Friday, May 20, 2011

Tommy's Take on The Patriot Incident

The third module for Terror Network is their most recent release, The Patriot Incident. It is not tied into the previous two modules, instead acting entirely standalone. It also features a radical departure from the Muslim terrorist group found in the first two modules, with the FBI now tackling pseudo-Christian anti-government extremists.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Designed for the Terror Network RPG, The Patriot Incident assumes that you own a copy of the core rulebook. It is not currently included in the RPGNow Terror Network Bundle, nor is it presently in print, though the PDF is available for $4.99 at RPGNow.

Despite the differences from the previous modules, this one does follow the same basic format. First, we get the Introduction Chapter, which lays out the relevant backstory on the Sovereign Nation and their leader, as well as their efforts to launch a Racial Holy War that will bring about the Second Coming.

This mission is structured with a timeline, and the agents only have a 12 hour period (on Halloween!) in which to stop the plots (yes, plural) being initiated by the Sovereign Nation. This chapter also provides a good deal of information (including web resources one can use for further research) on Boston (the setting for the mission), a breakdown of the key clues in the investigation as well as a flowchart that can help the GM track where the likely clues unearthed in each location will lead.

Chapter Two is the nitty gritty, diving into the locations themselves, from flavor text to the NPCs at each location to what can be learned and how the Agents can learn it. The module boasts over twenty locations throughout Massachuessets, from Boston to Worcester to Salem and some smaller cities that I admit I haven't heard of. There are optional false leads and events that can be peppered in if things are going too smoothly (my favorite is a carjacking in one of the rougher areas...and yes, I mean the FBI Agents getting carjacked). Honestly, with the sheer amount of ground needing coverage I would be surprised if the Agents need too much extra thrown in their path, but having the extra material on-hand isn't a bad thing.

Chapter Three covers the NPCs (19 of them), with game stats where relevant (the PCs probably aren't getting into a shootout with the Governor, so no statblock there). Each NPC is given a name and description, as well as a list of what they know, how to get it from them, that sort of thing. This even includes a murder victim who is dead when the module begins (his write-up is shorter than most for this reason).

Chapter Four lays out the ending conditions. Like previous Terror Network modules, there is no one set ending. Bedrock Games makes no assumptions that the PCs will or won't succeed at any given task in the mission. Fail to stop the Sovereign Nation in that 12 hour window? Well, hunt them down after the fact. Moreso than the previous modules, this one provides more consequences for failure (or breaches of protocol), which can include causing the press to turn on the FBI or Agents getting fired or both.

Chapter Five provides a number of handouts, including e-mails, receipts and so on.

Finally, the Appendix reprints the Investigation flowchart as well as providing the relevant maps and NPC stats.

WHAT WORKS: The largest Terror Network module to date, it is also noteworthy for featuring a terrorist group that isn't Muslim jihadists. The fact is, dangerous ideological extremists do take more than one form, and Terror Network addresses that here.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I caught a few editing issues...some buried in text and a couple in headers (which makes them far more noticeable, unfortunately). My primary concern with the adventure is that the time limit almost seems too harsh, with all of the travel, the due process of getting warrants for various situations, etc., that it has me thinking the deck might be too stacked against the PCs, but it is hard to say for sure without actually running the module.

CONCLUSION: It can be easy for a company to fall into the trap of doing one thing over and over, even if they do that one thing well. Bedrock Games follows a familiar formula with their modules, but still manages to show the variety available in the counterterrorism genre. If anything, I would like to see a little tighter editing and a little more variety in the locations used (Boston showed up both here and in the mission included in the corebook, justified due to the game's creator being based there)...but The Patriot Incident is another great addition to the Terror Network line.