Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition: Reach Adventure 5: The Borderland Run
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 issue.
Adventure 5: The Borderland Run. Martin K. Dougherty.
Mongoose Publishing https://mongoosepublishing.com
Say “Borderlands” in almost any adventure-related context, and certain imagery arises: the law, such as it is, is weak; every man for himself; ambushes, treachery, vengeance, outlawry, … Reach Adventure 5: The Borderland Run offers the opportunity for all of it, though the wise and careful Traveller can avoid some of it. The player-characters are asked to carry an important cargo to a major world on the Aslan side of the Hierate border; there is a firm deadline, but it’s not a short one given the distance the cargo is travelling. They will be paid a charter fee for the entire period to the deadline, even if they complete the mission in less time, and they are free to do trading ‘on the side’ to their own profit, subject to the deadline. There are two options for calculating the fee; even if the characters were to choose the lower one, it might well cover their expenses for the charter period (they’ll get the higher).
The Introduction and Chapters One and Two provide background information on the area of the adventure and the cargo that the player-characters are asked to carry. The referee needs to be aware of all of it, and may selectively pass to the player-characters what they need to know of it.
The adventure proper begins with Chapter Three, where the player-characters are given the mission. This chapter gives an overview of the world, and provides a bit of excitement even before the player-characters land, if the referee opts to not start with them already landed. There can be the usual starport encounters, plus a couple of ‘special’ encounters for this particular port, but the one key encounter is with their patron, who will provide the player-characters with the basic facts of the mission as he knows them, which is essentially “pick up a cargo at (a different world than they’re on) and transport it to its destination”.
The trip to the final destination divides naturally into two parts: the beginning, in the Voidsedge Cluster, is covered in Chapter Four. There is one key encounter in this part of the journey, the actual acquisition of the cargo they’ve been hired to transport. That’s covered in Chapters Six and Seven; this chapter provides an overview of what to expect on each of the worlds in the Cluster.
Chapter Five provides some incidents that may occur during the trip through the Cluster. There are clues that may later allow the player-characters to put together a better picture of what’s at stake in their mission.
Chapters Six and Seven cover the actual acquisition of the cargo. The three key facts are that (a) the cargo is not at the main port in the system, (b) it’s not exactly a normal cargo, and (c) there are others that are interested in this cargo.
The player-characters, as above, now have some opportunity to do speculative trading for themselves, while keeping an eye on the calendar to get the contracted cargo where it needs to be. Eventually, though, they have to cross from the Voidsedge Cluster to the Drinax Chain, and Chapter Eight deals with that, including a brief discussion of getting collapsible fuel bladders if the characters are using a Jump-1 ship.
Chapter Nine is titled “Revelations”; the player-characters will experience some, including some information that might bring into question whether to complete the contract.
Chapter Ten covers visits to two worlds in the Drinax Chain, yielding some information about the ultimate disposition of the cargo. It is here that the player-characters will have to make a decision on whether to complete the contract, or forfeit the remaining portion of the fee. If they choose to break the contract, the adventure ends here.
Chapter Eleven is the denouement of the adventure, assuming that the player-characters deliver as contracted. Depending on their actions while delivering the cargo, they may be granted an opportunity under Aslan law to influence its final disposition. If they achieve the best possible outcome, they can gain some very good potential patrons or contacts, possibly even allies.
Chapter Twelve rounds out the volume with a “mini-encyclopedia” covering important NPCs, equipment, weapons, and a map of the two subsectors that will be crossed in the journey.
Overall, a decently-written adventure, and one that opens doors to several interesting possibilities. I would consider this worth the price for referees; players who don’t like spoilers should avoid this (and any adventure folio).