Review: Deepnight Revelation Part 2 – the Riftsedge Transit

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“The referee should not forget, though, that it is the story and not the plot that is important. The plot is a framework for the referee; the story is what happens. The Travellers have complete agency in the Deepnight Revelation campaign. They may bypass the carefully constructed plotline by sending a team to deal with the situation while they concentrate on another matter, or they might fly right past despite all the hints and clues… even a mission scientist jumping up and down in agitation. So long as a story happens, the plot is expendable.” – Riftsedge Transit

This is an early draft of a supplement for the Deepnight Revelation campaign, courtesy of the kickstarter I backed last year; 113 page PDF adventure pack for Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition, price not known yet.

The Deepnight Revelation set itself (reviewed here) includes two adventures, a campaign guide and a referee’s book, which give you the first and last adventures of the campaign and guidance on how to run the ten-year mission in between them. This will be supplemented by several more books addressing the main legs of the journey, and Riftsedge Transit is the first of these, taking the ship and crew out from their last contact with the Imperium (at Demnan, itself eight sectors beyond the Imperial border) and along the coreward edge of the Great Rift, in search of a way to cross it, as their destination is on the other side. There are three specific waypoints where the expedition is intended to leave data buoys for pickup by later missions – exact locations aren’t known in advance, but the buoys will emit powerful radio signals which will give them a footprint several parsecs across by the time those later missions arrive.

This leg of the journey is done at speed, crossing some six sectors in about a year of game time, going beyond the areas explored by the known Major Races, specifically the aslan, without drawing attention from other interstellar powers. By the end of the book, the PCs will be 14 sectors away from the Imperium, on the coreward edge of the Great Rift, and truly alone in the dark.

Much of this volume is taken up by first contact with a new alien race, with background information, world statistics, careers, ship designs, weapons, vehicles and so on, as well as a crisis in which the PCs may become embroiled. Looking at the book in terms of how long it would keep a party busy for, I’d say you have maybe three situations that would take a couple of sessions each to resolve, two that would take a single session each, and three that would take less than a full session; so let’s call that 10 sessions overall. I think the core set would offer something like five sessions – one adventure would take about two sessions, another would be a single session, and there are four adventure seeds that would take less than a session each – so between that and the Riftsedge Transit you’d have 15 scripted sessions so far, plus whatever you generate yourself using the referee’s and campaign guides. If you play every other week, by that point you’d have played the campaign for almost a year of real time, and the characters would have lived through perhaps three years – almost a term of service – and encountered something memorable every couple of game months.

During the course of these adventures the PCs will encounter several strange alien lifeforms (one notably more strange than the others), a new sentient race, a black hole, a T Tauri variable star, and the ruins of an extinct civilisation, and will discover that they are not the first to travel this route. So, the author is definitely trying to make it interesting.

I would probably skip from adventure to adventure without adding much in the way of homebrew scenarios, because at my current session frequency it would take me roughly two years to get to the end of Riftsedge Transit; I’d be playing it almost in real time.

My main concern about the campaign so far is that a lot of the incidents are “slice of life” stories without a specific adversary or plot, just the wonders of the universe and friction among the crew; I am not sure I could pull this off as a GM even with the advice given in this book. It has a grandeur and scale I’ve not often seen in an RPG product, but I can’t help feeling my usual group would enjoy Pirates of Drinax more.

I look forward to future installments, though. Once I have the set, I will reread them all with the intention of better understanding the story and how to run it.

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