Children of the Sun

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Children of the Sun

Mensaje por Balian LeTarot el Jue Dic 17, 2009 9:08 pm

De la editorial Misguided Games.

Los creadores lo catalogaban de dieselpunk, y otros de ciencia-ficción fantástica con pinceladas steampunk. Paso a poner un artículo del juego vía, en inglés como ocurriera con Unhallowed Metropolis y valorad si es de vuestro interés.

Children of the Sun

"First off, the title Children of the Sun is a misnomer. There are very few children, and it has very little to do with the Sun, symbolically or otherwise. That really bothered me and I wanted to get it out of the way as soon as possible.

That said, the game itself is a masterful blend of technology and fantasy, which will offer new opportunities for fantasy GMs beginning to reach the limits of what d20 can provide.

Game Setting:

At first glance, CotS might not look too different from a typical fantasy game. Several fantasy races, including humans and elves, magic, a pseudo-polytheistic ideology revolving around elder spirits, and many of the other mainstays of the fantasy genre. If they didn't add the technology, this would still be a good fantasy game - with a detailed world background, an evocative setting that prizes both diplomacy and warfare, a utilitarian and flexible system for combat that allows for action to take place even when it’s not “your turn,” a magic system that is simple yet flexible, well written flavor text that truly evokes the feel of the setting, and plenty of detail about the game's main setting, the kingdom of Krace.

However, what sets CotS apart is it’s inclusion of “arcane engineering” – essentially, magical technology, that has allowed the fantasy society to approach early to mid-20th century levels of technology and culture, complete with firearms, artillery, skyscrapers, radio, railroad, and just plain strange devices of intricate complexity and magical result – a blend that the authors of the book dub “dieselpunk.” The end result is an interesting blend of modern innovation and fantastic adventure.

The game takes place a little more than a century and a half after the Great Conflagration, a war deeply – and perhaps deliberately – similar to World War II. In it, the Elvish leaders of Lyserial established a totalitarian government, committed war crimes including slave camps and forced breeding programs, and waged war on neighbor nations, such as the more recently established nation of Krace, a mostly free society established by revolution, and the nation of Gemyshev, “the Winter Kingdom” established by Vladd Lenn.

While modeling a fantasy war after the turbulent period of the Second World War may strike some as unoriginal, CotS only uses WWII – the only known real example of a worldwide war against a powerful and ultimately evil foe - as a guide and not as a playbook. There are plenty of events in the fantasy setting’s history that have no mirror in our own. Still, there are enough parallels to our own history to bring the horrors of the Second World War to mind, and in a way, this allows the reader to more deeply understand the scope, horrors, and desperation of the conflict, than if the setting existed in a vacuum. It’s an important mindset, since The Great Conflagration is central to the development of the prejudices and politics of the setting. It establishes the prejudices against elves, the establishment of Krace as a world economic and military leader, and the importance of the dying, heirless King Aetheri of Krace to the World’s lasting peace. Special emphasis on the game’s politics gives players a reminder that it is not external threats from monsters that should most concern them, but those who selfishly seek to abuse power.

The core rulebook’s default setting is the island of Krace, the political and economic leader of the world, an island of multilayered forests and many still-unexplored areas within it’s relatively small borders, offering a chance for GMs to explore both urban adventures and wilderness exploration in the same campaign. The island gets a chapter of it’s own, about thirty pages detailing the culture, geography, and politics of Krace. In comparison, the rest of the World gets about ten pages, although this gap will almost certainly be covered by supplements that are to follow.

The book includes information on eight different races which can be chosen at character creation – the leonine, secluded Avendera; the diminutive plant-based Banfilidh; the persecuted Elves; the tribal, egalitarian Hu Lenkra; the technically innovative Humans; the primitive wolf-like Luparathi; the peaceful Thorqua; and the amphibious Zheol-Jhe. Each race has required racial modifiers and abilities, as well as some extra racial abilities that can be taken with character points. These “optional” racial abilities, however, seem to be nearly universal – for example, the aquatic Zheol-Jhe can “optionally” take a gill-cloak for two points, but a character that does not take one cannot breathe underwater – one of the defining characteristics of the Zheol-Jhe. Similarly, the Luparathi can “optionally” take claws for 2 character points. The end result is that not buying the optional abilities results in a disadvantage for your character as he relates to that race. Humans, who do not normally take “racial” abilities, may instead take “regional” abilities, usually some occupational skills from the region they were raised in.


In CotS’s system, dubbed the “token” system, characters are assigned a die type and a die number for each of their attributes: Strength, Agility, Vigor, Focus, Perception, Discipline, Charm, Leadership, and Ferocity. Die rolls are open ended – maximum values on a die are rerolled and added, and the largest resulting die is taken. Your character’s skill level is directly added to this number, giving you a final “quality check.” Characters tend to start out relatively weak, but a very inexpensive character development system leads to rapid advancement.

In character creation, racial culture, regional upbringing, occupation, and training are all figured in as integral parts of the character, with skills representing these intrinsic values provided “for free.” The system allows for great flexibility, allowing the character to represent anything from the traditional bard, warrior, ranger, or cleric, to a lawyer who’s been disbarred and now has to work at a barmaid to make ends meet until she can prove that she was wrongly accused of insider trading in the stock market. Needless to say, this flexibility goes far beyond the traditional limits of the d20 system, and is very appealing to GMs and players who wish to run story-driven, rather than hack & slash, plots.

Combat is designed to be simultaneous – characters that are attacked have an option to counterattack, for example, and any character that still has a token to spend can interrupt an action. Each character gets a number of magic points that refresh each round, and can be used to add to statistics, power techniques or magical items, or be spent to counter another character’s magical technique. The result can be complex, but compared to other systems, such as d20 or GURPS, not overly so, and with a bit of practice, even intuitive.

Magical techniques – and there are plenty, even at lower levels - are divided into the primary pillars of Body, Energy, Matter, and Mind, and the secondary pillars of Alteration, Corruption, Control, Creation, Decay, Harmony, Life, and War. To learn a technique, a character must have knowledge of the primary pillar, secondary pillar, and magical points equal or exceeding the rank of the spell. One of the important concepts behind the techniques is that the spell can be boosted – for example, a rank one spell, which requires 1 magic point to cast, will have triple the effect if 3 magic points are spent. This insures that even the spells learned early on will be useful as the characters progress and face greater challenges. Finally, a “linking” system allows for creation of magical items that have innate techniques within them, as well as providing an extra pool of magic for the characters to use.

There are additional “tertiary” pillars available for those in devout service to the elder spirits, and those in devout service to an elder spirit typically have a different outlook – indeed, even a different calling in life, making the religious system better defined, than, for example, the Clerics of the Greyhawk setting.

GM Tools:

For the GM (CotS refers to the GM as the “Guide,”) there is of course, the obligatory chapter on running a game – which is well written, for the most part, if old news for most RPG players. There are certainly enough well written tools for the Guide to use, and appendices with enough tables to quickly look up information on creatures, technology, weapons, occupations, services, movement and strength check tables, and a few sample scenarios for beginning characters. Of particular interest and utility is the very through index, as well as a separate index just for tables and charts. Experienced GMs should have no trouble with navigating the pages, and beginner GMs will quickly get used to them.

Art & Layout:

The book itself especially shines in this category, from it’s impressive color front to it’s two-color (Black and Blue) pages within. The layout of the pages, even the two-color ones, are well designed and keeps with the “dieselpunk” mechanical feel, while still emphasizing that this is a game of fantasy. Thumbed indexes in the border of the pages allow you to skip directly to the chapter you need, and is a welcome addition. There are 32 full-color glossy inserts, and some of the artwork, especially that of the Dreamer and the Harvesters are simply incredible and give you a feel for what life is like in this strange world. Of particular note is the artwork of Jac “Kano” Grenfell, who’s inspired mechanical renderings give much of the artwork its flavor. More of his work can be found on the Misguided Games website, and it is impressive.

The book itself is a hardcover book, about 350 pages, and very sturdy. Although I haven’t owned my copy long, I have had no problem with the binding, despite the mixed paper types. For it’s page count and construction, forty dollars seems a fair price.

Comparisons and Critiques:

The game has few faults, but what few it has can be excused. The combat system is complex, but that complexity is required for its flexibility. While the system is not quite as conducive to character customization and individuality as GURPS or Hero System, it is certainly more robust than d20 as far as character options are concerned. For those wishing to emulate the feeling of some of the more technologically advanced of the Final Fantasy series, an interesting combination between Children and Exalted can be possible, however, the two systems are very different and probably difficult to convert. There are relatively few “monsters” in the core book, but conversions from the d20 Monster Manual or other collection of creatures should be simple enough.

Final Verdict:

Children of the Sun is well designed, well written, well illustrated, provides plenty of opportunities for GMs to come up with story ideas, and provides something novel and new to the typical fantasy experience. Perhaps one of the best fantasy games written to date, without exaggeration."

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Balian LeTarot

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Re: Children of the Sun

Mensaje por Arkelao el Jue Dic 31, 2009 5:34 pm

Parece un poco aburrido pero estéticamente mola.


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