Sunday, August 30, 2020

Hammer's Slammers RPG


Hammer’s Slammers RPG Campaign Setting published by Mongoose Publishing

Mongroose Publishing got its start in 2001 as a publisher of OGL (Open Gaming License) supplements for  the Third edition, and later 3.5 edition of the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game starting with the Quintessential Series (Fighter, Rogue, Druid, etc.) along with a series of OGL books focused on general themes (Horror, Steampunk, Wild West ,etc), all of which did pretty well during the prolific release of OGL material for the D&D system. Shortly after WTOC released D&D 3.0, players demanded massive amounts of material for the game,  which publishers like Mongoose  sprung up to supply. As a glut of OGL material started to swamp the market, OGL publishers either closed up shop or pivoted into publishing other material that the companies felt players would demand. Mongoose decided to take a three pronged approach, releasing miniature rules and miniatures (Victory at Sea, Mighty Armies, Noble Armada), taking previously released RPGs and producing them in an upgraded and revised format (Macho Women with Guns, Traveller and Paranoia) and licensing media properties (Babylon 5, Conan, Slaine) for campaign sourcebooks, either under the  OGL or for one of the  other rules systems  for which it had the rights to produce materials. Hammer Slammer’s falls into the third category.

Hammer’s Slammers is a 208 page campaign setting based on the novels and short stories written by David Drake and  using Mongoose Publications updated Traveller rules system. In Drake’s fiction, humanity has spread throughout the stars and colonized hundreds of worlds. However, the bonds that once united that same humanity  have grown weak and the galaxy has plunged into trade war, civil war and anarchy. Warfare is dominated by regiments of  iridium armored tanks, powered by fusion engines and armed with powerguns . However, these tanks are so expensive to run and so complicated to maintain that few worlds can afford them, giving rise to dozens of mercenary tank units, fighting for whichever planet pays them the most, often taking fees of a quarter of the planet’s GDP. Players take on the roles of tank crews and specialists, doing battle as part of the best known and most capable tank unit in the galaxy:  Hammer’s Slammers.

As mentioned earlier, Hammer’s Slammers, released in 2009, uses the Traveller rules system for character creation and game play so gamemasters and players need to have a working familiarity with that system. The sourcebook starts with a brief (really brief) look at the setting that covers the galaxy in less than six pages. Similarly the business of being a mercenary gets covered in another 6 pages.  Character creation allows the player’s character to go through multiple terms in the Army or a Mercenary career , adding skills and benefits as they go. There is also a detailed look at the history of the Slammers and write ups on notable characters from the series. Almost a third of the book details equipment, vehicles and vehicle combat  Hammer’s Slammers finishes with several pages of scenario ideas, the outline of a campaign and a short combat oriented scenario.

For players that like Traveller and want a heavily military oriented SF setting. Hammer’s Slammers makes a good choice. Unfortunately, it appears Mongoose overestimated the demand for such a setting as one seller on eBay has sold dozens of copies at $5 each, indicating a liquidation of the print run at some time in the past.

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