Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Review: Game Chambers of Questal


Game Chambers of Questal was the last of the module-format adventures for the Star Wars D6 game. After this, all further books would be in perfect-bound (spined) format rather than saddle-stitched. As far as I'm concerned, though, the original modules were some of the best ever produced for the game (and no, it wasn't just because of their binding)—and this includes Game Chambers.

The plot of the adventure is as follows: The characters are sent to recover a lost Alliance agent. They track him to Questal, where they discover he had become embroiled in a scheme of the local Imperial Moff to create some kind of mass mind-control device. Following a trail of clues and contacts, the players eventually put the pieces together and ultimately have to infiltrate the Moff's palace to rescue the agent and destroy the evil machine. There, they find themselves in the titular 'Game Chambers'—a deathtrap playground used by the maniacal Moff Bandor for his personal amusement. 

Though taking place entirely on one planet (Questal) the adventure includes a multitude of different settings, each with their own challenges. From the streets of the city, to a local junkyard, to the floating penthouse of a crime lord, to the Game Chambers themselves. The types of encounters are likewise varied and interesting—chases with swoop gangers (through an amusement park, no less), gladiatorial duels on floating platforms, calming an enraged Trompa (a cousin of a Wampa), negotiations with greedy underworld types—you name it. And that is all before you even REACH the Game Chambers themselves. Once you're there, you have a variety of horrific death traps that test characters on various levels (from puzzle-solving to physical challenges) not to mention the different bounty-hunters and assassin droids (each with their own unique 'hook') trying to take them out.

I also enjoyed the fact that the super-weapon in this was not just another variation on the 'big gun that blows up planets' thing. It is essentially a fear generator—used to keep a planet's population docile and servile. A rather insidious thing if you think about it—and one I actually used (in a slightly different manner) in my Nagai invasion plot.

Most of all, I enjoyed the rather open-ended nature of this module. Yes, it has specific plot points and encounters—a track for the character's to follow—but I often point to this adventure as a showcase of how well-run story adventures don't have to follow a 'railroad'. This was the adventure that featured the infamous 'Rogue Squadron' incident in my campaign (see more about that here—scroll down a bit). Long story short, a couple of my players jumped the tracks and we had a lot of fun doing it. 

Another way this module stood out to me was the small modification I made to it—making the lost Rebel none other than Tiree—a fellow agent who had helped the group out several times (and had a budding relationship with Arianne). In this way, I was able to tie the adventure in a bit more tightly to my campaign specifically. 

Now for the criticisms—I guess my main one was the artwork. I don't mind a sketchy or even cartoony style, but the art in this module just seemed BAD to me. The people were all rather squiggly and odd looking. 

Also, I remember having to work to modify some of the challenges in the Game chambers (the starfighter simulation in particular). They just felt a bit too 'forced' to me, and didn't flow as well with the other challenges (i.e. they kind of brought things to a halt rather than building up the tension). 

Overall, Game Chambers—the last of the module format adventures—did its run proud, upholding some of the best qualities of the early version of the game. 

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