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Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition - Great Rift Adventure 1: Islands in the Rift

This review originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue, and was reprinted in the September/October 2021 issue.

Great Rift Adventure 1: Islands in the Rift. Martin J. Dougherty.
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
33pp., PDF (Softcover forthcoming)
Price TBD (see note)

The Author received the PDFs as part of the deliverables for the Great Rift Kickstarter, and will receive the printed editions when available.

Although this adventure is included in the Great Rift Kickstarter, it has been written such that you don’t actually need the other books of the Great Rift set to run – although having them will be helpful for providing additional background beyond what is strictly necessary to understand for this adventure, and potentially offering the player-characters options for “side trips” or further adventures. Specific references to other Traveller materials (second edition assumed) include the Core Rulebook or High Guard, and the Deep Space Exploration Handbook.

The player-characters are tasked with recovering a ship and shepherding it across the Islands Cluster, two subsectors in the center of the Great Rift. It’s not a simple problem of ship navigation; the Islands Cluster is a cauldron of shifting alliances at odds with each other, in situations that are often just short of open war. Additionally, the PCs will have to contend with biased and incomplete presentation of information, opposition, and a mission complication.

This volume is very definitely targeted to the referee; players should consider themselves discouraged from reading it.

The Introduction, consisting of three pages of text and one page of maps (the two Island subsectors), provides the referee with the needed background of the region, including historical information and the origins of the adventure mission. This information is presented as being accurate, and it is specifically noted that referee’s discretion is to be used in presenting it to the player-characters – both in terms of what to present and when, and how accurately (e.g., completeness and bias) to present it.

The next two pages, the Travellers’ Briefing (Chapter One), is information that should be presented by the referee to the player-characters as a mission briefing. This covers an overly-brief summary of the current situation in the Islands, essentially from the Imperial point-of-view, and a mission overview, for recovering the Perfect Stranger, last known to be on Amondiage, and transporting it to the Imperial representative at Zuflucht, at the other end of the Islands. The player-characters will have limited resources (even more limited if they don’t have their own transportation), and may not be able to draw on even those resources under certain circumstances.

Chapter Two provides information on the Perfect Stranger, a 400-ton Type R Subsidized Merchant heavily modified for extended range and duration, consonant with its true mission of intelligence gathering, and sufficient to get to any star in the Islands (albeit slowly; she still mounts the standard Jump-1 drive).

Chapters Three through Six provide information and activities covering the first part of the mission, from arrival at Amondiage to acquisition of the ship to starting the journey to Zuflucht. There is a proposed route that the player-characters will use if they’re playing it safe and sensible, but there are also some places where they might be able to skip a stop if they’re willing to cut into the buffer provided by the extended-range/duration mods.

Chapter Seven offers a couple of exceptional impediments that can be run somewhere along the route. There are notes on how the referee should handle them at various worlds along the route, and what the player-characters should expect depending on their actions.

Chapters Eight through Ten cover the remainder of the trip to Zuflucht, much as the early part was covered in Chapters Three through Six. There are fewer stops on this leg, and thus less to happen – but what does happen can be just as important as the earlier complications.

Chapter Eleven is a single page with a couple of weapons specifically mentioned in the adventure; these are Islands versions of similar items that may be found elsewhere.

Chapter Twelve provides a page of index-card profiles of opposition the player-characters will encounter in a couple of ‘key’ incidents.

Overall, this is an interesting-looking adventure, good for use as a short, self-contained campaign. Recommended buy for referees looking to stock up on pregenerated adventures; players should probably avoid this unless you don’t care about spoilers.