Sunday, January 13, 2019

Spaceship Skills in Knight Hawks

Art by Julian Krupa

With the spaceship rules that Knight Hawks brought to Star Frontiers, it also introduced spaceship skills.  However, such skills are not available to beginning characters.  Each spaceship skill requires a combination at least six levels of one or more 'basic' Star Frontiers skills.  As discussed previously, such levels cost over a hundred points.  Also, with regard to improvement, “Spaceship skills are a lot more expensive...than skills from the STAR FRONTIERS game.”  The rules explain, “This reflects the high degree of training a character needs in order to understand and use complex spaceship systems.”  Jeff Rients rationalizes this by comparing the setting to the early days of the space program:
Only the best of the best of the best in various terrestrial professions have the chops to learn space skills.  Test pilots and aces are allowed near the controls of spacecraft.  No one else can cut it behind the wheel of these multi-zillion credit wonders of technology.  If you want to be trusted with the cannon on a spacecraft you need to prove that you've mastered smaller weapons.
I would have an easier time buying into this analogy if there weren't space pirates.  I mean, if people with spaceship skills are so valued, there's little reason for them to turn to piracy.  Also, I don't want my escapism tempered by rationalizations.  Beginning characters in other space opera games can pilot space ships, why should it be so difficult in Star Frontiers ?  On the other hand, beginning magic-users can't cast Fireball, so perhaps a reasonable argument could be made that beginning Star Frontiers characters need not have access to spaceship skills.

There is a way to acquire spaceship skills without accumulating vast amounts of experience.  By attending spacefleet academy, a character becomes “qualified at the 1st level of a spaceship weapons skill and 2nd level of piloting, astrogation or spaceship engineering skill.”  Students also receive any 'foundation' skills at whatever levels are needed.
Spacefleet officers receive their training at the Gollwin Academy, which is the fleet war college.  The academy is a huge group of space stations orbiting Morgaine's World.  It offers a two year program in the tactics and strategy of interstellar combat.  Its graduates assume the rank of Junior Lieutenants on Spacefleet vessels.
There are, however, requirements for entering the academy.
All cadets entering the academy must have scores of at least 50 in six of their eight abilities.  The character's Leadership score must be higher than 50.
Before entering the academy, a character is interviewed by the faculty.  The character is admitted if he or she passes a Personality check.  If the check is failed, “the character may apply again one year later.”  Once in the academy, the character chooses either piloting, astrogation, or spaceship engineering to study.  If the character fails a Logic check, he or she cannot attain that skill and must select one of the two remaining alternatives.  If a second Logic check is failed, then the character can try for the last skill area with a third check.  “If the third roll fails,” we learn, “the character has 'washed out' of the academy and will never be admitted again.” 

As one might expect, “Piloting skill allows a character to fly a spaceship.”  As foundation skills, piloting requires Computer 2 and Technician 6.  At first level of ability, only “system” ships can be flown.  Starting at second level, the character can pilot starships of increasing volumes of hull size.  At sixth level, a character can pilot “All starships.”  Piloting sub-skills include evasion, increase maneuver rating, and increase accuracy of forward firing weapons.

With the astrogation skill, a character “can make the complicated calculations required to take a starship on a safe course through the Void.”  ('The Void' is the Knight Hawks version of hyperspace.  “Time is very distorted in the Void,” the introduction explains, “and space does not seem to exist at all.”)  The foundation skill for astrogation is Computer 6.  Subsets include find location, pilot interstellar jumps, and chart new routes.  (“The UPF pays a standard bonus of 100,000 Cr for information on new travel routes.”).  We are told, “Normal plotting time for a jump is 10 hours for each light-year that will be jumped.”  If less time is spent preparing, the attempt “is called Risk Jumping, or 'smoking the jump.'”  Risk jumping is another astrogation subskill.  Included with the astrogation skill description is the Interstellar Distance Table.  Given the vertical separation and horizontal separation between two stars, the table provides the distance in light-years.  This reinforces the notion that space is a two dimensional plane.

“Spaceship engineers are trained in the construction, maintenance and repair of spaceships.”  Both Technician 4 and Robotics 2 are needed as foundation skills.  (So, spaceship engineering requires less technician competency than does piloting.)  Subskills include damage control and stress analysis.  Spaceship engineering also includes the subskill of ship design, having a success rate of 100%.  Skill level determines the types of ship a character is qualified to design.  At first level, the character can only design shuttles; at second level, “System ships of all types.”  Starting at third level, a character can design starships of increasing hull size.  One assumes the skill could also be used in conjunction with space stations.

There are two distinct gunnery skills, rocket weapons (requiring Projectile Weapons 4 and Gyrojet Weapons 2 as foundation skills) and Energy Weapons (requiring Beam Weapons 6).  As explained in the previous post, levels in gunnery skills improves accuracy with ship weapons.  Appropriately, one of the subskills is improve accuracy.  The other subskill is selective targeting.  At a -30% modifier, a gunner can hit a specific system of the target ship.  “If the shop misses,” the description indicates, “it is considered a clean miss and causes no damage.”

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Don't Let A Dralasite Lick It...

Art by Vincent Di Fate

The admonition above is good advice generally.  Specifically, it relates to the stamp on a self-addressed envelope one should send to TSR regarding “comments and questions about the Knight Hawks Game.”  Said admonition appears on the inside front cover of the “16-page board game rules book” included in the Knight Hawks boxed set.  As the back of the box states, Knight Hawks is “Playable as an expansion to the STAR FRONTIERS™ ALPHA DAWN role playing game or as a separate boardgame.”  The board game rules are actually the starship combat rules for Star Frontiers.  These rules can be presented as a board game since they are largely distinct from the role-playing rules of Star Frontiers.  (The 64-page Knight Hawks Campaign Book includes approximately two pages of Special Combat Rules that supplement the 'board game' rules.)

The title page of the board games rules book reads, appropriately enough, “Basic and Advanced Boardgame Rules.”  However, the unillustrated cover reads UPF Tactical Operations Manual.  “UPF” means United Planetary Federation (which is completely different from the United Federation of Planets).  The military arm of the UPF is called Spacefleet (which is absolutely not Starfleet – Why would you even think that?).  The board game rules include four scenarios, two for the basic game and two for the advanced.  All of these scenarios represent incidents in the Second Sathar War.  (Given that Sathar are evil, worm-like aliens, it is to be expected that their ships have names like Carrion, Faminewind, Doomfist, and Venomous.)  Of course, “Players can make up an endless variety of scenarios on their own.”  Additionally, “Other conflicts (involving pirates, rebels, dictators or other interstellar ruffians) certainly are possible, and players are encouraged to experiment with new forces and situations.”

Included in the boxed set are 285 counters.  These are used to play out starship combat on a 22½” × 35” map sheet with a tessellation of hexes.  However, the inside back cover states, “Players interested in expanding their Knight Hawks games can use miniature metal spaceships instead of the cardboard counters included with the game.”  As one might expect, there's a plug for “TSR's STAR FRONTIERS Spaceship Miniatures, available where Knight Hawks is sold.”  With miniatures, players can forgo using a map.  If so,
Planets and moons can be cut out of cardboard and colored however the players like.  These planets can be cut to reflect their real size, unlike the counters in the game.  For example, the Earth would be 1.3 inches in diameter.  The moon would be .3 inches in diameter, 38 inches away from the Earth.
Of course, the Earth and moon are not part of the Star Frontiers setting and no comparable information for the planetary systems actually in the setting.  Regardless if a map is used, “space” is treated as if it is a flat plane, succumbing to the Khan Fallacy.  To be fair, according to the box cover, Knight Hawks is intended for “beginning to intermediate players, ages 10 and up” and a three-dimensional starship combat system would likely be too complex for the target demographic.

The basic game offers seven types of spaceships and also describes space stations.  Weapons systems are limited to lasers, rockets, and torpedoes (or “torpedos” as the rules sometimes spell it).  The described defensive systems are reflective hull (“mirror-like paint that...will often cause a laser beam to bounce off the ship...”), masking screen (“created when a ship releases a cloud of water vapor into space...”), and interceptor missiles (“small missiles that can be fired at incoming torpedoes, assault rockets and rocket battery barrages”).  Weapon type is indexed against defense type on a Combat Table to find the percentage chance of causing damage.  When a target vessel has more than one defensive system, “an attack's chance to hit is calculated against the most effective defense.”  If an attack is successful, damage dice are rolled and the result is subtracted from the target's hull points.  We are informed, “When all of the ship's hull points are gone, the ship is destroyed and the player removes it from the map.”

The advanced game introduces minelayers, light cruisers, and civilian craft.  Offensive capabilities include mines, proton beam batteries, electron beam batteries, disruptor beam cannon, and seeker missiles.  Screens are available as defensive systems in the advanced game.  A proton screen “is a field of charged particles which surrounds a ship,” an electron screen “is the opposite of a proton screen,” and a stasis screen is evidently some sort of field with an “electrical pulse.”  Each screen type happens to attract certain attack types.  A proton screen attracts electron beams, an electron screen attracts proton beams, and “a stasis screen allows missiles and rockets to home in with increased accuracy.”  When a ship with a given screen is attacked by that screen's 'nemesis' attack, the screen is used as the defense instead of the most effective defense the target may otherwise have.

Damage effects are more detailed in the advanced game.  In addition to the hull hits a weapon inflicts, the Damage Table is also consulted.  Some example results from the table include 'weapon hit' (a particular weapon system is destroyed), 'hull hit' (“double normal damage”), and 'navigation hit' (“loose maneuvering control”).  In the advanced game, crews can attempt repairs during combat.  (A combat turn lasts ten minutes and repairs may be attempted after every third turn.)  Each ship has a Damage Control Rating which can range from 30 to 200.  When attempting repairs, the Damage Control Rating is divided among damaged systems.  The amount allocated to a given system is the percentage chance that the system will be repaired.  Hull repairs can restore 1d10 hull points.

There is a section of the Knight Hawks Campaign Book titled The Second Sathar War.  This section offers “rules for a strategic level boardgame about the second Sathar attack on the Frontier.”  These rules employ the Frontier Deployment Map, an “abstract representation of the Frontier” (depicted below).

The rectangles are “transit boxes.”  For the most part, the number of transit boxes between star systems equals light years of distance as shown on Frontier map from the Expanded Rules.  However, Athor is eight light years from Araks even though there are only seven transit boxes between them on the Deployment Map.  Also, K'Tsa-Karis is five light years distant from K'aken-Kar, but only four transit boxes are shown on the Deployment Map.  Normally, ships can travel one transit box per day; however, by “risk-jumping,” they can travel up to three per day.  When a ship risk-jumps, there is a percentage chance it “will be lost for the duration of the war.”

When opposing forces are in the same system at the end of a day, there may be a battle.  Depending on the number of ships involved in a battle, different rules are suggested.  If there are more than fourteen ships, the basic rules are recommended.  When there are five to fourteen ships, the advanced rules with “no skill modifiers” are recommended.  With fewer than five ships, it is suggested that the advanced rules with “average NPC skills” be used.  Among the spaceship skills introduced in Knight Hawks, there are 'gunnery' skills that can improve chances for attack success.  Essentially, each level in a skill increases the chance for success by five percent.  However, when skills are applied to starship combat, the base chance for success is usually reduced between five and fifteen percent.  For example, against an electron screen, the base chance of success for an assault rocket is 60%; when gunnery skills are in play, the chance is 50%.

The strategic game includes rules for supply lines and enhanced repair.  There are optional rules for replacements (“available at the end of every 20 days”) and shatter drones (“A shatter drone is essentially a ship that has been turned into a huge bomb”).

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Odyssey Two Adventure (spoilers)

Of course, 2010: The Year We Made Contact, will never be evaluated on its own merits.  It is necessarily compared to its predecessor and Stanley Kubrick is a tough act to follow.  Naturally, we will examine Star Frontiers' 2010 Odyssey Two Adventure in light of its predecessor.  While the 2001 A Space Odyssey module had the novelty of man-apes, lunar antics, and a seven foot tall flame that asks characters if they want to “become a higher form of life,” the Odyssey Two module is relatively lackluster.

Written by Bruce Nesmith, who would become Creative Director at TSR, and Curtis Smith, who would later work for West End Games, Odyssey Two was published prior to the release of the film.  According to the back cover of the module:
          Seven-hundred million kilometers from Earth, an alien monolith glides above Jupiter.  Thousand-meter-long plumes of flame and sulfur shoot up from volcanoes on a nearby moon, but never touch or scar the slab.  Close by, the dark and lifeless spaceship Discovery tumbles end-over-end, abandoned since 2001.
          Now in 2010, your ship arrives to complete the Discovery's mission: solve the mysteries behind the monolith.  You must also determine what happened to the Discovery's commander, who disappeared into the monolith nine years ago.  Then, if its possible, you must repair the crippled Discovery and restart HAL, the super-computer that murdered most of the Discovery's crew.
          Unnoticed, the monolith stirs.  It, too, has a mission prepared millions of years ago – about to begin.
The module allows for exactly three player characters – pre-generated Americans accompanying a Russian mission to the Jovian system.  As such, the “your ship” mentioned in the second paragraph does not indicate possession.  The three player characters are Dr. Chandra (HAL's designer), Walter Curnow (“in charge of designing and building the spaceship Discovery II”), and Heywood Floyd (scientist from the first film and representative of the authority that modified HAL's programming – resulting in HAL's insanity).

The module provides less of a plot and more of a time table.  The players are deprived of any meaningful choices; if they wander “off-script,” the referee is instructed to herd them back into place.  In contrast to the previous module's four chapters, Odyssey Two has ten.  In the first chapter, the characters are briefed, tour the Russian ship Leonov, and spend two years hibernating.

In the second chapter, the Leonov aerobrakes by passing through Jupiter's atmosphere.  With successful skill rolls, the Americans can reduce the number of problems the Leonov encounters during the maneuver and car address those problems as they occur.  Each unresolved problem causes the Leonov to expend fuel.  This would seem to be important for Chapter 8 when the Leonov leaves the Jovian system.  However, ultimately, success in Chapter 8 does not depend upon the amount of fuel.  Perhaps in an earlier draft of the module it did.

In Chapter 3, the player characters salvage the Discovery.  It is by far the longest chapter in the module; eight pages out of thirty-two.  Given that four of the thirty-two pages comprise a pull-out with character stats, Chapter 3 represents almost 30% of the module.  The chapter provides details about the Discovery and describes the various tasks and skill rolls necessary to make the ship operational.  The most important part of the chapter is the reactivation of HAL.  The referee makes two skill rolls for Dr. Chandra so that the players don't know the results.  There is a 58% chance that either roll will fail, causing HAL to have faulty programming.  If this occurs, HAL eventually attempts to kill the player characters.

Whenever the player characters “do something directed toward the [Jovian] monolith” (such as approaching it with a pod), a roll is made on the 'Monolith Reactions' table.  There is a 30% chance of no reaction.  Two possibilities only seem applicable if one or more pods are near the monolith.  Another possibility is for “Dave Bowman in his new form, a star child,” to exit the monolith and head “straight for Earth at the speed of light.”  However, there is no way for the player characters to know this.  Why bother putting this information in the module?  Whether or not Bowman's exit is rolled as an event, Bowman appears in later scenes.

The Americans receive a warning, the source of which the referee chooses or randomly determines.  Regardless, the warning relates that the characters must depart the Jovian system in 2½ days.  The Russians, however, don't believe the Americans.  Any attempt to convince them fails.  Twelve hours after the warning, the monolith disappears; then, and only then, do the Russians believe.

The only way to escape the Jovian system in time is for the Russians and Americans to cooperate and link their two ships together.  (For our younger readers, this is what's known as heavy-handed Cold War allegory.)  Several skill rolls, player character and non-player character alike, establish how well the ships are linked.  This – and not the fuel of the Leonov – determines whether the escape is successful.  Also, with regard to the escape, HAL's cooperation is useful (but not strictly necessary) to fire the Discovery engines.  Ten minutes before the scheduled time, assuming HAL is activated (and whether or not his programming is faulty), HAL decides to forgo firing the engines.  The player characters must convince HAL to go along with the plan.  This would seem to be an important role-playing opportunity, except that if the player characters fail to persuade HAL, Bowman shows up after eight minutes and convinces HAL.  You know, star child ex machina.

Anyway, Jupiter becomes a miniature star.  Maybe the player characters survive and maybe they don't.  A message is broadcast warning against any landings on Europa.  Speaking of Europa, when the Leonov first reaches the Jovian system, it “detects strange readings” from that moon.  The type of reading is determined randomly; it is either magnetic, radio, or traces of chlorophyll.  The player characters can investigate or not; it doesn't really matter.  Information about investigating Europa is relegated to the last chapter, sort of like an appendix.  If they investigate, the player characters can opt for a manned expedition or a remote probe; it doesn't really matter.  The magnetic reading comes from a natural meteor.  The radio signals come from a crashed Japanese satellite.  With the chlorophyll option, there might be a monolith under the ice; it doesn't really matter.  Regardless of the type of reading – and regardless of expedition or probe – the player characters might see the movement of a “large gray-green mass.”  Depending on the paragraph, it could be “grey-green” and on page 30 it happens to be “gay-green” (not that there's anything wrong with that).  Just don't assume the sexual orientation of extraterrestrial life forms.

The 2001 module falsely claimed that Knight Hawks box set was required for play.  On the other hand, the Knight Hawks set is needed for Odyssey Two.  The Spaceship Engineering Skill is in play as is equipment described in Knight Hawks.  The 2001 module included the new skills of Astronomy and System Navigation.  Odyssey Two also includes Politics (“a new biosocial skill for this module only”):
This skill has two subskills: Empathy and Persuasion.  These subskills are exactly the same as the Psycho-Social subskills Empathy and Persuasion.  Politicians cannot use any other Psycho-social skill.
The only characters with Politics are Heywood Floyd and Colonel Tanya Kirbuk, captain of the Leonov.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Space Odyssey (spoilers)

It's 1984.  You know what would be great?  Connecting Star Frontiers to a popular science fiction franchise.  This would bring attention to the game and drive its future success.  Let's see...FASA has the rights to Star Trek and The Last Starfighter.  The third film in the Star Wars trilogy was released in '83, so public interest will probably wane...  Perhaps it would be best to get in on the ground floor of an upcoming film and ride its coat tails.  How about Dune ?  It's set to be a merchandising bonanza.  Also, Herbert's series is specifically listed as suggested reading on the inside back cover of the Star Frontiers rules.  But wait... MGM is releasing a sequel to 2001.  Never mind that it's not really space opera.  Never mind that many of the game's target demographic had yet to be born when the original film was released.  Kubrick's cinematic masterpiece is timeless; surely it can be easily adapted into an engaging role playing experience.

Such may as well have been the thought processes of one or more persons at TSR.  Regardless, we have been gifted with 2001 A Space Odyssey – “A Special Star Frontiers® Adventure Module.”  The task of writing this special module fell to Frank Mentzer.

The module is presented in four chapters, roughly analogous to the segments of the film:  Dawn of Man, Lunar Excursion, Jupiter Mission, and Through the Star Gate.  The Introduction provides an overview of the module's narrative:
At critical points in Mankind's history, an alien device, a monolith, appears and provides a key to the future.  Through this adventure, the player characters are present each time a monolith appears.  In each case, whether or not Mankind successfully enters the future offered by the monolith depends on how the player characters react and how much they learn about themselves and their universe.
Obviously, the standard game setting is not used.  “If you put this adventure in your STAR FRONTIERS® game, place it back in time before humans contact the other races.”  However, the adventure can be modified for the other intelligent races of Star Frontiers.
For example, in a dralasite version of chapter one, the monolith might teach cooperation to primitive, independent dralasites.  In a Yazirian version, the monolith might instigate the custom of life-enemies.
We are informed, “This special STAR FRONTIERS® module requires both ALPHA DAWN and KNIGHT HAWKS box sets.”  In reality, the Knight Hawks set is only needed for the Piloting skill and to provide an assortment of counters.  “All spaceflight in this adventure takes place in chapters 2 – 4,” the Introduction states, “Those chapters explain when and how to handle the necessary spaceflight.”

North is to the right
In chapter one, player characters control man-apes in the African wilderness of four million years ago.  Each has the same ability scores.  Events occur in three phases:  Survival (2 game days), Changes (2 game days), and Conquest (3 – 5 game days).  During the Survival phase, the man-apes cope with carnivores and an enemy tribe while trying to obtain sufficient food and water for survival.  A day without water reduces Stamina by 1d10; a day without food reduces Stamina by 1d5.  In the Changes phase, the monolith appears.  On the second day, “each PC man-ape visiting the monolith gains one skill” determined on the Skill Chart (at left).  Man-apes can learn skills from one another.  Player characters achieve the goal of the Conquest phase “when (1) they have slain a carnivore, and (2) the enemy tribe has surrendered.”

Chapter two takes place in 1994 and we learn, “The mega-corporations (which will eventually evolve into Pan Galactic, of the normal STAR FRONTIERS® game setting) dominate the quality of life.”  Players create original characters that reside “on Station One, the largest of three orbital cities floating above the Earth.”  Unlike the usual character generation procedure, a player may allocate a total of twelve Skill Levels among up to five skills (“with a maximum of 5 in any one Skill”).  The Computer and Technician skills are required and “at least 2 of [the skills] must be from the character's PSA.”  Each player then distributes forty additional points among the character's abilities.  “Finally, each player should secretly choose a nationality:  American, Russian, Chinese, or Other.”  Players are informed, “there has been a standing reward of 1,000 CR for anyone able to produce an item created by an extra-terrestrial life form.”

The player characters are recruited by American authorities to locate a presumed extraterrestrial artifact on the moon.  There are nineteen magnetic anomalies on the Lunar map, one of which is randomly determined to be caused by the artifact.  (Although the module refers to squares on the Lunar map, the map itself displays hexes.)  Time is of the essence since the Chinese will arrive in sixty hours to perform their own explorations.  One player character is secretly approached by a Russian agent and another by a Chinese agent.  Respectively, the agents offer 50 credits “to openly claim [the anomaly] in the name of his country, instead of the U.S.A.”  Whether or not the characters accept this generous offer, several NPCs will be working for the Russians or Chinese.  Player characters – either individually or in teams – explore the various anomalies using provided equipment.  “After the large anomaly is pinpointed, all characters involved in the search are detained,” we learn, “The characters never learn the reason for the secrecy...”  Outside the presence of the player characters, “a group of experts and technicians excavate around [the monolith].”  Then the monolith “emits a series of five electronic shrieks.”  One wonders what the players could learn about themselves and their universe via this chapter.

The third chapter takes place on board the USS Discovery and each player controls one of the crew members from the film (Dave Bowman and Frank Poole).  If there are more than two players, one or more of the hibernating astronauts should be used (Kaminski, Hunter and Whitehead – I don't know where Whitehead came from, in the film it was Kimball).  Any additional characters should not be created randomly; we are instructed, “Design the characters to be useful.”

Two new skills are described:  Astronomy (“a new STAR FRONTIERS® technological skill”) and System Navigation (“a new spaceship skill for use with this module only”).  According to Knight Hawks, the Piloting skill can only be acquired by characters with six levels of Technician and two levels of Computer.  Yet this requirement is overlooked in 2001, William Hunter has Piloting 1 but only Technician 3.

As in the film, the HAL 9000 computer works to eliminate the crew and we are advised, “Play HAL very cleverly.”  The module supplies examples of what HAL can do against the characters.  Before HAL attacks, player characters can use a Psycho-Pathology subskill to have HAL “remain calm for another 1 – 6 hours.”  Ultimately, the player characters will have to disconnect HAL.  Afterwards, player characters will need to handle the shipboard tasks manually.  To this end, ship operations and equipment repair are described in thrilling detail.  There are five paragraphs explaining how doors work.  Eventually, the characters watch a briefing tape relating that a monolith was found in the crater Tycho (or “Substitute the name of the crater in which the monolith was found in your game”) thirteen months previously (even though chapter two took place in 1994 and the Discovery was launched on May 14, 2002).  At the conclusion of chapter three, the player characters encounter a giant monolith.  They have the choice of investigating the monolith (and proceeding to chapter four) or staying with the ship (and ending the adventure).

Most of the fourth chapter consists of the referee reading about a page of boxed text.  One of the passages is:
You are above a world of incredible size – much larger than Earth.  But there must be no atmosphere; all the surface details are clear, to the remote and flat horizon.  The surface is marked in huge patterns, probably miles across, of squares, triangles, polygons...and in them, here and there, gaping black shafts, much like the chasm from which you just emerged.
The sky is disturbing.  There are no stars, nor even the blackness of space, but only a milky whiteness.  But no; there are tiny black dots, here and there, scattered across the sky.  They seem oddly familiar – and then you realize that it looks like a photographic negative of the Milky Way.
Eventually, the characters arrive “in a place nearly identical to a hotel suite in the United States of America.”  The referee is instructed to provide “map E, the Hotel Suite Layout, to the players.”  Sadly, no such map is included with the module.  “The entire hotel suite is a creation of the mind of an alien being, created to reassure, but not deceive, the characters.”  Upon falling asleep, each character has a dream wherein he encounters “an alien being – a flickering flame of light, about 7 feet tall.”  Via an undescribed means of communication, the alien presents a range of five options:
  1. The character may return to the Dawn of Man, and help to teach the man-apes the basics of survival.
  2. The character may return to Earth's Moon, in the year 2015, to be rescued.
  3. The character may immediately return to the Discovery, to await rescue, but with no memory of the passage of the Star Gate.
  4. The character may become a higher form of life, an energy being, with no use or concern for material form.
  5. The character may go to an alien planet where another race faces a critical juncture, much live the Dawn of Man the crossroads of knowledge or extinction and help that race along the path to survival.
The module ends with another section of boxed text, the last line of which is:
And now it comes, and it is time to go; to take the final step on this greatest of all journeys; onward, to complete your Space Odyssey.
If you choose to lose your memory, can it really be a journey?