A Review of Aaron Pollyea’s “Nest in the Dark”

How did the Star Trek Adventures Nest in the Dark module rate?

Tribbles 4-5

For more on the Tribble-rating system, click here.

The crew of the USS Pioneer (my player group’s Intrepid-class starship) finished playing Nest in the Dark, a standalone 19-page PDF adventure by Aaron Pollyea is for the Star Trek Adventures Roleplaying Game and is set during the TNG era.


SYNOPSIS (spoiler alert)

matbrain2

Make First Contact with an Alien Computer System!

When your starship’s warp drive fails, you encounter a strange subspace field generated by an alien construct – a Matryoshka Brain, a networked computer system large enough to completely surround a star.

As you attempt to make contact with the entities living within the Brain, you discover that the alien construct is on a course toward the Federation colony in the Foggy Peak system, and that the vessel’s massive subspace field will destroy the colony and the system as it passes by.

Can you learn how to communicate with the inhabitants of the alien Brain and convince them of their need to change course before the Federation colony is destroyed?


THE REVIEW

This warp-bending, computer-laden module was an exhausting sci-fi journey that burned more brain cells than I had to spare. I read and reread the module to make sure I had a grasp on the amazing concept of a Matryoshka Brain. I was impressed with where the writer took us, though some of the players seemed overwhelmed at times.

I gave this module 4 our of 5 Tribbles. It, of course, earned a star due to the fact that Aaron Pollyea, the writer of the module, actually joined our game to play the protagonist! We were elated.

Here is how it rated:

Canonicity – This module followed suit with Star Trek’s premise of discovering new stellar phenomena. In the same vein as Dyson’s Sphere (TNG: “Relics“), the Matryoshka Brain concept was bigger than life. To tell you the truth, I struggled through fully understanding the concept which makes me move on to…

Relatability – The science behind the Brain baffled me. I must have read the module three times. I really feel that Aaron helped by joining as a guest star. Otherwise, the pseudo-science may have gone over my head and added more confusion to my players. This cost the module a tribble, but it could be just because I’m not that smart.

Likability – At first, the crew seemed baffled about what direction to go. Once the module took them to the engineering section of a replica of their vessel, things seemed to pick up, but again, that had a lot to do with the writer of this module agreeing to guest star as the protagonist. Every player on my crew was ecstatic, making this one of the most memorable games ever. So, yes, I am totally biased when I hand out this tribble.

Accessibility – The module is reasonably priced at $3.99 and available on Modiphius’ web site.

Quality – So far, our player group has played four Pollyea modules:  Tug of War, We Are The Stars That Sing With Our Life, Doomed to Repeat the Past, and Nest in the Dark.  Aaron loves science! This is obvious due to the level of painstaking detail he puts into science fiction concepts. As much as this could please a gamemaster that is a science buff, this can also provide a hindrance if the GM who feels constrained to operate in uber-technical with pseudo-science.

GM Guidance: be prepared to write your own explanations for some of the deeper concepts. You most likely won’t have the benefit of the module’s writer playing along and helping out. I still rate this module as high quality, forgiving my own lack of PhD in theoretical physics.

If you want a mind-blowing, skull-stretching adventure, Nest in the Dark is just for you.

(To see our entire play report, see Star Trek Pioneer, Season 2, Episode 4: Nest in the Dark.)

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