Other Games Review: The Expanse RPG (crosspost)

Dom

Administrator
Staff member
#3
I like the Expanse RPG, but have some issues. Like you, I found the massive list of stunts to be the main one - I can't run it without first doing the work of pruning the lists.
@dr_mitch I know you dislike Traveller but you could easily lift the Mongoose Traveller engine and run the Expanse with it. Plus it's pretty much Liminal in a lot of ways (2D6 shooting for 8+)...
 

Dom

Administrator
Staff member
#4
Thanks for the great review @Stronty Girl - I'd been put off from buying the game because I couldn't see what it added over Traveller as an engine and also I'm not very impressed with Green Ronin's PDF policy.

I absolutely love the series, especially the books, but I'm more drawn in by the boardgame than the RPG. The chance to do the factional fighting at a larger scale sounds really good fun. Have you tried it?
 
#5
@dr_mitch I know you dislike Traveller but you could easily lift the Mongoose Traveller engine and run the Expanse with it. Plus it's pretty much Liminal in a lot of ways (2D6 shooting for 8+)...
I really like Traveller character creation and world creation. The rest for me to GM would need lots of house rules, mainly involving too many skills and the complexity of spaceship combat. I wouldn't mind some sort of "soft" hero point option either.

To be clear on my issues with faithful old Trav.
 
#7
I absolutely love the series, especially the books, but I'm more drawn in by the boardgame than the RPG. The chance to do the factional fighting at a larger scale sounds really good fun. Have you tried it?
No I haven't tried the Expanse boardgame. I shall look out for it at gaming cons to give it a go. (I am currently spending an unfeasibly large amount of hours of my life playing Terraforming Mars).

I think I want to write an Expanse scenario of my own and see how that plays out. Then decide if I'm going to stick with their system with some fixes or swap to Traveller/Cortex+/something else.

I almost feel duty bound to run it RAW at a couple of cons (Spag Con J or North Star maybe) so that people can experience it first hand.
 
#9
I've added a bit to the review about gravity/acceleration rules. I'll past it in below so you can see it here too.

I’ve been trying to pull rules from disparate parts of the book into cheat sheets and have noticed something off with the gravity and acceleration rules. Gravity is divided into microgravity, low, normal, heavy and very heavy.

Taking Belters as an example: one set of rules (in chargen chapter and on p205) says Belters are fine at their native gravity (microgravity), and don’t mention anything occurring when they are 1 category above it (low gravity). They get the Hindered condition 2 categories above native (so in normal gravity), and are Restrained at 2 categories (heavy gravity).

However, the rules on gravity (also on p205 but further down the page) say you may need Con rolls to avoid Fatigue at higher than your native gravity – and this starts as hourly rolls when you are 1 level above it (so in low-g for our Belter) and rises to one roll a minute when 2 categories above (normal gravity if a Belter). That’s far more punishing than what is suggested in chargen. If a Belter visits Mars even if his stat is maxed, he’s only been there less than a Martian day by the time the roll becomes impossible. Failure means he gets the Fatigued condition. The Fatigued rules say you can’t take a second Fatigued condition – so an hour later he gets the Exhausted condition. Then an hour later he gets the Helpless condition. In game mechanic terms, the Belter can no longer take any actions. (Unless this s a special instance of Fatigued where it doesn’t stack???).

So basically Belter characters can’t function anywhere except on ships travelling at a slower acceleration than the lowest mentioned in the travel tables (0.3g on p141) or on asteroids and space stations which have not been spun up to give them spin gravity. So Ceres is out (spin gravity of 0.3g), as is the Moon (0.16g) and Ganymede (0.15g). Which conflicts with canon from the books: Miller was a Belter who lived and worked on Ceres, for instance.

I’m wondering if there is a conflict between only wanting 3 categories in chargen (Belter, Martian and Earther) and the reality of the books/series that a metric tonne of characters don’t live in the Asteroid Belt, Mars or Earth? The Outer Planets Alliance gets its name from the fact that tons of its members live on Ganymede and a host of other moons which are nowhere near the asteroid belt. Many of which moons (according to the Expanse RPG rules) are low gravity, not microgravity.

I guess I can fix the conflict by either (a) moving the numbers so microgravity is 0 to 0.2g; or (b) by saying ‘Belters’ can pick microgravity or low gravity as their home gravity.

Not sure what I do with the disagreement in the gravity/acceleration rules. Pick my favourite? Pick the one which annoys players the least?
 
#10
This would cause my brain to explode. I hate it that just about every Sci Fi RPG fails to get gravity and acceleration right. Having had to know about orbital dynamics to do my job in the past I find basic mistakes like this detract from any game that makes then.
 
#12
This would cause my brain to explode. I hate it that just about every Sci Fi RPG fails to get gravity and acceleration right. Having had to know about orbital dynamics to do my job in the past I find basic mistakes like this detract from any game that makes then.
The one that drives me nuts is the non-hard SF books/series with the unwritten assumption of "we have artificial gravity" = "all planets are 1g".
  • The starships are kept at 1g. Yes, sure.
  • The space stations are kept at 1g. Yes, sure.
  • The cities we built on Mars and the Moon are kept at 1g. Well, maybe...
  • Everywhere on the planet Mars and the Moon are also 1g. Wait, what? You can change the gravity of a whole PLANET?!?! Weaponise that - weaponise that right frakking now!
 
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