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The Cascadia Adventures

This article appeared in the August 2014 issue.

The Cascadia Adventures. John Watts.
Gypsy Knights Games http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com/
92pp, softcover
US$19.99/UKú11.81

The Cascadia Adventures is a printed compilation of three Gypsy Knights Games adventures previously published in electronic form. Indeed, there is as yet no electronic version of this single volume. Save our Ship was concerned with looking for a wealthy gambler; The Lost Girl saw the PCs tracking down a missing daughter, and Fled was about a casino employee on the run. The similar nature of these three ‘pursuits’ is perhaps more obvious when put together like this, but on the other hand with the PCs as the crew of the MV Dust Runner specifically charged with this kind of mission, there’s variety in the reasons for the hunts and all three scenarios are nicely connected within the publishers’ alternate universe. Having said that, there’s little here that couldn’t be transplanted to other worlds in Traveller settings that aren’t too different, The Third Imperium included. Having said that, to get the most from this it’s probably as well as to have Clement Sector and Subsector Sourcebook 1: Cascadia to hand. The former gives setting-specific notes that are useful and the latter gives further details on the worlds that the adventures visit. Mongoose rules are used throughout, though it wouldn’t take a huge amount of work to convert to other rule sets.

This is a typical print-on-demand volume from Gypsy Knights Games, with good quality production, good layout and a pleasant, easy to read style. Three pages are devoted to the ship (description, deck plans and stats), nine pages are devoted to the crew including illustrations of each (which are new), and four pages are devoted to the Razz Casino on the planet Chance which forms the linking thread between the three adventures and the characters involved and which is where each of the adventures begins. This section includes notes and tasks for playing blackjack, baccarat and poker within an adventure as well as casino shows and betting on gladiatorial matches. Naturally, these rules can be used elsewhere very easily although it would have been good to see perhaps one or two ‘future’ card games included. The remainder of the books is split between the three adventures weighing in at 20, 23, and 30 pages respectively.

The adventures themselves are designed to be played by anything up to nine PCs and pre-generated characters are offered but not required. These can also be used as NPCs should the referee need to fill out the crew of the vessel. The ship used throughout is a 300-ton Rucker-class merchant vessel which has a reputation as an odd-job kind of ship. Additionally, deck plans and stats are provided for another ship of the same class, the Royal Flush, which has been modified to be used as a mobile casino. This is the ship that the PCs are hired to track down in Save our Ship. The owner of the casino, Carrie O’Malley – detailed in the adventure – wants to know what’s happened.

In The Lost Girl, a father hasn’t heard from his daughter for almost a year and despite several attempts has been unable to contact her. As a former employee of the casino he finally approaches O’Malley who then hires the PCs to hunt for the young woman. The final adventure of the trio, Fled, deals with a security specialist at the casino who has stolen MCr50 and left the system. O’Malley is sending several teams to worlds he might have fled to, and the PCs form one of those teams.

This is a great book. The Steve Attwood deck plans are a joy to behold. Clear, well presented, well labelled (Cirque take note!). The rest of the book has good clear print, colour throughout which is attractive and the volume is well laid out. Some tweaks to the original PDFs have been made (for example UPP digits of ‘A’ being changed to ‘10’ but not in every case, or the subtitle ‘The End’ of the adventures being changed to ‘Resolution’, or bullet points being tidied up from the original unattractive ‘>’ symbols) but these are minor. One loss is the Roskilde News Service page about elections for the ‘Enlightend One’ from Save our Ship. This is replaced in the print version with a trio of advertisement illustrations for the elections with text in Danish (‘One World, One Spirit, One Light – choose The Enlightened One’) but which isn’t clearly explained. The repetition of the Dust Runner deck plans and crew at the start of each adventure as well as descriptions of O’Malley or casino games have been removed, of course, and illustrations have been added throughout, which is welcome. The artwork is very typical of Gypsy Knights Games productions and is generally well executed although some of the portraits of individuals perhaps don’t work as well as others. Victims of the uncanny valley perhaps. Some of the ‘scenes’ which are illustrated work well and are very atmospheric however, and the illustrations with ships – and in one case a city (used as the cover of Fled in the PDF version) – work exceptionally well.

If you’re using the publishers’ alternate universe of Clement Sector then these adventures are a no-brainer for their use of that setting and additional background for it. For players who’d enjoy these kind of hunt-them-down-and-big-final-denouement scenarios it’s definitely worth looking at for a handsome and imaginative volume. For referees looking to transplant these to their own settings little work is going to be necessary although the differences between Jump drive and the Gypsy Knights Games Zimm drive will need to be taken account of. Although Gypsy Knight Games are moving away from the somewhat generic Traveller of their earlier work such as the 21 Plots books and their Quick Worlds and moving more into their own homebrew setting, if this standard is anything to go by, lots more is to be welcomed. High quality, lots of fun, and definitely worth a look.