Allow me, first and foremost, to thank the owner/publisher (John Watts of Gypsy Knight Games) for gifting a copy of this soft cover for the purposes of this review. Thank you very much.
Gypsy Knights is a gaming collective turned now into a gaming company headed by John Watts dedicated to bringing old time Traveller goodness to a new audience through the Mongoose Open Game License designed for the Mongoose Traveller rules. Nowhere is this more evident in 21 Plots Too
. For this product like its predecessor and what will seem successor products will be plot hooks in the form of Patron Encounters (in which a job is formulated and 1D6 possible outcomes) guaranteed to either act as Campaign filler or just enjoyable one-shots with minimal effort needed by the Referee save to sketch in the details of the adventure.
Traveller has a long history of this type of adventure even before the idea of Adventure Seeds thus it is bringing that tradition back. But, why buy this product over others? Well, Traveller has a particular vibe that distinguishes it from other SFRPGs that I and others have characterized a grey gritty Hard Space Opera. Whereas, many games including those commissioned by licensed Traveller companies have veered too far into the Hard zone or too far into the Space Opera zone – most Traveller players have been happy with the game being a fulcrum in between. Realistic enough to know that Space can kill you (if the chargen does not do it first) but also fantastical enough to allow things like hyperdrive, antigrav devices, psionics, anti-aging drugs, etc. to exist along side. Many of situated in the Golden Era of SF literature (1930-1960s), as a result, however, maybe it is my age, but I don’t think so – but I would rather situate Traveller in the time in which it was written – the 1970s and has belatedly kept pace with the times albeit two or more steps behind. Thus, Traveller may not be cyberpunk but will have chrome fittings nor is it Transhumanist – despite one of the major interstellar polities is premised upon genetic research. So Traveller gets diluted into being a heuristic for adventure and that is where 21 Plots Too enters the picture.
Building upon the work outlined in Quick Worlds (Cascadia and beyond), Gypsy Knight is building an Alternative Traveller Universe that is quite unlike its competitors. It takes the notion that a Sector will have a history onto itself even if it has a History (i.e. the history that is the metagame) and just run with that. That small history should be enough for any Referee to run a game without mucking about with the Metagame. This is an area that Gypsy Knight is rectifying with its subsector sourcebook(s) – but one the great strengths of Traveller is the idea that it is connected with the metagame, yet, it is a constant war in the Traveller community about how much of the metagame to take in. And, this where I find 21 Plots Too does a great job in providing a backdrop that I could use in my Official Traveller Universe (OTU) or continue to follow the unfolding story that Gypsy Knights is taking me on. My review of Cascadia will reveal the merits go on the journey. But, the most important thing to know that you are not a prisoner of having to use Cascadia just would be helpful, if you do.
Like its earlier volume reviewed in its PDF form, shows great respect for the Traveller heuristic and finding the balance between Hard and Soft, Light and Dark that makes Traveller, well Traveller. Each of these 21 plot points do not deviate too far and are completely believable and credible encounters in any Traveller universe. They range from the zany to the serious in which 1D6 or Referee’s fiat will determine the contours of the adventure.
One notable feature is the striking cover art which unfortunately is the only art present. It is very reminiscent of a darker version of the MegaTraveller Player’s book which either inspired the artist or just makes you squeak for joy in John’s wise choice of art selection. I grant you the price is quite high for 21 Plot points but in that case go with the cheaper PDF alternative. However, if you are like me, I just love the feel of a book as opposed to just paper printouts – then you will be rewarded with a nice saddleback book with sizable fonts. For a small company, it is very nicely rendered.