Vs. Moon Men: Santa Claus is Coming to Anytown (VsM Engine)
This adventure for Vs. Moon men clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 6 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.
This is an adventure review, so the following does contain SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, only Moon Masters around? Great! So, it’s been 5 months since the moonie invasion, and for quite a bunch of years, Frank, the kindly old veteran, has been the town’s Santa Claus. While life has returned mostly to normalcy, with a collaborator local government, there is a curfew in place; a PC gets to argue why they would have a job in town that warrants a card to get past curfew, and Hearts nets you one, while Spade nets you a Demerit; townsfolk with two Demerits are sent off to “re-education;” Frank had such a card, granted on a secular basis, but when the pastor (named Kringle) also applied for one, Franks’ card was cancelled. Frank is not going to give up. Frank is not amused, and is raising a ruckus in town. A special Christmas Parade just before curfew has been allowed, but now, is suddenly canceled. The PCs can see a moon man next to the councilman announcing this, and may realize that the councilman’s speech pattern is off. Frank in full attire (think off classic Coca Cola Santa Claus, just with military dufflebag) and some folks will cause a scene, so de-escalation may be in order – unless they want to see a flying saucer’s power in action…
Depending on how the previous scene ends, the PCs will find themselves in some way at church, and Pastor Kringle, wracked with guilt, is trying to help Frank organize his rounds, enlisting the PCs for some runs. These include easy runs, but the PCs will nonetheless have to contend with deputizes lunie (local parlance for the invaders) supporters. In case combat breaks out, the PCs will have to be quick – it won’t take long before the alien cavalry comes and hopelessly outclasses them. Ofd course, sufficiently pissing off the Moon Men may result in PCs being re-educated, vaporized, and/or Christmas being canceled…but how this plays out is pretty much up to the PCs. The pdf closes with a good gimmick that you can earn, which nets you one redraw per session after a failure.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of vs. Moon Men, and the pdf comes with the nice photography-ish artworks that made the main book work. The pdf comes bookmarked, in spite of its brevity, which is nice to see.
Lucus Palosaari’s module here is pretty cool in its premise; it has an occupied nation/Christmas miracle vibe that encapsulates the Christmas spirit angle rather well. At the same time, it really does feel like a vignette, a sketch; the scenes and how they can play out would usually point towards diverging paths, and I genuinely believe that you can get a lot of playtime out of this, if you expand it. Indeed, it does feel like it could have carried a more diverse and nuanced narrative. As presented, the adventure is pretty brief and doesn’t have too much meat on its bones – it pretty much is as brief as most VsM-based scenarios, and this time around, the scope feels like it would have deserved more. This isn’t bad, mind you; in fact, I really enjoyed it – and for a paltry $1.50, it sure as heck is worth checking out. But I couldn’t help but wish this had the ambition of being a bigger scenario instead of a vignette. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price point.
You can get this inexpensive, short adventure-vignette here on OBS!