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Dawn Adventures 1: The Subterranean Oceans of Argos Prime

This article originally appeared on rpg-resource.org.uk in July 2016 and was reprinted in the January/Feburary 2017 issue.

Dawn Adventures 1: The Subterranean Oceans of Argos Prime. George Ebersole.
Gypsy Knights Games http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com
53pp., PDF

If you think Traveller is all about exploring new worlds, then this adventure is for you… because in it the party is hired by the Cascadia Colonization Authority to go explore parts of Argos Prime, a strange world where the surface is barren and the interior contains bodies of water and other necessities for life. It’s set in the Gypsy Knights Games custom universe, but it ought not be too hard to find a suitable location in your own campaign setting if you prefer. Likewise, pre-generated characters and a survey ship are supplied, but are not essential.

There is a map of the Dawn Subsector with brief details of all its worlds, two of which have already been settled by the Cascadia Colonization Authority (the Dawn Subsector is next along from Cascadia). The target world, however, has been independently colonised by peoples of Greek and Slavic origins although negotiations are in progress to plant a colony there as well. The Argos Prime government has also allowed a couple of mining companies to begin work, primarily in the world’s two asteroid belts but also on the surface… unfortunately these companies do not get along, and bickering has turned to brawling on more than one occasion.

Full details of Argos Prime are provided—everything from physical geography (quite remarkable and unique) to government and cultural information. System data is also provided as well as maps of Argos Prime, both the frigid surface and the subterranean areas where people can live. There are also full details and deckplans for the ship provided.

Then things get interesting. Rather than a fully-scripted adventure, you are provided with a situation, a disaster (which is variable in nature; you decide how severe it is) and some suspects… the aim of the adventure is for the party to figure out what—and who, if applicable—caused the disaster… and they thought that they were here just to survey and assess potential locations for new colonies. There is much tension and distrust between various factions and organisations, which is likely to spill over into events.

The parameters for the surveys are laid out precisely: both location and what the party needs to do whilst they are there. Charts are supplied from which you can give them the relevant data once they settle down to collect it, and each location to be surveyed is detailed as well. Also, random encounters tailored to each location are supplied to liven things up a bit.

Then we get to the impending disaster. The general nature is outlined in some detail, but its severity and just where it happens is left to you. The party will—assuming that they survive—be hauled off their survey duties and asked to investigate. Six different options for what caused it are provided, along with a whole bunch of NPCs to question and various ‘clues’ which may or may not point to the guilty parties, depending on whom you decided was behind it all. Red herrings abound and it can be quite easy for the party to go off along a completely different track—it’s recommended that you limit the red herrings so that the party do eventually home in on the correct suspects. Or of course you may decide that it was a freak accident and, despite all the evidence to the contrary, nobody was responsible. Then the party will have to debunk all the conspiracy theories flying around!

Overall it’s a delightful mix of exploration and investigation with an innovative methodology that allows you to determine what was actually going on without having to make everything up for yourself. Great fun—but it repays careful preparation although it is well-enough organised that you could run it on the fly if necessary!