Sunday, October 1, 2017

Seven Worlds Test Drive Review

For those of you that may not have heard, Seven Worlds is a new Savage Worlds setting coming to Kickstarter soon. It is written by Luis Enrique Torres and published by Intellistories. You can get the Seven Worlds Test Drive at DriveThruRPG here. The Wild Die Podcast did an interview episode with Luis but as of this writing it is a Patreon supporter only episode. Here is a link to their Patreon page if you would like to pledge your support to listen to the episode. I believe it will be released to the public when the Kickstarter campaign goes live so you may want to wait.

Right off the bat my first question is, what sets this science fiction RPG apart from all the rest? First of all it has the Atomic Rockets Seal of Approval. What is that you ask? It is a highly sought after approval by Sci-fi writers, game designers, and programmers. It's basically just an acknowledgement that the fiction written is based upon real science and therefore more closely related to hard Sci-fi.

My first impression of this document is it looks really good. The layout by Thomas Shook is clean and simple, I like it. The first page after the cover is the map of the known universe. The map is usually the first thing I look for in Sci-fi settings. This 2-dimensional map looks fantastic and has 7 colonized planets. Hmm, I wonder where they got the name from? You can also go to their webpage at and get yourself a 3-dimensional map. I tried the Instant Reality InstantPlayer but it seemed pretty glitchy to me. I have yet to try the Cortona 3d Viewer.

There are 6 pages of setting background information (I like to call it the fluff). After looking for the map, I then go looking for the fluff. This is where I get a good sense of how the rest of the book will be written. The game starts out in the year 2217, exactly 200 years after the Circle Foundation is created. There are two major organizations, The Circle and The Brotherhood. The Circle, founded by Donovan in 2017, is focused on space exploration, expansion, and protecting humanity from the dangers therein. The Psion Brotherhood, founded by Michaels, is dedicated to protecting and educating people with psionic abilities. These two founders, Donovan and Michaels, were high school friends who had a falling out over a girl named Melissa.

In 2021 Helium-3 fusion reactors are invented and the search for a stable supply of this fuel leads the human race to mine it from the gas planet Saturn in the 2050's. Around this time Donovan passes away and his longtime partner Melissa gives his personal notebooks which include theoretical formulas to what would become the basis for an Interstellar Engine. In 2089 the first test of this engine is successful with a 6 light year jump. Two years later an alien race makes itself known to humanity. The N'ahili race arrived, attracted by the interstellar jump to Barnard's Star, and shared coordinates of jump membranes to several new stars within 12 light years of Earth (Sol).

Humans have now colonized two new worlds and are eager for more expansion. The N'ahili come to the rescue and provide more star coordinates. Now the known universe has expanded to 22 light years from Sol and two more planets are settled. This second set of planets are nearly identical to that of Earth making them important to humanity's survival. In 2133 an unknown comet was discovered on a direct path to Earth. The planetary defenses are able to break up the comet into smaller pieces but it is too late. The effects of an impact induced nuclear winter will last until around 2150. Evacuees are transported to the planets of Concordia and Bay Jing making them equivalent to Earth in both population and importance. By 2165 the N'ahili surprise us again with new coordinates which increase the human presence to 30 light years from Sol.

This new expansion of human kind brings on the settlement of 2 new planets of which one is important. It is important because Concordia and Bay Jing both settle on the planet of Nouvelle Vie. Conflicts between these two colonies leads to the first war humans have in space. During the war, the Circle is instrumental in stopping war crimes mostly by the use of the Stellar Communications Network. Widespread news updates keep the warring planets honest, or at least as honest as possible during war. The Brotherhood also plays an important role in the war by helping to prevent atrocities through the use of "suggestion" and mind-reading without direct mind-control. By 2181 the war is over but the government of Bay Jing is secretly manipulating the population into blaming the Brotherhood which leads to the Psion Riots of 2188.

This brings us to the present day of 2217. Earth has now returned to its former glory and is seen as an equal among Concordia and Bay Jing. Nouvelle Vie is still being torn apart by home grown terrorists waging guerrilla war. The last colonized planet of Logan's End has become the ultimate frontier world with exotic jungles and tourist attractions. Recently, strange energy signatures have been detected in space around an asteroid belt in the far reaches of Nouvelle Vie. Ships are disappearing and stories are circulating about suspicious activity.

Included in the Test Drive are new setting rules, skills, hindrances, edges, psionics, a new derived stat, space ship combat, four pre-generated characters, and an adventure designed for four players. This Test Drive doesn't go into creating characters or covering all the new stats. It is meant to provide you with the necessary information to play the included characters and adventure. Mental Toughness is the new derived stat which is equal to two plus half of your Spirit. This is a measure of how tough your mind is against Psionic attacks.

The two new setting rules are Microgravity and Zero-G and Assistants. Microgravity and Zero-G reduce the character's pace by half and cause a -2 physical action penalty. A roll of a 1 on the trait die regardless of the Wild die causes the character to slip and tumble in around in three dimensions (treat the character as Shaken recover with Agility). Weapons that are not rated for Zero-G use cause the user to become Shaken as before on an attack roll of 1 or 2. There is a -2 penalty for using non Zero-G weapons as well. In Seven Worlds most characters own an Assistant. This virtual assistant appears in your Augmented Reality (AR) glasses, lenses, or on display screens. There are numerous functions the assistant can help the hero's with. During combat the assistant can be activated with the use of a bennie and perform a smarts trick, test of will, generate an advantage/disadvantage, or use a special action. If the assistants roll succeeds with a raise the player gets the bennie back.

There are 7 pages dedicated to space combat in Seven Worlds. Right away that should tell you something. In my opinion this is where Seven Worlds falls short. In a system that's supposed to Fast! Furious! Fun! space combat feels way too crunchy for Savage Worlds. This almost seems like a mini's game within a roleplaying game where distance and facing are important. They do a good job of explaining how to do it and provide examples but it's just now my cup of tea.

That was a highly condensed version of fluff in the Seven Worlds Test Drive document. If any of that sounds interesting to you then I encourage you to read it for yourself. I really hope the final setting includes more fluff. I enjoyed Luis' writing and look forward to reading the full setting once it is published.

Overall 9 out of 10 Lotus Masters recommend Seven Worlds.