A highly advanced microdrone lost by The Special Collection Service during a Middle East mission has fallen into the hands of a known military drone dealer. The drone is up for sale at an annual rendezvous for battlefield scroungers at a remote location inside the country of Chad. The drone is highly prized, and there are many out to procure it. The Agents will need to traverse a barren landscape while avoiding hostile locals to get to the meeting location. They will face many obstacles along the way and on their way out. It will take more than sheer firepower for them to succeed.
Rendezvous Oasis is an advanced adventure for Solarian’s Top Secret: New World Order roleplaying game. Players assume the role of ICON agents on a mission to purchase a micro drone from a Saudi Prince hosting a Blackmarket bazaar at his Oasis in a remote region of Chad. Getting there across the hostile, barren land and procuring the drone will test all of the agent’s skills.
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The mission is quite clear. Take possession of the microdrone and return it to its rightful owners. ICON has arranged for the microdrone’s purchase and supplied the agents with the funds to procure it. All the agents have to do is close the deal with Ahmed Farzad El- Qadir, its current owner, at his Oasis location, the hosting area for this year’s annual underground swap meet. But nothing is that straightforward. Thwarting the agent’s efforts will be terrorist groups, rebels, Chad Military, the terrain, and the elements.
The adventure begins with a Mission Impossible-inspired briefing handout. The handout provides the Agents with the mission and logistical details to get to El-Qadir’s Oasis. The agents have 24 hours before dust off where they are free to conduct research, requisition any equipment, and pack their gear. Following the briefings is a wide array of useful information on El-Qadir, the region of Chad where the mission takes place, means of communication, and suggested packing lists for Agents.
The agents will fly commercial into Cairo, Eygpt, to meet with their contact Sharif to transport them to Fada, Chad. A ground vehicle, fully stocked with equipment, will be waiting for the Agents in the airplane hanger in Fada. The vehicle’s equipment is divided into five separate categories, with each item in each category listed on rollable tables. The rollable charts are to be used later to determine what equipment is lost if the vehicle is damaged along the way. The categories are Camping, Electronics, Recovery Gear, Spares/Mechanical, and Special Devices. The overland vehicle will also contain the Agents’ equipment not allowed on commercial airlines.
Getting There is Half the Fun
A good portion of this mission is getting there and back to Fada, their starting point in Chad. It will take several days across the harsh terrain to reach the Oasis, and they only have ten days before Sharif leaves them behind. Since travel is a big part of this adventure, Rendezvous Oasis includes special rules. Driving checks are made once per day. A D10 failed result table with sub-charts determines the harm to the Agents’ vehicle and time lost on a failed roll.
There are no roads to follow or guides to take them to El-Qadir Oasis, so Agents will need to make daily rolls to stay on track. Along the way, the Gamemaster is to use any of the provided twelve random encounters. These encounters may be used in either direction of travel and give the otherwise desolate landscape excitement. Encounters range from engaging with hostile forces to side missions that completely sidetrack the agents. Each event highlights fundamental game mechanics for the Gamemaster to utilize.
Encounters are rolled or selected as the team travels. Some of the encounters can link together to form a side quest. In those cases, choosing the order of encounters is best. Most of the encounters are fleshed out enough for a Gamemaster to run without extra prep. At least one could develop into a larger adventure requiring additional prep time and development.
The Agents will be on their own once they leave Fada. Resource management is essential in this adventure. The agents are in the middle of nowhere, and they should be conscious of rationing their supplies and watching their fuel gauge. The Gamemaster should keep track of the Agent’s supply levels. Rendezvous Oasis does provide many opportunities for the Agents to resupply or reach out to many safety lines if they get into trouble. But if they ignore them or don’t approach them properly, they may find themselves up the creek without a paddle.
Once at the Oasis, the primary mission, it is now up to the Agents to finish the transaction with El- Qadir and take possession of the drone, except it won’t be that easy. A twist in the story and the opportunity to be part of a camel race calls into action plans B, C, D, or all of the above to secure the microdrone or destroy it from getting into foreign hands. There is a lot of opportunity for roleplaying and creative thinking. El- Qadir’s Oasis location and its occupants are provided. Each area of the Oasis, its visitors, vendors, terrain, and security are given in detail for the Gamemaster. The details included day and nighttime activities of each laying out a flexible sandbox location.
Once the drone is obtained or destroyed, the mission is not over. The Agents still need to make it out of Chad. They may opt to travel back to Fada if they are within the time frame Sharif gave them, or they may choose their own path out. Whichever is chosen, their extraction is played out as part of the adventure. The Gamemaster may again use the encounters provided until they reach their final destination. Once again, Agents will need to be mindful of their supplies as they make their escape. Traveling back will undoubtedly offer more conflict than their insertion. They will either have an object of great desire or gain the ire of dangerous foes looking for revenge at any cost.
For this review, I used the PDF version of the adventure. The adventure’s layout follows the same style and format as Top Secret: New World Order’s main rulebook. It matched the look and felt very nice. The production values are very high. The layout is great but could use a more refined touch to its details. Information was easy to locate and brief enough to quickly scan for important information. The writing tone was not like other RPG adventures I’ve read. It was technical in its delivery as a government document. I found it hard to follow at times as it is not the tone I’m used to reading. Once I got comfortable with the writing style, I no longer had any issues and could appreciate the tone conveyed.
The adventure includes expanding and refining Top Secret: NWO’s main rules. Combat with melee weapons, car chases, projectile combat during a car chase, and foot chase rules was further developed or refined to accommodate this adventure. These optional amendments to the rules are in the appendix of the adventure.
Initially published in Gygax Magazine, Issue 4 as a featured adventure, Rendezvous Oasis is essentially the same minus the travel to and fro. Still, it lacks the refined treatment that it is given here. It also was written for the original Top Secret roleplaying and run at conventions by Merle M. Rasmussen well before the newest version was brought to light.
Spectacular! The tone and the feel of the mission are on point. It’s not a gun-heavy mission as most spy-type missions dissolve into. That is not to say that there isn’t going to be an exchange of gunfire. I most surely believe there will be, but it’s not the type of mission where firepower will win the day. There are a lot of great opportunities for roleplaying to get you further to your goal. It requires smarts, careful planning, and diligence. It’s a well-crafted adventure that will provide a great gaming experience. This is a must-have accessory to Top Secret: New World Order Roleplaying Game.
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