After some very good novels and a highly reviewed television series (90% On Rotten Tomatoes), the science fiction world of The Expanse is returning back to its roots, with another tabletop RPG. And yes, we did say another: Though you might have already known if you were a fan of the series, the universe did start as a tabletop ruleset, but that ruleset is a bit outdated, as tabletop games tend to become over a period of time. The new book will look to be a whole lot shinier and run a lot more cleanly than the old one, and is undergoing a kickstarter campaign as we speak.
The campaign has already passed the 300% mark in terms of funding, so the project is for sure going to become a reality. This is exciting for a few reasons: One, it marks the return of The Expanse as a tabletop classic, and two, there aren’t a whole bunch of modern sci-fi tabletop systems to play these days, so new additions to the genre are always welcome.
A look through the Kickstarter not only shows off some of the fantastic artwork that will come included with the corebook, but gives hints as to the rules and gameplay elements as well.
The game runs on a modified version of the AGE ruleset, which is a set of basic principles used to govern a number of different tabletops. However, there are a few rules modifications that make it a lot more interesting.
My personal favorite of the bunch is the “Fortune” system that replaces a more traditional HP system. Roleplaying hits to a character’s HP have always been difficult since in many systems, most of the damage you take has no impact on how your character will behave. Also, it takes a lot to imagine a legendary smuggler who takes six blaster bolts to the chest every major combat, but eventually is able to sleep it off the next day, while staying immersed in the world. It’s a lot easier to imagine a smuggler who has six near misses with blaster bolts, but eventually comes out unscathed. That’s what the fortune system is.
Fortune is basically a replacement for HP, but makes much more narrative sense in a game with guns and lasers flying about. When you get “hit” by an attack but have enough fortune remaining, the strike doesn’t actually “hit” you – maybe it singes your hair, maybe it leaves a dent in your armor, or maybe it knocks you to the ground, but somehow you’re lucky enough to keep on fighting. Although it doesn’t do much in terms of how fights play out, it makes them sound more similar to how one would imagine a sci-fi conflict, with several close calls and increasingly dangerous miracles that the heroes just barely find their way out of.
The corebook will also include a hefty helping of everyone’s favorite feature of Sci-Fi tabletop games: Spaceship deckplans! It’s unknown how exactly ship – vs – ship encounters will work in this RPG, but here’s to hoping they do it well; In many other tabletop RPG’s, attempts to make spaceship combats interesting and tactical can quickly lead to the encounters becoming too bogged down with rules and roles to seem interesting at all.
There’s also an “Interludes” system, though there’s not much information as to what this is exactly. In concept, it’s an attempt to make the game’s mechanics about more than just shooting things, and might introduce bonuses to things done outside of the action, such as building relationships, repairing damaged ship parts, and gathering information. However, it’s quite unclear what this mechanic will add to those encounters, which are usually up to the GM to make interesting. If the system is comprehensive enough, it might aid newer GMs to make the world seem more alive, which is always a plus.
The corebook releases digitally at the start of August, and physical copies will be available at this year’s Gen Con tabletop convention. I’ll be at that convention, so I’ll try to pick up some new info about this system if I can.
Featured Image Via the Official Expanse RPG Kickstarter Page