Friday, May 23, 2014

Soft Bunk - Amber Zone Reviews # 14

Amber Zone: Soft Bunk , by Loren Wiseman 

Check out the series introduction here.

What could possibly go wrong?  Let's sneak in anyway . . .
Location: Tionale (Spinward Marches/Vilis 0701), a non-Imperial world, a client state of low population and middling technology

Patron: The Tionalian government

Mission: The PCs are hired to serve as a training cadre for the newly formed planetary defense force. There is an indigenous race that has recently become hostile towards the human settlers, who are (very) slowly expanding outwards from the starport. The settlers don't want an open war, only to protect themselves. Other duties as assigned.

Complications: All of the usual hassles of training and organizing, logistics and supply. Plus the invading Zhodani force. Did we mention there's a war on? The PCs go from instructors to guerrilla leaders of at best a company, faced with a battalion of well trained, higher tech troops.

Payoff: Double standard salaries per Bk 4

Strong Points: This is another straightforward adventure designed for use with Bk 4, Mercenary. The PCs have multiple problems to address – the Zhodani, the native hostiles, the tainted atmosphere of the planet, short supply of weapons and ammo; and a technological disadvantage as well. As an additional challenge, the scenario points out that the Zho officers are all psionic talents – it's difficult to hide from telepaths. Maybe they won't be able to completely defeat the Zho force, but just keeping them occupied and their own forces together may be hard enough. A nice 'color' addition that the PCs might be able to leverage is the rivalry between units of the invading force – they were attached, but are not accustomed to cooperation.

Weak Points: This scenario includes some vehicle stats which assumes the players have Striker, as Mercenary has no vehicle rules. This is weak point of Bk 4 rather than this Amber Zone. As a more general remark, I would like to see a Mercenary scenario that is higher up the TL scale – all the ones I've read are designed for the equivalent of 20th century tech. The Amber Zone itself is very solid and sound – a good framework with room for the referee to maneuver.

What I'd change: I would give the PC's more notice of the impending invasion so that they would at least have the opportunity to cache more of their weapons and supplies. I would also delay the invasion – under the Recruitment rules of BK 4, the new militia would not have even finished Basic Training, and been very combat ineffective. When constructing a map for Tionale, I would include a lot of rugged terrain so the PCs would have places to hide themselves and their stuff.

In My Traveller Universe: I would set this adventure on Carygwyn (Achenon 0609) and have the invaders come from neighboring Mardahak. (Achenon 0809) Carygwyn has a larger population than Tionale, but it is far outweighed by Mardahak in both population and tech. Both are Independent planets, so Carygwyn would be on its own to deal with the problem, or possibly the UPA could intervene several months later. 

Southeastern tip of Tionale's main continent.

Map:  With an arbitrary population density of 36 ppl/km^2, Tionale would have a settled area of only 244 km^2. The map scale then is 20 km^2/hex. The map shows the surrounding outback. The human cities/towns are in the cultivated lands. The villages in the rugged land belong to the native race.

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