Thursday, May 15, 2014

Loggerheads - Amber Zone Reviews # 7

Amber Zone: Loggerheads, by Ian Delaney from JTAS #6
Check out the series introduction here.

You think your puny axe threatens us? I think not.

Location: Ranther (Foreven 2214) a low-tech world with enormous trees

Patron: The Rantherian government, an impersonal bureaucracy.

Mission: an experimental logging machine has gone out of control and is slowly approaching an inhabited area. The PCs must stop the machine before it causes civilian damages. The government would prefer it to not be destroyed, but it has to be stopped.

Complications: the logger is actually a robotic tank, heavily armed and armored. Its on board computer will actively defend the tank from internal or external attack.

Payoff: No salary is mentioned in the description, so the players can negotiate costs based on skills, equipment available and the threat level once they know it.

Strong Points: If the referee has access to Striker, the 'logger' is a great custom-built vehicle. It also reminds me a little of the boardgame Ogre. Ogre players could take inspiration for how to stop the 'logger'. This is an interesting challenge that can be approached from several angles, from engineering to frontal assault to computer hacking. The relentless crawl of the 'logger' makes a nice countdown timer which will keep the PCs motivated.

Weak Points: One of my quibbles with Classic Traveller is the absence of any but the most basic rules for handling vehicles. The referee has complete freedom to decide when the PC's actions have succeeded in stopping the 'logger', but a little guidance on when that should be would be nice. If the PCs are a mercenary unit with lots of heavy weapons, this mission will be far too easy. Of course, the patrons would be wary of hiring a merc unit for this job, as it might raise questions – why call in armed troops for what is supposed to be a simple vehicular malfunction?

What I'd change: Since I have a copy of Striker, I would stat up the 'logger' and use the existing rules for vehicle damage as well as creating obstructions in its path, known as abatis. Otherwise, I would leave this adventure untouched – it's a challenging problem, which can lead to some additional adventure possibilities.

In My Traveller Universe: I'd substitute Sargossa (5 Worlds-American 0410) for Ranther. Sargossa is lightly populated, of moderate tech level, with a dense atmosphere and extensive hydrosphere which would mean the land is well-watered to support those honkin' big trees.

Map: each hex is 20 km across. The 'logger' will cross into a new hex every two hours. The red symbol on the left is the Rantherian city. The black symbol on the right is the location of the 'logger' when the PCs first encounter it. 

Click on the map for full size.
I made this map, using Hexographer. It may be reproduced or modified without permission.

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