Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Last Parsec

I am a backer of Pinnacle's The Last Parsec Kickstarter and so the second of the three setting books just hits the virtual shelves of backers yesterday.

For those that don't know, The Last Parsec is a sci-fi/space opera setting that makes use of the Savage Worlds rules along with with the Sci-Fi Companion to build a setting in which the players likely work for a massive corporation that explores, catalogs, and exploits of the worlds of the galaxy. Setting is used pretty loosely here. This isn't detailed much beyond a faint structure for GM's to hang their own adventure and ideas on. I tend to like those kinds of setting these days since I like to do my own thing rather than play in someone else's playground. The setting books of the Kickstarter continue in this vein. While they are more detailed than the setting primer, most of both setting book are dominated with plot-point campaigns and adventure seeds than tried and true setting detail. There's plenty in both books to run adventures for a long time, just don't expect all the work to be done for you. That said, I do wish there was a bit more fleshing out of the worlds and a little less space given to the plot-point campaign paths.

As I said, the first two of three books are now out. The first, Eris-Beta-V, details a system dominated by mining colonies that dot the moons and rings of the gas giant Eris-Beta-V. The second book, Leviathan, details a lush, verdant sanctuary/resort world dominated by dinosaur-like aliens. It's a popular travel destination for both vacationers and hunters alike. Both books offer new setting details that cover the various hazards and effects found in both areas as well as new creatures, gear, hindrances, edges, and vehicles.

All in all, I am enjoying the series and I am happy with my purchase. However, the setting is a little lighter than I care for even though I like my settings light on the details and high on the seeds. The best part of the books is that even though the setting has references to the setting, most of it is easily ignored without losing any of the charm of either location should you want to use these books for your own space opera campaigns. Even though the third and final book will be out in a few weeks, I really hope that Pinnacle will continue to produce more books for the setting. I'm hoping for not just more locations, but maybe a book filled with new xenos or alien races, or even a starship book to lighten some of the load of game prep (although with SW, the load on GM's is pretty light).


Tanner Yea said...

I bought Eris-Beta-V on a whim, and it's not too appealing for me. The entire setting and rules are in the Sci-fi Companion, while the whole JumpCorp premise is way too lighthanded and boring compared to Pinnacle's usual excellence. I feel, at the moment, that it's a really shallow and bog-standard setting. Hell, even their old sci-fi setting of Slipstream has more tasty story beats, and that setting is nearing on 10 years old. In Last Parsec, there's no grand empire, no scheming plots, no consuming darkness; just a rinky-dink "super benevolent corporation who is cool all the time always". It doesn't have the qualities of other settings, like Mass Effect, Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Farscape, that make those franchises so good.

Maybe it'll change when the expanded setting guide comes out, but that should have been the first book, in my opinion

Giles Kiser said...

I can't really argue with you on your last point. TLP is really less of a setting and more of a set of adventure locations with some plot points and adventure seeds. That doesn't bother me as much since there was little to no chance that I was going to use any TLP product as is. Those looking for an honest-to-goodness setting are probably going to be disappointed.

From a truth in advertising standpoint, Pinnacle would have been better served pitching these products in the KS as more of a series of plug-and-play sci-fi sourcebooks than a full-on setting. Beyond the primer and the references to JumpCorp, there really isn't anything that has to be re-worked to drop either location into the setting of your choice without issue.

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