101 Governments and 101 Religions

Reviewed by Nicholas HM Caldwell

As 101 Governments and 101 Religions take the form of slim A5-sized booklets rather than weighty tomes and having related topics, it makes more sense to review both products in a double-barreled article instead of distinct articles.

One of the major difficulties for gamemasters of star-spanning campaigns is that given effective transportation, player-characters are likely to head off into uncharted deep space to try their luck on yet another unsuspecting world. This is especially true in exploration games such as Star Trek. Few science-fiction universes have homogeneous worlds with similar governments and religions throughout known space - rather new worlds are likely to harbour a bewildering array of different possibilities. This pair of mini-supplements will provide new inspiration for the gamemaster.

101 Governments is a fifty-six page booklet (written by David Thomas), with the subtitle "Wherever you land there will be little eccentricities particular to that area, which you ought to know about otherwise you might end up in jail". The governments are grouped into fourteen categories - No Government/Anarchy, Corporate, Participatory Democracy, Self-Perpetuating Oligarchy, Representative Democracy, Feudal Technocracy, Captive Government (i.e. a conquered world), Balkanisation, Civil Service Bureaucracy, Impersonal Bureaucracy, Charismatic Dictator, Non-Charismatic Leader, Charismatic Oligarchy and Religious Dictatorship. The author has ransacked history, legend, science-fiction and his imagination to create this impressive catalogue. Each entry is subdivided into three sections: description, referee's notes and plot. The description section provides several paragraphs on the basic ideology of the government structure and its impact on its associated culture. These details are intended for player-character consumption. The referee section presents additional details upon the seamier side of the culture or the grim reality of the governmental apparatus. The plot section provides a sample capsule adventure linked to the government background, involving assisting the locals, fellow travellers in distress, the party falling foul of some law, etc. Each government is described independently of any physical location rendering it a trivial matter to transplant the background to any territory requiring some form of administration. A one-page glossary of political terms completes this mini-supplement.

101 Religions is a forty-eight page booklet with the honest subtitle "A variety of religions, beliefs and cults with which to entertain, enthuse and annoy your Traveller players". It begins with a one-page introduction, devoting two-thirds of this to an outline definition of religion and terse notes on religious freedoms in the Imperium. The remainder of the booklet is the catalogue of belief systems divided into fourteen categories, namely Animism, Polytheistic Animism, Polytheism, Rational Polytheism, Dualism, Interactive Monotheism (where the deity has an active interest in daily affairs), Influential Monotheism (where the deity only intervenes at key moments in individuals' lives), Crisis Monotheism (where the deity only takes an active interest at critical junctures in history), Remote Monotheism (where the deity is aloof from mortal affairs), Deism, Pantheism, Agnosticism, Atheism, and a ragtag miscellany of other belief systems. Each entry is divided into three sections - description, referee, and plots. The description provides basic details on the theology and tenets of the belief system, intended for player-character consumption and available by routine database searches. The referee sections provides additional details, such as lesser known aspects of the faith, its history, and in some cases what happens behind the ceremonial facade. Each entry has at least one associated plot intertwining the player-characters with the hopes and aspirations of the believers for good or ill. Many of the religions have two plot outlines for exploitation. Some of the cults presented are drawn (with care) from real-world belief systems and legends, others are teased from science-fiction, and many are pure invention. A one-page glossary of theological terminology concludes 101 Religions.

The front cover of both 101 Governments and 101 Religions proclaims them to be supplements for Marc Miller's Traveller. However both volumes are actually suitable for any version of Traveller and indeed can be used painlessly in virtually any science-fiction game. Even hardened fantasy gamemasters could find these supplements to be valuable resources in world creation. Both 101 Governments and 101 Religions are highly recommended. Buy them!

Editor's Note

101 Governments and 101 Religions are published by British Isles Traveller Support (BITS). Their contact details are as follows:
BITS
PO Box 4222,
Sawbridgeworth,
Hertsfordshire,
CM21 0DP
Great Britain
Email BITS@bits.org.uk
Web http://www.bits.org.uk/

You can buy these products through our affiliate GreatGames in the UK. Click here or on the logo for direct access to their catalogue.

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