This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Freelance Traveller.
The reviewer received this as part of the deliverables for the Great Rift Kickstarter.
Most Traveller adventures start out with the characters having knowledge of their own capabilities, and a selection of useful equipment, often with the opportunity to acquire more, and a general idea of what they’ll be up against.
“Flatlined” is different. The player-characters start by waking up from cold sleep (low berth), with partial amnesia, and no possessions at all. They are in a ship – or a small craft; they don’t know which, yet – that seems to have crashed. So now what?
The introduction to this adventure specifically calls out the flexibility built in to this adventure, noting that the described events is only one way that things could go. This is not going to be a blast-any-obstacle adventure; resources (and information) will be strictly limited in several ways, so the player-characters will have to creatively think their way out of their many problems.
The referee, on the other hand, has plenty of information available, including the story behind the player-characters’ presence in this adventure (which won’t really be relevant if this is played as a one-off at a convention, but could have implications if used as an Episode in an ongoing campaign).
The craft that the player-characters find themselves on is an in-system “Smallhauler”, not a starship, and is well-described (including the damage that it sustained in its crash). There is the usual specification sheet and isometric-view deckplan; top-view playmat plans might be useful in the early part of the adventure, before the player-characters make their way out – as they will have to, since the crashed craft is sinking.
In addition to resource limitations, the player-characters will discover that there are time limitations, as well, due in part to a beastie that is profiled in the module and which can be quite nasty. On the other hand, taking some time to learn about them could make it easier to deal with the problems they pose… provided that you don’t take enough time for them to deal with the problems you pose.
This adventure has the player-characters moving from crisis to crisis, often under-informed and lacking resources. At key points, the referee should want the player-characters to react fast, rather than taking time to think – and the actions they end up taking could well define what options will be available later in the adventure.
There is no real denouement; once the adventure is “over”, the player-characters will still be in a difficult situation and lacking resources, though they will be in a better position to get help.
There are a number of characters profiled; the player-characters should not be told everything about those they encounter, but should be allowed to form their own opinions based on their incomplete knowledge and the way the characters react to them, to each other, and to the situation.
All in all, an interesting concept for an adventure, and one that need not be associated with a Rift campaign – pretty much any backwater area away from trade routes can serve. For the referee who likes to have pregenerated adventures on hand, this is a definite buy; the creative referee who rarely uses pregens can still mine this one for ideas to incorporate into self-gens. Players who dislike having adventures spoiled by preknowledge should, of course, avoid this.