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Publisher: Goodman Games
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/13/2005 00:00:00


Some settings are hard to explain easily. Etherscope I find is one of them. I was given an advance copy of the PDF by Goodman Games to review. Somehow the setting had completely been missed by me but I am very happy that I agreed to review it. It is really one of the first positive takes on d20 Modern that really grabs me and I can not wait to see more of this setting. The setting is modern day but not like our own modern day. There was a single large scientific discovery a century ago. It has altered the way the world is. The Ether plane is a source of energy, a place people can go mentally not unlike the Matrix, and has been responsible for many other advances. The discovery has altered the history of the world rather dramatically. England is the super power in the world but Germany, Japan, Russia, and America are still significant. The World is a very different place. It has a more Victorian feel to it, there are large super cities that house millions of people. The class societies are still there with the cultural and intellectual elite own and control much especially in England. There are new races of humans that Eugenics has formed for labor and other uses. Etherscope is a game of Victorian horror, but like most really good settings it can actually be a lot more. Etherscope is a new setting by Goodman Games. It is created and designed by Nigel McClelland and Ben Redmond. Then book has a great look to it and I think it will really look impressive when it is in print. The layout is nice and the fonts are easy to read. It is a nicely put together book. The art is very Victorian in nature and does not really reveal much on the horror aspect and potential of the game. I really like the look of the cover. It is not a complicated piece but it does a nice job of getting the general feel of the game. The book is almost three hundred pages long and has a lot of rules and setting information in it. The game takes place in 1984 in this alternate world I discussed above. The players have a nice variety of characters that can be constructed. The setting uses a variation on the d20 modern rules. Really they have changed little but they have added interesting details to the dull generics of the d20 modern game. For instance instead of having the usual d20 modern classes they have redefined them to fit perfectly into the setting. There is the Broker. He is the basic dealer in information; a very charismatic fellow with talent trees like Influence, Charm, and even Sprituality. In the world of Etherscope while actually talking to the dead is impossible it has been learned that thoughts or patterns of thoughts from deceased still exist in the Ether. There is the combatant; a more basic fighter type character. His talent trees focus on combat in the world and in the in the Ether as well as strength oriented feats. The Enginaught are skilled craftsman or people with cybernetic implants. They are the pilots, engineers and of course the cybernetic people of the game. Their talent trees deal with piloting, cybernetics, and similar activities. The Pursuer is a person that oddly enough pursues things. It can be people, the lost legends of Lemuria, the library of Alexandria, or even the fountain of youth. The Savant is the experts and scholars of the world. They know things and figure things out. They can program things in the Ether or learn about the occult with their talent trees. The Scoundrel is the traditional rebels of the game. They rebel against pretty much whatever one has. Their talent trees aid them in breaking into secure Ether domains, fast talking and swindling people, and stealthy attacks. The game uses a few different races but all of them are very human like. The normal humans are unchanged. The Alphas are the superior all up in their ivory tower looking down on everyone else kind of people. Mechanically and socially they are more advantageous to playing them then the other races so they get a experience penalty basically for playing one. While better then other races they do not overshadow them statistically. The Gammas were the first really breed to replace other humans. They are more resistant to diseases a problem that still exists in the big mega cities. Gammas are small sized but tough. The Delta Human was breed to replace the rebels in the Gamma lines. The Epsilon were breed for the same reasons. Both have differences from the normal human stock but non are really that alien to it. That is left for the Lemurains or Fey humans. Now I think the game actually reveal a little too much about these people though it does leave a lot unsaid. But just in case someone wants to keep things hidden from their players I am not going to go into who and what these people are exactly. The game plays very much like d20 Modern. It uses the wealth system and I think it fits in here rather well. While the book gives the reason of the complex shilling money system (20 shillings to a pound and 12 pence to a shilling, seems simple to me) I think the focus of the game away from pure wealth like in the traditional d20 game does Etherscope good. The equipment section here seems rather full. There are plenty of weapons and items for adventurers showing the focus of the game is in these regards. The setting is were the book really shines and I wish they would have placed a lot more information in here. The countries as they are in this world are nicely described and there is plenty of places to explore for a modern adventurer. Africa and China for instance are really unknowns in this world and there is much adventure to be found in these places. The large mega cities are filled with intrigue and plenty of challenges for role players and investigators a like. There is a good bit of the book I have not covered here. The combat system is the same but in the feats section there are some cool fighting styles that I hope to see more of. I did not concentrate too much on the horror aspect as the book has it but the rules are more of the focus here. I let the horror be shown to players by the DM instead of telling them here. Etherscope is one of the most unique and compelling settings to come out of the d20 craze.

<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Great and enriching setting, well done with the d20 modern rules in a brilliant way<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Needs more setting info. They do a good job and leaves one wanting more. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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