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The Slide

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue.

The Slide. John Watts.
Independence Games https://independencerpgs.com
102pp., PDF or Softcover

Note: The publisher information provided above is current and correct. At the time this item was published, the company had not yet changed its name, and the cover image shows the original company name.

The Slide is an adventure/campaign sourcebook for Independence Games’ Clement Sector setting. Its framing device is a 13-ship race between two pirate bases thirteen jumps apart (or at least that’s how long the assumed route is). Since the only rule for the race is “be the first to reach the goal”, there’s plenty of room for ship operations, ship combat, personal combat, dirty tricks, and so on.

The introductory material notes that one needs to have some familiarity with the setting and associated rules; there are no less than five other Clement Sector products that are named as recommended sources. It’s hard to say that any of them can be skipped, even if you’re adapting this adventure/campaign to your own setting; the Clement Sector setting and some of the associated rules differ enough from ‘stock Traveller’ – or even ‘stock Cepheus Engine’ – that conversion to either won’t quite be ‘drop it in and it works’.

Independence Games specifically says that The Slide can be run in a typical convention four-hour slot, so you’re provided with nine profiles of pre-generated characters (one of whom is an uplifted ape, so you might want to add Wondrous Menagerie: Uplifts in Clement Sector to the recommended reading list) and an in-depth look (including deckplans, in the classic line-drawing overhead style, suitable for enlarging into a battle map) at a yacht modified into a pirate marauder.

Just over a page of text describes the setup for the start of the race, including some ideas for getting the PCs there. You also get a brief description of the layout of the base, but no details; the referee will have to work those up separately if they’re desired.

The twelve rivals to the PCs are listed, with each getting a brief overview of each captain’s preferred tactic for attempting to win the race, and a short paragraph about each captain’s ship. Most are comparable to the PCs’ ship, but not all are of the same type, and some have been modified to have slight advantages (and disadvantages) as compared to the ‘stock’ model the PCs will be using. It should be noted that a couple of the ships are not described in any of the recommended additional Clement Sector books, but you do get pointers to the volumes in which the respective baseline models appear.

There are five pages of text about the race itself, including ‘dirty tricks’ that ships might use to gain advantage, the general conditions of the race, and a description of the ‘finale’. This race isn’t just about getting there fastest; it’s an endurance contest as well – all refueling will be wilderness refueling, and all reprovisioning will be by foraging. There is exactly one place en route where ships needing repairs might be able to find parts; for the rest of the trip, the PCs will be working entirely from their own resources and resourcefulness.

The bulk of the remainder of the book is ‘survey data’ about each of the worlds on the route. You get a subsector map for each of the subsectors through which the route passes, with one-line UWPs for each system in the subsector, and a planetary map (cut-and-flattened icosahedral projection) with textual description and important details of each world on the route. You also get writeups of a few important inhabited worlds near the route – but note that since all of the race participants are presumably pirates, these worlds are not viable as ports of call during the race. (The intent here is that if you want to set any other adventures in this part of the Clement Sector setting, you need to be aware of these worlds and their importance.)

Finally, the ‘index card’ stats of important NPCs – the masters of the two pirate bases at the ends of the race, the captains and important crew of each ship, and a few ‘spear carriers’ – are provided. One could possibly use these as a basis for fleshing them out into potential PCs if you wanted to try running multiple PC parties through the race.

Artwork is used well, and the typesetting and layout make this not difficult to read. The ship plans for the PCs’ ship are by Michael Johnson*; ship renders are by Ian Stead, and people scenes are by Bradley Warnes – all people who have established a reputation in the Traveller community for good work.

Those who like the Clement Sector setting and this sort of adventure should definitely add this to their collection of material. Fitting it in to the ‘stock Traveller’ Third Imperium setting will not be easy; there really aren’t any areas with enough uninhabited worlds to run the race as described. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be modified to work in that setting – just that the referee will have to do more work, and possibly change some of the fundamental character of the race. Under the circumstances, the Third Imperium referee should consider carefully whether to purchase this – but don’t outright rule it out.

* The original printing of the review in the magazine credited Michael Brown with the deckplans. Mr Watts, the author of this volume and the proprietor of Independence Games, advised us of the error. We apologize to Mr Watts, Mr Brown, and Mr Johnson for the error.