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Mindjammer 2nd Edition
Publisher: Mindjammer Press
Author: Sarah Newton
This is a mini review of the new Fate Core powered edition of Mindjammer, Sarah Newton’s transhuman science fiction roleplaying game.
“It is the Second Age of Space… Old certainties are dying; the universe is in flux, and for the first time in ten thousand years no one knows what the future will bring. Charge your blaster, thoughtcast your commands to the starship’s brain, and fire up the planing engines – come and defend the light of humanity’s greatest civilisation as it spreads to the stars!”
I’m looking at the ‘thoughtcast edition of the game, a pretty much finished pre-release PDF. I was a member of Sarah’s Working Group, a small team of volunteers who provided input during the game’s development.
Mindjammer is the bright and precocious Fate Core love-child of Traveller and Eclipse Phase. It is in no way derivative and is very much its own game. The game is fully stand alone with everything, and I mean everything, needed to play.
After thousands of years of Earth’s expansion to the stars via slower than light colony ships, the New Commonality of Humankind (think ‘Iain Banks Culture’) is setting out in faster than light planeships, to explore and re-contact the lost colonies and bring them back into the fold of transhumanity. The default setting provided in the book delivers a backdrop for all sorts of stories: exploration, re-contact and diplomacy, conflict, action and war, mercantile trading and community building, espionage and covert operations, adventurers and scallywags out on the fringes. There’s no shortage of themes to explore, everything to play for. There’s a whole chapter guiding you through decisions on what your game might be and another that guides you on scenarios and campaigns. Everywhere you turn there is practical and useful advice to get your game going and flowing.
With the book/PDF weighing in at 495 or so, you get a lot of game and setting. Nice clean layout, black and white with good illustrations and some splashes of colour when looking at some example worlds. Rules wise you get a fully SF flavoured take on Fate Core. Characters are embedded in the flavour of the setting from generation, drawn from a range of cultures, genotypes and occupations. You might play a human, xenomorph, a synthetic that is sentient with a copy of a person stored in the great storage and knowledge sphere that is the Mindscape. There’s nothing to stop you playing a sentient construct such as a space station or a starship. Character, personality and intelligence is everywhere. The Mindscape extends your genetically fixed, ageless character into a virtual world of data, stored people, communication and virtual worlds. Setting wise you get a fresh and well constructed expanding human culture, rediscovering and reintegrating the lost worlds of the ancient past. There are a lot of cool guns and tech too… A sector of space is outlined and the poster map of Commonality Space needs to get on your wall sharpish. Jaw dropping.
There are numerous tool-sets in this game too. Create characters, organisations, cultures, worlds, constructs, starships, vehicles, aliens. Everything is segmented and modular. Recognising its own weight, the game recommends you simply use the elements that you want to and make the game your own. I’m not a great one for the trend of enormously girthed roleplaying books, yet I found Mindjammer approachable, bite sized, clear and a good read.
Our shelves may already have copies of Fate science fiction on them. Diaspora, Starblazers and Bulldogs already grace mine. Despite this I am very excited to see Mindjammer take its place there too, nestled next to Traveller and good old Space Opera. Mindjammer is one of those games that you start reading and immediately want to play, to start designing. space opera, action and adventure and transhumanism. It feels like a 21st Century SF roleplaying game and I can’t wait for it to take me out to the stars.
Reviewed by Graham Spearing