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Three Blind Mice

This review originally appeared in the September/October 2016 issue.

Three Blind Mice. Timothy Collinson.
13Mann Verlag http://www.13mann.com
21pp., PDF
Free (via DTRPG or 13Mann)

This adventure was originally run, with great success, at a UK TravellerCon. The author was encouraged to release it publicly, and has, through German publisher 13Mann Verlag. Surprisingly, it’s free (not even PWYW), but I’d certainly agree that (given a convenient opportunity) throwing the author a few bucks, quid, or Euro in appreciation wouldn’t be out of line.

The design of the adventure is interesting, in that it can be played by a group of three PCs in either of two ways, or both aspects can be covered with a group of six – but in the latter case, the author recommends running it as two separate groups of three until they meet near the end of the first segment of the adventure.

Mr Collinson has clearly done his homework for this adventure; while only the Mongoose Traveller Core Rulebook is required, he lists several other publications that would be useful, mostly for skill definitions and related tasks, and several others that he used for background information in composing the adventure, including two previous Freelance Traveller articles.

I’m not going to discuss the plot or give details of the storyline here; all I’ll say is that it’s a well-written one that deserves to have the players come at it cold. I will say that it’s not fundamentally a combat adventure, and neither referees nor players should come in expecting firefights.

The adventure’s organization is in “Acts” and “Scenes”; each Act represents a major thematic shift, usually accompanied by a major setting shift; each Scene develops the dramatic line of the Act. Development is essentially linear, with the exception of Act I, which has two developmental lines running in parallel and merging at the end of the Act. There is the potential for this to be “railroad-y”, as not following the plan can in several places abruptly end the adventure, but if well-run, the players are not likely to notice this, and will see the adventure through to completion.

The six player-characters are well-defined, with capsule backgrounds and personal characteristics that allow for each to be seen as – and played as – a distinct personality, rather than a generic character-in-such-and-such-role.

Each scene is also well-defined in terms of what’s expected to happen, where, and with what actions on the part of the various dramatis personae. Locations are described in a way that allow the players to get a “feel” for what the location is like, and what sort of reactions to various types of actions can be expected. This extends to animals that appear in the adventure; while some of them could be replaced with generic pulp “space-cows” or “space-sheep”, others are truly alien, and point up that no, you’re really not in Kansas anymore.

As noted at the beginning of this review, the adventure was originally written for and run at TravellerCON in the UK, and so can clearly be played fully in a single four-to-five-hour session. On the other hand, if for whatever reason you don’t have a single block of time of sufficient length, the breaks at change-of-Act are also good points to break, stretch, and say “continued next time”. There’s also room for making this a side adventure in a longer campaign, or making this the central adventure in a longer campaign, with side adventures of its own.

I would say that this adventure is easily the equal of any adventure folio for Traveller that I’ve seen, and I could wish that the 13Mann “Adventure for a Book” campaign had worked out, with other adventures of quality to match this – a linked set of four to six adventures of this quality would absolutely have been worth the US$20-30 that a print edition would have commanded. Go forth and download; it’s only 1.5MB of your time/bandwidth.