11 years ago I started playing a game with two friends from work. It was a home brew campaign. It was very detailed and very original and terrific fun. So much so that I still remember it 11 years after.
That game has become now a fully grown world and that friend has become now a well known role playing games writer and designer. With titles on her back such as “Legends of Anglerre” and “Mindjammer”, Sarah Newton is a seasoned writer with a talent for detail and evocative description without falling into pedantry.
First things first, the world.
Chronicles of Future Earth happens in Urth, a very distant future version of our planet, where cataclysmic events have shattered civilisation and humanity had to start again, pretty much from scratch. With metal being scarce and the strange semi-organic material Alagin as a substitute often found in Urth, and creatures new and old, magic, psionic powers, demons and a new pantheon of gods with a story full of potential.
To make things even more interesting, the remains of the old civilisation can still be found by the adventurer who dare explore the right location. From unexplored forests, massive ancient cities, moons, other worlds and dimensions only accessible via the mysterious and difficult to control “planing machines”, this setting has a lot to offer for everyone.
The cosmogony is very enticing. With wars between gods and the consequences hard felt both on the planet and society, chaos battles and chaos tainted creatures fight to bring the world to a new end.
There was one thing I liked a lot and a thing I didn’t like a lot about this setting. What I didn’t like was the brevity. The way this has been written makes the massive amount of information very easy to digest. By the end of the book you’ll think of the Virikki, Sakaraic, Alagin and many other concepts as if you’d known them all your life. Maybe I am not doing this any justice, but the point is that there is a huge amount of information and Sarah Newton’s ability to give the information in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the reader is nothing short of remarkable.
Chronicles of Future Earth is based on Chaosium’s BRP system. The percentile bases system is well established, well supported and well known. There is little else to be said about it, really. It is the perfect system for beginners. You will need the core book published by Chaosium, but it is a well worth investment.
I will say this first and foremost. The game doesn’t suffer for the mistakes of its production.
The production of the book is sloppy. For starters it lacks an index. Although there is a comprehensive glossary and an index of contents at the back of the book, there are no credits or a chapter index.
The artwork is gorgeous. The paintings are really nice and very evocative, the illustrations are lovely and the drawings very appropriate. Unfortunately the conversion from colour to B&W for the book hasn’t worked. The paintings loose too much detail and atmosphere and some of them are used too many times, giving the impression the publisher decided to cut short the budget for artwork. We also must add some pixilation to some of the larger illustrations in some pages of this book deserve the title of amateurish.
The cartography is very adequate. Not my cup of tea in style, but it is very good. The font is a big difficult to read, but that is a minor detail all things considered.
Harsh as this might sound, one would expect better from a company the calibre of Chaosium.
This is a great setting for a beginner player or GM, while experienced ones will find here more than enough material to inspire as many adventures as you like.
Despite the obvious production issues, this is still a book well worth investing in. The quality of the material written in it make it for a good purchase that will be thoroughly enjoyed. Also the plans for future releases and the wealth of material that is to come, will ensure the lifespan of Urth is as long as your imagination wants it to be.
I would give this book 4 stars out of 5, with the poor production taking quite a bit away from the 5 mark.
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