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The Farscape Role Playing Game: Page 3

Review by: IASA Pilot 13

The Bad….  

Chapter Ten: “Us Southern Boys don’t make good eatin’…. Not without a fight!”

While there are some environmental factors/effects and damage assessments you can use during RPG combat, the Farscape system is often confusing and contradictory, which is odd considering AEG designed this game. Alderac’s (AEG) Spycraft combat system is very smooth, with little to no difficulties in utilizing. If you are thinking about buying Farscape, and want to seriously run a campaign, use the combat system out Spycraft or Star Wars. Since all three games employ the d20 system, transfer of your characters should be relatively easy to do, or at least easier than trying to learn /use the combat system from this game. I will elaborate more on combat as the review continues….

Chapter Twelve: “I’m lost…. An Astronaut, shot through a Wormhole….”

Click for a larger imageThere are 17 ship templates scattered on 14 pages in Chapter twelve, and while I give them credit for trying, this section is meager at best. The foundation of the shipbuilding is simplistic but adequate. Each ship template allows for upgrades, similar to feats for a character. Upgrades range from exotic weaponry to docking bays, and are built upon fixed scale. Unfortunately, rules for building ships outside of the 17 templates are unavailable, and could potentially hamper the creativity of a Narrator trying to develop a ship for his players.

Another problem with Starships is designation of speed and distance…. There is NO designation. How fast is a Hetch Drive? How far does Starburst propel a Leviathan? How far and how fast can a Peacekeeper Prowler or Command Carrier travel? While it is established that the Peacekeepers have FTL (Faster Than Light) drives, there is not an applicable scale for the ships. This makes ship combat, much less travel virtually impossible. Further, starship combat presumes the use of miniatures with an established hex scale. All ship-to-ship weapons and pursuit speeds are classify in terms of hexes, but the hex size is NEVER specified. Ultimately using this navigational approach, you too can be just like John Crichton…. Lost.

Appendix: “You mean we got rolled?!?!”

Despite being mentioned several times in the game book, there are no rules/guidelines for the Ancients. I wouldn’t want them as player characters if I were narrating a campaign, but they would defiantly make excellent Non-Player-Characters (NPC’s…. The characters the Narrator directs). It would provide a remarkable plot device for the Narrator, supplying them with ample power and ambiguous material to zoom through the Uncharted Territories.

Even though the AEG admits their ability scores are reflective of the characters through Season 2, there are some glaring errors in their ability assessments….

#1. Scorpius has a strength of 9 (Scale 3-18). I seem to remember him jacking someone up ala Darth Vader, so I am going to do what Mrs. Reagan told me to, and “Just say No”. He is at least a strength of 16, maybe 17. His constitution was also woefully miscalculated at 8 (Scale 3-18), even before the “Incubator” episode. While I am not the loudest Scorpius fan, he does deserve a better evaluation than this. He is/was a formidable opponent, and by degrading his statistics, they have inadvertently diluted every challenge Moya’s crew has overcome.

Click for a larger imageInitially, I would like to prevent any hate mail I may receive for the following statement. In no way, shape, or form am I dismissing Aeryn’s intellect or resourcefulness, this is just my opinion of the underlying material. (Don’t you just love Lawyerball?!) With that disclosed, I would like to disagree with AEG’s assessment of Aeryn, as there is no way she is smarter than Crichton. Further, I believe they underestimated her wisdom, or over-estimated Crichton’s. Actually, there are so many inaccuracies found in these ability scores, I could ramble on for 10 more pages…. (In the Unrealized Reality I did!) Admittedly, I am favorably biased towards all of Moya’s crew, but some of these statistics are completely unjust. I am working on a more accurate translation of the characters (Accuracy plus or minus my opinion), and will post them up at a later date, provided I receive enough demand for them. Finally, if Miss Claudia Black is reading this, I would be happy to go over Aeryn’s stats anytime you want (I think Aeryn’s charisma is vastly underrated. If you were an American Citizen, I would advise you to contact a lawyer. The scores they applied to Aeryn’s charisma constitutes cruel and/or unusual punishment, which is prohibited by The U.S. Constitution).

The Ugly….  

Besides the previous paragraph where I try to flirt with a film star, who in all likelihood will never read this review?

Chapter Seven:  “What is the matter with you people?!?!”

While the subject matter is intriguing, and the majority of it useful, this is a perfect example of one bad Hynerian spoiling the whole flock. This chapter handles one of the closing portions of character creation, Class. Classes are basically the occupation/specialty of the individual, and will clearly influence the development of your character. Farscape classes include Aristocrat, Commando, Diplomat, Mystic, Priest, Rouge, Scavenger, Scientist, Tech, and Warrior. Each class has qualification and other requirements/restrictions, such as Baniks can’t be Diplomats or Scientists (My Bunsen Burner…. Your Bunsen Burner!!!!) Actually, the classes themselves are exceptional…. it’s just this one unregulated concept that not only ruins the class construction, but the combat system itself.  As the Saturday Morning Bard Pee Wee Herman use to say: “When ever you hear today’s secret word, scream real loud!!!!” Ladies and Gentlemen, today’s secret word is “Multi-classing” (Insert scream here)   

Click for a larger imageMulti-classing is common to most RPG’s, and with the proper rules and regulations, playing a multi-class character can be an entertaining and rewarding challenge. (Am I starting to sound parental or what?) The only thing even remotely amusing or entertaining about these rules is how they got through play testing, a room full of 6th graders could have found the glaring loophole in this system. Essentially, any character can multi-class to their heart’s content, or racial limits. As a character continues to swap classes, from scientist to warrior to thief or whatever, they acquire combat and defense bonuses. These bonuses are cumulative rather than solitary. This will quickly destroy ANY chance for a balanced campaign after your player’s character achieves 5th level. Allow me to elaborate…. 

(Note: These numbers are fabricated, but hopefully the idea isn’t lost on you)

Unus D. Unchooseable is a 1st level scientist. He decides he’s had enough of science after he advances in experience to the second level, and wants to become a thief. He spends his next few adventures attempting to become a pickpocket, and acquires enough experience points to achieve a level in thievery. Now he is a 2nd level thief (+4) and a 2nd level scientist (+4), and gets all the bonuses for both classes, even though he hasn’t been declared as, or practicing science for an entire experience level. Most RPG’s will let you multi-class, but you cannot ascend in experience/level in both classes at the same time, or receive the benefits/bonuses of both levels. Bonuses are only given out for the class the player character has agreed upon with the Narrator. (Typically, the player will announce what they are working towards after their most recent level advancement.) Regardless, the Farscape class system allows defensive bonuses for all classes for all levels, and more isn’t always better.

Click for a larger imageAfter an incident with some zoo animals on a trampoline, Unus decides to give up thieving, and decides to explore the ever-expanding world of Piracy. After the zoo incident, which is another story entirely, he already has a space parrot. Unus becomes a pirate and spends another level of adventure trying to become a better pirate. Unus inexplicably manages to avoid being “fragged”, and advances to the rank of second level Pirate (+3). Unus is now has 2 levels in Scientist, Thief, and Pirate….still receiving defensive bonuses for all classes, despite not paying his union dues as a scientist and thief for quite sometime.

Unus grows tired of switching the eye patch from eye socket to eye socket on a daily basis, and decides to abandon piracy all together. He decides to take a page from the good book, and have the victims come to him…. He declares himself a Priest and starts passing the plate around. After several wacky adventures in a stellar monastery, Unus becomes a second level Priest (+4), still garnishing all the bonuses from his levels of science, thieving, and piracy.

Unus began all this nonsense with a 10 Armor Class (AC), but when he adds in the three +4s and the one +3 from all his bonuses, Unus’ Armor Class is now 25 WITHOUT wearing Armor!!!!   It’s important to remember that all combat in the d20 is done with 20-sided dice, and if Unus’ AC is 25, and your single or even dual (2) class character has a +6 to hit, you will still need to roll a 19 or 20 on the 20-sided die to smack up Unus. Suddenly Unus the Unchooseable is now Unus the Unhitable, despite his only four levels of overall experience. Hopefully, my point is made….

 Overall, The Farscape is an excellent gaming and resource book. The overall presentation is exquisite; the pages are lavish, filled with informative text and beautiful pictures. If you are a beginning gamer, or are thinking about venturing into the wacky world of role-playing, I find it difficult to recommend this book as your first experience with d20 rules. If you are an experienced RPG’er, after some minor tweaking and using one of the more established combat engines, Farscape is an excellent venue to play in. With its elements of machines and magic, technology both electric and organic, Farscape could supplement or enhance any campaign setting.

I’ve heard that this is to be AEG’s only book on Farscape. They licensed the rights for only one book, and after several delays along with increased costs, they don’t want to expand any further into the Uncharted Territories. I hope this proves to be untrue, that this game will sell well enough to convince them to take another long look into a universe ripe with potential. It was a fairly good effort on AEG’s part; dealing with a licensed property not their own and all the extra work it entails.  I look forward to seeing their future endeavors, and hopefully they’ll include Farscape.

Somewhere In The Universe….

IASA Pilot 13

Special Thanks Go Out To My Ground Crew: 

Albert-man for Pick Up and Delivery…. Doug & Andy of the Collective with an assist by Brian for Game Mechanics….  Olstyn, Manero, Night and Jatog for Technical Support….  Lance, Jeremy and the Gang at Dreamhaven books in Minneapolis for selling me all the other games I needed to play.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: You will need to use the Star Wars d20 game to make/generate your characters. I recommend the Spycraft system for the combat engine used during the game. Spycraft does NOT contain a character generator OR experience table. 


Farscape is owned by The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network (Australia) and the Sci-Fi Channel. No copyright infringement is intended and no financial gain has been made by any of the staff of this web site.