The Dade Colonies is the latest release from Gypsy Knights Games and is presented as a 60 page watermarked PDF available from Drivethru RPG for $6.99. It is part of the developing extensions to the company’s ‘Clement Sector’ background, an alternative setting for the Traveller RPG. For those who have not come across the Clement Sector background, it postulates that humanity has discovered a ‘conduit’ between the stars in the 23rd century, which allows faster-than-light travel between planetary systems. The conduit is fixed, with its destination being the worlds of the Clement Sector. Worlds were settled and economies developed; however, the conduit collapsed 120 years later, isolating the settlers of the new worlds. Now in 2342, humanity now has to fend for itself in an isolated region of the galaxy.
The Dade Colonies are an underdeveloped subsector of the Clement region, though there are 14 worlds in the subsector, only 5 have been settled to varying degrees. The book contains all the information you need to run adventures in the Dade Colonies, which I’d like to go into more detail below.
A standard Traveller format 8×10 hex grid locates the worlds of the Dade sector, including those that simply have a reference number; ie. they are unsettled. What this allows the referee to do is use the known subsector worlds to act as jumping off points to the other systems.
The first 44 pages of the book cover the five known worlds; each planetary system is described with colour icosahedron maps of the planets and a system map showing orbits and distances of worlds. Since GKG went to this format rather than the more traditional Traveller map format, I think the colour planet maps are far more engaging to the eye and help to break the text up. Overall the artwork is of a very high standard with an attractive cover and colour illustrations dotted throughout the book.
The world descriptions then follow with planetary data (as per previous GKG releases such as in the Quick Worlds series) and significant features. The population, government, legal and cultural details are then described with a significant amount of detail. For example the residents of Dashwood are a politically active people which pervades just about every aspect of their society. Dade, which the subsector is named after, acts as a ‘bridge’ world from the adjoining subsector. A great deal of detail is given in the planetary descriptions in which has become a GKG signature of high standards, evolved since they started producing Traveller materials around two years ago.
Major settlements are described with starport facilities and typical trade items, along with other noteable features.
An additional page covers any background skills that a character may have, should they originate from from the Dade Colonies. However this is unlikely as the colonies are only twenty years old, but the option is there for referees.
The next one and half pages cover adventure ideas (the bottom half of the second page having an image of a crashed spacecraft in a snow field). There is a good variety of ideas, everything from trade, piracy and exploration. The next 6 pages list random encounter tables, the final 7 pages list various creatures and nasties that may be found on the worlds of the Dade Colonies.
Overall, I found the book interesting to read but a little heavy on the political and cultural descriptions, with the adventure hooks being moved to a separate section of the book. In comparison to previous releases such as in the Quick Worlds series, there is a lot less mention of some of the companies and individuals (who aren’t involved in politics) of significant note. However, it is not to say that a referee won’t get adventure ideas from the political and cultural descriptions; this is an extremely richly described part of the book. I had to personally work a little harder to draw out ideas, as using that type of source material is not my normal forte.
On the flipside, because the Dade Colonies are frontier worlds, they lend themselves to ideal ‘hard adventuring’ where the players will have to think more how they use equipment and how they approach problems. Rescue isn’t close by – the starport facilities of the colonies are not much more that flattened areas of dirt, so they will have to be more resourceful. There are extensive planetary descriptions which include the environment, atmosphere and physical features of the world so this will easily help set up an environment for the referee.
A few scenario ideas came to mind when reading the book, which may help setting up some adventures:-
1. As there is no emergency rescue service in the sector, the players set themselves up as such and the referee can set up various (dangerous!) situations for the players to deal with the distress calls.
2. The creature lists and limited detail in the maps help to set up adventures along the lines of the Classic Traveller adventure ‘Marooned / Marooned Alone’, where the players have to get back to some sort of civilisation from a crash site with little more than what they can carry.
3. There has been an accident at one of the Mining operations on one of the unnamed worlds and the players are called to rescue. However, the operations are taking place in a complex cave system where there are people trapped and there is no map available due to computer malfunctions…
4. The players are asked to survey the other 9 worlds of the sector, with payment for each planet surveyed, in the same style as the Classic Traveller adventure ‘The Imperial Fringe’.
Overall, the Dade Colonies is a good book following GKG’s now usual high standards of production and editing. I can see the book fitting into a referees campaign where the players are out on the frontier and hence have to be more resourceful which in turn, will provide an excellent backdrop for Traveller adventures. Definitely worth checking out! I’d also like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for kindly sending me a copy of the book in PDF form for review.