Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Commentary On The Free Science Fiction Classic - The World At Bay (1954.Winston) - Paul Capon For Your Old School Science Fiction Campaign

Grab it Right Over

This is another of the Winston Science Fiction library's efforts. This one seems to be an updated 'War of The Worlds' and pure pulp invasion material with educational lessons dove tailed into the mix.  Its pretty heady stuff with a dedicated mix of pulptastic alien invasion and 'look see' science fictional investigation of a fifties era London professor and crew. 

 Here's the plot according to the inside flap: No one believed Professor Elrick of the London Radar Research Laboratory when he announced in 1977 that Earth was in imminent danger of attack. Ever since his discovery of the dark star, Nero, the Professor and his young assistant, Jim Shannon, had studied the planet and its satellites through the radaroscope with a growing sense of impending doom. There seemed to be positive proof that the third planet, Poppea, had a civilization which was technologically far more advanced than Earth's!
The grim truth of the Professor's warning came upon an unprepared world with a frightful concussion that seemed to rock the planet in its orbit. The space fleet from Poppea had hit Earth's atmosphere! When the English government realized the dire circumstances, the Home Guard was called out, the ack-ack guns manned and plans drawn up for London's evacuation. But the measures that saved the heroic island during World War II proved ineffective against the grotesque Poppeans. Gray-skinned, horny-limbed, they landed in impregnable space ships, releasing bacteria-laden white powder.
His advance knowledge saved Jim Shannon and his associates from the sleep-inducing drug that blanketed Britain, and they lived to see the climax of man's battle with a superior civilization. How they met the Poppean leader, flew with him to the Arctic and watched with relief the slow withdrawal of the deadly Poppean grip make reading THE WORLD AT BAY a supremely exciting experience.

The World At Bay is pretty nice read, the book has a pretty tightly done plot, and the writing is crisp for a juvenile science fiction book. Don't let the juvenile part fool you. The folks that I've talked to who have also read this book still remember parts of it. I had a middle school that had a dedicated library of these books. This one stands out from among the Winston efforts.
Using The World At Bay For Your
Old School Science Fiction Campaign 

The World At Bay is a really good starting point for a campaign especially for a time traveling campaign adventure in a post apocalyptic game. Preventing the events that proceed doomsday with a planet under the Poppeaian yoke. This race has lots of potential and their very advanced for the retro future of London 1977.
This is a post war alternative future London that has seen some better days. They're paranoid, jittery, and pulling out the machine guns at a moment's notice. Was there more going on here then simply the appearance of the ships from Poppea? 
The grotesque Poppeans are weird race into themselves. I've used renegade pirates from this race a few times in both Xplorers and Stars Without Number. In those games the players have found out that much of the technology of the race has been inherited from technology level four and five predecessors. These folks move their entire minor planetary star systems around. Bits and pieces of their technology is very weird science and odd. They make great pulp style villains.
I've also had the Poppeans popping up from time to time in post apocalpytic games as flunkies for more advanced races. Mercenaries who are willing to work for the highest bidder for advanced technologies, favors from ancient alien gods, and generally doing a bit of intergalactic footwork here and there. In several of my campaigns they've made great foot soldiers for the Great Race of Yith.
 The world of a post alien invasion London makes a great location for adventurers from another post apocalyptic alternative  world to explore. The ruins rife with Poppean warriors just itching to blow away humans makes a nice weird encounter as well. The Poppeans have a lot to offer a DM for old school gaming and adventuring. They're not well known, easily portrayable in many of the retroclones and they're pretty merceless when it comes to dealing with adventurers. They've got at least three different minor renagade groups that I've spun off from 'The World At Bay'. Not bad for a free resource with a great cover by Alex Stromberg. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.