It’s 30th-century world: humanity discovers this ancient artifact, the Black Box, which was made by the entities which created our reality. Who exactly are these entities and which was their goal is either a McGuffin or to be found during your game sessions, if you like to.
The world before scientists opened the Black Box to study it was futuristic and well-ordered by the existence of several Artificial Intelligences which look after every business. Architecture is futuristic and inspired to the works of Tsutomu Nihei (e.g. Blame!).
After the opening of the Black Box, the basic rules of our reality went to hell. It happens the rules of our world are bound to the heartbeat of mankind; so, with the instructions of the Black Box released, the whole world began to reshape itself, causing a real apocalypse in just a few moments.
Moreover, other entities, made up of whatever is the opposite of our reality, showed themselves in our world. This guys are called Hekath and their real goal is unknown, but for now they are killing people and kidnapping individuals with pure DNA. Yes, in fact, since their appearing, there are no more pure-DNA humans, but humanity has become LostH.
AIs and Executors
In this apocalypse, the former AIs, which looked after humankind, launched their emergency protocols and nuclearized wide parts of the world. At the same time, they began to save pure-DNA humans and brought them to areas known as SafeZones.
They also created their own agents to fight the Hekath invasion and to save mankind: Executors. The PCs are all Executors, Obscura or a small group of LostH.
You can play a Proxy, an Executor of Nirvana, which was the AI overviewing the health system. Now they are well equipped and have well kept facilities. Nirvana promised them a future with a perfect life, should they gain sufficient credit with it. To give them purpose, Nirvana has put in their heads artificial memories of the life is theirs to conquer. The truth is there is no such future: when they reach 100% credit, Nirvana resets their memories and the “game” starts again and again.
You can play a Hydrah, an Executor of Olympus, which was the AI overviewing all the labour robots. Now they are more machines than people, having Nirvana framed them as cyborgs. They have problems in remembering how were their former lives or even how was to be a real person.
You can play a Hyonos, an Executor of Eden, which was the AI overviewing religions an media. Now they are zealous soldiers kept in artificial bodies which can reshape themselves at will. The fact is Eden has downloaded their conscience in these artificial bodies to make them more fitting to the war against the Hekath. But this process is irreversible and they are doomed to become mad over the time, because, if their body is now strong, their mental health is hindered since the moment of the download.
You can play an Obscura, who are LostH with a surprisingly high percentage of Hekath DNA, to the point they are not (at least simply) humans, nor they are LostH. They are Obscura, indeed: hybrids half LostH and half Hekath. They have terrible powers, but they also appear as monsters both to Executors and LostH. Their problem is to find a new goal and a new place in the world.
You can also play a group of three LostH. Yes, you understood well! Whereas you fellow players will play a single Executor or Obscura, you will play a group of three PCs, bound together by the same high concept and issue. They are fragile, yes, but they are also the most human and versatile characters.
The rulebook is a graphic masterpiece. Alberto and Daniel, the two authors, wrote and drew the ruleset together. The setting is presented in cool ideas and story hints to the players and the GM. There isn’t a really fixed setting: in your campaign, Hyonos can be in a way, whereas in my campaign they can be totally different. They only share those guidelines which we are told of in the ruleset.
In this respect, it is one of the best supplement I have read in the last years, since I find very boring the ruleset which provide with walls of text of settings and explanations.
Powers and stunt
Every character archetype has its own custom stunts. The thing I really like about these stunts is they really are story driven (and driving), with very few exceptions. They ask the GM and players to collaborate to shape NPCs and offer story hooks.
Every stunt is at least very colourful and inspiring for the game.
If you are looking for more graphic ideas about the world of Evolution Pulse, you can download the Extras from 001 to 004 directly from the game website (look at the bottom of the page): http://www.blackbox-games.com/progetti/evolution-pulse/-
You can also listen to the playlist I made up with all the songs which are cited in the ruleset. They can give you a strong feeling of the setting: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-
[5 of 5 Stars!]