I have begun a Traveller campaign (sandbox, so far) with my two boys and their friends. This motley crew of odds & ends:
- Commander McGee – ex Marine
- Lt Landreth – ex Navy
- Ca'al – ex Navy petty officer, carries a halberd!
- Major Reaper – ex Army
- Joe Blasterson – ex Army
- Jay Maverick – ex Hunter
- Longfinger – a Barbarian from a genetic offshoot of humanity
are off to explore Holtzmann's Corridor. For some of them, I think, their exposure to Science Fiction is limited to the Trek/Wars franchises. All of them, with the exception of my boys, are new to Traveller and some to role-playing as a hobby.
This will be an opportunity to introduce them to some different sci-fi concepts and some older works of fiction. Will they acquire a starship? Will they be heroes or space bums? Will they change the world? We shall see.
Four of them landed by happenstance on Dekalb, and found themselves on the island of Bekain, one of the larger uninhabited islands of the world. The head of the Wildlife Management office has hired them for a manhunt, since he doesn't have the staff to do it himself.
If anybody's read my blog from way back, this setup should sound familiar. It's the Amber Zone the Werewolf Disease which I reviewed back in 2014. The island map I pulled from another adventure module for a different rpg.
McGee, Ca'al, Landreth and Reaper were the only active players to begin with. My boys (Joe and Jay) wanted to make an Entrance, and Longfinger's player arrived late.
Off they went, driving a tracked ATV, and sweeping with active and passive IR sensors. I decided to run this in an open format; I have a few pre-planned encounters, that I sprung on them when what they were doing seemed to fit.
McGee was riding topside of the ATV as they drove through the jungle, standing in the commander's hatch. His binoculars didn't pick up on the animate strangler vines hanging from the trees above, and several ensnared him and pulled him completely out of the ATV!
He got a hand free to draw his cutlass, and began cutting away at the vines. By this point the rest of them had noticed, and were backing up the ATV to help him. Ca'al got out there with his halberd and after dodging some vines helped cut McGee free.
I did not mean for that to be a really dangerous encounter, rather a simple intro to the combat procedure and a 'strange thing' to reinforce the idea that they're not on Earth. I try to emphasize the alien quality of the setting. This is supposed to be other worlds in the far future, after all.
A little further on, they moved out of the jungle to find two ways they could go – into the swamp or up into the hills. They spotted an animal carcass, and getting out to investigate they found that it had been shot, and then partly butchered. A few paces away was the remains of a fire. They got out of the ATV and did some searching around. They found enough clues to point them towards the hills. This was a relief, they didn't want to dive into the swamp.
The hills were mostly bare and rocky, and eventually the ATV got stuck. While they were trying to dislodge some rocks and free the vehicle's tracks, they suddenly were surrounded by about a dozen keeoghies, a local chaser/predator.
Keeoghies100 kg Hits 15/7 Teeth, 2D Jack Armor A-if more F8 S3Special Ability: Acrobatics. Keeoghies can jump and rebound off of rocks or trees, execute sharp turns and otherwise follow dodging opponents. This ability cancels out opponents' Evade status DM, and gives them a defensive DM of -1.
Hexapodal, with the mid-limbs being prehensile clawed tentacles. Scaly bodies in yellowish green, streaking to blue. Eyes with chemical-sensor organs in the neck.
Lucky for them, Joe and Jay were not far off. They had come to Bekain to do some hunting for a beastie called a Strararq. While they were on the trail of one in the hill region, they came upon a small prefab shelter built into a hillside. They didn't have time to check it out as they heard gunshots, and flew off (contra-grav bike) to investigate.
At the same time Longfinger, who had been exiled and banished to this island from the Patrian Concordiat, had already spotted the man everyone was after. He was following him when the keooghie attack pulled him away.
The keeoghies made for a tougher fight, and it could have gone very badly for the PCs. Jay burned down two with his laser. Landreth clobbered one with a wrench but was overborne. Joe shot the beast off of him. Reaper killed one with a sword, but found himself backed against the ATV with three more growling for his throat. Ca'al battled one that kept nimbly ducking under his halberd swings. McGee climbed the ATV and sounded the vehicle's horn, hoping to frightedn the beasts off. They all suffered some damage but eventually gun beat teeth and the last few keeoghies turned tail.
While they patched up their hurt, they made the introductions and discovered that Longfinger had seen their quarry, but had not known who he was. They set off in pursuit. But the target was aware that he was pursued, and set an ambush in a copse of trees. When they flanked him, he made a high-speed dash and broke out of the cordon. When we ended the session, he was legging it speedily down the hill, with the PC's in pursuit, on foot and in the grav bike.
I finished up with a brief explanation of how you 'win' Traveller - by acquiring better gear which helps you achieve your goals. They latched onto the idea of customized equipment, but goals are still in formation. I'm excited to see where this goes.