The contents of Spinward Encounters are really really good. I love adventure, and this book is packed with them. There are 64 Patron type Adventures (4 for each subsector in the Spinward Marches), and 16 Amber Zone type adventures. Many of these are well thought out, and are a bit longer than a normal (classic) patron or amber zone. A nice thing about a few of the amber zones in the District 268 is that the referee can connect them into a mini campaign.
As a referee, you might think that only four adventures for each subsector makes this product a bit overpriced. But if you are playing in one of the two most popular subsectors (Regina or District 268), then it would be easy to lead your PCs into the five adjacent subsectors. Then you would have 24 useful patrons to play, and for Regina five extra Amber Zones, and for District 268 nine extra Amber Zones. If you play in any of the Vilis, Lanth, Sword Worlds or Lunion subsectors, then you can use 36 patrons if you let you PCs travel into neighbouring subsectors.
The problem with this book is that the layout is quite bad, and that there is no proper index. An index is something that would be very useful if you want to plan to integrate any part of the book into your campaign.
There are a few nice images in the book. I like the one with a Bwap and a Vargr on page 33. This image is probably meant to illustrate the patron at Jesedipere at page 16. As I said, the layout is quite bad… In this image you can spot the Serenity in the background. Maybe also in the image on page 27. That was a nice Easter egg. LOL!
After asking about the preferred subsector in the Spinward Marches on facebook and on CotI we can see what the online community think. From the results I have created a color coded chart for popularity. More green is more popular.
Here we can see that the most popular subsectors are District 268 and Regina.
The reason for District 268 seems to be that it has lots of independent backwater worlds, that are great for adventure, and are close to the Imperium and the Sword Words so that there also can be some interstellar diplomatic intrigues.
For Regina, a good reason is that the players and referees feel at home here. A lot has been published for this subsector. The first adventure (The Kinunir) started here.
Another slightly less popular subsector is the Sword Worlds. Who does not like this subsector, partly borrowed from H. Beam Piper? Rhylanor and Jewell are also popular. Probably since these are close to Regina, and also have published adventures within them.
The least popular subsectors are Lanth, Lunion and Mora. Lanth is quite divided. Its worlds more feels like they are part of Rhylanor, Vilis and Regina subsectors. Lunion and Mora are quite ordinary, and does not really have the interesting features that the popular subsectors have.
What lessons can we learn from this (if we want to create an interesting subsector)?
- There should be some backwater independent worlds.
- There should be 2 or more interstellar states quite close.
- There should be obvious adventures.
- There should be a place that can feel as home.
Marc Miller has just posted the original draft of the Spinward Marches map on the FFE website.
Now we have to examine it to see how well it matches the original version.
What differences have You found, and what is your theories about that?