Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Chthonian Stars, the "ch" is silent

It is with growing anticipation that I await the arrival of Chthonian Stars by Mongoose, due for release next month. Much to my delight, there has been a recent upsurge in interest in the space horror genre in the table-top rpg community. Two companies in particular, Wildfire and Posthuman Studios, have led the way with CthulhuTech and Eclipse Phase respectively. Both games have much to recommend them, in terms of game setting. The former embraces the supernatural, in the form of the Cthulhu mythos, while the latter takes a more hard sci-fi approach, with malevolent AIs and aliens serving as the main antagonists. Still, both games have features which dissuade me from embracing them wholeheartedly. In the case of CthulhuTech, the inclusion of anime stylings and a gimmicky game engine have turned me off. Eclipse Phase is somewhat more promising, but the complexity of the game is a bit much for my middle-aged brain to fully master. The d100 game engine is simple enough, but the chargen process is byzantine and the sheer volume of options would leave me at the mercy of my younger and more intellectually-agile gaming buddies were I to attempt to run a campaign.

Enter Chthonian Stars. First off, it employs the venerable Traveller engine. Nice, no surprises there. The setting seems to be nothing short of awesome. It is the 22nd century. Humanity has reached new heights. Technology has made it possible to populate the solar system. The ecological destruction of the industrial age has begun to heal. War has been rendered obsolete and the future holds the promise of even greater success for the human race. Time to put a stop to all that.

Something primeval and malevolent approaches from the interstellar void and long-dormant horrors have heard its call. Random acts of brutal violence are reported. Ships and people disappear. Strange celestial occurrences are observed. The very edge of the solar system, once seen as the new frontier, is increasingly viewed with dread, a place of nightmares and monsters from the void. And out there, ever vigilant in the Kuiper Belt is Warden 4, the Lighthouse, humanity's most distant outpost, where the Wardens, the Unified World Council's most elite agents, observe and prepare for the arrival of the Chthonian star. How much cool can you stand?

To the guys at Wildfire and Mongoose, please don't mess this up.


cross-posted at Roll for Initiative