Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review of Far Horizon by Zozer Games

Ruleset: Cepheus Engine/OGL 2d6 Sci-Fi
Author: Paul Eliott
Artist: Ian Stead
Size: 63 pages
Publisher: Zozer Games
Price: $9.90
Grade: 5 out of 5

Space is awesome. Rocket science is awesome. Astronauts are awesome. As children, we dreamed of traveling the stars in a space capsule or rocket ship, wearing a space-suit, visiting all sorts of weird and wonderful alien planets. For me, the most important element of science-fiction is the Sense of Wonder, that sensation you feel when you encounter strange and wondrous scenes, objects, and ideas. Science fiction allowed me to escape the boring school life to far more intriguing places in our imagination. Far Horizon scratches this very itch.

Far Horizon is space exploration. Realistic space exploration - scientists in a spacecraft visiting a rogue planet passing through the outer edges of our solar system. It is 2100 AD and the characters' deep-space vehicle, the eponymous Far Horizon, undertook the first manned mission to Pluto. In 2095, astronomers detected a new planet passing through the Kuiper Belt. Strangely enough, they also found tiny shifts in the planet's trajectory - and have added a visit to that planet to Far Horizon's mission. This world - Tartarus - is a mystery for the players to crack.

This adventure is devoid of combat, yet action abounds. This is an adventure of interplanetary exploration, including all the challenges and threats of realistic spaceflight in a thermal rocket with limited fuel flying through the outer system. This is science fiction at its finest - the characters have to figure out a puzzle of science while exploring an alien planet, all while avoiding the deadly dangers of deep space travel. They have a limited time to explore Tartarus due to orbital mechanics and limited fuel; overstaying can spell slow death in the cold reaches interstellar space.

Far Horizon takes place in Zozer Games' Orbital 2100 hard-science setting, though the setting book itself is not necessary to run the adventure. It focuses on the deep space exploration aspect of the setting rather on its Expanse-style interplanetary politics. It should be very easy to set this adventure in any other hard-science, near-future solar system setting, or run it as a one-off.

The book also provides a detailed overview, including stats, description, deck plans, and excellent renders (by the wonderful Ian Stead) of the Far Horizon deep space vehicle itself; also, it has detailed stats and rules for realistic TL8 and TL9 space suits. These will be useful for a wide variety of hard-science near-future games and are second to none. The adventure also provides pre-generated characters (in Cepheus Engine stats) in case the players lack the setting book.

I heartily recommend this adventure, as it is a very unique and interesting hard-science space-exploration romp.

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