A few days ago I asked for review material for White Star (aff) at the G+ community. Darrel Miller from DM Studios was one of the people who answered me. So I'm reviewing one of his adventures today. I got a free PDF for reviewing purposes.
Star Temple of Saturgalia (StoS) is a short mini-adventure for the sci-fi OSR game White Star. It is available for USD $1.00 RIGHT HERE (aff).
You and your team have been sent, or forced to go, to the Star Temple of Saturgalia. There you hope to find the fabled Star Amulet that may turn the tide in the Space War. Ignite your Star Saber, strap on your blaster, and prepare to avoid the Imperial Customs - you're going on an adventure. Prepare to enjoy a couple of hours of FUN!!!
Warning: slight spoilers ahead!
You get 4 pages of content. The look of this product is pretty good for a small niche publisher. The layout is done in two columns (the spacing in between could be a bit bigger) with a good-to-read font and nice tables. There is some artwork which looks very nice. The adventure contains one map where the font is hard to read but other than that the product's visual quality is quite good.
Obviously, this adventure is a nod towards Star Wars and Tatooine. There are some space encounters and then you land on a desert planet to retrieve the McGuffin from the small dungeon/temple. Although the blurb says you should avoid Imperial Customs, there is no mention of them in the book. That's a bit strange.
While there are good things to say about StoS there are also some problems.
Let's start with the things I like:
As said above, it's a nice looking product. It has a sleek looking cover. The adventure itself is simple but for a one-shot there is nothing wrong with that.
The included dungeon map uses some circular routes which is a plus for such a small dungeon. There are some interesting features, traps etc.
I really really like the homage to Star Wars. This is very nicely done.
Where do I see potential for improvement?
First, I'm not sure what the target audience for this adventure is. It doesn't say if this is a low-level adventure or not. I assume it is, as the random encounters feature 1 HD or 2 HD monsters. However, the end boss is pretty tough in comparison which doesn't fit.
Second, for an old school adventure I as a potential buyer (and the Game Master) want something tangible where I do not need to fill out too much myself. Improvisation is fine and dandy but if a great portion of the adventure hinges on it, it doesn't help me much. Unfortunately, that's the case with SToS. On the way to the temple, there are obligatory (not-so) random encounters. It starts on route to the planet where the players are on board a ship and the GM has to roll 3 times for encounters. The chance of no encounter is 1 in 6! But if the encounter is another starship the chances for a friendly or neutral reaction are pretty high. I am missing material to flesh out these encounters. What if I only roll neutral reactions? Where is the challenge in that? How can I make this interesting for the players? Are there additional hooks? This info is missing.
This continues with the journey on the planet. Here the GM needs to roll two times and the chance of an encounter is 6 in 6. So, with 100% chance of an encounter, there is not so much randomness. There is only the question of what you meet not if you encounter something. Again, the table is very bare bones and I will need to come up with some interesting stuff on my own.
If this was a product for a game that encourages shared narrative and improv like the Powered-by-the-Apocalypse-family the sparse details wouldn't carry much weight but for an old school game I'm expecting more.
In the end, I guess this adventure could have used some critical playtesters to smooth out its rough edges.
Where does that leave us?
This adventure has some potential but falls too short if you want more than approx. 2 hours of fun. I'm encouraging the author to overhaul this product: either provide more background material for the encounters or change the adventure's reliance on those.
It looks like it is the first product for White Star by DM Studios. While my review is a bit harsh it is given in the spirit of trying to help to improve this adventure. I still hope to see more products by this publisher. I know that Darrel Miller has at least one more adventure (Colonial Civil War) which I will review, too.