Jump to content

OUTPOST 19 - An Archaeological Research Station on the Frontier of Space


Recommended Posts

outpost-19.jpgOutpost 19 is a sci-fi scenario where the characters are a team of trouble shooters sent to deal with a medical emergency at a multi-corps research site on a recently opened colony world. Outpost 19 is the designation of Vascon Corporation’s archaeological research station on the frontier colony world of Jeterieff V, a site that has been quarantined because of the outbreak of an unidentified disease. Can the medical trouble-shooters scrambled via Gate from the Tripoint Facility Medical Center contain the outbreak? Or will they discover that something more sinister is behind the crisis?

In the setting, humanity lost earth to an out break of nanotechnology over a millennia ago and has split in to at least three distinct and divergent cultures, which currently coexisting in an uneasy peace whilst aliens are intruding in to the human sphere. The adventure has a brief opening in a trade station inside an asteroid, before jumping to a frontier world only recently colonised, where technology is much more primitive. It's a hot, humid jungle planet environment, with filter masks recommended in the low lands where the Outpost is sited.

By Nick Middleton. 64 pages. Published by Chaosium December 2008.

Edited by Trifletraxor
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 7 months later...

Actually I just bought and read the book myself, and feel it is a great work to build off of. I have not GM'd it though, I would alter the "plague" to be more of a "Zombie style" with a cross of The Dead/ The Rage/ The Mutants from I Am Legend all wrapped into one to make a NASTY Plague.

Penn

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

This supplement is a classic space exploration adventure which can easily be used as a starter for a full campaign in an interesting setting. Outpost 19's future is reminiscent of Larry Niven's books, with humanity sharing the known space with a handful of sentient alien species and relics of a long lost inhuman civilization scattered among the wilderness of unexplored planets. Yet the setting is also contaminated by influences from other famous science fiction sagas (guilds of mutated beings that control all space travel: have you ever heard something similar?). Even though the author did not introduce anything radically new, this mixup of classic elements is still able to provide an original future storyline full of intriguing details to explore.

The adventure itself is a scientific investigation about an unknown threat that is killing the members of an archeological dig which has unearthed yet another piece of ancient alien technology. The author managed to assemble all the details necessary to create a story rich in mystery and thrill, without providing a fixed storyline, thus leaving to the GM the task of determining what happens next. A tentative chronology of events is nevertheless provided for those who are too lazy to improvise, but this scenario is defintely well suited for those who like to have the players make the story. Plenty of optional events and complications are included for GMs who want to prolong the fun, not to mention the fact that, in the true spirit of the new BRP, alternate options are given even for the final outcome of the investigation.

Last but not least, Outpost 17 includes an alternate fatigue system, inspired by the last two iterations of the RuneQuest game. People who like a detailed depiction of the effects of exertion or adverse environmental conditions on characters, but do not want to mess with the extra bookkeeping needed to keep track of fatigue points, will certainly appreciate it.

If a flaw is to be found in this scenario, it may be the fact that cunning players will probably guess the real origin and nature of the threat early in the game. But the plethora of options described above allow a skilled GM to keep the adventure running anyway. All in all, I give this supplement a 9/10.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

I got Nick Middleton’s Outpost 19 from the Chaosium Father’s Day sale. Overall I like it, although it does have some flaws. I attribute these to Chaosium’s hands-off monograph policy. A little editorial polishing could have made this good adventure module excellent.

First, the things I liked. Outpost 19 is a classic Star Trek style away team medical mystery. The setting description makes me want to explore the Gate Warden Universe more. Both the setting and the scenario bristle with plot hooks and ideas for additional adventures. The scenario’s follow-up suggestions are good, too. Despite the module being self-edited, it is well-organized with lots of player handouts and maps. I spotted only two or three typos or writing errors.

That said, there are several problems that would require some Game Master tinkering in order to run the scenario successfully. My biggest concern is that I think the mystery is too hard and could quickly deteriorate into a no-win situation for players. The player-characters begin physically crippled by the planet’s harsh environment, then have less than 48 hours to come up with a solution. In addition, they may have to deal with rogue wildlife, mysterious outside interference in their investigation, industrial espionage, and potentially hostile alien natives. Sherlock Holmes or Doctor Who might be able to pull this one off, but none of the groups I’ve gamed with could.

Even as a GM, reading the list of clues, I had trouble seeing how my players might connect the dots, especially given the taut deadline. Part of the reason for this is that scenario resolutions assume players have a thorough knowledge of Gate Warden Universe society and gear. Their characters might have access this info but players coming cold to the adventure will be clueless. The module itself doesn’t help much in this regard. Banned technology is a big element of the setting. But the tech level descriptions in The Accords sidebar are vague, and the module doesn’t provide an equipment list other than a few guns. As a player, I wouldn’t know specifically what gear was disallowed or how to break the rules even if I wanted to.

I’ve previously mentioned that the setting description left me wanting more, a good thing. That said, much of it is repetitive. The first two chapters are pretty much duplications of each other without adding the details I desired. In the same way, basic information on Jeterieff V, the planet the adventure takes place on, is repeated two or three times verbatim. I wanted to know more about the medieval-style colonial society on the world, especially since the corporate-sponsored scientific compound that is the focus of the scenario is so different. Now, this is partially excusable since the castle and bathrobe folks aren’t the focus of the adventure. But had the repetitious material been ditched, it would have created space to flesh out all the places touched on in the module in more satisfying detail. The follow-up suggestions mention people and places the PCs could interact with, but we really don’t know much about them. On the other hand, the module spends an inordinate amount of space on the Tripoint Facility that is on the PCs’ route to their mission. Now, this material is interesting and may be useful for future adventures, but it doesn’t have much to do with the scenario itself.

A couple other nitpicks: The scenario assumes, even requires, the use of pre-generated characters. This might be fine for convention tournament play, but my players would demand their own unique characters. The module includes some general skills suggestions for unique characters but a more thorough list of suggestions for player-made characters would have been helpful. Another gripe is that victims of the illness the PCs are sent to investigate can’t be saved, no matter what. You get sick, you’re dead. This may be realistic, but it’s just no fun. Red shirts and NPCs may die, but the stars of the show (the PCs) should be able to pull their fannies out of the fire somehow. The author mentions survival horror as a possible adventure outcome at least twice, but I think players deserve better odds of coming out on top of the crisis.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...