The Chaos Triads

By Steven Marsh
Steve Jackson Games
The Fantasy Trip
"Starting Characters"

A dying heir, an abandoned mine, and a closely-held secret figure into this gamemastered adventure for The Fantasy Trip, as a group of heroes set forth on a mission of mercy. But they are not the first to take on this quest, and the actions of their predecessors will bring them up against the edge of Chaos itself. Can they survive an encounter with the Chaostained?

Hey. a bunch of Fantasy Trip aventures showed up on DriveThru! Let’s review one!

This thirteen page adventure is a linear series of combats divided by a couple of puzzles for eleven-ish encounters total. It shows signs of life during the alloted “roleplay” sections but its clear this is a tactical minis combat game with some bits around it. And a badly formatted one at that. Surprise.

The little prince has a poison dart in his neck, full of chaos magick, that can’t be removed. Granny wants you to get the Chaos Orb from a nearby mine; it will draw out the chaos from the dart and make it safe to remove. You’re adventuring company number three to take up the task …

Not a bad hook. Certainly with slightly more nuance and realistic motivations than most. And that’s a theme with this adventure, it generally makes a bit of an appeal that’s just a bit more than usual. Grannys advisors privately tell you they don’t expect you to succeed, but enough of an effort must be made to make her mourning easier. The second adventuring party is a scan, taking the money, running, and turning back to their usual banditry ways. Just a little bit more makes the usual fantasy throw-away tropes just a little more interesting for the party to play with. 

The Chaos monsters in the adventure gets some good random effects; one good and one bad each. They attract objects so missile weapons are easier to hit this one, and that one can rewind time. In addition there’s some decent examples of freaky behavior as the party gets closer to the orb, birds flying without flapping their wings and a list of other effects. This gets to the matter of making things interesting for the party and supporting the DM. Not just “weird things happen” but also a short list to use or inspire the DM to greater heights. Which is what the adventure should be doing.

It’s also just a linear combat adventure with little thought to the DM actually running it.

For all the world this reminds e of a 4e adventure. Or, maybe, one of those Starfleet Battles Campaigns. A bunch of tactical mini’s combat strung together with some pretext in between them. I know little of Fantast Trip, It’s clear that hex-based tactics is a big part of it. Enter room. Monster. Some other weird combat effect (ala 4e complications) and then combat.

In between this are a couple of room that could be considered puzzles. A room fills with water, or a robot-man guardian asks a riddle. Or a LARGE number of rats run past you … not attacking. But it feels weird. It feels like “THIS. IS. THE. COMBAT. ROOM. LET. US. HAVE. COMBAT.” The puzzles, weird shit are better, but it feels obvious what;s a puzzle and whats combat. And that’s never good.

SJ Games has done no favors in the editing department. Long sections of text rarely broken up with bullets, bolding, and other techniques to draw the eyes. The rumors section is all written in paragraph form, making glancing and absorbing difficult. And the actual encounters … Five paragraphs for some rats running past you. The second room has twelve paragraphs. This thing is bloated to all fuck, strecthing out what would normally be a quite short adventure indeed. The bloat makes it hard to find things. 

This resembles more of a funhouse dungeon: some 4e tactics rooms spaced out by some puzzle rooms. There’s a bear in one room … because bear. 

 This is $5 at DriveThru. There is no preview. Hey! Big timey publisher! How about throwing the consumer a bone and putting in a preview so we get a chance to see a bit of what we’re buying before we throw away our money?

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1 Response to The Chaos Triads

  1. Edgewise says:

    Just so you know, The Fantasy Trip is actually a tactical combat game first, with role-playing grafted on as more of an afterthought. Sort of an early ancestor of GURPS Man-to-Man. I’ve never played it, but that’s how it’s been explained to me.

    SJG has been rolling out things to DriveThru over the last year or so, and the rollout has been a mixed bag. Usually they include a publisher preview, even nicer than a full-sized preview. But some of the materials are pretty much just dumped into DTRPG; a lingering resentment that they had to offer these outside the company store, perhaps?

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