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post-CT alien info


I've got both Aliens reprints from FFE. Are the other editions' books covering aliens worth getting? I want new alien races and more depth on the races in the Alien Modules, but I want to avoid spending good money on needless duplication as well. Which are the good ones? Any stinkers in the bunch?
If you can get the two done by DGP, then I'd say those are definitely worthy of purchase. Beyond that, I'd recommend GT Aliens 4. Others are sure to have more suggestions.

Good Luck,
I don't think there are any *bad* ones (well, except the T4 one). As Flynn said, the DGP MT ones are worth tracking down, but the TNE and GT ones are also good.
Rats and Cats, Cogs and Dogs are two must haves for the sheer depth of the work by DGP and their high production values. But don't pay over the odds for them...prices on e-bay for them are unreal.

All the GURPS alien modules are excellent but like Flynn, Aliens 4 is great for a huge variety of lesser known races (many previously covered in early JTAS editions). But I would also recommend GURPS Humaniti for the minor human races.

There has been a lot said about TNE's Hiver's & Ithklur but I enjoyed it and its approach to coverage of Aliens. Dave Neilson's work was always excellent but the huge changes brought about for TNE meant that any radical approach to this subject by him would always be open to criticism. A pity as Dave has actually produced some of the best work for Traveller (cf. The Regency Sourcebook)
The key question is probably how much extra info these supplements give compared to the 8 CT Aliens Books.

Can't judge Solomani and Aslan as can't afford it, but to give quick summary of the others:

(very rare, unlikely to ever be reissued in any form and expensive)

Vilani and Vargr obviously contains a lot of information (but no chargen) for Vilani which is available nowhere else.

There's not really that much more for the Vargr compared to CT though.

Vargr Chargen is very similar with just a few extra Megatraveller skills.

(also rare but currently downloadable for just $7 from drivethrurpg.com)

Hivers and Ithklur is a love it or hate it book - there is a lot of excellent material not reproduced anywhere else - above all on the Ithklur who are my favourite of all the Traveller races - but the style can be very infuriating and the chargen info does not easily translate back into CT.

Wouldn't pay a shedload of money for a hardcopy but well worth $7 for the download.

(AFAIK all kind of in print or at least findable at reasonable price)

Would recommend all the GURPS Aliens books (and Rim of Fire which contains a lot of info on the Solomani and Humaniti which has all the main human sub-races).

As regards the 8 races for which there are CT books, GURPS don't necessarily add a great deal, but the background material is SO much better presented and some effort has been made to ensure that each book has one or two extra races not covered extensively elsewhere (for instance the Ztachk and Gurvin in the Hivers book).

However while a lot of effort was made to keep the main races in line with CT and MT canon, the new GURPS races are of very variable quality - Drakarans are just another race of upright dinosaur-men (of which Traveller already had several) Valkyrie are classic parasitic Bodysnatchers and the Tezcat could have been interesting but have been placed in a completely impossible state in the Great Rift.

(as far as I can tell the Tezcat are the only GURPS Aliens which actually involve significant changes to canon)

4. JTAS collections from FFE

If you don't want the GURPS books, it is worth noting that the three Journal of the Travellers Aid Society books from FFE contain at least a dozen or so alien race write-ups including Newts, Virushi, Ael Yael etc - most of which contain at least some guidelines on CT chargen (and are thus more instantly usable than the GURPS material).

They also have some nice additional background material on the major races (K'Kree philosophy that sort of thing) which expands on the CT Aliens Books.

5. T4 ALIEN ARCHIVES book (not that rare and again available very cheap from drivethrurpg.com).

The T4 Aliens book is indeed pretty poor and contains nothing on the canonical races but does include a number of new races that appear nowhere else (possibly for good reason).

http://members.ozemail.com.au/~iandl57/Page26.html gives you an idea of the contents.
For the GURPS race books, I would say the first three are great. As alte mentions, they basically cover the same ground as the CT material, but they are of much more consistent quality, and don't seem to skip around as much as the CT modules.

I am very ambivalent about AR4 and Humaniti. The ones they do well (e.g. Bwap, Ael Yael, Darrian, Floriani) they do very well, and are much more complete than anything presented for them in CT. Unfortunately, that only covers about half of each book. The other half is uneven at best, downright pointless at worst.

On the Aliens of the Rim front, I am a definite fan of the book. DN alienated a noticable chunk of Traveller fandom with his "Traveller races ARE humans in rubber suits" essay. He also went overboard on some of his "adopted human things" with the Ithklur. But, if you can get past those, it is wonderful.

He takes the Hivers and their established history/psychology, turns it upside down, then shakes it really hard. DN's Hivers are still the manipulative players we always knew, but now they are such complete players they can't stop playing EVERYONE, including themselves.

And the Ithklur ... Well, let's just say they are great! They are utterly violent, but at complete peace.

(And DN was RIGHT in his essay!)
Agree the 4th Alien book is the one where GURPS quality control did slip a bit - as you say the sections on the canonical minor races do add a lot to the rather skimpy write-ups in the JTAS and are indispensable if you ever do want to play a Virushi or a Bwap, but several of the new races are just pointless filler.

With Humaniti I just can't get past the Syleans and their ridiculous moustaches - however to be fair there is quite a lot of material that you won't find elsewhere if you only have the FFE books, although some of it (above all the REALLY annoying New Age neo-pagan Otrai) again look a lot like filler.

Aliens of the Rim I both love and hate.

I just wish Dave Nilsen had had a stronger editor who forced him to take out the silly Abbott and Costello references, the cringemaking San'Klaas joke and all the half-baked philosophising - which would have been fine in a separate article somewhere else, but meant the tone kept lurching around between DN writing as DN, DN writing as a Hiver, DN writing as a human observer of the Hiver and DN in standard objective campaign book writer mode - he was a good writer by RPG standards but not good enough to carry all that off.

I really must get round to creating CT character generation for the Ithklur - an Embassy ship manned (aliened?) by manipulative Hivers, avaricious Gurvin, officious Zatachk and a merry band of psychotic Ithkur marines, making their way across the Imperium on some incredibly complex secret mission would be such a fun campaign.
DGPs Alien books added quite a bit of chrome, to me quite a burdensome amount. My feelings about them have always been mixed and are shaded toward the negative.

I like Aliens of the Rim although I have no interest in using the GDW House system for Traveller.

The GURPS books mainly regurgitate CT.

See where this is going IMO?
To that I would see if you can get the Traveller's Digests that had beasties in the them. I remember the Brinn quite fondly as nice challenger to Humaniti. Also, sections of the T4 Alien Archive could salvaged but not all.
Much of the t4 alien archive was reworks of the schematic forms from JTAS.