From: Morning Skye Studios
Reviewed by: Sitting Duck
When science fiction and horror are melded, space travel will often involve the passengers undergoing some form of stasis. This isn’t hard to understand. While characters in these stories are on ice (or however stasis works in the setting), who knows what might be lurking in the corridors. Silent Memories is designed specifically for enacting such scenarios.
From page 2:
“You awaken from a cryogenic sleep aboard a spaceship with no knowledge of who you are or how you came to be here. You have no knowledge of your mission, or even where you are going. All that remains is your training, and the impending sense that something is very wrong.”
As indicated in the above quote, the game premise bears a more than passing resemblance to the movie Pandorum. Each player takes the role of a particular specialty, like medical officer or engineer. Initially, this is all that they’ll know. It will quickly become apparent that something has gone wrong and they must fix the problem before irreversible disaster strikes. Along the way they’ll encounter a variety of signs of the ship’s deterioration. The manner in which these manifest depend largely on what sort of scenario the GM chooses to run.
From page 1:
“A roleplaying game about finding out who you are before you die.”
One of the more unique aspects of Silent Memories is how task resolution is handled. Instead of the usual dice, a Jenga tower is employed. Depending on the nature of the task, a player makes one or more pulls. If the tower stays upright, the task is successfully completed (though at the GM’s discretion there may be a complication of some sort). A successful pull also provides the player in question with a Memory. These are slips of paper the GM prepares beforehand containing 1-3 sentences. These can range from crucial hints about the mission to complete non-sequiturs, or perhaps a realization by the character of an item on his person. To help build paranoia, the player does not reveal the contents of the Memory to the other players. The first time the Jenga tower collapses, the player responsible learns the Truth. This is a document providing details (not necessarily complete) of the mission. If the scenario calls for it, the player who learns the Truth also becomes a traitor. The tower is reset and any further collapses result in the character death for the responsible player.
While the use of a Jenga tower is an excellent method for building tension, it can easily put some players at a disadvantage. Dice have always been the preferred method of determining task resolution in RPGs due to their randomness. A Jenga tower on the other hand is purely skill based, giving players who possess a steady hand a clear edge over those who don’t. If abilities at making successful Jenga tower pulls are especially unequal among the players, it could potentially result in considerable ill will.
In conclusion, if the Jenga tower mechanic or the potential backstabbing is going to be an issue with one or more of your players, you may want to give this one a pass. Otherwise, it can make for an intriguing change of pace for game nights after your regular campaign has concluded, or you wish to take a break from it.
From: Morning Skye Studio
Type of Game: RPG
Written by: Chad Wattler
Edited by: Adam Gottfried and Chuck Wills
Number of Pages: 20
Game Components Not Included: Jenga tower
Retail Price (PDF): Free
Reviewed by: Sitting Duck