Azhanti High Lightning (1981)

This is Azhanti High Lightning (1981). Like Snapshot, it isn’t sure if it is a wargame/board game or an RPG supplement. Which makes a certain amount of sense, because it builds on Snapshot’s close combat mechanics.

The title is the name of the imperial starship that is the setting of the action, which has several possible flavors: violent boarding, sneaky boarding, theft, mutiny, prisoner escape and salvage. In the box are many many chits, a copious amount of full-color deck plans (the ship is massive!), the combat rules and Supplement 5: Lightning Class Cruisers, a digest-sized book for the Traveller RPG that was unavailable outside of this box (which is weird and I think speaks to the intention of this superseding the core game’s combat system).

The combat rules are far more complex than Snapshot. Too complex for my taste, probably not complex enough for others (those folks would win out, judging from GDW’s later mechanic-heavy military RPGs). Honestly, I wouldn’t use Snapshot, either! The combat systems are the least interesting thing here, honestly, because Azhanti High Lightning is really a mega-dungeon in space. Or it would have been if GDW was less concerned with the minutia of combat and more concerned with creating a gripping narrative for all this room-to-room combat. The potential is sitting right there and it seems to obvious to me, but thus far, it remains unrealized.

Someone make this, though. A giant space ship dungeon crawl. With laser guns and an organized oppositional force. Possibly as part of a salvage operation (which I think is inherently more interesting than a generic military or piracy action).

I really like the Richard Flory cover painting, too.

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