Traveller in 2017

We covered some broad strokes for what would be coming up for Traveller this year in the State of the Mongoose, but now we can delve a little deeper and let you know what to expect for your favourite sci-fi RPG.

We will be continuing the regular(ish) release of ebook support for Traveller throughout the year, including more Referee’s Briefings (the next two will be Incidents and Encounters, due in a few days, and Garden Worlds, later this month) and various regions of the Traveller universe (the Lunion Shield Worlds will be appearing in a couple of months or so).

 

Vehicle Handbook

However, the next big hardback will be the Vehicle Handbook, which pretty much does for vehicles what High Guard does for ships. We have based this book on the previous edition, spearheaded by the mechanics of Colin Dunn, but we have focussed heavily on usability, meaning it is even quicker to put vehicles together now. The second edition Traveller rules have helped a great deal here, streamlining the mechanics for vehicles and how they integrate into the wider game.

As well as giving plenty of options for the types of vehicles you can create (from hovering submarines to bouncing walkers to massive airship aircraft carriers), we have also included a veritable fleet of vehicles, some familiar, some brand new, for you to insert straight into your campaigns. We have been at pains not to simply give you a car, a lorry, a motorcycle – that is a bit boring. Instead, we have been working on creating vehicles, across all Tech Levels (yes, we have TL1 vehicles in the book!), that may be found throughout the universe. So, if you are looking for low tech nomad raiders, the wind-powered land ship with a full complement of bolt throwers will be just the ticket (and can provide a nasty surprise even for well equipped Travellers!). At the other end of the scale, Travellers might be interested in dropping MCr5 on the Abel thermospheric reconnaissance drone, capable of staying on station above enemy territory, undetected, as it relays intelligence back to them.

Or you can go full Mech with the range of fighting walkers we have included.

Vehicle Handbook is in layout right now, and you can expect to see the electronic version around the beginning of February, with the hardback surfacing late spring.

 

Traveller Starter Set

One reason for the new edition of Traveller appearing when it did was because of a request from Mr Miller for us to do a starter box set (it did not make sense to do one towards the end of the product cycle of the last edition, so the new rulebook was written).

This box set will contain everything players need to dive into Traveller, from the rules (which, while the Core Rulebook will have more breadth, will not be a cut-down version of its rules) to a complete mini-campaign. The campaign is set in the Traveller Universe, but many, many light years away from the Third Imperium or, indeed, any part of Charted Space. It is our intention that it will serve as both an introduction into the mechanics and concepts of Traveller, as well as a long-running campaign that we may return to at a later date (possibly as part of an ‘advanced’ rules box set, but we will have to see…).

The keen-eyed among you will recognise that the front cover of the starter set is the reverse of the Core Rulebook, taken from the point of view of the Corsairs…

Expect to see the electronic version of the starter set in February…

 

Reach Adventure 4: The Last Flight of the Amuar

The next full adventure set in the Trojan Reach will be the Last Flight of the Amuar, a re-imagining of the classic adventure, Leviathan.

The original adventure presented details of the Leviathan-class merchant cruiser and an outline of an adventure aboard one. In this adventure, Leviathan was engaged in an exploratory trade cruise into the so-called Outrim Void, a region just over the border from Imperial space.

In this adventure, written by fan-favourite M J Dougherty, the Travellers will iscover that Amuar continued heading into deep space rather than turning for home as her mission plan had indicated. The clues point to the backwater world of Pa’an, where the wreck of Amuar is found. Entering it, the Travellers will seek clues as to why the mission profile was changed, and how the ship came to be crashed on a nowhere world…

 

The Pirates of Drinax

This is the biggie. The previously free-to-download Pirates of Drinax is getting a major uplift, with all material re-edited, re-written, and expanded, combined with source material on both the Aslan and Trojan Reach, and bundled together with a giant poster map into two full colour hardbacks within a slipcase.

This is going to be a magnificent Traveller set to own and, we believe, the best campaign written for Traveller thus far (and one of the best written for any RPG – the principal writer, Gareth Hanrahan, has a real gift for this kind of work).

Along the way, we have accumulated way more material than we can possibly fit into the slipcase books (well over 700 pages worth!), so we have decided to package a lot of these extra bits and pieces as ebooks that can be downloaded to expand and enhance your campaign. We should be at pains to point out that nothing outside of the slipcase books is necessary for the campaign – it really is extra supplements that can be added for an extended Drinaxian experience.

For example, we have included a large number of Patron encounters in the campaign – however, we have also expanded half a dozen of those encounters into full blown adventures (perfect for the lazy referee!). The campaign includes a full chapter on the ship the players start with, the Drinaxian Harrier, covering its capabilities and ways it can be improved – there will also be a Harrier supplement adding yet more options to this magnificent ship.

Beyond that, we have a Ship Encounters supplement with ready-to-go vessels for the players to plunder (all with extensive backgrounds that can lead onto brand new adventures or, at least, greatly complicate the pirating operation), and we already have released supplements for Drinax covering specific regions, such as Theev (expect to see similar releases on the Florian League and Glorious Empire!).

Finally, we will be introducing a brand new chapter to the campaign, in the form of the Shadows of Sindal, a trilogy or linked adventures that will take the players ever deeper into the story.

We are aiming for all of this to be released over the summer months but, with Traveller in general and Drinax specifically, it will appear when it is ready – there is no way we are going to rush projects of this magnitude.

Either way, the Pirates of Drinax is set to be a truly epic campaign or the most monstrous proportions!

 

The Traveller Companion

Despite being mentioned in the Core Rulebook, the Companion did not appear in 2017 – we are taking steps to rectify that right now!

So, what is the Traveller Companion?

Well, a good description would be all the material that did not make it into the core books released thus far. Its chapter structure mimics that of the Core Rulebook, with different or additional takes on each – for example, in the character creation chapter, there are new pre-career options alongside new ways to create characters that do not use the career system. In the Encounters chapter, you will find new hazards and additional traits for animals, while the Spacecraft Operations chapter includes, among other things, what happens when a ship strays a bit too close to a black hole…

It is basically a repository for every whacky idea the designers ever had, along with a good dollop of material that has been put together from comments made by players on various Traveller forums. We are still adding ideas into the mix (‘say, wouldn’t it be whiz-o-whiz if we added rules for T Tauri stars?’), and the end result will be a massive toolkit for referees to plough through, picking and choosing what they want to use for their own, unique campaigns.

Expect the Traveller Companion during the summer, and as a full colour hardback in autumn.

 

Expedition to Zhodane

For the next stage of our Traveller storytelling, we will revisit another classic adventure in the run up to one of the mightiest events to engulf the Third Imperium.

Once again, M J Dougherty will be taking a classic adventure and reworking it – this time, turning it into an eight episode mini-campaign that will send the players deep into Zhodani space and serve as a suitably climactic build up to the next mega-campaign we will be working on, the Fifth Frontier War (likely to be a 2018 release itself – but well worth waiting for!).

Expedition to Zhodane will start appearing towards the end of summer, and will be completed by the end of the year, followed by a hardback compiling the campaign in early 2018.

 

2300AD

All going well, the new edition of 2300AD will be arriving this winter – brought up to the spec of the new Traveller rules, streamlined to make it easier to get into, and in glorious full colour throughout.

The design is being headed by Colin Dunn,who will be well known to fans of this setting, and work on supplementary support has already been started, including Bayern, the Aerospace Engineer’s Handbook, and a brand new epic campaign that will get players with little or no experience into the 2300AD universe.

Expect a much bigger commitment than before to 2300AD over the next few years.

 

Anything Else?

These titles form the cornerstones of our plans for Traveller throughout 2017 but, as ever, we will be trying to squeeze more in where we can – there is a long, long list covering what we want to do with Traveller, in terms of both game and setting, and we would very much like it if you all came along with us. We believe there is tremendous scope for Traveller, in terms of mechanics, source material and stories, and we will be aiming to touch on all three throughout the year.

If you have any suggestions for must-have titles, feel free to swing by our forums and let us know!

 

State of the Mongoose 2016

It has been a tradition over the past 14 years to make a public post on how Mongoose has been getting on over the past 12 months, as well as taking a gander at our plans for the following year. You are all welcome to make any comments and ask any questions regarding this address on our forums HERE.

Short Version: The State of the Mongoose is pretty good, actually.

Longer Version: We have some issues here and there, but they are all manageable, all being fixed one by one, and none are company threatening in the least.

Full Version:

 

Changing Business

Late last year, we released the new edition of Traveller with the printed hardback following just a short few months after. This heralded not only a change in Traveller itself but also a fundamental shift in how we approached our games here at Mongoose.

The new Traveller was, in a way, a culmination of a number of changes made over the past few years and what we chose to focus on, as a company.

For most of our history, we have dabbled in the miniatures market with several games, starting with Mighty Armies and ending with Judge Dredd. The closure of our miniatures production facility in Ohio naturally led to a hard look at how we were going to proceed with miniatures overall. The upshot of that? A decision that we were just not built to handle the production and sales of miniatures, and that was a problem that led directly to the top of the leadership of Mongoose (that would be yours truly).

Now, I flatter myself to say that we are good (very good?) at miniatures games… just not the miniatures themselves. So, it was decided that we would pull out of miniatures production completely and leave that to companies built upon such expertise (like our friends at Warlord who took over the production of the Judge Dredd miniatures range).

This approach was then applied to the printing, warehousing, distribution and sales of printed books. For a couple of years now, Mongoose has printed no books. At all.

Bit weird for a publishing company?

We engaged the services of a US-based company called Studio 2 Publishing, who may be familiar to some of you (they provide the same services for the Savage Worlds RPG and, indeed, were first recommended to us by Shane Hensley). Studio 2 is now responsible for the printing and distribution of our entire printed RPG line – if you have seen one of our books in your local store of late, it came from them.

These changes, and others like them, resulted in a big departure from the way we did business.

At a stroke, it annihilated, utterly trashed, the admin required to run Mongoose. We used to have full-time staff members doing nothing but counting beans (actually, there was a bit more to it than that, and they were very good at what they did). Today, admin revolves around 10-15 minutes every day doing the accounts and keeping on top of customer service emails – a role I can easily cover myself.

In addition, we no longer have warehouse staff, warehouse rental fees, bills from shippers and, that holy grail of publishing, no bills from printers. This means cashflow becomes flat – steady, and very, very predictable. Few medium and long term businesses go bust because they run out of money; they go pop because of cashflow issues.

This in turn results in Mongoose being more stable now than it has ever been. I am not going to use the term bulletproof, but we are now in a very good position to weather any storm that sweeps through the industry (such as Pound Sterling sinking faster than the Titanic, which has provided us with very much mixed blessings overall).

So, no-stress cashflow and lower outgoings – this led to something I have wanted to enact for years but could not do so until now.

The majority of gaming companies (at least 90% of them) all have a front-loaded model. The reason they have constant releases every month or so is not because they enjoy releasing products, nor even because they can. It is because they must.

It is no secret that most sales of a gaming book occur within the first three months, with some (very few) products becoming ‘evergreen’ and having long sales tails. The thing is, if you have a nice big, respectable gaming company, you need those three-month sales just to survive, to the extent that if you go three months without a release, you begin seeing serious cashflow issues. Beyond that, gaming companies start imploding.

This is why we work to deadlines in publishing.

However, here at Mongoose, we found ourselves in a rather special position. Through a combination of a (very) large ebook back catalogue and increased royalties (this year, for the first time, we received more income from royalties than we paid out, which is not bad going at all when you consider our fondness in the past for licences), Mongoose can go a very, very long time without having to release new product. Going a full year without a new release might be a stretch… but I think with careful management it would be doable.

This means we no longer have to release books just to survive. We can release them when we feel they are ready, and not a day sooner.

This policy was instituted with the new Traveller from the start. Deadlines were replaced with guidelines, and nothing would go out until we were sure we liked it.

The upshot of this?

We broke every single dead/guideline set. Every single one!

However, the flip side is that the new Traveller is far, far better than it might otherwise have been, and it is a game we are well and truly proud of.

Some other, smaller, changes were made along the way to aid this process; we cut down the number of writers that work on our games, focussing on those with a demonstrated ability to write for Traveller (and Paranoia, for that matter); we also cut out the old editorial process – it was far too variable in the past, so now I have bitten the bullet and do all editing myself (an additional benefit here is that if any given text is boring the hell out of me, it gets cut immediately, and I am not sure I can say that was true of all our previous editors…).

This is going to result in a big slowdown of new products from Mongoose, compared to what you might have expected in the past – I think we are looking at one hardback every 3 months or so, with the odd adventure book and smattering of ebook support.

On the face of it, this means less income for Mongoose but that is something we can sustain now, and there is the (admittedly vague) thought that better quality books will mean more sales individually, once the word gets around.

That is okay. The Mission Statement for Mongoose today is not to rule the world, but to produce games we like at the best possible quality.

 

2016 and the Mongoose

The big hit of the year was the new edition of Traveller.

For this game, we wanted to a) streamline and enhance the previous edition (which, frankly, did not have a great deal wrong with it in terms of mechanics) and b) make it a pretty book!

We started from scratch with the artwork, and introduced copious amounts of 3D designs for both vehicles and spacecraft. The equipment section has been presented as a type of shopping catalogue (a conceit we extended to the Central Supply Catalogue, also released this year), and we have revised the way we present sector maps, in a way that allows useful notes to be made directly onto them (no more black backgrounds!).

At every stage of the new game, we inspected every rule and took a long look at how it was actually played during a game. Traveller has a history of leaning towards simulation, sometimes at the expense of gameplay, and we wanted to very much reverse that. The result is a game that will feel extremely familiar to players of our previous edition or Classic Traveller, but will feel much smoother and more intuitive during play.

We backed up the release of Traveller with a flurry of ebooks and adventures, dividing the latter between the familiar Spinward Marches and the rough and ready Trojan Reach – both sectors are adjacent, so Travellers can voyage easily between the two and while we are continuing to explore the Marches, we will be very much having a focus upon the Reach with this edition.

As mentioned before, our new design policies have led to several books being delayed. However, most are in an advanced state of completion and will be appearing early to mid-2017.

Vehicle Handbook: This one is being laid out right now (it will be the first of the big titles to appear next year) and does for vehicles in Traveller what High Guard does for spacecraft. We have taken the previous Vehicle Handbook and streamlined it further, making it even easier to build pretty much any vehicle you can imagine, from a humble bicycle to a fusion-powered super-heavy drone-controlled death tank with grav drives and a burrowing attachment! As well as the design system, we have also filled this book with all manner of vehicles that can appear on Traveller worlds. Here, we have tried hard to avoid the ordinary (we are not going to give you a lorry, followed by a family car from the 21st century) and reach further for what is a) likely to appear on worlds far from our own and b) start to feel for the limits of the design system. We have ensured there are vehicles for all pockets, so if you have a hard up mercenary force, we can point you to the (very) lightly armoured gun skiff that has room for a massive weapon and very little else, while those rich folk wanting to travel in style can board the hypersonic Concordia II jet…

Traveller Companion: This is the one title we did not properly get to grips with in 2016, but it is well on its way and being handled by Traveller-supremo Martin Dougherty. This book is intended to be married to the Core Rulebook and provides, well, options for referees and players wanting to develop their campaigns. Think of it as a toolkit for Traveller – if you want to introduce new aliens and animals, new technologies, non-random character creation, explore worlds in new ways, introduce new hazards for both planetary and space travel… the Traveller Companion will be for you!

Traveller Starter Box Set: The one title I was most disappointed at not having brought out in 2016 was the all new Traveller starter set. This is a boxed set that will now be appearing in the second quarter of 2017 and, well, it contains everything needed to start playing Traveller. It contains a full set of the Core rules (not cut down, you get everything in the Core Rulebook), along with a brand new campaign that is set in the same galaxy as the Third Imperium, but far, far away – we have some ideas on how to extend and expand this campaign over two or three more box sets that also introduce rules into the game, but that will (as always) depend on you chaps and what you think of the first.

 

Traveller in 2017 – Overview

Our first priority for 2017 is getting the books we are currently working on out of the door. But we have some real crackers in the works for you beyond that…

 

Drinax & DLC

A while ago, we released the Pirates of Drinax mega-campaign as a free download, and very well received it was too.

We are going to be re-releasing Pirates of Drinax in early 2017 and, this time, we are going to ask you to pay for it.

But why would we pay for it, I hear you ask…

Because this edition is going to kick some serious bottom.

The new Pirates of Drinax has been revised from top to bottom, with oodles of new material included – no more vague mentions of mysterious predators on far flung worlds – if your Travellers visit that world, we have got the referee covered and provide description, game stats and artwork of that predator. If a new ship is mentioned, you will have the stats, hull and deck plans for it. In other words, everything you need to run the Pirates of Drinax campaign.

This mega-campaign is going to be presented as a double volume, full colour hardback set in tough slipcase, complete with a huge poster map that will have the entire Trojan Reach on one side (again, in a format that will allow you to makes notes upon it, charting your progress as you cut a swathe through the stars), and (at time of writing) everything you need to know about the Harrier commerce raider on the other. As well as the campaign, these books will detail the Trojan Reach in its entirety, introduce all background and rules for the Aslan (including Traveller creation, ships and equipment), and provide you with plenty of patrons and encounters across the sector for any campaign.

In short, it is not just a campaign, but an entire sector and alien module too!

However, as we were working on Pirates of Drinax, we realised we had way too much material to cram into even a double volume set. So, we started work on supplementary material.

For a long time, we avoided using the term DLC around the office for this. DLC has developed some negative connotations, which were just not applicable to what we were doing. However, we had a good, long think about this and in the end decided to call it what it is – DLC.

This stems from my own video gaming. When I get to the end of Skyrim or Mass Effect, or any other game I have been enjoying, I am more than happy to dive back in and expand the experience. This is what we want to do for Pirates of Drinax, provide additional materials that will expand and genuinely enhance the campaign experience, that have solid value and worth – they are not vital to run the campaign, but we think the campaign is better with them.

We are not going to charge you to add a horse to your game.

What we will be providing are ebooks (most of which have been written by fan-favourite Martin Dougherty) with patron encounters expanded into full-blown adventures, NPC ships with a back story to ensure you never raid ‘just another merchant’, and more detailed world descriptions (such as the ebook Pirates of Drinax: Theev we released recently). We have even taken the chapter in Pirates of Drinax covering the Harrier commerce raider and created a complete owner’s manual for it, with lots of new options for upgrades and repairs.

As well as keeping the campaign set to a manageable size (it is going to be well over 400 pages by itself), this DLC allows you to pick and choose where you want to expand your campaign – if your players never go near one subsector, you won’t need expanded world descriptions for it. On the other hand, if your players are constantly hitting merchant shipping, you might want to add some spice to their encounters.

Either way, we will have you covered.

 

Beyond Drinax

Pirates of Drinax represents a fairly monumental effort for our design team, and we are aiming to make it the best title we have ever released ever.

However, after it is complete, we will be looking to top it. And, it just so happens, we have a candidate that might just do that…

We started thinking about how the format we used for Pirates of Drinax (campaign, alien module, and sector) could be applied elsewhere, and where it would best serve.

For several years now, we have talked about tackling the Fifth Frontier War (FFW) properly, and now we finally have a vehicle worthy of it.

This project is being spearheaded by Rob Eaglestone, a name that will be very familiar to Traveller veterans. The FFW campaign will be another double volume that will have a complete multi-month campaign, an alien race (the Zhodani), and a whole sector (Ziafrplians, but we will be using a ‘common’ name for it that everyone can pronounce!).

The twist for this campaign is that the Travellers will be Zhodani agents in the run up to the war.

If everything goes according to plan and you chaps enjoy the campaign formats, we have this Grand Idea that the FFW will actually be a trilogy of campaigns, released one every year, that will focus on the Zhodani, the Vargr (or, rather, what is going on in Vargr space), and then the Vilani in the Spinward Marches, all backed up with additional and optional material in the form of ebooks.

After that, we will probably have a little rest!

However, before anyone panics, we are already looking at the likes of the K’kree, Hivers, and Solomani. Will they be in this grand campaign format? I would like them to be, but that will be down to all of you and what you think of Drinax and FFW.

On top of that, we have some (slightly) smaller projects we are looking at for Traveller in 2017. We want to cover some of the pocket empires in the Trojan Reach, notably the likes of the Florian League and Glorious Empire, which are both frankly fascinating, and these may be compiled towards the end of the year into an ‘Empires of the Reach’ hardback. By the same token, I would like us to take another swing at the Sword Worlds, and we have plenty more adventures coming, including a complete top-to-bottom revision/reimagining of the classic adventure, Leviathan (entitled Last Flight of the Amuar).

Some of you have already been asking about 2300AD, and what our intentions for it are.

Well, Colin ‘I am 2300AD’ Dunn has been beavering away on a second edition book, married to the new Traveller rules. It is our intention to release this in 2017 (likely at the bottom end of the year) as a full colour hardback with its own styling, along with a handful of supplements we have in the works (such as the Aerospace Engineer’s Handbook, and a revised Bayern).

We are conscious that 2300AD has had a bit of a barrier set up around it, that has made it somewhat impenetrable to non-2300AD veterans. This we are looking to break down.

We are going to be doing this with several approaches:

  1. Graphics and art: We are actively looking at new ways to present information other than big, block text (you can see the stirrings of this in the new Traveller).
  2. Technology: 2300AD has had a habit of adding ‘all the new technologies!’, along with the rules that go with them, and that just buries players. As with the new Traveller, we are looking for ways to properly streamline and simplify this game.
  3. There has always been a line of thought that said ‘yes, 2300AD is all well and good as a setting – but what do we do in it?’ We are looking at releasing 2300AD alongside a proper story-driven campaign that will both get veterans interested in returning to the universe, and introduce it to newcomers.

Ultimately, we want to build 2300AD up so it stands at least shoulder-high to the grand Third Imperium universe. This will take us the next few years to accomplish, but it is going to be a great ride for anyone who wants to get on board early.

 

Paranoia

Ah, now, this is the Big One. If the new Traveller is awesome, then the new Paranoia blows the lid right off.

The new Paranoia was born from an extremely successful Kickstarter and, as I type, it is finally being printed. Kickstarter backers will see their copies in January/February, and it will be in stores a couple of months or so after that (the retail edition is being printed at the same time).

The new Paranoia is, in my ever so humble estimation, and speaking as someone who has played the game since they were twelve, the Best Paranoia Ever Of All Time.

That is not hyperbole. The game is that good.

World Famous Games Designer James Wallis has done an absolute corker on Paranoia, ably assisted all the way by luminaries Eric Goldberg, Greg Costikyan and Ken Rolston.

So, how to describe it?

Well, even if you have never played Paranoia, you can sit down and be playing within minutes of opening the box set. Minutes.

Character creation is a masterpiece of games design that is intended not to create Troubleshooters (that is almost incidental) but foster rivalries among the players right from the start.

The largest book in the box set is the GM’s guide, and it has no more than half a dozen rules within it. In the new Paranoia, it is the players who run the game. The GM is really just there to make their lives difficult (here at Mongoose, we understand the pressures a hardworking and under-appreciated GM is always under – Paranoia is his perfect game).

Alpha Complex itself is exactly the same it always has been. It has also been changed to reflect today’s uncertain world. With the new Cerebral Coretech implants, the Computer truly can watch everything. And, of course, the dreaded Communists have now been joined by the vile Terrorists.

Once we have got the Kickstarter edition out of the door, we will be doing some previews of the new game, but I will just say this – if you have had but the slightest interest in Paranoia in the past, you will want to take a look at this new set. It is, as they say, a good ‘un.

Happily, the Kickstarter also funded several expansions to the game. Released alongside the box set will be the Interactive Screen (who wants a normal, boring GM’s Screen, eh?), and the full colour Forms Pack, printed on a tear-off pad so players can be threatened with bureaucracy at any time (or whim).

Following them quickly will be the first two expansion card decks. The first, The Mutant Explosion, adds many more mutant powers to the game, while the second covers additional Secret Societies… I don’t want to say too much about this one at the moment but suffice to say as well as brand new societies, it brings about schisms to old favourites!

Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues is currently being revised for both the new game and the changes in the setting, and a brand new set of adventures, Ultraviolent, will follow quickly.

Paranoia: A game of the darkly humorous future, upgraded for the post-privacy present…

 

Victory at Sea

This one has been on the cards for a long time – our miniatures game of World War II naval warfare.

When the first edition was released, many, many moons ago, its success caught us by surprise and, over the years, it became clear a second edition might be a good idea. We wrote the new game, playtested it a lot, and created a great many (about 150, as things stand!) 1/1800 scale ships.

But what to do with it?

We did not want to produce the game ourselves because, well, we don’t do that any more. So, we have spent the past few years looking for a suitable partner who can handle both book and miniatures… and we think we have found someone. Keep a weather eye out in the first half of 2017 for some exciting news here.

Incidentally, the Victory at Sea video game was released in 2015 on the PC. In development right now is Victory at Sea 2.0, again for the PC, and Victory at Sea: Ironclad, covering the American Civil War. We actually have a full miniatures rulebook written for the latter (heavily inspired by rules written by David ‘I know more about naval warfare than you’ Manley and yes, that will be making an appearance too on the tabletop. But WWII comes first.

 

Longer Term Aims

Our immediate aims are ‘make Traveller and Paranoia the best RPGs in their respective fields’. Although what other RPG occupies the same field as Paranoia might require some thought.

Beyond that, one goal is to properly develop our own original setting. We have messed about in the shallow end of this several times (Deus Vult, Wraith Recon, Infernum, for example) but we have never really, properly committed to any of them, and I am not sure they were the right ideas in the first place.

We do, of course, have some ideas. First among these is the Articulo Mortis setting for Traveller (the name of which has to change, for reasons that will be very obvious once you translate that title), a mixing pot of Third Imperium, Firefly and, yes, the Walking Dead.

Will that be the one we go forward with? No idea yet, but it is certainly a contender.

On a slightly different tack, Mongoose has been somewhat known for producing licensed games in the past (Babylon 5, Conan, Starship Troopers, to name but three). Are we looking at chasing more licences… well, not really, but never say never. The Golden Rule here is that we produce the games we ourselves want to play. If one of us gets a hankering to play, oh, I don’t know, a Halo RPG, you can be sure we’ll get onto the phone quickly.

That said, there is a proposal from us on the desk of a certain someone. It is not a massive mainstream licence (not TV or film), but it is ‘known’ in the RPG world. We think a small number of you would be really excited for it (we certainly are!), and we think we can do a good job. As for what it is… well, a decision is being made early next year, so you’ll just have to wait!

 

Onwards and Upwards

Overall, there has been a new attitude developing at Mongoose.

In the past, we have watched the RPG market like hawks, responding to trends and the actions of our competitors. These days… honestly… I really could not care less about the games other companies produce. Unless they are really good games, of course, in which case I will be playing them!

We are in the happy position that we do not need to consider other publishers as competitors (no one else can really do the games we produce), and so we are free to concentrate on designing the games that we want to play. To that extent, every one of our books today goes through the same three stages:

  1. Make it playable
  2. Make it pretty
  3. Add a dollop of awesome

As a writer, the first of these is the primary issue. There have been too many RPG books in the past (both from Mongoose and other publishers) that waffle on about detail and get into mechanics that may seem realistic when they are being written, but are absolute murder during play. RPGs are intended to be played and it can be easy to fall into the trap of forgetting that.

This was central to both the new edition of Traveller and Paranoia. Previous editions of Traveller had you tracking the speeds of individual vehicles and calculating their acceleration. How boring and time consuming is that, when you are chasing after the rogue agent in your G/Carrier? All you need to know are the relative speeds of the vehicles and whether one can easily overhaul the other (and how agile they are, once you get into the city or jungle). With one stroke, we got rid of a lot of rules waffle and made the game smoother.

Making the books pretty is down to our design team, Amy and Sandrine (I once commissioned a front cover myself, and was firmly told by my staff to never do it again…). Everything art-related you see in the new Traveller and Paranoia comes down to these two gamer girls.

Adding a dollop of awesome to each book is not something that can be quantified, and falls into the category of ‘we know it when we see it’. This takes many different forms, and may be different for each reader. For us it has included rules (the armour rules for Paranoia in the GM’s book, cited by Ken Rolston as a ‘monument to Paranoia rules writing’), art and design (I thought the ship size comparison spread in High Guard was quite funky), and approaches to how games are actually played (take a look at the way racism is handled in the Traveller adventure High and Dry – it will seriously wind up any Vargr player in the group…).

So, what can you expect from Mongoose Publishing in 2017 and beyond?

Some seriously good gaming experiences, I would say.

See you at the gaming table!

Matthew Sprange
Managing Director
Mongoose Publishing

Traveller – A New Edition in Development

The new Traveller has appeared, the product of many years tweaking, adjusting and listening to the thousands of players who have travelled the universe of the far future. Here, we will take you through the entire design process; what we have done with the game, what we have been aiming for, and our plans for the next ten years of Traveller.

So, grab yourself a coffee, and settle in for a good read! Alternatively, dive right in by picking up your own copy here!

First off, you can dive into the new Traveller right now with the Beta Rulebook PDF. It is a mere $20 on DrivethruRPG and we’ll return that $20 to you in the form of a voucher when the final Core Rulebook is released in early 2016.

So, what do you get in return?

Well, aside from the chance to directly influence the longest running sci-fi RPG of all time, you will be getting the following;

  • The Beta Playtest Core Rulebook, laid out and ready to go! After many, many moons of writing and internal playtesting, this book is now ready to be seen (and commented upon!) by dedicated Traveller players. All that is missing from this PDF is a few pieces of artwork!
  • A free copy of the adventure High and Dry, a revised edition of the original Type-S scenario, fully updated to the new Traveller in both rules and format. This will allow you to jump right in and start playing Traveller immediately with a cracking adventure written by fan favourite Martin Dougherty.
  • Access to draft (Word format) documents of the ‘core set’ of Traveller rule books – High Guard, Central Supply Catalogue, Vehicle Handbook, and the Traveller Companion, plus the chance to comment upon them and thus influence Traveller at a fundamental level.
  • A $20 voucher to be redeemed against the final Core Rulebook, meaning the Beta Core Rulebook will end up not costing you a penny!
  • If all goes well, some other goodies will be turning up in your Drivethru folders during the playtest period. We have some projects currently on the go that are set for release with the new addition, but if we can complete them according to schedule, they will be offered for free to all registered playtesters.

 

A New Traveller

When we released the last version of Traveller, it proved immensely popular – the Core Rulebook retained the feel and atmosphere of Classic Traveller but brought instantly accessible rules to the fore that could easily translate across multiple universes.

With such a solid base, there was no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater but there were always changes we wanted to make.

Graphics and Art

The first was the approach to graphical design. The last edition rested heavily on the minimalist approach of Classic Traveller – the new edition has all the bells and whistles you expect from a modern RPG. From isometric deck plans to flow charts that walk you throw character creation and ship design, from subsector maps to equipment pages that look as though they come straight from a space-based mail order catalogue, we have spent months striving to make the new Traveller not only look the best it can, but also to use these graphics to help it play better on the table top.

The goal has been not only to bring the Far Future to life through art and design, but to do so in a way that makes logical sense and aids gameplay.

It is our intention to make every Traveller book a full colour hardback – but more on those plans a bit later.

 

The Rules

Before we dived headlong into the design of the new Traveller, we created a long (very long!) Master Wish List of everything we thought might be good, interesting, or just plain cool to include. It was at this point that we decided (with some degree of insanity involved…) to work on not just the Core Rulebook in isolation, but to develop the Core Rulebook alongside what we started calling the ‘core set’ of supplements, those books that would become integral to the campaigns of many players, such as High Guard and the Central Supply Catalogue.

The idea here was that all these titles would be integrated at a very fundamental level so consistency was maintained across all of them. To give an example, in the past edition of Traveller, the ship design rules were written for the Core Rulebook and then High Guard was written on top of those to expand options. With this edition, High Guard was written first and then all ship-based material in the Core Rulebook was drawn from that.

This ensures there are no clashes or incompatibilities between the core set books. One follows on naturally from the others.

 

Traveller Creation

One of the absolute hits of the last edition was the career system and the events that tied into it, allowing players to create fully-fledged individuals who were ready to explore the universe. With a foundation that solid, we were understandably not going to change a huge amount!

Instead, guided by our internal playtesters, we have made clarifications to eliminate areas of confusion, tweaks to balance out any discrepancies and a few humble additions we hope will greatly enhance the creation process. These include;

  • Ship shares – these no longer provide a few measly percentage points on a ship. They will either get you a ship (with varying stages of mortgage paid off – and there are now rules that only one ship will be present in the party during creation) or are considered an investment, adding to your pension.
  • The pre-career education that appeared in past supplements such as Mercenary II has been refined and is now part of the core rules.
  • The Prisoner career has been added to the core book and yes, there are several Events and Mishaps that will send you straight there.
  • Proper rules have (finally!) been added to handle the changing of assignments within a career. So, if you are an Agent you might start off in Law Enforcement, but you now have a path to the world of corporate espionage!

 

Skills and Tasks

This is a very important area of the core rules and while we have not made substantial changes in the way the rules work, we have tweaked how they flow.

The skill list itself has been revised to make more sense and create characters who will be a little more capable. For example, Computers, Comms, Sensors and Remote Ops are no longer separate skills but have become specialities of Electronics. This means that anyone with the Electronics skill has at least some chance of being able to use an electronic device – not an unreasonable assumption in a technological society that has interstellar travel.

We also took a good, long look at that old standby, the 2D task resolution system.

Now, with just 2D controlling the fates of characters, you have to be very, very careful about what modifiers can be included or you can easily end up with automatic successes and failure – not very exciting during a tense situation in a game. We recognised this and wanted to lay down a foundation that not only flowed well for the Core Rules, but on which future supplements could be based.

To this end, there are three factors involved in every task check in Traveller.

First, the referee or adventure sets the Difficulty of the check. This is done in exactly the same way as the last Traveller, except that instead of imposing a modifier, it directly affects the target number – so, an Average check needs 8+, Difficult needs 10+, and so on. The maths are exactly the same as before but doing it this way round allows the referee to keep the target number (and thus difficulty) hidden from the players.

Next, Dice Modifiers are imposed. The change in this addition is that (referee fiat aside), DMs are always hard-wired into the rules, never imposed by circumstance. So, being strong might grant you DM+1 to lift something heavy, but being able to do so accurately in a howling gale does not affect this. That would be covered by…

…Boon and Bane dice. These are extra dice the players roll alongside their normal 2D under the direction of the referee. In a nutshell, the referee no longer has to determine Dice Modifiers on the fly, simply whether the circumstances are beneficial (have a Boon dice) or adverse (use a Bane dice). This has the dual effect of making the game flow faster and removing the reliance on DMs placed upon a 2D roll.

Simples!

Combat

The use of skills and checks has a knock-on effect with attack rolls, and you will find everything maintains compatibility throughout; if you know how to perform a skill check, you know how to fight in combat.

The big change here is the integration of Travellers, vehicles and starships into one combat system that flows effortlessly between all three, always a muddy area in the last edition. You can now fly your Corsair through a system, destroy the orbiting defence stations, then descend into the atmosphere to dogfight the aerospace fighters. A critical hit system for ships and vehicles allows you knock out vital systems in your opponent’s craft, while an expanded action system will give everyone on board something to do in battle.

And yes, starship captains will now be worrying about the amount of Power available to them. In most situations, it will not be a factor (and this will not intrude on gameplay) but if you overload a trader with high-powered weaponry or take damage to your power plant, you’ll be screaming down the comms to your engineer to give you more power!

 

Encounter and Dangers

A lot of the rules in this chapter will seem very familiar to players of the past edition but, again, we have made additions and tweaks that integrates everything into a much more cohesive framework that will translate into smoother play. For example, proper rules have been added for adverse gravitational effects and the quick character creation system pioneered by 2300AD has been brought into the Core Rulebook.

We have also made changes to the way animals are handled, making their creation a thing of simplicity for referees; come up with a concept for your creature, assign Hits and Attacks, then add Traits and you are done. The Traits for animals handle special abilities such as heightened senses or psionic capability and we will be adding to them in future supplements – especially useful as they are also used for alien species, forming another common bond within the mechanics of the game.

 

Internal Playtesting

A great deal of playtesting has gone into Traveller, long before we could look at releasing a beta version. Our playtesters were recruited from across the Traveller community and were divided into four separate and distinct categories, with communication between the categories limited throughout the initial playtest stages to allow us to make ‘blind’ tests. These categories were;

  1. The PTB, Marc Miller’s own Inner Circle with notables such as Colin ‘2300AD’ Dunn. These were the gatekeepers, so to speak, the Powers that control the canon of the Traveller Universe.
  2. The crew from Digital Arc Systems. These are the chaps working on the Traveller Suite Software package (check out rpgsuite.com) which integrates the use of tablets and laptops with the table top game. This ensured there would be no hiccups in translating the rules to the screen.
  3. Third party publishers. Early on, we brought on board the leading publishers who had produced third party products for Traveller. We felt that the input of people who had a financial stake in Traveller would be invaluable (far less likely to hand wave anything) and, in return, they would have a front row seat in developing products for the new edition.
  4. For the final group, we trawled the Traveller forums (both our own and other sites) for the most passionate, dedicated, opinionated and yes, pugnacious Traveller players – those we believed could be relied upon to tell us exactly what was wrong with any proposed rule and not to be soft about it! As I told them from the start, we were not looking for Yes-Men, we wanted players who genuinely wanted Traveller to be the best game it could possibly be.

We are now ready to receive comments and suggestions from the wider Traveller player base through the Beta Playtest Core Rulebook, and we have already set up forums to handle your comments (you will find them here). We will read every comment made and, where possible, either integrate your suggestions or at least try to explain why certain things will not work. All we ask is that you keep things civil!

 

A New Sector

Creating new worlds and universes has always been a staple of Traveller, and you will find planet creation in this Core Rulebook with a few minor tweaks. However, we also wanted to provide a complete subsector (with patrons!) to give starting players an area to immediately explore and start adventuring in with their newly created Travellers.

Enter the Sindal subsector.

Traditionally, Traveller books have always gravitated towards one of two areas within the Third Imperium – either the Solomani Rim or, far more commonly, the Spinward Marches.

Now, both will be represented in the new Traveller but, to kick things off, we fancied it was time for a change so we are heading Rimward – to the Trojan Reach.

This will be an area of space instantly familiar to anyone who has been playing the epic (and free!) Pirates of Drinax campaign, and it lies directly next to the Spinward Marches, making it easy to bring existing Travellers down into it or send new Travellers up to use your existing Marches sourcebooks.

As one-time Traveller writer Gareth Hanrahan once said, if the Spinward Marches are the frontier, then the Trojan Reach is the Badlands.

That just seems a more exciting place to be, and we hope veteran Traveller players will take the journey with us to this sector where men are real men, women are real women and furry Aslan are… well, you get the idea. This is a sector where danger rules, the machinations of huge empires are present but not cloying, and adept or lucky Travellers can carve out their own future without having massive implications for the setting as a whole (well, unless you want them to have that effect…).

We will getting behind the Trojan Reach in a big way over the next few years, so strap yourselves in, check your lasers, and hit the jump controls.

What is Next?

As well as the Core Rulebook we have, as mentioned earlier, also been developing High Guard, Central Supply Catalogue, the Vehicle Handbook and the Traveller Companion. All of these will be available as drafts for playtesting to those of you who dive into the Beta Core Rulebook.

Of these, most will be familiar to veteran Travellers, but one bears a closer look.

The Traveller Companion is our ‘odd bits’ book, the ‘toolkit’ book. Basically, it contains all the rules and additions that did not quite fit in the Core Rulebook and is intended for referees wanting to create their own universes or put a spin on an existing one. These would include, to give just the briefest of examples, varying character creation systems, new approaches to various skills and their specialities, introducing new characteristics, using an abstract wealth system rather than counting credits, variant technologies, alternate planet creation rules, and a host of new ways of creating aliens and animals.

It is a dip in/dip out book, a toolkit that will allow referees to fine tune their own Traveller games to avoid being locked in by one play style or another.

It is our intention to complete the playtest period around Christmas, with the Core Rulebook released in printed form around March 2016.

For the next six months, we will be releasing one Traveller hardback every month, culminating with a brand new Traveller starter set aimed for Gen Con next year. This ensures dedicated Traveller players will be able to get their hands on the ‘core set’ of books as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality.

Beyond that, we are adopting a very different path for Traveller, with one hardback book appearing every 3-4 months. It is our intention to ramp up the quality of this line, in terms of both presentation and mechanics, and that takes time. This will likely be supplemented by smaller ebook-only releases, but the core range will remain full colour hardback.

The other change we are making as part of the Traveller line up; we are removing hard deadlines and replacing them with strong guidelines. Basically, books will be coming out when we deem them ready and not before.

We believe that with the combination of these approaches, the bar for quality will be raised to the highest point on Traveller, with each book becoming a solid ‘must-have’ for the dedicated Traveller player.

The Far Future is looking bright!

 

Future of Traveller

Beyond the new edition, we have lots of exciting projects in the works for Traveller. I have already mentioned the RPG suite from Digital Arc Systems which will integrate all supplements into a seamless digital aid – but I will let those chaps cover what they are doing in far finer detail.

The Trojan Reach will be a focus for us as a setting within the Third Imperium, and the Pirates of Drinax campaign will be getting the luxury hardback/full colour treatment next year as befits this truly marvellous epic. The sector will also be the base for any PC or console games that may or may not be in the works.

Beyond that, we have a brand new setting waiting in the wings that has been dubbed Walking-Dead-meets-Firefly, and our journey through the Third Imperium will continue, starting with a Tour of major worlds in several sectors, penned by Traveller-fan-favourite, Martin Dougherty.

The Far Future begins to look even brighter!

You can pick up your copy of the beta playtest pack here.

State of the Mongoose 2014

The State of the Mongoose is our yearly review of what has been happening behind the scenes at Mongoose, and a look ahead for our plans for the next twelve months. We have always tried to be as open with our fans as possible, and we know some of you are keen readers of this address!

You are welcome to make any comments or ask any questions regarding this address here on our forums.

 

Review of 2014

After the issues of 2013, we had a major change in the way we did business, and we started implementing a new approach to manufacturing games. This was instigated by the closure of our US-based facilities where miniatures were manufactured and our main warehouse was located.

From this point, miniatures games would effectively be designed for production by other companies, such as Judge Dredd produced by our friends at Warlord Games. Roleplaying games, for the greater part of this transition, would be ebook only but we were always looking for a partner who would be willing to print, sell and distribute our RPGs in a similar fashion to the arrangements we had for our miniatures games.

This would be a big change from the ‘do it all ourselves’ approach but it led to two main structural differences; first, it greatly reduced our monthly expenditure by an order of magnitude (at least) which in turn made Mongoose a far more stable company, able to weather the worst the global economy could throw at it. Second, these reduced infrastructure costs now meant the greater part of our expenditure could now be applied directly to the games we were producing – this meant more time could be spent on books, the best sculptors hired and production values (including artwork) could be placed front and centre.

A third difference was lower in priority but we knew it would leverage great benefits – in the past, we have traditionally gone to other companies (be they other games companies or big film studios) and paid them to produce games based on their material. Where possible, we would reverse this and engineer deals where other companies would come to us and pay for the privilege to use our material.

In all, it took us about 18 months to enact all these changes and the final pieces are still falling into place. However, it is all looking very good thus far.

As an aside, a variety of staff changes mean that, aside from myself, in 2014 Mongoose became an all female company. Which is nice for me.

 

Roleplaying Games 2014

We found a suitable partner to pass the production and distribution of our RPGs to in the latter half of 2014 – Studio 2 Publishing, under the leadership of Jim Searcy. Jim is very much one of the good guys in the RPG industry, as all the recommendations we received about him attested to. By going through Studio 2, we completely cut out any aspect of distribution and trade sales, greatly reducing our costs and administration overheads.

It also meant an end to our ebook only approach to RPGs – while ebooks are becoming ever more popular in this part of the hobby, we always knew revenue was being left on the table while we were not in the full printed market. Studio 2 fulfilled this completely and our books can now be found on the shelves of all good games stores, including many of those that were originally available only as ebooks.

The other big event for RPGs in 2014 was, of course, the Paranoia Kickstarter. It took us over a year to get the wheels turning on this one as all our ducks slowly waddled into a line, but it was clearly worth it – blowing way past the expectations of everyone involved. Well over 4,000 of you rallied to support this project which was somewhat humbling! More on Paranoia a little later but the success of this project meant we could take an approach to Paranoia that will ensure this is the best edition of the game yet.

 

Miniatures Games 2014

We continued with the release of new models for the Judge Dredd miniatures game (via Warlord Games) throughout 2014, culminating in the first supplement for the game, Blood on the Streets.

It was our intention to polish off the last models promised during the Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper Kickstarters, and came so very, very close to accomplishing that. We now have only a handful of sets to do for each range, and are looking to complete them around March-ish.

And yes, if we ever do another miniatures-based Kickstarter we will indeed be taking a very different approach…

Beyond that, all our work on miniatures games was behind the scenes as we worked on the development of new titles for Warlord and other companies.

 

Mongoose 2014

Compared to 2012, where things looked a little bleak and 2013, where we started to rally, the end of 2014 sees Mongoose roaring out of the gate and much, much more confident. This will translate into better games, better books and better miniatures, with more support for all of them.

So, what will this mean for 2015 and beyond?

 

Traveller

Via Studio 2, we are still in the process of releasing books in print that were previously only available as ebooks, with titles such as Cosmopolite, the career book covering Citizens and Scholars, being among the big hitters. However, we have not been idle during this period and we already have a number of new books waiting in the wings or just reaching completion.

For example, two new career books are currently being worked on, which was a nice surprise for us – after all, Cosmopolite marked the end of expansion for the careers in the core rulebook. Where could we go from there?

Well, first up is Pirate, a book that takes the core mechanics of the Pirates of Drinax campaign and opens them right up to any campaign. A full campaign system is included in this book allowing players to legitimately (?) do what many Traveller players really want to do during games anyway! This time round, though, the mechanics are there to support them, allowing players to create safe ports and build up contacts that will point the way to nice, fat traders, while the referee has all the tools he will need to set bounty hunters and Navy squadrons on their tails…

The next ‘career’ book that will appear is Alien, a title that allows players (and referees!) to create minor alien races from scratch as part of the character creation process. Whether you are after Narn or Klingon variants or want to create your own bizarre furry creatures from Alpha Centuri, Alien will be the book for you.

Speaking of the Pirates of Drinax, we have made an agreement with the writer, Gareth Hanrahan, to complete the entire campaign within the next few months. If you have not yet taken a look at the Pirates of Drinax, I implore you to now – as a gamer, I would say this is turning out to possibly be the very best campaign written for any RPG. It is an open sandbox campaign with a nicely defined main story arc that could be completed in maybe 6 months – or go on for years. We know of some groups that have played for a year and only gone through the first two adventures.

Best of all, Pirates of Drinax (like Secrets of the Ancients) is completely free for download, though once complete we will go back through it, do some revisions, and release it as a bona fide hardback.

You can also look forward to a brand new ‘ships’ book in the first quarter of 2015 and yes, we believe Droyne will appear in 2015!

Beyond all of this, there are some major projects being worked on for Traveller which, we hope, will prove to be major hammer blows for the game. Those of you who keep an eye on our Facebook page will have seen some experiments we have been doing in the presentation of deck plans (full 3D) but this is the merest tip of the iceberg in our plans. The overall aim is to vastly improve both the presentation and playability of Traveller, switching from doing 2-3 ebooks every month to producing one printed book every 2-3 months. This will be accompanied by a major change (and improvement!) to the artwork and graphical design of Traveller, the area we have received the most calls for change.

This will take most 2015 to accomplish, but you will see the first fruits of our endeavours in the summer – for many years we have had calls from Traveller fans to do an ‘intro to the Third Imperium’ book and this summer will see that book finally appear, presented as a tour across the Imperium, featuring many different worlds in a variety of sectors. Each stopover will allow us to burrow down into the way the Imperium functions, from the most vicious of smugglers to the highest of nobility (you will have a chance to attend a function in the Imperial Palace!)

The key development will be the presentation of this book, and we are aiming to make it truly special, whatever flavour of Traveller you currently enjoy. Written by Traveller-favourite Martin Dougherty, this (so far unnamed) Third Imperium introduction will be a full colour hardback, with gorgeous subsector and planetary maps, Imperial uniforms, merchant company ship colours and oodles of other material never yet seen – we are very much aiming for this book to be the best looking Traveller book released so far. We will then be aiming to beat it with every subsequent Traveller release.

 

2300AD

The 2300AD setting is almost as popular as the Third Imperium and its fans are every bit as passionate about their space adventures as those who like to dwell in the Marches.

In 2014 we finally did what we should have done long before, and appointed Colin Dunn as the official Line Developer for 2300AD. This puts all the creative development for the setting under one hat and ensures continuity will remain firm.

You will have already seen the fruits of this as other writers started working directly with Colin, with the release of titles such as Libreville and the recently appeared Liberty, and a completely revised Bayern coming very soon now. We also finally got Ships of the French Arm out of the door which we believe is the very best Traveller ‘ships’ book we have released for any setting and is a glorious hardback full of 3D generated ships and their deck plans.

The final touches are being done to the Atlas of the French Arm, whereupon work will switch to the Chinese Arm with books appearing for that later in the year. Before they appear though, expect to see the Aerospace Engineer’s Handbook, a rules-based book that is jam-packed with all sorts of space ship design mechanics that really get into the detail of craft design in 2300AD.

 

New Settings

In the 2013 State of the Mongoose, we mentioned three new settings for Traveller – the Wild West, In Articulo Mortis and an as yet unnamed Steampunk/Mechs/Bioshock/Darkest Africa blend. These are still all very much in the works but looking at what else is happening with Traveller it will be the bottom end of 2015 at best before you see any of them and a 2016 release is not out of the question. We’ll keep you up to speed with them, however, and release previews (likely on Facebook) as we go.

 

Legend

Traveller continues to suck a great deal of our RPG design time away from Legend, but we recognise how popular this system has become and are rallying the troops to support it properly.

To our great joy, a lot of the titles that had been ebook only for Legend have now appeared in print, including Elementalism and Citadel Beyond the North Wind. As I type this, Deus Vult is having the rulebooks and all major supplements printed, and Sheoloth has just appeared in print.

In 2015, Sheoloth will be getting more printed support, as will Deus Vult, a favourite setting of ours. I had intended to do the Witch Hunter’s Training Guide in 2014, opening the setting up to a new style of play, but with everything else going on I may have to hand this to another writer. Beyond that, I would very much like to see an Inquisitor’s Training Guide, but one thing at a time.

For the core line, we have a number of titles in the works, including Arms of Legend II, providing more equipment choices for campaigns which will, of course, be released as completely Open Content. A similar book suited to Deus Vult is also planned.

 

Paranoia

In the last State of the Mongoose, I mentioned that something big was on the horizon for Paranoia, and now it is fairly obvious that was the new edition, spearheaded by games design supreme, James Wallis.

From the start, we wanted to take a new approach to Paranoia, focussing on what makes Paranoia great rather than bending the ‘normal’ RPG design process to the setting – and the first reports we are getting from the playtest pack received by the Kickstarter backers all point to us getting it right!

The new game cuts through the rules bloat that developed in previous editions and presents a core that is aimed at getting to play quickly, with the emphasis on fun, relegating a lot of what was previously presented as long tables by card decks. Need a funky new item from R&D? Draw from the equipment deck. Want to quickly dish out mutant powers to the players? Got a card deck for that. And so on.

However, the cards themselves are only used as play aids, either presenting rules in a quick to reference fashion or allowing players to keep certain things hidden (by keeping cards face down) during play. The original RPG style of play is still very much there, just quicker, easier and with more doubleplus mandatory fun!

All of our efforts for Paranoia are now going into getting the box set designed and produced, with James and his team handling the rules design while here at Mongoose we are busy beavering away on the art and graphical design. We project the Kickstarter backers will be getting their box sets and additional materials around June-ish (if not before, all going well), with a retail release in the summer.

This will be quickly followed by the first supplements, of which the lucky Kickstarter backers will already have in their hands, starting with the GM’s screen (with its very special – and no doubt ‘helpful’ – players side) and the Mutant Explosion expansion deck. The Kickstarter also funded other card decks and new adventures, which will all eventually find their place on retail shelves, and talk has already begun on a brand new Paranoia expansion box set which, if the green light is given, will give many, many new ways to tease, tickle and torment players.

More on that at a later date…

The big news, however, is that after the summer retail release, Paranoia will be grown into a fully supported line. Should be easy on your wallet too!

 

Judge Dredd Miniatures Game

The recent release of Blood on the Streets introduced some brand new forces to the game, including the Judda and Klegg Invasion Force (a personal favourite!) which have also been released. The ABC Warriors will be joining them in the first quarter of next year, followed by the biker gangs (a street gang, apes, zombies and robots, all on bikes!), and a Brit-Cit Justice Department set which will be accompanied with a separate Brit-Cit Judge on bike release.

Beyond that, you will also see a Hondo-Cit Judge force, Eldsters and proper Mobster and Zombie Horde sets. There are also a slew of new single miniatures on the way, such as Max Normal (already previewed on Facebook), Dog Vultures, Med and Tek Judges on modified Lawmasters, Troggies, Treasure Steel and oodles more!

A great deal of focus, however, will be put upon the vehicles of Mega-City One. The Manta has just started full production at Warlord and in the first two quarters will be joined by the Pat Wagons (four variants – standard, riot, fire and grav), the Ground Car and the (frankly massive!) Mo-Pad. These, with the four biker gangs, will really get the Judge Dredd miniatures game on the road. And yes, we are looking into ways of providing you with real MC-1 roads for your tabletop! All going well, this will culminate with Death on the Megway, the second supplement for the game, which is slated to be released at the bottom end of 2015. This will include really funky rules for using vehicles at 200+ mph, as well as tying up all the rules for the models released in 2015.

Also expect to see the Rogue Trooper range formerly released in 2015, soon after the Kickstarter backers have received their armies.

 

Victory at Sea

We have been saying for a couple of years now that big things are in the pipeline for Victory at Sea – 2015 is the year all those plans finally become reality!

The current edition of Victory at Sea went out of print just before Christmas. It will not be coming back.

Instead, September of 2015 will see the release of the full colour hardback Victory at Sea 2.0, in conjunction with Warlord Games. This book and its range of miniatures have been at every stage designed to be the best possible World War II naval wargaming experience. The rules themselves have been in continual playtest for more than three years now and have been rigorously reviewed by our team of Official Naval Boffins, headed by one David Manley, a name that should be very familiar in naval wargaming circles.

The rulebook itself will contain all variants and refits of all warships of all the major naval powers (for reasons of space we have had to drop, for example, the Soviet fleet list, but it will reappear in the future), along with all the rules needed to cover night fighting, bad weather, the use of radar, sub-hunting and coastal invasions (the latter two of which are effectively sub-games using the Victory at Sea mechanics).

This magnificent rulebook will be accompanied by a full and diverse miniatures range. If you have been watching the Victory at Sea range develop, you have already seen the exquisite detail we have put into these 3D-designed 1/1800 scale ships, with vessels such as the Tirpitz and Nelson being some of the finest.

Our intention is to release 1/1800 miniatures of just about everything that ever floated or flew in World War II, and we have already produced aircraft, submarines and motor torpedo boats. These will be joined by every warship we can get hold of deck plans for (we import deck plans directly into our 3D software and build up the models from there to ensure the greatest level of accuracy possible) as well as landing craft, coastal batteries, coast invasion targets, harbour pieces and much, much more.

That will all take time – several years, we are projecting! However, right from the release of the core book there will be complete fleet sets available, allowing you to get straight into the action.

This release of Victory at Sea is a very, very big deal for us. A lot of man (and woman!) years have already been put into its development and our partnership with Warlord Games to bring this new edition to you probably makes this the largest miniatures project we have done yet, bar none.

However, it does not stop there…

 

Video Games

Last year saw the release of the Victory at Sea video game on the PC, courtesy of our friends at Evil Twin Artworks. It took about two years to get this particular ball rolling and everyone involved thought it would be an interesting game for a niche market with some potential. The game ended up being far more popular than any of us guessed!

While not exactly Call of Duty (though for a short while it beat sales of Skyrim on Steam!), Victory at Sea began to garner a lot of interest and a retail released is set for early this year, the artwork for which we previewed on our Facebook page, along with release on mobile platforms (both Android and iOS). Then it went and won the Tiga Award for its category!

All of this means you can expect to see a lot more of Victory at Sea on your computer (and phone/tablet!) screen. The WWII version is undergoing continual development, with a whole bunch of new features already added since launch. Meanwhile, we are already discussing new games covering different periods.

 

New Eras for Victory at Sea

We are now in a funny situation where computer games are driving tabletop games, rather than merely being developed from them. Simply put, before a computerised version of Victory at Sea can be released, we have to do the tabletop version.

The first to appear are likely Victory at Sea: Ironclad (covering the American Civil War and, likely, related eras) and Victory at Sea: Age of Dreadnoughts (WWI, updated to the new Victory at Sea 2.0 mechanics). And for those of you familiar with David Manley’s works there is a chance, no promises, of Victory at Sea: Cod Wars appearing!

In each of these cases, Mongoose will produce the rulebook which will likely first appear as an ebook edition. The computer game will be based on this and, as time and production allows, Warlord Games will later release an updated hardback edition with a full range of ships.

That is the plan, at any rate; Mongoose, Warlord and Evil Twin are all dedicated to make Victory at Sea a comprehensive platform that will cover all eras of naval wargaming, from Ancients to Modern and everything in between. This is not a plan for 2015 by any means – it is a plan for the next decade and beyond.

However, we are well on the way. The World War II edition of Victory at Sea is paving the way, and we are already at an advanced state with Ironclad (the core rules are all done and playtested, as has at least half the Union fleet), and we even have 3D models of the Monitor and Virginia complete.

If you have any interest in naval wargaming, keep an eye on this space – big things are happening. If you have not tried naval wargaming yet, then we would beg you to take a look and allow us to prove that rolling dice and watching the Bismarck disappear beneath the waves is at least as cool as blowing away space marines with plasma fire!

 

Partnership with Victrix

We mentioned in the last State of the Mongoose that we had been talking to several other companies with regards to designing new miniatures games. Principal among these was Victrix, a company whose miniatures I have personally been collecting and painting for a few years now.

What caught our eye was their announcement of a new range of 1/100 scale WWII aircraft with adjustable flight stands.

This was just what we had been waiting for someone to do.

Way, way back in Mongoose’s past, we had pre-painted ultramodern miniatures game called Battlefield Evolution (which has since been developed into, among other things, the Judge Dredd miniatures game). What we never told anyone was that we had also developed Battlefield Evolution 3D, a WWII game that used plastic aircraft on, yes you have guessed it, adjustable flight stands.

A confession first. I am a complete prophead. As a child, I drooled over every book on aircraft I could get my hands on. I played just about every flight simulator ever released for hour upon hour. When I was older, I took flying lessons on real aircraft. When I could not fly for real, I was heavily into radio-controlled aircraft (recently picked up a twin-engine A-26 Invader!). And my Airfix collection could sink a full-size carrier.

In short, I know more about aviation than I do about Star Wars. And that is saying something.

When it came to the tabletop, however, despite playing just about everything released, I never found anything that properly represented dogfights. The mechanics had to be simple and, most importantly, fast. You had to be able to move and attack with a plane in seconds, and anyone passing the table should be able to see the aircraft climbing and turning, watching the dogfight unfold between them.

Now, for all sorts of reasons, we had issues with production and, especially, the design of the flight stands. To hear someone had cracked that side of the problem was interesting to say the release…

So, we dropped a quick line to Victrix to see if they had any desire to see a well-produced full colour hardback rulebook to support these new models. And that is where the avalanche started.

It turned out that the guys at Victrix were interested in producing games for all their miniatures lines…

 

Warriors of Antiquity

By this time, the Victrix aircraft, while announced, were still some ways from actual release (the first have just come out!). However, they had plenty of other miniatures lines that needed supporting.

So, planned for a grand launch at Salute in 2015 is Warriors of Antiquity: Warbands of the Ancient World.

The original design brief for this game was to take the current Judge Dredd rules (themselves a development of Starship Troopers and Battlefield Evolution) and turn them into a set of rules based in the Ancient world.

As it turns out, the saying that a plan never survives contact with the enemy was apt here.

Victrix was not after a set of mass battle rules for Ancients line. Rather, they wanted a focus on small scale skirmishes – the countless battles that took place throughout history but were never reported. All those fights along the border, the cattle raids, ambushes and sneak attacks.

However, as we worked on Warriors of Antiquity, pretty much throughout 2014, the setting started having an impact on the mechanics (as it always does) to the extent that while its roots in the Battlefield Evolution rules are still recognisable (four action system, traits and Talents, for example) it plays very differently, with more of an emphasis on heroes leading small units (5-30 models in size).

The real joy for me is that we have succeeded in having more models on the table than in Judge Dredd (a starting warband has about 40-50 models, depending on what you take) but an average game between players who know the rules still takes about 20-30 minutes. With the full campaign system included in the rulebook, this means you can get several games done during an evening and watch your warband grow and your heroes develop!

If you have any interest in the Ancient world, this is one to watch our for. The rulebook is a glorious full colour hardback which contains more than 30 different scenarios (many designed for specific warbands, so they will fight on the tabletop as they did in history) and a wide choice of warbands, from the Athenians, Spartans and Thebans, to Republican Rome, Carthage and the ‘barbarian tribes’ (separate warband lists are provided for Britons, Gauls, the Germanic tribes and Iberians).

Warriors of Antiquity will continue to be supported as Victrix release more of their miniatures, and we hope to have a free PDF available bringing an entirely new (but very familiar!) warband to the game soon after launch!

 

More Games From Victrix

I mentioned that WWII dogfighting game earlier – this is Fight for the Skies, currently scheduled for a summer release when a few more aircraft have appeared. We have already taken the old Battlefield Evolution 3D rules and updated them to be a more modern design that utilises the specific design of Victrix’s flight stands and have been engaging in some furious dogfights in the office! We are now working on rules for bombers, ground attack, aces and campaigns to make this a fully-fledged game.

With a release date yet to be set, we are also due to start work on March of Eagles, a Napoleonics-based battle level game that will get you playing with potentially huge armies yet doing so with very quick and easy to learn rules. More news on this as it develops.

There are also several long-ranged projects that we have been discussing with Victrix but they are not realistic for 2015 and, as it stands, we have enough to be getting on with on this front!

 

Other Stuff

It is the nature of the beast, but there are some things that have been left out of this State of the Mongoose, mostly due to a lack of firm ground or the need to get several ducks properly in line before we can move ahead. There is much that has been left unsaid about Traveller, certainly, and we could fill an entire address with all the plans, large and small, we have for this game. Traveller remains very firmly as one of our most favourite of games, and you can be sure we will be ploughing much of our time, energy and (above all) passion into this one.

Beyond that, we have the manuscript of a novel based on one of our properties on the desk of a major US publisher right now – maybe something will come of that, maybe it won’t. Last year we produced a TV pilot script based on one of our games. I really don’t think anything will come of that, but you never know!

We are also courting a proposal for a new computer game that is not based on Victory at Sea, one that has some serious names behind it, a seven-figure development budget and a direct targeting of both PC and consoles. Putting my finger in the air, I do think something will come of this, but I also believe it will be a couple of years at best before anything solid can be presented. It is in the nature of these things to take time.

 

2015 and Beyond

The past couple of years have not been the most awesome in Mongoose’s history, it has to be admitted, but 2014 saw a real turnaround and we are fairly exploding into 2015, eager, willing, and full of energy to produce the best games we can. Everyone at Mongoose has rededicated themselves to raising the bar in terms of both development and production quality for all our games, across the board.

As always seems to be the case, some of these new directions will take a year or more to bear fruit. Others you will see fairly quickly. However, we have a new development and scheduling system in place and will be in a position to provide you with a lot more feedback on what is happening and when behind the scenes.

So, as we head into a new year, it just remains for me to thank each and every one of our fans. Your faith and support has sustained us through the years of global recession, and we are looking forward to providing you with some of the best gaming experiences possible in 2015, both in roleplaying and miniatures games.

See you all at the gaming table!

 

State of the Mongoose 2013

We have been crazy, crazy busy over the past few months, and this State of the Mongoose is much delayed. For that I apologise – I was considering skipping it altogether, but I seem to get an email or Facebook message every other day asking for it. Always happy to oblige, this is going to be a somewhat cut-down State of the Mongoose, rather than the usual 10,000+ word epic, but it will at least give you all a sense of what we have been doing and where we are going.

 

2013 Review (Abbreviated Version)

We had a number of issues in 2013, the biggest of which was that our warehouse and casting facility in Ohio had developed a number of systemic problems that resisted solution over the years. The sheer weight of the Judge Dredd Kickstarter, though managed in the initial months, ended up breaking the processes in place completely. In the end, we were faced with the choice of pouring (more) money in to solve the problem, or closing the place down.

This decision was aided by a change in the way we went about producing miniatures. We had already reached an agreement with the good chaps at Amarillo Design Bureau to pass manufacturing and sale of the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet game and models on to them, leaving us with the design of the miniatures. This, added to a very similar arrangement with Warlord Games for the Judge Dredd range whereby we designed game and miniatures while they handle manufacture and distribution, meant the only miniatures line we had left to produce ourselves was the barely started Victory at Sea range – and that simply was not enough to justify keeping an entire warehouse open.

Not that this did not create problems. The first and most powerful impact was upon the two Kickstarters we had run just a little earlier, for Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper. Moving to third parties for manufacture meant an increase in production costs that blew past the ‘buffer’ zone we had factored in for issues and emergencies, which in turn had an impact on the rest of the company as a proportion of the Kickstarter production now had to be funded from other areas.

Added to that, we had to include the truly monumental task of shipping the manufacture of a large and growing range of Dredd models from the US to the UK – in this, I cannot thank the chaps at Warlord enough, who went way beyond the call of duty to get everything ready as quickly as possible, under conditions and deadlines that were less than ideal.

All of this meant heavy delays on the Kickstarters, especially on Rogue Trooper. We apologise profusely to the backers for that – we did not foresee the circumstances that arose within production after the Kickstarters were complete, and it has taken us quite some time to get everything back under control. We are now just about there, with a great deal of Dredd models flowing out of Warlord’s production facility (as I type, another batch has just arrived), and Rogue Trooper now beginning to follow.

Then there were our RPGs, Traveller and Legend. Without a permanent base in the US, full distribution became more difficult and, for a while, we pulled out of general distribution altogether. That is why, in the US especially, you may have seen less of our books in your local stores of late.

However, we are working with another third party who already have an extensive distribution network set up, and hope to have some good news for you in the next couple of months or so.

With a concentration on design rather than production and, for a few months, digital rather than printed books, we were able to make a great many changes within Mongoose and the way we do things. Sadly, this meant the loss of some staff as our requirements for administration disappeared almost overnight (it seemed), and I made the decision to come back fully into game development, rather than just maintaining oversight of it.

As a company, we are now lean, mean and hungry – it feels like a return to the ‘old’ days!

Anyway, that was 2013. You will all now be wanting to know what is happening in 2014 for your favourite games…

 

Traveller

Here at Mongoose, we have a real passion for Traveller. In our regular office games, we normally take pains to play games from other publishers but since Traveller was released, this has been exceedingly difficult as it often gets the vote for a new campaign!

Regrettably, the issues with the US operations did divert our attention away from Traveller a little, but we are just going through a round of commissions for new title, and I made the decision to weigh in with a new book myself, the first RPG book I have designed from start to finish for a good few years – and I am rather enjoying it!

There are actually all sorts of exciting things happening in the wider Traveller universe, but we’ll be letting Mr Miller make those announcements as they become ready. For our part, you can expect to see the following this year and early next, but we are still in the process of commissioning so expect a few surprises along the way!

Alien Modules: Droyne is still in the process of being written, so don’t panic – it has not been forgotten! While we have not yet commissioned Hivers or K’kree, we have a fairly definite plan of how to handle/portray the latter and we are going to make the herbivores seriously cool to play…

Minor Alien Modules: Suerrat is being written right now and while others have not been commissioned yet, we are always on the look out to expand this PDF series. Once we get a few in our pocket, it is likely we will release a printed compilation.

Mercenary Second Edition: About two-thirds written thus far, this is a complete re-write of the previous book. I was never really happy with the first edition and the general consensus from Traveller fans is that it is the weakest of the core books. The new edition is going to change that, with a more focussed approach to mercenaries and mercenary campaigns, rather than a general ‘military’ supplement. We have been previewing this on Planet Mongoose, so please dive in and make comments!

Space Stations: Though we skipped the numbering on this supplement with subsequent releases, we have not forgotten it! Space Stations is going through final design and layout right now, and will be appearing first as a PDF release later in April or May.

Citizen/Scholar: Likely not the final title of this book, but towards the bottom end of the year citizens and scholars will finally get their career book. It has taken us a while to get to them, but we believe we have finally got a premise for players to get the most out of these characters.

Pirates: A cross between a campaign and career book, this does for pirates what Mercenary Second edition will do for mercs – allow players to create pirate characters (or go pirate with existing characters) and give the referee enough tools to run an extended campaign quickly and easily.

Wild West: We have for some time been looking at ways to expand Traveller to other eras and settings. We experimented with the PDF-only release of Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs, and have finally commissioned a full Wild West book. Expect to see familiar Traveller character creation, patrons and ‘trading’ rules, all adapted for exploring the frontier…

Steampunk/Mechs/Bioshock/Darkest Africa: As you may have worked out, this one has not got a name yet, but writing has already started on a Steampunk-style setting for Traveller, with a few other added components for good measure. We’ll be previewing this one throughout the year.

In Articulo Mortis: Another new setting, this one is slightly more traditional in that it is set among the stars and uses many of the ‘standard’ Traveller tropes. However, it does have an awful lot of zombies in it, plenty of dead worlds and a bunch of religious nutters who currently hold the balance of power over many systems. The players will be stuck between all three. We were planning for this to be a release fairly early this year, but the new Mercenary has grabbed my attention for now. Hope to get back to this very soon, as I think it will be a cracker.

2300AD: We are starting to ramp up proper support on this line, with Ships of the French Arm in art and layout right now, with more French Arm material already being written – and then we will be taking a trip to the Chinese Arm! We have also recently commissioned a brand new re-visiting of Bayern, so long-term 2300AD fans will be keeping an eye out for that.

Epic Campaigns: Albeit slower than originally planned, the Pirates of Drinax (by Gareth Hanrahan, for my money one of the best campaigns written for any RPG, ever – and it is free to download!) continues and we are already looking at the next epic campaign, a possible prequel to Secrets of the Ancients. We are also looking at a campaign, released in quarterly episodes, designed specifically for conventions and demo teams. More news on that a little later this year. Finally, to join the Adventure books, and very much in the style of Beltstrike, we have a campaign based around the recently released Rescue Ops Special Supplement, so if you ever fancied playing a Thunderbirds-style set of games, we will have you covered!

We have oodles more in the pipeline for Traveller (I have not even mentioned the Caribbean Pirates setting book…) so sit back, and enjoy your travels among the stars.

Here is to many, many more years of Traveller-goodness!

 

Judge Dredd

Given how many years the comic strip has been going, we have enough source material for new models and ways of playing the Judge Dredd miniatures game for eternity! We still need to polish off deliveries for the Kickstarter backers (the end is in sight though – with the packages going out this month, we will just have the ABC Warriors, biker gangs, Judda and Nero/Assassinator Droids to do for the full sets), and we need to get the vehicles into proper, full production. The latter include the Manta Prowl Tank, which will finally go on general release this Summer, the Pat Wagon (and its variants), Banshee Interceptor, ground car and Mopad (complete with open-top swimming pool!). We also need to gather some more regular sculptors together for the range, as our current sculptors are now splitting their time between Dredd and Rogue Trooper.

That said, we have managed to squeeze in the odd new model and already sculpted and hitting the moulds, among other things, are the Long Walk Judge, Acc-Div Judge, Cadet on a Lawmaster and a new Combat Droid. For full sets, aside from the Kickstarter models listed above, expect to see this year a full Brit-Cit force, Hondo City Judges and, a personal wish of mine, Crocks/Eldsters, ready to teach the young punks of their block a good lesson!

We are also continuing to work on famous characters from the comic strip (all of which will be useable in your games, as usual), such as PJ Maybe, Call-Me-Kenneth, Red Razors, Treasure Steel, Devlin Waugh and many others!

Rogue Trooper has taken the brunt of the delays involved in closing down our US operations, but we have finally started working properly on the models. Already done (and just going through a few tweaks as I type) are the three new Rogues, which should be shipping out to backers in just a few weeks. Work has already started on the Nort and Souther squads, and we look to be on course to tie up the Kickstarter range by Autumn.

 

Legend

Traveller has sucked a great deal of our RPG design time away from Legend, but we are striving to bring continual new releases to the many, many fans this game has. Recently we released a new ‘magic book’ in the form of Elementalism, and this is a line I would like to see greatly extended, with GMs and players using the ‘plug and play’ mature of these books to introduce variant magic systems into their game.

We also re-released the Dark Elf setting of Sheoloth for Legend, and made it a much grimmer and darker place than before (as a city, it is thoroughly nasty…). Darren Pearce has already written the first Cults book for this setting, and he is beavering away on more supplements right now.

Deus Vult is another setting close to my heart, and the new ‘digest’ format fits it perfectly. It has had a veritable salvo of adventures added to it, and you can expect to see not only a full sourcebook on the city of Rouen this year (likely around June), but also a new direction to take campaigns, with the Witch Hunter Training Guide…

Paranoia

We have been saying for a while now that Paranoia is on a temporary rest and that something big and new and exciting is about to appear. We are currently running a few months behind on this, our apologies, but we are carefully getting all the right people and components into position.

Please continue to be patient, I promise it will be worth it. This is going to be a good ‘un…

 

Victory at Sea

We have some big, big plans for Victory at Sea, but are also very much aware we are in a chicken and egg situation with the line in many ways. Everyone knows about the Victory at Sea 2.0 rulebook that is currently in development, and everybody tells us they want to see both that and a large range of models released before they start taking it to heart.

We can appreciate that. We’re gamers too.

First the rulebook. The core rules are all done. A decent majority of the fleet lists are complete. Playtesting has been going on, continuously, every week, for more than two years now. Our Official Naval Boffins have been scrutinising every word for historical accuracy. We have even started laying the book out.

And it currently looks like it will be a 400+ page tome. Hardback, full colour throughout, something you would be happy to have on your coffee table as much as your gaming table.

As things stand, we have not made the final decision yet as to whether it will be kept in one volume or, indeed, whether we will publish it or if it will pass to another company, perhaps with the ship models too. All rather academic anyway, as the book still ain’t finished. We need to fill out the fleet lists (and playtest the new entries), add more historical background material, and add way more scenarios.

As we have been telling everyone at shows, this book will be done when it is ready!

The new range of 1/1800 scale ship models we have been releasing, on the other hand, is going strong on the design front – we now have more than 150 different ships modelled in 3D, just waiting for rapid prototyping and production.

Up to now, we have been trickling these models out, and they have only been available at shows or via our own web site’s mail order. At some point, we are going to throw the switch on this range and put it into full distribution – but, of course, we cannot do that until the rulebook is ready and, well, I think you see the problem.

So, the good news is that Victory at Sea is coming on very nicely. The bad news is that we don’t have a schedule set yet. Expect to see more solid news for this line in a few months.

Oh, there is one more thing – Mr David Manley (all you nautical coves should already know this gentleman!) sent us his rules for Ironclads, a set of Victory at Sea-based rules for the American Civil War and related eras. We have found time to update these rules to 2.0 spec, and have started laying out and playtesting this book as well. It may only be a PDF release (again, no decision made there yet), but there is a rumour going round the office that Sandrine has already designed a 1/600 scale Monitor and Virginia…

 

New Games

As a company, I am rather taken with the idea of Mongoose dropping much of the sales and manufacturing it has done in the past (a hard truth is that neither have been our strengths), and concentrating on design, be it miniatures or games (they may or may not be to your own tastes, but we rarely get complaints about the actual games we do – doing good games is very much our strength). Recently, we have been working hard at raising the bar in the rulebooks we produce both in terms of graphical quality (we would quite happily stand the new Judge Dredd rulebook alongside anything else in the market at the moment) and games design (some of the new Traveller books in the works really are very, very good).

This is all in the early stages at the moment, and we still have to gauge how our working relationships with Amarillo Design Bureau (Star Fleet) and Warlord (Dredd) develop. It is possible that we will get to the end of 2014 and discover this is not the road for the future. But, as things stand, things are looking optimistic. We keep an open mind.

To this end, we have been reaching out to several manufacturers with the line ‘hey, you do great stuff – let us do a game for you.’ Again, the response thus far has been positive and we hope to make some agreements over the next few months that we hope will get many of you excited (we certainly are!). Some of these projects may seem a little leftfield for us, such as games rooted solidly in the historical sector – but many of these games are things we have been dying to do over the years; Mongoose just never seemed to have time to attend to their manufacture and, in any case, we tended to shy away from them because Company X had already started producing a range of models we thought were first class anyway.

This method sees the best of both worlds, with us getting to play with other people’s models while getting to write books about them.

I might fairly describe that as heaven, but you might think me rather strange.

We have also taken on some miniatures 3D design work for other manufacturers, starting with a few new designs for 15mm Hammers Slammers, allowing our 3D Designer (Sandrine) to stretch her legs on more than just robots for Dredd and battleships for Victory at Sea.

 

2014 and Beyond

2013 was a fairly rough year for us in more ways than one but, as a wise man once said, what is important to remember the most is that we are still here! Not being a manufacturer proper is a fundamental shift for us but, at the same time, Mongoose has reinvented itself over the years as the market shifts and changes, and I would hope we can continue to keep up.

Personally, I am looking forward to getting our teeth into lines both old and new, and producing the best games we have released yet.

Exciting times are ahead.

As something of an experiment, we have created a handful of new PDF-only additions for Traveller. They are intended to be small, cheap, but with enough content to expand your games in different directions, or give you a good session or two as adventures.

 

Special Supplement 1: Biotech Vehicles

Special Supplement 1: Biotech Vehicles is a bolt-on for Supplement 5-6: Vehicle Handbook. Written by the same author (Colin Dunn), it provides everything you need to make organic vehicles, from the floating squid-airship we include as an example to, well, anything your imagination can come up with; tunnelling moles with hardened chitin skins, great biotech walkers that stride across the landscape, or truly alien weird, fleshy pod cars.

Biotech Vehicles also includes rules for organic battle dress (that has to be weird to put on!), as well as modifications and weapons unique to biotech. You can even power your vehicle by sunlight and give it effectively unlimited range during the day!

 

Special Supplement 2: Deadly Assassins

The second of the Special Supplements deals with three very different flavours of assassin. Each coming from a seperate ‘school,’ they concentrate on stealth, close combat and sniping, respectively. For high-powerered campaigns, we have included full careers for these assassins (don’t expect to stay long in the careers, they are tough!), though we think most referees will use them as adversaries for players – imagine the look on their faces when you tell them the Enemy they just rolled up is, in fact, one of these guys!

As well as all the very special (and extremely high-tech) equipment these assassins have access to, we have also included three assassins, all tooled-up and ready to be inserted into your campaign.

The Tricolore's Shadow

A complete adventure for 2300AD, The Tricolore’s Shadow sees the players take an innocent enough job, surveying a valley on a colony world. However, a downed French spy satellite soon creates an international incident that the players will find themselves caught up in. They must choose between confronting powerful governmental forces directly, or racing across the planet to get off-world and reach safety.

Terror's Lair

Alternatively, if you are currently lacking players, why not take a trip to Terror’s Lair? This is a solo adventure for 2300AD, putting you in the role of American Marshal Obadiah Thomas, assigned to track down and capture Felix Berthold. Will you be able to guess who the elusive Felix is masquerading as before he escapes?

We have included plenty of hints and tips on how to expand this solo adventure into group play, perhaps getting your players to all run through Terror’s Lair on their own so they are familiar with the background, before launching into a group game with their own characters.

 

We have several more supplements and adventures like this planned, with the next being an adventure bearing the ominous title Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs. This is a much larger supplement (and will have a hardcopy print option available at Drivethru), and includes full rules for running Wild West games using the Traveller rules, a ‘desperado’ career to create new characters (though a full set of pre-generated characters is available), a complete town to use as a base/setting and, of course, the actual adventure. The players, running from the law, come to a small mining town far outon the frontier. They decide to lay low, and get involved with some of the machinations of the residents. Then, something very bad happens, and they find that something terrible is lurking in them thar hills.

I think you can probably see where this one is going…

Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs is in editing and layout right now, and will likely be available on Drivethru at the end of the month.

 

 

 

 

Christmas is Almost Here…

One of the Mongoose staff is already on holiday and, by the end of the week, everyone else will be joining them. So, what are we all up to in these last few days before the end of the working year?

Rob & the Gang
Rob and his crew handle all of our US operations, from their secret base in Ohio. Which means, at the moment, they are working as hard as they possibly can trying to get Star Fleet miniatures out of the door! They are commencing work on the big fleet sets (due to be sent out in January), but they have squeezed enough time in to start the rapid prototyping process of the civilian ships for Star Fleet and the next wave of Noble Armada ships. Hazat players will want to see what is coming next…

Will
Putting the last touches to the 2300AD rulebook, as well as making sure a whole host of projects get their final tweaks.

Charlotte
Doing the last checking on Arms of Legend and the Vehicle Handbook.

Matthew
Desperately trying to clear as many emails as possible in an effort to leave a relatively free Christmas week to work on Victory at Sea 2.0 and the first Star Fleet supplement (tentatively called battleships, which points a clue as to what at least some of the content will be). Also due to sketch out the first A Call to Arms Journal.

Sandrine
Cleared her final two week schedule in one week, so has been making a start on various bits and pieces from the New Year. A small selection is presented below…

Converted Orion Cruiser

Bismarck

HMS Hood

 

Vehicle Handbook for Traveller

** Disclaimer: These rules are as the current draft, and may change (again) before release  **

Supplement 5-6:  The Vehicle Handbook has changed a great deal since it was first commissioned.  As it stands, the design system itself is currently in the latter stages of playtest, and it is about ready to take you on a walkthrough of how the system works.

This book has become what we call a Christmas Tree Project (where everybody wants to hang something off it), a real magnet for ideas.  When the playtesting started in ernest, those ideas came in thick and fast.  ‘I want to create a high TL rickshaw for a frontier world,’ someone would cry, and we would sit back, smug, knowing that was already possible.  Then someone else would say ‘so what about Jabba’s Sail Barge, but one really driven by the wind?’  Ah. Missed that one.

What has become clear is that we could spend a year playtesting this book and constantly adding new ideas as they occur, but that would do no one any good.  Instead, I think you can expect to see a lot of free material and add-ons for this title after release.

Not that it is in anyway incomplete.  From primitive wood and straw carts pulled by muscle-power alone to high tech pilotless drones, grav rail trains and aerodynes, we have a great deal of ground covered.  Oh, and we threw in a complete Battle Dress design system as well, with possibilities ranging from small and light industrial skeletons that just give a small Strength boost to something just shy of a Space Marine dreadnought (which would actually be a Walker in the design system).

Anyway, on with the showcasing of the system!

The Design Process
We wanted the design system to be comprehensive, but also extremely easy and fast to use.  Designed by Colin Dunn (also behind the forthcoming 2300AD), the new system does exactly this.  After a brief introduction, you will turn the page and be presented with a Crash Course in Vehicle Design, which walks you through the necessary steps;

Step 1: Choose a Chassis Type
Step 2: Chassis Modifications
Step 3: Add Armour
Step 4: Weapons and Weapon Mounts
Step 5: Add Modifications
Step 6: Fill in vehicle roster sheet

And that is all you need to do.  Let’s take a real example (remembering that these figures are from a playtest draft and may change upon release!).  Let us say we wanted to create a nice family sports saloon for the late 21st Century. Let’s build Jaguar’s next car!

We’ll assume TL 8 for this vehicle (and TL is a big factor in vehicle design, as it automatically – and seamlessly – alters the materials and power systems used of the vehicle, along with adjusting how various modifications work).

We have to pick a Chassis Type at first.  This will obviously be a Light Ground Vehicle (it travels on the ground, and is not a big lorry or truck).  We already note in the book that a typical ground car has 5 ‘Spaces’.  This is a Jaguar, so we’ll give it 8 Spaces (Jaguar owners will make some sort of joke now about about only 2 of those Spaces being available for luggage and passengers…).

Consulting the Light Ground Vehicle Chassis page, we can immediatly find out that this will cost us Cr. 9,600 (at this stage, this is also called the Base Cost) and will result in a car with Hull 4 and Structure 4. At this stage, the car will have a top speed of 120 km/h and a range of 400 km.  Clearly, the speed will have to be improved, though the range may be generous!

At this stage, we can also make some changes directly to ther chassis – make it a motorcycle (or mono-wheel!), give it additional wheels, off-road capability, tracks, and so forth. However, none of those are really needed here.

Next, add armour. At TL 8, we have a Base Armour of 3, and I don’t see the need to improve it.  We could increase it to maybe 9 to make it an armoured ‘government’ car, but we’ll leave that for now.  Armour 3 is good for us. And we won’t put any weapons on the civilian model either.

Modifications next, and there are lots of these to choose from.  First off, a great big super-charged engine (Jaguar do have an electric car – powered by gas turbines – in the works, but let’s go Old Skool for this one, and make a ‘proper’ XJR). Let’s increase Speed by 80% for a start – this will take it up to 216 km/h, at a cost of 8 Spaces.  We will then decrease the fuel capacity (we could just as easily decrease fuel efficiency instead, but we need to claw back some space), by 30%, leaving us with a range of 280 km/h.  A little generous, if you ask me, but that gives us 3 Spaces back.

4 Spaces will be taken up by passengers and the driver (we won’t go Double Occupancy on this car, leaving that for the minis driven by students instead…) and, currently, 1 Space left for cargo, or about 250 Kg or thereabouts.  Again, if you have seen the boot (trunk) of a Jaguar, that is probably generous!

This is a Jaguar, however, so we’ll add some toys.  Advanced Controls with drive-by wire steering and brakes, along with a heads-up display, will set up back Cr. 10,960, but increase Agility to +1.

We’ll skip past the fission plants, explosive belts, and life support options, however useful they may be getting to Sainsbury’s on a Saturday afternoon.

A Sat Nav would be standard of course, coming in at Cr. 2,000 and let’s give it an integrated comms unit (mobile phone to you and me) at Cr. 500. Let’s give it basic sensors as well (they already have radar these days), at a cost of Cr. 5,000.

Moving through the options, we’ll ignore modifications for Stealth and ejection seats… However, we’ll take a Cr. 4,000 entertainment system and a Cr. 500 fire extinguisher system. We alos make a note to do a stretched limo version of this car later, with a 3 person hot tub in the back (if you have to ask why a three person tub, you are too young to read this…).

So, we are left with;

New Model Jaguar XJ Cr. 32,060
Hull 4, Structure 4
Speed 216, Range 280
Agility +1, Armour 3

Advanced Controls, Basic Navigation, Basic Communications, Basic Sensors, Entertainment System, Fire Extingusher.

Simple as that! Just start off with a base chassis, and you can layer pretty much anything you want on top. Tanks with steam engines? No problem.  Airships powered by aimed beams of energy shot into the sky?  Already in there. There is a huge range of potential in this book, and much, much more begging to be added afterwards as players come up with some really weird and wonderful designs!

Pop along to our forums if you have any suggestions for vehicles, and if you want to be in front of the queue for this book, simply visit its page!