Close Encounters: Onyx Station (SFRPG) (Priority Review)
This installment of the Close Encounters-series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.
Okay, so we have essentially an Event Horizon situation on our hands: Onyx Station vanished in hyperspace, and now, 50 years later, it suddenly reappeared. Scanners show biological life, and it’s up to the party to explore the returned station. Structurally, this is essentially DIY-make-your-own-module toolkit, providing brief overviews of respective sections alongside hazards ad creature suggestions, with every 2 levels getting their own suggested creature assortment and adventure hooks.
Unsurprisingly, this means that the majority of the pdf is taken up by a bestiary, but we also get two ships: The tugboat, which is a tier 3 shuttle coming with a gravity beam; I generally like this ship, though it has some space left to customize it, and the tier 5 pilgrim-class freighter. Both are not combat-focused, just so you know. They are not as meticulously-crafted as the vessels presented by Evil Robot Games.
Anyhow, bestiary: We have pretty much a nice array of the classic concepts you’d expect, conceptually: We have weird science-experiments (CR 6), chaos beasts (CR 7), columns of flesh (CR 10), sedating fungi, creepy sentries (think Alien: Isolation), fear-consuming nuisances, scifi-morlocks, etc. – essentially, the creatures herein have a pretty strong horror angle.
The good news here is that you can use these critters; the bad news is that there are some glitches in them, some of which obviously did stem from slipping in the line in the table. When a CR 4 expert creature has the EAC and KAC of the CR 3 critter, the source of the glitch is pretty obvious. Said critter has btw. also slipped in the HP column – but down here, sporting 20 HP more than usual for the CR.
Fly speeds, if present, do not list being extraordinary or supernatural. We have further hiccups in the details here, like an ability that obviously should be mind-affecting (both from context, and the fact that its damage is untyped). The statblocks per se tend to be correct, but also sport quite a few glitches, some of which seriously should have been caught: “…while those already exhausted become exhausted.” [sic!]
Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, okay on a mechanical level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, with quite a bunch of nice full-color artworks. Fans of Fat Goblin Games will be familiar with a couple of those. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience; weird: Each critter gets two hyperlinks to point to them: One critter name, and the CR.
Kim Frandsen and Michael Ritter deliver a solid little toolkit here; it may not be exactly mind-blowing, but it is a helpful little supplement if you’re looking for some hazards and critters to add to your game. The build-integrity of the content is significantly higher than in e.g. the ill-fated NPC Codex. Oh, and this costs a grand total of $1.50. Do I think that this is worth the equivalent of not even half a cup of mediocre coffee (a good cup cost more than €3 where I live…)? Heck yeah. This may not be mind-boggling, but for little more than a buck? Most assuredly worth checking out! As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up.
You can get this inexpensive toolkit here on OBS.
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