Its been a very long time since I thought about James Ward's Magnum Opus adventure Dark Outpost. That changed tonight. The blurb of Dark Outpost reads like certain Saturday night cable sci fi horror movies but its got a creepy flavor all of its own;
"Dark Outpost is a generic science fiction adventure set aboard a spacestation in geosynchronous orbit above a small class M planet. This massive station, built by robots and crewed by automated machines, is the pride of the galactic fleet, and the hope of those that will colonize the planet below. But something has gone wrong.
Nearly a month ago, all communications from the outpost ceased. A patrol vessel was sent in to investigate, and it, too, was never again heard from. Since that time the Planet Kask outpost has been known as the Dark Outpost. Have you the courage to explore its mystery?"
Dark Outpost is an adventure by James Ward that came out three years ago from Eldritch Enterprises for just about any science fiction system. The whole adventure feels very old school science fiction as if the adventure walked off the page from an add in early issues of Dragon Magazine or The Space Gamer. The adventure is one very close to my heart and I can see using it with any number of rpgs but one very crazy thought came into my head today. Taking the Dark Outpost adventure premise and running a bunch of O level cadets through it ala the Dungeon Crawl Classics funnel campaign generator system. Imagine sending a bunch of Crawl Jammer or Crawling Under A Broken Moon zero level PC's through the bot and alien life form infested space habitat, the crown jewel of an empire. One of Wards often quoted saying is that he doesn’t kill players, they do it to themselves and Dark Outpost has this notion in spades. Because of its very nature I can see using this adventure with the DCC version of Metamorphosis Alpha. The PC awaken from their cryotubes aboard the Dark Outpost and events take off from there.
Because Dark Outpost is almost a mini campaign unto itself, this entire exercise could take place upon the station itself and perhaps expand to the planet Task below(as in Tim Kask a little inside joke cus their friends and all). Anyhow I can see using the adventure to center the players within an enclosed environment with all kinds of weirdness happening in the background. The adventure is quite eerie in its own right and feels like some of the areas are tailor made to make the players stand back and take notice of the high science fiction weirdness going on around them. There are new pieces of equipment, new monsters, & a ton of maps in this one.
This is really where the adventure shines offering what amounts to a fun solid night of play or several that could be stretched out the DM sees fit. This I think is one of the entry points for the PC's for a DCC style funnel, Dark Outpost is divided up into sections with unique encounters and monsters allowing the DM to customize the funnel or set of encounters as they see fit. The DM has plenty of elbow room to add in the backstory as they want and more then enough detail to pull in the players into the deep end of the station's space terror. One particular issue of Crawling Under A Broken Moon that might come in handy is the
UX01: High Caliber Hijinks (DCC) From Shield of Faith Studio.Which contains rules for Alien and Weird Weapons that fit right into the background of Dark Outpost.
All in all I think that Dark Outpost is a perfect fit to the gonzo and over the top old school gaming world of Dungeon Crawl Classics. The look and feel of the gaming materials is highly authentic, James Ward does a killer job on this adventure and its ideas and science fiction background are idealilly suited to test the merits and medal of even the most experienced players .