Originally written as a tournament adventure to launch 12 to Midnight Games, it's now presented as a stand-alone scenario, complete with pre-generated characters. The nature of the game, with the need for all the characters to be members of the US National Guard (and some of the backgrounds that they have!) makes it unsuitable to be inserted into a campaign - although you might wish to use it as a campaign starter... if any of the characters survive, that is!
Basically, the characters - who are all, as mentioned above, National Guardsmen (members of the US Army's volunteer reserve, in other words) - are ordered to do a tour of duty at a remote Army base in New Mexico. All is, as one would expect, not quite what it seems...
To put it briefly, the base was being used for some exotic biological warfare research, which as well as having some, shall we say, uncontrolled results in the 'real world' has also attracted the interest of certain supernatural powers. Naturally, just as the characters arrive on the scene things start to go wrong big style. To provide the necessary groupings, characters are split into 2 groups, one arriving by helicopter (with special orders), the rest being ordinary National Guardsmen in a bus. It's a bit unfortunate that the bio-war lab explodes just as they all arrive in area...
The whole adventure is filled with advice to the GM on how best to run the action. There's loads of hints and tips - although I think it might be hard work for a complete novice GM, it could well prove a good arena for a GM with a few games under his belt to step up his game a notch with a mass-action, loads of stuff going on, adventure.
For those of you fortunate enough to be able to access a computer when role-playing, there is quite a treat in store. The zipfile contains 2 PDFs, one with the adventure and another with fantastic detailed maps of the entire base... and they have been hyperlinked so that as you reach each location in the adventure, a second window will open with the appropriate map. Excellent use of the technology! Those who game on paper will just have a large file of maps to flick through - there are recommendations as to which will be most useful if you do not wish to go to the trouble and expense of printing out all 57 pages of maps! They do make a wonderful army base, though, so it might be worth keeping them for any adventures you plan that use military facilities. The author's foreword says that they were based on several Army camps in which he had served - and while I've not been on a US Army base, they do have that authentic feel of a military facility that all veterans will recognise! To enable non-military GMs to stay in character, a drill sergeant explains military terminology and customs in frequent sidebar notes.
Once you have played out the opening moments, which neatly unite the 2 groups of characters and set them up ready to investigate what's happened on the base, the adventure is very free-flowing. The characters are free to go wherever they wish, while the GM is provided with all the resources to deal with them wherever they wander! Each location and its occupants are described - this serves as the 'starting position' for all the NPCs, but it will be up to the GM to move them according to clearly specified guidelines once they become aware of the characters' presence.
Appendices provide full details of all NPC statistice, plus useful things like the damage you can do with a variety of common object - hey, just because this is an army base you will not have weapons freely available (not unless you raid the armoury, that is - remember, soldiers' access to weapons is probably more limited than that of civilians in the US). There is also a section on common skill checks and procedures, to aid the GM in moderating likely occurrences. You also get a collection of player handouts, including initial briefing notes and - very useful - inventory lists for certain key locations to hand to those players who want to know every last thing that's in a particular area; and character sheets ready to give out to the players.
The whole thing is well presented, with clear layout, wonderful incidental photos apparently taken at the scene (some supplied by serving US soldiers as part of a competition run by 12 to Midnight); although I find the typeface a little unclear both on screen and when printed out. As a final helpful feature, the adventure appears twice, the second version has none of the incidental photos and other illustrations, so can be used by those who want to print out the adventure without wasting too much of their printer resources!
Overall, a very well presented scenario with the potential to create a memorable - if deadly - game. It's as well that pregenerated characters are provided, as some deaths are almost inevitable. I think this would work best if you conceal from the players that it is essentially a horror scenario, let them think you have something military planned... I'm looking forwards to running this one myself.
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