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Patrons of the Frontiers of Space

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue.

Patrons of the Frontiers of Space. Joseph Mohr.
Old School Role Playing https://oldschoolroleplaying.com
PDF, 43pp.
PWYW: US$3.00/UKú2.48

I’ve stared to look at stuff that is currently available because in lots of my reviews I put things like “Don’t bother with this piece of out of print rubbish, spend your money on something currently in production.” So I wanted to see what is currently in production.

Patrons of the Frontiers of Space by Joseph Mohr is a supplement for Cepheus Engine, which basically means it’s Traveller but without having to say it’s Traveller. For legal reasons when the product is produced they say things like “based on the original 2d6 sci-fi role playing game” but as I’m just reviewing a product I can just voice my opinion.

Anyway this product is a bunch of Patron encounters and Mercenary tickets based around Joseph’s own setting “Frontiers of Space” which you can pick up as well if you so wish; it’s pay what you want. I haven’t looked at his setting.

Anyway the 80 Patron encounters are your standard Traveller Patron encounters with some options, or “Complications” as Joseph puts them. That might be a Cepheus Engine thing … I don’t know.

Joseph’s Paton Encounters are standard fare, most of the complications don’t get past 3 different ones. You get the occasional 4, and very occasionally you get up to 6. You would probably need to stack these complications together to make the encounter worth playing.

Patron Encounters are supposed to be brief and you know you’re going to need to do some work to be able to play them, but Joseph goes even more minimal. Essentially these are just adventure hooks, they aren’t even fleshed out to the extent that Patron encounters are. Not only are the vast majority minimal, he uses the same hooks over and over again in slightly different ways. And it’s not that other people don’t do this, it’s just that Joseph’s aren’t inspiring. There is nothing in the writing that grabs me and gets me to say to myself “ok I’m going to run with this flesh it out and see where it goes.” There’s nothing different. There isn’t a different take on the same thing, or a different twist in the complications, or anything inspiring enough to go with.

I’m dyslexic so I have trouble reading and writing and if there is nothing to keep my attention it wanders, and with Joseph’s Patron encounters I was struggling to finish them all, and to be honest I probably only got to 65 or possibly less before I skipped to the Merc tickets. So I’m possibly being a bit disingenuous, because I didn’t finish them all. There might be some really inspiring encounters in the last 20 or so but it was such a slog to get there I just gave up. And if there are any in the last 20 then a note to Joseph is to put these inspiring ones in the first 20 so people want to keep reading the rest of them.

The Merc tickets are slightly better. There is more to inspire, probably because they are even more minimal than normal merc tickets. One paragraph, three or four sentences each. In which Joseph needs to get the essence of the job across. Which he does. Some of these would have played out better as Patron Encounters with a party of PCs in my opinion, and me just thinking that means I was more engaged with these than the Patron encounters. These couple of tickets had me thinking “These would be better scaling it down and running it with PCs, you could do this and you could do that”. That in itself says to me that there was something useful, something that I could go with. Something to help/inspire me as a referee.

As for the tickets themselves you’ll have to do a lot of work your self to make these playable. You’ll need to detail the unit and the opfor, you’ll need to put together two or three battles/encounters for each of the tickets. Now again you know you’re going to need to do this. Merc tickets are not fully worked up Striker scenarios, but still. The minimality helps inspire but doesn’t help with play at the table.

I wasn’t expecting wonders. I really wasn’t. But I need something. This type of product is supposed to grab your imagination. To inspire you to put the meet on the bones. To spark off. To give you three or four different options of where to take the encounter. To inspire you to put something different, something interesting into your campaign, and make it enjoyable for your players leading somewhere you never thought it might go. And Joseph’s just doesn’t. Not for me anyway.

Patrons of the Frontiers of Space by Joseph Mohr is pay what you want on DriveThruRPG, and to be honest I wouldn’t pay for this. I found only the smallest spark in the whole product. As to value, well it hasn’t cost me anything, apart form a couple of hours of my life I’ll never get back. Having said that I did a review of it so it can save you an hour of your life in not having to bother, and it achieved a goal of mine in finding out the type of thing currently in production.

So what have I learnt? Whether they are in print or out of it there is good stuff, mediocre stuff, and rubbish stuff. This one from Joseph is the latter.