What’s in the name?
I had a bit of a chuckle when I saw this as it directly addressed my first question regarding the game, which was “What the heck is Fragged Empire?”
Turns out that they included the definition of the term, which has something to do with killing off a leader by their own soldiers in a fashion that looks like an accident (such as a dropped fragmentation grenade at their feet) during a battle.
It’s an interesting use for a term that I had come to associate with videogames where Fragged meant to kill something, and it’s a neat bit of trivia.
Key Setting Themes
Ah, Themes, my old friend. Readers will remember that I tend to blather on and on about themes and mood in games at times, so seeing this right off the bat is a welcome sight.
Fragged Empire draws on four themes for the game:
Post-Post-Apocalypitic Setting – With this and Numenera, I’m starting to think that this sort of genre is starting to pick up in popularity. The idea of being that far removed from the apocalypse as to constitute a “do over” of new civilzations is something that certainly has a lot of space for creative types and room for players to explore a world far removed from our normas while still retaining familiar technology
Cultural Tension – Culture is another aspect of games that I love, and I’m glad that it has a shout out so early on. With four distinct races struggling to survive and flourish in the new world of Fragged Empire, I’m looking forward to seeing how the game expands on such a distant future culture. Eclipse Phase and CthulhuTech did a great job at this, so Fragged Empire has a lot to live up to.
Genetic Engineering – In an interesting hint at the setting history, it seems that when humanity died out, their successors were the genetically engineered Archons. Amusingly the Archons also drove themselves into a genocidal war and died out to their own Geneticically Engineered offspring. It’s an interesting bit of history and begs the question of whether the game is hinting that this third generation is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past two.
Exploration – In a similar note to Numenera, the new generation of player characters exist in a world built atop the ruins of the Archon and Human civilization, leaving a lot of things to be discovered and (mis)understood. Plenty of potential for interesting stories.
The next two pages are a starmap of the Habrixis Sector, as well as a System Map of the Haven System. None of these mean anything to me yet, but will likely make for good reference later on.
Short Story: Galatea
What follows is a short story that introduces some signature characters for Fragged Empire. It’s a good bit of fiction, except for one little line that left me confused involving using a spanner to screw in a bolt. Aside from that, it’s a punchy piece with lot’s of action.
Short Story: History
The next short story is a fiction about two characters discussing the history of the setting. It’s an easier to swallow information dump, but at the same time I was hoping that they’d lay out everything first rather than relay it via the biased views of two characters.
The next section shows the various playable races in the game. Each is given a gorgeous full color single page image, and a one page summary.
The summary is a little bit confusing from an organizational standpoint, as there’s a little bit of character creation (such as how each race affects a character’s traits) stuffed into the summary along with notes on Culture and a summary of who they are.
The factions presented are:
Corporation – Formerly known as the Vagarti, this race was rejected by their creators as inferior. Reorganizing themselves into a massive corporate entity, the Corporation has found new purpose beyond their genetic “heritage”.
Kaltoran – Bearing “genetic memories” Kaltorans are an optimistic and passionate race that want to go past the horrors that they inflicted and were subject to in the war.
Legion – A simian-ish race of disciplined soldiers, the Legion are an army without a war to fight. Bred to become weapons the race now struggles to find purpose for themselves in times of peace.
Nephilim – This “race” of genetically engineered beings are very intellectual and emotionally distant. They are the largest and most powerful military force, but one that is kept in check by the need to cooperate with the others for survival.
Overall, it’s an interesting setup for these individual races and civilization is held together by their interactions.
The last section of the Introduction Chapter has a quick summary of the rules. That said the only real mechanical detail in the section is that you use a 3d6 resolution system. There’s mention of things like tactical miniatures combat, the rules being best fit for long sandbox games and a nonlinear character progression.
An “optional” section at the end is a list of Game Types that can be supported by Fragged Empire, such as having surival horror, casual (easy combat) games and one with more story focus. Accompanied by a list of tweaks to accommodate that style of play.
Overall, Fragged Empire is pretty unique. There’s a lot of good ideas, and the organization of the material is a little bit different from what I’m used to. The artwork is, as I said gorgeous, and helps convey a lot of the mood of the game.
Next up, we’ll try to put together a character for Fragged Empire!