‘See How They Run’ is a scenario published by March Harrier Publishing and authored by Timothy Collinson. This is the first time I’ve reviewed a product from March Harrier Publishing and I’m grateful for being given the opportunity to review this adventure. It is available as a PDF from Drivethru RPG for $6.99 and is 49 pages long, presented with the Classic Traveller style black and colour cover. The scenario is designed for Mongoose Traveller 2nd edition with 4-6 players taking the part of Zhodani’s with psionic abilities and therefore it is strongly advised to have to hand Alien Module 4: Zhodani for reference.
The book is a loosely-connected follow on from the first part ‘Three Blind Mice’ but can be played as a stand-alone adventure. I would like to note that though ‘Three Blind Mice’ is currently unavailable to download (due to the original publishers 13mann losing their Traveller license) but Timothy has recently obtained permission to republish under the TAS license and update it to the 2nd edition rules. It is hoped that this can released this summer.
See How They Run is set in the Third Imperium, located in the District 268 sector. The book starts with an introduction and overview of the adventure, with a useful flow chart of how the key acts of the adventure link together. Page 5 presents the pre-generated characters with MGT2 stats and background. Its useful to note that each character has ‘Goals for the Mission’ listed; I like the addition of these in addition to the characters usual background as I think it helps to provide some ‘structure’ to how the player should ‘behave’ as a Zhodani character. The referee has some discretion on ‘personalising’ the characters so a small skills package is provided to divide up amongst the party.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Zhodani, they are a race of humans that have built their own star-spanning empire (the Zhodani Consulate) to rival the Third Imperium. The Zhodani’s are psionically gifted and their entire culture is based around this ability. Their society has a rigid structure based on psionics and to a degree how privacy of thought is respected by people who have psionic abilities. Considered as rivals to the Third Imperium, several wars and skirmishes have been fought between the Zhodani and the Imperium.
The adventure starts (Act 1) at Querion where the PCs are the crew of a Zdebr-class 200 ton trader equipped with some cargo and background on how you have arrived at this point. Act 1 involves refuelling the trader and encounters on and around Dawnworld, a garden planet which unusually has no population. Next steps involve choosing a destination within a Jump-2 and how the players may wish to make use of their cargo to make some cash.
Act 2 helps to give the players a flavour of what life is like in District 268 and to this effect you have several scenes which can be played in any order without detrement to the overall adventure. There are five scenes / situations which not only make use of the players psionic abilities, but also their ability to deal with situations where psionics are merely treated with caution through to outright hostility. This is where the strength in the book starts to show through and by getting the players to think as a Zhodani, it will help to challenge them in the way that they would react to the varying situations presented in Act 2.
Act 3 builds on Act 2’s scenes with a (potential) starship combat encounter, delivery of the featured cargo (from Act 2) and an interesting situation which will test the players moral’s and reactions.
Overall you have eleven individual scenes which are loosely interlinked in just under thirty pages for the players to ‘live’ as a Zhodani in District 268. Pages 31 and 32 contain some library data (in the same style as the Classic Traveller LBB’s) containing useful facts about the events, worlds, creatures and locations that the players will encounter along the way. Page 33 describes 14 potential passenger NPCs who could join the players whilst hopping between worlds. UPP’s and a paragraph-length background are provided so the referee has something to go on if they join the ship. The next four pages list quite a bit of useful information to help bring some ‘colour’ to the adventure with a couple of additional (potential) PCs / NPCs, brokers to trade with, Zhodani names / words, names of bars and nightclubs including the deliciously-named ‘Black Diamond’, described as ‘really, the worst of the worst, filthy. In every sense.’ Sounds like my kind of place…! The remaining couple of pages in this section list events (bureaucracy, sick person, someone hitching a ride etc), locations and adverts for people wanting services, selling goods, exhibitions or hotel listings.
The appendices add some useful tools for the referee; a page with the player character details at a glance, a couple of pages listing who has who skill and level, some route information from the Zhodani Consulate and two sections which I think are a very useful tools; ‘Acceptance’ figures for the worlds of District 268, where each world has a number associated with how well received a Zhodani can expect to be. This is explained in Traveller5 and adds an extension to the UPP and can also be found at www.travellermap.com. The second ‘tool’ is a couple of pages describing how to roleplay a Zhodani, providing a brief overview of the Zhodani race, their culture and how their government operates.The book is rounded off with three pages of conversion tips for playing the game using the Cepheus Engine rules set, which I think is a very useful addition and extends the books usefulness.
On the initial read, ‘See How They Run’ looked like a set of routine encounters for the players to work their way through in District 268. However what makes this adventure stand out for me is the amount of supporting material which has been included to help the referee run the game with the players playing Zhodani characters. I feel the author has gone to great lengths to try and make sure that the players ‘get in the mind’ of a Zhodani (no pun intended) and react in the way that such a character would, instead of them backing out to the default of an Imperial character making a bit of cash in a free trader. Though the acts and scenes are reasonably self-contained, there is a running link between them but they can be run by the referee with a degree of flexibility. The difficulty level is pitched at novices or those players who have some experience with Traveller and fancy a diversion from their usual exploration of the Third Imperium. The text is well laid out and I didn’t notice any mistakes or typos. There are a number of monochrome and colour illustrations through the book, including a few from Ian Stead who readers will know from reading this blog, has contributed numerous pieces of artwork to a wide number of publishers.
If I was to look for a criticism, I think it would have been useful to include a pronunication guide for the player characters names (eg. ‘Chenchapriepr’) to help the players to get started as I struggled to say some of them! More than likely though I can see these names getting shortened very quickly! Perhaps to make the book more self-contained and especially as there is so much supporting material about the Zhodani, it might have been useful to include a set of deck plans for the ship, but then again if you’ve got Alien Module 4 this is a non-issue. I found the more I read ‘See How They Run’ the more I liked it and enjoyed reading each encounter and how they link together. See How They Run is an interesting, thought-provoking adventure that I think will provide an excellent diversion from a group’s usual adventures in the Third Imperium – definitely worth checking out! I would like to thank Timothy Collinson for getting touch with me and providing a copy of the adventure for me to review.