Thursday, March 31, 2022

Game Conclusion - Shadows, with observations

 Our Friday night game sessions have taken a back seat recently to church events (Feast of the Annunciation among others) but we were able to complete the Shadows adventure last weekend. Here I'd like to share a few thoughts about the adventure as presented, and the changes I made for our group.

If there is anyone who plays Traveller but does not know Shadows, I will try to not disclose too much about the adventure as written. Read on at your discretion. 

Shadows is reminiscent of "dungeon crawl" adventures, so even players unfamiliar with Traveller immediately had a sense of what to do. I think it's a solid if unspectacular introductory adventure. Like many published Traveller adventures it is easy to drop into a pre-existing setting. If the PCs are not operating in the vicinity of Yorbund in the OTU it would be hard to get them there. Game play was linear; there are not many alternative approaches to the puzzle/problem of the pyramid complex. I switched out a few things to connect Shadows to my TU and to put my own stamp on it.

First, I situated the pyramid structure in Holtzmann's Corridor, in my TU. I invited the players to choose a home planet either in the Empire or the Corridor. And it came to pass that one of the players chose Mavramorn, the planet where I chose to place the pyramid. So she had an 'in' for asking lots of detail questions. Her PC's Education score was 12, so I answered accurately just about every question she asked.

Second, I replaced the chief obstacle inside the pyramid with a group of Genetically Modified Humans. GMH's or "Jimmies" are human, but humans who were altered in utero to improve or add to their bodies. Any kind of modification is possible; the Bree are a type that I've included in adventures before. Not everyone is okay with such modifications. On some planets, like Mavramorn, Jimmies are discriminated against, relegated to second-class citizens or worse. The group in the pyramid were driven there by cultural pressure and were naturally suspicious of the PC's intrusion.

For some role-playing, I had each player make a reaction throw when they encountered the Jimmies. What would their level of prejudice be?  Two PCs came from planets which I had predetermined were unfavorable to Jimmies, so they had a -DM to the throw. None came out with very strong opinions, but it did add complexity to the decisions they had to make about how to handle things.

Along with the location change the atmosphere of Mavramorn is not as dangerous as that of Yorbund. I admit it is inconsistent that I disliked the danger of "oops your vacc suit broke, you dissolve in the local atmosphere" but kept in place the danger of "oops, you missed your throw while climbing the rope down the shaft. You're dead when you hit the floor five seconds later." No one needed this, but I planned for a one-chance saving throw if anyone fell in, or lost their grip on the rope. But a fall would have been fatal, and I mentally committed to enforcing that.

I enforced the encumbrance rule, which did have an effect on play. The PCs were away from ship and vehicle that could carry lots of extra gear, and they all took the limitation in stride. It did help that I also enforced the Gravity rule - Mavramorn's surface gravity is only 0.4G. So a PC with STR 8 could carry 13 kilos without penalty. The same gravity rule made climbing up & down ropes easier.

We went into this adventure as a one-shot, as our regular Referee had some heavy weeks at work and didn't have prep time. Several players had never tried Traveller before, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps in future a regular game will develop. The ground work is laid.

Have you ever run or played Shadows? Tell about it in the comments.

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