Fighting Ships of the Shattered Imperium (1990)

For all the flaws of MegaTraveller, this book, Fighting Ships of the Shattered Imperium (1990) scratches an itch that was around fro more than a decade at that point. You see, for the most part, original Traveller books didn’t have much in the way of art. It got better with the re-launch in the early 80s, but even then there just wasn’t enough art of the ships. For this kind of sci-fi, the ships are the thing! The Star Trek RPG had two box sets dedicated to ship deck plans and multiple ship recognition guides. Think about how much of Star Wars’ early mystique was tied to the ships. And, like, Traveller knew this on some level — Imperium scout ships were featured on several covers over the years and their design was definitely throwing Star Destroyer vibes that can’t just be coincidence.

Anyway, this book is a major course correction — 96 pages dedicated to ships, with a sizable percentage of those pages devoted to full-page illustrations by Roger Raupp. Lots of the ships seem to reference other franchises, though obliquely. There are homages to the Klingon warbird, Captain Harlock’s Arcadia and maybe even Voltron’s castle ships. You have to squint to see them, though, so maybe I am projecting.

While the pictures are lovely, the rest of the book is a mess. It feels like it is all stats, with very little explanation of the ships, their purpose, which factions are using them, you know, all the fun stuff. What the heck is a missile tanker? There’s only one fighter in the whole book? But this is sort of the story of MegaTraveller: cool stuff hamstrung by bad decisions, poor organization and typos.

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