Mongoose Traveller - The Third Imperium: Tripwire
Editor’s Note: This review originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of Freelance Traveller.
Third Imperium: Tripwire. Simon Beal.
Mongoose Publishing: http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
This first-released campaign for Mongoose Traveller has both strengths and weaknesses, but will likely satisfy a desire for an “action” campaign.
On the Shelf
As part of the Third Imperium line, it matches the style of other releases in this line. The cover picture is dark, showing someone coming down a ramp from a ship to a cluttered landing area, with shadowy armed figures in the background.
The campaign takes place in the Jewell subsector of the Spinward Marches. It’s divided into seven primary modules, each taking place on a different world of the subsector; once the primary modules are completed and the campaign brought to an apparently successful conclusion, there’s a mini-campaign to wrap up some loose ends, which has the party revisit some of the worlds and contacts from the primary modules.
As one of the earlier Mongoose releases, it suffers from the early poor choice of body font (FF Scala Sans), impairing the readability somewhat. It does not, however, suffer from the “grey wall of text” problem; illustrations, sidebars, and tables are used liberally to break up the text.
On Closer Inspection
Although most of the modules have several options for play, and the outcomes of none of them are certain, the campaign as a whole is really a bit of an exercise in railroading. Clues garnered in each module point strictly at the next, with no ambiguity or room for misinterpretation, other clue-gathering, or wild-goose chases.
The party will have the Zhodani chasing them practically from the start, and their influence will be felt throughout the campaign, including strong evidence that many world governments and the Imperial intelligence network are compromised.
While most of the individual scenarios offer non-violent options for completion, the author does appear to have a bias toward open conflict; most of the non-violent options will, if failed, lead to the violent option that they were trying to avoid. Generally, the violent option is more often presented as the more straightforward one.
The successful party will have opportunities to make contacts in places both high and low, and those contacts can prove useful in the future, especially if the players make a certain decision in the final module, but the mini-campaign takes one of the most useful ones away.
Two minor races are encountered in the course of this campaign, but neither is more than an incidental bit of local color—both of them could have been replaced with standard humans without materially degrading the campaign. However, what is presented may well be enough to inspire a creative referee to develop either in somewhat more depth.
Overall, a good product, though perhaps not top-rank. It definitely wants a good referee running it, but the railroad structure may leave an experienced referee or party cramped. If completed successfully, it does leave the party in a good position for future campaigns in the area, whether Mongoose-published or not, without giving them too much in the way of dei ex machinae. Purchase it if you want a ready-made campaign of this sort on-hand; if it doesn’t fit your style, save the $25/£17 for products that you’ll make more use of.