Monday, October 20, 2014

Homesteader's Stand - Amber Zone Reviews #35

Amber Zone: Homesteader's Stand, by William H. Keith

A beautiful girl, a besieged ranch and a gang of armed thugs. Welcome home Traveller!

Check out the series introduction here.

Location: the planet Lorelei (Foreven Sector, Fessor 0108) C-668742-7 in the Greensummer valley and town of Firstfound.

The parish church in Greensummer valley.

Patron: Dawn Sinclair, a childhood friend of one of the PCs, who also calls Lorelei home. This fact is written into the adventure; the referee will have to set it up with one of the players before the adventure begins.

Mission: The Yedos, a group of supposedly persecuted religious zealots from nearby Blukjere; have shown their true colors as ruthlessly aggressive supremacists. They have run nearly everyone out of bucolic Greensummer Valley, with the exception of Dawn's father. He refuses to abandon his land or submit to the Yedo's intimidation. As such, it's only a matter of time before the Yedos try to force him out, ahem, permanently. Dawn wants the PCs to 'help' her father, but it's up to the players how they will help.

Complications: Lorelei is a peaceful farming world of ranches and small towns. The constabulary is outgunned or cowed by the Yedos or both; the planetary government is not able to assemble a militia. The PCs are on their own and as such they are very outnumbered. The Yedos travel in packs and have automatic weapons; plus their supremacist philosophy means they are very unlikely to be persuaded by negotiation – they believe they can just take what they want as the natural superiors. They also have a number of Loreleians in their camp; supposed converts that are likely used as slave labor. The group leader, Lord Jerfed is reputed to be invulnerable.

Payoff: Dawn doesn't have much money, and the local town of Firstfound isn't rich either. The adventure suggest they may provide more social rewards for ridding them of the Yedos; medals, awards and reputation. Dawn might reveal a romantic interest in the PC she knows, and want to join the PC's group. Plus, defeating these jerks is just the right thing to do. They are arrogant selfish takers, with no regard for anyone they consider 'inferior'; that is, anyone who isn't one of them.

Strong Points: Another strong entry by the Keiths. I want to run this adventure. This is a good solid story archetype; it is a form of Seven Samurai or The Magnificent Seven. Referees can/should watch one of these films to get cues on how to portray the Yedos, Mr. Sinclair and the other Loreleians. The problem that the PCs face is simple while the solution to it is not. There are many ways the PCs can approach this besides full frontal assault with guns blazing. The biggest limitation is the amount of equipment they have to hand with which to counter the Yedo's advantage of numbers. Being arrogant rather than paranoid, it is likely the Yedo's camp is not well secured so the PCs can spy on them and perhaps sneak into the camp. Even if the Lord Whatshisface gets taken out, the rest of the Yedos will not disappear in a puff of smoke, it could be a long battle to bring them all to heel.

Weak Points: The absence of effective constabulary or national militia is not entirely plausible; but it is also a conceit of the game that allows the PCs to take center stage. As such I'm willing to mention it and move on. Depending on the players, the potential romance might be a role-playing opportunity or an unwanted distraction. There is little about this adventure that is strongly science fiction; unless the PCs have g-carriers and fusion guns, this could be set in the 19th century in the Wild West.

What I'd change: Going with the idea from the weak points, how would this adventure play differently if one or both sides had contra-grav and energy weapons? Maybe not that much, as it is a battle of wills and wits. It should be possible to disconnect the adventure from the 'old home week' hook and replace it with another motivation to aid the people of Greensummer valley. If the PCs have a strong tech advantage, I would give the Yedos more men or a small number of anti-vehicle weapons. If (or when) this becomes a gun fight it should be a nail-biter.

In My Traveller Universe: I don't have any worlds that match Lorelei's climate, population and tech level, but it seems like the kind of thing that would happen on an Independent world rather than a member of a star nation. I'll pick Lasham (Dormar-Ostrander 0609) because of its remote location.

Map: The map details Greensummer valley, with marks indicating Mr. Sinclair's farm and the Yedo's compound. The Amber Zone gives no description of the valley, so this map is just my version. Referees can make their own. The Sinclair ranch, Yedo camp and town of Firstfound are all marked. The black lines are roads, the blue rivers and the red is the boundary of the Yedo's control. 

How Greensummer was my valley . . .

I made this map, using Hexographer. It may be reproduced or modified without permission. Photo taken from Assumed to be in the public domain. 

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