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Old 11-08-2010, 12:17 PM   #1
David Johnston2
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Secrets of the Ancients

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/produc...ducts_id=81587

Suddenly I feel like playing Traveller again or at least in the Traveller universe. This expansion of Secrets of the Ancients is a good deal more interesting and game changing than the original, and it's a free download...so what's not to like?
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Old 12-24-2010, 10:34 PM   #2
Whome?
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Default Re: Secrets of the Ancients

I own 5 versions of Traveller:

1) Classic Traveller - an amazing game for its day.

2) MegaTraveller - I actually thought this one was better because the player's manual I thought was a good idea. And Player's did indeed buy this book too. The computer games were a good idea also - fun to play.

3) Traveller for the GDW House System (TNE) the first version of the game for another game system. I liked the T:2000 feel of the game and played it. Compatability with Dark Conspiracy a plus - DC was now my favorite RPG.

4) Traveller for Gurps 3e (Gurps Traveller) Yep - played this one and enjoyed it too. Lots of material on the Third Imperium and some great adventures.

5) Traveller for Gurps 4e (GT:IW) a much improved main book over the previous version. Additional material beyond the main book is lacking if you don't have a subscription to JTAS and I myself fill this void with Traveller books from Mongoose Publishing - The Judge Dredd Traveller book Mongoose published is one of my favorite Traveller books of all time.

I've downloaded the New Secrets of the Ancients and find it a very interesting adventure. I will still play the original version as this one is quite different. They are giving the .pdf away for free with a hardbound release later next year. Will this work? Heck ya - I'm buying the hardbound when it's released.

So - I play Gurps Traveller 4e with some Mongoose Traveller books I like - like Strontium Dogs, Judge Dredd, Hammers Slammers, etc. Works very well for me.

I'd really like to see SJG hardbound some of their Gurps 4e .pdf releases - Mongooses policy of hardbound releasing "Secret of the Ancients" after the .pdf release is a great idea I hope we see more of next year.
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Old 12-27-2010, 04:20 PM   #3
Malenfant
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Default Re: Secrets of the Ancients

I thought the original CT SotA was absolutely terrible (like all the adventures that Marc Miller wrote, IMO). It's largely an exercise in railroading, and is very spectatorial, with the game author monologuing at the characters (via an Awesome GM Character) and sending them on their way at the end. And really, the "secret" isn't that exciting.

The new version at least turns it into something where the players can feel a bit more useful, but it still suffers from some pretty bad railroading (there's still way too much "if the PCs make the wrong decision, they'll get instakilled"). But it's better than the original at least.
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Old 12-28-2010, 06:44 PM   #4
DAT
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho
Default Re: Secrets of the Ancients

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malenfant View Post
I thought the original CT SotA was absolutely terrible (like all the adventures that Marc Miller wrote, IMO). ...
Okay, your opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malenfant View Post
It's largely an exercise in railroading, and is very spectatorial, ...
You are talking about the CT LBB Secret of the Ancients adventure right? If the characters get all the way to activating the ancient ship, then they are going for a ride, true. But getting to that point was the main portion of the adventure: i.e., finding the initial clues/information, earning money to fund the expedition, risking their lives to try and find if the information is true, doing the exploration ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malenfant View Post
... with the game author monologuing at the characters (via an Awesome GM Character) and sending them on their way at the end. ...
What GM character? "Grandfather"? He is not a character, he is a plot element at the end of the adventure/story. His "monologuing" is the reward/secret the characters are looking for (if they are roleplaying people in wonder over the ancients, who would risk their lives in the harsh/deadly environment to find the ancient ship in the first place) - the answer to the question about who were the ancients, why did they do the things they did, and what happened to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malenfant View Post
And really, the "secret" isn't that exciting.
...
Okay, you didn't like it. Can you describe what kind of "secret" you would have found exciting?

Out of curiousity, what was your first exposure to the adventure, as a GM or as a player?

My first exposure was GMing it. I think I've GM'ed three times now. Each group I GM'ed it for was different: one had Action Adventure oriented players, one had Mystery Solving oriented players, and one had both Action Adventure and Mystery Solving players. For each group, I added to or stressed different elements in the adventure, to suite the interests of the players. All three groups said they enjoyed it, and we continued the campaign.
-Dan
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Old 12-29-2010, 07:28 PM   #5
Malenfant
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Default Re: Secrets of the Ancients

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAT View Post
Okay, your opinion.
Of course it is - that's why I started with "I thought that..."

Quote:
But getting to that point was the main portion of the adventure: i.e., finding the initial clues/information, earning money to fund the expedition, risking their lives to try and find if the information is true, doing the exploration ...
The question (as usual in the OTU) is why are a bunch of random guys tooling around in their own ship doing this instead of a big corporation or archaeological organisation with lots of resources?


Quote:
What GM character? "Grandfather"? He is not a character, he is a plot element at the end of the adventure/story.
Of course he's a character. He's an NPC. The PCs get through the portal, get whisked along to meet Grandfather, and then he blathers on about The True Secret History Of The Universe at them for a while and then sends them packing with a few trinkets.

Quote:
His "monologuing" is the reward/secret the characters are looking for (if they are roleplaying people in wonder over the ancients, who would risk their lives in the harsh/deadly environment to find the ancient ship in the first place) - the answer to the question about who were the ancients, why did they do the things they did, and what happened to them.
It's still done via bland exposition though. The PCs just have to sit there politely and listen. Essentially, the adventure is over once the PCs are through the portal to the pocket universe, and everything after that is a very long waste of time.

Quote:
Okay, you didn't like it. Can you describe what kind of "secret" you would have found exciting?
One that isn't explained to death, for a start.

And once they know it, and then Grandfather lets them go back home, what happens next? Now they know this priviledged information that nobody else knows, what do they do with it? It should completely revolutionise history of Charted Space and shake politics to its core (the Droyne were the Ancients?! So what happens then? Do they all uproot and try to get back to Grandfather? Or are they all exterminated for fear of them rising up again?). Do people come to investigate the Portal site? Or to barricade it against a possible return? Or attempt to invade the pocket universe and take out Grandfather once and for all? (that's what I'd do anyway. Grandfather is the single greatest existential threat to Charted Space, after all)

But nothing happens. I guess it's just assumed that the surviving PCs are crazy (despite evidence. FFS, does nobody have recording devices? Cameras?), but there's not even a blip in history about this revelation that should shake Charted Space to its core.

At least the Mongoose version makes it more exciting anyway. In that at least, it sounds like there will be repurcussions.

Quote:
Out of curiousity, what was your first exposure to the adventure, as a GM or as a player?
GM. I certainly wouldn't want to run it, but then all of Marc Miller's adventures are like that. Most of what he's written for CT aren't even really what I'd call adventures, they're more like random collections of encounters and dice rolls strung together in a non-linear way.
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:52 AM   #6
Apache
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Default Re: Secrets of the Ancients

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Originally Posted by Malenfant View Post
I certainly wouldn't want to run it, but then all of Marc Miller's adventures are like that. Most of what he's written for CT aren't even really what I'd call adventures, they're more like random collections of encounters and dice rolls strung together in a non-linear way.
Consider the era he wrote them in. Many of them feel like D&D modules-in-space because (Surprise!) that was all he had as an example to go on. Even early RuneQuest/CoC adventures retained the D&D feel (for a time, anyway).

Classic Trav example? Research Station Gamma. Had maps. Encounter tables. 'Treasure lists'. And an Evil Wizard.

As for 'repercussions', I believe that was up to the GM for his particular campaign. Very few folks in the gaming industry had thought up the 'meta-plot' marketing concept. In ClassicTrav, about the only adventure that had 'meta-plot' repercussions was the one where the Players discover that Secret Zho Base just before the 5th Frontier War. And the one where they discover Chip/Virus, of course. Other than that, each GM was free to do as he liked. IMTU, there were MAJOR repercussions of the players discovering The Secret of The Ancients. Which were probably different than the repercussions in YTU.
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Old 12-30-2010, 06:15 AM   #7
MrBackman
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Uppsala, Sweden
Default Re: Secrets of the Ancients

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apache View Post
Consider the era he wrote them in. Many of them feel like D&D modules-in-space because (Surprise!) that was all he had as an example to go on. Even early RuneQuest/CoC adventures retained the D&D feel (for a time, anyway).
Secret of the Ancients came pretty late in the LBB line, here are some of the stuff that came out before (I think Prison planet came out at nearly the same time as Secret of the Ancients)

They had released Mission on Mithril (first player vs environment adventure that was really something new at the time)

They had released Twilight's peak (which was a well written dungeon crawl with a wonderful hook (the book and the Octagon towers) which shows that they could do good dungeon crawls as well.)

They had released Murder on Arcturus station ('host a murders' style adventure that was really fresh and unique at the time).

They had released Argon gambit (a complicated spy/mystery kind of adventure that the players must find a solution to themselves, great stuff atb the time).

They had released Prison planet (a freeform campaign to get out of prison, really fresh and unique at the time).

Then Marc wrote Secret of the Ancients that was such a letdown with its 'Stan-Lee-superhero-creation' rationale for 'Grandfather' and silly excuse for the final war - I never ever considered playing the adventure because of the stupid rationale alone. On top of that, the adventure was boring and lackluster as well.

No, Secret of the Ancients was indeed bad, especially compared to the other adventures already published by GDW.
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Last edited by MrBackman; 12-30-2010 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 12-30-2010, 07:08 AM   #8
Hans Rancke-Madsen
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Default Re: Secrets of the Ancients

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malenfant View Post
And once they know it, and then Grandfather lets them go back home, what happens next? Now they know this priviledged information that nobody else knows, what do they do with it? It should completely revolutionise history of Charted Space and shake politics to its core (the Droyne were the Ancients?! So what happens then? Do they all uproot and try to get back to Grandfather? Or are they all exterminated for fear of them rising up again?). Do people come to investigate the Portal site? Or to barricade it against a possible return? Or attempt to invade the pocket universe and take out Grandfather once and for all? (that's what I'd do anyway. Grandfather is the single greatest existential threat to Charted Space, after all)

But nothing happens. I guess it's just assumed that the surviving PCs are crazy (despite evidence. FFS, does nobody have recording devices? Cameras?), but there's not even a blip in history about this revelation that should shake Charted Space to its core.
I agree with most of what you say. I usually describe the 'payoff' of the adventure as "a two-week package tour to Grandfather's pad".

But this bit I disagree with. The PCs have no proof of their story. Even the trinkets they have merely prove that they found a new Ancients site (if they reveal that they have them, of course -- since the Imperium will most likely confiscate the trinkets, they may not want to). Beyond that, there's nothing revolutionary about what they can tell. "The Droyne are the Ancients" is already a popular theory. There's no portal to be found at the point the PCs indicate, if anyone take their story seriously enough to investigate. They're just another bunch of crackpots to be dismissed by the Establishment. After all, their story is totally unbelievable, right?

Incidentally, if you want to know the True Secret of the Ancients, here it is in this variant article.


Hans

Last edited by Hans Rancke-Madsen; 12-30-2010 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:53 AM   #9
MrBackman
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Uppsala, Sweden
Default Re: Secrets of the Ancients

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans Rancke-Madsen View Post
<snip>But this bit I disagree with. The PCs have no proof of their story. Even the trinkets they have merely prove that they found a new Ancients site <snip>
This is exactly as it should be. Every pulp adventure where the adventurers find a path into the hollow earth, a gate to another dimension, a rift in time, an alien spaceship etc has to end where the entry/exit crumbles and all they have to show for are some trinkets that are open for interpretation. The reason for that being a staple is a good one; the adventurers can continue doing adventures like they used to without ruining everything with media blitzes, security concerns etc. Pulp cliffhangers were short and they needed to do new adventures with the established heroes, the same goes for the pulp books and later the comics. RPG Adventures are not movies, they are episodes in a TV series with the same main characters and some NPCs recurring now and then. Some follow a longer story arc and some work as one-off's that can be played/watched in any order.

If the referee wants to keep playing 'Famous celebrities of the Ancients' he could change the ending but typically that is not what most referees want, they want to give the players some 'secrets man was not meant to know' and then go on with new adventures. The players gets to know what the Ancients really were but cannot gain much from it, adventuring for the sake of knowledge with some added trinkets to keep the munchkins happy.
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Last edited by MrBackman; 12-31-2010 at 05:14 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:10 AM   #10
Hans Rancke-Madsen
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Default Re: Secrets of the Ancients

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBackman View Post
This is exactly as it should be. Every pulp adventure where the adventurers find a path into the hollow earth, a gate to another dimension, a rift in time, an alien spaceship etc has to end where the entry/exit crumbles and all they have to show for are some trinkets that are open for interpretation.
Yes, that bit is fine. It's everything else that's wrong ;-). Like the patron who just happens to have several working Ancients artifacts in his collection. Who is this guy? The Archduke of Vland?


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