The Introduction sets the scene: as a citizen in a vast galactic civilisation of the 34th century, you start with the basics and claw your way up to - if you can get there - 'Elite' status. The galaxy is filled with perils: pirates, ruthless bounty hunters, heartless corporations and terrible creatures, lost cities and undiscovered planets. Cheap faster-than-light travel has opened up space to exploration and trade, humanity exploding across the stars, building new colonies, cities, nations and empires and discovering untold riches to exploit. But not all is well, there is terrible inequality and corruption and many who think the best way to make their living is to steal from somebody else.
In this PDF there is a brief adventure, intended to be played out in a single session, four pre-generated characters and enough of an explanation of the rules to let you play. Character generation, equipment (apart from specific stuff that turns up in the adventure) and the full rules will be found in the Core Rulebook. The intention is that you and your group can give the game a spin and see if it's to your taste before parting with your money.
The next section is How To Play which crams in a brief description of what role-playing in as well as explaining enough of the rules to let you play the adventure. The mechanics are based around the D10: task resolution involves rolling a D10 and adding the Skill Bonus of the appropriate skill, attempting to roll over a pre-determined difficulty number. In this game there are THREE combat systems: one for personal combat, one for vehicles and one for spacecraft. Rather than trying to explain them here, the relevant rules are provided in the body of the adventure as the need arises for them. Of course, this means that whoever is the GM is going to have to explain them, they cannot hand around copies of the rules section of the PDF for everyone to understand in advance! There's also something called Karma, used to power specific capabilities in a jam... each character starts with 12 points which normally are replenished, but for the purposes of this quickstart adventure, once they are gone they are gone.
Next we are introduced to the characters, who are law enforcement officers in the Asellus Primus system. Each has a Viper spaceship, a police interdiction and enforcement vessel, which carries a Surface Reconnaissance Vehicle (SRV) which is pretty much like a moon buggy and is used for scampering around planetside. Each comes with a character sheet and some background, as well as details of their Viper and SRV. (Personally I find it a bit odd that, if they are a team, they each have their own spaceship, but given that the Introduction tells us that spacecraft ownership is a bit like car ownership today it makes a little more sense.)
The scenario itself opens with some background on a narcotics gane with a novel history, then play begins with the party being called in to see their captain in the precinct house, er, orbital platform. From there they are sent to investigate an apparent derelict space freighter... and the fun begins. Neatly, there's plenty of room for interaction and investigation as well as ample opportunity to get into a brawl or two. There's also an interesting sidebar: in this game there is no artificial gravity (well, not unless it's spin-generated).
Descriptions are good, conveying a good sense of surroundings and situation, and a good attempt has been made to anticipate likely player questions and actions. There's a space battle against pirates to be fought, and it's here that the relevant game mechanics are gone through. More fun and games ensue when they reach the derelict - getting aboard for a start, and then hand-to-hand combat is likely too. Again the necessary mechanics are detailed here. Clues aboard lead the party to a nearby planet and, although it is probably contrived to give an opportunity to demonstrate the vehicle combat rules everything comes together to produce an exciting police prodedural in space.
The adventure is intriguing enough in its own right, and provides a good introduction to a lot of the rules of the game (including all three combat systems), so by the time you have finished it you ought to have a good idea of whether or not this game is for you. Personally I think the details of the combat systems would be better in the rules section than embedded in the adventure, if only because the rules section would then serve as a good ready-reference for players of both this adventure and the full game. Otherwise, a good adventure and an interesting setting make me look forwards to the full game.
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Reviewed: 31 March 2018