Friday, March 05, 2010

Review - Mindjammer campaign setting

Last month, I reviewed a FATE-based space opera game called Starblazer Adventures. Well, DriveThruRPGs just had another sale in time for me to buy the first campaign setting, called Mindjammer. The setting envisions a future in which humans have been expanding out into the galaxy for thousands of years using sublight ships. Naturally, contact with most of the colony ships is lost along the way and the ones that do maintain contact with Earth take decades or centuries to send and receive replies. Then, about 200 years in the past, Earth develops FTL capability and expands outward to reestablish contacts with the human diaspora and create the Commonality, a loose association of human colonies. Millennia of divergent development has created a plethora of different cultures and societies, some of which are not too happy to be receiving visitors.

Culture plays an interesting role in the setting. It provides aspects to characters derived from them, as one would expect. However, cultures also have their own rules for interaction with one another. The actions of characters can even result in societal changes, if a particular culture is not equipped to adequately deal with the stresses of making contact with the wider galactic community.

Another aspect of the setting is the Mindscape, a futuristic equivalent of the internet. Taking a page from the Traveller game, space travel is FTL, but interstellar communications are not. Therefore, AI spaceships, called Mindjammers, serve as nodes in the Mindscape, ensuring that all people of the Commonality have access to up-to-date information. Humans access the Mindscape directly via implants. This creates a sort of shared consciousness allowing the sum of all human knowledge to be available, although finding what you're looking for is not a trivial undertaking. The Mindscape also allows humans to display pseudo-psychic abilities.

Overall, Mindjammer is less pulpy than the default Starblazer Adventures setting, incorporating some cyberpunk elements and a more sophisticated approach to alien contact. I'm still not completely sold on the FATE game engine, being a fan of rules-heavy game systems and tactical combat, but it is growing on me and the wealth of good ideas in Mindjammer make it a goldmine for any space opera game.



Anonymous said...

Hi Rognar,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write this review - it's very much appreciated. I completely grok where you're coming from with your comments about being a fan of more rules-heavy game systems and tactical combat - before discovering Starblazer my SF gaming was very much that vein too, and a great vein it is!

I think the thing about Starblazer (and therefore Mindjammer) is that it still remains very crunchy if you want that, and I think that satisfies my "tactical rulesy" itch ! :-)

Thanks again for your review,

Sarah Newton
Author, Mindjammer

Obiri said...

haha I was wondering if you were going to score another author comment.

Rognar said...

All bow before the unholy omniscience of Google.

Rognar said...

By the way, Sarah, if you're still viewing this blog, are you the same Sarah Newton that wrote "The Chronicles of Future Earth" for Chaosium? That one looks very interesting. I love the BRP system.

Angus said...


Yes, she is the same Sarah. The lady has many hats :p

Angus Abranson
Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd
Publishers of SLA Industries, Victoriana, Starblazer Adventures, QIN: The Warring States and the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game

Jay said...

Rognar, thanks for the review. I wondered how the supplement compared to the, er--mothership--so to speak.

Great insights, as always!

Rognar said...

Thanks. Glad to help.