The Introduction sets the scene: this is a sourcebook all about a planet called Aurore, first introduced in the adventure Kafer Dawn, which is actually a large moon in orbit around a gas giant in the Eta Bootis system in the French Arm. It's almost as big as Earth, with sufficient atmosphere to allow people to live there without the need for spacesuits, but challenging enough to make colonisation an adventure in itself. You can run Kafer Dawn without this book, but if you want to keep on using Aurore for your own adventures it will come in very useful.
The first chapter is entitled Aurore: Background, and it is recommended that the referee allows the characters to discover the information herein through research and experience rather than letting them read the chapter. It deals with the history of the exploration of the Eta Bootis system from the first survey and landings right up to the present, including the Kafer War. It is not so much secret material as stuff you need to make an effort to read up on, most is available in libraries and other records, or can be found out if you want to ask the locals. A native of Aurore would probably know it, should a character have this as their planet of origin. Although in the French Arm, the first colony was actually Ukrainian, with two separate colonies, one French and one by a consortium of American, Texan and German mining corporations, being established later. It was the French who named their settlement Aurore, which came to be the name used for the entire world. Early establishment of power satellites aided the growth of the mining industry but incompatibility of Earth and Auroran lifeforms made agriculture difficult until soil from back home was used to seed and terraform plots of land in which carefully selected plants and animals could be raised. The Kafer War caused widespread destruction and although humans have (just) clung on to the main settlements, mopping up operations to clear the planet of remnants of Kafer forces are still ongoing.
A detailed 2-page map of the surface leads into the next section, Aurore: The World. This provides a detailed run-down of Auroran planetography (you cannot really call it GEOgraphy after all!) with both physical aspects and information on settlements being covered. This is followed by a chapter on Life on Aurore, with information on typical careers pursued by locals, new skills and much more. As a frontier world, Aurore is always ready to welcome newcomers ready to grasp opportunities and work hard. If you don't fancy fishing, mining or homesteading, there are militia and mercenary opportunites as well. Many years ago, one of my characters (an expert sniper) found his services in demand!
Next comes Aurore: Biology, and this is rich and strange indeed. Had I read this before the game, I'd have left the sniper home and played a xenobiologist instead! The conventional differences between 'plant' and 'animal' are blurred in a fascinating manner. Quite a few sample creatures are presented for characters to encounter - for study or combat is left open depending on inclination and situation. A neat piece is a collection of unknown and unnamed creatures, hitherto unknown to science or even the local colonists, which the referee can have the party 'discover' when appropriate during their stay on Aurore. If they survive, they can have the fun of naming and describing them should they so wish.
The next section is Adventuring on Aurore. This provides a wealth of encounters, each classified by where it might take place, and each with the potential of developing into much more than a mere encounter if that's what you want. Mechanically, there are notes on how to resolve novel tasks not covered by the core rules, and there's also a useful set of notes on the general appearance of the place designed to help you come up with vivid and colourful descriptions as the party travels around. This is followed by greater detail in a section entitled Planetographic Details, which gives extended descriptions of different parts of the planet. We also meet some typical locals, complete with colour illustrations. Throughout, there are hints which could be expanded into adventure ideas if you need them. There's also information about weather and environmental hazards, depending on where the party decides to go. A separate section of Special Information provides the referee with more hazards and opportunities for adventure based on the nature of Aurore itself.
This is followed by Personalities, a section which introduces some local movers and shakers, providing biographical and game mechanical information as well as notes on how they might interact with the party or influence the course of an adventure if they are encountered. Then comes material on the Kafers and their equipment, and finally a section called Military Operations - as Aurora is a world at war, it is likely that the party will be swept up in events even if they don't intend to become involved! There is a lot of material here that will aid you in running military actions, however you manage to embroil the characters (I seem to recall conscription being involved...). If you are wargamers at heart, there is plenty of technical information to cater for playing out skirmishes with various vehicles and combat units, or to provide a background for role-playing adventures - scouting or covert missions can always work well.
Overall, this sourcebook presents a vividly-imagined world with plenty going on, ripe for adventure and well worth a visit...
Return to Aurore Sourcebook page.
Reviewed: 22 October 2015