RPGPundit Reviews: The Patriot Incident
This is a review of the adventure “The Patriot Incident: A Terror
Network Game Module”, published by Bedrock Games, written by Brendan
Davis. Its an adventure written for the Terror Network RPG.
I don’t have Terror Network, nor am I a particularly huge fan of
either modern rpgs, spy/law-enforcement rpgs, or the like. However, I do
have to say I found this a very well-written adventure.
The game assumes the players are FBI agents, and the action of the
game plays out a bit like an season of “24″ (at least, that’s what it
reminded me of). A good mix of action and investigation, twists and
turns, a race against the clock to prevent a terrorist threat, and all
the other kind of goodies you’d expect.
The action in the adventure begins with the PCs being called in to
investigate the murder of a Syrian arms dealer, with the possibility of
this death being connected to international or local terrorist
organizations; the Syrian died in what looked like some kind of arms
deal gone wrong, but with who, and to what end?
I don’t want to spoil the details of the adventure’s plot itself,
since it involves some twists that I think make it very interesting; in
the classic style of this kind of genre, player characters might find
that the initial suspects don’t turn out to be who they’re really
What I will talk about instead, then, is the adventure’s structure.
First, its non-linear: the PCs aren’t railroaded from one scene to the
next, they can end up moving through any number of directions in their
search for the truth and to stop a potential disaster. The GM is
provided with a handy “investigation map”, which is really a kind of
flowchart that shows which directions the PCs can go, and where these
directions can in turn lead them to.
Nor is the adventure set up in a stupid “narrative” style, where
things happen in a set order regardless of what the PCs do; instead,
events take place along a timeline; character’s actions can change the
timeline of events, and inaction will lead to things happening when they
happen, not when the PCs happen to show up. Thus, this is a firmly
immersive adventure, the kind I like.
The book is about 80 pages in total, small in size, with a
full-colour cover, and a few black and white illustrations scattered
throughout the interior text. You also get a map of the Boston area
(where much of the adventure is set), location maps of a terrorist
compound, repeats of the same at the end of the book, as well as player
handouts for clues and whatnot.
The book provides detailed and credible descriptions of the main
terrorist organization that are the “villains” of the adventure, lots of
information about Boston to help the GM run that part of the game
(including things like websites for more information, notes on Boston
lingo and accents and information about the Boston FBI Field Office),
guidelines about things like obtaining warrants and the Patriot Act, and
details about several locations in Boston (and other towns in the Mass.
area) that give me every sense that the author is writing about real
locations in that city (whether this is the case or not), all of which
would really help for emulation.
There are also detailed descriptions of persons of interest and
suspects, which are detailed with both information about the character,
and crucially, “what this character knows”. At the back of the module
there are stats for all of the important NPCs in the adventure.
All in all, while like I said this is not the kind of setting I
typically get excited about, I have to admire how well the design of
this adventure really is. I think that anyone who’s interested in this
kind of FBI-agent Jack Bauer kind of action RPG would do well to pick up
this adventure at least, if not the Terror Network game itself (though I
think that the way the module is written, to its credit, it could very
easily be run with any other game system; mechanics are very much in the
background of solid adventure design here).
Currently Smoking: Stanwell Compact + Image Latakia
(originally posted May 3, 2012, on the old blog)