Friday, November 6, 2015

Reconsidering Five Year Mission From Ivanhoe Unbound For Your Old School Space Operas

Five Year Mission by Ivanhoe Unbound is a great retroclone add on book for any old school B/X or Swords & Wizardry style system. This includes the ever increasing roster of White Star rpg products which the endless community of fans and publishers continues to increase everyday. I've reviewed this product  before.This is a slightly different animal from the pen  Kirt A. Dankmyer because  Five Year Mission 
has expanded. Basically this is a tool kit that allows a DM to expand their OD&D style games or White Star games into a Star Trek Style campaign setting complete with everything.
This includes everything but the Warp drive.  Like many of Ivanhoe Unbound tongue is in cheek but not in a back handed way. The writer loves the material and has cleverly assembled a complete package for extended adventure forays into the great beyond.

Everything from astrocrats to the ever present star knight is in Five Year mission. The classes also include : Engineer, Expendable, Guerilla, Sawbones, and Scientist plus more.  Advanced and expanded star ship rules are also presented with a flare for Star Trek Style missions plus a boat load of  Federation style planets; no seriously there are a ton of worlds here expanded upon and fleshed out with thumb nail style overviews for fast play. There's even rules for playing a Data Style PC as well as the usual White Star suspects. This book plays fast and loose with many of the themes of  original series Trek, Next Generation, and the spin off series. This is all done with the usual flare for writing that Kirt has. The book also expands upon the gear, guns, and gats that Star Trek fans are used to.
New Star Ship modifications are included in the game book as well.  This is a nice welcome section to see for a space craft geek like myself. This book could be used with any number of other retroclones as well but more on that in a moment.
There is a ton of alien races described and fleshed out as well, if it was me and I was the author I'd pick the most interesting race and do a splat book there's more then enough for at least three campaigns worth of material this is one of the strengths of this book. The ability to flesh out how a Star Trek ship would exist with the bounds of a Star Wars universe. That basically means that a DM could find out how a ship on a five year mission might react to the evens of a full scale Rebellion era series of events. To turn this around how might a group of White Star adventurers deal with the realities of a Star Trek away mission gone wrong. Basically this book is a giant 'what if ' issue adventure waiting to happen to the DM.  Except this time your Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas. You get to decide what happens in the next hex.
Basically that brings up another important point at the heart and soul of this book, exploration. This isn't simply hex crawling its deep space exploration and we get to see what happened in those missing five year missions because your party is one whose doing it! This whole section gives a terrific overview of the notion of hex crawling as a  complete series of adventures within the bounds  and parameters of star craft exploration of space!
But there's more you get a whole campaign Romulan style neutral zone to play in, called the Contested Zone. There's its history,background, events, planets, enemies and more all waiting to be dropped deep ended into the back end of your campaign. This enables both White Star and Trek style military operation adventures to be carried out right within the bounds of a campaign adventure. The Trek fans will love this series of options.  There's also about twenty worlds sketched here as well just waiting for a series of adventures to take place there and get your PC's into deep amounts of trouble.
With the amount of expanded Trek material out there Five Year mission takes this and blends it down into an old school surrey and serves it up in some very compelling ways.  There are several things on the table that Five Year Mission could be used for. For example this book could be used to create any number of adventures within the bounds of established worlds and expanded Federation style colonies with a dark political bent or a huge number of first contacts. Other missions that this style of book could be used to construct include galactic warfare and expanded alien expansion missions.
 Another idea for a campaign is take regular garden variety Sword and Wizardry adventurers and spin them into failed colonies that require recontact with the Federation style empire of the book. This also leads to the idea that Five Year colony could be used to create a 'Last Ship' style of campaign especially set against the backdrop of a Rebel Rebellion or the rise of an Imperial style presence in the Five Year Mission universe.  A very good example of this sort of a campaign inspiration might be had from another Gene Roddenberry product, in the form of  Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. Five year mission with its White Star roots is a perfect match for this style of campaign. Crew, ship, and ideals are all there waiting to be tapped.  Do I think that Five Year Mission is worth the price of admission? Yes, yes, I do.

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