Thursday, May 6, 2021

Review & Commentary On Pay What You Want 'The Thing in the Ice' By Joseph Mohr For The Cepheus Engine Rpg

"It is well known across the Sonora sector that the planet Saresere is a frozen planet with no atmosphere. Despite these harsh conditions the Kon Lo Corporation has a small station on the world mining precious minerals. Of course....this is the story planted by the corporation to keep preying eyes from taking too close a look. Instead of miners there are scientists on this world excavating for alien artifacts and relics. They maintain a small complex of buildings on the surface of the planet. Recently all contact with these scientists has been lost." 

There's something about the 2d6 science fictional goodness of Cepheus Engine rpg  that draws me in like a moth to the flame. Not really nostolgia although there's a far degree of that, no there's something deeper here. And no more is this more primal then in other adaptations of the material. This is more of a 'locked room crime investigation'. And that's great for an old school Traveller or Cepheus Engine adventure. 

Joseph Mohr is the little rpg engine that does, he not unlike Michael Brown & many Cepheus Engine rpg designers quietly churns out adventure after adventure. And 'The Thing in the Ice' is Mr. Mohr's latest adventure  effort & 'The Thing in the Ice' nails it. Yeah its a 'pay what you want' & yes the scenario seems very familiar. And yes its only nineteen pages. But by God this is a neatly little way of handling a John Carpenter style adventure with a few twists of its own. This is a very well done short adventure but I'd run this with experienced players. There more then enough that can go wrong to wipe out an entire Cepheus Engine rpg party. This is quite like John Carpenter's The Thing from Another World but there are some shaded differences. And its with those differences where the party could potentially exploit the situation to actually move this beyond the tradition horror/dungeon adventure that takes place with paranoia aplenty. Or the 'The Thing in the Ice'  could simply be used as a homage to classic novella 'Who Goes There' or the classic John Carpenter film.  And that's fine.. The cartography & layout are solid,especially liked the maps in 'The Thing in the Ice' 

What if 'The Thing in the Ice'  happened to take place in Stella Publishing's setting 'These Stars Are Ours!? Imagine a new freed humanity PC's are called into an ice covered world & things get down right paranoid as the PC's are dealing with both investigation of the alien life form & the dire circumstances. Is the alien life form a left over Reticulan bio weapon or something else?! 

And what about the other Cephues Engine rpg campaign settings such as John Watts 'Clement sector'?! Three things spring to mind here. One the sector isn't fully explored so there's more then enough room for this alien life form. The stars are still isolated, & finally the paranoia is already baked into 'The Clement Sector'. This alien life form is going to be one more alien among the stars to contend with. 

Now let's talk about the fact that the Hostile rpg setting by Zozer Games comes with a similar 'John Carpenter's Thing From Anothr World' scenario baked already in the setting book. This isn't really a problem. Because 'The Thing in the Ice'  is different enough to be run right along this homage & the PC's are still going to be wondering what do with the alien life form. Zozer games system is a perfect rpg contrast to what has come before.And in point of fact Zozer Games 1970s 2D6 RETRO RULES. But are going to be some or more adventure elements in 'The Thing in the Ice'  

I really like  'The Thing in the Ice'  the advenure tone is one that really expands in an original way to an idea that we've seen time & again over the years since the appearance of the alien life form in  John W. Campbell Jr.'s short novella 'Who Goes there' 
Note that 
 'The Thing in the Ice' is a short adventure but there's room for expansion. And that promise is there within this adventure. 
However  'The Thing in the Ice' does what it sets out to do with a one shot adventure that can be added or subtracted from a campaign. The adventure provides the DM with the tools for running a one shot & does it well with plenty of opportunity for investigation as well as a real danger for even an experienced group of PC's their players. 
 'The Thing in the Ice' is a nice & dangerous mid tier Cepheus Engine rpg adventure! 

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