Twilight’s Peak

黄昏の峰へ “Twilight’s Peak” (1985) is the 4th box set for Traveller by Hobby Japan. It bundles the 1980 GDW adventure from which it takes its name with the double adventure “Death Station / The Argon Gambit” and “Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium”. All translations are by Hitoshi Yasuda.

“Twilight’s Peak” is a sequel to “Research Station Gamma”. In the adventure Twilight’s Peak is the name of an epic poem so boring the characters are unable to read it and must use a computer to summarize its contents. The poem describes the marooning of the crew of the transport ship Gyro Cadiz near the outpost of an ancient civilization with advanced technology. The poem does not include the name of the planet, but the characters will hear rumors, and if they hear mention of an unfamiliar name, they can check for a match in the library data of the ship’s computer. Should they learn which planet the wreck is on they will need to do some hex-crawling in its heavy-metal tainted atmosphere to discover a derelict octagonal tower built by the Octagon Society. The tower is illustrated in black-and-white in the original GDW adventure, and Naoyuki Kato provided an oil painting using the same composition for the cover of the Hobby Japan box set. The oil painting adds three adventurers to the foreground and the wreck of the Gyro Cadiz in the hazy distance.

If the characters find the alien outpost and manage to enter it, they will have to employ empirical techniques to figure out the function of the artifacts within. There is some similarity to the D&D adventure “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks”, also published in 1980.

The adventure “Death Station” includes the deck plans for a 400 ton laboratory ship used for imperial research. An accident killed most of the crew. The characters are tasked with boarding the ship and figuring out what happened.

Box contents:
• “Adventure: Twilight’s Peak”, 48 pp.
• “Double Adventure: Death Station / The Argon Gambit” 28 pp.
• “Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium” 24 pp.
• pad of icosahedral hex paper
• Hobby Japan questionnaire card

Traveller: High Guard

宇宙海軍 “High Guard” (1985) is the third box set released by Hobby Japan for Traveller. Collecting material from four of the little black books by GDW, this is the set for starship enthusiasts. The translations are by Hitoshi Yasuda and box cover art by Naoyuki Kato.

High Guard expands on the rules for characters who enlist in the navy. There are now three career paths, depending upon whether they enlist with the planetary, subsector, or imperial navies, and the number of skills a character can learn is increased. The rules for starship construction are expanded to cover ships up to a million tons, and the rules for starship combat are expanded to cover additional attacks (energy weapons, particle accelerators, and meson guns) and additional defenses (sandcasters, “black globes”, nuclear dampers, and repulsors). Incidentally, the phrase “high guard” refers to a defensive position adopted when refueling ships, though 宇宙海軍 just means “space navy”.

The Japanese version combines Book 5: High Guard and Supplement 9: Fighting Ships into a single book. The supplement describes 28 ships of the imperial fleet. The original illustrations were by Jaquays, but the JV contains reworked illustrations by Naoyuki Kato. The ships range up to 500,000 tons in size, but none of them have deck plans.

The Kinunir is a translation of GDW’s well-regarded first adventure book. It contains 4 short adventures, all of which can potentially make use of the provided deck plans for a 1200 ton Kinunir class battle cruiser. These include espionage to discover details of the ship’s construction, rescuing a senator from a battle cruiser converted into a prison, and responding to a distress call from a derelict ship. There is a rumor table, and a character with streetwise skill can earn a roll on it by mixing with the local population. A character can also query the library data by typing a search term into a computer. The referee reads off the entry in the library data section if he thinks the query got a result.

Trillion Credit Squadron gives players a budget for constructing fleets and pitting them against each other in battle. The cost for a hull is 100,000 Cr per ton, and the ship designer will need to reserve additional funds for jump drives, maneuver drives, power plant, armaments, and a computer. If the bookkeeping of spending a trillion credits seems overwhelming, the players can play with a billion credit budget.

Box contents:
• “High Guard”, letter-sized perfect bound book, 72 pp.
• “The Kinunir”, letter-sized staple bound book, 36 pp.
• “Trillion Credit Squadron”, letter-sized staple bound book, 32 pp.
• “Starship Construction Charts”, letter-sized, 6 pp.
• “Navy Characters”, letter-sized, 4 pp.
• “Starship Combat Charts”, letter-sized, 4 pp.
• “How to Use High Guard”, letter-sized sheet
• “New and Old Island Star Sectors”, letter-sized sheet

Research Station Gamma

研究基地ガンマ “Research Station Gamma” (1984) is the first item published in support of the Japanese Traveller box set. It is a translation by Hitoshi Yasuda of GDW’s second adventure for Traveller, but Hobby Japan also included translations of the first three supplements and made a box set out of it. Box cover art is by Naoyuki Kato.

In the adventure the players are stranded on Vanejen, a world in the Rhylanor subsector. To raise credits for passage off-world, the players enter the service of a “Chirper”, which is the winged creature crouching behind the security robot on the cover. Some of its siblings are trapped in the titular Research Station Gamma which the Imperium built to house and study alien life forms. The research station is run by three types of robots, and although the English version already had illustrations of them, Naoyuki Kato re-imagined them for the JV.

The icosahedral hex map of the planet Vanejen is inconveniently small in the English version, but the JV fixes this. BTW, the polygons at the vertices of the icosahedron only have five sides, so strictly speaking these should be called a hex-pent maps.

1001 Characters is a sort of Rogues Gallery. It concludes with Traveller stats for 9 characters from science fiction novels which some consider to be oblique references to the “Appendix N” of Traveller. The characters are not named, but the first is clearly John Carter from “A Princess of Mars”. I don’t recognize the second character with the impressive UPP of FFFFFF.

Box contents:
• Research Station Gamma, letter-sized booklet, 28 pp.
• Supplement 1: 1001 Characters, letter-sized booklet, 52 pp.
• Supplement 2: Animal Encounters, letter-sized booklet, 44 pp.
• Supplement 3: The Spinward Marches, letter-sized booklet, 24 pp.
• How to Use Research Station Gamma, letter-sized pamphlet, 4 pp.
• Map of Vanejen, letter-sized sheet
• Research Station Gamma Player’s Handout, letter-sized sheet
• Map of Research Station Gamma, 10″x14″ sheet folded
• Illustrations of Robots, 4″x9.5″
• Submersibles, 6″x11.5″


トラベラー “Traveller” (1984) is the first of the many Japanese TRPGs to be translated from English. The translator in this case is Hitoshi Yasuda who used the 1983 Starter Edition as the source. The interior illustrations of the English version are preserved in the JV, but for box lid art Hobby Japan turned to Naoyuki Kato, who puts the GDW illustrators to shame I think.

My introduction to Traveller was via the 1977 box set, and frankly, after reading the rules I had no idea how to run an adventure. The Starter Edition seemingly acknowledges the problem by including two introductory adventures: “Mission to Mithril” and “Shadows”, both of which had been published previously as halves of digest-sized double adventures.

In Mission to Mithril, the need for ship repairs compels the players to do reconnaissance for a government functionary who is the lone inhabitant on the ice planet Mithril. The adventure is a hex crawl with a 7 phase procedure for exploring the planet. The map is drawn on an icosahedral net, allowing the players to travel over the poles if they desire.

In Shadows the players are stuck on a planet again. This time they must infiltrate a pyramid and disable an energy cannon so they can take off without getting shot down. Which makes the adventure a dungeon crawl this time.

Box contents:
• Rules booklet, letter sized perfect bound softcover 98 pp.
• Charts and Tables, letter sized saddled stitched softcover 24 pp.
• The Spinward Marches, 17″ x 22″ map
• Mission to Mithril / Shadows, letter sized saddle stitched booklet 24 pp.
• Mission to Mithril player handout, letter sized sheet
• Shadows player handout, letter sized sheet
• Mithril / Pyramids map, letter sized sheet