Justus Productions

B-Movie Inspirations: Star Quest

B-Movie Inspirations is a series of articles I write where I watch really bad movies and draw RPG inspiration from them.

Welcome back to another edition of B-Movie Inspirations. This time we are covering another sci-fi classic found on Tubi called Star Quest (also known as Terminal Voyage, 1995). I am pretty sure I have seen this movie on a Blockbuster shelf at one time but passed it up because of the cheesy name. The cover was unremarkable, the tag line was generic, I could not just make myself pay to see it. But now with the wonders of streaming some movies for free, I was able to watch it. I was not surprised that the movie over all was predictable and relatively cheesy but it also makes for an interesting idea for an RPG.

The movie opens to a very familiar scene of people waking up in sleep pods on a ship in space. The ship right away looks familiar and after some research, found that it was re-used model shots from Battle Beyond the Stars. Aboard the ship are seven multi-national crewmembers – Commander Hollis (Gregory McKinney) the American XO, Lt. Jammad the Arabian Officer (Alan Rachins), Becker the Brit and Government Mediator (Emma Sams), Reese the American Tough Guy (Steve Bauer), Zinovitz the Russian Engineer (Brenda Bakke), Granier the French Scientist and Botanist (Cliff De Young), and Han the Asian Doctor (Ming-Na Wen).

The group had been asleep a long time in route to some far off planet – 100 years it is later said. Much more of that is revealed later in a cliched background – Earth is headed to environmental disaster and they decide to send a sleeper ship to travel 200 light years to another possible replacement planet – Tryon. The group awakens from this sleep to find their captain dead – a mysterious pod malfunction. This puts Hollins in charge and Jammad second in command. Jammad is not well liked and this does cause some grumblings among the crew.

The movie proceeds like the plot of 10 Little Indians, but for only seven. First suspicion is thrown around about the captain dying, then the commander is found hanging from the ceiling from apparent suicide. This brings in new information as people read through the reports that the commander was browsing before his death – Earth is dead, after a big nuclear war.

This brings up an interesting point that I had to watch twice to catch. This crew was in hyper-sleep for a long period of time – 100 years or so. So to make sure their loved ones see them again, the loved ones are also in hibernation on Earth until they see each other again – perhaps as part of a second sleeper ship. In a sleeper ship situation, I think it would be more prudent to send the first mission full of unconnected people to avoid this kind of thing but that’s just me.

So the crew assumes all the hibernating family members are dead and all is lost. Humanity’s fate is left in their hands. Of course, the implication is that the commander found this all out and broke under the pressure. Following this, Jammad takes over with everyone suspecting him in the death of the commander. More individuals stories are told either through events on board or events in the holodeck-like VR rig they have on the ship. Han is a drug addict upset she left her husband and kids back on Earth. Zinovitz is an paranoid and angry Russian with a tragic past. Reese has a underground background that involved car chases with authorities but it is never elaborated on.

The next victim to mysteriously die is Jammad, connected to the VR. The plot thickens as Becker takes over command out of the blue. This creates further tension as most don’t trust the government agent. The four hatch a plan to take Backer into custody and take over the ship. This leads to the most predicable part of the movie.

Perhaps Emma Samms played her too stiff but I figured out that she was an android from the start. Her motivation to kill the crew was not quite clear but it was generally clichéd – all humans are flawed. There is a short fight between the four remaining crew and the obviously superior android. However, they are able to disable her and take her apart, interrogating her head while her other parts lay strewn about. However they did not plan on her remotely controlling her arm while they interrogated her, which in turn triggered the ship’s self destruct.

Realizing the escape pod can only take two – what kind of planning is that!? – Han already in a drugged-out stupor and Granier volunteer to stay behind. Nothing in the plot gave you the idea that these two would decide to stay (except maybe the drug use in Han) but that seemed out of the blue. If they wanted them to die, they could have died in the fight with the android. Zinovitz and Reese enter the escape pod only to reveal the final twist that was sort of predictable in out own way but still surprising the movie went there.

It turns out they never left the planet and were in a simulation the entire time. The ship was a fabrication with a bunker that appeared to be deep below the surface.

Love the classic DOS UI

Obviously the simulation went on too long as people died. The couple finds their way out and find out quickly why people did not stop the simulation in time to save lives – the world in fact was destroyed by Nuclear War.

For production value, the movie overall is pretty poor but not as bad as some. They reused special effects from other movies – namely Battle Beyond the Stars – and the sets were mediocre at best. At least it appeared somewhat like a space ship in places. They had a conference room, the sleeper pod room, a control room and some hallways. It wasn’t bad but they did appear to clearly made of wood. Typical low-budget 90s direct to video movie. The story was clichéd and mostly predictable but worth at least a casual watch to get some ideas. Alone, I don’t think I would have written about this movie but since there was a sequel that (unintentionally) added some depth to it, I decided to write about it.

This is a fairly straight forward RPG one-shot. People wake up from a long hibernation – it could be a magically induced hibernation in a fantasy setting, on board a sailing vessel in strange waters or another dimensional plane. You could even take it a step further and do like what they did in Dark Matter, where the crew has no memory of who they are.

The 10 Little Indians are a tough thing to attempt but can be done if you let players play more than one character. When one dies, they can take over another. Give each character a motivation, agenda and secret and let the players role play the entire story. The GM doesn’t really have to do much with a good group except interrupt occasionally to murder one of them.

The murderer could be the wolf in sheep’s clothing type story they presented here or something more. One can establish conflicts between the nations represented here and perhaps one sent an agent on a suicide mission. Or a radical terrorist group infiltrated the group to prevent finding a new world for humanity. The possibilities are endless.

B-Movie Inspirations: Moonbase

B-Movie Inspirations is a series of articles I write where I watch really bad movies and draw RPG inspiration from them.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a big sci-fi fan. I will give just about any sci-fi movie a try if it looks like a good story even if the budget is low. I found one of those types of movies on Tubi which has become one of my go-to apps for streaming. There are so many movies on that app I have not seen – some of which I can’t finish because they are just that bad, and others take me a few days to get through.

Moonbase is a low budget sci-fi movie from 1997 that attempts to tell a good story despite it’s very low budget. It is obviously a direct to video movie that probably sat on more than one Blockbuster video shelf and was watched by many who were probably disappointed by the cerebral story. It is one of those dark future sci-fi movies born of the 1990s angst against corporate greed, environmentalism and greed.

The movie opens New Years Day, 2065, on a penal station L4 – a station I assume meant it was a Legrange Point station but they misnamed Liberation Point. A group of seven criminals, led by Carl Stark (Robert O’Reilly – best known for his role as Gowron on ST: TNG and ST DS9) and his girl Mina (Gretchen Palmer), plan an escape from the L4 station.

From an RPG character perspective, the Criminals included the following. Many were basically unnamed and at least one of them was killed early on – Long Haired Guy – because his usefulness had run out. Not sure why they even had him. The information he provided could have been provided in an other way but I guess he was a friend of the producer or something. For the most part, for reasons of an RPG party, the group can be chiseled to Stark, Mina and one or two thugs. The latter could be NPCs, if need be.

Stark’s Gang escapes the prison in a automated garbage pod which is implied to be headed to Moonbase, a waste disposal plant on the dark side of the Moon. Enter the new party members – the Disposal colony staff, which is made up of way more people than I thought would be needed for this job – six. I found it interesting that it was cheaper to dump trash on the dark side of the Moon rather than recycle as much as you can but that was the 1990s logic for you. Of course, later we find out that it includes toxic waste as well which comes into play later in the storyline.

John Russell (played by Scott Plank) and his crew of sanitation employees work in isolation. Made of several archetypes, you have the unwilling hero, the seasoned old man, the wise-cracking cool guy, and the annoying guy that everyone hates.

The last two do not even have to exist in an RPG party as they die unceremoniously early in the movie. For a movie, let alone an RPG party, this story has way too many characters and could have been simplified a little by dropping a couple of characters.

We learn that Russell has some backstory that has him on some self-imposed exile for reasons that only his seasoned co-worker Will (Stack Pierce) knows. This is later revealed in the movie and honestly does add to the story pretty well. Of the other crew, we know that Deckert (Kurt Fuller) wants to get back to Earth and feels the corporation owes him, Will has been here a long time, and Masani (Randy Vasquez) has a hologram projector for his alone-time in his cabin.

With plans to hijack a garbage shuttle back to Earth, Stark’s gang storm the base and take the crew hostage. These plans are disrupted when they learn that no shuttle would be coming to the the base. We have a scene in some generic galley kitchen where one bad guy is killed by Stark because he has outlasted his usefulness. A new plan had to be hatched.

Earlier in the movie, another plotline was teased in relation to the base’s owning corporation and the military. The corporation is WTI, which stands for something like Workman-Tabashi – they say it real quick, and I could barely make it out. Sound familiar? Weyland-Yutani anyone? Apparently an inspection team is being sent up by WTI for reasons and the crew must accommodate. The Starck’s gang decide to wait for an arriving inspection team, ambush them and take their shuttle home. This is really the crux of the movie – when three worlds collide, what happens? You have to stretch your belief a little to buy into the fact that these two events at this one place would happen over the same time span but in the chaos of life, I suppose anything is possible.

The inspection team is lead by Lt. Col. Caldecott (Billy Maddox) and mission specialist Dana Morgan (Jocelyn Seagrave) who happens to also be Russell’s ex-girlfriend, linked to that shadowy past event mentioned earlier (one more coincidence you have to buy into). Caldecott arrives with a pilot who dies early and 6 heavily armed soldiers. It doesn’t take long for a firefight to ensue between them and the gang. Stark’s gang flee into the labyrinth of passageways in the base interior.

The corporate marine team can be generic NPCs and depending on how you want to run things, you can make Caldecott and/or Morgan as an NPC as well.

It is later revealed the military team is here for more than just an inspection. The government, taking advantage of the sensor-dampening effects of the toxic waste dump the crew maintains, have hidden some Positronic Pulse Warheads in the area of the waste. These weapons apparently were banned by some treaty and where pretty nasty – wiped out part of Cuba, apparently. Caldecott’s team was to retrieve the warheads because their secret was leaked and there was a fear a minor power would try to steal them. They hatch a plan to defend the base against Stark’s gang while at the same time, retrieve the bombs.

Meanwhile, Deckert in a quest to return to Earth at any cost, seeks out Stark and his gang and in an act of betrayal, divulges Caldecott’s real mission. Stark and Mina decide to steal the inspection team’s shuttle and the warheads, hoping to sell them and be rich on Earth.

Secure in the Moonbase control room, Dana, John, Will and Masani manage to contact a rescue team, but as the ship descends toward the base, Deckert now in league with Stark and his gang, routes power to a surface tractor beam and crashes the ship. The criminals then ambush Caldecott’s team, killing them and seize the warheads. Russell rushes to lock Stark out but is too late and is captured.

In the shuttle, Masani and Morgan with the help of Will in the control room, are prepping it for escape. Morgan, however, insists they rescue Russell first. In their discussions about Russell, Will reveals to Morgan the secret he has held for years. Sometime ago, Russell took the blame for an ecological disaster that the company was going to pin on her. Permanent transfer to Moonbase was the penalty Russell paid. With new determination, Masani transfers base command functions to the shuttle so they can retreat there after getting Russell back.

The rescue attempt kicks off a series of action scenes as the movie closes into it’s final act. Will manages to pull Russell to safety but is killed in the process. Russell, Dana and Masani retreat to the shuttle bay but realize because of technical reasons, they can’t leave and need something too happen in the control room. Deckert, in his final moments of redemption, realizes that Stark intends to kill him and perhaps everyone else in his attempt to escape, flips the needed switch just as Stark shoots him.

More technical complications arise preventing the shuttle bay doors from opening. Apparently, the power routed to the surface tractor beam by Deckert earlier is now preventing the doors from functioning (and now we circle back to Deckert being a jerk again). Russell decides to venture out to the lunar surface to restore function to the shuttle bay. Stark, defeated and determined to kill everyone if he can’t leave the moon, arms a warhead and sets a timer to detonate.

Russell manages to get the bay doors functioning, but must battle Stark to get to the shuttle. Our surviving heroes manage to outsmart Stark with Masani’s hologram device and lifts off just as the warhead explodes wiping out the Moonbase and the entire garbage dump, in a final ironic message of weapons wiping out our garbage.

The production quality of this movie is terrible. The locations are very generic and not very inspiring. They are not very other-worldly and most places you can recognize as something in the modern day. The only place that looks remotely constructed is the control center. Even the exterior moon shots look like poorly lit night shots at some kind of quarry or construction site. The spacesuits are nothing but cheap HAZMAT suits that just hang on them like there is normal gravity. The suits the gang uses and the criminals use are even worse – they look like paintball masks and some weird body suit.

The reason I chose the movie to write about is because it is a complex story very suited for a cool one-shot RPG game. I like that it is basically a story about humans – no aliens. I feel it can fit in just about any setting but I envision this in some kind of Alien-like or Bladerunner-like setting. The Earth is struggling to deal with waste disposal and environmental disasters while wars continue to flare up between various national factions. There was some very subtle world-building in this movie that helped me really appreciate it.

For an RPG one shot, one can go the simple route and make on team the player characters while the other teams are NPCs, but I like the idea of conflicting motivations and agendas, so I would spread the player characters over all three groups and get them to roleplay them to the hilt. The plotline revolves around the nukes but they don’t have to be nukes – they could be bio weapons or some other treasure or plot device. The temptation for me would be to introduce some kind of alien creature or tech and while that deviates from what the movie is about, there is nothing wrong with going that route.

This is a story of 3 worlds colliding – chaotic world of insane criminals, the dreary lives of blue-collar workers and the strict no-nonsense world of the corporation/government. This can translated to just about anything. Switching this to fantasy would not be all that hard. The moon location could be an island. Space ships can be sailing ships. The treasure could be some kind of enchanted weapon. The challenge is the location. Everything would have to be laid out, the base and the labyrinth would have to be mapped out.

B-Movie Inspiration: Dark Side of the Moon

B-Movie Inspiration is a series of articles I write where I watch really bad movies and draw RPG inspiration from them.

Perusing my various streaming options, I stumbled on this gem of a B-movie from 1990 – The Dark Side of the Moon. No, this was not something inspired by the Pink Floyd album. This was a very very bad Alien knock-off that was really really hard to watch. It was more like a Walmart version of Event Horizon (1997). The acting was stilted and awkward, special effects and set design were low budget and because of that, the portrayal of space physics was lazy. While all that was bad, the premise was actually kind of interesting and could be a really good one shot tabletop RPG adventure in any near-future sci-fi setting.

The general plot places us in the year 2022 – where in-system space travel is not only common, but starships are big, bulky and have artificial gravity. The spaceship Spacecore 1 is on a mission to repair and retrieve nuclear-armed spy satellites and apparently one wondered around to the dark side of the moon. The best shot of Spacecore 1 I could find on the internet is shown below:

We are then briefly introduced to the crew of seven. The crew includes:

Flynn Harding (played by Robert “Starred In Every 80s show possible” Sampson), a tough, chain smoking bad-mouthed guy who is on-mission and all about the job. While he was alive in the movie, I felt the actor over played him and there was little back story that came out.

Giles Stewart (played by Will “Who?” Bledsoe), a dashing young pilot with a mullet who does not really seem to want to be there. He seems to be full of some kind of angst (it was the 90s, after all) and just mopes around until the end.

Paxton Warner (played Joe “Blade Runner’s Dr. Eldon Tyrell” Turkel, sadly his last role) is a strange science/engineering officer who always seems to have an ulterior motive.

Lesli (played Camilla “Why are you in this movie” More) is the ship’s android AI that does nothing in the movie but sit and state a few plot points. More on her later.

Philip Jennings (played by John “That other guy from Stargate the movie” Diehl) is the technician and token male chauvinist who is hitting on Alex all the time. This actor was so much better as Lieutenant Kawalsky in Stargate.

Alex McInny (played by Wendy “I’m here to show my boobs” MacDonald) is a crewman that has some engineering and tech skills, as well as some bio-med skills. However, other than a few minor over-acted scenes, she was there for one scene and one scene only (referenced in her nickname I gave her).

Dreyfuss Steiner (played by Alan “I’ve seen this guy before somewhere” Blumenfeld) is the ship’s doctor and one of the pivotal characters in the overall story in a very subtle way. In a rare creative moment, this character creates a very creepy scene.

In their search for a rogue nuclear sat on the dark side of the moon, the Spacecore 1 suffers inexplicable power failure and begins to tumble towards the Moon – specifically a point on the Moon called Centris B40. Due to the various failures, the crew realize that they have only 24 hours air and heat left. This is a strong bonus point for me because I like when they emphasize the dangers of space – lack of oxygen and frigid temperatures. The real nightmare however starts when an old space shuttle (Discovery 18) mysteriously appears and docks with them, bringing on board a mysterious malevolent entity that threatens them all.

Over time, the core plot is revealed linking the dark side of the moon, the Bermuda Triangle and the Devil himself. The first clue that it’s going in this direction is Centris B40 – the point on the dark side of the moon they are drifting towards. It’s shaped like a triangle on all the displays on the ship. (see below)

When the shuttle appears out of the shadows of the Moon, it is portrayed like a haunted ghost ship. They find one of the crew dead (body fully preserved, somehow) who turns out to be the source of the evil that haunts the shuttle. The evil entity somehow travels from one person to another, causing a triangular shaped gut wound in some of its victims. Anyone possessed ends up dead eventually. The entity – who reveals himself as the Devil – was trapped on the shuttle and was looking for a way back to Earth.

This movie is a real slow burn with some of the worst script writing I have ever heard. Everyone seemed to emphasize the wrong words or the wrong expressions, long pauses at awkward moments and just a general feeling that there was more story in each character then they were letting us know about. The set design was extremely low budget – I have seen better designs in old Doctor Who. The ship set design did not make any sense and the shuttle set made even less sense. Even though there was two ships from two different eras of space travel, I did not feel like there was any difference between the two. And even though they clearly showed the shuttle as a classic 1980s design, the set designer obviously had no clue what a real space shuttle interior looked like. I realize with a limited budget, there was not much they could do. However, I think the movie could have benefited from the sense of familiarity and difference between the two ships.

Interesting touches in the movie include the shuttle interior being cover in liquid water inside and in fact, there is a cargo bay that is full of water. It is implied that the water is from the Bermuda Triangle because this shuttle was lost over it during an emergency landing attempt in 1992. It kept from freezing by supernatural heat within the shuttle. We learn this because as they board it, they find the interior temperature was 106 degrees after 30 years dead in space. The shuttle serves two purpose. The creepiness factor as well as a last hope for our heroes to replenish energy and air. However, the one question I had was never answered – why does the shuttle have artificial gravity? I know. Low-budget. Zero G simulation is either done cheesy or really really expensive.

The characters were just awful. You would get better character development in a RPG one shot game. The captain is a card board cut out of a character who dies fairly early in the movie. Giles is the typical late 80s/early 90s hero character – the guy with the best hair is the hero. Paxton was just weird. Early on, he was doing weird stuff to make you think he was a betrayer or had some kind of plot behind him but it never manifested. Wasted opportunity. Jennings was probably one of the better characters but there was just something wrong with the way the actor was portraying him – he just seemed off. Alex spends most of the movie in a coma and only wakes up long enough to have a topless scene and then she is done. I really feel like that was a wasted character as well. Steiner was also one of the better characters and the one that reveals to the audience that the crew has been “infected” by the entity to the hero.

Finally there is Lesli. This character made absolute no sense to have. You could have just had a disembodied voice for the ship’s computer and be done with it. But no, the director thought it was a good idea to have a pretty lady in tight leather as the ship’s AI sit in a chair the entire movie and spout out plot points. STUPID!!! Who is this girl? The director’s girlfriend or something? Save yourself a little money by hiring one less actor, let one of the other female actor do the ship’s computer voice for a small fee. Then spend what you saved on better set designs! Again, it was another wasted opportunity.

This movie is like many movies – great idea that was poorly executed. What can you expect from Hollywood? Anyway, there is a lot an RPG GM can draw from this. The entire movie itself is a RPG one shot waiting to happen.

Dark Side of the Triangle

You can easily see the entire plot of this movie playing out in a RPG one shot. Sometime in the near future, a crew recovering lost military satellites finds itself wondering into the dark side of the moon where they begin to experience unexplained equipment failures. I would make the ship tangible with maps or picture or both and really emphasize the isolation and dangers of space. I prefer realism in my sci-fi. Space is damn scary by itself.

The ship would be something different from the one in the movie – something more practical and tangible (like from The Expanse ). Give it character, always having problems, giving the players something to work with at first when systems begin to fail. At first, it may seem like “ol’ Bessy” acting up again, but then too many things begin to happen at once, giving the crew a clue that something is really wrong.

You flesh out the crew better than this movie did and give each one a clear function. Allow the android to walk about and have a purpose. The Captain is a rough and tumble guy, perhaps former military that got dishonorably discharged because of a drinking problem. The pilot is a hot shot pilot hired by the company after his stint in prison for smuggling and illegal orbital racing. The scientists is new to the crew , volunteering to join this mission because of his secret agenda. He has theories about the dark side of the moon and wishes to gather evidence. Continue to flesh out each character and relate them to each other, giving them back story and agendas. There can be a betrayer if you want, but it has to make sense.

Then they stumble across a space shuttle. Today, this would have more impact in the story then in 1990, since they ceased the program. You can make up a shuttle or use one of the real ones. Perhaps the shuttle was actually lost towards the end of the program and this fact was covered up. Either way, give it a good back and haunting backgrounds. Unlike the movie, use the real floor plans and give it a realistic feel.

Other plot points from the movie:

  • At some point, they showed the shuttle cargo bay full of moon rock from Centris B40. While they did not make a direct link the supernatural story line, there could be. This could be another route to take so you don’t have to end up where the movie did.
  • The movie implied that there was a connection between the Triangle and the dark side of the moon. Was it some kind of supernatural star gate? Wormhole? Or a prison for the evil entity? There are many possibilities.
  • For the entity possession, I would remove the idea of the triangular gut wound, and keep it hidden. While they did that with some of the characters, I would make it more consistent.

Dark Side of the Moon for me was a very hard movie to watch but inspiring at the same time. Much of the inspiration came from what they did not do with their inspired idea and less from what they did, but still, it was a cool idea for an tabletop RPG adventure.

B-Movie Inspiration: Island of Terror

I was browsing social media when I ran across a picture posted to a group dedicated to the old sci-fi media magazine Starlog. 

It was a creature from some old movie that resembled a bulbous starfish with a single tentacle jutting out is front.  Immediately drawing me in, I had to do some research to find out where it came from.  This creature was a Silicate from a movie called Island of Terror,  a 1966 British horror film starring Peter Cushing, Edward Judd, and Carole Gray.  I am a huge fan of Peter Cushing movies and this was a good example of an imaginative gem that probably flew under the radar for many.


Most of the movie takes place on a remote island called Petrie’s Island, off the east coast of Ireland.  We learn in the first act that the island does not have phones to the mainland and limited means to reach it via boat.  It is a very isolated community of farmers and fisherman.  We first observe some scientists lead by oncology researcher Dr. Lawrence Phillips as they work on a cure for cancer in a secluded castle laboratory on the island.  It is during their conversations, these scientists mention their other co-workers in Japan – a plot plant for later.  Something catastrophic happens in the lab and it fades to black.  Later on the island, bodies begin to turn up.  They seemed to have died horrifically as every bone in their bodies was liquified.  The island’s physician – Dr Reginald Landers (Eddie Byrne) – ends up recruiting two London scientists – Dr Brian Stanley (Cushing) and Dr. David West (Judd) to help solve the mystery.  Along with them is the wealthy jetsetter Toni Merrill (Carole Gray).

Once back at Petrie’s Island,  the helicopter used to reach the island must return to the mainland for plot reasons, leaving the group effectively stranded on Petrie until the helicopter or a boat can return. West and Stanley learn of Dr. Phillips work, paying a visit to his lab. This reveals that Dr. Phillips and his colleagues are dead and boneless as the other bodies.  From Dr. Phillips’ research notes, the protagonists learn that in his quest to cure cancer, they may have accidentally created a new silicate based lifeform.

The creature now obliquely revealed, we begin to see more and more islanders killed.  In each case, we hear a strange alien sound and see a tentacle take out each. Eventually dubbed silicates by the heroes, we learn that they kill their victims by injecting a bone-dissolving enzyme into their bodies as part of their feeding process. The silicates are very resilient and incredibly difficult to kill.  Landers fails to kill one at the castle with an axe when they first encounter them and later try to kill them as they approach the village, with bullets, gasoline bombs and dynamite with no effect.  Additionally, these creatures  divide like cells every few hours and the heroes determine there could be thousands or more on the island before too long.

In the scenes that follow, we see the creatures in the forests and in the fields, slowly crawling towards to the village seeking food. These scenes were pretty good considering the period, but I could imagine what they could do today with something like this.  In these shots, they may have been 4 or 5 on screen at one time but to really get the horror, I wanted to see dozens moving frantically seeking food.  As you can imagine for the period, they were like little slugs crawling along the ground at a very slow pace.  However, there were some cool moments as they revealed the creatures could climb trees and drop down on victims.

Finally, one silicate turns up dead, apparently after having ingested a dog that was contaminated by a rare isotope called Strontium-90 from Phillips’ lab.  This may have been vaguely implied at in the beginning, I am not sure.  It did seem out of nowhere to me.  The heroes hatch a plan to gather more of this isotope at the castle and contaminate a herd of cattle, setting a trap for the hundreds (look more like dozens) of silicates that are now on the island.  This in the long run  succeeds, of course, with a few harrowing moments among panicking townsfolk trapped in the town meeting hall while the creatures attack from all sides.

The story ends with evacuation and medical teams coming to the island and the heroes realizing how fortunate they were that this outbreak was confined to an island.  Planted earlier in the movie, this sets up an epilogue of the movie – a visit to the satellite programme in Japan.  The scientists there are attempting to duplicate Phillips’ work with the inevitable result.  It ends with a scientists entering a room, you hearing the familiar sound of the creature, and a scream.  Fade to black.

The theme of this story is a standard science gone wrong trope.  It’s one of my favorites to use in my sci-fi and pulp horror games.  These stories are born of man’s hubris and arrogance that he alone is master of the cosmos and science is the means to master it.  I am using this in my current con Reich Star campaign (Man in the High Castle meets The Expanse).  It also had a Lovecraftian feel to it, given the setting and the type of creature.  For budgetary reasons, these creatures were a little disappointing, but my mind simply goes to what they could have been with the right budget and today’s special effects.  Todays practical effects alone could make these things terrifying.  Adding in a little CGI, and these things could be awesome.  I love a good monster movie.  A monster movie with tentacles and you will have me watching from beginning to end.

I love the isolation aspect of this.  This can easily be “survive the night” type one-shot adventure in any horror, sci-fi or fantasy setting.  Some scientist or wizard messing around with the wrong things only to open a gate into another realms of strange creatures that devour your bones (or some other aspect of your body).  The inspirations are fairly obvious.  Any island or island-like locations would do.  In sci-fi, it could be an asteroid colony.  This is the perfect pulp horror story, easily insertable into a game like Call of Cthulhu.  In fantasy, it could be anywhere.  Isolation is quite common in fantasy.

The creature itself could be anything but I like the creepiness of this particular creature. I would even use the sound they used in the movie if I could isolate it on my phone.  I would add more tentacles just for effect.  I would also alter the mitosis process to add a little more horror to it but the ticking time-bombs aspect to that would remain.  It’s all a ready-made adventure waiting to be exploited in a role playing game setting.

The one thing I would change is probably the final solution as it seemed more coincidental than anything.

Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide

From: SHM Publishing
Reviewed by: James Kabbash

Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide is a new RPG Setting Preview Book from SHM Publishing.  The setting is being Kickstarted into a full length setting book – Savage Company campaign setting for Pathfinder and 5e

In reading through The Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide, I found that it offers an original game play opportunity that is seamlessly compatible with the Pathfinder Role Playing System. The integration of the two offers for a very unique experience that many other RPGs will not. Full of excellent support detail and development the background in this world is extremely unique. The obvious work put into this it is evident that the creators really came up with something potentially special.

From  page # 4:  “You are all worthless sacks of meat!”

From the very start, the developers weave the setting into being with a mix between a series of barked orders and an internal dialogue of Sarge, a platoon leader and drill sergeant of the new recruits for Savage Company. The obviously powerful and distinguished Orc controls the situation without questions which makes the reader that much more excited to go deeper and see what the Guide has to offer.

Once you delve into the Guide there is the introduction to the ‘city’ of Tombstone. I use quotes there as it is really a series of structures built in and around the main hub of the Savage Company. Within Tombstone we find everything a militaristic corporation could possibly need to carry out and on their mission. We are introduced to everything from barracks to saloons to a general store to a packed armory and garage. To go along with these locales is a colorful bevy of characters that really flesh out the community. The setting is well thought out and original.

Game system wise the introduction of new races is expertly done. Eight new races are introduced. The developers go deep into the physical and skill attributes of three of these new races. Specifically, the Baade and the ‘Savage’ Hobgoblin and Orc. They are expertly developed in both historical context and game mechanics. I would have liked equal attention presented to the other options besides just those three. The five remaining races are just glossed over which was rather unfortunate. What little is presented about the other five races is very intriguing.

There is also a very interesting offering new archetypes for every Pathfinder class. Some of these new paths are both exciting and would be excellent to roleplay. The trails to be followed to achieve these ‘specialty professions’ offer up the opportunity for some profound immersion into the world. Again, like the races referenced above, they only focus on four of the nineteen choices. When a more expanded version of this system is produced, I hope they will give each the attention to detail that the ones presented received.

The three new Feats introduced are very interesting in so far as they propose some nice steps outside the now well-known Pathfinder ones. Like the two paragraphs above, I would hope they have more like these to offer in a more expansive edition. I particularly liked these three options as they hint towards the possibilities of other original abilities that could hopefully be introduced.

The last thing I would like to visit is the equipment presented. Unlike more established futuristic systems like Shadowrun or Savage Worlds the weapons in this system are not named after current real-world manufacturers. Even though they use just the most basic of nomenclature for most of the weapons the statistics for what they represent is well offered.  There is a hinting of there soon to come vehicle types, customization and playability that is extremely exciting.

From  page # 4:  “Welcome to Savage Company.”

The art in this truncated guide is absolutely outstanding and really lends some boosts to the imagination. I am really looking forward to a larger in version of this work that will even further improve the excellent renderings. Also, throughout the Guide, there are sporadic ‘short -story’ type write ups that really give life to the setting, characters and classes offered. They are truly a good read and should not be glossed over.

The Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide has a lot to offer in the aspects of both originality and content.  A rich setting, including well thought our names and locales, detail a complex society. Intermittent short stories add to the overall development of the author’s vision. The artwork is excellent. It offers several new races as well as both interesting and well thought out archetypes for every Pathfinder class. These new class options offer some intriguing options for rousing character advancement as well as detailed role play. The weapon and vehicle descriptions definitely make the reader excited and can not wait to step into the armory or garage. The only criticism I can offer up is that the writing can be rough at times, but that can be overcome with some more thorough editing. An overall map of Tombstone would help the completeness of the guide. The unique world of the Savage Company will offer up both challenges and opportunities for some memorable table time.

For more details on Savage Company Recruit Orientation Guide, it is available for free from DriveThruRPG.  As mentioned, they are also running a Kickstarter for a full setting book for both Pathfinder and D&D 5e.

Diverse Roles: A Clement Sector Career Catalog

From: Gypsy Knights Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Diverse Roles: A Clement Sector Career is a new RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

One of the things I first ask about a sci-fi game is what races and/or “classes” (for lack of a better term) can I play.  Sometimes these are the things that set a game apart from the others.  Most of the time, I am asking more for inspiration than to pick something specific.  Traveller is one of those games, depending on the setting, can be inspiring.  Clement Sector setting, while inspiring in a lot of ways, always left me wanting more.  Diverse Roles  is definitely a step in the right direction.

From page # 4: “Within this book are 19 careers created for use with the Clement Sector roleplaying game”

Traveller in general is notorious for its’ character generation system – the only system you can die in character generation.  Over time, it has evolved into a system that gives you a three dimensional character in a very simply table-based process.  However, as you can see in this quote from the Cepheus Engine SRD PDF, the ruleset that the Clement sector is based on, you can see that the essence of what Traveller was known for is still preserved.

If you did not succeed, you have died. Alternately, events have forced you from this career. Roll on the mishap table and go to step 10 (you do not receive a benefit roll for this term.)

The Clement Sector Core Setting Book book as well as the Player’s Guide provide significant careers for any player.  This book adds nearly 20 more.  The careers use the same system found in the Clement Sector: The Rules and at times, refer back to other careers found in Clement Sector Core Setting Book.

With the focus on character generation and careers, it should be noted that character generation system for Clement Sector is deeply seated in the setting.  Before one gets to the Careers, your character will already have a subsector of origin, system and homeworld of origin, as well as youth and teenage experience and pre-career collegiate (if any) career.  This automatically draw the character into the setting , involving whatever politics, factions and story associated to those things.

Each career starts out with the Enlistment prerequisite, which the character must meet to choose a term in the particular career.  Then a series of tables in the standard format of any Traveller/Cepheus based system.  Some careers on this book have special results such as Ally, Armor, Contact and Rare Item.  These really set the careers apart and making them more interesting. Once one gets past the Enlistment prerequisite roll, you choose an Assignment, roll Survival and then progress through  the advancements.

The tables in each career include Career Progress, Mustering Out Benefits, Skills and Training, Ranks and Benefits, and the dreaded Mishaps.  In classic Traveller,  aging plays a big part in this process.  Because of the trans-human aspect of the Clement Sector, it is handled slightly differently. Technology with the setting have allowed human to age slower – up to 200 years, and some even longer.  So there is a apparent age and a real age table that tells you when you need to start taking in consideration age in rolling a career.  This is not something unique to Diverse Roles, but it’s something worth mentioning as part of the Clement Sector career system.

From page # 4:  “While these careers were created with the Clement Sector setting in mind, they may also be used with any other 2d6 science fiction game such as any using the Cepheus Engine rules created by Samardan Press.”

The careers added here include Adventurer, Arts, Bounty Hunter , Craftsperson, Prostitute, Scavenger, and Thief.  Compared to the Clement Sector Core Setting Book, this has more underground or street level careers.  The events tables take up the bulk of each career and most follow the same format with a lot of interesting options.  From severe injury to various very creative and interesting events, the events table really makes the system and your character three-dimensional for me.  Whole adventure seeds can be gotten out of these tables.

In my little experiment with it, I created a Scavenger.  Assuming I had to stats to qualify (as I did not do a full character) and I survive the Career term, I would have to choose an enlistment – Junker.  I would get my level 0 benefits picking between Personal Development, Service, or Advanced Education.  Then I head down to Events.  I gained a Rival who pushed me out of the Career.  Not the worst thing that could have happened but not great if I have a specific character concept in mind.  I would possibly pursue it again after a term in another but I would have qualify and survive.

Diverse Roles also provides an Engineer career path, something it calls the unsung heroes of any modern civilization.  It details out a unique and concise way to roll up a true engineer in the Clement Sector.  Additionally, it provides guidelines for non-random character generation. For some, the randomness of the classic Traveller system can derail a character concept.  This provides a good way to do it differently.

In conclusion,  I love expansions to give characters more depth and more options. The problems with many past systems, things like this added new and special rules that complicated things (d20 prestige classes, for example.)  This adds a lot for a player as well as the GM without complication.   This is primarily because of the elegant system it’s based on but also because the writer understands the system and what makes it elegant.  He also has a strong passion for his setting and it shows in his products.

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their new RPG SupplementDiverse Roles: A Clement Sector Career” check them out at their website https://www.gypsyknightsgames.com/.

Codex Rating: 18

Product Summary

Diverse Roles: A Clement Sector Career
From: Gypsy Knights Games
Type of Game: RPG Supplement
Written by: John Watts
Contributing Authors: Michael Johnson, Curtis Rickman
Cover Art by: Stephanie McAlea
Website: https://www.gypsyknightsgames.com/

Reviewed by: Ron McClung


Shuffling Horror: Roswell 51

From: Gamewick Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Shuffling Horror: Roswell 51 is a new Tabletop Board/Card Game from Gamewick Games.

Some time ago, I reviewed a game called Pittsburgh 68 by Gamewick, where through interesting game mechanics, you formed a classic zombie movie and attempt to survive.  The game flowed well, was very fun and different.  Recently, Gamewick has put together a high quality board game based on that same concept, with the theme being classic 50s alien invasion movies rather than zombies.  However, Pittsburgh 68  can also be played on this board game.  This is the first time I have seen a card game evolve into a board game.  I found that fascinating.

From the front cover: “A retro sc-fi B-Movie Board Game”

The game has some similarities to the previously mentioned Pittsburgh 68, except with a classic 50s aliens invasion theme.  There are references to classic movies like The Blob, THEM!,  and of course, Invasion from Outer Space.  However, there are some new mechanics that adapt it to a board game and make it more than just a story-telling game.  It states up front that these rules supersede the rules of Pittsburgh 68, and  the game plays better in this format.  The major changes to the include a Fade In and Fade Out token, as well as the Horror Star token.  These along with other aspects really bring out the feel of making a movie.

The game is surprisingly diverse because it can handle up to 3 to 13 players.  13!! We only play-tested it with 3 players but I can imagine how much fun it would be with more.  Played  cycles between a number of players and a director – a one versus cooperative many.  The players control “Survivors” and the director controls the monsters.  The players cooperatively work against the Director and the monsters and attempt to destroy them all, while the director attempts to kill the players and their allies.  With the wide player range, the game is scaled through various mechanics including the Spoint system and the cards themselves.

The players play one of the 12 survivors in the deck.  Examples are the Colonel, the Scientist, the Robot, and Rancher. They as a group work together to stop the director and the plots he hatches through card play.  The game starts with an opening scene with 3 face-up cards in the center of the board.  Cards can be a wide variety of things – monsters, event cards, equipment, and more.  These completely drive the game. The various mechanics of the game center around 4 phases or Reels of a movie, each reel being a stack of cards on the board.  Each Real, three cards are dealt from the Reel deck to form a scene.  During these scenes players can attack aliens, take items from the face-up, get another Survivor to form groups of survivors (up to 3), Rest or move into a sanctuary.  Their central goal is build up their survivors and keep the director from building up strong throngs of aliens, while at the same time creating a cinematic story of pulp alien invasion.

As a Director, the goal is to keep the movie going by building alien throngs with the cards available on the screen, attacking and killing survivors, and generally making it difficult on the players.  The Director forms the framework of the cinematic story and the players react to it while forming their own individual stories.  The job is one-part blackjack dealer and one-part antagonist to the players.  The dealer side of the director primarily is for the flow of the game, and once the director has that down, he can focus primarily eliminating survivors.  By far, the director is the more involved part of the game. While not a complicated game by any means, there is a lot that goes on in this game, especially for the Director.

From the back cover: “Don’t just play a game.  Play a movie.”

Key to the game mechanics is the resource management.  From equipment or Item cards to Spoints tokens,  the resources available to the Survivors can make or break the game for them.  Meanwhile, the Director can either perform various actions to keep players from getting the items and make them spend Spoint tokens more.  Players need to allocate Items to Survivors that can use them most effectively, as each is different.

The game mechanics beyond the card play involve dice rolling as well as the aforementioned token spending.  Two 6-sided dice are used in combat, and the Spoints can either modify the roll to-hit or damage.  It is a fairly simple combat system where you roll under a particular value clearly displayed on the cards.  There are also some very creative and interesting rules that round out the game that include the Fade In token (the Director chooses who goes first at the start of the each reel after the first), Turning Points and Last One Standing (two ways to end the game), and Pod Players (players are converted to the Director’s team).

The board is brilliantly designed to appear like a drive in theater from the view of a car.  As it turns out, it is less of a board game board and more of a advanced playing mat for the game.  It also can be used with Pittsburgh 68 with the extra cards supplied in the game.

In conclusion,  it is a very interesting and fun game with lots of back and forth between each player and the director.  There are a wide variety of event cards to break of the combat and quite a few challenges the players and the director face as time goes on.  I would imagine with a full compliment of players, this game might take longer but it still could be amazingly fun.  There is a lot that goes on in the game, so every game is different.  This gives it a lot of replay-ability value.  Where Pittsburgh 68 seemed to have a lack of “winner’ in the overall game play, this game adds enough elements to have a satisfying ending.

For more details on Gamewick Games and their new Board Game Shuffling Horror: Roswell 51.  Check them out at their website https://www.gamewick.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 18 out of 20

Product Summary

Shuffling Horror: Roswell 51

From: Gamewick Games

Type of Game: B0ard Game

Game Design & Written by: Larry Wickman

Art by: Ben Crenshaw, Mike Saputo, Donald David, Stephen Blickenstaff

Number of Pages: 21

Game Components Included: The Roswell 51 Movie Deck (56 cards), The Shuffling Horror Shuffle Board (20 x 30 inch deluxe gameboard), (54) Spoint tokens (Survivor Points), (8) Sanctuary tokens, (4) Reel tokens. (4) Dynamite tokens, (1) Fade Out token, (1) Fade In token, (1) Rulebook (with intro and advance rules), (4) Rule Cue Cards. (2) Endgame Cards. (4) Dice, Plus bonus Pittsburgh 68 cards and tokens!

Retail Price: $39.99(US)

Number of Players: For 3 – 13 players (recommend 3-6 players for initial play)

Player Ages:  Ages 14+

Playing Time: 75 minutes

Website: https://www.gamewick.com/

Deck of Stories, a GM playing aid by Critical Dice

From: Critical Dice
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Deck Of Stories

From: Critical Dice
Type of Game: RPG Playing Aid
Game Components Included: 50 cards, plus 3 blanks and an instruction card
Retail Price: $14.99

Deck of Stories is a new RPG Playing Aid from Critical Dice.

I got something in the mail yesterday.  Critical Dice is a company that came out to MACE 2018 and to be honest, I totally missed them.  Being the gaming coordinator, I was simply too busy to check out every vendor at the dealers room.  However, Jeff Smith talked big about them and I heard more and more about them afterwards.  A lot of people  talked about their high quality and innovative products and ideas.

The Deck of Stories is their latest idea that we plan to thorough play-test at MACE West 2019.  It is a playing aid to help a GM come up with a plot on the fly, when say the characters go off on a different and unintended direction (which never happens, right?) or the GM needs an idea for a quick one shot.  Since I got them, I have been shuffling and flipping these cards while I sit at my desk at work, imagining what kind of stories I could create with them.  They are quite interesting.

From the website:  “Adventure in 15 Minutes”

As said, there are only 50 cards.  My first thought was that it leaves a lot of opportunity for expansion.  Despite that, there are plenty  of story potential in these fifty cards. There are two parts to each card – the Hook and the Next Steps.  The Hook is the story idea for the card – one or two short sentences to inspire your imagination.  The Next Steps ask questions stemming from this idea and help you formulate and round out the idea.

The general model the card system is based on is called ORC.  O is for Open.  Cards with this letter on them can be used as an opening scene idea.  Hook examples are:  “Take the River is your fastest route. Many Creatures Lurk Along the Riverbanks.” … or … “Everyone in the town begins speaking gibberish.  Communication is impossible.”  R is for Rise.  These are rise in action, the change in the story, or the plot twist that take it to the next level.  Example: “Your team meets another group that seems strangely familiar.” C is for Climatic action.  It represents the hook that will bring things to a close, the boss-fight or the epic ending.   Example: “To save the life of a party member, a deal must be struck with a being from a lower plane.”   With those examples alone, I am already formulating a plot for a simple village encounter.

The players have just come down a river after a big fight, once of horribly injured.  They seek help at this village but suddenly, all in the village speak a foreign tongue of another plane.  They do not understand and can not get help because the people do not understand the party.  What’s happening?  Why?  Who is at the center of this confusion?  Has the enemy from their last fight returned or does he have allies?

Cards can have one, two or all three letters on them.  For cards with multiples, this means it can be used for any of them.  The questions in the Next Steps are great because they really help you formulate the idea in your head.

From the website:  “No railroading, no over preparing”

 At MACE West 2019, we had a big game of 4 tables.  GMs run 1 hour with one group using the cards, and then the GM moves to the next table.  We had everyone running D&D 5e, to keep things simple. Everyone seemed to have a great time.  By all accounts, the games were all a great success.   I think the Deck of Stories was received very well.


A few weeks later at my home game, I had to come up with some visions for each of my players.  I whipped out my Deck of Stories and pulled a single card for each vision.  It worked perfectly.  It was awesome and now I have new story elements I can work into the campaign.

In conclusion, these cards are awesome.  They are very inspired and I do hope they expand on them.  Perhaps a more sci-fi or horror oriented version or something like that. They are diverse and just fun to throw down to get the creative juices flowing, at the very least.  If you want to use them as intended, I recommend sitting for about 5 to 10 minutes before your game, and throw down a couple of cards for each letter – O, R, and C and think about the story you want to tell some.  It doesn’t take much, just a little though before actually running the game.  I am glad I got to review them and I highly recommend them.

For more details on Critical Dice and their new RPG Playing Aid Deck of Stories” check them out at their website https://thecriticaldice.com.

Codex Rating: 18


White Death, a sci-fi/espionage mystery adventure

From: The Design Mechanism

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

White Death is a new Role Playing Game Adventure from The Design Mechanism.

Up front, I am not familiar with the Mythras system, but I am told it is similar to the Basic Role Playing system which is derived from the classic Call of Cthulhu system, among others.  These systems I am very familiar with.

Earlier last year, Chad handed me a copy of his latest work and asked me to review it.  The way he described it to me intrigued me – elements of Cold War espionage, mystery and sci-fi coupled with an arctic theme was very much up my alley.  I had just finished writing a con adventure similar to this, set in an alternate future timeline – A Man in the High Castle meets The Expanse type setting.  At the very least, I could convert to something I play, if I wanted to run it.

It has nice and intriguing cover art.  It looks small and simple enough that it could be a convention game.  Skimming the introduction drew me even further as it mentioned 1980s and the Cold War – something I have somewhat familiar with in that I grew up in that era.  Diving in, my mind swam with ideas on what I could do with this adventure.

From the website: “A Soviet drift station in the Arctic ocean, seemingly abandoned. The Agency wants to know what the Russians were doing there and why it was so abruptly vacated. It has assembled a team to investigate; to uncover whatever it was the Soviet Union was using the station for.”

The adventure itself is a simple mission to something called a drift station.  A drift station is an transitory Arctic station usually used for geological or meteorological monitoring, that are built on ice flows.  Sometimes these stations were secretly used to monitor (aka spy on) the enemy.  Occasionally, the ice flows these stations are built on break away, and float off into the ocean.  In this case, a particular station suspected of being a secret abandoned Russian base of some kind, has broken off and is drifting away.  However, weather is making approach tricky and the intelligence is unclear as to what might be there.

The players are agents of an Agency.  This could be the CIA, MI6 or any other agency that might see the Russian intelligence and military services as adversaries.  It also says that this adventure can be included in something called the Luther Arkwright campaign, which is a campaign setting published by The Design Mechanism based on the award winning graphic novels by writer/artist Bryan Talbot.

The detail in the adventure is excellent.  It has the feel of an espionage and military adventure from the beginning.  It also has some subtle nuances that make the adventure very intriguing and suspenseful.  The cold isolation of the adventure makes it even more exciting.  The players parachute onto the drift and investigate a very cold and dark mystery.  The more they reveal, the more interesting it gets.

From the website: “But what the agents find might not be what they were expecting. And what’s more, the Russians are coming back…”

Without giving too much away,  the adventure does follow certain tropes but also has some surprises in it.  It does have some homages to John Carpenter’s The Thing and well as Alien.  However, the adventure is far more than just an investigation of the abandoned station.  There are events and encounters throughout that challenge the characters.  The station holds some secrets as does the ice itself.

The adventure provides six full-fleshed out characters in the Mythras system, all with their own skills and short backgrounds.  It also provides some custom rules for Sanity and Tenacity, cluing you that this game will get interesting.

In conclusion,  White Death is primarily a survival horror adventure with considerable mystery and intrigue.  Depending on what characters you use, the adventure can have even more intrigue.  The story of the adventure alone is fun and intense, regardless of system.  It is well written and definitely something I would run. 

For more details on The Design Mechanism and their new Role Playing Game AdventureWhite Death” check them out at their website.

Codex Rating: 19 out of 20

Product Summary

White Death

From: The Design Mechanism

Type of Game: Role Playing Game Adventure

Written by: Chad Bowser

Contributing Authors: Pete Nash, Lawrence Whitaker

Cover Art by: Dan MacKinnon

Additional Art by: Earl Geier

Number of Pages: 32

Game Components Included: Single Adventure, no core rules 

Game Components Not Included: Core Mythras rules

Retail Price: $ 4.99 (US)

Website: Product Website

Reviewed by: Ron McClung


Just Survive The Game

From: Broken Archer
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Just Survive The Game is a Card Game from Broken Archer Games.


From the website: “Use teamwork to help everyone stay alive or lookout for yourself and forget your family and friends”

Just Survive is a somewhat abstract and lightly themed game of cards where you play roles in a survival scenario.  The disaster is not defined, the situation is not defined, all you know is that you have to be the last person standing.   In this game, there are Job cards, Event Cards, Secret Cards and Dead/Skipped cards.  Each person gets a Secret card and a Job card.  There are a total of 11 Job cards and 15 secrets.  These define your role in the game by giving you things you can do – both your Job ability and your Secret ability. These abilities counter things in the game or break rules.  Secrets don’t necessarily have to remain secret, it’s totally up to the player.

Play goes from the youngest player onward, reacting to Event cards on each turn.  Event cards can be a variety of things.  There are 87 total cards in this stack.  They range from Bad Day  where you snap and pick a character to murder, to Food running low.   Secrets and Job abilities can effect these Events.  During these Events, sometimes the group must vote, and sometimes those votes can be deadly.  One thing to note is that Death in the game does not end the game for the player.  The only thing that ends the game for everyone is the SURVIVE card in the events.  When that comes up, the last player alive is the winner.

From the website: “You’ve just been locked in a bunker holding out to survive a disaster outside. You and the people you’re with must do whatever it takes to survive, but only one of you will be able to live.”

In conclusion,  this is a fun little game.  I prefer a little more theme and it is pretty no-frills in terms of production value.  When we played, it was with 3 players but we determined that it would play better with more people.  It became unclear at times what a Dead person could and could not do, so I think the rules need to be a little clear on that.  It has great potential for expansion, however.  And I think it would serve well if it had a little more theme.

For more details on Broken Archer and their new Card Game“Just Survive The Game” check them out at their website http://brokenarcher.com/, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 15 out of 20

Product Summary

Just Survive The Game
From: Broken Archer
Type of Game: Card Game
Website: http://brokenarcher.com/

Reviewed by: Ron McClung