Legends of Time and Space: Void Station 57
Publisher: Dark City Games
Author: Bret Winters
Page Count: 32
Cost: $12.95 (Booklet)
Release Date: 2006
Where to get it: Dark City Games
This is a space-themed adventure book, similar in style to The Island of Lost Spells by George Dew, with a fantasy theme. Where The Island of Lost Spells had a standard fantasy theme, this book has a futuristic sci-fi theme with lots of different elements thrown in. Influences from Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and plenty of other space movies and media can be seen mixed into the flavor of this book, and that’s not a bad thing necessarily. If you play through the book and find yourself a bit confused as to what exactly happened, there is a nice summary of the various entities involved and a breakdown of events. This book is designed so that it can be played as a solo adventure or as a module to be run with a group of up to six players with a GM.
A Strange Time
The adventure begins with your ship docking at a fueling station that appears to have gone dark. Needing desperately to refuel, you are forced to board the station and see what is going on. Right away, you can tell things are very wrong: there are bodies, there’s no power, and many parts of the station are damaged or hiding hostile entities. The station is circular, with three concentric rings connected by tubes for travel between them, and you will be traveling either in the direction the station is spinning, counter to the spin, or between tubes toward the center or outer rings. In each ring there are various rooms, ranging from merchant areas and visitor quarters to more essential places like engineering and science labs. You might ask yourself what a refueling station is doing with science labs and the panoply of facilities that are found on this edifice, since I understood the place to be the sci-fi equivalent of a gas station, but then again you might not. Hey, it’s in the middle of nowhere in space, so it might as well be prepared for all contingencies.
Whether playing solo or with a group, the goal will be to get to the power controls and return power to the station, then make it safely back to your ship (the “Warlock”), and take off. There are things you can do on the side, lots of little details to play with and uncover, and several plot words to gather during the adventure (though not all of them are desirable). Getting these plot words, by either traveling to certain locations or doing certain things, will be important to completing the mission successfully. The game uses a system that is very similar to GURPS, where three six-sided dice are rolled to try to match or get underneath a stat in order to pass a test. Also included with the book is a counter sheet for potential enemies and your crew, and a fold-out paper map that will be used for tactical combat. Unlike The Island of Lost Spells, the hex map is not used for each room of the station, only for when there is combat, which is a nice change. One interesting aspect of this adventure that is nicely thematic is the use of oxygen as a timer for getting the power turned on at the station. You start with six hours worth, and everything you do, from moving to new rooms to searching to combat, will shave precious minutes off of your oxygen.
This Review Has Been Assimilated
I liked this book, and I think it has a lot to offer for fans of “old school” or (and I’m not saying these are the same) a stripped-down style of role-playing, or those looking for a nice little adventure to run in a sci-fi setting. I think the plot word system is strong and used well in this book, and the skill challenges can be a bit monotonous but combat feels evenly spaced. Some skills listed in the rules at the front of the book will be downright useless in this adventure, should the player choose to make his or her own character. There are pre-generated characters in the back of the book that I would suggest using, at least on a first play. This is simply because some skills will be FAR more useful than others when exploring the ship and will be called upon repeatedly, while others will not be used at all. Part of the problem stems from the general rules for the Dark City Games system being put at the front of the book, and then more specific rules for this adventure being put after it, as the two don’t always agree. This is fine as long you recognize that the first set of rules is a boilerplate for the system as a whole, and then the notes just before the adventure starts fine tune them specifically for this adventure. I did spot one little error in the weapon skill section that seems to betray the conversion from the fantasy-themed books: next to the “Knife” skill the description says “+1 with bow”. Another error that I noticed is that there was an option several times to go “codeward” when I think the direction meant to read “coreward”.
There are rules for piloting a small craft and resolving battles in space, which may be interesting, but none of that will be occurring in this book. However, there are several books in this series, so maybe in other books there will be ship-to-ship combat. Speaking of combat, it can be quite deadly, and many of the combats in this book happen instantly and are unavoidable. Mostly because of the nature of your enemies, you will be attacked without warning, but you do have a nice suit to protect you and some good firepower in the form of assault rifles and shotguns (does it all work the same in zero-grav? I just don’t know). The layout of the space station provides a nice progression for the unfolding of the plot as you move through the rooms trying to figure out what is going on and how to get to the control room. In nearly every room there is something to be found or something to explore further, from simply finding loot to finding nice little bits of story, like a diary or holo-video that may or may not have some impact on your play. At the end of the adventure there are several plot words that may need to be resolved if you got them during the trek; some of them provide further challenges, and some are important to finishing your business at the station or providing extra value to the group in future adventures.
So, is it worth $12.95? Definitely! I think it’s a good adventure with lots to explore and several small branches packed into this small volume. The production is nice, not professional of course, but nice for an independent and small company. Also be sure to check out the other books on Dark City Games‘ website from a variety of authors. Thanks Dark City Games for providing review copies!