Friday, April 5, 2013

Twilight's Peak Preparations

I have a large-sized group willing to subject themselves to my attempt to referee (what Traveller calls "Dungeon Masters") the Classic Traveller Adventure #3, Twilight's Peak.

Hopefully none of my players will google the adventure and get spoilers. I'll avoid spoilers on this blog as well.

I am still deciding if I'm going to use Classic Traveller+DGP Task System or Mongoose Traveller. I'm sure I'll continue to angst about it until the game starts, and none of the players has expressed a preference yet.

The setup is simple - the players are captain and crew of an old merchant starship, the Empress Nicholle, which is just about to set out on a trading journey down the local branch of the "Spinward Main". The Spinward Main is a chain of star systems with no more than one parsec between any two systems in the chain. The 'main meanders and branches around the sector, and provides a slow and steady route for inexpensive Jump-1 capable ships to traverse. "Tramp" freighters are the lifeblood of those marginal backwaters that the big boys with their fancy high-jump number drives just jump over.

The Empress Nicholle is of a class of ships known as "Far Traders", which means that she can make 2 parsecs per jump - In theory. Unfortunately, her jump drive is old and run down, and can only make Jump-1. To fix (really, replace) her drive will cost 3.5 million credits, which is a whole lot more money than the crew has lying around. Getting that money is the owner's primary reason for taking on this trade mission. The rest of the crew will have their own reasons, but will also be expecting to make money.

The plan is simple: cruise down the 'main, looking for sweet deals and bulk cargo when there are no deals, and maybe (ok, definitely) do some "odd jobs" to cover for the inevitable dry runs. If they get lucky, they'll find leads relating to even more wealth. The Empress can theoretically carry passengers, but there are few enough staterooms that most will be occupied by the crew. Still, passengers often pay lots of money, and it could be worth it to double-bunk for a few dozen extra Kilocredits from time to time. You never know.

Being an "old school game", this will be a semi-linear sandbox. Semi-Linear, because their ship in its current condition can only go further down or back up the 'main, and will have only a few branches to choose from. "Sandbox", because though I plan to have possible encounters and patrons planned out for each world they visit, there are very few if any "must do" missions in the story line. (There *is* a story line though.)

I'm going to rely on the players to handle the ship's finances on their own. I'll tell them their costs and present mercantile opportunities to them, but aside from the crew charter, it will be up to them to decide how they want to split things up. Since only the captain has an ownership stake in the ship, I suspect the first order of business might be to work out how they intend to save up for their new jump drive, and if other players will "invest" their own cut in the venture. (Spoiler alert - they are not going to be able to make enough money hauling bulk cargo to buy the new drive.)