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Modern AGE & The Expanse RPG

Modern AGE & The Expanse RPG

Monday 14 December 2020
In December 2020 we presented the Modern AGE & Expanse RPG Bundle, featuring two contemporary and science fiction RPGs that use the Adventure Game Engine (AGE) from Green Ronin Publishing: Modern AGE, for high-power action from the Industrial Revolution onward (2018), and The Expanse Roleplaying Game (2019), based on James S. A. Corey’s mega-popular The Expanse science fiction novels of diplomacy, discovery, and danger in the future Solar System. This all-new, bargain-priced offer was timely, as Season 5 of The Expanse TV series (shown in North America on Amazon Prime TV) debuted December 16.

The AGE rules system powers the Fantasy AGE and Dragon Age RPGs (both presented in our Feb 2018 Dragon Age Bundle) and Blue Rose (presented this past March). AGE is a traditional roll-high system where you roll 3D6, including an off-colored Stunt Die, against a target number. The Stunt Die breaks ties and generates Stunt Points, which let you pull off special maneuvers or earn extra benefits in combat and social encounters. Every action type has a menu of Stunt effects.

Modern AGE characters have a Background (social class), any of two dozen Professions, and a Drive (motivation) like Achiever, Caregiver, Rebel, Visionary, or Ecstatic. Any d20 or 5E player should find the straightforward combat system comfortable, and you can tweak the damage rules for Cinematic, Pulpy, and Gritty campaign styles.

Funded in a stellar July 2018 Expanse RPG Kickstarter campaign, The Expanse RPG is a standalone adaptation of the Modern rules. Expanse characters have a Native Gravity, Income level, and Fortune points you can spend to reduce damage and change die results. Advanced Challenge Tests may have a Success Threshold with degrees of success. Combat inflicts damage as various conditions, including Hindered, Deafened, and Free Falling. The extensive chapter on space travel presents scientifically accurate travel between planets, communications times, and ship construction rules — no warp drives or deflector shields here. Forty pages of the 260-page core rulebook cover the Expanse setting, and another 40 give gamemastering advice. The chapter on Threats is twice as long as the one on Rewards, which will sound right to Belters grousing about their low wages mining ice for Mao-Kwikowski Mercantile or Pur’N’Kleen.

The Expanse novels present wheels-within-wheels plots with dozens of characters doing lots of things everywhere. Likewise, the RPG supports many campaign frameworks: freelance traders, paramilitaries, Belter rebels, political operatives, or investigators tracking the mysterious Protomolecule. In a June 2019 Gnome Stew review of The Expanse RPG, Jared Rascher said, “I think this is my favorite iteration of the AGE System rules. There are so many useful tools, and enough bits to make a game interesting without adding in bells and whistles like powers or magic. […] Not only is it a solid game for presenting The Expanse, but it is a good ruleset for hard sci-fi games in general.”

There were six titles in our Modern Collection (retail value $84) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the complete Modern AGE Basic Rulebook (plus the free Modern AGE Quickstart); the Modern AGE Companion; the cross-dimensional campaign setting Threefold (and it has a free Threefold Quickstart too); Enemies & Allies for Threefold and other Modern AGE games; the short adventure Missions: Warflower; and the Modern AGE Game Master’s Kit.

Those who paid more than the threshold (average) price also got our entire Expanse Collection with four more titles worth an additional $60, including the complete standalone The Expanse RPG core rulebook (plus the free Expanse Quickstart), The Expanse Game Master’s Kit, the full-length six-scenario campaign Abzu’s Bounty, and the short adventure Salvage Op.

Ten percent of each payment (after gateway fees) went to this offer’s pandemic-related charity, Direct Relief. Direct Relief gets protective gear and critical care medications to health workers, with emergency deliveries to medical facilities across the US and to regional response agencies across the world.