When Da’ Vane (Christina Freeman) dropped me a note about the first D-Jumpers product from DVOID Systems, I was definitely intrigued. Da’ Vane is another of the folks going through Yax & Johnn Four’s Gamer Lifestyle Project. She started in April 2010 and in six months has released a book with help from Ouroboros I (Sebastian Klement), which is an impressive feat to begin with!
With that in mind, I started to dive into a final copy (minus artwork, which had been delayed) of D-Jumpers Volume #1: A Gate to Adventure… As a fan of cross-genre rules systems, my interest was piqued by the very first paragraph and the question – “Why limit your games to one genre, to one setting, to one world, to one imagination?” This product provides four different encounters in very different worlds – from fantasy and space opera to the great beyond.
Each of these mini-campaigns is presented as “systemless,” which should allow you the freedom to mix/match ideas and concepts but use any rules system from Storyteller and d20 to any other system you like or no system at all (though I’m not sure how that would work, it’s an interesting idea). As you go through each “Encounter,” they’re set up the same way, with an Objective, Hooks, Details, Development, Options, and a Checklist. This makes it easy to hop from one encounter to the next with a known structure.
“Gate Keeper” introduces characters to the multi-world concept of D-Jumpers. The PCs meet an inventor who’s managed to create a tool (i.e. spell or device) allowing adventurers to go to various places to gather critters, items, and information for him. He then can better plan how to take over the weaker worlds and gain more power… Of course, this evil genius doesn’t let the PCs in on his ultimate goal of controlling the multi-verse, so they won’t know what they’re getting themselves into.
From the perspective of a GM and player, the concepts of “Gate Keeper” provide a Stargate-type approach to high fantasy or high technology campaigns and a base of operations with the mad scientist calling the shots. So a similar episodic arc could be used to introduce the PCs to gate-hopping and the eventual discovery of the Gate Keeper’s master plan for a campaign or series of campaigns.
“Spyredelve” is the second encounter, which allows the PCs to explore an ancient fortress from the depths of human, dwarven, and elven history. Spyredelve represents a warren of tunnels and towers leading throughout the area to dungeons and settlements far and wide, again offering a nearly infinite number of possibilities for exploration. Add to that the concept of the Wyld – a wilderness fighting back against civilization – and you have intriguing indoor and outdoor possibilities. Of the four encounters, this one would have the most potential if I chose to GM something in that setting.
The third encounter, “The Bunker,” hit me a lot like the scene in Serenity where Captain Mal and his crew find all the Reavers orbiting the final world. The PCs find themselves in a spaceship graveyard, exploring the remains as they try to find a way home. It would seem that finding supplies would be just as much a problem as finding a way to escape. Though I don’t usually find science fiction settings compelling, there are concepts such as The Hulk – a group of ships violently brought together into a single mass around a ship capable of dimensional travel. The use of black holes and rifts in space/time fits nicely with the multiverse concepts explored elsewhere.
And “Sacrifice,” the final encounter, may truly be a final encounter for the PCs. If going out in a blaze of glory appeals to your players, this may be a good fit. A new God of Sacrifice walks the world and there is a prophecy that great heroes will appear to defeat him, but only by sacrificing themselves in the process. There are some serious twists to this one – especially if the group decides that a full frontal assault is the only answer… the PCs are in for a rude awakening even if they manage to defeat him.
Ultimately, Da’ vane has come up with amazing starting points and arcs for campaigns along with tips on how to get the PCs to them and what they’ll encounter while there.
From a content perspective, there’s a lot here to like. Honestly, I think each of the encounters could be split into its own book, even if it’s short. According to Da’ Vane, they did consider having each encounter as it’s own product, but it didn’t seem to reflect the multi-genre approach they are advocating. They don’t want to alienate readers by suggesting they were limiting themselves to just one genre or another genre. I think if they expand in the future, each concept would benefit from more locations, more details about encounters, and more hooks to get and keep the PCs involved. But as food for thought, enterprising GMs will find cool ideas to build on here.
From a layout perspective, I can’t say what the book will look like once art is added, but I immediately noticed how dense the text is. The two-column layout works great, but needs to be broken up a bit with boxed text describing various things or artwork. And I found it difficult to tell the various heading levels apart within each major section. A graphic element such as a line or different font could be used to make the different levels more distinct. I look forward to seeing the final product with the artwork when they get it integrated to see what has been done to remedy some of these issues.
If you’re a GM looking for some new campaign ideas, I think D-Jumpers Volume #1: A Gate to Adventure offers some great food for thought and gives some hints about what else is to come from Da’ vane and DVOID Systems in the future!
For more information about DVOID Systems and D-Jumpers Volume #1: A Gate to Adventure, check out their website at DVOIDSystems.com. For more from Da’ Vane, check out her site at Cult of Da’ Vane, and for more from Ouroboros, check out his site at Realm of the Ouroboros.
- Writing my first Living Forgotten Realms adventure from Being an Online Dungeon Master (onlinedm.wordpress.com)
- Into the Black, a Review (dungeon.ballweb.org)
- Review of Eureka by Engine Publishing/Gnomestew.com from NEUROGLYPH Games (neuroglyphgames.com)
- Review – Kingmaker, Volume 6: Sound of a Thousand Screams from Gaming Brouhaha ” RPG (rpg.brouhaha.us)
- Outbreak: Undead RPG Review – An Awesome Game with a Few Flaws (gnomestew.com)