An Endzeitgeist.com review
The second installment of Amora Game’s Xeno Files-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons.
So, this time around, we visit the Dyson Alehouse, which is basically a Western saloon coated in chrome and steel plates, docking stations scattered around…and a single automatic door at the front of the building. Okay, yes, antennae and neon lights are added as well, but still – a really surreal and intriguing place….though the inside is truly futuristic, with every section covered with doors, apertures and portholes and a bar of silver metal, tended by an insectoid android. In order to get a drink, the PCs will have to actually talk to it – and there is only a 50-50-chance it’ll respond in a broken dialect of their language: Basically, they have to get a ticket (visually represented in the file!) from a terminal. In order to get this ticket, the PCs will have to enter gold coins. Nope, not credits, gold coins. 100 of them. For that, the machine will spit out a 10-drink coupon. Where do the PCs get gold coins?
Well, you see, while the countless doors in Dyson’s can lead pretty much anywhere – there are basically fully-functional wormholes, making this a scifi-version of the traditional extra-planar tavern-hub trope. 3 sample more or less fixed destinations are mentioned, including a Valhalla-style meadhall. The tavern does not gain a proper map or the like, but we get a serious amount of different tables: There are 20 drink descriptions and 20 effects, for example: These btw. include falling unconscious sans save, hallucinations, recalling one’s fondest memories or getting transparent skin, etc. Another table lets you determine descriptions, shapes and miscellaneous qualities of a wormhole-door with 20 entries each. Now, each of the myriad rooms that connect to the tavern also has its own, strange rules – and a huge table provides all the material you need to craft adventure-hooks based on them: No less than 100 entries for rules, punishments and clientele of a given room can be found. We also get some advice on how to use the alehouse.
As far as supplemental content is concerned, we get two different articles: the first would be Daji, living goddess of the umvee (including a basic, subdomain-less PFRPG deity-write-up). The second article would be a conversion of the Umvee to PFRPG: +2 Constitution, +2 “Intelligaince”[sic!], -2 Charisma. The race is Medium, kemonomimi subtype. They get +2 to Survival and Handle Animals, limited telepathy…and the caste conversion has some glitches. Alphas mention e.g. Stamina increases per level, which MAY tie in with PFU’s rules, but I’m not sure. Betas get to choose two skills from Bluff, Diplomacy, intimidate and Sense Motive and get +1 to the skills chosen. Omegas get +1 to Knowledge (religion) and (arcana) and +2 to CL-checks and Zeats get +2 to saves versus disease, poison, becoming nauseated and sickened as well as mind-affecting effects. Not a bad conversion per se, but neither an inspired one.
Editing and formatting are okay; while I noticed a couple minor and avoidable hiccups in the pretty thin crunch, they did not overly detract from my enjoyment of the pdf. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard (with 3 pages using 1-column instead); the pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t exactly need them at this length.
Chance Phillips and Greg LaRose provide a nice, inexpensive, almost system-agnostic supplement here…which may be slightly to the detriment of the supplement. You see, I very much like Dyson’s. The idea and aesthetics are cool – but I found myself wishing we got a map or at least stats for the barkeep. Similarly, being knocked out cold by a drink, sans save, is not something you get to see in SFRPG or PFRPG, for that matter. While easily remedied, it is small hiccups like this that make this feel a bit less refined than what I hoped to get. Similarly, the tie-ins to Starfinder’s mechanics could have been much stronger. While still an inexpensive and fun offering, Dyson’s thus falls into the realm of being a solid, if not perfect little supplement. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.