UK4: When a Star Falls (1984)

UK4: When a Star Falls (1984) is a great example of that often ambiguous UK style. Here it manifests in a strong graphic design, particularly in the maps, but also in the titles and the page header (which feature quotes and visual coding using cropped illustrations for different sections).

It is also very British in other ways. It’s pretty plot heavy and features lots of Fiend Folio monsters (so many Derro!). It also, as the title implies, has an astronomical impetus, which isn’t uniquely British, but does seem to be a recurring theme in the Old World, with Morrsleib the Chaos Moon raining warpstones down on the countryside.

Oh, and this adventure has the single most unique hook put to paper, I think. The party encounters (and hopefully kills) a memory web, which in its death throes then imprints the memories of its last meal on the characters, via a list of fragmentary details, a collage-like illustration and some important geographic data. This is a real maestro game design moment, handing everything the players need to proceed in a singularly weird way. No one who plays it will ever forget it!

The adventure is basically a series of fetch quests. Get the fallen star (from the derros), bring it to the sages (who are dealing with a coup, the instigator of which has sent a memorable agent out to get the star for himself), who then want to send it to to the svirfneblin (did I spell that right?) in exchange for a book. Both subterranean regions feel a lot like the underdark. The various faction motivations feel rich. The whole thing doesn’t really have a climax (aside of a weird battle with red dragons), but that doesn’t matter, it still manages to feel complete. This is the best UK-module so far.

In no small part because of the art by Jeremy “Jes” Goodwin, who would come to define much Games Workshop’s Warhammer universe in the coming years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *