The following review contains MINOR SPOILERS about some characters and settings but does not go into extensive detail about such. These games are best left discovered by the players. If you are worried at all about the smallest of spoilers, do not read any further.
After a long wait following the last T.I.M.E. Stories module, Under the Mask, Expedition: Endurance has finally arrived. Loosely based on the real expedition to the Antarctic undertaken by Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew in the year 1914, the team over at Space Cowboys have twisted the events of reality to conform to their narrative. Something supernatural is happening to the crew aboard the Endurance, and as Bob informs you, you’re not going back to save them. Their fate is essential to the continuity of time; rather, you’re going back to make sure that whatever forces are trying to intervene do not succeed.
Right out of the gate I was immediately hooked on the scenario. Like with Under the Mask, I appreciate the story more when it incorporates real-world events or people while still managing to tell its own tale. Unfortunately, it also suffers from many of the same problems as Under the Mask, most of all, a plethora of items and equipment to gather that ultimately feel like unessential fodder to distract you from the main story, one that is unquestionably the shortest module thus far. The twists and turns therein are engaging and as a whole I enjoyed this more than Under the Mask, but not as much as the other three.
The most unique aspect in Expedition: Endurance, as each module contains one defining characteristic, are the Insanity cards. All but one character receive a number of brown tokens at the start to represent their sanity, and through the course of the game as they are exposed to various sights or circumstances, their sanity will be tested. They must perform a Willpower check and meet or exceed the number of Insanity symbols shown; should they fail, they lose one of their brown token. Lose the last, and you randomly draw one of the Insanity cards and keep the contents of that card a secret. The details of each card will alter the experience of the rest of that run for any player that goes insane, and they may not share the effects of it with anyone. These could be significant or minor changes, and sometimes even beneficial in the right circumstances, and figuring out when and where to go Insane, if ever, was a fun part of the experience.
**SLIGHT LOCATION SPOILER**
Furthermore, one particular deck of cards which only becomes important near the end of the campaign will only ever activate should a character die. The back has an explicit warning that no one is allowed to look at the front of card A unless their receptacle has been killed. As is tradition with all T.I.M.E. Stories modules, once the game is complete, all cards are fair game. However, there was something particularly questionable about this deck. Upon flipping over the first card, right at the top was another warning: “No other player should read or see these cards after you finish the scenario. Return these cards to the box after using them. If a player looks at any card of location 666 outside of a run, your group randomly loses 1 beacon (if you have any) for each card seen.”
Though the curiosity was strong, we refrained from looking at them in hopes that maybe, wishfully, they will be of importance in future modules. And that, conveniently, sums up Expedition: Endurance: Lots of curiosity, little payoff. The base cards at the start hinted at something going on with the Agency, but unlike every other module before it, there was no post-mission debriefing following the adventure. It felt quite a bit anticlimactic, and though only time will tell how this fits into the grand scheme of the overarching T.I.M.E. Stories experience, right now Expedition: Endurance is a brief but enjoyable scenario in the proven system and is worth it for the T.I.M.E. Stories experience alone even if it seemingly exists as the most isolated and disassociated outing yet.
Final Verdict: Good