"Where else can you get an evening’s entertainment for six people for less than a tenner?" – Albie Fiore, 1980
In a Nutshell: Can you say "dungeon crawls in spa-a-a-ace"? I knew you could. This 38-page module from Sine Nomine Games describes a star system for the Stars Without Number RPG, and adventures set therein.
- Light Without End: One-page GM’s overview of the star system and its secret history. The system contains a red giant star and a number of asteroids, but no significant planetary bodies.
- Brightside Station: 8 pages describing the mining station which is the main centre of human population in the system. There are descriptions of the station as a whole, mining operations, local law enforcement, daily life, the station personnel, and local hazards; capsule descriptions of ten key NPCs and their motivations; deck plans with a couple of paragraphs of explanation for each area; and contents of the station’s locker. If you consider this as a campaign-starting dungeon module, Brightside is the base town where the PCs will hang out between expeditions.
- The Sky Tombs: 8 pages on the alien ruins found in the system; history, structure, details of two alien races, a system for creating Sky Tombs based on a set of geomorphic maps and a list of stock room descriptions, and the ancient treasures available for looting.
- Empty Graves: The obligatory pirate base, with an overview of operations, a deck plan and room descriptions, and thumbnail sketches of key NPCs. Two pages.
- The Cold Tomb and The House of Echoes: Two example Sky Tombs, fully stocked, with deck plans and room descriptions.
- Judgement Day: Two pages outlining what happens when the Station’s dark past finally catches up with it, and how the PCs can become embroiled in the denouement.
- Nothing But Trouble: One page of hooks by which the PCs can be inveigled into this den of iniquity.
- NPC Combat Stats: Exactly what it says on the tin. Stat blocks for stock and named NPCs. One page.
- Maps: Player maps of BrightSide Station, for use as a handout; Sky Tomb geomorphs for the GM; and a one-page handout for the PCs, a station briefing handed to their characters on arrival. Total, four pages.
So, yes, this is a series of dungeon crawls in space. That’s not a bad thing per se; I think I would really enjoy playing in Mr Crawford’s campaign, should the opportunity ever arise. Meanwhile, this would be a good place to start a campaign from.
What you get in the module is a complete plug-and-play star system, easily transported to other campaigns; a fleshed-out starport; ancient tombs to loot and pirates to fight off while you’re doing it; and starport intrigues both large and small in which they can be embroiled. There are at least five sessions’ worth of play in here, probably more – that’s not bad going for a couple of bucks. SWN continues to delight with its tightly-integrated setting, information-dense products, and fresh, fast-play mechanics.