This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of Freelance Traveller.
The reviewer received this as part of the deliverables for the Great Rift Kickstarter.
As with Rift Adventure 1: Islands in the Rift (reviewed September/October 2018), this adventure can be played without the rest of the Great Rift set, and while one certainly needs the Core Rulebook, no other volumes are called out as required – or even suggested – to support this adventure.
The adventure is written very ‘loosely’; the PCs are given enough information in the briefing to know where the Deepnight Endeavour might be (or, alternatively, they’ve managed to gather the clues on their own), and a visit to the location to see what might be learned about the ship’s fate isn’t an unreasonable course of action. Beyond that, the ultimate “goal” of the mission is mostly the decision of the player-characters.
The section on actually running the adventure is only seven pages; the rest is all of the details that the referee needs to know about the ship and all aboard it. That detail is pretty extensive; there’s enough there that I could easily see this adventure being run as a multi-party/multi-point-of-view/multi-referee effort, similar to – or possible on a larger scale than – that done by Timothy Collinson and Steve E. at TravCon (UK) in 2015 (‘Generation X’ and ‘Rendezvous with Karma’).
Two pages give you an overview of the adventure and the company behind it; they’re all you’d really need to decide if you’re interested in actually running the adventure.
You get a full twenty pages of information on the ship and its operations; packaged slightly differently, this would be viable as a product by itself. The deckplans provided are the now-standard Mongoose 2nd Edition isometric views, which is something of a shame, as it’s almost inevitable that you’ll want playmats/maps suitable for miniatures.
The situation the characters find themselves in is decidedly not normal, however, and seven pages tell the referee just how ‘not-normal’ the situation is. Fair warning: what you get reads a lot like an outline for a Zombie Apocalypse novel. There are a couple of aspects that bother my suspension-of-disbelief, but if I ‘step back’ and consider it rationally, instead of just overreacting to the fact that the Zombie Apocalypse has been overdone in popular literature to the point of nausea, I really can’t say that it’s any more suspenders-of-disbelief-breaking than psionics is.
A further ten pages are used to describe the crewpeople that the characters will be in a position to encounter. There are profiles for about ten named characters, including motivations, and some ‘generic’ profiles for unnamed characters that can serve as ‘spear chuckers’, ‘red shirts’, or what-have-you. As written, the crew is mixed human and Vargr; there’s no reason that other aliens, comparable in stats and attitude to humans and Vargr, couldn’t be substituted. Some of the information should not be given to players other than the one actually playing the character (in a multi-party scenario), but the character should be played within the limits of motivation and attitude set forth here, and it may thus be possible for someone to discern the hidden information, at least in part.
Finally, there is one page of weapon information, one with a key to reading the deckplans, and five or six of additional detail about the actual situation and how the ship is affected (and thus differs from the theoretical ship described in the twenty pages mentioned earlier), including likely tasks that characters may face.
Overall, a good adventure, and worth having if you’re the type of referee that likes to have a wide variety of pre-generated adventures on hand. (Players, as usual, should avoid this if they don’t want it spoiled when/if they find themselves playing it.) Mr Dougherty has shown over several years of writing for various editions of Traveller that he ‘gets it’, and this adventure only reinforces that.