I’ve been largely buried under my projects up until now, whether that’s getting my head on straight, getting The Long-Lost Friend and other secret projects off, and trying to do crazy things like read an 800+ page PDF for a review here. Eventually, I’ll get done with that, and it’ll be worth the effort for you, if not for me. In the meantime, I’d like to discuss this review copy of Out of Time which Pelgrane Press has graciously sent to me.
Roleplayers these days are typically split into two contingents: those who prefer PDFs, and those who hate them with a passion. The trend toward electronic publishing has been a boon to RPG companies, who can put out a quality product without the expense of printing and the need to share multiple cuts of the profits. On the other hand, such a strategy does mean that the second group is often completely set against buying these. The best case scenario is when the successful products are re-released in print form later for the second group to enjoy, but then the reviewer has to work from a PDF anyway due to shipping times. Anyway, Out of Time is such a product, providing us with the printed versions of Adam Gauntlett’s WWI scenario “Not So Quiet” (my review), Jason Morningstar’s scientific expedition “The Black Drop” (my review), Bill White’s atomic horror story “Castle Bravo” (my review), and the same author’s “The Big Hoodoo”…
Wait a minute. You mean I actually skipped “The Big Hoodoo”? After all this, I miss the scenario which is all about Jack Parsons and Thelemites in California and weird magical rites? I’d better correct that.
In short, “The Big Hoodoo” is set in Fifties California. You and your fellow players play Bob Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, and some lesser luminaries of the science fiction world of the time. They have come to attend the funeral of rocketing pioneer and OTO member Jack Parsons, where they meet a number of eccentric individuals with agendas of their own. Eventually they end up attempting to thwart a highly dangerous plot that involves rockets, honey, and black magic, carried out at the diabolical direction of someone who is definitely not L. Ron Hubbard.
This sounds like quite a bit of fun, and it really is, upon read-through. On the other hand, there’s quite a number of characters and agendas with which the GM will have to keep track, and White doesn’t help by outlining some particular scenarios (such as kidnappings) and saying, “You should decide who did this!” I’d say the piece is really for experienced game masters who can handle multiple threads, characters, and locations simultaneously. I came away from it with the thought of, “This would make an awesome LARP!”, which, if you think about it, is and isn’t an endorsement simultaneously. At any rate, I’m not worried, because most of you who read the previous paragraph already made up your mind as to whether to buy it and won’t even bother to read this part. You bastards.
Returning to Out of Time, the book also includes a piece by each author discussing his scenario. They seem to have been left to their own devices, so we get Adam Gauntlett giving a wonderfully long description of ways one could be horribly mangled in the trenches of World War I, Jason Morningstar talks about how it might be fun to set an adventures on the Kurguelens during the 1874 transit of Venus, and Bill White gives us incredibly extensive playtest notes on “The Big Hoodoo” before apparently getting writer’s cramp and becoming unable to do the same treatment for “Castle Bravo,” but he’s forgiven. None of these, in my opinion, adds enough value to the book if you’re one of those PDF readers who already bought all four, but those who didn’t or who prefer their products in print will get an extra treat.
One quick note – the in-text page references are not always straight, but it seems the ones in the table of contents are. Please use those if you’re getting stuck navigating the book.
Thus – Out of Time is a great scenario package if you haven’t purchased these scenarios yet, and each promises an evening of fun.