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Ptolus: Adventures
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/03/2018 11:46:54

OK, so you have this wonderful city setting, what are you going to actually do there? If you are short of prep time or are bedazzled by the possibilities and aren't quite sure where to start, here are four complete adventures plus 'interludes' that provide a framework for getting the party from first to fourth level. They appear in the Ptolus: City by the Spire sourcebook, and as one in a series of PDFs that present the same material. The adventures are all interlinked and play out on the streets of Ptolus so it's worth picking up the other source material for the city before running them. The adventures involve gangsters, politics and intrigue; and are embedded in the setting. By the end of them the party ought to have met some of the movers and shakers of the city and will likely have made both allies and enemies.

Note that these adventures do not involve the 'delving' for which Ptolus is famed amongst the adventuring community - but it's perfectly possible to intersperse the odd underground trip between the events presented here. A few suggestions are made for places to visit and even where to pop them in. However, there is plenty of action in the adventures, and those looking for a fight will not be disappointed.

Everything is cross-referenced to the rest of the book/other PDFs so it easy to look anything up when it appears in the adventure text - places, NPCs, and so on. The core four adventures involve a convoluted tale, a plot that strikes right into the middle of Ptolus affairs at the highest level - heady stuff for a bunch of inexperienced adventurers who may be new to the city or who have hitherto lived normal lives on its streets.

A neat aspect is the foreshadowing that goes on particularly in the first adventure, with references to things that will occur and people that will be encountered later on. They are not blatently obvious, but when the event happens or the individual met, the party should recall them. The plotline is wonderfully convoluted with myriads of people all following their own agendas - very lifelike in that respect, which added to the depth of background really makes the alternate reality come to life. It does mean, however, that careful study of the entire storyline is necessary to run it to best effect - this isn't something you can just pick up and play without preparation.

By the time the party has completed these adventures - including, if you wish, the several side-adventures mentioned throughout the text - they will not only be fourth-level but will be up-and-coming members of the adventuring community, beginning to make a name for themselves in Ptolus, and knowing a wide cross-section of people. Even if reading about the city has given you plenty of ideas for your own adventures, it's well worth considering these as a part of your ongoing campaign.



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Ptolus: Adventures
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Ptolus: Beneath the Streets
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/02/2018 08:13:40

This is part 7 of the PDF part-work version of the Ptolus city sourcebook, and it deals with what's underneath the city - a matter of some importance as it is where all the adventurers drawn to the city go delving for fame and fortune (or their untimely demise). Aimed at the DM, this explains just a little of what awaits the party if they choose to go delving. It's of particular use if your group enjoys a good dungeon delve, but even if their adventuring interests tend more to above-ground intrigue and interactions it is such an integral part of the fabric and life of the city that it is worth knowing about.

Beneath Ptolus, we are told, lie vast chambers, caverns, and tunnels. In fact, there are whole cities of dwarven and dark elven creation below the surface. The reason why is explained, but that really is for the DM alone to know... yet each community or location has its own story, its own reasons for being where it is as well. One part is the Undercity, and it's pretty much another district of Ptolus except for being underground instead of above ground. Much can be accessed via public passages, there's even some measure of official presence - or at least, this is where the Prison is - and there are a market, businesses, even dwellings to be found. Of course there is a lot more, much of it less well known... sewers, caverns, an abandoned dwarf city called Dwarvenhearth and much more. Most of it is interconnected. A side elevation attempts to give an idea, with various elements descending several thousand feet below. Think of Ptolus like an iceberg - there's far more under the surface than visible above!

There is discussion on how to make use of it all. Some groups like their dungeon delves, and there is plenty here to keep them entertained without them even needing to visit the city above. Others may come to Ptolus, as adventurers do, to delve but live above-ground making discrete visits below as their 'day job'. Parties seeking urban adventure may only visit the underground areas occasionally when the plot demands it.

One danger delvers will soon hear about - and encounter! - are Pits of Insanity, which are blobs of pure chaos. Strange things happen near them, the very fabric of reality is warped and as for the effects they have on spellcasting... There is an area called the Banewarrens, which is the subject of a full-blown adventure published separately (The Banewarrens as it happens), and there are loads of other locations which are outlined here. There's plenty of room if you like designing your own underground complexes, though!

The next section, however, looks at the Undercity in detail. The Undercity Market is the place to get adventuring gear, and it's easily reached from the surface via a wide staircase. There's a plan with notes on some of the stalls and what can be purchased. Nearby is the Dark Market where the items traded are more dubious (read: illegal). The Longfingers Guild (as the local thieves guild is known) is down here, there's a slave market, and people selling nasty magic, poisons, and their own services as assassins, amongst other things. The Longfingers Guild is mapped out, although there's a note to say that the first challenge for any would-be member is to actually find the place! There are several ideas for adventures involving the Guild headquaters too. Another place that's mapped out is the Prison. Hopefully the party will never need to go there...

Next is a look at the sewers. These are in surprisingly good condition and as well as serving their intended purpose act as a subterranean thoroughfare. You can get most anywhere from here, either bobbing up to the surface again or delving deeper in search of adventure. However, they are infested with rats, and worse. We then move on to the Caverns, a far more disparate assortment of underground caves many of which at least started out as natural. Plenty of maps and notes here, along with adventure ideas as well as loads of background. That's the neat thing, everything is here for a reason. Even the wandering monsters... Likewise, Dwarvenhearth is laid out for those who would explore.

What lies beneath is part of what makes Ptolus special. If you want to use the adventures associated with the sourcebook, you'll need this, even if you are using Ptolus with your own adventures it gives an added dimension. It may make less sense if used in isolation, even so if, for example, in your world Ptolus is now in ruins, these areas below may still be worthy of investigation.



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Ptolus: Beneath the Streets
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Ptolus: DM's Companion
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/01/2018 09:03:47

The Introduction explains the fascinating mix of contents, from what it's like to live in Ptolus to DM-specific rules material and hints and tips galore. Whilst aimed at users of the Ptolus sourcebook, of which this PDF is an excerpt, there is plenty of use for anyone contemplating an urban-based campaign even if it's elsewhere.

The sections of what it's like to live in Ptolus has, as you might imagine, a focus on what life is like for an adventurer but is much wider, looking at how the 'ordinary' residents live and what they do at work and for entertainment. Adventurers, after all, don't exist in monastic isolation, they mix with the people around them especially when they are not actually engaged in 'adventuring' itself. That, of course, depends a bit on how you classify 'adventuring', but even if you think it means dungeon-delving and monster-bashing, adventurers need some rest and relaxation, time at a bar to brag, and an opportunity to spend their loot! Now you can make all these other activities part of the overall game. There's also material on Imperial law, scientific wonders (including firearms, clocks, printing presses, and more), and chaositech, the evil twin of technology.

We start off with the daily life of an average resident, described in the second person to make it come to life. There are tables showing cost of living and prices of stuff, but for convenience you can abstract to a monthly 'living expenses' fee you subtract from each character's finances rather than make them account for every last copper piece of rent, food, clothing, etc. Magic items, adventuring gear and other specialised stuff are not included and have to be purchased specifically. It's up to the player to decide how much they want to spend per month, based on what sort of lifestyle they want (and can afford), but this should be relatively stable unless a real disaster - or a massive windfall - causes a change. Other aspects of life, from schooling to politics to religion are also covered from the standpoint of a normal resident.

Next is a chapter On Being a Delver. That's the local term for an adventurer. If you are using Ptolus in its default setting, adventurers are mostly frowned upon as lawless ruffians, but in the city itself there's a grudging acceptance even if people are a bit wary. Ptolus is a bit of a boom town for adventurers at the moment. There are notes about how they live, again presented in the second person. Whilst there are no laws about carrying weapons openly (apart from firearms, which need a permit), it is generally frowned upon to go as heavily armed as one would when about to enter a dungeon.

Then there's a look at Crime and the Law. Imperial law is extensive and complicated, so this is an attempt to break it down and make it clear for the DM (who probably isn't a lawyer in real life) so that they can administer it appropriately in the game. Preserving order is probably more important - at least, in the eyes of the City Watch - than solving crimes, although they do act if the chances of catching the perpetrator are high, especially if the victim is an Imperial citizen. Investigation is not their long suit, and responses to complaints vary according to the status of the people involved. Magic is rarely used - the necessary spells are expensive, and the courts have to pay for them. There are freelance investigators that individuals may hire, but they are expensive. Punishments for the guilty (and if a case gets as far as court, the supposition is that the defendant is guilty) are swift and harsh. Death, imprisonment, forced labour or substantial fines are common. Recidivism is treated harshly, with the standard punishment for that offence doubled. There's also information on legal and illegal drugs and other matters here, as well as details on the extensive system of licences and permits, and the taxation system. Taxes are high - and the benefit to the common good from paying them unclear - so there's a fair amount of evasion, smuggling, etc. going on.

The next section covers Technology - but seems to be full of firearms! There is a bit on transportation and other devices large and small, mostly clockwork or steam-driven. There are deities specificially interested in technology, and rules for maintaining items correctly lest they fail (at a critical moment, of course!). This is followed by a whole chapter on Chaositech - the evil twin of technology that is fuelled by pure chaos. Some of the technology is implausible, but this is even more unlikely - even if you are happy with a world where magic works. Its use carries consequences, too, fortunately it's very rare in Ptolus. Still, there's plenty of information here to enable you to cause endless problems for the unwary.

The remainder of the book is more direct DM advice for running an urban campaign in general and one in Ptolus in particular. If the group likes the traditional dungeon delve, there's plenty of opportunity under the city. If they prefer other styles of adventure, there's plenty of action to be found above ground... and of course, the two may be mixed as suits. Perhaps the party will end up combating the rise of chaos, or get involved with organised crime. Ideas whiz by so fast it's quite hard to catch one and turn it into a campaign, there are ideas galore that would fuel years of gaming in the city here. There are themes and concepts which you can elaborate on, developing them in whatever direction seems best - and a selection of ready-made campaign villains to provide the sort of major antagonist the best stories need. There's also a section on Urban Campaigns pointing out how to make the most of the differences between them and more standard games where cities are places you pass through or pause to rest in between adventures. Living in Ptolus can be the adventure in itself, never mind the events that take place... and there are plenty of ideas for those here, too.

Then there are some new monsters to throw into the mix, with notes on how author Monte Cook has used them in his own campaign - remember, Ptolus is his living campaign world, not something just written for sale! New magic spells and new clerical domains are presented, along with some prestige classes you may wish to offer to characters who qualify for them. Many are linked to specific organisations. There are also useful tools like a quick refence index of places, and another of NPCs, as well as random encounters/events and more, and finally some blank documents to oil the wheels of Imperial bureaucracy.

Much of this is useful to anyone running urban campaigns (something I love doing, although I also like inventing cities in which to do so), and doubly so if you want to run one in Ptolus. Definitely worth having!



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Ptolus: Districts of the City, Vol. 2
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2018 12:18:30

This is the second part of the extremely detailed and comprehensive gazetteer of Ptolus - part of the full campaign setting book or available as a separate PDF. The districts covered are the Nobles' Quarter, the North Market, Oldtown, the Rivergate District, the South Market, the Temple District, and the Warrens. There's a big map of Ptolus to help you get oriented as well.

Each district is covered in a standard manner. Firstly, there's flavour text that helps you get under the skin of the district in question. It explains where it is and what place it plays, how you get there... and why you might want to go there. There is a more detailed map showing significant locations, and notes to aid you as DM in running visits - how best to give the general impression of the place, how people behave towards visitors and more. Remember that, like its companion volume, this book is aimed squarely at the DM. Even players whose characters hail from the districts covered here should stay out - there's plenty that even they won't know, as well as plot seeds galore, laid out for the DM to make use of during the game (and more importantly, during the planning of the game!).

Whilst there is loads of background detail to absorb, there are also things of more immediate use. A sample 'man in the street' the party can accost. Rumours that they can pick up. Many snippets will spawn adventure ideas just as you read through. Then we move on to detailed location-by-location information about notable places that the party may see or have occasion to visit. Residences, businesses, places where you can get food and drink, and more. There's still space for you to add your own as need arises, though. The people to be encountered are also described, with everything from notes on what interests them to full stat blocks and often a sketch. Everything's awash with hints and tips for using whatever you're reading about and, of course, even more plot hooks and ideas. Major buildings have descriptions and floorplans, too. There is plentiful cross-referencing, based around the full Ptolus sourcebook, but also to the separate PDFs if that is how you are working.

Particularly fascinating are the sidebar notes 'From my campaign to yours' - this is not an exercise in world-building, a snapshot in time, but the carefully-crafted campaign of a master DM that has actually been running for many years and has developed a history of its own over and above the timelines presented elsewhere in this series. You may choose to pick up on these ideas - what a power-hungry fellow did to try to cement his position, for example - or perhaps take them in a different direction. Many of these almost throw-away comments could build an entire campaign, never mind a side-adventure or two.

There's just so much here! Whether you want to use Ptolus as is, in its own world, or find a suitable location in your own campaign world, there is just so much going on that you could run entire campaigns without setting foot outside the city walls - especially if your group enjoys interaction and intrigue as much as they enjoy swordplay and spell casting.



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Ptolus: Districts of the City, Vol. 2
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Ptolus: Districts of the City, Vol. 1
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/30/2018 08:50:54

This is the first part of a massive gazetteer of the city of Ptolus (also to be found in the full sourcebook as well as this PDF release). It begins with an overview of the city, then looks in more detail at the Docks, the Guidsman District, Midtown and the Necropolis. There are eleven districts in total, the rest are to be found in the companion volume Districts of the City Volume 2. This is intended as a resource for the DM, players - however familiar with the city their character might be - should stay away, as there are loads of secrets and plot ideas best found via play!

The Overview begins by saying that Ptolus is over three hundred and fifty years old and home to some 75,000 souls. That's big, certainly by the cod-mediaeval standards of fantasy worlds (London had a population of 20,000 in the 14th century!). In this chapter the races, climate, layout, economy, and official institutions are covered. Everyone seems to have a different view of what the place is like, its essence... den of thieves or bastion of nobility? A hub of magical knowledge and the home to Princes of the Church. All these and more, and of course, evil lurks beneath. It's a good place for adventurers, particularly if you are using the default setting as the Empire doesn't really like adventurers very much but tolerates them here in Ptolus!

The population is diverse. 70% are human but the rest are just about any race you can imagine including the ones that are rare in the rest of the world. The distribution varies based on district but by and large people are tolerant apart from when it comes to those races perceived as being 'evil' - orcs, lizardfolk, goblins and the like.

As part of the Empire, the city is ruled by a Commissar, although as the Empire crumbles many feel it would be more appropriate that Ptolus become an independent city-state in its own right. The current Commissar is well-liked. Coming from a military background he has troops ready to defend the city and an impressive array of advisors drawn from the more martially-minded residents. He also pays attention to the City Council, having elevated its importance in the scheme of things. Law and order are maintained by a City Watch, who have a mission to keep the peace. There's plenty of detail on both governance and law enforcement, useful if your adventuring tastes run to intrigue or criminal activities. The city also boasts a fire brigade and other groups who gather information and keep the peace.

Next, the city's economy is discussed. There's an Imperial currency that everyone is supposed to use, but Ptolus is renowed for accepting all manner of coinage, and there is also a system of letters of credit in operation. Finally, there's a detailed explanation of how the city is laid out, filled with useful tips on how best to describe it to your group. Oh, and the climate. Apparently it's either raining, or is about to rain, or has just stopped raining. (Now I know why Monte Cook included 'Seattle weather' in the Acknowledgements!)

On to the Districts, where there is a common structure beginning with a section on the overall 'flavour' of the district being discussed. This is followed by a section on running the district with plenty of suggestions as how to best present it to the players and what the party might do there. Some typical NPCs are provided, useful when someone says they are going to start asking around... and of course there are plenty of rumours for them to hear when they do. Then it gets down to detail with notable locations described in turn... but there's always room to add some more as you need them. Just keep notes unless that particular inn is actually SUPPOSED to move around the city under its own power! There are price and quality ratings for all purveyors of goods and services, and even more NPCs.

Just reading through all this material suggests plotline after plotline. Side adventures or full-blown campaign ideas abound... and there's this solid underpinning to base it all on, this ultra-detailed city environment. A real classic of how to create a fantasy city that really works!



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Ptolus: Districts of the City, Vol. 1
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Ptolus: Organizations
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/29/2018 07:40:00

This PDF, a part of the entire Ptolus city-sourcebook, looks at the people of the city and the associations they form, or at least some of the most interesting ones. The Introduction explains where this chunk fits into the whole, and provides advice on how you can make use of it depending on what you intend to do: run Ptolus as is, put the city somewhere in your own campaign world, or just mine this book for ideas to apply to your own cities. Whatever you decide to do, here are dozens of organisations in (and below) Ptolus. Perhaps one or more party members will want to join up, perhaps they are mortal enemies diametrically opposed to the party's ethos and beliefs... or maybe they are in search of information, some help or a job.

We start off with the ten noble families who claim - in the face of the Empire's lack of recognition for them - a special status due to their ancestry. Each has a hereditary seat on the Assembly of the Ptolus City Council. There are two classes of involvement - those who are of the house blood and those associated with the house in some way - but all are refered to as members of the house in question. There's plenty of detail (and even the coat of arms) of each house, with notes on leading members and snippets of information to throw around... or to create plots from, for those with a bent for political intrigue. Even if what's here doesn't spawn ideas for you (it does for me...) there are some noble house plot hooks provided to get you going, as well as a table showing who's enemies with whom - quarrelsome lot, these nobles!

The nobles are followed by a crime family, the Balacazar, who have at least as much influence and probably more wealth than a noble house. Even the Town Guard are afraid of them... certainly they are not going to try arresting even a lowly-ranked associate without cast-iron proof of wrong-doing. Other groups follow in speedy succession: the Brides of Magic (female sorcerers devoted to their craft), the Brotherhood of Redemption (fanatic monks who believe the killing of evil beings is a terrible waste, they'd much rather 'save' them from their sins), and many more. For each, there's background, sample members, often a group logo or badge, all providing a good starting-point for using them within your campaign as allies, enemies, employers or whatever you need them to be.

Parties who like exploring may be attracted by the Delver's Guild, dedicated to exploring what lies beneath Ptolus. There are levels of membership based on experience and what level of support from the Guild is required - this can extend even to having a 'retrieval team' poised to get your body back and even resurrect it should you die down there. Being on a retrieval team can be quite lucrative too! There are fortune-tellers, a group with an unhealthy interest in dead and undeath, and of course a plethora of trade guilds. And of course there's a wealthy and powerful bunch of mages, the Inverted Pyramid - who do not get along with Church or Empire, of course. Assorted knightly orders provide opportunities for sword-swingers and protection for those less able in combat, and the Longfingers Guild takes care of thieves.

Some of these organisations and their activities are common knowledge, some are barely even heard of, some you know the name but may be hazy on what they actually get up to. There's a table of suggested difficulties for those who want to find out... remember that even asking may have adverse consequences! A chart of relationships shows how the various organisations get along with each other (or don't), again those who like lots of intrigue will find this helpful. Finally there are some ideas for using organisations in your game.

All this activity makes the city come to life, with the impression that they'll all carry on doing their thing irrespective of what the party is doing or even interested in at the time. I've always liked inventing organisations for my worlds, here are some excellent ones to inspire or indeed be used directly.



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Ptolus: The World of Praemal
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/28/2018 12:59:06

Even if your setting is a magnificent city, you still need to have some idea of the world on which that city stands and this book (also part of the massive Ptolus book, but also available separately) is designed to supply the necessary background. As the Introduction states, you need to see the city in context. Of course, if you have decided to locate Ptolus in your own campaign world, what's herein may well not apply. But if you're happy to have Ptolus in its own setting, here you'll find information about the world of Praemal: the lands around Ptolus, the languages spoken there, the races who visit, even the creation of the world and its relationship to other worlds and planes, as well as about the various gods including the most popular, the god Lothian. There's also the history of the world and the events which shaped it. Not all of this may be known by the characters originally, the DM needs to decide how much they know and what they will learn as the campaign progresses.

First, we have The World. This introduces Praemal. It's just a little smaller than Earth and a bit colder but still temperate enough to be confortable for life as we know it. Four-fifths of the world is covered with water and there are a couple of continents - although the other one, on the far side of the world from Ptolus, is more a thing of legend and as yet unexplored. There are two moons, but there used to be three - one vanished some ten thousand years ago, and as it was the moon of magic its disappearance heralded a change in the way magic works. The Empire of Tarsis rules most of the known world, or at least the continent that Ptolus is on, but it is an empire in decline. There then follows a gazetteer of the known world. There's a map to refer to as you read through it as well as marginal notes galore to add extra colour and cross-refer to other material in the Ptolus line. This and the section on languages that follows could come in useful for those who want to play characters from out of town, who arrive in Ptolus for the purposes of the campaign - my preferred style, then players and characters alike can have the pleasure of exploring the place!

Next the Races that are to be found on Praemal are introduced. Whilst it is up to individual DMs to decide which races they'll allow, here the core races are given a distinctive spin and a few new ones are offered for consideration. So dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, half-elves, half-orcs and humans are to be found along with centaurs, cherubim elves (who have wings and fly), harrow elves (who are subterranean), litorians (somewhat cat-like plains dwellers) and lizardfolk also occur, as do aasimar, dark elves, minotaurs, orcs and tieflings - these last five being regarded as NPC races rather than playable ones. The necessary details for making player-characters are provided for the non-core races.

We then move on to Cosmology and Religion. A god known to most simply as the Creator, but more specifically to some as Praemus, created the world and everything in it, but it's likely that most people don't know that, let alone the reason why he did so. This is something the DM will likely want to keep to himself for the time being, but it is all laid out here. The children of Praemus are the elder gods, and once they realised what was going on they fought bitterly with their father. These elder gods are rarely remembered, let alone worshipped, today. Most people worship at the Church of Lothian, which is based on a martyred saint called Lothian who arose from the grave and ascended into heaven. The Empire has embraced this faith and indeed tried to outlaw other beliefs. The Church of Lothian has a complex hierarchy, saints of its own, a long history and various organisations to spread the word and serve the community... or defend it. There are also the new gods, a plethora of other faiths with varying numbers of devotees and most are represented in the Temple District of Ptolus. There are also some rather unpleasant 'cults of chaos' around.

Next is a chapter of History. This is a magnificent sweep of events from the creation 10,000 years ago forwards in time right to the present. It's recommended that the DM become familiar with this history, at least in outline, as it could provide some intriging adventure ideas. Or an archaeologically-minded party might decide to investigate an ancient site further... Again, there are plenty of marginal notes and cross-references to aid and inspire you. The Empire, it seems, stands at a bit of a cross-roads. Perhaps the resolution of this will become part of your campaign.

Finally there's an assortment of maps and calendars to help you become rooted in this place. Nothing like knowing that next week is the Festival of the Cold Moons when everyone bar the elves gets solomn, remembering the dead and practising rituals to ward off evil. Elves see it as a time of rejuvenation and rebirth, and get quite joyful. Even that could be a point of conflict, if the group's elven members want to celebrate while everyone else is quiet and somber. There are also some blank documents (don't you love bureaucracy!) - things like a certificate of Imperial citizenship, identification papers and even a firearms licence!

In these pages are the seeds for an entire world of adventure, never mind a setting in which Ptolus can flourish.



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Infinity: Adventures in the Human Sphere
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/27/2018 11:22:03

This is a collection of ten full adventures for the Infinity RPG, taking your party all over Human Space as agents of Bureau Noir attempting to make a difference, to help in holding the fragile balance that holds humanity together. Each one takes place in a different system, so this book provides wonderful opportunities for the party to tour known space as well and get to know people, organisations and places that may feature in future adventures of your own. The adventures are, however, designed as stand-alone missions rather than as a campaign although naturally you can weave any or all of them into your own plotline, using them as side-adventures when the party is in the right location, for example.

First up, set on Acontecimento, we have Operation: Honeywasp. There's a massive celebration in progress, major by even Acontecimento's standards (and do those guys know how to party!), and the party are drafted in to help maintain order in a festival that lasts almost four weeks. It's a normally peaceful place but of course there's at least one fellow determined to cause mayhem for personal gain. As for each adventure, there's an 'official' mission briefing and a selection of faction side-tasks if you wish to muddy the water further. There's loads going on here, with several of the events having the potential to develop into full-blown missions in their own right.

And so it goes on with a dizzying array of places to go, people to meet and things to do. Tracking down a novel drug and preventing its release. Quelling riots. Seeking a distinguished fellow-agent who has gone missing. Another missing person, the offspring of an executive who has pulled strings mightily to get Bureau Noir to investigate, it's not really want they do! Getting embroiled in the war between the alien Combined Army and the forces of humanity under the Combined Command scrabbling to keep them at bay. Stopping terrorists from blowing up half of Earth. Investigating the crash of a courier ship. Defusing tensions between factions after the destruction of a research facility. Thwarting some underhand dealing in resurrection technology. These are just the highlights of a rich and turbulent mass of events awaiting the party as you run these adventures.

Each adventure is extremely well-resourced, with a plethora of things to get involved in and ample scope for virtually any of them to spin off into even more adventure, now or later. These are the stories on which the legendary Bureau Noir of tomorrow will build their reputations as you tell them together. All have been designed to combine physical, quadronic and social conflicts in the distinctive style that marks out the Infinity RPG, using all three to good effect. It's an excellent collection to dip into, fitting them around your own plots, using them to spawn more as events play out.



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Infinity: Quantronic Heat
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/26/2018 08:35:26

This is a mini-campaign comprising three linked scenarios, issued free with the Infinity RPG core rulebook or available separately. It embroils the party, as Bureau Noir agents, in what appears to be a rather extreme case of corpoerate espionage and competitiveness on Neoterra.

The Introduction explains who is actually behind all that's going on and why, and presents a brief synopsis of the entire mini-campaign. The core plot the perpetrators are attempting is quite believable within the concepts of the game setting - indeed, it's the sort of thing that might appeal to some in the real world were the technology available! - and the antagonists themselves are well rounded individuals that fit in with the setting.

Part 1: Conception begins when a distinguished computer scientist is kidnapped from the corporate headquarters of Thaler Quantronic Systems on Neoterra. As a defence contractor, the initial thought is that the kidnapping is the work of a rival corporation and Bureau Noir agents are tasked with finding out who is responsible. There's plenty of background to help you set the scene and more intrigue going on than you can shake a stick at - and that's before you add in faction sub-missions, should you wish to use them. There's plenty of evidence to pick up, and it is explained clearly just what is required to find it. There's plenty of action too, so those less interested in investigation will have a lot to do as well. Make sure that you are conversant with the 'infowar' rules as the antagonists will be making use of their talents in this direction. There are tips and hints aplenty to help you get everyone involved in the action. By the end of the adventure, the party ought to have at least some idea of who is responsible for the kidnapping and why, but they won't know where to find them. This will not emerge for several months, and you may wish to insert other adventures before moving on to the next one in this campaign.

Part 2: On Your Marks begins with the party being sent to an orbital around Saturn, where they are informed that certain key words associated with the previous investigation have surfaced. To investigate, they're going to have to masquerade as a team participating in a Remote underground racing circuit. There's plenty of background on this illegal but exciting sporting event; indeed it makes for a fun investigation even without the futherance of this particular plotline! In this scenario, psyops are paramount as the party needs to manipulate the other teams to gain the information that they are after. What's really going on is explained clearly (apart from one sentence that's got a bit jumbled, although it's possible to figure it out), and it all plays out through seven events which include two races. There are a lot of well-developed NPCs to keep track of, and you'll need to be familiar with them to handle all the interactions this adventure involves. Before even embarking on this mission, the party will have to develop a convicing background for a Remote racing team and the individual members of the team. A couple of sample team backgrounds are provided if they need a hand with that, and there's a list of the various roles that they'll have to fill. There's plenty of high excitement and tense moments, and the potential for combat especially if the party, once they've identified which of the other teams is indeed their target, decide to investigate their ship. By the end of this part of the campaign they should have a good understanding of who the antagonists are, what they are doing and where they are doing it... and hopefully will have tagged them with trackers!

Finally Part 3: Birth Pangs takes the action to Svalarheima, where the party has the opportunity to nip the antagonists' plot in the bud. The consequences of failure are dire, so they'd better succeed! Things are likely to get quite weird at times, but with the PanOceanic and Yu Jing factions close to open warfare over the region that the party will be conducting operations in, well shall we say that they are in for interesting times? This part provides a suitably-dramatic climax and finale to the campaign.

The campaign uses the full capabilities of the Infinity RPG system to good effect, and adds even more to an already rich setting... and should prove great fun for the whole group whichever aspect of the game appeals to them most.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Infinity: Quantronic Heat
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Infinity: Infinity: Player's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/25/2018 08:43:27

In essence, this is a cut-down version of the core rulebook containing material of use to a player, with extensive notes on how the 2D20 game mechanic works and everything you need to generate a character using the detailed 'lifepath' system designed for this game. Given the sheer size of the core rulebook, this makes some sense, but it does leave out quite a lot of the setting background as well - stuff that a character would know, even if his player does not. If your intent is to play and never GM this game, and cost/portability is important, it's a good option.

The Introduction begins with general notes on the setting and the tone of the game, then presents an overview of the inhabited planets in the Human Sphere and the factions of the future - as despite technological advances and rises in living standards, human beings seem as quarrelsome as ever. We also hear about the Combined Army, an AI-led group of alien races who are at war with the Human Sphere, attacking at any opportunity, as well as a couple of the major alien races involved.

Next comes a section on Life in the Human Sphere which presents an overview of everyday life. While not everything is wonderful for everybody, it is the case that the bulk of economic activity is directed at fulfilling desires rather than meeting basic needs. Quite a bit of space is devoted to explaining Maya - the successor to the Internet - and the way in which information and communications are handled seamlessly and immersively, with artificial reality (AR) playing a large part. It's a mesh-based system (everything connected with everything else) with integral encryption and tracking based on 'hyperledgers', which are the successors to blockchains and probably as little understood by the average citizen! It is so pervasive that it's unthinkable for the lights not to come on when you enter a darkened room (OK, so that already happens in my office at university, even if that it merely a motion sensor!), but the idea that you could query the drink you put down a few minutes ago as to precisely where you left it appeals. Travel between the colonised planets is effected by wormhole, there are some notes on that as well as on popular spectator sports and much more.

The next discussion covers the nature of the games you'll play. The default is that characters are agents of the Bureau Noir, the 'secret service' of an organisation called O-12 that exists to maintain some level of peaceful cooperation across the Human Sphere. Within that, however, many individuals hold allegiance to one of the factions and often find faction errands piggybacked onto a Bureau-assigned mission. Of course, outside of this there are no end of adventures to be had if you prefer to go exploring or trading, join the military, or work more overtly for your faction in some manner.

We now move on to more detailed analysis of 2D20 game mechanics. This - and the following sections on character creation - are as detailed as the core rulebook versions, so if game mechanics rather than setting are most important for you, you will not lose out by getting the Player's Guide rather than the full rulebook. The cinematic nature of the 2D20 system is explained well, with the use of Heat (for the GM) and Momentum (for players) providing extra edges and drama to proceedings. There's a lot to take in, but once you understand it (and have run through the odd skirmish and other tasks) it's logical enough that things will fall into place. An added dimension is that combat comes in three types (which can run concurrently): actual brawling, infowar and psychological warfare. This can get confusing at first, but as it becomes familiar it's extremely powerful and quite fascinating.

Next we meet the Lifepath system, which creates well-rounded characters with a ready-made background. This system begins with the character's birth and tracks through what happens to them right up to when play begins. Mechanically, there are nine Decision Points that shape his life - but you have five 'Life Points' to guide him through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. You end up with a personal background that - like your own - is shaped partly by chance and partly by the decisions that you make. It all begins with determining initial abilities, then the faction and planet where you were born, and your family's status there. After a 'youth event' you gain an education, go through an 'adolescent event' and go through one to three career phases, before putting the finishing touches to your career. There are random tables for each of these, but you may use your Life Points to make choices for some of them - with five Life Points and nine Decision Points you won't be able to choose everything, so decide what's vital to the character you want. An elegant system which can provide hours of endless fun... a good idea, as you don't knock out characters that quickly with such a system, so have a few in your folder ready just in case you need one mid-game! However, as resurrection is now possible, you might not need that.

Loads of detail about each stage is provide to help you understand everything you need to know. All through this process, you gain skills and traits just as in any character generation process. Some you choose specifically, others come associated with the choices you make or what life throws at you. There is also an alternative point-buy system which, with the GM's permission, you can use to custom-design a character without any random elements. Nice if you have a very detailed character concept in mind, but the random element does make for a more interesting character! Just reading through all the tables spawns many ideas for characters... and should give the GM plenty of plot material for when your past catches up with you! This is followed by details of how to improve a character and extensive notes on all the skills available.

A cut-down version of the information provided in the core rulebook about equipment follows, and then there are two appendices. The first contains information about 'agent handlers' - if you work for a faction, who tells you what it needs you to do? Find out here. The other appendix contains all you need to convert your Infinity RPG character into one playable in the Corvus Belli miniatures skirmish game on which the RPG is based (or, of course, the other way).

A useful abstraction of the full core rules for players, but missing an awful lot of the background information that really brings the setting to life - it's more like the setting information in the Quickstart coupled with the rules fully-expanded from that to the complete ruleset. Useful, however, if you want the game mechanics concentrated in one convenient package.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Infinity: Infinity: Player's Guide
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Infinity: Infinity RPG Core Book
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/24/2018 12:32:32

The Introduction begins by laying out its stall: Infinity is an epic science-fiction game. Humanity has escaped its home solar system and reached for the stars and scattered through the galaxy... but finds itself in a fragile state as it has fractured into many factions that are maintaining an uneasy peace after past wars, but underneath that peace covert operations and even the odd brawl still occur. There's a dizzying array of technological marvels allowing continuous contact, augmented reality and simultaneous physical and digital interactions driven by bioengineering and cybertechnology. The game is adventure on the edge of space, often the edge of what's possible. True AI is just beginning... and then an alien Combined Army threatens everything humanity has worked to achieve!

It's all very exciting, with wormhole technology being used to cross interstellar distances and discover a whole bunch of habitable worlds... and novel resources such as a strange metallic substance that now lies at the heart of nanotechnology and viable quantum computing. These and many more wonders are described in a dizzying outpouring that describes the worlds of the future, setting the scene in which the game is played. It then moves on to the timeline, explaining how this wonderful future developed. It makes for fascinating reading, and is well rooted in human behaviour, drawing on history to imagine future conflicts. Superpowers, gang wars, religious disputes... Earth seemed on the brink of destruction - a very good time to think of expanding towards the stars. There's masses of information here to help you get the feel of the universe your characters will inhabit.

The Introduction ends with a discussion of the sort of campaigns and adventures you might play. The default is that the party are agents of Bureau Noir, the 'secret service' of an international pan-stellar organisation called O-12 whose mission is to keep the peace amongst all the factions of humanity. Just to keep things interesting, individual party members may also have allegience to one of the factions, undertaking errands (often secretly) alongside the missions they are tasked with by O-12. Naturally if that doesn't appeal to your group, a setting as rich and diverse as this one presents plenty of opportunities for adventure - exploring, trading, or working for a faction furthering its aims.

Next is a summary of how the rules of the game work. If you are already familiar with the Modiphius 'house' system 2D20, this will be straightforward, but it is an easy system to pick up even if you are new to it. Of particular note - and key to the cinematic quality of the game - is Heat and Momentum. Momentum is defined as 'success building on success' - every time you roll more than you need for success in task resolution, you can gain Momentum points to apply to a later die roll of your choice. Heat is the other side, it's the points the GM accumulates when things go astray and uses to make life even more difficult for the party. If a player doesn't have Momentum when they feel the need to use it, they can give the GM Heat points to get some... It's a neat system mechanically and although it may sound a bit clunky and intrusive, once the group has got used to it, it will run in the background - just get a fistfull of little counters to help keep track! That's standard to the 2D20 system, but in this game there are also Infinity Points which are gained by using character traits in some dramatic manner or as rewards for outstanding role-playing and which may be used in a variety of ways to shape things to your own ends mechanically.

We then move on to Part 1: Characters, looking at the lifepath system used in character generation. This system begins with the character's birth and tracks through what happens to them right up to when play begins. Mechanically, there are nine Decision Points that shape his life - but you have five 'Life Points' to guide him through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. You end up with a personal background that - like your own - is shaped partly by chance and partly by the decisions that you make. It all begins with determining initial abilities, then the faction and planet where you were born, and your family's status there. After a 'youth event' you gain an education, go through an 'adolescent event' and go through one to three career phases, before putting the finishing touches to your career. There are random tables for each of these, but you may use your Life Points to make choices for some of them - with five Life Points and nine Decision Points you won't be able to choose everything, so decide what's vital to the character you want. An elegant system which can provide hours of endless fun... a good idea, as you don't knock out characters that quickly with such a system, so have a few in your folder ready just in case you need one mid-game!

Loads of detail about each stage is provide to help you understand everything you need to know. All through this process, you gain skills and traits just as in any character generation process. Some you choose specifically, others come associated with the choices you make or what life throws at you. There is also an alternative point-buy system which, with the GM's permission, you can use to custom-design a character without any random elements. Nice if you have a very detailed character concept in mind, but the random element does make for a more interesting character! Just reading through all the tables spawns many ideas for characters... and should give the GM plenty of plot material for when your past catches up with you! This is followed by details of how to improve a character and extensive notes on all the skills available.

Next, Part 2: Action Scenes provides information and game mechanics to aid in the running of action scenes that bring the excitement to every adventure. Combat scenes combine actual physical brawling with 'infowar' and 'psychowar' elements in a flexible and powerful system. Ultimately, though, a combat comes in rounds during which characters take actions in initiative order - but there's a dizzying array of actions that can be taken. It will take a while to become accustomed to all of them but as you do it makes for a rich combat experience. There's plenty more than brawling, though - this section looks at intrusion, hacking, research, social interaction, and many other areas you might not at first think of when someone says 'action'! This section ends with notes on vehicles and their uses.

Moving on, we come to Part 3: The Human Sphere. This contains information on life in the Human Sphere - the area of space explored and settled by human beings - including a gazeteer and masses of information that characters will have grown up with, but which are novel to their players. Of particular note is 'Maya' - the development of the Internet into something vastly superior and immersive - and the concept of a personal area network that seamlessly links each individual with their devices and the wider world (now you see why infowar features in combat!). People can literally interact both socially and digitally at the same time, without even, for example, getting your phone out to show someone a photo... it's just there, in augmented reality. An application called a geist provides personal concierge services, arranging your life seamlessly and maintaining order in the wealth of images and sensations flying around, while memories are recorded in a Cube which can enable resurrection after death. Interstellar travel, popular sports, the factions and all the worlds you can visit are also detailed here, a vast wealth of information that brings this rich setting to vivid life. The section ends with what has so far been discovered about the Tohaa, an alien race that has approached the Human Sphere with the offer of an alliance against the Combined Army.

Part 4: Gear completes the 'player' section with reams of detail about the weapons, armour and equipment available. Personal electronics, enhancements, lifestyle, services, travel and even resurrection are all covered here with details of how they work in terms of game mechanics as well as from the standpoint of role-playing a character using them.

Now, GM territory looms, with the final section Part 5: Gamemaster. It begins with notes on running the game, ranging from general tips that will help you become a better GM overall to material specific to the Infinity RPG. There's plenty of detail on adversaries, including how to create them from the bottom up and how to deploy them to best effect, with plenty of example NPCs (not necessarily adversaries, they might be friendly and helpful, or just chance encounters) and not forgetting aliens and creatures that may also be encountered. You might wonder at the lack of an introductory adventure, but with over 500 pages already filled there isn't room... but you get a free PDF adventure called Quadronic Heat - also available separately and I'll review it shortly - to download when you buy the core rules.

This game comes ready-packed with an immense rich setting as well as an exceptional character generation system and endless possibilities when it comes to what the characters can actually do... a mature and elegant game that should keep gamers happy for years to come.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Infinity: Infinity RPG Core Book
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INFINITY RPG FREE Quickstart
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2018 10:06:45

This work dives straight in with an Introduction that provides an overview of the backstory and history of the game setting, with a sidebar that explains that it's based on the setting of Corvus Belli's miniatures skirmish game... which in its turn grew out of a role-playing game the four founders of the company had written and played at home! The whole thing is a space-opera of exploration, technological advancement - and of the fractures that have grown up between different groups.

There is a survey of the Human Sphere, with brief notes on the eleven habitable systems they have discovered via wormhole technology. It also speaks of various factions that have arisen, and there is mention of 'Code Infinity'. In a 12-point scale that tells you how close to disaster a particular situation has got, Code Infinity is when it has reached a state of multiple issues, the resolving of any one being likely to bring the whole situation down about your ears! Fortunately an organisation called Bureau Noir exists to cope with such situations. Whilst the game rules can be used to play literally anyone in any situation in known space, the default puts the player-characters as agents of Bureau Noir.

Despite its avowed role, Bureau Noir is as riven with factions as any other group and this leads to some interesting role-play if members of different factions are assigned to the same team. Of course, 'loyal' agents put the mission first... or the team might all owe allegience to the same faction and be working to further its ends even over the assigned task.

You might think that all this was enough, but there's more. A bunch called the Combined Army, a military force composed of several alien races that have been subjugated by the Evolved Intelligence, a malign (we think) AI that apparently has plans for Humanity that it hasn't yet shared, but probably do not have the happiness and wellbeing of human beings at its core. Two races from that army - the Morat and the Shasvastii - are introduced here. Occasionally there are references to things that aren't explained in this brief overview, but on the whole it gives a fair idea of the situation you're getting into.

Next, Chapter 2: Basic Rules explains what you need to know to play the game. Pre-generated characters are provided, so there are notes on what the various abilities and skills noted for each of them mean. There are six pre-gens. A note explains that when you get to make your own characters, a 'lifepath' system is used to determine not only what they know and can do, but how they learned this as well. For now though, there are details of task resolution and how the unique Heat and Momentum mechanics of the 2D20 system work. We find out how action scenes are played out and there's plenty about combat. It's a fairly breathless overview, but things should become clear once you start playing... even more so if someone (preferably the GM) is already familiar with the base game system.

Then comes Chapter 3: Paradiso Countdown - the actual introductory scenario. It all began when a large alien spacecraft suddenly arrived at the Human Sphere's seat of government, and this turned out to be a bunch of aliens who are not part of the Combined Army who were seeking an alliance against them. During the summit called to thrash out the details, the party are detailed to work security. Depending on their faction, they may also have a secondary task to accomplish. Within a couple of days, murders have taken place and the party is assigned to one of the alien ambassadors as their security detail. That's only the beginning of the problems...

There's background material for the GM explaining what exactly is going on and who's doing what, as well as a rundown on the aliens, the Tohaa. They do everything by threes... which gives them a quite different outlook from humanity's binary tendencies. There are also notes on human diplomats, the space station the summit is being held on, and the overall security operation.

This moves into a day-by-day breakdown of events. This is very clearly laid out and proves easy to run as everything is at your fingertips. It's still probably a good idea to read it over before you run the game, though. Interestingly, a sidebar notes that this is a cut-down version of a scenario in a forthcoming book, one that skips fairly quickly to a brawl as that's what most players want to try out in a new system! That said, if you are good at running encounters on the fly there is plenty for less-warlike members of the party to do.

It certainly makes for an exciting introduction to the game, one that makes me look forward to more!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
INFINITY RPG FREE Quickstart
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New Paths Compendium - Expanded Edition (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2018 08:44:24

But there already is a New Paths Compendium you may ask - and that was an excellent book which came out in 2013. In the Introduction to this 'expanded' version, the lead author tells about how, whilst pleased with the first book, had loads of ideas on how to improve it, and had also added two more individual classes to the New Paths line and dreamed up a few more that hadn't seen the light of day, so this volume is the result.

It does, of course, draw on the original. The first section presents classes old and new, some twelve of them. We revisit the spell-less ranger and the battle scion amongst others, but get to meet the tinkerer who has never before seen the light of day. Each one gets the full write-up you'd expect, complete with a dramatic picture and all the game mechanical details you need to create a character as well as plenty of flavour information to convince you that it would be fun to play. If you use Kobold Press's Midgard setting there are also notes on how each class fits in there. The fun thing about all of these is that they put disparate combinations together and make them work. If you are the sort of gamer who wonders what would happen if your rogue could also cast spells or your wizard was good with a rapier, this gives you a chance to try such ideas out without having to struggle with multi-classing - when you need to be at a considerably high overall character level before you see much benefit, and even then your character will be weaker than those who have stuck to a single class. These are more than mere combinations of classes, a bit from here and a bit from there, though. Each is built into a coherent class than stands in its own right.

This is followed by a vast collection of archetypes. These provide alternate paths for a given class to follow, presented for original classes as well as the new ones offered here. Each variant lets you put a different spin or emphasis on the class you've chosen, and there are so many that you'll probably have difficulty choosing which one to play! Some are hyper-specialist and may have limited use, others are tremendously versatile and able to adapt to many situations. It's always a good idea to check with the GM that the character you propse fits in with the adventures he's planning, but even more so with these.

The next couple of sections present new feats and new spells. Many are designed to make the most of the new abilities displayed by the new classes presented here, but many can be used to enhance existing characters or enable them to be tailored to fit your vision of what you want them to be able to do. Some are tied to a particular class, others are available to all comers, or at least those who meet the pre-requisites.

The fifth section deals with gear and magic items. It's not very long but there's an assortment of new weapons and some magical items including some legendary ones. You could write whole campaigns about those - questing for them perhaps. Finally, there's a rather useful collection of 'tracking sheets' for everything from your character's progression to how many arrows he still has.

If you like playing with novel concepts or have ever wondered what would happen if x character could also do y, this is something to delve into and experiment with. Yet, it is not an exercise in power-gaming. Each class and archetype is rounded and balanced, and their introduction will not make life difficult for those who are content with a core class character. Have fun!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths Compendium - Expanded Edition (Pathfinder RPG)
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Reach Adventure 4: Last Flight of the Amuar
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/18/2018 08:39:05

This adventure sends the party into little-known space (at least as far as the Imperium is concerned) in search of a lost commercial vessel. It's designed to take several months of game time, and there's scope for adding in side adventures of your own on the way if you wish. Even their fact-finding inquiries on the places they visit in the course of this adventure may grow into something more should the mood take you and the opportunity arise. This book, though, just covers the core mission of locating the Amur and finding out what happened. Alongside this main theme, the party will have to figure out whether or not their patron is to be trusted...

The adventure begins on Pax Rulin, subsector capital of the Pax Rulin subsector of the Trojan Reach sector, and takes the party through this subsector and the neighbouring Egryn one. This voyage will need a ship capable of Jump-3. If the party has one, fine, but if not their patron can supply one (and will even pay for berthing the party ship while they are away). The Referee's Information chapter provides information on the stellar cartography of the whole region and explains what is to be found there... and perhaps more importantly, who is in charge. There's also a fair bit about their target, the Amuar which is a Leviathan-class ship designed for the sort exploratory commerce in which she was engaged when she disappeared. The facts about her last voyage - which of course the party need to discover - are also laid out. A real chapter of disasters!

Next we meet the vessel that will most likely be used, a Far Trader called the Voidskipper. It has its own little foibles, which can be annoying or endearing depending on how you view them. One thing to note is that its quite cramped, so crews are likely to want to make the most of each planetfall. Encourage the almost claustrophobic feeling and let the freedom of each new world beckon... and there's a neat system to model 'crew fatigue' if you want to make this part of your game mechanics. This affects their performance of their duties as well as making them short-tempered and difficult to live with. This can be reduced by shore leave or even a good dinner, but of course those not able to join in due to their duties actually get worse through resentment! It's a nice idea for when an adventure involves a lot of time in the black.

Background done, the adventure begins. A relative of one of the crew of the Amuar has got hold of a ship and one crewman, but he needs a few more to go in pursuit, so seeks the party's help. He feels that someone must know what happened to her and wants a diversely-skilled bunch to help find out. He offers a wage plus the possibility of big payouts for salvage or information. Apart from that, a few other reasons for wanting to go along are provided should you wish to use them.

The next part provides descriptions of the places they call at, and events that might take place there including a brief collection of suggestions for further adventures if you wish to prolong the stay. There are also opportunites to gather information about the Amuar and by the fifth system visited the party should be building up quite a good picture of the ship and have an idea where she ended up... if they don't find all the clues they need, they may end up visiting even more worlds, and a good assortment are given brief descriptions should they stop there - although you will have to flesh these out considerably more than the first five planets.

Finally (hopefully) the party will arrive in the system where the Amuar is, and can then investigate what took place aboard. The locals are unfriendly and insular, but it should not prove too difficult to find the Amuar... and then the party will have to explore her to discover what happened. That's where the adventure ends. You'll have to attend to getting them back home yourself. As well as main NPCs, some new weapons and equipment and yet another ship (encountered on the way) are detailed at the back.

It makes for an interesting yet rather bland adventure which leaves quite a lot to the referee, although inventive ones can make it come alive. A lot of the time it reads more like an adventure outline rather than a full-blown adventure: expect that and you'll find it quite well resourced.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Reach Adventure 4: Last Flight of the Amuar
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Reach Adventure 3: The Calixcuel Incident
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/17/2018 13:03:40

This adventure is set on Chalchiutlicue in the Sindal subsector, but could work fine on any planet with substantual amounts of ocean. Basically a visit to the underwater city of Calixcuel does not go quite to plan, the party gets caught up in a series of deadly events and have the opportunity to save the day. Whilst they might be there in the first place for reasons of their own, a good one is supplied to get them there. It's a fairly open adventure with a lot left to the Referee to develop either in advance or as the adventure proceeds, depending on your style of play.

As background, there's a fair bit of information about living and working underwater, Traveller-style. This includes a discussion of pressure at depth - I'm a SCUBA diver so it's pretty straightforward, but if you aren't familiar with the concepts the explanation is clear enough for gaming purposes. Suffice to say that spaceships and vac suits are designed to keep standard atmospheres IN, not the vastly increased pressure of deep water OUT. There's also background on the Sindal subsector and Chalchiutlicue in particular. It's a water world, and not a very rich one. Most people are more interested in survival than much else, and the world is seriously overcrowded.

The adventure begins with the party in the planet's Downport (a plan for which is provided). Here, they are invited to meet with a government official who has a job proposition - they need someone good with starship powerplants to sort out a second-hand starship reactor that they've acquired and want to use to power an undersea city. From there, they travel to Calixcuel on a submarine to do the job, a trip that takes about eight days. Why they are even on Chalchiutlicue at all is left to you, however.

Once they reach Calixcuel they are greeted with a reception and a guided tour. An overall diagram, but no detailed plans, of the underwater city are provided. It's basically a tall spike resting on the ocean floor. Scarcely have they settled into their quarters, however, than disaster strikes. As 'visiting experts' their assistance will be welcome, of course... and from here on in it is very much up to the party to decide what, if anything, they can do. There are suggestions and descriptions of various parts of the city to help you respond to their choices - read them thoroughly in advance and be ready to go with the flow.

All is very open-ended, the party may choose to attempt to escape or there is a chance that, with the right choices, they'll be able to save the entire city. It makes for a 'disaster movie' sort of adventure and ought to be played that way. It's an episode that will be remembered for a long time to come...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Reach Adventure 3: The Calixcuel Incident
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