Lee’s Guide to Interstellar Adventure (1983)

If there is anything like a Pharaoh’s Curse in this world of ours, it is putting “Volume 1” on the cover of an RPG book. Seems like if you do, you’re inviting fate to intervene to prevent Volume 2 from appearing. Such is the case with Lee’s Guide to Interstellar Adventure (1983).

I expected this to be a field guide for players — equipment, methods for exploration, advice on interacting with alien species, that sort of thing. Nope. What this is, though, is a collection of…they are too short to really be called short adventures, but too fleshed out to be adventure seeds. Let’s call them adventure saplings. There’s lots of advice on how to structure or develop stories. Basically, each chapter focuses on a different world, sketching out its features and climate and inhabitants, then in a succession of paragraphs, suggests potential scenarios and their complications (which generally spring directly from the environment or the pre-existing inhabitants than anything like a bespoke narrative).

Thus, for the planet with the erratic star and the weirdly undifferentiated animal life, the first suggestion is an ecological survey, the second setting up a mining operation, the third a suggestion to use the planet as the backdrop for a manhunt or similar search, or to accompany a colonization project, or as the site of a shipwreck. None of these are particularly wild ideas, but they are all complicated in interesting ways by the mimicry-loving alien lifeforms and the effect the erratic sun has on electronics, the environment and so-on.

It’s a neat book with an interesting, chatty approach to presenting adventures. It isn’t all the different from the stuff coming out of GDW around the same time — Tarsus and Beltstrike in particular — but it actually feels a good deal meatier. Some nice illustrations by Wallace Miller, too.

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