RPG Review: Baroque Space Opera

Reviewing Mark Kowaliszyn’s Baroque Space Opera, a sci-fi setting using the Fate Core rules system.

One thought on “RPG Review: Baroque Space Opera

  1. Love the review! I read a lot of Fate Core stuff last year but Baroque Space Opera was the most impressive to me. It is a far-out portrayal of an advanced yet decadent and corrupt society (think DUNE, LEXX or THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK). It is actually temporally placed in Earth’s prehistory, and different Pharisto Houses seemed to have spawned different ancient Earth cultures…somehow, but this is not addressed in the game.

    There are important changes to the Fate Core rules. It has a Skill list of 22 Skills. Notice is no longer a Skill, but an Action that can be done with different Skills, given the wide range of bizarre technologies available. Also, the Stress Boxes are much-changed from the basic Fate Core. Instead of the usual human 1-2, 1-2-3 or 1-2-3-4 patterns, you can have 2-3-4-5 and higher, or 3-3-3, to represent the breeds of humans who have been extensively enhanced genetically and technologically. The rules do not really add very much complexity or crunch to the basic Fate system, and you don’t have to have real technological knowledge to talk about the different branches of Technosophy. Aspects, Skills and Stunts cover it nicely.

    Revolt is in the air, and even many Pharistos are open to it, but ordinary humans relegated to the lower tiers of society can’t hope to be any match for Kundalini mentalists or Dominar troops. They would be tossed around like popcorn, unless they get higher help. There is room for plots involving joining the Rebels, OR defending the Order of Things: the ponderous protocols that define the social status quo.

    It is true that characters with high Skills can help the corresponding Skills of Voidships, but it is not quite like Fate Core Teamwork rules, as only a single +1 per ship Skill can result.

    You will notice that a Transmuter tossing Dust (programmed nanomachines) from out of their robes around may look to the uninformed like a magic-user tossing magical pixie-dust around. Most technology here is indistinguishable from magic, highly developed for thousands and thousands of years, with no room for improvement. In fact, the secretive technological orders resemble magical orders. Add to this elaborate decadent carvings on consoles and programs have appeared, so the technologies will look very arcane indeed.

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