RPG Thursday: Outpost Mars

Courtesy Zozer Games

Outpost Mars (OM) is a short 59-page PDF written by Paul Elliott and published under the Zozer Games label. OM is a Mongoose Traveller (MgT) RPG setting taking place on Mars in the very near future (2040!).

All player characters use a single character creation career called Mars Explorer. There are three mission specialties; Scientific, Technical, or Surface Ops. In a change from the MgT basic setting, each player character also has an Agenda which includes Reputation, a secret Goal, and a secret Ally. Equipment for the setting generally does not exceed Tech Level 8 (close to current Earth).

OM describes the planetology of Mars in great detail; not a bad thing considering the environment is an important part of surviving the setting. There is also an extensive discussion (much of it lifted straight from RPG.net posts) on possible alien life on Mars.

The chapter “Running Mars” describes possible missions with a few examples thrown in. OM is very much a “sandbox” setting – no rigid adventure paths are given! The players are cast in the role of members of small teams. Each member has to advance their reputation while also working to achieve their secret Goal. The secret goals of the player characters will likely be in conflict with each other. As author Paul Elliott states on page 44, “Get the idea? No fights, no shots exchanged. No physical conflict. But a definite lack of trust. No-one is ever quite sure of the others’ motives.”

The question of life on Mars is covered on page 36 where the author discusses archaeological theories. The author also includes five pages of RPG.net discussion of what forum members envisioned alien life on Mars could be like.

There is also an appendix (though not labeled as such) covering the Military on Mars which details both the Marines and US Space Command. What is not covered in the book are vehicles and spacecraft. They are mentioned in places but no details/designs are given. I do like the Movies and Books “Appendix N” at the end of the product.

I find Outpost Mars rushed and seemingly unfinished. The gimmick – here being Reputation and secret Agendas – works fine in the limited setting of Mars. What I dislike most is the speculation on alien life – there is too much speculation. The author would of been better off with his first two pages of comments and dropped the five pages of RPG.net speculation. I would of rather seen at least one example each of a Mars vehicle and spacecraft in those repurposed five pages.

Recommendation: PASS on it.

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