Subsector Sourcebook 1 – Cascadia

Subsector Sourcebook 1 – Cascadia

From: Gypsy Knights Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Subsector Sourcebook 1: Cascadia is a new RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

Subsector Sourcebook 1: Cascadia is a conglomeration of work, merging previously released work done in a PDF series called Quick Worlds with a lot of original material.  Gypsy Knights continues to impress me with their quality work.  This handsome book presents a series of believable systems in a 8×10 hex subsector map (a Traveller standard).  These systems can be inserted into an existing Traveller campaign, used as the center of a new campaign, and even used in another system or setting with a few twists.

From the page # 2:
“This book is intended to provide a Traveller Referee with a subsector full of adventure for his or her players. ”

Cascadia is a region of space with vast opportunity and adventure.  I found it interesting that before the Gypsy Knights released their encompassing setting book, they released a few subsector books first.  I did occasionally find myself needing a little context while reading through the book but not much. Since I started reading before the setting book was released, I just had to roll with it at first.  Enough of the material is presented generically and free of setting that setting context is virtually not needed.

Like most Traveller subsectors, Cascadia is a grouping of settled worlds with their own history and cultures.  Many of the governmental structures and cultures are heavily influenced by American structure and cultures, but there are many other influences like Germanic and other nations. There are 20 settled systems, all with variations in culture, forms of government, social origin and quirks.  The material for each system is not exhaustive.  It gives just enough to give you an idea of the worlds and what they contain yet leaves a lot of information for the GM to fill in.  It might mention a common livestock or predator creature on the world but it does not have a complete zoological listing of native species for each work, for example.  That is done on purpose, of course.  The authors have a good grasp on just how much information to give the reader to inspire while giving room for more.

From page #33:
“As far as the setting we are currently building, we intend for these skeletons and stone tools to be signs of alien, bipedal species which simply died out before it gained the same sort of foothold as humanity did on Earth.”

One thing is for sure about the author – he appreciates the mystery of the galaxy and it is nothing humanity can not handle.  In this setting, human kind flourishes through the sector in a variety of environments, even despite signs that others have been there before and failed.  On the planet Fairfax, a planet of high pressure and high oxygen content, humans flourish on a world that had a civilization once before.  Signs of the ancient alien civilization can be found in various places on the world but what exactly killed them off is a mystery. The planet Monroe, a rather harsh world with a thin atmosphere and low atmospheric pressure, is heavily populated with humans.  Large cities span many areas of the planet.

Each world has subtle differences that a GM can use for adventure inspiration.  I fully recommend reading through each one as they are each very unique and full of story potential.  For instance, in the world of Nyahururu, a world with a politically tumultuous past, a well-meaning dictator of the world rules rather strictly.  This world has the potential for revolt and coup written all over it.  Roskilde is a world ruled by religious sect – worshippers of the Spirit of the Universe.  Religious zealotry and jihad come to mind when I read this one.

There is also the world Talca, populated primarily by scientists and scholars.  Their over-reliance on robots can lead to a Terminator situation.  Or the world of Tlix which is described as a representative technocracy that tries to “preserve order and efficiency of the workers”  and “[allow] the citizens of Tlix as much freedom to enjoy his or her downtime as possible” while at the same time “keep[ing] violence and disturbances to a minimum.”  Just reading that disturbed me, seeing the world a powder keg waiting to explode.  There is only so much you can “control” in human behavior before things go nuts.

This being my first exposure to the Gypsy Knights settings, I realize at first glance that it appears there are no aliens in the setting. 100% humans.  That could be intentional or perhaps they left it to the GM to introduce aliens to the setting on his own.  With a little work – perhaps another wormhole brought other aliens here, for example – a GM can introduce whatever aliens he feels are appropriate for the setting.

This book is available in print as well as PDF.  The print book I have is soft back and the printing is good quality.  The art is appropriately sparse but generic and the print I have is a little dark.  There is a basic table of contents but no index.  This is pretty much a no-frills book.

In conclusion, Cascadia is the first of many sector books by Gypsy Knights.  I found this particular book full of adventure potential and I like the simple, clear and concise way they are presented.  I like the nuggets of inspiration throughout, as well as there being just enough detail to get you started.  I highly recommend this book for any Traveller fan as well as any sci-fi RPG fan.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG Supplement “Subsector Sourcebook 1: Cascadia” check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 18

Subsector Sourcebook 1: Cascadia
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Type of Game: RPG Supplement
Written by: John Watts
Contributing Authors: Greg Seaborn, Kevin Smith
Cover Art by: AlgolOnline
Additional Art by: John Watts, Ian Stead, LindaB, Balefire9
Number of Pages: 171
Game Components Included: Softback Sourcebook
Game Components Not Included: Traveller core rulebook
Retail Price: $19.99 PDF, $31.99 (softback w/ PDF), $38.99 (hardback w/ PDF) (US)

Reviewed by: Ron McClung