21 Plots Planetside
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of Freelance Traveller.
21 Plots Planetside. Various Authors.
Gypsy Knights Games http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com
28pp, PDF or softcover
US$4.99 PDF/US$8.25 softcover
Once again, Gypsy Knight Games returns to creating adventure hooks that are firmly grounded in a strong Traveller sensibility (unlike, say, the Campaign Guide). These are set in their own corner of an Alternative Traveller Universe that their Quick Worlds have been describing. It is very much a sandbox collection of seeds reminding the reader of early FASA offerings for Classic Traveller outlining the Old Expanses, save that there is no Official Traveller Universe reference.
Each of these adventures are planetbound, though questionable use of a starship appears in some of the scenarios, when perhaps small craft (either the player’s own or in the grand tradition of Traveller – a rental) would have been more appropriate. Another point is that many of these worlds are very Earth-like and do not pose a greater sense of wonder that could have been explored – maybe they are saving that goodness for a campaign, so as to keep these worlds generic enough. I do not fault Gypsy Knight Games too much for this; for indeed one of the weaknesses of Traveller has been to leave it to the Referee to create the exotic alien environments – when in all likelihood what is out there – is not likely to resemble what is here. But, it is that grounding that also makes Traveller work so well; one needs not worry, for example, about the effects of too much nitrogen in an otherwise standard atmosphere. 2300 AD does a much better job at the science.
So, the format is the same as previous 21 Plots, a small basic setup for the scenario then the Referee can pick one of the outcomes or roll 1D6 and completely freeform it or build it up to a comprehensive one shot with maps, stats, and whatnot. What makes these adventure seeds so Traveller is that they are grounded in a realistic and dirty future where people’s jobs may be in space but they still remain jobs – they’re ordinary joes who have a chance at becoming local heroes, sort of like the old television series, The Dukes of Hazzard. Furthermore, there are wheels within wheels, in the sense that adventures rarely are what they seem at the beginning. Certainly, the means are there to allow you to reach the end but it is the journey (hence the name of the game) that is what is the most important part. Gypsy Knight Games has nailed it to a fine art; that is not to say there are not some sour choices, but, more frequently the Referee is rewarded with the sweet nectar of old fashioned Traveller goodness.