This Mongoose Traveller pack is huge, and its topic is stellar rifts - the vast, empty spaces between spurs of the Galaxy, and between regions of the galaxy where the stars are more densely populated. In particular, one rift stands out - The Great Rift, that region of empty space light years across, after which the book is named, and which is the topic of most of this pack.
This is the pack for explorers and Travellers crossing, among others, the vast expanse that is The Great Rift.
So, then, what does this ambitious Traveller pack contain?
There are, at least in the PDF bundle currently available, ten PDFs. The first four are listed Books - Book 1 - The Great Rift; Book 2 - Reft; Book 3 - Touchstone / Afawahisa (a sector book for those two sectors); and Book 4 - DSE Handbook.
The rest are maps and Sector Maps - one of a solar system called the Phobetor System, found in Touchstone Sector; and Sector Maps of Afawahisa, Corridor, Reft, the Riftspan Reaches and finally Touchstone.
Book 1 introduces the concept of Rifts, and details the expeditions which traversed them, the explorations which have been conducted, the weird phenomena that occur in Rifts such as Shoals, Reefs, Deeps and one horror story about a unique Jumpspace phenomenon called The Fischer Trench, which could give experienced players nightmares.
The people who cross the Rifts are detailed, and they include native species who have never been found outside the Great Rift, and a rare gigantic spaceborn alien species which has made Riftspace its home. Basically, think of Gormundganders from Star Trek: Discovery.
The rest of Book 1 is a detailed, canon look at Corridor and The Riftspan Reaches Sectors. The subsector maps include locations of the anomalies listed in "Features of The Great Rift," and both sides of the Rift are explored in detail, so expect a lot of Aslan worlds and subsector names to feature heavily. The Corridor and Riftspan Reaches PDF Sector Maps, of course, are directly linked to Book One.
Books Two and Three cover, respectively, Reft, Touchstone and Afawahisa. The map on p. 3 of Book 1 shows these Sectors' positions in the Great Rift relative to one another and to such familiar Sectors as The Spinward Marches, The Trojan Reach, The Beyond and Foreven Sectors.
As with Book One, these books have detailed Sector Maps tying in to each; Reft with Book Two, and Touchstone and Afawahisa with Book Three. Each sector's history is listed, followed by detailed subsector-by-subsector descriptions. Reft has the Islands, and an unfolding tragedy of cultural contamination; Touchstone has the Imperium, the Aslan, the occasional Zhodani expedition, Droyne, Darrians, Vargr, plus native species, disturbing ancient relics and a number of very old secrets, plus the Phobetor star system which has its own separate map; and Afawahisa is similar, but with more Aslan influences, more and different mysteries to solve, and some truly, terrifyingly empty subsectors which would be death traps for a starship that Misjumps into them.
Did I mention the colour? Each map and illustration is in colour. The planet illustrations are stunning.
Book Four, DSE Handbook, is worth the price of the whole bundle alone. Ever since the first edition Mongoose Publishing edition of Book 3: Scout came out, Traveller fans have been crying out for a detailed Star System Creation book.
Book Four, DSE Handbook, is that book.
DSE stands for Deep Space Exploration, and that is the theme of this book. DSE Handbook covers the processes involved in exploring strange new worlds, from conducting the initial surveys of the targeted hex down to the first tentative footsteps on a planet's surface. Book Four covers exploration itself, followed by a detailed look at phenomena such as black holes, neutron stars, novas, supernovas, nebulae, anomalies, rogue objects and so on.
The next section is Expanded Star System Creation, going into the level of detail that Traveller players and Referees have been lusting after since Book 3: Scout.
Book Four rounds off with lists of new sorts of High Guard technology which give naval architects even more options than before, for ships designed for the deepest kind of deep space exploration.
Speaking of new ships, new spacegoing vessels and starships feature in the four books, including Jump-6 ships. Further, there are also stats for vehicles, animals and alien sophont species.
To summarise, calling this book "lavish" would be an understatement. It is a sumptuously detailed sourcebook for the Great Rift and other Rifts, filled with strange civilisations, ancient mysteries, wonders to satiate desires both subtle and gross, and horrors to chill one to the bone. If a Referee wishes to run campaigns based on exploration and trading with worlds which are off the map, this is the pack to buy yourself (along with the Core Rulebook, Central Supply Catalogue, Vehicle Handbook and High Guard, naturally).
[5 of 5 Stars!]