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Subject: The Short Version? It's a dungeon crawl in space. rss

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Just another Steve
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Allen Park
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Dra'k'ne station was released by Judge's Guild in 1979 at a cover price of just $4.95 for a 65 page booklet. It was written by Bill Paley and illustrated by the better known Paul Jaquays and Kevin Siembda.

What is it?
According to the front cover, it's a "Complete adventure scenario of an alien installation" plus "Game statistics of an alien race plus new weapon type".

What it really is, is a dungeon in space. There's a beginning narrative where the station, hidden inside a large asteroid is discovered by a scout ship from a larger fleet, but there's not much more than that to go on as a plot for the adventure.

The truth is it's really a big sandbox. There are twelve detailed levels connected by thirteen interlevel gangway tubes. Each level has a detailed map and those maps look much like the dungeon maps one would find in the era, complete with 9 meter squares and plenty of unused space.

The background is that the Dra'k'ne are an alien species. They are reptilian in origin, trilaterally symetrical and about 4 meters tall. They were at war with another space-faring race and built the station to hide and house their best and brightest minds. Every level is resplendent with alien technology and research labs.

As for inhabitants, some of that is left up to the gamemaster. The Dra'k'ne had cold sleep technology and there are cold sleep berths throughout which may or may not house survivors in cold sleep. There are also trilateral robots who may interrupt any exploration of the lab.

There are several rooms which are either trapped deliberately (to keep them secured) or which could rapidly become dangerous if players push the wrong button.

All in all, this is very much a dungeon in space. It's even built into an asteroid so that the whole area is underground.

Why would I want it?
It is a good sandbox type adventure suitable for several different kinds of campaign. The players could be soldiers or mercenaries sent to secure the station for further research. They could be explorers or archaeologists sent to examine it. They could be pirates or scavengers or most anything at all that might have an interest in a giant space station.

There isn't much narrative which means the GM can cater the adventure to what he wants. There could be living aliens or not. With a little effort, the pcs could be the second group to arrive at the station.

The whole thing is thoroughly documented as far as what the purpose of each room is, along with some details of what you'd find there. Much of the actual plot is determined by die rolls, so there is a 1 in 6 chance that there are still Dra'k'ne alive in this room, a 2 in 6 chance the robot will attack, etc.

There is also the creme de la creme of this module. Page 12 describes the quarters of a common crew member, each of which will have a handful of indescribable knick-knacks. Page 13 is a picture of the room. Finally on page 14, we hit paydirt with the "Table for describing indescribable knick-knacks".

The table provides us with 4 categories (Shape, Material, Color, and Other) which will be determined by the roll of 2d6. The most common rolls on Material and Color yield the result "Several" which require two rolls on the table to resolve; less commonly, the result can be "Multiple" which requires 3 rolls.

The module is worth it for the table name alone.

Evaluation
This is a very seventies feeling adventure. It provides lots of leeway for the GM to determine what will happen on the station. This is good, since it makes for an open chance, but it also means it's not as useful as a module as it could be. You won't be able to just pick this one up, read through it a couple of times and run with it. You'll have to make some decisions about the station, it's new technology and it's inhabitants before you run it.

Overall, it's a fun adventure and I remember it fondly. We played it a couple of times, once as a gang of soldiers sent to investigate ala aliens and once as a group of pirates who decided it might make a nice hideout. Unfortunately, neither group had much interest in the Dra'k'ne survivors they found and so we never did much with them except shoot at them.
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James Lowry
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The Space Gamer had a wonderful contest to come up with silly random tables. "Table for describing indescribable knick-knacks" could have been a top contender. (Though there was stiff competition; I always liked the random polearm generation: "Glaive glaive glaive guisarme glaive".)
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Brian Leet
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Fighter: Let’s shop here.
Magic - user: All right.
Fighter: Morning!
Smith: Morning!
Fighter: Well, what've you got?
Smith: Well, there's Guisarme - Bec de Corbin; Guisarme - Spetum - Bec de Corbin; Guisarme - Glaive; Guisarme - Bec de Corbin - Glaive; Guisarme - Bec de Corbin - Spetum - Glaive; Glaive - Bec de Corbin - Spetum - Glaive; Glaive - Guisarme - Glaive - Glaive - Bec de Corbin - Glaive; Glaive - Spetum - Glaive - Glaive - Bec de Corbin - Glaive - Trident - Glaive;
Minstrels: Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive...
Smith: ...Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Guisarme - Glaive; Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Bill - Guisarme - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive...
Minstrels: Glaive! Lovely Glaive! Lovely Glaive!
Smith: ...or +5 Longsword of Vorpal Holy Avenging, Protection and Demon Smiting with a Fauchard-Fork - Guisarme on top - Glaive.
Magic - User: Have you got anything without Glaive?
Smith: Well, there's Glaive - Guisarme - Spetum - Glaive, that's not got much Glaive on it.
Magic - User: I don't want ANY Glaive!
Fighter: Why can't she have Guisarme - Bec de Corbin - Glaive - Spetum?
Magic - User: THAT'S got a Glaive on it!
Fighter: Hasn't got as much of a Glaive on it as Glaive - Guisarme - Spetum - Glaive, has it?
Minstrels: Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive... (Crescendo through next few lines...)
Magic - User: Could you make a Guisarme - Bec de Corbin - Glaive - Spetum, without the Glaive then?
Smith: Urgghh!
Magic - User: What do you mean 'Urgghh'? I don't like Glaives!
Minstrels: Lovely Glaive! Wonderful Glaive!
Smith: Shut up!
Minstrels: Lovely Glaive! Wonderful Glaive!
Smith: Shut up! (Minstrels stop) Bloody Minstrels! You can't have Guisarme - Bec de Corbin Glaive - Spetum without the Glaive.
Magic - User: I don't like Glaives!
Fighter: Sshh, now don't cause a fuss. I'll use your Glaive. I love them. I'm getting a Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Bardiche - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive!
Minstrels: Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive. Lovely Glaive! Wonderful Glaive!
Smith: Shut up!! Bardiches are off.
Fighter: Well could I have her Glaive instead of the Bardiche then?
Smith: You mean a Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive... (it is too late - the Minstrels drown his words)
Minstrels: (Singing elaborately...) Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive. Lovely Glaive! Wonderful Glaive! Glaive - Gla - a - a - a - a - ive - Glaive - Gla - a - a - a - a - ive - Glaive. Lovely Glaive! Lovely Glaive! Lovely Glaive! Lovely Glaive! Lovely Glaive! Glaive - Glaive - Glaive - Glaive!
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Brian Leet
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I don't know what came over me.
 
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