Survival Margin (1993)

Survival Margin (1993) is a sourcebook that is billed as the “Gateway to the New Era,” but that isn’t entirely true. Rather it is a kind of history book, chronicling the major events of the Imperium from the assassination of the emperor, to the struggles of the pretenders to the depredations of Virus to the emergence of the Star Vikings. Aside of some broad advice on how to structure TNE campaigns and a brief section on converting characters from earlier Traveller systems, there are no mechanics at all.

If you don’t like the changes to the galaxy in Mega and TNE, you’re going to not like this book. If you’re like me and find the sweeping changes fascinating, then this book is pure catnip. I mean, I have no intention of ever playing TNE, but I love the idea of the vampire fleets. I think the frame of re-discovering lost nodes of the empire is great, too! I love the factions of the rebellion, Virus is a super interesting quandary even without the vampire fleets and there is just a wealth of interesting world-building to examine here.

The thing I like best is that it is delivered through in-universe sources. The timeline is mostly a series of telegraph-length news bulletins. There are collections of correspondence, scientific commentaries and more, from important NPCs like Strephon and Dulinor (and randos, too). As you might expect, there isn’t a lot of agreement among the commentators, so you get a good dose of varying perspectives (particularly on Virus) that translate into adventure seeds. Again, not for everyone, but for the folks it is for, worth its weight in gold.

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