Spacedogs. David Thomas
BITS, 1999. 44 pages.
ISBN 1 901228 21 5. £4.95
Spacedogs is an adventure for six Vargr set on Sylea and a nearby underdeveloped colony. In a refreshing change from more run-of-the-mill adventures, this is one adventure where not only are the PCs playing aliens, it is essential to the plot that they are. Much like The Khiidkar Incident, published simultaneously, Spacedogs provides characters for the PCs to play and much like that other volume, the characters provided are most suitable for the adventure. Originally a tournament adventure for Euro GenCon '98, this contains the elements for more than one gaming session.
The adventure has been designed for use with Marc Miller's Traveller and GURPS: Traveller, though it would be easy to use with other Traveller rulesets. A table for converting tasks to any milieu is provided. It is a typical BITS style publication: A5, 44 pages, nugget type scenarios, and this time a gorgeous Jesse DeGraaf cover that really lifts the volume and accurately illustrates action from the adventure. Whatever deal BITS did with the artist, let's hope there's more where that came from.
The plot concerns down and out Vargr looking for work in the speciesist society of Sylea. Vargr are downtrodden and discriminated against and, if handled correctly, the players should really feel this. However, the skills of the group are just what is required for a nearby colony that is under attack and in need of help. The adventure takes the PCs through acquiring munitions for the defence of the colony, travelling to Little Heaven and experiencing first hand the fire-power of the attackers.
There is much for the PCs to do and amidst many opportunities for some meaty role-playing, there are also plenty of chances for them to get into the thick of the action. This should suit a variety of types of playing style as different aspects of the adventure can be emphasized or glossed over as the referee sees fit. In an interesting parallel with The Khiidkar Incident, despite the different authors, nobility once again plays a (this time smaller) part and there's even a chance for the PCs to catch a glimpse of the Emperor.
The adventure includes the usual good quality BITS' style deck plans, this time for a 200-ton Far Trader (a variation on the Empress Marava) and a 600-ton 'Commerce Protection' Vessel. There is also a chart of the Little Heaven system and maps of the various sites which will be useful to the PCs in planning their defences. Oddly, the system chart doesn't follow the same layout that BITS used to such good effect in The Long Way Home but it is nonetheless attractive for that. Of particular use will be the notes on role-playing Vargr which means that this adventure can easily be used as a stand-alone. Those with GURPS: Traveller - Alien Races 1 or other Vargr source material, however, will be able to make good use of such information in further detailing events and characters.
This reviewer was initially put off by the space opera-like title and expected a mediocre tale about pirates and poorly thought out sentient canines. However, rest assured that this was nowhere near the mark. Thomas has put together a worthwhile adventure that should provide hours of entertainment and is a great addition to Traveller adventure books.