Anyone who follows me on social media knows I’m a big fan of The Expanse, both the series of novels by James S.A. Corey and the show that has aired on SyFy for three seasons. So when I heard the news that Green Ronin Publishing had launched a Kickstarter campaign to create a role-playing game set in the universe of The Expanse, I wasted no time in backing it.
And I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm for this project. The campaign blew through its initial goal of $30,000 in under an hour and has quickly rocketed past the $225,000 mark (at the time of this writing). This success has unlocked all of the initial stretch goals, prompting Green Ronin to add six new stretch goals—all campaign adventures—that I suspect will be unlocked soon.
What Backers Will Get
For as little as $20, backers can get their hands on a PDF version of the rulebook, while a $30 pledge nets PDF copies of both the rulebook and the Game Masters’s kit. If you want hardcover copies, then a pledge of $50 (rulebook alone) or $70 (rulebook and GM’s kit) will get you both the printed and PDF versions of the game. Green Ronin is also offering higher-dollar backer levels that include a Special Edition exclusive to this Kickstarter.
Detailed Campaign Setting
The Expanse, which is developed and written by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham together (under the pen name of James S.A. Corey), is set in a future version of our reality where humanity has colonized much of the known solar system. There’s a complex interplanetary political system with a deep history behind the conflict of three main factions: the United Nations (Earth), the Martial Congressional Republic, and the Outer Planets Alliance. Plus, there’s an ancient, alien presence looming behind it all.
This universe is populated by everything from military personnel to politicians and resistance fighters to working folks like asteroid miners and ice haulers trying to make a living in a harsh universe. The series is notable for showing how people live and work in space, focusing not just on the physical demands of living in a zero-gravity environment, but also the mental challenges of living in both the vastness of space and the claustrophobic confines of spaceships and space stations. That’s all fertile ground for ardent role-players to explore.
The Journey From Online Gaming Origins to Tabletop RPG
The Expanse started as Franck’s MMORPG pitch to a Chinese internet company back in the early 2000s. While that ultimately didn’t go anywhere, Franck ran the idea as an online post-to-play RPG for a few years. When that game eventually dried up, Abraham, who had played in the online RPG, suggested it would make a great setting for a series of novels. From that, Leviathan Wakes, the first book in the series, was released in 2011. Franck and Abraham have released a new book each year since then. The eighth book, Tiamat’s Wrath, will go on sale on December 4, 2018.
Franck and Abraham have worked closely with Green Ronin for more than a year to develop The Expanse RPG, and I’m really excited to see the results. Fortunately, prospective players like me don’t have to wait to give the game a test drive—you can actually play a simplified version of the game today.
QuickStart Game Rules
In order for fans can get a feel for how the game will play, Green Ronin has released a free 40-page PDF that includes a stripped-down version of the rules, six pre-generated characters, and one short adventure.
Green Ronin’s AGE
The Expanse RPG is built with Green Ronin’s proprietary AGE (Adventure Game Engine), a rule-set they also use for some of their other RPGs like Fantasy AGE (sword & sorcery), Blue Rose (romantic fantasy), and Modern AGE (covering everything from the Industrial Revolution through today and beyond).
The AGE System uses only three six-sided dice for all the game’s rolls. It also features a Stunt Point System that keeps the action of the game moving, whether it’s in combat, exploration, or social interaction.
The Green Ronin Experience
Green Ronin has an excellent track record for producing quality materials, both with and without the aid of Kickstarter. I was a backer of their Freeport: City of Adventure Kickstarter campaign a few years back and found their communication and professionalism to be top notch during the whole process. Plus, the end product looks fantastic. Green Ronin has been honing their game-making craft for almost 20 years, so I expect The Expanse will turn out at least equally well.
The Expanse RPG Kickstarter runs through August 22. The final books are scheduled to ship November 2018.