Megatraveller was the high-water mark for the cooperative venture between Traveller owner GDW, and the independent creators at DGP. Today we’ll take a look at three of their excellent releases: 101 Vehicles (1988), Starship Operator’s Manual (1988), World Builder’s Handbook (1989).
These out-of-print DGP releases remain difficult to find due to a rights snafu. I go into the history of this problem in my previous post: 101 Robots (1986) & Early Adventures (1988): Two “Lost” Supplements for Classic Traveller RPG
Megatraveller reminds me of the AD&D Monstrous Compendium binders: A clever idea hamstringed by poor execution. DGP designed much of the rules structure of MT, intended to be a precise but accessible core rules set. The skill system had a concise language, with specific tasks defined in the text block or margins (similar to fellow RPG 2300AD).
In the end, however, the Megatraveller rules system was overly-crunchy and riddled with errors requiring extensive errata to correct. The task descriptions took up too much space and were often difficult to locate during play (likewise a problem for 2300AD).
This iteration of Traveller fell flat, not only due to systems issues, but as well the divisive setting that plunged the Imperium into civil war. The Megatraveller box set profile is the least-visited Traveller page on my photoblog, and MT books can be tepid sellers.
If DGP had a rough go of it with the MT rules system, they levelled-up their usual excellence when it comes to sourcebooks! (Link to the DGP page at my old school RPG reference site)
I love the graphic design of the trio! Let’s now turn to examining them individually.
1988 … Rob Caswell & William W. Connors & Joe D. Fugate Sr. & Howard Leidner & Aleatha Parker & Nancy Parker & Robert Parker & Tom Peters … 48 pages … DGP 871
All the basic vehicle designs from the MegaTraveller Imperial Encyclopedia and the Rebellion Sourcebook have been included, as well as many designs from classic (pre-Mega-Traveller) Traveller works. Together with the more than 70 totally new designs, these vehicles should fill any need that may arise in an adventure session. The designs in this book serve as excellent examples of the MegaTraveller craft design system, and as a source of inspiration for your own custom vehicle designs. New weapon tables expand your options as you arm your vehicle in preparation for the rebellion.
There is a first edition and second edition of 101 Vehicles. Second editions are noted on the first page. I’m not clear what the differences are, but I reckon they are errata updates.
Starship Operator’s Manual, Vol. 1
1988 … Joe D. Fugate Sr. & Gary L. Thomas & William W. Connors & Rob Caswell … 66 pages … DGP 872
The MegaTraveller player and referee no longer need argue over the finer points of how a jump drive works, or waste precious game time debating over starship security systems. These topics and many more are described, explained, and illustrated in the Starship Operator’s Manual series. The Starship Operator’s Manual, Volume 1 is divided into three basic sectons: • Starship Systems • The 200-ton Free Trader • Game Rules for Starship Operation.
As with 101 Vehicles, the Starship Operator’s Manual also has 1st and 2nd editions. Despite further SOM’s planned, Volume 1 was the only one to see print.
The numerous Old Timer sections are a hoot. He gives you the real info that only a veteran would know.
If all that wasn’t enough, how about a fold-out set of deck plans for a Beowulf Class Free Trader?
World Builder’s Handbook
1989 … Joe D. Fugate, Sr. & J. Andrew Keith & Gary L. Thomas & Rob Caswell (Art) … 96 pages … DGP 875
World Builder’s Handbook consists of these sections: • Survey and Exploration is for MegaTraveller players. It details the survey, exploration, landing party, and contact procedures used by the Scouts. This section discusses other topics, too — like what has happened to the Scouts in the rebellion, determining sentience, and so on. • Survey Equipment is also for players. Packed with new high-tech equipment, this section includes information on vacc suits, sensors, vehicles, and complete plans for the Donosev Class Scout Survey Vessel. • Detailing a World is for the Traveller referee. It shows how to take the Traveller UWP stats for a world and expand them into an accurate, detailed description of the world’s temperature, oceans, continents, seismic activity, resources, cities, starports, cultural outlook, local customs, government and legal structure, and technological achievements. • Mapping a World tells how to create a carefully detailed world map, accurate to the world details produced from the “Designing a World” section. • Using World Data discusses how to use the expanded world information to introduce a new level of exciting realism into a game session.
World Builder’s Handbook has no Index. I’m not aware of any subsequent editions of WBH.