Since Halloween's come around again and this product went on sale, it's the perfect time for me to write a long-overdue review of this interesting product.
Systemless products have had a checkered history in the hobby. Most people want some way to mechanically represent the material they have paid for. Yet the fictional content of a world need not be connected to a mechanic to be compelling. Nowhere is that more true than in horror. Creepy situations are creepy not necessarily because of the tension of a die roll or card turn or Jenga pull, but because a vivid description can excite the imagination. Derelict Starships provides 100 of these descriptions, some outlining a full situation (a section of the ship appears to be intentionally voided of air), other times a mere implication in a simple object (a laser rifle is smashed by some unknown powerful force.) Each description is a full paragraph, with some commentary on how the GM might incorporate them into a situation.
Normally I would not rate a "list of 100 things" this highly even if they were fleshed out and well written. Horror requires that there be rules - if anything can happen at any time, there's no suspense, no feeling that you know what's coming. So a random collection of 100 scary paragraphs is not in and of itself that useful. Where this product shines is in the organization and additional material.
I have to say I NEVER expected to see a solid three-page description of corpse decomposition and how it might be changed in a spaceship environment, but this is exactly what's in the supplement and exactly what's needed to provide the structure onto which you can create a horror situation. And the index, in which the 100 scary situations/paragaphs are arranged by what kinds of things they contain (debris, bodies, dangerous environments, etc.) is an amazing innovation for this type of product. It should be in absolutely every single one of the "list of things" products out there.
Finally, there's a .rtf version in the zip file in case you want to copy/paste the description into your notes. AND there are card versions of the scary text that you can print and use for your own purposes So basically every possible thing that can be done with this product (other than internal hyperlinks) has been done.
This product presses every single one of my reviewer tilt buttons. The list alone might have only been three stars. Yay, some scary stuff, but so what? So what is: extensive structure on which a horror GM can build tension, exceptional organizational tools, and a .rtf version to help with customizing electronic play aids. And thus, having had all my hobby horses petted, spoiled and groomed like Rafalca, I have no choice but to give this one my highest marks.
Happy Halloween 2012, everyone!
[5 of 5 Stars!]