An In-Clement Christmas – 21 Plots go Forth Review

In my annual look at what goodies the Christmas Traveller RPG player could pickup, I’m going to be looking at the three latest releases from Gypsy Knights Games, set in the Clement Sector (In-Clement… snowy Christmas… geddit?), their house ATU designed for Mongoose Traveller.

First off, we have 21 Plots go Forth – the latest of the ‘general’ 21 Plots series, but if you include the ‘specials’, it’s the seventh in the series. It follows the familiar ’76 Patrons’ format of a single page adventure broken up into two parts. The first being the situation description and general plot and the second part describing the six plot outcomes which are available for the referee to either determine by choice, or randomly select by the roll of a D6.

I enjoy reading these 76 Patrons-type books, you can get some quite varied outcomes and interesting adventures which can cover a nights play, or an interesting diversion during a longer campaign.

I downloaded the book from Drivethru RPG in watermarked PDF format; the book is 47 pages long of which a very useful index of all the adventure titles that have been written across all the ‘21 Plots’ series, takes 17 pages. The book costs $3.49 at time of writing (normal price $4.99) and as a download is 13.6Mb in size – but more on this later. The remainder of the book is taken up by the 21 plots themselves at a single page each, the cover and open game license, some introduction and credits.

21 Plots go Fourth

My impression of the plots themselves is that the book is divided into two halves; the first set of plots from number one to eleven are pretty standard Traveller patron encounters which involve dealings with pirates, notable personalities, transporting cargo or double-dealing and conmen. The plots are well written and serve as useful diversions in play, but the plots that are a little bit different (and what I particularly liked about the book), have a weird sense of humour or are plain outlandish, run from plots twelve to twenty-one.

Without giving too much of the game away, you have adventures that range from ‘Spinward and Down’ which involves transporting particularly fine and rare beer for a client (anything that involves beer is good in my eyes), ‘Journey to the Centre of Boggs’ where the players assist a vulcanologist with a survey and leads into some dangerous situations, ‘The Bridge to Nowhere’ involving establishing a new route through space and finally my favourite ‘Three Dead on Minerva’ where the adventure looks like it has had some influence from the Cthulhu elder-gods in its writing…

I mentioned the size at 13.6Mb earlier, its not particularly big, compared to other GKG releases is roughly average in size. However, I downloaded the book to Dropbox and copied it to Adobe Reader on my iPad 2 running iOS 9.1. When I opened the book, the cover took an inordinately long time to open – I gave up after about two minutes and tried again. After several attempts and apparent ‘freezes’ of the app, I got to the point where I could read pages of text with the page rendering completed in anything from two to thirty seconds. At first, I though it might be because of the PDF being large as there is some lovely full page artwork by Bradley Warnes depicting characters and scenes from some of the plots. After comparing the file size to other GKG releases and opening those it turns out that it’s the Adobe Reader app itself that is to blame. The latest releases of Adobe Reader DC are terrible at rendering pages with lots of graphics, I have a PDF car brochure which is under 4Mb in size and locks the app up completely for several minutes.

I have tried alternative PDF readers such as Goodreader, but therein lies another problem with graphics. Because iPads don’t support JPEG2000 compression and certain image profiles, they can look darker than when compared to Adobe Reader. Reading the PDF on a Windows or Android tablet is fine, page rendering is much quicker and the colour profile is correct.

I mention this in case its someone hasn’t come across this issue before and use an iPad (2) for reading their gaming material and have recently updated their Adobe Reader to the DC version. Its certainly not an issue with the GKG book I would like to emphasise!

21 Plots go Forth isn’t a classic – but there are some excellent adventures and situations that make the book good value in picking up and worth playing over the Christmas holidays. I would like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for kindly supplying me with a copy of the book to review.


About AlegisDownport

Musings on the Traveller RPG world, technology, astronomy and digital art.
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