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Fading Suns Shards Collection Volume One $14.99 $11.24
Average Rating:3.8 / 5
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Fading Suns Shards Collection Volume One
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Fading Suns Shards Collection Volume One
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Mattias G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/21/2016 03:15:19

This is a collection of 4 adventures written for Fading Suns. I bought it however intent on converting them to Traveller, the suitability of which I'll comment upon below.

Let's just first say that the product is beautifully lay-outed, the language is vivid and the scenes colourfully and inspiringly described.

A big lacuna is the total lack of both maps and deck plans for the obvious places of confrontation/ combat. Especially considering Fading Sun's often repeated message that each space ship is unique and should be regarded as a NPC in its own right the referral to a different volume of standardized ships is annoying. Surely they could've added deckplans to at least the two most prominent ships likely to see onboard fighting? It's my strong opinion as a GM that published adventures should contain everything needed to run the adventure save for the Core rules. This shortcoming certainly detracts a point from my grade.

The first adventure is called "A Road So Dark". The PC:s are trying to track down an old starship crew in order to locate a short-cut between two star systems.

Those of you not familiar with the Fading Sun should now that a space ship planning to Jump will first need a so called JumpKey. The JumpKey contains the necessary coordinates and topographical descriptions to navigate the jumpspace tunnels. The JumpKeys can't be duplicated and some are better than others, opening up sealed routes and provide faster travel between the stars. Today, there's no equivalent in Traveller to JumpKeys, but in the 1977 version (proto-Traveller) there actually was. Back then, those ships who couldn't afford the Cr800k for their own astrogator program to Generate a Jump map had instead to buy a single use Jump Cassettes for Cr10k to reach star systems not along the space lane. Later versions of Traveller have ditched these Jump Cassettes altogether (the ship's radii of operation restricted merely by engine jump capacity and a fixed 168 hour for each Jump). As this adventure goes to show the modern Traveller approach is a shame, as finding a new quicker route can be a powerful incentive to spacefarers.

Now, following the old crewman out into the scrapyard in order to pick up "some stashed belongings" seems lie a poor excuse to have the PC:s be attacked only to then return to the ship with these useless "belongings". Why not just embark on the ship in the first place? I would replace these stashed generic belongings to a Captain's key ("My father's spare!"), the only way to gain access to the Captain's quarter save for a mutiny and messy onboard firefight.

Anyway, assuming you accept the premise of Jump Cassettes (or JumpKeys) in the first place, "A Road So Dark" is an OK adventure.

In the next adventure, "Kraken's Loom", the players are tasked with finding a diplomat first presumed dead when his starship was destroyed. Eventually he turns out to be the revered figurehead of a demonic cult.

Much like WH40k, Fading Suns assumes that there are demons lurking in the hyperspace dimensions trying to infest the human society. This concept can't very well be transferred to the Third Imperium, or CT would be a less scientific and less upbeat space opera altogether. To make this adventure work, you would as a GM have to change the demon to a parasitic alien. You would then turn the demonic cult into a hybridization project advocating the widespread implant of alien "symbiont" bacteriae who could lift up us poor humans from our gravitic well and adapt us to the free fall and vacuum of Space. The quite insane implantees, the "star children", would sport a gruesome spot of necrotic tissue where they had been "kissed by the void", and they would only be too happy to spread the "epidemic sacrament". This would certainly work, but is it in keeping with the general tone of Traveller? Maybe. But without the existence of a demonic enemy, it would be difficult to stir up the same paranoia about an outer enemy as Fading Suns.

A stronger criticism of this particular adventure is that it's entirely based on a planet. I have never approved of science fiction adventures confined to a 1G standard atmosphere setting. It's simply not space opera, just another pedestrian destination. Still, counting its potential, it's an OK adventure, I guess.

The third one out is the best among this collection, and it's called "Ruinous Folly". The players learn of a secret and quite unique terraforming station orbiting a Jovian planet. This weather station was left from the previous human empire, built around a slightly higher TL. Accordingly, the players go there expecting to salvage some technological artifacts.

As for adapting it to OTU, I think this station would best be made a remnant dating back to the heydays of the Rule of Man (rather than turning it into yet another Ancients relic). Having been left on its own to evolve throughout the Long Night and the Third Imperium, such a time scale would be appropriate for a marvel that is still easily recognizable as a human achievement. Simple to adapt to Traveller and definitely one to play, the adventure plot and descriptions are very good and packed with flavour. However, the lack of maps and deck plans becomes a problem for the GM. Also, as the PC:s will need to communicate with the station AI, a FAQ would have been helpful to play out this dialogue and keep track of the AI's respond to player actions.

This adventure forgets to mention how the Scravers came to know of the discovery and why they are so zealous in pursuing the PC:s. For the Scravers to know of the contents of the astrographical computer (i.e. the "think machine") they would have to be secretly listening in on dame Keddah. I would put this down to them having decrypted and hacked into the candid squawker microphone in the PC:s scroll case. The Scravers having access to the communications of House Keddah would make a nice paranoid backdrop, and for instance give an altogether different excuse to why the PC:s' quarters were sweeped for bugs in the previous adventure ("...them meddling and blackmailing Scravers you know, just a precaution").

The fourth adventure is the worst of the lot. "Dead End" is about court house intrigues based on blackmail and assassination attempts with loyalty under oath and vows of silence complicating the PC:s investigation.

It's not even science fiction - the would be assassins even fight with swords and they live in a castle and are religiously devout! And, yeah, of course it's planet based, in comfy temperatures with breathable atmosphere. It's got more in common with the Byzantine empire than it does with the Third Imperium.

This adventure conveys the impression of the author trying to prove that silly point of how easy it is to pick a D&D adventure and simply relocate it into a far future setting. Well, he failed miserably. Sure, you can transfer stats, name the dragon an alien, turn skeletons into droids, say that a camel is an air-raft and that magic is really applied futuristic technology that we can't entirely grasp. But much like Google Translate, such a simplistic conversion lacks all subtlety and misses it mark. It's not just about collecting the various parts of a fantasy adventure and making them stick together. The art of crafting a science fiction adventure is also to take into consideration the specific flavours of outer space. Vacuum, radiation, extreme temperatures, noxious gases, zero-G and surveillance systems constantly tracking your whereabouts. For it to count as science fiction proper, the PC:s should face these challenges while immersed in an interconnected modern technological and financial ecosystem. Such a sci-fi adventure will remove the need for PC:s to search libraries with dusty books, decrypt foreign languages and team up in person. What is a challenge in an offline Fantasy setting there is now an app to deal with, providing instantaneous access to searchable databases, translating foreign texts, allowing video feeds to be streamed between PC:s who can exchange positional data at any time. The benefits and threats posed by the PC:s' and their adversaries' access to various equipment should inform their decisions, and the challenges encountered should be entirely different in a sci-fi and a fantasy setting. Yet here our spacefarers find themselves trying to fix an 11:th century problem with technology playing a non-existing part.

To sum up; 1 good, 2 OK and 1 poor adventure. No maps.

Should you as a Traveller fan buy it? Yes and No. You should buy "Ruinous Folly", but you should buy it as a pdf. You should not buy "A Road so Dark" or "Kraken's Loom" as they don't contain the maps and so don't offer enough value as you'll have to rewrite the rest of them anyway. Just use the plot hook and my above suggestions and these two could be turned into proper Traveller adventures though.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fading Suns Shards Collection Volume One
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/17/2012 22:34:49

A poor product. You get 98 actual pages, about a third of which are NPC statistics. Art is frequent, the blocky, primitive type usual to Fading Suns. Each page is fitting with ink-cartridge killing black heading bands and scroll-work.

The scenarios presented within are simplistic, and linear to an extreme. The players get two or three choices at best, and the actions of NPCs are so scripted that player participation seems rather moot.

The objectives of two scenarios are endless wealth in the form of utterly invaluable tech, which is rather loosely guarded at best. A common device is the ‘moral choice’, where the authors substitute a (rather vague) moral dilemma in place of a plot.

Despite a vast number of adjectives which were expended in an effort to bring various extremely specific settings to life, there is not a single diagram, floor plan, deck plan, or map in the book. Given that ships and a space station are extremely common scene settings, and two assassination attempts (which are pre-foiled in the plot) are planned, there are no tools to help a GM set out who is where, even at the most basic level. The authors would have done well to drop half or more of the art and throw in at least casual layouts of key areas.

Although the book opens with a reference to the Questing Knights, the scenarios are free-lance operations in the service of a minor House not well covered in existing material.

In summary, you would be better off just taking the brief descriptions of the enclosed scenarios listed on the product site and using them as seeds, as the full material adds very little.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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