Authors: Joe Fugate, Gary Thomas, Nancy Parker, Robert Parker
Publisher: Digest Group Publications (1988)
Format: 48 Page Soft Cover Book
Price: Varies (Second Hand Market)
Approved for use with Megatraveller
The Early Adventures are a reprint of the first 4 Travellers Digest feature adventures, and the library data and extra material helpful in running them.
The extra material is not completely necessary for running the adventures, but provides extra feel, atmosphere and help for the Referee and Players for certain aspects within them. Library and subsector name data is given for Corridor and Deneb, journalist character generation tables are provided, recording devices through the tech levels with their stats are detailed, a section on playing Vargr (for the third adventure) along with four subsectors (UWPs and maps) are presented giving the region each adventure is set in (Pretoria and Atsah of Deneb with Ian of Corridor and Kagamira of Vland). This material is just great, well written, imaginative, stimulating, and all round well … good.
The detail doesn't stop with the additional material. The adventures themselves have deck plans for two ships, the express boat tender and a Tukera long liner, and their Megatraveller stats, world descriptions with grand survey data and maps, facility plans, ancient sites, visual aides, along with four pre-generated characters their history and role playing notes (one is a pseudobiological TL15 Robot), all this without mentioning NPCs for each adventure with a paragraph or so on them and some of their motives.
All the above … yes and artwork too. The players and most NPCs have an upper body shot, each adventure has an intro piece and there are more that give feel to play. This artwork may not have been drawn using an early Macintosh computer but it is presented in what looks like classic 'Mac Paint' greyscale and while this is nowhere near today's graphic standards it is still surprisingly ok. The cover shows what seems to be the original 'Adventure Intro' pieces, from which the inside greyscale shots are taken.
The main part of the book is the adventures themselves, and the first, 'Of Xboats and Friends', is the set-up adventure to the whole Travellers Digest series. This is where the characters meet each other, get better acquainted and gain the means to get to Capital by being Knighted at its conclusion. The plot is uncomplicated but that isn't the point of the adventure. The reason for the adventure is to start the players on their trip to Capital and for them to get to know their characters, and for this it doesn't need an in-depth plot. It needs some opportunity to role-play, which presents itself in a search of the starport, and a reason to be knighted, and foiling a spy ring is the answer for this.
Our fab four then move on to adventure two 'Journey of the Sojourn Moon' looking for cultural diversity. This is a survival adventure set on a desert world with a low-tech nomadic population. The characters visit a nomad tribe and end up taking a survival test.
Adventure three is where our players 'Visit to Antiquity' a large and functioning ancient site, and get to interact with their first aliens; a Vargr scientific team. They are invited to explore a newly discovered ancient site where the unexpected happens and they get to puzzle out what is going on. Add to this a couple of dangers and the fact that the humans charisma is lower than that of the Vargr and the role-playing possibilities just keep on coming.
Adventure four 'The Gold of Zurrian' is an in Jump murder mystery where the players have to prove their innocents while discovering the murderer.
These scenarios are all about character interaction, and lots of it. Most of the adventures have no reward or character enhancements. Role-play and mystery are what these scenarios are all about and for this I think they are excellent, being well written with some interesting outcomes.
The Early Adventures is available on the second hand market, and it's 48 pages cost a fortune. The wealth of material in the book is excellent and I think could enhance nearly any Traveller campaign. The adventures themselves are all about role-playing, there is hardly a shot fired, or any trading done, and no one is hired for Cr10,000. If your group is into character interaction and you are a top notch NPC player then these scenarios are for you, with sessions and sessions of enjoyable role-playing abounding. If, however, you are running a merc campaign there is little here for you apart from the background material. For an existing merchant campaign some of these scenarios can be easily adapted to fit in relatively seamlessly. Inexperienced Referees would probably be better starting with something less demanding of them and their players, but this is a good Traveller product. Digest Group Publications' reputation is for excellent Traveller products and while this isn't their best it certainly isn't their worst.
As for value for money, well this one is difficult to gauge (due to the inconsistent pricing of the second hand market). If you can find it cheaply I'd say buy it every time, but as the price goes up it would really depend on your group as to weather it would be worth investing your hard earned gaming cash.