The Cascadia Adventures
This article originally appeared on rpg.net in October 2014, and was reprinted in Freelance Traveller’s January/February 2016 issue, where the rpg.net credit was inadvertently omitted.
Cascadia Adventures. John Watts.
Gypsy Knights Games http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com/
The Cascadia Adventures compiles previous PDF adventures into a single volume, revamping some and making them better through better art and less repetition. If you have already purchased the single adventures you will be happy with this upgrade. Gypsy Knight Games has once again shown itself to be a leader in creating interesting and dynamic adventures which can be linked together as a campaign or still played as one-shots.
The brief synopsis is contained below…sorry, no spoilers just like all of my reviews of adventures.
Save Our Ship
A “whale ship”. That’s what the casinos on Chance call a starship sent to ferry back a wealthy gambler. The Razz Casino dispatched their “whale ship”, Royal Flush, to pick up an influential politician on Roskilde. However, something has gone wrong. Now the casino has hired you to find out what has happened. Another casino horning in on the business? Political enemies? An accident? It is up to you to find out.
The Lost Girl
A daughter lost. It tugs at the heart of any parent. Khalil Moskalawicz, a former card dealer at The Razz Casino, has lost contact with his only daughter, Frida. When no one else will help, Khalil turns to his former boss, Carrie O’Malley. And when Carrie O’Malley needs someone to take on a tough job, she calls on you. Has Frida been kidnapped? Murdered? Turned to a life of crime? It is up to you to find out the truth.
Thousands of credits stolen from the Razz Casino on Chance is just the beginning! Milton ‘The Monk’ Hawthorne, security officer, has robbed the Razz Casino and fled the system. Carrie O’Malley, owner of the casino, has hired the crew of MV Dust Runner to locate Hawthorne and recover the stolen money. However, Hawthorne may have far bigger plans, including an act of revenge that may change the course of Cascadian politics forever. Is Hawthorne a mad genius? Or just a pawn in a far greater conspiracy? Can the characters stop Hawthorne? Can they recover the money?
Because these were linked one-shots, they had a somewhat hastily assembled feel to them. By bringing them all together, Gypsy Knight Games has actually managed to give a more coherent campaign feel to them. Furthermore, there is excellent character art to accompany the pregens. Overall, Gypsy Knight Games has made sure that if you purchased the original adventures you will be happy with the upgrade. While these adventures are specific to the ATU of the Clement Sector, they can be ported into the OTU or another ATU with minimal effort, as Gypsy Knight Games has made every effort to keep it generic with references that are quite universal and may be applied to other universes because of common tropes. This might also be a weakness, though – they risk becoming ‘vanilla’, as in the early days of GDW’s Traveller or the original Star Trek, where stand-ins for the powers of the day are rife. While we all steal from the headlines or do a riff from current events, and thus risk our adventures becoming dated, Gypsy Knight Games steadfastly avoids this pitfall. Their work occasionally does, however, have a bit of a hasty or unfinished nature about it. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is very much in keeping with the “Old School Revival” – to make roleplaying more sandbox-like.
Personally, I prefer a more narrativist approach with different sounds, smells, colours described prose, whether purple or otherwise. This gives a full sense of depth to an adventure that adds to the Sense of Wonder that is so vital to SFRPGs. Boxed purple prose and flowcharts would do it, as in the ‘nugget’ adventure format from DGP. However, I realize that is not how Traveller operates. Or at least not since DGP’s sad demise.
The adventures themselves are well written and follow a pretty standard set of tropes. There are no great mysteries or enigmas to be solved. In many ways they would right home in an espionage game. They do utilize the “international” elements of the Clement Sector but in ways that native inhabitants might find rather stereotypical. However, Traveller has long been “Yanks in Space” and even the shifting of the license over to Mongoose has done little to shift that bias beyond their 2300AD line.
All in all, it is a solid product, but perhaps not for everyone – as my Traveller campaigns come to resemble more Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica (which place an emphasis on exploration), these settled areas give a more Firefly feel to the game. And, many people have compared Traveller to Firefly – naturally, it is a matter of choice. If referees are looking to integrate a sense of wonder into the adventures, they are best off picking up the subsector guides which will give more detail on worlds and systems.