This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue.
Cirque. Gregory P. Lee
Greylock Publishing Lines http://greylockpublishing.com
167pp., PDF (review copy)
Price not yet announced
The reviewer would like to extend his thanks to Mr Lee for the review copy of the product. Mr Lee provided this on his own initiative, completely unexpectedly.
The file is labeled as being Preview 1, suggesting that there will be other previews later, and that Cirque is a work-in-progress.
The first page sets out the condition under which backers (for the purpose of the license, reviewers are considered backers, and are thus bound by the license) receive a copy of the product. The next two pages are a list of backers, and the actual content starts on page 4.
That content starts with an in-character narrative, perhaps a diary entry, by the “Chief Documentary Producer and Traveller News Service stringer”, expressing excitement at having gotten ‘the job’. Throughout the entry, it’s never quite clear what the subject of the documentaries (and presumably TNS reports) actually is, but the personal excitement of the diarist remains. The description contains lots of “[Cut here....]”, skipping descriptions of a personal tour, of a ‘platoon lander’, and of ‘BT1’. It’s not until page 5 that Cirque is even mentioned by name, and you’re still not sure what it is (I’m not assuming you’re familiar with the premise of the product). The narrator discusses the ‘Old Station’ a bit, and at the bottom of the left column of page 6, we find out that Cirque is (of course) a circus. And that there seems to be some Zhodani interest in it.
Finally, on page 7, we get a real introduction. This is very much an OTU campaign, set in the Spinward Marches after the Fifth Frontier War. Mr Lee points the user to the Classic Traveller CD-ROM and to TravellerMap.com for familiarization material, but notes that it’s not essential. You get a brief overview of the War and a political overview of the immediate postwar period against which Cirque is set. The referee is urged to become familiar through other canonical sources with several aliens, presumably because of the possibility of encountering them, and finally, a list of recommended sources, covering Classic Traveller, Mongoose Traveller, Traveller5, and GURPS Traveller, is included.
Two “meta-bios” follow, for Andii Houke and Aramais P. Lee. These aren’t the usual Traveller character profiles, but you get a feel for the type of character they are, and some insight into their origins (i.e., why Greg Lee created them the way he did). Some acknowledgements and credits follow.
The adventure itself follows Cirque des Sirkas from Rhylanor to Fosey (presumably, future work on this volume will complete the trip to Regina), with each world being one or more (in the case of Tureded) Episodes. Each Episode starts with a scene-setting Excerpt, in the form of diary entries and/or dialogues. These are followed by general information that is made available to the PCs, and may include maps, deckplans, résumés of “spear-chuckers”, animal encounter tables, and so on. Following the PC information is a similar section of Referee information, which is only revealed to the players as necessary during the course of play. Then follows a set of Acts, each Act in the form of a checklist that outlines the expected events of the Episode.
Following the Episodes are Program Notes, structured generally the same way as Episodes, except that the information isn’t segregated into PC and Referee sections, and there are no Acts. This is where ship spec sheets, character profiles and generation details, and other generally-useful information.
Artwork in this preview is limited, but of reasonable quality. It is very distinctly hand-drawn for the most part, but done with an eye toward making the campaign “come to life”, regardless of whether a particular piece is color or monochrome.
Overall, this preview is very promising, and if the final product lives up to that promise, it will be well worth adding to your collection.