Writing: Ian Yusem
Design: Meredith Silver
Legal writing: Emily Weiss
Layout: Eric K. Hill
Where to Buy: Print & PDF -https://www.exaltedfuneral.com/products/dinoplex-cataclysm-pdf
PDF Only – https://ian-yusem.itch.io/dinoplex-cataclysm
Hear me out. What if you took Jurassic Park…but put it on a space station? That’s what I imagine the pre-design meeting was like for the creators of Dinoplex: Cataclysm. I mean, what else needs to be said? I could probably end the review here and a lot of you would be ready to slap your cash down on the counter right now. But…hold off. I mean, by the end of this I think you’ll still want to buy it. Just let me gush about it a little bit first.
Dinoplex: Cataclysm is an adventure written for Mothership and is mostly contained within a trifold brochure. We’ll get to why I said “mostly” in a moment. Like Jurassic Park, player characters are visiting a fabulous dinosaur zoo with all manner of amazing attractions when, as you probably guessed, something goes horrifically wrong and the dinosaurs do what dinosaurs do best. Unlike Jurassic Park, the exhibits found in Dinoplex can be a bit…unsavory. For example, guests can pay to hunt and kill dinosaurs for sport, watch them make baby dinosaurs at the DinopleXXX, or take in a miniature extinction level event in which old, sickly dinosaurs are wiped out by white phosphorous meteors. It’s all wonderfully flavorful and fantastically corrupt.
The reason I said this game was mostly contained in a brochure is that the creators have provided a handful of amazing add-ons beyond the core document. For example, there’s a waiver for all park guests to sign with amazing corporate legalese in the fine print exonerating the corporation from any loss of life or limb. Oh, and it also claims any children conceived at the park as the property of the SynGen Corporation. You know, standard boilerplate stuff. There are also three recorded public announcements you can play for your players to further establish the feel of the park. My favorite is an announcement from park mascot Tony the T-Rex in which he creates an acronym from “Dinosaur” to explain the park rules. For the curious, the letter R stands for “Run faster than your friends” which is excellent advice for surviving this scenario.
There’s a lot to love about the premise of this adventure, but it’s the small details sprinkled throughout that really make it special. From the anime-eyed dinosaur body pillow available at the gift shop to the scrapped AI hologram mascot that clings to life and wants to get out of the park, there’s a lot for savvy game masters to latch onto and play with. Every bit of this game, no matter how seemingly insignificant, reinforces the central conceit of Dinoplex: Cataclysm: this is a dangerous place with an atom-thick veneer of family friendliness and control covering a gaping maw of chaos and corruption. All it would take for the whole thing to go pear-shaped is a little carelessness. A missing bit of code. An unlocked gate. A distracted guard. In other words, it’s the perfect adventuring site for a night or two of gonzo horror.
Disclaimer: I do not know anyone involved with this game, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review. I did interview Ian Yusem recently so be on the lookout for that in the next few months. Oh, and if you want to see more of Ian’s wonderful work for Mothership, look no further than The Drain.