I decided to read these books in a bundle because they were 24 pages each and even taken all together were less than a night's worth of reading. I can't say the format is growing on me, but I guess I can see the advantage of having a cheap format for niche topics. The Field Reports Alien Races and Extrasolar Colonies should probably not have been made, simply because their subjects are too interesting to confine to the small books, but I suspect I wrong about their purpose. I thought they existed to summarize the metaplot, but now that I've actually read the adventures, I realize they serve more to preview the metaplot. If Trinity, 1st edition, had died even just a couple of months earlier than it did historically, Field Report: Extrasolar Colonies might have been the best setting book we ever got. Scary to think about.
Anyway, here's a book-by-book breakdown:
This one puts the "space" in "space opera." You've got jump ships capable of traveling to other planets, and here are some planets for you to travel to. I'd say that in retrospect, it's the weakest of the Field Reports, if only because it is supplanted by the fewest books. There's no real need to have both this one and Stellar Frontiers.
That said, the plot hooks here work. There's a labor dispute on Averiguas, open warfare with Aberrants on Khantze Lu Ge, and the Qin homeworld is pretty suspicious too. White Wolf may have been a bit too fond of mystery for my taste, and they glossed over Far Nyumba, the best of the first edition colonies, but as a starting point for building campaigns, it works.
Ukss Contribution: New Hope, the town run by a renegade labor union. Blue collar pride, people.
Psi Laws is probably the ideal subject matter for this particular medium. It gets in, talks about its niche subject, and then gets out before it wears out its welcome. The main use I see for it is as a source of obstacles when you have games where the PCs have to pose as law-abiding citizens, though with a little adapting, the "case studies" might work as adventures. . . well, okay, probably not the one where the courts have to decide whether precognitive danger sense justifies "self-defense" before an attack actually occurs. And also probably not the one where forensic accounting proves that an electrokinetic witness lied about psychically reconstructing data, but the one where the Norça pull strings to get a case dismissed against a shapeshifting rapist, that could probably support a campaign.
Oh, yeah, the Norça do not come off well in this book at all. They're buying judges and sinking extradition treaties, and just generally acting like a criminal syndicate. I think there's a narrow tone, perhaps one that envisions a personal freedom so radical it borders on science fiction, where the "South America has legalized drugs and now they're rich because of it" that might work, but this book here misses the mark. Second edition expands the continent's shtick to transhumanism in general, and that interpretation would have helped Psi Laws quite a bit in its South America section.
Ukss Contribution: Texas outlaws psionic abilities altogether. Texas?! As implausible as their choice of location for it turned out to be, a state where it is forbidden to use the game's special abilities is a potentially useful location.
This one was pure fluff. I kind of adore it for that. It doesn't really do much for the game except add texture to the setting by detailing how news and entertainment are produced and consumed, but that's valuable enough. So much of the game revolves around secret agents and superheroes, and it's nice to get a glimpse of how ordinary people live.
I could rag on it for not getting the internet exactly right (oh, wow, thousands of channels, you say), but I get it. It was 1999, and they still thought broadcast television and magazines were going to be relevant formats forever. Besides, it's canon that they rebuilt the internet to make it deliberately work worse, so maybe I shouldn't be so smug about channels being gone forever.
The one thing I want from this book is more specifics. We only get about a half-dozen named Holo-programs, and one of them is the popular sitcom Tuna Sandwich, and I don't have anything more for you that will make that make a damned bit of sense. Strike Team Psion - an animated action-adventure series - I understand. Montressor! - the semi-fictionalized soap opera based off real stories of the Aesculapian Order - that I understand. Tuna Sandwich - the family friendly comedy centered around a campus deli and starring a guy named "Father Elmo" - I've got nothing. At least the implication is there that tuna fish survived into the 22nd century. Good for them.
Ukss Contribution: The world of Trinity has seen a resurgence of live theater, largely thanks to the fact that when the old internet crashed, traveling theater companies "not only cheered bowed spirits, but were a source of news and gossip for places just trying to survive." I like that, a collapsed civilization that keeps itself together by trading actors among settlements.
Have you read Station Eleven? That's what the comment on the resurgence of live theater reminds me of.ReplyDelete