Introduction to Traveller, a 34 page PDF by Mongoose, aimed at those wanting to try out Mongoose Traveller before buying the whole thing. I normally use products like this not only for that purpose, but also as a "travel edition" of the rules.


One page introduction to Traveller – player and referee roles, scenarios vs campaigns vs shared campaigns, die rolling conventions.

Character creation. 12 pages; severely cut down (fair enough) and only covers Army and Navy careers. However, it looks to be complete in itself.

Skills and tasks. 8 pages; this is the core of Mongoose Traveller, and has about 60% of the skills from the full rules, as well as the core game mechanic – which remains, as it has for generations now, "roll 2d6 plus modifiers, try to get at least 8".

Combat. 5 pages. Just the guts of the system, enough to cover personal combat with other characters or animals.

Equipment. 4 pages; a handful of guns and blades, characteristic augments, computers, medical gear, binoculars. This would do me fine, I’ve run entire campaigns with less gear than this.


Two column text, black on white, with black and white illustrations. Simple and effective.


I’d have picked different careers, myself. My fondness for Scouts is well-known, but setting that aside, Marines and Merchants have been much commoner choices in games I’ve played in.

There are a lot of minor errors, of the kind you sometimes get when converting a file to PDF format; words printed on top of each other, strange gaps in the middles of words, erratic shifts into different fonts. These are really irritating and should’ve been caught and shot at an early stage.

Most games companies would put out something like this – OK, maybe a little smaller – as a free taster; it felt a bit strange paying for it, even though the cost is only that of a cup of decent coffee.


So very nearly what I was looking for, namely a cut-down version of the rules I could use for quick reference and pickup games; but the continuous blurring, overtyping and midword gaps left me irritated. If I go any further with Mongoose Traveller, I’ll make my own GM sheets; at least this will show me what they need to cover.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5.

  1. raikenclw says:

    I find it so depressing, when game companies put out PDF content that it’s so painfully obvious a human never even glanced at. Since their purpose is – presumably – to attract paying customers, why not go to even the *little* extra effort of proofing the thing first? If they’re that short of paid editorial help, I’m sure there are plenty of folks who would volunteer their time (me being one of them).

    • andyslack says:

      Maybe it looked OK in their viewer? I have to say though, I expect a PDF file to render properly in Acrobat…

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