How to Play NASA’s First Tabletop RPG

How to Play NASA’s First Tabletop RPG

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, recently published its first tabletop RPG module. “The Lost Universe” is compatible with Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, and could be easily translated to Pathfinder, D&D 3.5, Starfinder, or just about any RPG rule system with combat, traps, and characters. You can download The Lost Universe from NASA’s site for free

Designed by Christina Mitchell, senior production specialist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, “The Lost Universe” is a standalone adventure that casts players as NASA scientists who are transported to a fantasy universe where someone or something has stolen the Hubble Space Telescope from our reality. Using the orbiting telescope as the MacGuffin in a fantasy story is more than nerdery of the highest level. “The Lost Universe” seems like part of the agency’s educational outreach mission. Players will learn about the importance of Hubble and get a broad overview of how it works while enjoying rip-roaring space opera adventure.

The 43-page module details an interesting D&D-meets-science setting where the wizards and elves on the planet Exlaris use dark energy as a kind of magic, and borrow data from the Hubble telescope as part of their research.

The module is an impressive piece of world building. Mitchell and the rest of the NASA crew who built this have sketched out a planet in which the pursuit of knowledge is valued over the pursuit of gold, and kept it open-ended enough for creative DMs to fill in the details as desired. NASA says its module is for four to seven level 7-10 characters, but you could easily tweak the outline to any group at any level. With a little ingenuity, you could use it as a side quest on an existing campaign too. 

As-written, “The Lost Universe” could be completed in a single, four-hour adventure, but if your players become attached to the magical science world of Exlaris, there’s enough raw material here to use it as a setting for a larger, space-based campaign. If you’re new to D&D, check out our guide on how to make your very first character, as well as how to play D&D with your friends online.


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