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Grand Safari

This review originally appeared on rpg-resource.org.uk in July 2016 and was reprinted in the November/December 2016 issue.

Grand Safari. John Watts.
Gypsy Knights Games http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com
153pp., PDF
US$9.99/UKú7.75

One of the delights of Traveller is exploring new parts of the universe… and here’s a whole campaign about doing just that. Set in the Gypsy Knights Games alternative Traveller universe, it puts the party as members of the Gentlemen’s Club of Dashwood (an society you’ll find in the book 21 More Organisations) who have booked themselves onto a hunting safari into the unsettled Hannibal Subsector (Leonidas Sector) which is located to spinward of the Dade Subsector in the Clement Sector. You can read about the Dade Subsector in the work Dade Colonies, too. Nine pre-generated characters are provided but you can use your own—provided they are ‘posh’ enough (assume SOC 8+) to join the Club or can wangle an invitation from a member to join the trip. There are also safari staff and ship’s crew roles, but these are probably best filled by NPCs.

What we have here is a series of adventures which can be played in any order, linked by the theme of the Safari, which is a competition. Various activities accrue points, which accumulate towards a prize and enhance standing within the Club. The game begins at a Club meeting on Dashwood or at the first stop, a skills training day on Aisha, after which the party should be allowed to choose from a list of available safaris (adventures) which ones they want to do and in what order.

There’s plenty of detail to help you run this campaign, from planetary data to the Clubhouse on Dashwood. The safari contest rules are introduced and then it’s on to Aisha for Skills Day. Here, the party has the opportunity to demonstrate prowess at various activities: rifle marksmanship, archery, horseback riding, climbing, stealth, and making a shelter out of native materials. Points are awarded for all these activities—and characters who do well despite being unskilled in a given discipline may gain rank 0 in the appropriate skill. The party is then shown a list of six expeditions and can decide the order in which to visit them.

Each expedition is presented in detail. For each one, there is a defined objective and the party will have a certain amount of time and the appropriate equipment to undertake it. Interestingly, sometimes the task is being done for someone else—for example, in the Sea Hunt the Club has been contracted to capture certain fish for a research group. Some of the tasks involve killing, but there are enough places in which capturing or even making recordings of the target animals or plants will garner points so that those who are uncomfortable with the idea of hunting for sport will find plenty to do. Naturally, each location visited boasts more than the target creature and there are extensive random event charts and other encounters to further enliven affairs. Once the six hunts have been undertaken, the party returns to Aisha, points are added up and prizes awarded.

Full details of all the systems in the Hannibal Subsector are provided, at least to the level that they are known to the Club. As far as is known, none of them have been settled yet… but there’s sufficient detail in the system write-ups to allow for that if the party choose to do so in later adventures, or for you to write your own campaign around exploring and settling any one of them. Many do not even have names yet, just catalogue numbers, although some have acquired unofficial names bestowed by the Club during earlier safaris. The ship on which the safari will be undertaken is also presented, complete with deckplans and full details including those of a surface (wet) boat provided for ocean travel during the trip. Finally, there are a few ideas about other things that might be going on in the area…

This presents an exciting and original campaign framework, with loads of detail to support the adventures provided or indeed facilitate your own in a virtually unexplored subsector.