Alien Star Index

UMP: 123E1B-X

Version 1.11: Issues 1-8

by Shannon Appelcline

Overview

History: 1981-1982

Alien Star magazine debuted in February 1981, making it the first Traveller fanzine of note — and for that matter, the second major periodical of any type, following GDW's Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society (1979-1985), but preceding High Passage (1981-1982) by a few months. Like High Passage, it originated in secondary school: the Poole Grammar School of Dorset in South West England. The creators were students Robert McMahon and John Roberts.

Alien Star's origins in Dorset mean that it was ultimately a byblow of Games Workshop's decision to bring Traveller into the UK, to later print it themselves, and to support it in White Dwarf magazine. McMahon and Roberts proved that they were members of that family by also writing for White Dwarf during Alien Star's original run. Roberts contributed a list of Jump Drive problems to White Dwarf #26 (August/September 1981) and McMahon created a new basic career, "The Imperial Secret Service", for White Dwarf #27 October/November 1981).

Meanwhile, the two offered a fairly typical collection of Traveller articles in Alien Star's first five issues, including stats for new weapons, starships, and other equipment as well as many short reviews — something not common in the more professional magazines. There were also new careers; in particular McMahon wrote one of the many variants of a mercantile advanced career prior to the release of GDW's BOOK 7: MERCHANT PRINCE (1985). Though the pair offered a few adventures set in The Spinward Marches, they also created two subsectors of their own, Anniversary and Orion, and set additional adventures there; the fact that Anniversary and Orion didn't fit into any actual sectors of Charted Space merely demonstrated the immature nature of the universe at the time.

Following Alien Star #5 (October/November 1981), the pair were becoming focused on A-levels and university. They decided to hand the magazine off to Dave Hockham of the Minifigs-Skytrex shops, who would produce the final three issues. For all practical purposes, the last three issues of Alien Star, edited by Hockham, were a different magazine. Some of these changes were purely superficial, such as a change in size from the A5 format of the first five issues the digest-sized A4 format of the last three. However, there were also dramatic content changes.

The subtitle of the magazine heralded the biggest transformation. Where before it was the "Traveller Magazine", now it was a "Science Fiction Gamer's Magazine". Hockham planned to incorporate content for other science-fiction games, but other than a review of Federation Space in Alien Star #8 (April 1982), that never happened. With that said, the content of the magazine took on a tone that often felt more like generic science-fiction than Traveller. Beyond that, the magazine abandoned not just the new subsectors created for the first five issues, but also the Spinward Marches as well.

Three other interesting changes accompanied those last two issues. To start with, there were now themes for each issue, tying together all of the content in a general way. There was a heavy focus on solo adventures, some of them quite intricate. Finally, a much larger coterie of writers appeared, including two notable names. The first was Trevor Graver, a Games Workshop employee who had previously authored the UK's other early Traveller fanzine, Dark Star (1981). The second was John Kovalic, future creator of Dork Tower (1997-Present), here offering up his first gaming comic, Dirk Starworthy.

Theme Issues

Obtaining the Magazines

The original print runs of Alien Star were miniscule, and limited to the UK. By the final issue of the original five-issue run, it had increased to 300 copies. The earliest issues are thus largely impossible to find. Dave Hockham's version of the magazine had higher ambitions. It was printed in larger numbers and distributed into the United States via the Armory. The latter three issues can thus sometimes be found at low-to-mid level collector's prices.

There have been no official reprints, though counterfeit copies have been sold on eBay for some time, obvious once you get them by their pristine condition, the fact that the first five issues are printed digest-sized, and some slight variations in the cover colors. If you see copies on eBay that purport to be "near new", they're probably counterfeits.

In other words, it's almost impossible to acquire this fanzine, so consider this index a historic reference of what the first Traveller fanzine looked like.

This index is © Copyright 2022 by Shannon Appelcline. It is released under a cc-by-4.0 license, allowing reuse with attribution.

🎞️ Adventures: Misc

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Misc, GM Files
G.M. File Golden Age A.B. Bates 8 16-18
Misc, Mini-Plots
Mini-Plots [Rebellion] Golden Age 8 9-12
Mini-Plots [Recovery] Golden Age 6 17-19
Mini-Plots [Recreation] Golden Age 7 9-11
Misc, Solo
Exploration of Funeral Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 3 3-20
The Scavengers Traveller 1e Golden Age Dave Rotor 6 20-36
System Failure Traveller 1e Golden Age Dave Rotor 7 12-26
Starship Crawls
The Archimedes Project Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 1 14-22

🎞️ Adventures: Geographic, Non-Canon1

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Orion Subsector
Convoy Orion Traveller 1e Golden Age 2 12-14
Exploration of Funeral [Funeral: 0309] Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 3 3-20
Rockard City [Rockard: 0406] Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 2 7-11
  1. Non-Canon sectors and subsectors do not appear on the official map of Charted Space.

🎞️ Adventures: Geographic, Imperium, Domain of Deneb1

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Spinward Marches
Spinward Marches, Querion Subsector [E]
The Imperium Hit [Rapp's World: 0712] Traveller 1e Golden Age John Roberts 1 3-7
Spinward Marches, Lanth Subsector [G]
The Ghandi File: Heist [Ghandi: 1815] Traveller 1e Golden Age Dan Lloyd 4 23-26
The Ghandi File: Zuchai Crystals [Ghandi: 1815] Traveller 1e Golden Age Dan Lloyd 4 22-23
The Artrix Bust [La'Belle: 2416] Traveller 1e Golden Age Andrew Cullens 4 5-10
Spinward Marches, District 268 [N]
The Night Spiral [Dawnworld: 1531] Traveller 1e Golden Age John Roberts 2 18-25
  1. The Domain of Deneb is the most Spinward of the Domains. It includes the Deneb Sector, the Reft Sector, the Spinward Marches, and the Trojan Reach. It's the most traditional location for adventure in the Imperium. It is also known as the region "Behind the Claw".

💡 Advice

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Game Masters, NPCs
NPC of the Third Kind Dave Rotor 8 14-15

📚 Background: Misc

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Misc, Data/Library
Data Bank: Political Freedom League Golden Age A. Marsden 8 13
Data Bank: Recreation Golden Age A. Marsden 7 4-5
Data Bank: Salvage Golden Age A. Marsden 6 7-8
Activities, Leisure
Sanlando Golden Age Brit Holtsclaw 7 33-35

🌌 Background: Geographic, Non-Canon1

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Anniversary Subsector3
Map/Subsector: Anniversary Golden Age 5 16
UWPs/Subsector: Anniversary Golden Age 5 16
Anniversary Subsector, Hadley [0308]
Hadley Golden Age Britt Holtsclaw 5 17-20
Orion Subsector2
Map/Subsector: Orion Golden Age 2 6
UWPs/Subsector: Orion Golden Age 2 6
  1. Non-Canon sectors and subsectors do not appear on the official map of Charted Space.
  2. Orion was intended to be "a frontier zone of the Imperium rimward of the Spinward Marches". That would presumably put it in what became the Trojan Reach sector.
  3. Anniversary was "coreward" of Orion, "deeper into the Imperium".

🌌 Background: Geographic, Imperium, Domain of Deneb1

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Spinward Marches
Spinward Marches, Lanth Subsector [G]
Spinward Marches, Lanth Subsector [G], Ghandi: 1815
The Ghandi File Traveller 1e Golden Age Dan Lloyd 4 13-26
  1. The Domain of Deneb is the most Spinward of the Domains. It includes the Deneb Sector, the Reft Sector, the Spinward Marches, and the Trojan Reach. It's the most traditional location for adventure in the Imperium. It is also known as the region "Behind the Claw".

🖊️ Campaign Design

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Adventures
The Art of Adventure Dan Bedford 5 21, 26

🛠️ Equipment: Misc

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Clothing, Helmets
Arms & Equipment: The Apparat Helmet Keith Errington 8 30-31
Clothing, Vacc Suits
Arms & Equipment: Enviro-Suit Traveller 1e Keith Errington 8 31
Armoury: Self-sealing Vacc Suits Traveller 1e Robert McMahon 4 12
Sensors
Armoury: Lestor Trackers Traveller 1e Chris Clayton 5 7
The Armoury: LI/IR Goggles Traveller 1e John Roberts 1 23
Tools
Arms & Equipment: Laser Torch Cutter Traveller 1e 6 39
Arms & Equipment: Magnetic Clamp Unit Traveller 1e 6 39
Arms & Equipment: Micro-kits Keith Errington 8 33
Arms & Equipment: Powered Stretcher 6 39-40
Arms & Equipment: Vacpod Type RS1 Nelson Cunnington 6 39
The Armoury: Wirecutters Traveller 1e John Roberts 1 23
Armoury: Wrist Watches Traveller 1e John Roberts 4 12
  1. Previously appeared in DARK STAR #3 (1981).

🤖 Equipment: Artificial Life

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Robots, Designs
Colony Defence 'Droid Mk Supra 7 Traveller 1e Niel Harrison 5 7

⚔️ Equipment: Combat

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Armors
Armoury: The BGI Unihelm Traveller 1e John Roberts 4 11
Armoury: BGI Unisheld Traveller 1e John Roberts 5 8
Weapons, Melee
Arms & Equipment: Sting Whip Traveller 1e Keith Errington 8 31
Weapons, Melee, Blades
The Armoury: Energy Blade Traveller 1e John Roberts 2 5
The Armoury: Energy Dagger Traveller 1e John Roberts 1 23
Weapons, Ranged
Arms & Equipment: The Explosive Watch Traveller 1e Keith Errington 8 30
Arms & Equipment: Grenades Traveller 1e Keith Errington 8 30
Arms & Equipment: The Laser Bolas Traveller 1e Keith Errington 8 30
Weapons, Ranged, Lasers
Arms & Equipment: Laser Pistol Traveller 1e Keith Errington 8 33
Armoury: Pulse Laser Traveller 1e Trevor Graver & Andy Slack 5 6
Weapons, Ranged, Slugthrowers
Arms & Equipment: Anagun Traveller 1e Keith Errington 8 33
The Armoury: Gauss Handgun Traveller 1e John Roberts 2 5
Armoury: Maula Pistol Traveller 1e Ian Anderson 5 8

🛰️ Equipment: Infrastructure

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Satellites
Armoury: Orbital Mines Traveller 1e Golden Age John Roberts 3 31

🚀 Equipment: Transport

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Air Vehicles
Bergor Air Car Golden Age 8 28
Ground to Air Light Assault Craft Traveller 1e 8 29
Grav Vehicles
Grafmetz Luxury Grav Car Traveller 1e 8 27
Personal Vehicles
Ground to Air Light Assault Craft Traveller 1e 8 29
Arms & Equipment: Powered Stretcher 6 39-40
Starships, Designs, Imperium
Grand Design: Midas Class Refinery Vessel [GV: 2000T] Traveller 1e Golden Age Nick Roberts 6 41-44
The Archimedes Project [LS: 600T] Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 1 14-22
Christopher Class [T: 400T] Traveller 1e Golden Age Tim Hughes 6 13-16
Orion Light Military Transport [TLM: 200T] Traveller 1e Golden Age 2 13
Thunderchild [M: 300T] Traveller 1e Tim Hughes 8 5-8
Traveller Class Fast Yacht [YF: 200T] Traveller 1e Golden Age John Roberts 2 15-17
Starships, Designs, Imperium, Smallcraft
Customised Ships: Autobus 207 [200T] Traveller 1e Tim Hughes 7 6-8
Margorne Class Mining Craft [60T] Traveller 1e Robert McMahon 3 6
Rothfry Class Lifeboat [10T] Traveller 1e Robert McMahon 3 5
Samaritan Class Fire/Medical Emergency Tender [15T] Traveller 1e Tony Cullen 6 37-38
Terrox Class Combat Shuttle [80T] Traveller 1e Robert McMahon 3 5
Starships, Designs, Imperium, Smallcraft, Fighters
Fighters of the Solomani Rim War Traveller 1e Golden Age Andy Slack 5 4-5
Firemaric Class Heavy Fighter [20T] Traveller 1e Robert McMahon 3 4
Starships, Designs, Solomani, Smallcraft, Fighters
Fighters of the Solomani Rim War Traveller 1e Golden Age Andy Slack 5 4-5
Space Shuttle John Roberts 3 21-26

🧶️ Fiction

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Misc, Comic Strips
The Adventures of Dirk Starworthy of the IMN John Kovalic 7 31-32
The Adventures of Dirk Starworthy John Kovalic 8 35-36

⬆️ Meta

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Editorial
Editorial 1 2
Editorial 2 2
Editorial 3 2
Editorial Robert McMahon 4 2
Editorial 5 2-3
The Hot Seat D.W. Hockham 6 4-5
The Hot Seat D.W. Hockham 7 3
Hot Seat D.W. Hockham 8 4
Directory, Player
The Contact Bureau1 5 28-29
Index, Magazine
X-Boat Information Trevor Graver 8 40-41
News, Releases
X-Boat Information Robert McMahon 1 23
X-Boat Information Robert McMahon 2 26-30
X-Boat Information Robert McMahon 3 27-30
X-Boat Information Robert McMahon 4 27-28+
X-Boat Information Robert McMahon 5 27-29
X-Boat Information 6 11
X-Boat Information Trevor Graver 7 28-30
X-Boat Information Trevor Graver 8 40-41
  1. Originally ran in DARK STAR (1981).

🗣️ NPCs

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Misc, Advice
NPC of the Third Kind Dave Rotor 8 14-15

📜 Rules

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Character Creation, Careers, Advanced
The Police Service Traveller 1e Golden Age Mark Balmer 5 9-15
Character Creation, Careers, Advanced, Merchant Prince1
Star Trader1 Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 1 8-13
Character Creation, Careers, Basic
Bounty Hunters Traveller 1e Andrew Cullens 4 4
Combat, Variant
Shoot2Kill Traveller 1e
Azhanti
Trevor Graver 5 22-26
Skills, Experience
Experience Traveller 1e 2 3-4
  1. Another variant advanced-merchant career produced prior to the release of BOOK 7: MERCHANT PRINCE (GDW, 1985).

⭐ Reviews

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Misc, Miniatures
The Citadel 15mm Figure Range Robert McMachon 4 28
The Citadel 15mm Figure Range Robert McMachon 5 27
Tabletop and QT Models 15mm Vehicles Robert McMachon 5 27
The Tabletop Games 15mm Figure Range Robert McMachon 4 27
Traveller 1e, GDW
Deluxe Traveller Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMachon 5 29
Adventure 2: Research Station Gamma Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMachon 1 23
Adventure 3: Twilight's Peak Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMachon 2 26
Adventure 4: Leviathan Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 1 23
Adventure 5: Trillion Credit Squadron Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 3 30
Book 5: High Guard (2e) Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 4 27
Double Adventure 2: Across the Bright Face / Mission on Mithril Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 3 27
Double Adventure 3: Argon Gambit / Death Station Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 4 28
Game 3: Azhanti High Lightning Azhanti Golden Age Robert McMahon 2 27-28
Game 4: Fifth Frontier War FFW Golden Age 4 31
Game 4: Fifth Frontier War FFW Golden Age A.B. Bates 6 9-10+
Game 5: Invasion — Earth IE Golden Age Ian Leck 7 40-41
Game 6: Dark Nebula Azhanti Golden Age John Roberts 4 27
JTAS #6 Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 1 23
JTAS #7 Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 2 29
JTAS #9 Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 4 31
Supplement 6: 76 Patrons Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 2 27
Supplement 7: Traders and Gunboats Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 5 27-28
Supplement 9: Fighting Ships Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMahon 5 28
Traveller 1e, Judges Guild
The Darthanon Queen Traveller 1e Golden Age Robert McMachon 3 28

Appendix I: Other Games

🎲 Misc: Board Games

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Misc, One-Off Games
Globe Hopper Rally Golden Age 7 36-39
Reviews
Federation Space Federation Space Star Trek 8 38-39

🪨 Asteroid

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Reviews
Asteroid Asteroid Robert McMachon 3 28

⚡ Azhanti High Lightning

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Adventures, Misc, Solo
Escape Route Azhanti Golden Age 8 19-25

🪖 Striker

Title System Era Author # Pgs
Equipment, Transport
Striker Designs: Medium Duty Cargo Transport Striker 1e Tim Hughes 8 37

Covers

Cover scans were made from counterfeits, so colors and relative sizing may vary slightly. The scanning process didn't help with color accuracy either.