The 2300 AD game is all about exploration, and it doesn't get more epic than this! Bayern provides all the material you need to run adventures around the voyage of the eponymous starship to the Pleiades Star Cluster in the constellation of Taurus, a trip expected to last almost half a decade. The information provided includes details of the Bayern himself, the aims and objectives of the mission which is sponsored by the Astronomischen Rechen-lnstitut, notes on major members of the crew and scientific staff (who could make good characters, or be people with whom the characters interact) and material about the Pleiades Cluster itself. There are also two adventures, one to be used during the voyage (on the way there or the way back, it doesn't matter) and one when actually in the Cluster.
Despite two adventures being provided, there are notes throughout which suggest events and adventures that you can develop for yourself. In some ways, this campaign is more like Star Trek, a voyage of exploration - and as you'll see from one of the adventures, there are opportunities to stop off along the way to the Pleiades to explore other systems. As designed, the Bayern is an unarmed science vessel, but should you wish to include hostile contacts that don't end with the entire party dead, you might consider amending this so that the Bayern is capable of at least self-defence.
Even between systems, there's plenty going on aboard. During at least part of the voyage, the scientists will be in cyrogenic sleep but those crew who are awake will have to keep themselves entertained as well as look after the ship - after all, there won't be many opportunities for shore leave. Anything from putting on concerts and contests to continuing education presents the potential for adventure, particularly when your players enjoy interaction and role-playing... and of course, everyone has to keep fit. Indeed, it's written into their contracts! There also might just be a secret or two to discover...
There's a whole section about the Astronomischen Rechen-lnstitut (AR-I), which is based on Earth (in Germany, as you might imagine). This covers motivations, background, history and facilities - likely known to expedition members as they will have been hired and probably trained there. Next comes a section on the objective, the Pleiades Cluster itself, here mostly astronomical data that is known before the expedition sets out.
This is followed by a section on the Bayern starship, with the history of its development as well as technical data on the starship and associated vessels - landers, spaceplanes and 'EVA bugs' for things like external maintenance as well as an assortment of drone craft. Leading members of the crew are covered in sidebars, and there's quite a bit about the ship's computer, called Aristotle.
Next is a section about The Ship's Complement. Here are full details of notable crew members. The entire crew is 110 people, some ship crew and some scientists, and all are regarded as expert in whatever it is that they do. This voyage was oversubscribed and the AR-I were able to be very selective. The main groups of people are the bridge crew, engineering, scientists, vessel support crew (who look after the ancillary vessels and drones), medics and even a small group of journalists. Most are in cryosleep until needed, with the bridge and engineering constantly staffed of course and others being awoken as and when their services are required. Not everyone is presented in full detail, but for those who are there is sufficient for them to be used as player-characters. This includes both game statistics and background, so that they can come to life with ease if being used as NPCs. Most of them occupy senior positions and are likely to be awake most of the time, hence ideal for player-characters.
The two adventures - Death Throes and Daughters of Atlas - follow. Death Throes covers a visit to a system encountered during the journey, whilst Daughters of Atlas deals with the exploration of the Pleiades Cluster itself... and boy, is there plenty to be found! Characters who do not go insane will have quite a tale to tell when they return.
This is exploration of the highest order, presenting intellectual challenges and puzzles all presented in a realistic way... leaving you imagining that this could just happen, did we have a way to travel as far. For those who love science fiction and exploration this will be a memorable campaign, although those who prefer to solve all problems with a blaster or a fist may be disappointed (although of course you could easily add in more adventures that would provide opportunities for combat if you wanted). For realistic space exploration with a scienc-fiction twist, however, this is outstanding.
Return to Bayern page.
Reviewed: 19 November 2015