Monday, October 5, 2020

Review & Commentary On The TSAO: Signal 99 Adventure By Richard Hazlewood From Stellagama Publishing For The Cepheus Engine RPG & The Classic Traveller Rpg

In this adventure, the characters are crew members or passengers on a starship. As they emerge from jump in the remote system of Parvati and begin moving towards the mainworld, they pick up a distress signal, a Reticulan (grey alien!) “Signal 99”, from a nearby ship. The ship is in danger and in need of rescue.

As the characters race to save the dying ship, they discover the true nature of the Reticulan vessel. However, there are other parties interested in the fate of the stricken vessel, and not necessarily interested in helping…

The damaged ship is a dreaded Reticulan Abductor. The hated Reticulan Empire used these large vessels to capture subjects for their nefarious experiments. As the characters explore the ship, they will discover that there are many human subjects aboard the ship in low berths – what the Reticulans planned to do with them is the subject of horror stories. This should be especially disturbing to the characters, as the Reticulan Empire recently signed a treaty with the human United Terran Republic that specifically outlaws abduction and experimentation on humans. There are a number of Reticulan survivors as well. Also aboard the Abductor are a group of insect-like Zhuzzh, known throughout the galaxy as hard-nosed scavengers and pirates. The characters will discover the Zhuzzh as they are removing the frozen humans from the Abductor and transferring them aboard their ship. Their ultimate purpose is unknown, but the Zhuzzh do not want to share their “salvage” with others.

The characters will have to make some tough decisions. Will they try to save the surviving Reticulans, including children, or let them die and save just the humans? Will they go after the Zhuzzh vessel when the salvagers flee or stay and save more survivors from the ship? There are no ideal answers to these dilemmas. Driving this tension and action is the impending explosion of the Abductor’s damaged power plant. No matter what they do, the characters will not be able to save everyone – they will have to save as many as they can and then flee for their lives."

Claustrophobic, tight, dangerous, & very horrifying are not things that reviewers tpyically write about when their reviewing an adventure.But that's exactly the sort of adjectives that one can use for 
TSAO: Signal 99 by Richard Hazlewood TSAO: Signal 99 seems like a pretty straight forward adventure believe me its not & its a pain in the arse. I mean this in the best possible sense of the word for a table top rpg adventure.  TSAO: Signal 99 for the Celpheus Engine rpg is going to test the players to their absolute limits if played right. This is not an adventure for the unwary or the easily frustrated. The adventure itself isn't difficult but its adventure elements are! 
Take your average Sixties or Seventies action film with tight locations, add in elements of a savagely hated empire, mix in a whole lot of suspense and you've got 
 TSAO: Signal 99 


So why is  TSAO: Signal 99 so nasty & dangerous?! Because  TSAO: Signal 99 is about choices & having PC's live with the consquences. The  insect-like Zhuzzh who are notorious pirates, scavengers, & smugglers are right in the thick of things inside what turns out to be a a badly damaged Reticulan Abductor. And that's only a quarter of what's happening. There's a ton of lever pulling, & button smashing in this adventure & its easy to see when & where PC's are gonna die. There is a ton of water under the bridge between the humans & the Reticulan Empire. If you want a really nice primer for your games of the TSAO universe with a nice slice of its history then I suggest the TSAO: A Primer to These Stars Are Ours!. Its free & it contains everything needed to started down the deep rabbit hole that is the TSAO setting. 
But for anyone wanting to run or DM  TSAO: Signal 99 don't skim go for the whole  burrito  with the These Stars Are Ours sourcebook. There's a lot going on in TSAO: Signal 99. The best way of handling  TSAO: Signal 99 
 is to be prepared for many of the eventualities that could arise from things going sideways in this adventure. 

 TSAO: Signal 99 is a good adventure & infact excellent but its not one for the inexperienced DM at all. This is a solid adventure in fact for the original Traveller rpg. Why?! It actually not only touches on many of the themes of the original Traveller rpg but it does so with style. But  TSAO: Signal 99 takes its adventure 'P''s & 'Q''s from both war films & action flicks with a lot of gerne promises form these sources. In other words  TSAO: Signal 99 is a module for experienced Traveller or Cephues Engine rpg players only. Both in its run & what it does. What it does is take the full measure of the players & then  shoves them through the adventure gaunlet. There's lots of problem solving, old war issues, & more that need the expert touch. Can I see running this with a merc outfit or a group of military veterans who are on vacation?! Absolutely! 
  TSAO: Signal 99 make a good campaign rider adventure?! Abosolutely!  TSAO: Signal 99 make a good beginning adventure? Possibly for the sort of Traveller rpg or Celpheus rpg players who have ton of experience under their belt! Would I run  TSAO: Signal 99? And buy it?! Absolutely! Solidly written very well done, and a top brass spit & polish add on to the Celpheus Engine Rpg..  TSAO: Signal 99 is a great adventure that I've had the pleasure of reviewing! 

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