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Monday 13 September 2021

Blue Collar Sci-Fi Slasher

The AMC-222 Report is a scenario for Those Dark Places: Industrial Science Fiction Roleplaying, the roleplaying game of Blue-Collar Science Fiction horror published by Osprey Games. It is written by the roleplaying game’s designer and presents a short scenario which combines strong elements of action, investigation, and roleplaying and which could be played in a single session—two at the very most. It takes a traditional type of Science Fiction setting and gives it a horror twist which echoes that of the slasher film subgenre. It can be played as a training simulation to determine the suitability of the Player Characters for working between Earth and the frontier of space as part of the application process as described in Those Dark Places, or it can be run straight as an assignment during their years of employment. This also means that it can be run with new Player Characters or more experienced ones, but if played as a training simulation or early in their careers, its horror elements may foreshadow their eventual fate if the Player Characters spend too much time in space… However it is used, The AMC-222 Report will take relatively little time for the Game Monitor to prepare for play.

The setting for The AMC-222 Report is Asteroid Mining Catch 222 in the Peller System, a facility operated by Cambridge-Wallace, Inc. The head of facility has recently sent an emergency request for help. Two of its mining crew have been killed and a member of staff is missing, and worse, as far as the company is concerned, the deep space mining facility is not currently operating at full capacity, and that means it is losing money… The Player Characters—the crew of the DSRV Grahams, a light and fast Deep Space Reconnaissance Vessel typically used by many Duster and Arbiter crews for fast dispatch and first responder missions. They receive an emergency briefing and are reassigned to investigate and resolve the emergency. Cambridge-Wallace, Inc. wants Asteroid Mining Catch 222 back operating at full capacity as soon as possible.

The players and their characters should realise that there is something different about this mission from the off. Each member of the team is assigned a Dazer pistol and a medkit. When they arrive, the Player Characters find the station to be a bleak, dark, and depressing place. It seems to be in a constant state of power saving and this has affected the personnel assigned there. The staff are weary and worn out, even uncaring in the face of the current situation. This presents the Game Monitor with some entertaining NPCs to roleplay and some frustrated and frustrating NPCs for the Player Characters to interact with—or not!

The AMC-222 Report is divided into two acts, with each act being set on a different level of Asteroid Mining Catch 222. In the first act, the Player Characters arrive at the habitable level and investigate recent events and interrogate the base personnel as to recent events. In the second act, the Player Characters descend to the mine workings on the lower level. Here they encounter malfunctioning machinery, a less than ideal working environment, and worse…

Support for the Game Master for The AMC-222 Report includes deck plans of the DSRV Grahams and floor plans of Asteroid Mining Catch 222, the deck plans also being useful as a sample ship for the Player Characters in the long term. All of the scenario’s NPCs are given detailed backgrounds to accompany their often moody responses and explanations as to what is going on in the facility in the scenario’s first act. In addition to details of the Deep Space Reconnaissance Vessel, the other new item of equipment given is the Armoured Space Suit.

Physically, The AMC-222 Report is reasonably well presented. The deck plans and floor plans are simple, but clear, whilst the artwork is at best described as rough. If there is anything missing, it is perhaps a set of ready-to-play Player Characters which would both speed up the scenario’s already quick preparation time and make it suitable as a convention scenario.

The AMC-222 Report is more obvious in its plotting and in its inspiration as a horror scenario than the earlier The Ana-Sin-Emid Report. It might even be termed simple, but that should not necessarily be held against it. The AMC-222 Report is straightforward, but that does not mean it is not atmospheric and does not mean it cannot deliver a short, sharp shock of horror.

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