Revelations of Mars.
Revelations of Mars (RoM) is the newest book in the Ubiquity universe and the newest from Exile Game Studio. Like Space: 1889 I got in on this one via the Kickstarter. I am going to spend some time looking at both games, but today I want to focus on RoM by itself.
Revelations of Mars is a nice thick tome. Or it will be when my hardcover comes in next week. The PDF is a healthy 224 pages. Color covers and inserts, but mostly black and white interior. Like it's older brother, Hollow Earth Expedition, this works well for the style and feel of the book. What is that style? Overtly it is Pulp Action, like HEX, but there is a good helping of "Sword and Planet" and "Planetary Romance" action here as well as, and this is fun, 50s sci-fi mentality. In fact while reading this I kept thinking more and more of the staples of 50s UFO invasion movies. I am not sure if that was the author's intent, but it is what I got. I had ideas for this game, but now I am thinking "Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Journey to the Seventh Planet" (ok that was early 60s). The Mars of RoM is closer to the Barsoom of Edgar Rice Burroughs than say War of the Worlds.
This book is also a sourcebook for Hollow Earth, so you will need the Core HEX book to play.
Chapter 1 covers Characters which gives more material for Mars based and Mars travelling characters. We get the expected run of Martian nobles, nomads and even robots. There are plenty of new Talents and Flaws. Everything from four arms, dual brains, Vrii-based talents and more Atlantean-based ones. Looks like we are in for a treat here! There are also Robot and Alien creation templates.
The Sample Characters/Archetypes are in beautiful full color and done really, really well.
Chapter 2 Supernatural Powers is another chapter I was eager to devour. This covers psychic powers. Everything from psychic healing, precognitive powers and pyrokinesis. Mix in with the Hollow Earth books and you have quite a bit of psychic powers to cover most situations.
Chapter 3 details more Equipment and weapons. For you fantasy role-players out there here is your list of swords, maces, flails and spears. Everything required by a Sword and Planet story. Not to worry, there are still "blasters" and "ray guns" to be had as well. Naturally. There is even Martian Red Steel that can be used in some weapons.
Chapter 4 Vehicle Combat covers all the new craft one can find on Mars. My favorite are the sky ships. Not a huge fan of pirates, but these are cool.
Chapter 5 is all about Martian Natives. Several races are covered. There is the expected four-armed "green" Martians (the Dheva) but there are plenty of others. There are insect-men (well, beetlemen), Grey Martians which do remind me of "Greys", Apemen, Purple Martians (that new!), dinosaur men, the Vrii, which are like giant crystal formations and finally the Red Martians. In a interesting choice the Red Martians are related to Atlanteans. There is a lot here and I am not doing it justice by any means.
Chapter 6 follows with The Red Planet, background on Mars. Mars is very much a dying world. That is the same story we get in the Barsoom books and even in DC comics, so that much is familiar. There is also a feel of Vance's "Dying Earth" here too. First we cover how to get to Mars. There are your standard weird science rockets, but also projection from the Astral Projector, Atlantean Portals (which I rather like to be honest) and the good old fashioned abduction. The bulk of the chapter details various locations on Mars and the inhabitants. Very nicely detailed.
Chapter 7 Atlanteans details these ex-pats on Mars. Not only their involvement on Mars, but also their involvement in the greater Solar System. Even if you don't want to play on Mars but want more information on the Atlanteans for your Hollow Earth Game then this is a great, must read chapter. Several Atlantean "Gods" are also detailed and how their affairs affect Mars.
Chapter 8 Friends and Enemies covers the various peoples of Mars and what Earthlings can expect. Several unique characters are also discussed.
Chapter 9 Bestiary is exactly that, the beasts and monsters of Mars. We have a number of "Earth-like" creatures, some different sorts of Dinosaurs and lots of insects. There are some near-humanoid creatures as well. There are even "sand worms". There is some more modern influences here as well. The bestiary is more "Avatar" than it is "This Island Earth". There is nothing wrong with that, though with the lack of water and plants I don't see many of these creatures, save the bugs and scavengers, living long at all.
Next is a Sample Adventure, Revelations of Mars. I won't say much (spoilers!) but it is for human characters coming to Mars. That makes good sense really.
The appendix covers some inspirational books of the Planetary Romance sort. The usual suspects are here; Herbert, Vance, Howard, Burroughs, Zelazny and Wells. But there are others worth looking to. Comics, movies and TV shows are also mentioned. As with the other games in this line books are given the most attention.
There is a good index and list of Kickstarter backers.
A few full color "ads" and a full color map of Mars.
Honestly there is so much in this book that you could easily make a completely Mars-based campaign. Just traveling from city to city would be adventure enough. Thankfully the book covers more than just that. Exile really has something nice here and I hope to see more in this line. Could a Venus book be in the future? Hope so.