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The real NASA made a DnD adventure mixing science and fantasy

NASA has put out a free tabletop RPG adventure that serves as both a fun, science-y DnD oneshot, and an educational tool promoting the organisation.

A DnD dragon wrapped around the Hubble telescope

Prepare for the most scientific DnD session of your life, with a free Dungeons and Dragons adventure released by NASA. Yes, we did say NASA, with all the scientists and the rockets and the telescopes and stuff. These nerds have created a full 44-page scenario, a tabletop RPG adventure called The Lost Universe which contains a mixture of magic and science.

That combination of classic fantasy with real science means this DnD one shot adventure makes for interesting reading. It’s about a rogue planet flung out of orbit by a black hole, whose inhabitants were able to survive by using magic (powered by dark energy) to retain heat and simulate an atmosphere. You play as NASA scientists from Earth who are transported to the planet Exlaris by a portal to solve a mystery.

The premise is that a DnD dragon has stolen the Hubble Telescope from Earth’s timeline, so the adventure also serves as an educational tool about the value of NASA. It explains that without the telescope “nobody knows the age of our universe, or that black holes lurk in the centers of galaxies, or just how much beauty the cosmos contains.”

Schematics for the Hubble Telescope - part of a handout for Nasa's DND adventure

It goes on to say: “Technology that detects cancer, tracks endangered species, decodes ancient manuscripts, and more, is also lacking”

NASA claims its tabletop roleplaying game has been written to be system neutral, and it doesn’t come with stats, so theoretically it could be used with any tabletop RPG. But it does seem like it fits many of the norms of Dungeons and Dragons, to the point where we can only assume its creators had 5e in mind when designing it.

For instance, the planet is occupied by traditional DnD races like elves, halflings, dark elves and goblins, and the main bad guy is described as a ‘young green dragon’. Most tellingly, NPCs are described with DnD alignments like ‘Neutral Good’.

A star seen through the Hubble Telescope

The webpage where you can find the adventure also says it’s designed for a party of 4-7 characters between 7th and 10th level. Obviously this wouldn’t balance out the same way for all tabletop systems. It’s most likely been tuned and tested for 5e.

The Lost Universe was written by NASA Live News Video Producer Christina Mitchell. We’re keen to see if this foray into the world of tabletop RPGs is a one-off or the beginning of a trend. We’ll take a full science-powered, space-based DnD campaign, please and thank you.