Monday, October 18, 2010

Chronicles of Future Earth....looks awesome

Chaosium reminds me of an aging movie star from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The beauty is gone and the style is dated, but occasionally a bit of the glamour of the past shows through. I used to play Call of Cthulhu quite a bit. Actually, to clarify, I used to run Call of Cthulhu quite a bit. It's a hard game for a player like me to enjoy. I prefer heroic adventure in which my character has a chance of winning. The best CoC has to offer is slow, steady defeat punctuated by small, temporary successes. As such, I would typically run small campaigns of 6 to 10 game sessions. By then, most of my players would have gone through more than one character and any original PCs would be hopelessly crippled by their experiences.

Having said that, the Chaosium game engine, now called Basic RolePlaying or BRP is a good one. It may be a bit more granular than some may think necessary, but it is simple to learn and easy to adapt to other genres. Happily, Chaosium is doing just that. A quick look at their website will reveal many supplements for BRP that introduce a variety of different fantasy and sci-fi settings. Chaosium hasn't yet been convinced of the virtue of selling low-cost pdfs of the core rules ($30...yikes!), but many of the supplements are quite affordable.

One type of setting I think the BRP system is ideally suited for is the so-called "Dying Earth" genre. Though this genre considerably predates the writings of Jack Vance, it is his work that lends it the name. Basically, it is a vision of a far future earth, in which the sun is fading, resources have largely been depleted, the ruins of thousands of fallen empires decay under shifting sands and sorcery and ancient technology exist side-by-side. The "Taarna" sequence from the 1981 animated feature, Heavy Metal, is a good example of the style of the Dying Earth genre. In a couple of months (hopefully), Chaosium will release its own take on the Dying Earth setting with Chronicles of Future Earth. It is written by Sarah Newton, author of the Mindjammer campaign setting for Cubicle 7's Starblazer Adventures game and appears to be the first of a series of supplements for this new campaign setting. As best as I can tell from what little information is available (Chaosium isn't exactly the most communicative company in the business), Chronicles of Future Earth is not a Cthulhu Mythos-related game setting and perhaps it might benefit the company's bottom line to make that clearer, since for most people, Chaosium is synonymous with Call of Cthulhu. Chronicles of Future Earth is looking like a must buy for me.

Now, if I could somehow get a pdf of BRP for under $15...



Obiri said...

That looks pretty sweet.

Tayloritos said...

I agree, I have always liked the genre but it is hard to get right.

Rognar said...

Yeah, it looks like I'll be investing in BRP. I know it has magic and sorcery as distinct types of power and I think sorcery is the prominent one in Chronicles of Future Earth, so I'll be curious to see how they differ. I think sorcery involves a lot of summoning and demon pacts.

Since the pdf for BRP is only $12 cheaper than the print version, I guess I might as well go all in.