It's no secret that far and away one of my favourite games of the moment is the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG from Tuesday Knight Games and I'm always on the look out for one shot scenarios, longer campaigns, home brew rules, and frankly any bits of Mothership related business that I can lay my paws on. One of the latest adventures to hit my table after a very successful Kickstarter is "Desert Moon of Karth"- a space western sandbox adventure. Whilst Desert Moon of Karth is designed and written for Mothership, as is the case with many such scenarios it will work well with most other sci-fi RPGs with very little tinkering, (especially those which are, at their hearts, fairly rules light), such as Stars Without Number, or Traveller. I've also used bits of it within an ongoing Coriolis game.
The product itself is available as a PDF and as a printed A5 Zine, it runs to around 52 pages, which is chunky for a Zine. It is well laid out, in keeping with other Mothership style Zines, and has excellent illustrations and cartography throughout - I'm truly looking forward to using the map of the interior of a giant Sand Squid...
In terms of other content the Desert Moon of Karth is essentially everything you need for a "space western" sandbox adventure; there is a map of the Desert Moon itself with ten detailed adventure sites, including a ship graveyard, a camel ranch (which found its way into my Coriolis game), living coral caves, and a foreboding shattered spire. There is Larstown which is destined to be your starting point and "home base" on the moon. Larstown is well detailed, with a great map, rumour tables and enough establishments to cater for the shopping, eating and drinking needs of even my players. There is a brilliant NPC generator, which I love as it saves me trying to make up (and remember) NPC names and details on the fly. In fact, in true Mothership style there are random tables galore - I started counting, and stopped at lots... But let's just say that everything you need from quirky technology to organs for transplant is covered. Job done!
The game plays homage to loads of sci-fi tropes from its ancient orbital defences, to the "sand squids". After reading it you won't be surprised that in his list of inspirations for Desert Moon of Karth Joel Hines includes: "Dune, Firefly, Alien, John Carter of Mars, Cowboy Bebop, The Dark Tower, spaghetti westerns, and modern adventures like Hot Springs Island, A Pound of Flesh, Ultraviolet Grasslands, and Slumbering Ursine Dunes".
The Desert Moon of Karth is presented as a moon on the very edge of the galaxy. The only way to the surface of the moon is to use an antique space elevator, which delivers your player characters directly into the heart of a lawless boomtown. Welcome to Larstown; Just think Deadwood in space. If that isn't dangerous enough for you then the surrounding environs are places of even even greater danger just waiting for you to explore them. As the author says "Survival or salvation is not guaranteed, partner.".
I find myself full of praise for The Desert Moon of Karth, I'm essentially a lazy GM and this gives me everything I need. I have yet to play it as written for Mothership, but that is on the horizon. In the meantime I have pilfered for other games with great success. It couldn't (in my opinion) come with a better set of credits - Writing: Joel Hines, llustrations: Logan Stahl, Francesco Zanieri, Glynn Seal, and Ben Smith, Editing: Jarrett Crader and Fiona Geist, Layout: Simeon Cogswell and Development: Ian Yusem. Personally I can't wait to see what they all do next.
If we gave stars out of five at miskatonic.co.uk (which we don't) it would be a 5/5.