The Introduction explains the purpose of this book concisely: it's a compilation of data for some 46 spaceships commonly found in that particular region of space, classified as being warships, commercial ships, survey ships and, well, anything that doesn't fall into one of the other three categories. Warships belong mostly to the French and the Germans, some there to keep an eye on each other after the War of German Reunification (which spilled out into space colonies even though the actual issue was on Earth) and others to watch out for Kafer incursions. These last have been joined by vessels from other powers. Commercial vessels generally concentrate on transporting cargo or passengers, whilst just about everyone sends out survey ships to explore new worlds ripe for colonisation.
Each ship entry comes with an illustration and a history of how it came to be built as well as technical data about its capabilities, and there's also a 'Ship Status Sheet', compatible with the Star Cruiser space skirmish game or for use with the 2300AD rules for space combat should a brawl break out. The illustrations are line art, views of the vessel in question in flight, and quite good if you want a general impression of what a given craft looks like when encountered. There are no deck plans, you'll have to make something up if for any reason the party ends up going aboard.
There is a goodly collection of warships, as well as some fighters and even missiles and a few sensor drones. Various cargo carriers are provided, including one which carries 'drop containers' fitted with their own retro-rockets to facilitate being dropped from orbit to colonies who have not yet established suitable infrastructure to handle cargo arriving from space. Many are bulk carriers, suitable for hauling ores back from mining colonies, but there are others like, for example, an animal transport designed to move live animals out to colonies... they, unlike inanimate cargo, need artificial gravity to thrive, generally provided by spinning all or part of the ship. People tend to prefer gravity too, and similar techniques are used in the better passenger ships. Most of the survey ships presented are large laboratory ships equipped to go to a system and explore it thoroughly over the course of a year or so. The miscellaneous vessels include couriers and a mining ship.
Whilst there are many interesting spaceships in this collection, none jumps out as being really suitable for party use. These are the ships that the characters will encounter in the main, rather than the ones that will become their homes or workplaces. At least, not unless you intend a game involving serving naval personnel or the crew of a cargo hauler or something like that. The lack of deckplans also mitigates against using them as ships in which the party will travel, or only for a short trip just to get somewhere for the next adventure. It provides a good overview of what is out there in the black, though, to enliven encounters or indeed a character's backstory if they wish to include the vessels on which they served.
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Reviewed: 23 October 2015