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Into the Future: Derelict Starships
by Jeffrey Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2021 17:20:41

This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Freelance Traveller.

Tabletop Adventures has created a useful system-agnostic supplement for referees who find themselves at a descriptive loss. Derelict Starships does not, as might be implied by its title, provide entire abandoned or damaged or destroyed starships complete with statblocks and deckplans, but instead provides one-paragraph descriptions, similar to what one might encounter in a text adventure/interactive fiction, of what might be encountered by PCs while exploring such a starship.

The supplement is divided into five parts. The first part, “Bits of Starships”, provides 100 generic descriptions that could be applied to almost any area of a starship, rather than being tied to specific rooms or specific types of rooms—and most of the descriptions could be applied to derelict space stations, asteroid bases, or even planetary ground installations. Each description has bold text that is read to the PCs, and unbolded text that provides the referee with information needed to adjust the description based on the presence or absence of gravity or air, whether the PCs choose to explore further or just pass by a partly-obscured scene, and so on. Some referee information concerns possible minor tasks, such as dex checks to keep one’s footing when walking on wet or oily decks. The occasional found object is noted as well. Most of the descriptions are generic enough, but the referee should be careful about occasional mentions of technology which may be inappropriate to a particular Traveller universe. This section is copied, reformatted to fit on cards (six per page), as the fifth section of the book.

The next section, “Derelict Shards”, provides 110 descriptions that are tied to specific types of areas of the ship, beginning with #S1, a description as you approach a ship from outside, perhaps in a ship’s boat. The descriptions are grouped by area. Other than being specifically for e.g., a personal cabin, the medbay, the bridge, etc., these are much like the descriptions found in “Bits”. Occasional veiled references to SF classics may be found in this section.

The third section, “Skeletons in Space”, discusses the decay process that the human body undergoes. The process in normal Earthlike conditions is outlined first. This is followed by discussion of how differences in gravity, atmosphere, and presence or absence of insects, microbes, or other vermin affects the process. The section ends with three paragraphs of advice for referees and some bibliographic references that a referee so inclined could investigate for further information on human decomposition.

The fourth section is an index; each entry points to a description by Bit number or Shard number.

This is most definitely not a supplement for players; it is very definitely aimed solely at the referee. Whether it’s worth the price is going to depend on how often the derelict starship, space station, or base features in your adventures.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Future: Derelict Starships
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Deck O' Names - Japanese Generator
by Don W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2019 16:42:20

The app peforms as promised and does a decent job. The User Inteface is very utilitarian and unispired though. I can't read kanji and no very little Japanese, so I can't comment on the app's accuracy. What I dislike most about this product was the lack of support from the author or Tabletop Adventures - see my comments on the product's front page and a solution to what I was inquiring about. The author doesn't provide any info in the Readme.txt file for running this app on anything other than a PC, which IMO is unnacceptable considering it's uses Java based scripting - noted for its universality. As it turns out, I was able to get it up and running on a Android Table with only a little reasearch. I don't understand why the author couldn't have made the effort and listed instructions similat to what I detailed in my front page comments. IMO, the same should be included in the readme file for procedures on using it on tablets running the Apple iOS operating system.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Deck O' Names - Japanese Generator
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Future Horror [BUNDLE]
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2018 17:35:26

I went into this thinking that maybe I would get a hundred or so of short textual descriptions of space craft, but after giving it a good read, I was surprised. Lovingly crafted, this will help me save a lot of time on creating space hulks and other derelict craft. The option to print out the cards is a FANTASTIC idea. Thank you!!

Going through the 7-Osiris station, with both the derelict and running bits is a journey that I enjoyed, giving me just enough detail to make my own stations come to life, without having to go through a ton of rules or statistics.

I believe this product is priced just right, but really, I feel that it is worth more than that.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Future Horror [BUNDLE]
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Bits of Darkness: Caverns
by Daniel P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2015 22:01:05

So good! I spent 30 minutes reading Caverns and now I can't help but scoop up all the rest. The descriptions are modular, generic (in the good way), rich, and grounded in an appreciation for the inherent drama of the environment.

This is perfect for GM's like me who love to run low-fantasy homebrew settings, because when I need a little helping hand, it's hard to find something that doesn't bring in all the setting baggage of a fully-packaged module.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bits of Darkness: Caverns
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Into the Future: Derelict Starships
by Jeffrey C G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/11/2015 16:11:48

I bought this on a lark when my gaming group seemed equally divided between a super-hero/ sci-fi gaming session and a dungeon crawl and I got the bright idea to combine the two, in this case, a derelict spaceship suddenly presenting a danger that must, therefore, be dealt with by the heroes! I literally had one day to prep and this particular game aid was a lifesaver! I was still cutting apart the cards for use (I printed them on colored cardstock) when my players began to arrive. This terrific product has just enough meat for each description area to suggest multiple plot ideas while simultaneously being consistent enough for a themed random dungeon crawl. I have gotten some other fantasy oriented products of this same nature, but I easily paid twice for that material that I did for this, yet this is everything I needed in one handy spot, from the concept art here and there to the raw text that could just be cut-and-pasted if needed, to the deck of cards for use on-the-fly! Great stuff! If you want to do a sci-fi/ horror starship scenario, this offers all sorts of possibilities. Pick it up today!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Future: Derelict Starships
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Pirate Places: Warlock's Journal Contest #12
by Hubert W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2014 06:10:22

Born of inspiration. Direkt to play locations for most piate, smuggler or mystery settings. A little work has to be done to match with german, dutch or scandinavian adventures. Realy close to a must have!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pirate Places: Warlock's Journal Contest #12
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Pirate Places: Warlock's Journal Contest #12
by John T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/12/2014 12:16:30

Most of these were very interesting. Some were a bit too short, others overly long, but all-in-all, enjoyable to read and consider using in a campaign...if only my players liked swashbuckling. I found some of the simple ideas just as good as the complex ones, which is wonderful. Can't wait to see more of these, or things like this in the future.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pirate Places: Warlock's Journal Contest #12
by William R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2014 12:23:09

This product has a number of useful descriptions of places a pirate may end up, visit or just hear about. If you are running a pirate campaign, with or without fantasy elements, this free product is well worth your time to peruse. It is system friendly as everything is in narrative form without statistics but the descriptions are useful and quite colorful.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bits of the Wilderness: Into the Wildwood
by Dave H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2014 09:45:45

The Good: Lots of content, Excellent descriptions, Quality and Quantity are both very good, nice detailed new creatures, info on different sorts of forests. Good value.

The Bad: Illustrations are just OK, It's just the descriptions.

This is a really nice product that adds little details for the type of terrain. It's hard to imagine the amount of detail contained. You could run an entire campaign in the woodlands just dropping a few details here and there with this product. The monsters are well described and interesting. The language journalistic rather than evocative in most cases. The illustrations are average.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bits of the Wilderness: Into the Wildwood
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The One Page Dungeon Codex 2009, Deluxe
by Lagr D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2013 13:38:38

As a GM, this collection of ready made encounters is just the ticket to save from having a dungeon crawl solo adventure, just preparing the adventure. With the "right" players this would easily fill a weekend of good solid grid crawling, and a few pints to flavor the darkness ahaead



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The One Page Dungeon Codex 2009, Deluxe
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Against the Darkness: Into the Fire
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/04/2013 13:53:13

Although I’m very glad to see a new release for “Against the Darkness” (albeit six years after the core rulebook), I cannot rate the product as high as I’d like to. “Into the Fire” is pretty straightforward and showcases the tone of “Against the Darkness” well. On the other hand, the adventure is a little too straightforward at critical junctures, and the production values are noticeably below those of the AtD core rulebook.

Let’s start with the adventure’s strengths, though. The plot is straightforward and very easy for a beginning GM to run. Author Vicki Potter has very helpfully provided guidance for running two versions (shorter and longer) of the scenario, a feature worthy of emulation. Various scenes in the adventure invite the Justiciars to make both mundane and miraculous contributions to resolving the scenario’s major problem, a forest fire. Overall, the adventure is a pretty good way for both GMs and players to become acquainted with “Against the Darkness.”

However, there are some noticeable downsides as well—but I cannot explain them without giving away some plot elements, so consider this sentence your spoiler alert! The product description begins with the setup: “An unnatural forest fire threatens a Catholic center for contemplation and prayer.” Based on this description, I expected some kind of connection between the fire and the retreat center. There really isn’t one; the center functions a lot like the village inn in a stereotypical fantasy RPG, a mechanism for having all the PCs together in one place at the beginning of the adventure. At crucial points in the story, vital clues just run straight into the Justiciar’s open arms (and that is close to a literal description of what happens). Again, I expected more investigation going in, but there’s not really much of that. The whole thing really is kind of predictable: unusual occurrences turn out to have a supernatural cause. I can see a real danger of an AtD campaign turning into a “demon of the week” kind of thing, and unfortunately this adventure falls into that pattern.

Finally, I have to note that the production values are well below those of the AtD rulebook. The use of clip art and stock photos from a variety of sources and in a variety of styles is fairly jarring and somewhat off-putting. The very first page features no fewer than five different typefaces, another aesthetic misstep. Even the Table of Contents wavers inexplicably between Times New Roman and Palatino (or the Windows clone thereof), uses colons inconsistently at the end of headings, and switches between colons and dashes about 2/3 of the way through. The inconsistencies and poor aesthetic choices don’t interfere with the adventure as such, but they do hamper my enjoyment of the product.

Now despite the last two paragraphs, I repeat that I’m very glad to see a published adventure for “Against the Darkness,” and I hope we’ll see more of them—with varied plotlines and threats, and with higher production values. I wish I could justify giving the product more stars, because I want to support and promote this product line. However, I have to be honest with myself and with review readers, and this adventure just isn’t as good as I wanted it to be, or as I normally expect Tabletop Adventures products to be.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I have contributed material to other Tabletop Adventures products [in the “Bits of” line], but I did not have anything to do with the production of “Into the Fire.”)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Against the Darkness: Into the Fire
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Against the Darkness
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/04/2013 03:09:31

Try to picture Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as Catholic priests instead of FBI agents, or Buffy Summers and her friends as seminary students instead of high school students, and you’re well on your way to getting into the spirit of “Against the Darkness.” The straightforward and effective rules set does a good job of covering many possibilities while remaining light on details. The task resolution system is used across the board for all situations, combat and non-combat. Die-hard “simulationist” gamers won’t be satisfied with the level of specificity; for example, a single “Combat” skill covers all forms of armed and unarmed combat, and almost all combat attacks deal the same amount of damage (which doesn’t require a die roll). However, if you can accept the system’s “coarseness,” you’ll find that the “rules light” approach allows you to keep the action moving along with minimal interruptions.

The rulebook bills the game’s genre as “Vatican horror,” and the PCs are assumed to work for or with a secretive order within a fictionalized version of the Roman Catholic Church. The treatment of religion (both institutional and otherwise) is fictionalized but respectful. Christian GMs and players might agree with the game’s implicit theology in the real world, but should not find it offensive in the fictional world. The game is flexible enough to accommodate anything from orthodox (if old-fashioned) Catholicism to a more Pentacostal flavor to something out of “The Exorcist” or “The Da Vinci Code.” (It might be relevant to mention here that I am personally a committed Protestant whose day job is teaching biblical studies at the undergraduate and master’s degree levels.)

I like the overall tone and mechanics of the game very much, but I do find the product lacking in a couple of respects. As a matter of production quality, the typeface choices are inconsistent and sometimes unattractive; for example, one body paragraph might be set in Garamond, the next in Times New Roman. However, with only a few exceptions, the book seems to have been well-edited; readers won’t be tripping over grammatical errors every paragraph or so, as is often the case with small-press publications. As a matter of content, I felt that Specializations could have been explained a bit more clearly, and the rulebook occasionally features some repetitions that could perhaps have been avoided. But the main thing that hampers the rulebook—and the primary reason for my 4-star rating instead of a 5-star rating—is the lack of a sample adventure with mechanics. Interludes of short fiction illustrate the kinds of stories one might tell with “Against the Darkness,” but these are not illustrated with game mechanics. The introduction claims that “[i]n this rulebook … you will find everything you need to understand the rules, create characters, and begin playing,” but that’s not quite true; the GM still needs to come up with an adventure for the PCs to experience. The rulebook does contain several intriguing campaign ideas, but the lack of an included mini-adventure or sample scenario is a significant omission. (Tabletop Adventures did later release an introductory adventure, but that was six years after the publication of the rulebook.)

All in all, “Against the Darkness” fills an interesting niche in the RPG market, and it does so rather well.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I have contributed material to other Tabletop Adventures products [in the “Bits of” line], but I did not have anything to do with the production of “Against the Darkness.”)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Against the Darkness
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Into the Future: Derelict Starships
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/18/2012 12:35:58

Since Halloween's come around again and this product went on sale, it's the perfect time for me to write a long-overdue review of this interesting product.

Systemless products have had a checkered history in the hobby. Most people want some way to mechanically represent the material they have paid for. Yet the fictional content of a world need not be connected to a mechanic to be compelling. Nowhere is that more true than in horror. Creepy situations are creepy not necessarily because of the tension of a die roll or card turn or Jenga pull, but because a vivid description can excite the imagination. Derelict Starships provides 100 of these descriptions, some outlining a full situation (a section of the ship appears to be intentionally voided of air), other times a mere implication in a simple object (a laser rifle is smashed by some unknown powerful force.) Each description is a full paragraph, with some commentary on how the GM might incorporate them into a situation.

Normally I would not rate a "list of 100 things" this highly even if they were fleshed out and well written. Horror requires that there be rules - if anything can happen at any time, there's no suspense, no feeling that you know what's coming. So a random collection of 100 scary paragraphs is not in and of itself that useful. Where this product shines is in the organization and additional material.

I have to say I NEVER expected to see a solid three-page description of corpse decomposition and how it might be changed in a spaceship environment, but this is exactly what's in the supplement and exactly what's needed to provide the structure onto which you can create a horror situation. And the index, in which the 100 scary situations/paragaphs are arranged by what kinds of things they contain (debris, bodies, dangerous environments, etc.) is an amazing innovation for this type of product. It should be in absolutely every single one of the "list of things" products out there.

Finally, there's a .rtf version in the zip file in case you want to copy/paste the description into your notes. AND there are card versions of the scary text that you can print and use for your own purposes So basically every possible thing that can be done with this product (other than internal hyperlinks) has been done.

This product presses every single one of my reviewer tilt buttons. The list alone might have only been three stars. Yay, some scary stuff, but so what? So what is: extensive structure on which a horror GM can build tension, exceptional organizational tools, and a .rtf version to help with customizing electronic play aids. And thus, having had all my hobby horses petted, spoiled and groomed like Rafalca, I have no choice but to give this one my highest marks.

Happy Halloween 2012, everyone!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Future: Derelict Starships
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Halls of Horror
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2012 11:38:11

This is a nicely illustrated (and fully furnished) little supplement of a haunted mansion (or evil cult headquarters, or what have you) based on the old House of Hell supplement from Games Workshop. Basically they deleted the original plot line (developed by Steve Jackson, of all people -- one of my favorite game designers) and "repurposed" the house to serve as a backdrop for anything you want to use it for. It is primarily useful for GM's who don't have a lot of time to draft something up for themselves, but still need a large mansion for their players to work through. This one is better illustrated than many (though I have seen better). There are additional items of furniture and scenery that can be photocopied and cut apart to create new areas and obstacles for your players, including underground elements such as a minecar railway (for those Indiana Jones moments) and tunnels. There's also a section suitable for creting lawns and gardens. Overall I give this one a "four" simply because of the artwork, which is quite evocative. Keep in mind though, you aren't getting any kind of plot line, just a background against which you can adventure. In addition to this as a source of ideas, you may also want to look at "This Old Haunted House," and "This Old Haunted House, Too," both by Chaosium for Call of Cthulhu.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Halls of Horror
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Creator Reply:
Jeffrey seems to have misplaced this review, which was apparently written for some type of map or scenery product. While "Halls of Horror" is a supplement of a haunted mansion (or what have you), and is intended to be useful for GMs who don't have a lot of time, it does not have furnishings or scenery to photocopy, or (sadly) a minecar railway. It does have read-aloud descriptions of spooky houses to share with players, to help them envision the setting in which their characters may find themselves. "Halls of Horror" does not have any type of plot line either, but it adds to adventures and is a source of ideas for GMs.
Destinations: Spaceport Trident Vespa
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/15/2011 09:01:50

9 Pages full of useful information. What one gets for a few dollar is of great use in any SciFi RPG. I'm using it in Trinity for a small base on mars.

The texts give us a colourful and vibrant description of how the space port works, what the people there think and do. Some plothooks are also given and those are quite handy. The reader also finds some (space) sailor's yarn. Every part of the space port is described very good and a drawing can be found on the last page. No NSC is deeply depicted, but this is no problem to me.

I like this piece of writing and would recommend it to every gamemaster!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Destinations: Spaceport Trident Vespa
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