Outlaw – Crime in Clement Sector Review

Outlaw: Crime in Clement Sector is one of the latest releases from Gypsy Knights Games. It focusses on the more salubrious side of the type of games that can be played, ie. the different types of crime, its organisations, careers and typical tasks. It is available now from DriveThru RPG for $9.99 for the PDF, or $24.99 for the PDF and standard print softcover book, containing 129 pages. Will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy in electronic format? Lets find out…

The author John Watts has divided the book into the following sections:-

Crime in the Clement Sector (the types of crime)

Organised Crime

Crime and Punishment

Careers

Criminal Activity Tasks

Outlaws: Playing the Organisation

The book starts with a couple of pages with a discussion on the motivations and perception of crime. Crime isn’t always necessarily committed by people who don’t always need the money or valuables. People who have got themselves in desperate situations, or through no fault of their own are sometimes forced into committing criminal acts. Different worlds also have different views on what constitutes breaking the law, based on any number of factors which could include anything from age, religion, local laws and perception of what could be considered a minor or major act of crime. I think this is an important point to consider as not everything revolves around the player characters smuggling some dodgy goods or robbing a bank and the author sets things up in a respectful manner. Its an important point to note that no matter what, some crimes are just too heinous, whatever world you are on and John Watts carefully describes these as they are events and actions which equally can take place within the background to a game. They are not events that should be considered as actions player characters can take and the book is very careful to make sure its content is not considered as condoning any form of crime. The descriptions that follow cover 33 different crimes; just about everything from adultery and arson, through fraud and murder to prostitution, smuggling and treason. Each crime description contains several paragraphs describing the nature of the crime, game stats with success / failure and where appropriate, tables. The descriptions describe the crime in context to the 24th century Clement Sector, for example how the crime is viewed on a certain planet in one of the subsectors. The offences are also broken down into major or minor which have punishments appropriate to the severity of the crime. These differences help provide plenty of ideas for scenarios and background material for games. A useful table is presented on page 28; ‘worlds which that item is illegal’ which lists various items such as the obvious (alcohol, class 1 drugs) through to items such as sugar and caffeine (so you’re screwed if you fancy a cup of hot brown on the worlds Hendershot, Antryl or Roskilde…) Other useful tables describe what visa passes you will need for visiting the various worlds of the Clement Sector, including making planetfall, or visiting the orbital or downport.

The ‘Organised Crime’ section looks at a number of organised crime groups, including the Mafia, the Russian Bratva, the Irish Mob, the Agberos and the Yakuza. The author has gone into a great deal of detail looking at the structure of the The Mafia in particular, which the other organisations are based on to various degrees. Joining the 23rd century Clement Sector Mafia involves having the right decent (ie. usually Italian) and doing some work for them. By becoming an associate that member can start to work up the hierarchy within the rules operated by the organisation. However some groups are based around strict racial boundaries; this isn’t just limited to the various races that abound in the 24th century Clement Sector (such as Altrants or Uplifts) but also the original country that the organisation that originally came from Earth.

In addition to The Mafia-style groups, criminal groups can also join together to form conglomerations (also known as cartels or syndicates). Typically these operate within the sphere of a single world with the aim of working towards a mutual aim, instead of trying to destroy each other. An example of this, the world ‘Chance’ is described and how many of its operations became so successful they eventually became fully legitimate. There are some benefits in part of organised crime; ways of evading arrest, manipulating the law, use of ‘cleaners’ (hired to hide evidence of wrongdoing), hitmen or knowing a very helpful lawyer that is sympathetic to the organisations cause…! Rounding off this section is a description of street gangs and the types of crime that they typically get involved with.

‘Crime and Punishment’ in the Clement Sector describes what happens when criminals do get caught and what they can expect from the law enforcement authorities. Most worlds follow the usual structure of a trial, bail and sentencing process. If you’re lucky you’ll get parole, at worst, a death sentence. You get a well-structured game system to work through to help aid your games should a PC get caught doing something they shouldn’t. Lets hope the die rolls are low-scoring on this one!

Careers – seven new careers are presented here; Cleaner, Driver, Drug Dealer, Forger, Hitman, Prisoner and Smuggler. You are also introduced to ‘The Interstellar’, a sort of ‘Travellers Aid Society’ for criminals which is used as one of the benefits for the Cleaner, Driver, Forger, Smuggler and Hitman careers. Each career is given the full Clement Sector character generation treatment. Building on the careers, ‘criminal activity tasks’ develops the standard task rolls by providing some advice on some actions that a criminal character may attempt. These range from committing arson (!), blackmailing a target, defeating different types of lock and embezzling from a corporation. This is by no means exhaustive (there are 22 in total) but there is a good range comprising of persuasive to physical tasks.

The final section is a separate game in itself: ‘Outlaws: Playing the Organisation’ is a strategic game for several players where instead of playing player characters, you act as a leader of one of the sectors criminal organisations. You have a number of agents and use these to follow a number of steps to control their turf. The actions take place over weeks in game time. You create a leader and agents and have a number of tasks (eg. capture, sabotage, increasing turf control) along with long-term projects which take an amount of time and cash. For example you could upgrade the starport from class C to B, or build an army and start a turf war. There are a number of tables listing the worlds of the Clement Sector along with the stats which influence how effective your operations will be. The last page lists four scenarios with targets for players to achieve and the number of turns with which to achieve them.

Outlaw: Crime in the Clement Sector doesn’t disappoint as a product that delves deep into the underworld of the 24th century. I liked the separation between the character-based descriptions (80 pages) and the strategic game (37 pages) which makes the product that bit different (in a positive way) when compared to some other RPG products. The style of writing strikes a careful balance between the sort of things that players may wish to get up to and making sure that no boundaries are crossed. What are major crimes now are still major crimes in the 24th century, whether you are on Earth or thousands of light years away in another part of the galaxy. There aren’t many ‘narrative’ sections in the book, as per some other previous GKG releases. There are a few character illustrations by Bradley Warnes (of his usual high quality) to break up the text, but nearly every single page is full of text to some degree or another but without feeling heavy going. The is an exceptional product which could prove useful in almost any 2D6 SFRPG / Cepheus Engine game – this is another highly recommended quality product from Gypsy Knights Games. I would like to thank John Watts for kindly sending me a copy to review.

About AlegisDownport

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