Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fading Suns for Pathfinder! Now, please!

Fading Suns is an awesome campaign setting incorporating magic, technology and futuristic horror. Sadly, it has long been chained to a clunky game system. A brief foray into the d20 system yielded less than satisfying results. Now RedBrick is planning to try again with the announcement of an upcoming release of Fading Suns for Pathfinder.

As we announced on Pinnacle Games web site last year, RedBrick is working on releasing a version of Fading Suns for Savage Worlds. We are also updating the previous d20 version for use with the popular Pathfinder roleplaying game. Both editions are based on Fading Suns Second Edition. Development on Third Edition has taken precedence over these editions, so the first books are currently scheduled for released in late 2012/early-2013, as follows (for each system):

2012/Q4: Player’s and GM’s Guides
2013/Q1: Lords of the Known Worlds, Priests of the Celestial Sun

Ok, now I'm excited.


Cross-posted at Roll for Initiative

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chthonian Stars at long last

Chthonian Stars has finally been released to much fanfare...ok, no fanfare. Still, it was the best-selling pdf on DriveThruRPG for a couple of days, so I can't be the only one who bought a copy. To recap, Chthonian Stars is a mashup of Alien, The Fifth Element and Call of Cthulhu. A rogue celestial body is approaching our solar system emitting some strange form of radiation which is causing all manner of apparently supernatural phenomena. Weird cults are popping up all over the solar system, ships are disappearing, atrocities are being committed by otherwise normal people and rumours of monster sightings circulate. The publisher, Wildfire, originally intended to release the game through Mongoose, using the Traveller ruleset. Something changed their minds and the game is undergoing a reboot. The new game will be called The Void and will use a new ruleset. However, there was much hype and excitement about the original idea and Chthonian Stars was pretty much complete when they decided to pull the plug, so they released it in pdf format.

The look of Chthonian Stars is very reminiscent of Wildfire's other rpg, CthulhuTech. It has the same artistic style and the same interspersed pieces of short fiction, although in general, I found the quality of the writing to be a bit inferior to CthulhuTech. It seemed to lack the same ability to inspire dread in the reader. Choosing to name one of the characters in one of the stories "Capt. Zack Bradigan" didn't help.

The setting of Chthonian Stars is a veritable cornucopia of future history tropes; a global economic crisis, a bushfire conflict in the Middle East leading to WWIII, a terrorist nuke and then everyone coming to their senses just in time, a golden age of cooperation and a return to space, colonization of the solar system and then, inevitably, an end to the glory days as the colonies grow restless. It is certainly a script we've all seen before, but it serves the campaign setting well enough. The "present" is the latter half of the 22nd century as the Chthonian Star approaches the solar system and end of the age of humanity looms.

Chapters on character generation and rule adaptations follow the setting description and they are fine. The default character concept is the Warden, basically a government agent mandated to investigate and, if possible, eliminate supernatural threats throughout the solar system. While other classes are certainly possible, only the Wardens have the authority to go anywhere from the mines of Mercury to the lonely outposts of the Kuiper Belt, thus making them the best choice for a party of investigators and they have a wide range of backgrounds so no two Wardens need be alike.

Technology seems to be a bit of an eclectic mix. Firearms are the default ranged weapon type. There are no lasers or particle beams, yet, oddly, there are some very high-tech melee weapon options including monofilaments and vibroblades. There is a surprisingly large number of space ship designs included in the game, warships, freighters, transports, shuttles, rescue vessels and the special "Knight's Errant Class" corvette used by the Wardens. There is no FTL capability and no artificial gravity, so setting aside the cosmic horror aspects, the game is quite hard sci-fi.

Following the chapters on equipment and ships, there is a chapter detailing the planets in the solar system as well as major extraplanetary bases and colonies. There is also a fairly extensive bestiary, which may be my favourite chapter in the book. My understanding is that a more detailed bestiary entitled Horrors of the Void is due to be released this summer as a pdf. If it is as good as the one in the core book, it should be excellent.

The last two chapters in the book are intended primarily for gamemasters. One deals with gamemastering in general. It includes advice on how to run a game, as well as a list of plot hooks and rumours GMs can use to get things moving. The other provides a lot of secret information on the setting as well as a few short adventures. I was a bit surprised by how much of the background on the Chthonian Star was actually revealed in this section. It's common for rpg designers to leave a lot of those details up to the GM to decide, but not in this case. It is well-advised that players keep away from the last chapter.

All in all, Chthonian Stars is a decent offering and given that Horrors of the Void will be the only supplement released for the game in this form, it should make for a nice complete game requiring only the core Traveller book to play. The setting is, perhaps, a bit less compelling than that of CthulhuTech, but it avoids the clunky Framewerk game mechanics, making it, in my opinion, a better and more playable Cthulhu space horror game.


Cross-posted at Roll for Initiative

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Septimus - Chapter 1.4

As we pass over the ruins of a thousand shattered civilizations, I begin to experience an odd lucidity, the likes of which I have not experienced before in my life. What is Septimus? It most surely is not the refuge we humans hope it is. I am certain the worldsphere builders are not counted among the broken empires below. No, it was never their intent to live within their creation, yet clearly they intended for others to inhabit it. Given their advanced technology, they certainly could have kept out anyone they chose. They made it possible for many interstellar civilizations to find a way in. Yet, we have never seen any evidence of any of these civilizations on other worlds, even worlds only a few tens of light years from Septimus. It could be coincidence, it's a big galaxy and we humans have only seen a tiny speck of it. Still, it doesn't seem right. Even if we are new on the galactic scene, many of the ruins in Septimus appear to be thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of years old. Surely, some of these races would have colonized planets within our region of explored space. No, they came to Septimus. The entirety of their civilizations, drawn like moths to a flame. One after another, whole interstellar civilizations swallowed up by the worldsphere. But why? Why would whole empires allow themselves to be consumed? Because they never knew what lay inside. There was no warning. No one warned them. No one ever got out.

No one has ever escaped from Septimus.

Septimus is a trap, a trap for entire civilizations. But that's not the whole story. Of that, I'm certain. No matter how advanced they were, constructing the worldsphere had to be a monumental effort for its builders. Was their hatred of all intelligent life in the galaxy so powerful that it compelled them to build such a trap? It's possible, I suppose, but it still feels wrong to me. What destroyed all these civilizations? Did they make war upon each other? Perhaps, but what of the victors? Was it a case of mutual destruction, repeated again and again? No, too much of a coincidence. Eventually, a race would emerge with the technological edge to wipe out all comers. They should still be around. Maybe they are and maybe they're watching us right now. Still, that doesn't really explain why Septimus was built in the first place. Was all this destruction arranged for the amusement of the builders? Maybe, they are still here. Or maybe something else? Something very ancient and very powerful. Are we intended to be sacrifices to some primordial god? Are we the latest victims to be slaughtered upon some primeval altar?

"Pelham, we're landing in 10 minutes."

"Huh? Oh right." It was Ramos. "Any word from the colony?"

"Nothing yet, but we've got a visual. Everything looks ok. Come take a look."

Sure enough, the colony looked fine. At this range, we couldn't see any colonists, but they clearly had lights and power.

"Ok people, strap in and prepare for descent," Chevsky said.

Just then, the ship exploded.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An AT-43 Christmas for me

With the demise of Rackham Entertainment back in October, the race is on to grab up the remaining stock of AT-43 and Confrontation pre-painted miniatures. Supplies are already dwindling at our FLGS, so I have decided to do a little proactive Christmas shopping. There will be a lot of Red Blok and Therians under my tree this year. I even managed to score one of these:

and one of these:

And guys, you better get down there soon if you want to snatch up some Confrontation minis before they're all gone.


Cross-posted at
Roll For Initiative

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Septimus - Chapter 1.3

Since we have a few hours before arriving at the colony, I decide to take a nap. It seems like only minutes pass, when, for the third time today, Ramos wakes me up.

"Ramos, what is it now?"

"We're preparing for final descent. Man, I think you're gonna want to see this."

I figured by now, I would have built up some resistance to Septimus Syndrome. Okay, it's not a real disorder, at least not yet. But that's what I call the endless beating your mind takes by looking at the worldsphere. I was wrong. As we got close enough to the surface to make out details, all my preconceptions about what to expect exploded in a blinding flash and a puff of smoke. Truth be told, I'm not sure why, but I always assumed the builders were the last inhabitants of Septimus and when they left, how ever many aeons ago that was, the worldsphere remained hidden and abandoned until we humans came along. Maybe since we have never discovered any life on any planets humans have explored, I figured we were really alone out here. Yet, as we approach the island where the Rojas colony is located, I can see dozens, maybe hundreds of structures scattered all over the surface of Septimus. Some look like roads or railways, others like towns and cities. At this distance, it is impossible to tell if any of the settlements are inhabited...

"No EM, except for the colony transponder," Juanita said, as if anticipating my next question.

"Can we get hi-mag?", asked Chevsky.

"Hold on."

Some of the control systems were still damaged from the jump, but Juanita and I were able to get the telescope deployed in a few minutes. As the high-mag feed appeared on the main viewer, I got the sense for first time that I was going to die on Septimus and that death would not be quiet, peaceful and painless. Everywhere we looked, we saw ruin. Broken cities, worn down by the ages could be seen everywhere. Below us were huge craters and gouges that tore up the surface, though a lot of it was overgrown with vegetation. I'm no expert on archaeology, but it sure looked like more than one group of people built all those structures. There were different styles of architecture. Some cities had pyramids, others didn't. The layout of some of the cities was very angular, for others it wasn't. Some cities appeared older and almost completely eroded away. Others seemed more recent, though probably still ancient. But one thing all the cities seemed to share. They didn't die from neglect, they were destroyed. Chevsky was the first to speak.

"We better get to the colony."

I could hear the fear in his voice. It was first time since I'd met the man that he showed fear of anything. No one else knew what to say. We continued on to the colony in silence.


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