Originally Posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/06/11/tabletop-review-captains-logs-from-the-sandbox-report-002-the-broken-omnicrys/
The Broken Omnicrys is #2 in a new series from Occult Moon games, publishers of the Toys for the Sandbox series. In this new tack, they are addressing the sci-fi genre.
The format has not really changed from the Toys for the Sandbox booklets, with the first few pages containing some general information about the location and situation, a page of plots and twists, NPCs, and some items. The NPCs are given some general stat guidelines and descriptions of their history and current habits. There are three items in the back, and they have some stats and descriptions as well. There are two small tables to roll on to determine space hazards and planetary hazards. There are some nice illustrations, one of a ship and one of the solar system, as well as the cover illustration which is by Ashe Rhyder and Matt Jackson (did they both draw it or what?).
This booklet concerns a stolen artifact of power called an “Omnicrys”, which is some sort of crystal that holds psychic and spiritual energies from the “Forerunners” (an ancient people that was apparently highly advanced). There are several worlds detailed with facts about their atmosphere, gravity, inhabitants, etc. wherein I suppose the adventure is to take place. The thief (a.k.a. “The Mad Templar”) of the crystal also stole someone’s ship, and he is eager to get it back at whatever cost. The impression is of a high-level mission that involves some important and powerful organizations on both sides of the law.
What Do I Think?
The Occult Moon offerings continue to be steady, but remain rather amateur in quality. It is good that they have a defined format that works for them, that helps their publications have some consistency, but the writing and overall conception remains the weak point, and the question I keep having is: who is their audience? I also find myself asking why they don’t just produce fully-written modules at this point, since they basically give a skeleton of an adventure, but also include a pre-determined plot (the Omnicrys). What is the point of having tools for a sandbox if the sandbox comes defined with the tools? I’m guessing that I’m not the target audience for this product; I am probably asking too many questions.
There are a few typos, a fair amount of spelling errors, and (this is almost purely based on my opinion of how a module should be written) too much exaggeration of plot points. For instance, the thief is described thusly: “armed with the Omnicrys, he may be almost unstoppable”. It’s probably just me, but I want to rail against every adventure being this epic struggle to overcome something “almost unstoppable,” which I feel is the structure of a lot of adventures, especially classic ones. Basically, you start small, and then ramp up to the Big Bad. Yawn. I’m not saying that is what this module is, I’m just saying that by setting the stage in the way that it is it’s primed for that kind of story.
Of course, the Sandbox series is open to taking it anywhere you want to go, you can expand or contract the module any way you like. For some people, they may read through The Broken Omnicrys and be inspired. As for me, I think the $1.99 price tag is a bit heavy for this item, it would be a much more comfortable buy for me in the $0.99 range. Even then, I would like to see some more flexibility in this supposed sandbox-land. Why not just expand on the plot twists instead of giving a main plot in the setting information, and let the GM and players decide where to go and what to do? Sounds much more sandbox-y in my opinion.