Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Ley Sector consists of a 32-page guidebook and a large poster map showing all 16 of its subsectors, consisting of 411 planets. Each subsector takes up a single page, following the format established in GDW's The Spinward Marches the previous year. Each subsector is given very little information beyond the names and locations of its worlds, along with the familiar alphanumeric string used by Traveller to designate a world's starport, population, government, etc. In a few cases, there are two or three sentences that provide a little bit or historical or cultural information about the region, but that's the extent of it. There are also a number of encounter tables covering space, worlds, planetary settlements, as well as animals, rumors, and news.
Taken together, Ley Sector is very thin gruel if you're expecting more than a bare bones treatment of a divided sector on the frontiers of the Third Imperium. At the time, I was expecting something more than that and was somewhat disappointed in this product, as I was with most of the other Judges Guild Traveller books. Like Ley Sector, they tended to be very loose, open-ended products, providing the basic details for the referee to incorporate into his home campaign as he wished. Nowadays, that's exactly what I want out of a gaming product, but, back in the early 80s, it wasn't. I wanted more than just a collection of randomly generated worlds given names and placed on a big map.
I started playing Traveller because I wanted a science fiction RPG from which to create my own setting but I kept playing Traveller because I fell in love with the Third Imperium setting. I very quickly became obsessed with its minutiae and had no interest in adventures or products that were too self-contained and modular. Instead, I expected reams of detail on the history, society, and culture of humaniti and other sophont races. What I wanted was more of what Traveller called "library data," not sketchy building blocks from which to build my own adventures and settings. And that's what Ley Sector offers. Sure, it's ostensibly set within GDW's official setting but its points of connection are so few that there's no reason it need be. Indeed, it's almost as if Judges Guild intended it to be easily usable by Traveller referees regardless of whether they used the Third Imperium for their home campaign or not. How weird is that?