Spacemaster Tech Law
Reviewed by Brent Knorr ©2002
Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion
Spacemaster Tech Law: Vehicle Manual is the first product to be released by ICE since it was revived in late 2001. This is the third book in the Tech Law series, completing the set that also includes the Equipment Manual and the Robotics Manual.
The Vehicle Manual contains all the information you need to build vehicles ranging from motorcycles to large spacecraft. It has sample vehicles for the Spacemaster Privateers settings, a streamlined construction system for vehicles in that setting as well as a more complete and complex system for building vehicles in any setting. It also has the rules you need for conducting combat between vehicles, as well as between characters and vehicles, and Infantry and vehicles. There are also sections with rules for using some of the specialized equipment that vehicles may have, and rules for Malfunctions and Repairs. It's a well laid out book, packed with information. It's definitely not casual reading; my recommendation is to start small and tackle one section at a time. A basic understanding of math and physics doesn't hurt either.
Overall, I'm quite impressed with the book and would definitely recommend it for anyone playing Spacemaster, or a Rolemaster campaign using the Pulp or Black Ops supplements. Many of the rules do refer to Blaster Law, which isn't available yet, but options are always given on what to do if you don't have Blaster Law.
For those who have been long time ICE fans, the vehicle construction system should look familiar; it's the same system that was used in the old Star Strike and Armored Assault supplements for the old Spacemaster. The ICE website has an Excel spreadsheet submitted by Guillame Maurice that can help with creating vehicles. This can be found at: http://www.ironcrown.com/thevault.htm#SPAM
There is one table that needs correcting, the Infantry vs. Infantry table. The corrected table can be found on the ICE website at: http://www.ironcrown.com/free_downloads/VehMan_errata.pdf.
Here's a summary of what's in each chapter of the book:
Chapter 1 introduces the book and discusses using Tech Law with Spacemaster, without Spacemaster, and using Rolemaster with Spacemaster.
Chapter 2 is a general discussion of Tech Levels.
Chapter 3 describes Tech Levels as they apply to various categories such as Agriculture, Communications, Engineering, Sociology and others.
Levels of Development are covered in Chapter 4, which gives guidelines in designing cultures and assigning levels of technological development. This is broken down into Racial Considerations, such as Biology, Psychology, Perception, and Mating. Culture considerations are also discussed, looking at things like Physical Resources, Language, Religion, Art, Politics and additional items.
Chapter 5 covers Specific Advancements; this deals with the actual methods used to implement various technologies, what energy sources are available, what methods of Star Travel are available, and what types of Communications and Computers are available.
Chapter 6 describes many of the Vehicles that exist in the Privateers Universe. The examples range from basic Ground Bikes to APE Orbital Drop Armor, to the Kizzari Military Packet (crew of 764).
Chapter 7 is Vehicular Combat, this includes detection and detection avoidance, movement in various environments, and how to resolve attacks.
Chapter 8 discusses options on how to mix personal combat with vehicle combat.
Vehicle Maneuvers and navigation are covered in Chapter 9.
Assorted weapons used by and against vehicles are covered in Chapter 10.
Chapter 11 discusses how to use vehicle equipment such as sensors and various stealth and electronic warfare systems.
Chapter 12 covers the Construction and Design process.
Chapter 13 deals with malfunctions and repairs.
Almost half the book is taken up by the Appendices. Appendix A-1 provides some optional transit time rules; Appendix A-2 some extensive guidelines for constructing heavy ordnance and infantry units. This includes the Quick and Dirty method for designing starships for the Privateers Universe as well as the full Vehicle construction system.
Appendices A-3 and A-4 provide 10 new attack tables and 6 new critical tables to use with vehicles and infantry units.
The introduction to the Appendices indicates that there should be an Appendix A-5 that provides some detailed ship diagrams, but this is not actually included in the book.
Contact Information: Spacemaster Tech Law: Vehicle Manual is designed by Robert J. Defendi, and produced by Iron Crown Enterprises, which can be found at:
112 Goodman Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902