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Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/22/2018 10:06:45

This work dives straight in with an Introduction that provides an overview of the backstory and history of the game setting, with a sidebar that explains that it's based on the setting of Corvus Belli's miniatures skirmish game... which in its turn grew out of a role-playing game the four founders of the company had written and played at home! The whole thing is a space-opera of exploration, technological advancement - and of the fractures that have grown up between different groups.

There is a survey of the Human Sphere, with brief notes on the eleven habitable systems they have discovered via wormhole technology. It also speaks of various factions that have arisen, and there is mention of 'Code Infinity'. In a 12-point scale that tells you how close to disaster a particular situation has got, Code Infinity is when it has reached a state of multiple issues, the resolving of any one being likely to bring the whole situation down about your ears! Fortunately an organisation called Bureau Noir exists to cope with such situations. Whilst the game rules can be used to play literally anyone in any situation in known space, the default puts the player-characters as agents of Bureau Noir.

Despite its avowed role, Bureau Noir is as riven with factions as any other group and this leads to some interesting role-play if members of different factions are assigned to the same team. Of course, 'loyal' agents put the mission first... or the team might all owe allegience to the same faction and be working to further its ends even over the assigned task.

You might think that all this was enough, but there's more. A bunch called the Combined Army, a military force composed of several alien races that have been subjugated by the Evolved Intelligence, a malign (we think) AI that apparently has plans for Humanity that it hasn't yet shared, but probably do not have the happiness and wellbeing of human beings at its core. Two races from that army - the Morat and the Shasvastii - are introduced here. Occasionally there are references to things that aren't explained in this brief overview, but on the whole it gives a fair idea of the situation you're getting into.

Next, Chapter 2: Basic Rules explains what you need to know to play the game. Pre-generated characters are provided, so there are notes on what the various abilities and skills noted for each of them mean. There are six pre-gens. A note explains that when you get to make your own characters, a 'lifepath' system is used to determine not only what they know and can do, but how they learned this as well. For now though, there are details of task resolution and how the unique Heat and Momentum mechanics of the 2D20 system work. We find out how action scenes are played out and there's plenty about combat. It's a fairly breathless overview, but things should become clear once you start playing... even more so if someone (preferably the GM) is already familiar with the base game system.

Then comes Chapter 3: Paradiso Countdown - the actual introductory scenario. It all began when a large alien spacecraft suddenly arrived at the Human Sphere's seat of government, and this turned out to be a bunch of aliens who are not part of the Combined Army who were seeking an alliance against them. During the summit called to thrash out the details, the party are detailed to work security. Depending on their faction, they may also have a secondary task to accomplish. Within a couple of days, murders have taken place and the party is assigned to one of the alien ambassadors as their security detail. That's only the beginning of the problems...

There's background material for the GM explaining what exactly is going on and who's doing what, as well as a rundown on the aliens, the Tohaa. They do everything by threes... which gives them a quite different outlook from humanity's binary tendencies. There are also notes on human diplomats, the space station the summit is being held on, and the overall security operation.

This moves into a day-by-day breakdown of events. This is very clearly laid out and proves easy to run as everything is at your fingertips. It's still probably a good idea to read it over before you run the game, though. Interestingly, a sidebar notes that this is a cut-down version of a scenario in a forthcoming book, one that skips fairly quickly to a brawl as that's what most players want to try out in a new system! That said, if you are good at running encounters on the fly there is plenty for less-warlike members of the party to do.

It certainly makes for an exciting introduction to the game, one that makes me look forward to more!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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