Our hard sci-fi tabletop RPG is finally in the play-testing phase! Jakub has been hard at work for months writing and polishing the rules for Project Aphelion, and now they’re ready to see the light.
What is Project Aphelion?
If you haven’t heard about the project before, here are the basics. It’s an tabletop RPG introducing elements of a 4X strategy (EXplore, EXpand, EXploit, and EXterminate, see here). It’s clear, streamlined, efficient, and easy to learn.
We’ve play-tested it last Saturday in a team of four; some of us never played RPGs before, some mostly know D&D, some play RPGs for years, some (me) have been with Aphelion since its beginning. Nevertheless, it was the first time any of us played it, and it took barely any time to start using the system intuitively.
It’s based on d10 only and has zero exceptions, yet manages to stay easy and complex at the same time. Crunch? Yes. Three days of character creation? No. (I’m looking at you, Shadowrun).
The alpha rules and the recording of the first play-test (explaining exactly how to play the game and use the interface) are for now available for our Patrons. Why not join them?
The featured image is in Public Domain: The planet Jupiter from the Trouvelot astronomical drawings (1881-1882) by E. L. Trouvelot (1827-1895). Original from The New York Public Library.
When I made a character who wanted to be an arcane researcher, one thing was obvious: custom spells. However, Shadowrun is not D&D 5e or Pathfinder, and third-party content is neither supported nor really created, leaving the mages with a rather limited spell list, most of them geared towards shadowrunning.
As I like making life hard for myself, I made a character who doesn’t want to be a shadowrunner.
If I was ever glad I became a freelancer, it’s in the middle of the global pandemic.
It’s been quite a ride these last couple of weeks. As I write those words, watching Mary Popping Returns with half an eye (the movie really doesn’t warrant a whole eye on it), it’s been over four weeks of Finland on lockdown. Working as a full-time freelancers was a bit of a challenge for both of us, between two preschoolers running around and me catching the virus and being definitely worse for wear for almost a month.
Regardless, as I’m sipping on strawberry milkshake, I’m happy to declare that the spring has finally arrived in Finland. No snow for a week, almost! The cats are delighted, the dog less; she likes digging in the snow. The things are looking brighter already, especially as I can finally breathe like a human being should be able to do.
We’re seriously behind on the blog. (This is not news.)
Both Jakub and I have been working lately on about a dozen of projects, all of them cool, exciting, and board game- and roleplaying game-related, but about half of them is still covered in NDAs, and most of the other half is still on my pile of ‘need to write a portfolio entry about that’.
Between the writing, designing, and pushing pixels around for other people, we’ve been hard at work on Project Aphelion, Incitatus novel (Jakub is just finishing the second chapter of the second draft, and the plot very much thickens), our Shadowrun campaign, and a new zine for a fantasy RPG audience.
After our last ‘run’ (we’re not really shadowrunners if you remember), we had a moment to breathe and take care of our personal stuff. Not much, mind it – the aftermath and fallout of session 001 is still ongoing and I’ll get into details after session 002 this Saturday.
Meanwhile, there were some job postings on Denver BBS, including an interesting snippet from Momma Calderwood, local talislegger and talismonger:
> Looking for a skilled “procurer” of reagents. Pay’s decent, location will be revealed if you agree to help, hazard bonus involved if things go sideways.
Denver is a weird city: split between six more or less hostile countries, it’s a hub for smugglers, black marketers, and shadowrunners. The Big Game is played there, earning Denver the name of City of Shadows.
Meanwhile, a group of definitely-not-shadowrunners is trying to survive in the city’s worst district: Aurora Warrens.
Chuy who just wants to open his taco place. Mack who needs to pay off his debts and cure his hangover. Sax who wishes he was left alone to pursue his passion for music. Tacho who just managed to get his junk car to work and hopes nothing bad happens to it. Tomorrow who has a ton of magical research to do when she’s not partying.
Here’s a snippet of information about me: I love drawing. I’m no pro, and definitely nowhere to call myself an illustrator but I thoroughly enjoy the process.
Here’s another: I haven’t drawn anything in ages! For many reasons; mainly, my life’s been in a bit of upheaval for the last couple of years. Also, my hands hurt when I draw.
However, Jakub and I are starting a new Shadowrun campaign soon, and I’ve been putting together my character for the last couple of weeks. Working through “20 questions”, I realised I have no idea of how she looks like and what’s exactly her personality, so I decided to just draw her and figure it out as I go.
Our vintage Shadowrun campaign has come to an end. I know, happens.
Last we left off (at least here, on my blog), we were just getting ready for the big finale of Harlequin campaign – and we did it, it was awesome, glorious, amazing, climactic, and beautiful. A round of applause for the GM, it was just a fitting ending to a year-long campaign.
I got to punch a dragon into unconsciousness. It was everything I wished for.
And then we went for some downtime, as our campaign ended it November 2053, and we wanted to pick up in Spring 2055 – you know, 2055 in Chicago, all the Universal Brotherhood and bugs business.
Hello! So far, we’ve talked about the general idea behind PA, and the technologies that made everyday life in the Solar System so vastly different than it is today. I decided to make those vlogs with a bi-weekly theme, swapping lore related topics with closer looks on the gameplay and rules each time. So, our today’s video will cover the gameplay of Project Aphelion, to give you an idea of how will the game function.
Gameplay in Project Aphelion happens on multiple platforms, both during the session and between them. I’m designing it to be a perfect game for a long, immersive campaign using more than one format of play, but also to fit nicely for a play-by-post, convention setting, or even as a board game without any classic TTRPG elements and character-based play. I think the best way to describe PA is a roleplaying game mixed with a 4X strategy game and games like Europa Universalis or Risk. How is that going to work? Well, this is where the fun begins.
The game will “run” on three interconnected playing fields, with a varying degree of focus and importance depending on how you want to play the game.
Escape rooms! Investigations! Cons! Reunions! Pure excellence!
Welcome back to the session recaps from our Shadowrun campaign! We’re playing 5E, a bit house-ruled, as our campaign is set in 2053 (in Chicago, for better or worse), and some of the things, like Matrix rules, had to be reworked. Our GM is the amazing Jakub from Project Aphelion whom you can follow in his GM glory on Twitter.
In the last episode, our intrepid band of criminals, described properly here, stole a rare flower from the middle on the Amazonian jungle, annoying Ehran the Scribe just a tiny bit more, and got back to Chicago, their hometown.