I’ve finally got just over a week off for a holiday so now is as good as time as any to catch up on some writing for the blog. I’ve been steadily collecting outstanding rules books from Tabletop Games’ ‘Laserburn’ over the past few weeks and managed to complete the set last week, picking up a copy of ‘Imperial Commander’ and ‘Robot’. Its only took me about thirty-five-ish years since I first bought a copy of the original Laserburn rules!
Before moving onto the focus for this post, I would like to acknowledge Richard Halliwell, who wrote and contributed to the Laserburn line (including writing Imperial Commander) along with so many other Games Workshop products. Though unfortunately he passed away a few weeks ago, his name will be fondly remembered as someone who contributed to much of gaming history and many peoples memories. My sincere condolences to his family.
For this post, I am going to look at one of the Laserburn scenarios ‘Sea Prison Siege’ by Dave Kelly. Dated December 1981, it is produced in the same format as the other scenarios in a mixture of A4 card and A5 pamphlet. The cover and maps are printed on yellow card with levels one to three taking up a full page, with levels four and the sea level half a page. Though its nearly forty years too late, I feel I ought to mention the obvious… yes the word ‘Siege’ in the title is spelt incorrectly, which is also reflected in the text in the rest of the book. Oh well.
The A5 pamphlet covers 12 numbered pages and describes the scenario. The premise for the game is massively simple and is pretty open ended. The friends or acquaintances of the players are held prisoner for some misdemeanor in the Sea Prison and they’ve got to get them out. And thats it… there isn’t any underlying backstory or significant personalities to capture or deal with, its just a case of going in all guns blazing, fighting your way through the levels and getting your buddies out. The only other variation presented is to swap sides and take the part of the guards, defending the prison. The details to the exact location of the prison are kept vague but the players land at the prison in some sort of vehicle. The second page sets the scene in how the building is constructed with a breakdown of what can be found on each of the four levels. The sea level can be accessed from the landing pad and the hangar. Once through this, you are on level 1; this predominantly contains the living quarters for the guards and facilities to maintain the various robots which are used to defend and perform various duties around the prison.
Level 2 is the first of the areas that contain the cells, which are occupied by the various inhabitants who are all serving a variety of sentences. Breaking into the cells isn’t without peril and a number of alarms and weapons defend access. Not all prisoners are that keen in getting out, having spent so long in the environment that any change to their ‘safe place’ will be met with a violent response, even if its the players. Despite this, the prisoners are tortured and disorientated in a variety of ways on a regular basis by the guards. Getting around the prison is covered in a great detail, including movement, doors and using the lifts through normal or a more forceable approach.
The guards are described with the usual four Laserburn stats (Weapon Skill, Combat Skill, Initiative and Skills) which are as about as close you are going to get to ‘personalities’ in the scenario. The majority of defences are provided by a selection of robot types including patrol, static, maintenance and assault droids. Usefully, a table is provided where you can cross-reference the type of weapon fired at the droid and the type of component which fails if a penetration hit is achieved. Vehicle stats are provided for a hovercraft to get the players onto the prison and rounding off page 11 and 12, are seven pre-generated stats for the attacking party. Line art is provided by Tony Yates, as it is signed in the same way as ‘Sewerville Shootout’ (‘APY81’). Thats basically where it finishes; there aren’t any details of experience points or what happens when you get inside and have to fight your way out.
I wouldn’t say that Sea Prison Siege is a scenario containing a huge amount of depth with lots of backstory and objectives to achieve. Its very much a brute-force attack and get your mates out type of adventure; its a simple enough game but I don’t know if it would have long-term value in a scenario that you would want to play again and again. Still, it was interesting to finally pick up a copy after seeing the scenario name advertised in publications past such as White Dwarf.