Book Review: D-Jumpers Volume #2 by DVOID Systems

A few months ago, I reviewed D-Jumpers Volume #1 by DVOID Systems and might have been a bit harsh about the lack of art. The concepts were strong, but readers were initially presented with two solid columns of text unbroken by images or graphical elements. So I was curious to see what Da’Vane and Ouroboros had pulled together for their next release in D-Jumpers Volume #2

As with the first book, readers are given a set of adventure concepts devoid of system constraints. Each is designed to be used in campaigns in any rules system you choose. This means that yes, there is a bit of work to transform the ideas into a form that works for your game. But that said, there are some great nuggets of inspiration within these pages…

“Recuperation Lounge” takes a page from the movie Pandorum, where the PCs awake in the dark and have no idea how they got there, let alone who they are or who their companions happen to be. Dimensional travel sometimes has… side-effects. Or perhaps they have been kidnapped or even killed, ripped from the world they know and thrust into a new situation as a blank page? It’s up to the PCs to figure out who and where they are and how to escape their current situation.

I’ve been in a few games where hitting the campaign “reset” button isn’t always a welcome concept, but you still need to change things up. In that situation, why not rip your PCs out of their comfortable surroundings and toss them in a totally blind situation? Even if you don’t use the multi-dimensional aspect, it could be fun to thrust a group of fantasy-themed adventurers into a science fiction-based encounter. Or why not start a new campaign in this manner, immediately catching your players off guard and giving them a perfect excuse to put some of those roleplaying skills to work? This is a great tool to have in a GM’s toolbox regardless of the setting or system.

There’s a bit of potential for a world something like that of Phillip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series as well. What if these characters were not only “recuperating” but were perhaps “resurrected” from other timelines and worlds, then unceremoniously dumped in the lounge to figure out what their “saviors” might be up to. Who brought them back? Do they try to learn more about their hidden benefactors? The implications are staggering and fun to contemplate from a PC’s standpoint as well as from the GM’s!

Then “Collapsing World”  hits me a bit like the beginning of Syfy‘s Stargate Universe where a group of people has to escape a world on the edge of destruction. How many people can be saved? Will the PCs choose to save their own butts or help those around them even if it means staying behind? This is another story idea that can be kept in a GM’s hat in the event that such an “end of the world” scenario is required. The cool thing is that just about every scenario (earthquakes, volcanoes, weather, the supernatural…) is covered and all or many of them would work in just about any setting or genre.

Ultimately I think this is more of a concept for an advanced group of players who want to deal with some interesting real-world implications of a world apocalypse. I’m not sure it’s something that I would want to play, especially after recently watching the news and learning of the post-earthquake, post-tsunami disasters in Japan. But having an exit plan is definitely a good idea if you know as a GM that the world will in fact end in spectacular fashion at the end of a campaign.

“Maelstrom” takes a bit of a note from Disney’s The Black Hole, placing the PCs on ships trapped in a “whirling vortex of energy” and stuck until they find a way out. Imagine trying to deal with movement in a spinning, tumbling structure totally out of control. I would suspect it to be something like the scene in Inception where the dream building is collapsing and rotating… But it doesn’t stop there. Now let’s make it a bit worse by introducing two warring factions with the PCs caught between them. Life and death intrinsically connected to getting the heck out of this place so they can continue their adventures elsewhere.

If your players are getting too soft and cushy in their dimension-hopping adventures, this would be a great way to drive them a bit crazy. It’s not a situation they’ll want to stay in long for fear of being stuck here. But the dire circumstances may encourage party cooperation and creative thinking to find ways to survive long enough to find their way out!

And finally in “The Void,” we end up with the ultimate way-station, a world between worlds that somehow merges steampunk and the supernatural in a dream land created by the wildest imaginations of Jules Verne and Nicolai Tesla. This is probably the most unique of the storylines detailed in D-Jumpers Volume #2, introducing concepts of universes created by the power of will and creativity. It makes me think a little of Fringe where parallel dimensions meet. But I won’t spoil it for you. It’s a place I would love to explore as a player.

My biggest complaint in the first D-Jumpers Volume was the lack of graphics to break up the thick text of the document. In this book and the edited D-Jumpers Volume #1, a background image is used on each page to offer some texture. This is an improvement in my book, though I’d still like to see more artwork find its way into these books over time. I understand that artwork is secondary to providing good content (and can be expensive) so I’m sure these books will continue to improve as time and resources allow.

As you can see, there’s a little bit of everything in this volume. And I think it’s a book to mine for inspiration no matter the genre or game system you are currently playing in. I think Da’ Vane and Ouroboros have improved upon the collection in D-Jumpers Volume #1 by a great deal, offering much deeper details and options to explore with each storyline. Now you have plenty of information to take these ideas and sculpt them however you see fit. Read them through thoroughly and sleep on it to find ways to integrate them into your current games or into future games. I think you’ll find inspiration from multiple levels!

Check out D-Jumpers Volume #2 at DVOID Systems’ website here and be sure to look around for their other great products as well!

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3 comments to Book Review: D-Jumpers Volume #2 by DVOID Systems

  • Thanks for yet another excellent positive review of our work. I love the way you relate the themes and storylines in ways that even Ouro and myself don’t quite consider – it’s great seeing somebody else’s take on our work.

    We are trying to work on getting artwork for both D-Jumpers Volumes #1 and #2, but this is both tricky and expensive. Given the unique nature of the storylines involved, we can’t just use stock art like our competitors might, so we’re kind of stuck having to commission unique pieces – anything we seem to find that is useful is a commissioned or commercial piece because of it’s unique nature.

    But then, I’m not sure that art could really do the imaginary landscapes justice here. Even the cover artist we’ve commissioned is struggling, since we’re often defying the more common standard conventions and stereotypes with our material.

    Take D-Jumpers Issue #1: The Gate Keeper – when people think of robots, they tend to fall into either goofy Wall-E type robots, Terminator-esque droids, or some kind of mech like Ed-209. You might get a few other deviant types – like R2-D2 droids as well, replicators, or crawler bots, as well. Yet, in Gate Keeper, we’re going for a stone-golem-like robot to keep within the GATE Tech aesthetic, which keeps throwing people off – especially our cover artist. Imagine the Terracotta Army, but instead of clay, it’s crystalised stone with the hardness of steel. Our material is full of this kind of aesthetic detail, which makes a significant difference to the storyline, and it throws our artists off – we have to get them to think like us, before they can actually do artwork for us, and that costs money!

    Still, we’ll get there, but for now, the artwork is all a secondary thing in favour of actual content. Still, we do have SOME artwork: Here is the finalised concept piece for Sacrifice.

    • Fitz

      @Da’ Vane – No worries. Always happy to help. The art thing is always tricky, whether you look at it purely from a monetary standpoint or what the artwork represents in the context of the book itself. I honestly think that even offering some of your chunks or observations in small grayed boxes and adding a graphical element here or there (lines, abstract designs, anything) would help.

      But beyond that, I would think that finding generic artwork to help define (or suggest) these broad categories would be great. Sometimes less is more… Perhaps a mostly black graphic with the outline of some trees indicating the temporary blackness of the “Recuperation Lounge” or a tumbling spacecraft with a few portholes for “Maelstrom” would help. There has to be publicly available clipart that is abstract enough to hint at the possibilities of some of these ideas. 🙂

      But anyway… As I said – content is king. I think you’ve put together a heck of a set of concepts to provide some serious food for thought for GMs and players alike. Let’s hope they see the light!

  • Well, with the second volume out, and the fact that I’ve got a cover and background image, so there’s some branding in place, we’ve finally opted to put these on DriveThruRPG, so with a bit of luck, that should increase exposure quite a bit. We’ve got a sale going on too – 25% off our products until the end of March, as well.

    After that, we’re stepping back to consolidate for various reasons, before starting on D-Jumpers Volume #3: Legacy of the Ancients. We’re thinking of running a fan-art contest, with the best art getting free copies of our products, including this upcoming title, so people should watch out for that.

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