Tabletop RPG Review: The Moving Star

I’d like to thank Marina Rodrigues for providing me with a review PDF of this product. You can get it on DriveThru. Use this affiliate link and I’ll get a little kickback at no charge to you.

The Moving Star is presented as a “slow burn Call of Cthulhu scenario set in a Cyberpunk future.”  That it is.  In spite of the being only 43 pages long (including front & back cover), I imagine this scenario would take multiple sessions to play through.  The introduction says it can be played in 12 to 18 hours.  I guess that sounds about right.  It’s certainly an interesting scenario as written, but I think if I were to run it, I’d make some changes.  Of course I would.  I can’t leave anything alone.

Set in the far future, the Earth is ravaged and those with money are leaving to set up new lives on a new Earth called Spero.  The trip will be made in a massive ship and will take several months.  Unbeknownst to the crew of the ship, they’re carrying something Mythos-related.  The investigators are hired to find a missing person, but will stumble into multiple dangers and strange situations.  From religious zealots, to corporate intrigue, to an inhuman threat, they’ve got their work cut out for them.  There’s a lot of room for investigation and for roleplaying in this one.  And considering its Science Fiction/Cyberpunk trappings, there’s a sort of Agatha Christie vibe to the proceedings.

Do I think you can run this scenario as is?  Yes.  A keeper will want to be very familiar with it, and likely will want to do some of their own work, expanding a few things and having extra stuff prepped.  With such a large setting and knowing players, you’ll want to be prepared for folks to go off the rails at every opportunity.

That said, there are some changes I’d likely make.  If I were running this as a one-shot, unconnected to a larger campaign, the first big one is that I’d start with everyone on the ship and the ship moving.  There’s good stuff in the whole lead-up to the ship, but it’s a LONG time for roleplaying without a lot of action or an inciting incident.  As written, I could see it being session two before the investigators are approached by their would-be employer.  More likely, I’d want to run this as part of an ongoing game, but that would require some heavy modification. 

I don’t think it would take too much effort to pull it back in time and plug it into either a Cyberpunk 2020 or Cyberpunk Red game.  Have the ship going not to another system but to a Mars colony.  Of course, you’d then have to be willing to mix Mythos with your Cyberpunk, but it would hardly be the first time that’s been done.  Or, you could change the essential nature of the threat to some kind of A.I./nano-thing.  But that would lose several major elements of the scenario, including its ties to history and mythology. Also, it might negate a few of the handouts, which are quite cool.

The other option would be to run a longer game in the universe as presented in the scenario, but that would require a lot of extrapolation on your part.  It has the feel of being set in the author’s larger, home-brewed world.  There are enough references to things outside of the specific needs of the scenario that you get the sense you’re only seeing a little part of a larger whole.  So, if the author produces other, related books, you could probably build a campaign (edit: the author just told me more stuff is in the works).  Otherwise, it’s up to the Keeper to flesh out the world.

Overall, this has a lot of potential.  If your group is very into roleplaying and investigation, as opposed to brawls and gunfights, this should go over well.  

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