This week I read:
The Third Imperium, a sourcebook for Traveller
Lots of good information about the Third Imperium and its history, which I plan to use in future games, though I felt the description of the worlds of the Core sector were a bit lacking: each subsector only had a few worlds detailed. In some cases a description of one world would refer to another world, and then that other world didn’t have a description, it’s a bit sparse compared to the sourcebook on the Trojan Reach sector. The worlds which are described have longer descriptions, but on the whole I think I’d prefer shorter descriptions of more worlds than longer descriptions of fewer worlds.
This week I ran session #2 of Winter’s Daughter for my work RPG group. Since the office is shut for the next few weeks, we played online using Foundry, which worked out well.
We finished the module, and they managed to give me a couple of perfect hooks to turn this into a larger campaign centred around dealing with the potential return of the frost elves:
When they visited the tower in which Princess Snowfall-at-Dusk was imprisoned, most of the characters took one look at the frost elf nobles and said “no, not engaging with that, let’s go straight to the princess.” Except one character, who decided to hang out with the elves. And then told them that she was from the mortal world.
The elves were all very interested in this, since there’s a magical barrier keeping the mortal world and the realm of Frigia apart, but now they know there’s a way through. Lord Mantle-of-Runes was summoned to interrogate the player characters, but they escaped before he arrived and gave me hook #2:
When they reunited Sir Chyde and Princess Snowfall-at-Dusk, and she offered them one wish as a reward, they wished to be back in the mortal world, with an exact duplicate of Sir Chyde’s magical ring. If you’ve not read the module, it’s the magic ring being in the mortal realm which is weakening the barrier with Frigia.
The players didn’t want to leave the ring behind, because a wizard hired them to get it, and they wanted his money. But by bringing an exact copy of the ring back to the mortal world, they’ve ensured the weakness in the magical barrier will remain, and potentially even grow.
So, the frost elves know there’s a weakness in the barrier with the mortal world, and the players have doomed that weakness to grow even more. Excellent. The rest of the campaign can easily be structured around the potential return of the frost elves, and trying to stop that from happening. We can even have a cool “cast it into the fire!” style moment when we get the reveal of the ring they brought back being part of the problem.
Unlike my other Dolmenwood campaign, this one isn’t a sandbox. I’ve decided that, since 4 of the 6 players are totally new to RPGs, they’d probably benefit from a more traditional plot-based game where I drive the overall story forwards. I’ll definitely hint at and briefly show some of the other Dolmenwood stuff, to show them that there is a larger world out there and it’s not just this one story, but this campaign is about the frost elves.
On the 11th of September, I’ll be running session 0 of our Wicked Ones campaign. I’m really looking forward to it. But Wicked Ones is designed for a campaign of about 16 3-to-5 hour sessions, so it’s probably going to end around April or May next year. If we stick to one campaign, rather than alternating two, it’ll finish around January or February.
And so I’ve been thinking a little about the next campaign after that, and I’ve come around to the idea of doing more Traveller!
Here’s the pitch I gave my players for a campaign set before the beginning of the Third Imperium, which I’m calling Sylea Rising:
The Ziru Sirka, the great interstellar empire of the Vilani, lasted for two thousand years. But inability to manage such a large expanse of territory caused a slow decline, which ultimately led to its conquest by the Terrans, and the establishment of their great interstellar empire: the Rule of Man.
But the Rule of Man lasted a scant few centuries before it, too, collapsed under its own weight. This time, nothing replaced it. The galaxy fell into anarchy, worlds were cut off from one another, technologies were lost, and many civilisations simply failed to survive: this is the Long Night, and this is when our game is set.
In the Long Night many small pocket empires rose, and fell. You are all scouts, ex-military, and similar sorts, employed by the government of the Sylean Federation, one of the larger pocket empires of the Long Night. The Sylean Federation is a group of systems all within about 30 parsecs of the planet Sylea. It’s survived for 650 years now, but Sylea, too, is feeling the strain of administration at interstellar distances, and is also currently at war with two other pocket empires: the Interstellar Confederacy and the Chanestin Kingdom. Can Sylea solve its problems, or will it perish like so many others?
Player buy-in: The player characters are all explorers working government contracts to reach out to worlds not heard from in centuries (or millennia), to establish peaceful relations where possible, or maybe just to plunder them if the world is dead—after all, who’s to say you handed in everything you found to the government inspectors? It’s post-apocalypse in space. There will be space dungeons. But it’s also about the rise of the Sylean Federation into something even greater, so there’s plenty of scope for this to turn into a more political game if you want.
I gave a few other campaign pitches too, but this is the most popular (and also my favourite), so it’s looking likely that this will be our game after Wicked Ones. Of course, April (or February) is a long way away, and things might change by then, but I do quite like this premise.