Coriolis is the new RPG release by Free League Publishing. Enthusiastically described as “Arabian Nights in Space” and citing inspirations from Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe, this title has pretty much dropped all the citations for me to invest.
And invest I did. I backed the game on Kickstarter on a pledge level that gives me a print copy of a whole boatload of stuff. While the boatload of stuff is still on the slow boat from wherever it’s being printed, I’ve been able to secure a copy of the PDF which I am going to be reviewing now.
Let your heart decide
Coriolis – The Third Horizon assumes that the players take on the role of a crew of adventurers in a space opera setting that draws influence from the Arabian Nights, full of exotic locations, strange artifacts and mysterious secrets.
As you might have noticed, this leaves a big question wide open: Just who are the player characters, and what are they meant to do?
Well, Coriolis sort of flips this on its head by being open to a large spectrum of possible play styles. Depending on the nature of the Crew and what side of the Coriolis universe they want to explore, games of Coriolis can be anywhere from high adventure to techno-thrillers to even Space Horror.
Shining, shimmering, splendid
In order to sustain this kind of open sandbox, a game needs to have a solid setting. Coriolis is set in a region of space known as The Third Horizon, a collection of 36 Star Systems joined through space and time by mystic portals, making The Third Horizon a massive melting pot of cultures, peoples and factions.
The history of the setting is one full of classic tropes from Space Opera. Mankind set off from Earth on 2 massive ark ships named the Zenith and Nadir respectively., towards the distant star of Aldebaran. Only the Zenith made the voyage successfully, and discovered that they did not make it there first.
Instead, Mankind had discovered the ancient portals in space, and they used them to establish distant colonies, one of which is the Third Horizon. During Zenith’s travel time, a great war broke out among the colonies, resulting in the Third Horizon closing off all portals outside of itself.
When the Zenith arrived, they had to meet and get along with a civilisation of humans that had been there before. Sending word to the Third Horizon’s Firstcome denizens, the Zenithians established a council for peace and trade. While it wasn’t a perfect solution, it did help in the integration of the Zenithians to the existing Firstcome cultures and led to a time of relative cooperation.
But just as things were settling in, a mysterious race known as the Emissaries arrived and demanded a seat in the Council. Nobody knows what game the Emissaries are playing, or even who they truly are, but the trouble they’re stirring up among the factions can only mean trouble.
A new fantastic point of view
Coriolis is a new spin an an old Space Opera setup. The elements of Arabian culture definitely give it a different feel, while still being accessible to fans of Space Opera that might find the themes a little different from what they’re used to.
Overall, while I don’t see anything super unique in the broad strokes of Coriolis, the devil (as they say) is in the details. It’s an accessible Space Opera setting with many similarities to popular Space Opera worlds that will make it friendly for people what will want to try it without being too intimidated.
Next up, we’ll take a look at character creation in Coriolis, and see how they were able to take Mutant Year Zero’s rules and apply it here.