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Mongoose Traveller Adventure 1 - Beltstrike

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue.

Mongoose Traveller Adventure 1: Beltstrike. Lawrence Whittaker
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
softbound, 96pp
US$24.99/UKú16.99

Mongoose’s first complete adventure for Traveller sets a high standard for future adventures, blurring the line between ‘adventure’ and ‘campaign’.

On the Shelf

Beltstrike is written such that it does not depend on the Third Imperium setting; it depends on the Traveller Core Rules only. As a core adventure, it sports the standard black cover with Traveller-and-arrow logo; for adventures, the latter is a deep blue that is almost invisible against the black. The adventure carries the tagline “Face the Sonares Frontier”, referring to the system in which the adventure is set.

Initial Impressions

Beltstrike is more than an adventure; it expands on the core rules by providing additional rules for detailing the composition of an asteroid belt and mining it, and for generating Belter characters. A section on equipping a belting expedition follows; all this can apply to belter adventures anywhere.

The adventure proper follows. This includes a section on the Sonara system, with a particular focus on the Schaffer Belt (where most of the action occurs), and a set of scenarios.

On Closer Inspection

The Sonara system is a developing society, but not quite up to FTL. Gear is limited to TL9, as are spacecraft, though the adventure describes two type of available spacecraft as matching the Type A Free Trader and the Type R Subsidized Merchant, but with cargo capacity increased and the jump drive omitted. Specifications and deck plans for a mining platform are provided, as well as for a ‘seeker singleship’ which looks like a variation on the Type S.

The initial scenario, “The Factory”, serves to introduce the major players and key personalities. It includes a survey and evaluation of a mining platform. The platform turns out to contain secrets which the player-characters may or may not discover; these secrets can affect developments later on. There is also an option for the platform to have been occupied by pirates; if the referee takes that option, there is the potential for what should be a simple survey-and-evaluation to degrade into a dungeon crawl and pitched-battle scenario.

Once the survey is done, the adventure becomes a waiting game for the player-characters, and “Signals to Noise” provides several mini-scenarios that can be used to fill the time. “The Shoranan Habitat Run” involves shipping parts and equipment needed to rehabilitate the platform from “The Factory”, and has some options for intrigue, ship-to-ship combat, and boarding actions. “Spindrift” offers the opportunity for prospecting and claim-jumping, if certain events transpired in “The Shoranan Habitat Run”. “Factory Shadows” ties back to one of the secrets that might have been revealed in “The Factory”. Finally, “Miscellanea” simply reveals a fact that can be used by the referee as a hook for additional adventures. There is no set order to these mini-scenarios, other than “Spindrift” being dependent on “The Shoranan Habitat Run”.

Once the waiting game is over, it’s time to actually repair the platform and recommission it. “Working Them Angels” provides a mechanic to simulate this, and also to potentially provide hooks for adventure sessions. This is essentially the entirety of “Resurrecting the Machine”; it also forms the backdrop to the mission in “Factory Online” and the events of “Rogan’s Return”.

Once the platform is recommissioned, “Adventures in the Chlaer Radical” establishes the pattern of ‘business as usual’ for a belt mining company, and provides a few mini-adventures that can be tossed at the players in any order.

Together, “Working Them Angels” and “Adventures in the Chlaer Radical” also present an enigma to hang further adventures on.

Finally, “Belt War” threatens the entire system with major upheaval, and the player-characters are positioned to be right in the thick of things, potentially making a difference in the final outcome.

Conclusion

Beltstrike sets a high standard for future core adventures; in the early days of Traveller, something this well-developed would be considered a campaign, rather than a mere adventure. Even played through to a conclusion—and there is plenty of opportunity to “get sidetracked” and take it in a different direction—the referee is left with plenty of hooks to hang further adventures on. This volume is unquestionably worth the money, and should be a part of every Traveller library.