Coriolis is a sci-fi/fantasy game published by Free League and Modiphius, that bills itself as 'Arabian Nights in space'. The game very much fits that description, being a setting that brings together a lot of the tropes from various space-oriented science-fantasy stories, such as Firefly, Star Wars, the Fifth Element, Pitch Black, Mass Effect, Dune, and many others. It takes place in a far-off galaxy. Long ago, thousands boarded a ship and traveled for centuries to reach the planets of the Kua system with the goal of being the first to colonize them. When they arrived, they found that the world had already been settled by colonizers who found faster passage through a wormhole (or portal) that had been built by a long-lost civilzation. The portal to their homeworld had since been destroyed, isolating these settlers to the 'third horizon'--an area of space that includes several galaxies interlinked by portals. After its centuries-long journey, the ship-- Coriolis--was turned into a space-station, becoming a hub of societal activity, and a central location for the game. The setting is a world shaped rival factions and wars, a shared polytheistic faith in the 'icons', and a facination with the sparse remnants of the ancient 'portal builders'.
The game has a rather simple system, with some very easy to use mechanics. Skills and combat are determined by rolling a number of D6 from a pool of dice related to your character's ability in a given skill, typically looking to roll a 6 for success. This is very simple and similar to any other D6-based system, such as Shadowrun. There are a few really nice features to the mechanics, such as 'the dark between the stars'--a mechanic that lets the game master track negative consequences that players have accrued to give them an eventual comeuppance. As well, the game includes rules for giving your players a spaceship from the start of the game, with good guidelines on customing it to their needs--and requiring it to have a flaw. The ship-building rules give a great number options for customization. There are also rules for space combat and travel, in which your ship-building decisions matter. The back of the book even has some sample ships and a useful space combat map.
Character creation is simple and has decent options with 11 character classes that include artist, data spider (hacker), fugitive, negotiator, operative, pilot, preacher, scientist, ship worker, soldier, and trailblazer. The options include rules for mystic powers and cybernetics, though this book only offers the basics. Character creation requires players to determine their physical features, personal problems, and their relationships to others--including their closest friend in the group. The process is easy enough and encourages players to build fleshed-out characters with a well-defined background. It also gives the game master the option of working character interactions into their adventures.
Aside from the core rules, the book contains everything you need to run the game. This includes the rich history of the setting and background information to help game masters build their adventures. There is information on the 10 major factions that players will encounter, the widely-worshiped nine icons, and the major groups of people. There are descriptions of many of the locations in the setting, with a heavy focus on the Coriolis space station. The book offers descriptions of 6 planets/orbital bodies that can serve as locations for adventures aside from the many locations in Coriolis itself. Chapter 14 is a 20-page section that includes a bestiary and a list of adventuring hazards. It even gives options for non-human player characters for game masters who wish to allow this in their game. Though brief, this section really provides some nice material for adventure writing. Even better, the book includes three brief scenarios that can be tied together with ease to get your campaign started.
Overall, Coriolis is a great book to pick up if you're looking for a space-faring science fiction game. This is one of the easiest games to get into if you are looking to branch out into a new system. The only real learning curve here is the background story, which might take a bit of research for game masters who wish to go deep into the setting, but it is otherwise easy to play without diving into backstory. Given that character and ship creation are relatively easy and the availability pre-written scenario in the core rulebook, this is a great game to jump into and start playing with little preparation.
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[5 of 5 Stars!]