Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/06/20/tabletop-review-captains-logs-from-the-sandbox-003-the-mining-colony-at-elkos-iv/
The Mining Colony at Elkos IV is #3 in the “Captain’s Logs” series for Occult Moon Games. Unlike the fantasy-based series that started off the Toys for the Sandbox, this series seems to be open to multiple authors and artists, which is pretty cool. The art is nice, very much like classic RPG books, with some computer rendered pieces.
This booklet comes with a map that covers part of the surface of a planet called Elkos IV. There are a few areas of note, presumably ripe for a little investigation. The main one is the abandoned mining installation, left over from when there was promise of some valuable substance under the frozen surface. There is also an abandoned city, a purported region where the lost ships might be, and a few others.
There is a brief planet profile of Elkos IV, and then a few tables for space and planetary hazards. Of course, there is the essential part of the Sandbox modules, the plot twists, and then a few profiles of major NPCs. The planet is described as being nearly inhospitable to life (a “complete snowball”), yet one of the plot twists involves there being a race of chipmunks of all things. This is a little silly to me, because as a GM how am I going to explain how they live or what they eat when there is virtually no other life on the planet? These kind of inconsistencies are a continual source of weakness in the continuity of these modules. The setting is put forward, and then ideally the plot twists make sense inside the setting. If you’re going to put forward an inhospitable planet, you better help me explain to myself and the players why there is any life there.
What Do I Think?
This module seems a bit more focused, a bit more coherent and, at the same time, a bit more open than the module before this one. It feels more like the sandbox is being defined, but the goal of the sandbox is pushed less. That is, the whole “lost ships” mission is put forward, but that in itself is an open-ended goal. Would ships be there? Maybe, it’s up to the GM and the players. Meanwhile, there’s all this other stuff to engage the players if you want. In my opinion, one of the better modules from the Sandbox series. GMs be warned, it’s still a skeleton of an adventure so be prepared to either make up or write up a lot of the details. Also, the chipmunks.