Cascadia Adventures 2: The Lost Girl

Cascadia Adventures 2: The Lost Girl
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Cascadia Adventures 2: The Lost Girl is a new RPG Adventure from Gypsy Knights Games.

The second in a series of adventures set in the Clement Sector and more specifically the Cascadia subsector, this adventure is only loosely linked to the first.  The same person that hired the characters in the first adventure calls upon them again to help (as the name implies) a lost girl.

This adventure takes place primarily on the planet Gagnon, with a little stopover on Slaren.  The first step I took when I was prepping for this was to read up on the two worlds and their politics.  Assuming that you plan to use this in the default setting, this information is in the Subsector Sourcebook 1 – Cascadia.  As stated when reviewing the Subsector books, there is a lot left to interpretation and any enhancement from the source material is always helpful to a game master.

From page # 17:
MV Dust Runner has returned to Chance after a reasonably profitable cargo run to Kyiv.”

There are basically four major episodes – Introduction, Stopover/Refuel, Investigation and Finale. Those are my designations for them and not official.  The intro to the adventure goes much like the first one – hired by the same contact as a troubleshooting group.  The adventure will take the crew further out into the subsector, so a stopover for refueling will be necessary and that takes place on a world called Slaren.

The stopover is a fairly open-ended portion of the adventure.  Other than an informative encounter with the local defense force, nothing really needs to happen if the GM so wishes.  The pre-generated characters have no real contacts here, so it is unlikely to be any use to them, unless the GM inserts new contacts, or existing contacts could give them new contacts on this world.  This particular portion really gives the GM a chance to explore the potential of this setting and allow him to add whatever he wants into it.  This is not a stringent setting where one little change in the story could unbalance everything.  It is a very flexible setting that you make your own.  Gypsy Knights have simply provided you with the framework.  So I highly recommend going through the Clement Sector sourcebook as well as the Cascadia sourcebook to get ideas on how to make their stopover even more interesting.

From the website:
“A daughter lost.  It tugs at the heart of any parent.”

Moving on to Gagnon, they find themselves in a strange world ruled by a dictator that everyone seems to actually like, at least on the surface.  This is where the Cascadia sourcebook comes in handy again.  Going through the details of Gagnon really reveals an interesting and potentially dark world of intrigue and corruption.  This strange dictator, Major Keith Calderon, seems to be a rare breed.  As the Cascadia sourcebook says, he took power after a revolution against an overly bureaucratic government.  Where there is a revolution, there are those that lost and therein lies all kinds of adventure, intrigue and story potential.

In this adventure, a darker side of the Major is revealed.  Delving deep into the dark world of piracy, criminal underground, inter-planetary politics and human trafficking, this is not for the light at heart.  Of course, like the last adventure, some of the investigation is driven by contacts the characters have.  This facilitates great opportunities for role play and storytelling.

I won’t give much more away but it’s safe to say that this adventure has a great ending that could have a much larger impact than just saving a young girl.  It could end very violently, and within the system like Mongoose’s Traveller, that could be a very bad thing.  They better arm up or figure out a way that doesn’t involve a fire fight.

In conclusion, this gradually takes the characters into the interplanetary politics of the region once again.  It definitely increases the danger and the intensity a little and takes them to a new location totally different than the first one.  It is very well written and adequately illustrated (nice map of the final location).  I definitely have the same drive to run this adventure as I did the first.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG AdventureCascadia Adventures 2: The Lost Girl” check them out at their website http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com.

Codex Rating: 16

Product Summary

Cascadia Adventures 2: The Lost Girl
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Type of Game: RPG Adventure
Written by: John Watts
Contributing Authors/Editor: Curtis Rickman
Cover Art by: Steve Attwood
Additional Art by: Steve Attwood
Number of Pages: 41 page PDF
Game Components Included: 1 PDF Adventure
Game Components Not Included: Core Traveller rulebook, Clement Sector setting book
Retail Price: $4.99 (US)
Website: www.gypsyknightsgames.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Subsector Sourcebook 4: Sequoyah

Subsector Sourcebook 4: Sequoyah
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Subsector Sourcebook 4: Sequoyah is a new RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

Over the past year, I have been given the pleasure to review many of the Gypsy Knight products connected to the Clement Sector series of books.  The Subsector Sourcebook 4: Sequoyah is another book that describes in detail one of the many subsectors in Clement.  I got the soft back book but this book is also available in PDF.

From page # 8:
“The Sequoyah subsector is an area of space 8 parsecs wide and ten parsecs long.”

Where the Cascadia sector is a region of tense political conflict between three major worlds within the subsector, a majority of the political (and potentially military) tension comes from external pressure from the neighboring subsector of Hub.   In particular, the world of Harrison feels the threat of a religiously fanatical world in the Hub sector and is arming up to defend itself.  Meanwhile, the remaining worlds of the sector have their own various things to worry about.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves with the finite details of the setting, it might be good to review the overall details of the sector.  Assuming you use this subsector within the default Gypsy Knights setting, Sequoyah was officially prevented from Earth colonization by treaty before the Collapse. (Refer to the Clement Sector review for details on the sector history.)  However, that was quickly violated and of course who was the major violator – the United States.  The US was not the only violator but apparently it was one of the big ones.

There are 19 inhabited worlds in Sequoyah, all considered independent.  There are four major clusters of worlds or regions that trade and work together and the remaining outlying worlds are considered “bridge” worlds.  These regions range from two worlds to a formidable five worlds.  The power and influence of the sector begins at the namesake, Sequoyah.  Settled by the United States citizens that were primarily of Cherokee decent, this world’s culture is heavily influenced by Native American culture. The vast majority of the Clement Sector Space Navy ended up in the hands of the Sequoyahn Government and continues to influence the region here.

Another interesting world of note is Bowemiwak.  This world, an Earth-like world, was primarily settled by disenfranchised citizens of Austin, Texas, after Texas seceded from the United States.  Leaving a Texas that did not reflect their beliefs, these colonists were one of a few worlds not settled by a major Earth power in the regions. 

From  page # 8:
“Within this space is located nineteen inhabited solar systems. ”

Harrison is the world mentioned earlier, fearing threats from the Hub.  It was settled by people of the Southeast United States and has many familiar aspects of that region.  For example, the people are Christian, and the government is run very similarly to the United States government (with a few tweaks).  But the world lives in fear of the neighboring Kingston in the hub sector, as rumors of an attack have filtered through the population.

Boone was the first colony in the Sequoyah subsector to be settled by the United States.  It remains the center of the Boone region, surrounded by four other worlds within one jump from Boone.  Boone was also a beneficiary of the US Space Navy trapped on the Clement sector, and they remain part of their military force today.  Boone has many similarities to the United States in structure, culture and government and it’s safe to assume that it is probably the second most powerful world in the subsector.  It is also home to something called the Brinton Deeps, a huge bowl-shaped indention in the submarine floor that is said to be perfectly smooth.  Many believe that this is not natural forming and evidence of alien manipulation of the planet’s surface.

There are fifteen other worlds on the subsector, all with varying cultures, governments, and environments.  Each inhabited world is described in just enough detail to tease your imagination.  Of course, I reviewed this from the perspective of the Gypsy Knights’ Clement Sector setting.  However, this sector, with some adjustments, can be integrated into any Traveller setting and even any sci-fi RPG setting.

Like past products by Gypsy Knights, this is the same good quality and value for any Traveller gamer.  However, since I have started reviewing these products, I have actually started play testing and running the setting with some of the adventures he has provided (and soon will be reviewed).  I think it would help layout-wise if the book had reference tabs along the top so you know what planet you were on and not just the title of the book.  There are many times while gaming that I wished I could look up something real quick and that would have been handy.

What I found that really engaged the players about the setting is the internal politics of each planet as well as each subsector.  The writer gave you just enough to get an idea of what the potential politics would be (between the subsector book and the Clement sector book) and left the rest to you.  There is a lot of room to play with that kind of stuff.

In conclusion, Gypsy Knights continues to put out imaginative, believable and flexible setting books.  This one is no different and really expands my vision of the Clement sector.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG Supplement “Subsector Sourcebook 4: Sequoyah” check them out at their website http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com.

Codex Rating: 18

Product Summary

Subsector Sourcebook 4: Sequoyah
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Type of Game: RPG Supplement
Written by: John Watts
Contributing Authors: Curtis Rickman
Cover Art by: Dreamstime.com, Luca Oleastri
Additional Art by: Ian Stead, Dreamstime.com: Ssuaphoto, Psynovev, Algol, Yvonne Less, Rik Scott, Patrik Winbjork
Number of Pages: 148
Game Components Included: Sector Supplement book or PDF
Game Components Not Included: Core Mongoose Traveller RPG books
Retail Price: $30.00(US)
Website: www.gypsyknightsgames.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Cascadia Adventures 1: Save Our Ship

Cascadia Adventures 1: Save Our Ship
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Cascadia Adventures 1: Save Our Ship is a new RPG Adventure from Gypsy Knights Games.

After reviewing the setting book for the Clement Sector, I was very interested in running some games in the setting.  Being familiar enough with the Mongoose Traveller rules, I felt I could run a few adventures in the setting rather competently.  The first set of adventures is set in the Cascadia Sector, a subsector book I also reviewed.

From the website:
“A “whale ship.”  That’s what the casinos on Chance call a starship sent to ferry back a wealthy gambler.  The Razz Casino dispatched their “whale ship,” Royal Flush, to pick up an influential politician on Roskilde.  However, something has gone wrong.  Now the casino has hired you to find out what has happened.”

The adventure is structured just the way I like it.  The entire plot is explained up front first and foremost and not left for the GM to figure out by reading it cover to cover.  Because I tend to modify adventures as I go along, I like to have the plot explained to me first so I know what I need to preserve.  Although it would seem natural to do this, not all adventures do.

It also has a handful of fleshed out pre-generated characters (pre-gens) in the beginning.  This is very helpful as I run games at a lot of conventions.  This saves me a lot of work.  I wish more writers did this for their adventures.  It also supplies a ship for the players, which is very convenient.

The heart of the adventure is the investigation into a missing ship and its important passenger.  The intrigue around this can be played up after a little research on each faction involved (through reading the relevant information in Cascadia Sourcebook).  The adventure involves two diametrically different planetary cultures.  One world is a religious oligarchy, guided by a fringe religion and ruled by a single Enlightened One.  The other is a world of vice and entertainment – a Las Vegas in space.  One culture pretends to be pure and progressive while many suspect it is corrupt to the core.  The other is practically openly corrupt, run by a shell corporation that covers up the conglomerate of crime families that actually run the planet.

At least that’s my interpretation.  As mentioned before, there is just enough given in the source books as well as this adventure that the GM can interpret things to fit his vision.  With a little thought and imagination, you can envision it in many ways.  The above was just one example.  From there, you can create a deeper intrigue that takes the character on an intense adventure.  The key to it all is understanding the cultures and the motivations of each side of this adventure, expanding it to fit the situation and understanding the conflict that the players are getting involved in.

From the website:
“Another casino horning in on the business?  Political enemies?  An accident?  It is up to you to find out.”

The investigation itself is a series of encounters with contacts.  If you are using the pre-gens, it makes it fairly easy. However, if you are not, then it is recommended that whatever characters you use  have some ties into the contacts mentioned in the adventure.  Use the pre-gens as examples.  In the beginning, that interaction can take place over a poker or baccarat table.  The adventure supplies a few optional encounters and rules for those possibilities.

Later, the interaction occurs on a large torus-shaped space station where anything can happen.   This world, Roskilde, is getting ready to vote in a new Enlightened One and there is a lot of intrigue potential surrounding that.  Because the candidates are not allowed to openly campaign (because the Spirits of the Universe will guide their people to choose the right leader, of course), everything is done behind the scenes.  This can lead to some very interesting action and roleplay.

Once the right pieces of the puzzle are put together, the adventure switches over to action mode.  As they draw closer to solving it, competing interests can challenge them in violent ways.  Whether that happens or not, the game turns into a race to find the missing ship that is stranded somewhere in deep space.  The ending culminates onboard the missing ship where bad things could happen if the characters are not careful.

In conclusion, I found this adventure to be very enjoyable and full of opportunity for role play and action.  It has a good balance for both.  If the GM plays up the contacts really well, this adventure could be a lot of role play.  For a convention game, this is a great starting adventure that can easily fit in a 4-hour slot.  He supplies you with all you need to run it.  Just read through it thoroughly and read the supplemental information from the Cascadia Subsector sourcebook and you will have a great con game.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG AdventureCascadia Adventures 1: Save Our Ship” check them out at their website http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 16

Product Summary

Cascadia Adventures 1: Save Our Ship
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Type of Game: RPG Adventure
Written by: John Watts
Contributing Authors: Curtis Rickman
Cover Art by: Steve Attwood
Number of Pages: 38
Game Components Included: One PDF, single adventure with pre-generated characters
Game Components Not Included: Core Traveller rulebooks
Retail Price: $ 4.99 (US)
Website: www.gypsyknightsgames.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

 

Mongoose Traveller

From Mongoose Publishing
By Ron McClung

Mongoose Publishing, through a license with Far Future Enterprises, has released a new version of Traveller with the intent on making it the basis of their new house system for future sci-fi lines. Based on the Classic Traveller (CT) system, the designer Gareth Hanrahan has updated the game for the 21st century RPG market.

The 190-page, hardback book is done in the traditional minimalist black cover. It contains all the basics to create a character complete with characteristics and skills as well as the core system, psionics, equipment, basic vehicles, spacecraft and space combat. At the end are sections on encounters and world creation.

The task resolution system is drawn from the original system, using 2 six-sided dice to roll for everything. The base task difficulty is 8 and the complexity of the task determines the modifiers. Tasks are defined in terms of their modifiers, i.e. very difficult is -4. If the total of skills, dice and modifiers are greater than or equal to 8, the task check is successful. This is the core mechanic the entire system is based on.

For fans of CT, the system is more streamlined and consistent. The designer restructured the subsystems in CT together to create a much easier and intuitive system. To those new to Traveller, it is a system without a lot of flare and complexities. The elegance in the game is its simplicity.

Character generation is very engaging. A character has six statistics called characteristics – Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education, and Social Standing – that are rolled with 2 six-sided dice. There are also skills a character gains from his career. The one aspect that is probably one of the more attractive parts of the game is the career system. Based on the CT concept of careers and terms, it creates an encapsulated history of the character as well as gives the character its starting characteristic bonuses, skills, and equipment.

Also included are Psionic Powers and the seventh characteristic, Psionic Strength. Psionic characters have access to talents, which are like skills. To learn talents, one must be trained and make a successful Psionic Strength test. My one complaint related to this is that the character sheet provided does not have a place in which to write psionic powers.

Many of the classic races of Traveller are included. Aside from standard humans, there are the lion-like Aslan, the winged Droyne, the truly alien Hivers, the four-legged K’kree, the canine Vargr, and the noble Zhodani. Another one of the more attractive aspects of Traveller in general is the variety and depth of their races.

What are missing, as any Traveller fans are familiar with, are the details of the game universe. Traveller was originally meant to be a generic sci-fi RPG, so game masters (GMs) can insert their players into any sci-fi subgenre. For Mongoose, the system is intended to be the basis of their new sci-fi RPG line. This will include Traveller-powered versions of Starship Troopers, Strontium Dog, Hammer’s Slammers, and Judge Dredd.

Pro: Simplicity and elegance of the system as well as adaptability to any sci-fi universe.
Con: Cost. The book is $40, and under 200 pages.

Mongoose Traveller
From: Mongoose Publishing
Type of Game: RPG
Written by: Gareth Hanrahan
Contributing Authors: Chris Longhurst, Marc Miller, Loren Wiseman, John Harshman, Frank Chadwick, Darryl Hany.
Game Design by: Marc Miller
Additional Art by: Leonardo Barzio, McLean Kendree, Rich Longmore, Carlos Nunez de Castro Torres, Robin Everett-McGuirl, Travis Liechssenrig
Number of Pages: 188
Game Components Included: One hard back book
Retail Price: $39.95 (US)
Item Number: MGP3800
Number ISBN: 1906103330
Website: www.mongoosepublishing.com
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

CthulhuTech

From: Mongoose Publishing, Wildfire LLC
By Ron McClung

Mongoose Publishing in conjunction with Wildfire LLC and Black Sky Studios have released a twisted vision of a dark future, combining anime-style mecha with the Cthulhu mythos. This stand-alone roleplaying game uses the Framewerk system and is contained in a full-color hardcover book with amazing art and a compelling premise.

The game’s story is deep-seated in Cthulhu mythos and mixes it with world politics and sci-fi technology to create a world of amazing potential. Set in the year 2085, Earth as we know has changed. Since the discovery of arcanotechnology and the creation of the first mecha, global war engulfs the planet. Man’s expansion into space has attracted the attention of aliens called the Migou. Evil cults plot against the world government, summoning creatures from beyond. Mecha war machines walk the Earth battling the alien and cult forces.

Players take on roles of people in a war-torn Earth surviving under the New Earth Government (NEG), fighting alien and cult threats, and using fantastic technologies and dark magic. Character options include arcanotechnicians, intelligence agents, mecha pilots, or Tagers – dark magic tainted-humans with the ability to shape-change into horrific creatures that fight the cult and alien forces. Players also can choose between humans or a genetically engineered alien race, the Nazzadi. There are multiple factions one can pledge their allegiance to, including the NEG, the elite Engel Project, and the mysterious Eldritch Society.

The three primary aspects of a player character in Cthulhu Tech are the basic attributes, skills and qualities – made up of assets and drawbacks. It is a skill-based system with profession templates only acting as guidelines and not fixed classes. Players can also have access to magic but those used to easy-to-use instantaneous spells will be disappointed. This game makes magic hard and rare and link it closely to one’s sanity. What would a Cthulhu-mythos-based system be without a sanity rating and a fear system?

The Framewerk system is based on 10-sided dice and uses roll-higher-than-a-difficulty mechanic. It is fairly elegant and easy to learn. It uses intuitive mechanics combined with a system that favors drama and heroics to create a fun and action packed environment. For example, it provides a Drama Points system that allows players to affect tasks at critical moments.

At the heart of this game are two things – the Cthulhu mythos horrors and mecha. Whole chapters are dedicated to both. Many mecha are introduced – the tough and angular NEG units, the sleek and maneuverable Nazzadi, as well as the alien of the Migou. The horrors have their inspiration rooted in Lovecraftian mythos but also have their own uniqueness to them.

Overall, this game is very attractive. My only concern about it is the playability when you move from character scale to mecha scale. It feels like it is trying to be two games in one – a role-playing game and a miniature game system. It is a brilliantly laid out and visually powerful volume. The inspiring background will attract anime, sci-fi, and mythos fans alike.

Codex Rating: 16

Product Summary

CthulhuTech
From: Mongoose Publishing, Wildfire LLC
Type of Game: RPG Rulebook
Written by: Matthew Grau
Contributing Authors: Fraser Mckay, Aron Andersdon,  Jeanne Grau, Jim Wong
Game Design by: Mathew Grau
Developed by: Mathew Gray
Cover Art by: Mike Vaillancourt, Travor Claxton
Additional Art by: Jason Walker, Maria Cabardo, Sriram Bhat, Whit Brachna, Jacob Hallstrom, Brandon Leach, Christian MacNevin, Marco Nelor, Joe Suitor
Number of Pages: 289
Game Components Included: One Core Rulebook
Game Components Not Included: Standard RPG trappings
Retail Price: $49.95(US)
ISBN: 978-0-976330-60-8
Website: http://www.cthulhutech.com/

Reviewed by: Ron W McClung

Review Addendum (04/13/2013);  Since this writing a lot has changed for Cthulhutech since I wrote this.  Wildfire LLC has moved on from Mongoose Publishing to Catalyst Game Labs.  They continue to publish the games in that partnership.