Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Thing in the Depths - Amber Zone Reviews #36

Amber Zone: The Thing in the Depths, by Marcus Rowland from JTAS # 22
Check out the series introduction here.

Location: the planet Sturray (Foreven/Mowbrey 2017 C-7A9215-A)

Patron: Jackson Hollis, the colony manager.

Mission: Hollis needs trained operators for a search & recovery mission. The PCs will be given a hydrofoil kitted out with extensive detectors. A dredging craft has gone missing, and is probably on the bottom of the ocean. Even if it is too late to rescue the crew, the colony wants it found and the cause of the disaster determined.
Capable of over 50 knots.

Complications: There's a lot of ocean to survey. While the PCs are out searching, a report reaches them that another vessel has disappeared, this time a supply boat. Now they have a mystery – it's too much of a coincidence for two ships to have disappeared so close together.

Payoff: Hollis offers Cr 250 per person per day. Once the two ships are found, and if no more ships vanish, Hollis will call off the search within a few days.

Strong Points: This adventure has a solid hook/mystery, and the explanation is solid as well. If the PCs work it right there could be a big payoff at the end. The referee has lots of freedom to structure the adventure to suit how the PCs want to approach it. This adventure requires cooperation, skills and not a bit of daring, as much of it happens underwater. There was another article ('Seastrike') in this issue that expanded on underwater combat. It is possible that the PCs never do figure out the reason for the loss of two ships, as the cause may go away on its' own. That's life.

Weak Points: Call it a quibble, but hydrofoils are meant to go really fast. How is sonar supposed to work at hydrofoil speeds? The referee should swap out either the sonar or the hydrofoil. A super-fast ride is not essential to the plot, and TL-10+ detectors may be more effective than sonar.

What I'd change: Nothing. A solid yet flexible plot doesn't need me meddling with it.
a typical Sturrayan dredging barge
In My Traveller Universe: This adventure could be located on any world with moderate population and mid-level tech. As such, there are dozens of worlds IMTU that would work. One of the Independents would probably be best.

Map: The land & sea on Sturray are not described in the text, so the referee can sketch out any sort of coastline desired. An extensive map is not required. Graph or hex paper would make it easier for the PCs to construct a search pattern. 

photo credits:
dredge https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/North_Korean_River_Dredge.jpg

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