Saturday, April 10, 2010

Game Book: Lure of the Expanse

Rogue Trader: Lure of the Expanse Rogue Trader: Lure of the Expanse by Fantasy Flight Games

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This a campaign for the Rogue Trader role playing game. In order to use this, you'll need a copy of Rogue Trader as well. This review is aimed at Games Masters who may be considering Lure of the Expanse, and contains spoilers for players. Stop now if you are a player!

My guestimate is 15 to 20 sessions would be played out before the end of this campaign. The approach is modular, so you could skip parts, or just cannibalize pieces for use in your own adventures. Or you could add your own customizations.

The plot is a race to claim a world of immense wealth, somewhere out there among the Heathen Stars. There are nine Rogue Trader dynasties, including the player's, competing for the prize. Each of the NPC Rogue Traders has their own agendas, modes of operations, and personalities. They all start out as rivals, but may become bitter enemies or even allies. The book covers how they will probably act at major plot points of the campaign. There is no reason to believe all nine Rogue Traders will be alive at the campaign's end, but it could happen.

This hard bound book is full of immersive, high quality, art that sets the mood for your role playing games. The illustrations are both color and black and white.

The book is broken into three parts:

I. Eye of the Needle. This which sets up the action with an adventure on the asteroid-city of Footfall full of intrigue and prophesy. There the players meet their rivals. When they leave Footfall, they have their first run in with the Eldar in ship to ship combat.

The play then progresses to the Heathen Stars, where the prophesy has led them. There are optional encounters in transit, many of which highlight the role of one of the players. For example, one deals with a warp storm that threatens the ship, and the player who is the pilot gets a chance to shine. Should your group not include a pilot, you may decide to skip this encounter and focus on the ones that most directly include your players.

At the end of the journey they find a planet with Eldar ruins and a broken star map to the treasure world. Local flora, rivals, and the Eldar will complicate things for the players. Each rival is given a course of action, but it is up to the GM to decide which rivals arrive on planet when the players are there and how they react to any player overtures or attacks.

II. The Heathen Trail. In order to complete the star map, the players must take readings from a number of other worlds found on the map. How many is up to the GM. If the GM has a world of their own design they want to insert into the campaign, this is a perfect place to do it. Each world has an Eldar structure where the reading must be taken.

Five worlds are given, and on each there is an Eldar device where the players must take the readings. The GM is advised the players need to take readings on at least three of them, but if everyone is enjoying themselves there is no reason not to have them do all five. The players could find a rival has beaten them to a world and destroyed the structure needed to take the reading. Some rivals are more likely to be encountered than others. And the Eldar would like to stop the players if they could.

On some worlds, the players could go in, take the reading, and leave. But on all the worlds there are optional side adventures that can lead to more profit for the trip. Each of the worlds is unique and entertaining in their own way.

Should the players skip a world or two, they could always return after the campaign.

III. The World Beyond. Here the treasure planet called the Dread Pearl is described, along with it's treasures and dangers. The world has been hidden by warp storms for 10,000 years, and now the storms clear.

The remaining rivals swoop in as well. The book describes the likely actions of the rivals, the native humans (descended from a lost ship thousands of years ago), and the Eldar. Treasure is all about.
Some of the rivals try to co-opt the natives, one bombards them into submission from orbit, and another herds them into slave ships. So much for paradise.

This is a lost Eldar Maiden world, and the returning Eldar wake their planet up. The GM is given almost unlimited power to throw at the players as countless Eldar Wraithguards awake to cleanse the world of the human taint.

The Eldar summon back the Warp Storms to prevent the world from falling to the humans, and the players must get off world with as much treasure (and perhaps rescued natives) as they can before the world is sealed for another 10,000 years. Options are given that allow for a variety of exciting escapes from the Dread Pearl.

Overall The book includes the ships of each of the rivals, as well as an Eldar craft. The adventures allow for space combat, diplomacy, investigation, exploring alien worlds, chances to engage in criminal enterprises, and some serious role playing with the rival Rogue Traders.

There are a few places where a little more guidance would have been useful, particularly in how the players could upgrade their own ship with the salvage they can do during this campaign. I just know my group will want to try that.

If you GM Rogue Trader, you will want this book. Even if you just pick bits of it, you'll want this book. Highly recommended.

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