In the first part of my Mindjammer review, I laid the path for a positive review. In this second – and last – part I plan to actually make it very clear this is a positive review.
I previously wrote about the rules system, including character creation, spaceships and equipment and also running Mindjammer as a GM.
“What’s left?” I hear you think… Well tons and tons, I’m very glad to say!
Essentially the second part of the book is all about world building at a galactic scale and this is the part that showcases what an incredible designer Sarah is.
First thing that made me jump with excitement was the creation of organisations in chapter 15. It basically explains how to turn an abstract and possible unreachable concept (like a government, inter-planetary corporation, cult, civilisation, etc.) and give it some shape that can be interacted with. So if a group of players want to influence the outcome of an election in a planet, that government becomes an organisation with its own attributes, flaws, aspects, etc. and that gives a means to attack it and influence it by performing actions against – or towards – it. Suddenly truly epic adventures are possible without them getting out of hand and with measureable and (hopefully!) obtainable targets.
The following chapters cover the setting. A relatively short history of The Commonality and human expansion gives way to understanding cultures in the following chapter, worlds and civilisations in the next. Why is this important? Because at the same time there are plenty of rules and techniques to create your own worlds with their unique culture and civilisations and no, they are indeed not the same. Mindjammer doesn’t assume that any and every discovered world is a mono-culture environment
Needless to say star systems and stellar bodies are covered. And now just covered, they are also incredibly well explained with some scientific data to go behind everything.
The game comes with rules to create star systems and quadrants too. Choosing the right type of star, nebula and other galactic bodies and being able to calculate distances, map them out in the provided octant, sub sector or sector gives an incredible depth to the level of detail you can have in your campaign if you choose to.
This is not just about throwing a sun and a few planets to create a solar system to explore (unless that’s what you want, of course), it’s about being able to choose what type of star could have what sort of planet with what sort of atmosphere to create what sort of environment and what sort of life-forms.
Oh, and talking about life-forms, none of this Star-Trek syndrome of having mostly bipedal and oxygen breathing species. Alien life in Mindjammer is truly strange and unique. And yes, they can have their own technology, culture, language… and scale. Having a planetary intelligence is super exciting!
The book ends with some chapters on scenarios and campaigns, themes, game play styles and a ready for you to use section of the galaxy to run your adventures in: The Darradine Rim. 19 different planets all ready for you to use with their history, climatology, geography, aspects… All ready and in a full colour insert for you to enjoy. And you will enjoy them, I can assure you. They are just what you needed to get you in the mood for some galactic exploration.
It doesn’t end there, though. It ends with the appendices. Appendices that have Character sheet, character creation worksheet, construct sheet, organisation sheet, culture sheet, planetary map sheet, system schematic sheet, octant, subsector and sector sheets…. Yeah… sheets galore than you can also download from the Mindjammer Press’ website. WHOOHOO!!
A few more pages with reference sheets and a glossary, as well as a detailed index, and the book, sadly, ends. And then you’re left wanting more. A lot more.
Mindjammer is probably the best Science Fiction RPG ever written. As simple as that.
The setting is both easy to approach and understand and very easy to relate to, so coming up with new material is actually very easy. The rules are well explained and the index so precise you can find what you need very quickly. The level of complexity can be elevated to a huge level to create highly detailed everything.
And pretty much everything is catered for. And more. Some of the concepts in this game are just pure genius that a lot of other games should take note of.
To top that, Sarah’s writing is truly excellent and easy to understand and her knowledge and understanding of the FATE system becomes all too obvious. I have always struggled with FATE because I wasn’t able to give a specific setting reading the rules and Mindjammer has changed that.
There was something I missed in the game and hopefully we’ll see this in the future: Characters. The worlds, governments, etc… there are no characters and I missed that. For me creating an adventure without that is more difficult.
Word of warning: If you are a beginner take this game easy. There is *a lot* to be covered in this game and the data can be overwhelming at time. Mindjammer will take a lot of time to get to grips with and patience is highly recommended.
Despite my initial reservations about the size of the book and the word count, I have been won over by this game without any reservations. Mindjammer should be in any gamer’s shelf, and I’d go as far as to say in any Sci-Fi lover’s collection. A true masterpiece!
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