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Stranded coverStranded. Martin J. Dougherty.
Mongoose Publishing https://www.mongoosepublishing.com
33pp. PDF
Free from DriveThruRPG

Stranded is a survival scenario, inspired by Classic Traveller Double Adventure 4: Marooned/Marooned Alone. It is not, however, a remake of that adventure; instead, it leaves the introductory scenario and ultimate goal undefined, focussing on the immediate situation and goals.

The player-characters are stranded about 250km away from the only settlement on a backwater planet; they have only what they were able to grab on their way into their survival pods whilst abandoning ship, plus the survival kits in their respective survival pods. They’ll be facing extreme cold weather, getting together with other survivors who are “nearby” (up to 10km away), a 20-30km trek across the ice where they came down (once they’re together – or not, if a character thinks he can make it alone), and then further travel across mountains and swampland, with their wildlife and other adversarial conditions, before arriving at the settlement.

The survival pods are described in useful detail; a resourceful character can probably increase the chances of survival using what the pod makes available – which isn’t much; the characters will have to deal with limited power for what electronics they may have, limited ammunition for any guns, limited food in the form of survival rations, and so on.

The referee is strongly encouraged to reward roleplaying vs. just rolling dice and announcing results; creative thought and planning on the part of the player, even if improbable in reality, is to be encouraged. (This is a theme and ‘admonition’ to the referee that is repeated for every phase of the journey.)

On the down side (for the players), the referee is also supposed to keep track of (or require the players to keep track of) encumbrance and food (the latter is abstracted into “food units”; a character needs 10 FU per day – but the players don’t have an unlimited supply of survival rations (which provide the needed 10FU per day), and will have to hunt and/or forage), and impose penalties against travel speed, fatigue, and starvation. There does seem to be an implicit assumption that local life is compatible enough with the characters’ species to provide nutrition through hunting and foraging.

The book provides seven pages of encounters/ events that the characters can experience during their journey; any specific animals mentioned are going to be one of the six potentially dangerous animals whose stats are provided. Encounters, whether natural obstacles (e.g., terrain or weather) or animals, are rolled daily, plus roughly every 10km that the players travel, plus whenever the referee deems it appropriate. Observant characters can learn how to avoid certain encounters, or how to behave during some encounters that they might fail to avoid.

The adventure notes that the players can, in theory, decide to stay put and wait for rescue – but the world is a practically uninhabited backwater of little or no interest to passing traders, and with limited rations on hand, staying put really isn’t going to be a viable option.

While the player-characters could, in theory, ‘power’ their way through this adventure, they need to remember that they’re dealing with limited resources (including ammo for any weapons), and once a resource is gone, it’s gone, with no hope of replenishment. They won’t be able to take everything that they find at their crash site, and whatever they do take will increase their burden and slow them down, but the more they do take, the greater the possibilities later on. Forethought and planning should be key to surviving this adventure.

In the event that the referee should misjudge the interest and patience of the players, there are a couple of opportunities that the referee can use to ‘bail out’ of the adventure, but actually implementing the ‘exit’ will necessarily be by fiat, and may well feel like it, especially after the elaborate setup to get the players into the adventure in the first place.

Overall, Stranded is a decently-written adventure, and would have easily garnered a ‘buy’ recommendation even at a US$9.99 price point. As a ‘freebie’, it would be a shame not to add it to your library.