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The Expanse RPG - anyone played it yet?

JonA

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So now it’s been out for retail for a few weeks and the KS backers should have their copies I’m intrigued as to what everyone’s first impressions are. Some of the online reviews are largely positive but I’m curious what RPGnet’s user’s opinion of it is.

I love the books and the TV series. I know the RPG is based more on the books than the tv show (although there’s very little difference between the two as the producers have managed to remain remarkable faithful to the source material).

I’m interested in both the crunch and the fluff.

I’m totally unfamiliar with the AGE system but I remember there was some who expressed concern as to whether it was a good fit for the setting. I’m curious to see if those concerns were justified or has the application of the system been successful.

Also how well written is the fluff? I know the authors of the books have been involved in the development of the RPG (including providing a short story for the main rulebook) so I’d imagine the setting info is consistent and well integrated with the novels but I’d like to hear if anyone thinks they’ve managed to carry it off.

So yeah, what’s everyone who’s run the full game or the quick start feelings on it?

Side note: please try not to drag this thread in to a discussion on their feelings about Green Ronin’s handling over recent sexual harassment controversies. Not being dismissive of that whole shit show, I’m just looking for feedback on The Expanse RPG.
 

Molotov

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I've got a copy (or a few, ahem ...), and have gotten in two games so far, including a Free RPG Day run at a local store. Big fan of the books and show myself. I'm really pleased with the RPG - it's spot on for the setting, I think, without getting too crazy on crunchy details. The implementation of Modern AGE for it seems pretty refined - both groups (including my home group) responded well to the rules, stunts, and damage system. Two of my group are huge fans of The Expanse, and just loved it. The others hadn't experienced the setting before, but quickly caught on.

Rules ran quickly. I think the wealth of Stunts and Stunt Tables can be a little overwhelming. I had extra copies for the table, along with pregens (the Quick Start and the GM Kit use the same pregens), and had folks look them over and maybe find a few that they really liked for the PCs schtick.

So far, I've run the Quick Start ("Cup Bearer") and GM Kit ("Ganymede Insurance Job"), each as an intro one-shot. Both went well, engaged the Players, and felt very straightforward on setting.
 

JonA

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That sounds good to me. It’ll be a good while before I can run it but as a fan of the setting I do want to get a copy ASAP and hopefully wedge it in to my group’s upcoming game list. Everyone at my table is familiar with the series although only two have watched the tv series (and loved it and the board game). So I think it’ll be a must buy.
 

Molotov

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That sounds good to me. It’ll be a good while before I can run it but as a fan of the setting I do want to get a copy ASAP and hopefully wedge it in to my group’s upcoming game list. Everyone at my table is familiar with the series although only two have watched the tv series (and loved it and the board game). So I think it’ll be a must buy.
We're doing a 3 session short campaign arc - the three premade adventures - and then re-assessing. I definitely feel like the system and setting have a lot of options. It's a great baseline for sci-fi gaming. I was running some Savage Worlds at the local store last night, and the pair of players who'd done The Expanse asked again about getting another session scheduled ... hardly a bad thing.
 

Molotov

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Oh, I should add that The Churn mechanic (optional) is interesting, very in-setting, and - unexpectedly - all of the Players loved it. It's a mechanic for driving, well, the Churn - the way things change and get worse. Or, as Amos says in the show, it's when the game changes, and jungle rebuilds itself.

It gets driven by completing scenes, being very successful, etc., and introduces three levels - minor, major, epic - of problems that might come up. So, a minor churn even would be an NPC's attitude shifting one level for the worse, or a new hazard. Major would be a two step shift, existing threat it made tougher, and such.

I introduced it as optional, with willingness to drop if it made things awful, and both groups got a sense of it and loved it. One group was eager to see how bad things got; the other felt additional tension to "thread the needle" and keep things focused.
 

JonA

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That sounds like a very interesting mechanic that keeps the group invested in the wider setting. I’ll be interested to read how it works in detail but what you’ve said sounds very cool.
 

Molotov

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I'll add that The Expanse setting seems super-accessible for new(er) players. For my regular group, 2 of the 5 had read the books (and seen the show); 3 were new to the setting. Everyone was new to the rules. Likewise, both players for my Free RPG Day game were new to both. Everyone caught on the setting pretty damn quick.

I'm sure that's part of what appealed to me when I read Leviathan Wakes a few years ago. It, as a plotline, introduces some weirdness ... but absent that, it's a pretty normal projection of possible sci-fi life in a few hundred years. Folks seem to get the "Ok, so Earth is ... Earth, but mainly UN control. Mars used to be under UN control but is a free military power. Both of them need and take advantage of the Belters."

It also makes a nice jumping off point for GMs and groups that want to open it up from there. It would be easy to add a wormhole, and suddenly you have some FTL-style capabilities ... maybe it opens to the Clement Sector (my favorite original Traveller setting), or such. Or blend in some Eclipse Phase with singularity events and rogue AIs. Etc.

As an aside, I had the book with me the other week at a sandwich shop ... where they've seen me dozens of times with various rpgs and comics. Never a word. I put The Expanse rpg on the table and place an order, and no sooner than I finish paying than the guy asks me if that has to do with The Expanse tv series, and on "yes", he's telling me how much he loves the show, science-fiction, etc. That doesn't usually happen to me. I think there's definitely some non-gaming buzz on the series that could make it a nice intro-ish game.
 

DwarfRage

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From the quick start it doesn’t look like the system is super tied to the setting (which as much as I love the setting), but I’ve been looking for something to run a Space Jocks game; and I see that it calls out starship combat.
 

Gee4orce

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I kickstarted it but I've only skimmed the rules so far. I was a bit disappointed to see how lightly ships are statted - and yet it does seem that there's extensive ship combat rules and a very detailed example combat that I did read through that sounded quite exciting (it's a ret-con of a fight from the novels, using the game rules to explain what happened).

I was also a bit disappointed to see nothing that would allow you to re-create the kind of implants that Clarissa Mao displays in Abaddon's Gate.

I think the Age system is pretty well battle tested at this point, but personally I'm all about Genesys as an engine these days.
 
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