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The Void Core PDF
by Russell G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/25/2015 07:22:00
I just got around to downloading and looking at this and I regret not doing so sooner.

This is was the "hard sci-fi meets the Cthulhu mythos" RPG I was looking for. The rules have found that oh-so-rare perfect mixture of crunch and ease-of-use, the setting isn't so fleshed out that it's a straight jacket and isn't so vague that it can just be ignored. When you add the expanded character creation rules (different book) there is literally no background a character can't come from... so if the idea of playing highly skilled space-cops doesn't appeal to you and you're looking for something where the characters don't necessarily have the best available backgrounds to meet the threat, that option is available too. Loved the setting, the mechanics, everything cover-to-cover and the fact that it's free on .pdf is perhaps the best advertising for a game I've ever heard of... all of my players can have a copy loaded onto their Kindles or e-readers, etc. (though I fully intended to buy the POD version too to support the product).

If I have a complaint it's only that there isn't enough support material for it. There's a technology and ship book that was advertised that I'd really like to get my hands on those (Cultist Pirates anyone?). I've been looking for an update but the latest has been from 2013.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
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The Void – Stygian Cycle V
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2015 15:39:50
I've been buying the Stygian Cycle of adventures to mine for ideas in my own space adventure game I'm running, rather than to play directly. As such, I have to say the idea of a colony suddenly appearing years after its mysterious disappearance, with no indication that time has elapsed, was a very interesting plot hook, and one I may well use in my own game.

That said, and without giving away any spoilers, I have to admit that I'm somewhat disappointed by the final explanation of what was going on. Given who and what was behind it, and the motivations and abilities of the various creatures involved, I would expect there to have been other more effective things they could have done to achieve their ends. Still, the basic story is sound, even if I have trouble with some of the motivations for it, and considering the price, I don't really have much to complain about.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Stygian Cycle V
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The Void Core PDF
by James C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2015 22:03:17
As it is by itself, The Void Core is a good RPG with a nice theme. Though my interest in getting The Void Core is to use it as a source of ideas to pick and choose from for use in other systems. I find the system is of great use in tricking out / modding the GunCrawl game system.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
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The Void Core PDF
by Joachim H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/19/2015 04:46:40
For a rulesbook that costs nothing, "The Void" is a bargain. It is clear to me that the authors want to make money with the sourcesbook after giving away the core book for free; so I did not expect the core book to ceover each and every question in detail.

Nevertheless, "The Void" suffers from multiple flaws. The crucial question how much a Warden (player character) knows about the occult nature of the universe is never answered. It is the Warden's Job to fight monsters but it is never stated how much they know about creatures, cults etc. or which of the Monsters given in the rulesbook are already known and what is known about them.

The skills "Occult" or "Cryptozoology" may be useful but there are no clues how to actually use them.

The example characters have flamethrower and combat shotgun; both arms do not appear in the "weapons" section, however. Especially a flamethrower should have special abilities like hitting more thsn one target, follow-up damage by burning etc.

The rating for the Warden armor is 10/5 on sample characters and 10 in the "weapons" section.

The rules for madness are very superficial.

Over all, "The Void" is too superficial in many ways; unfortunately, even in the "Secrets of the Void", this continues. If you want to play "Monster of the week", fine. If you want more depth, "The Void" only scratches the surface.

"The Void" as a setting is promising but lacks substance. It's like peeling an onion shell by shell with the authors giving you only the outer shell.

I am also disappointed that the authors seem to reduce horror to monsters that eat you or kill you, i.e. blood and gore.

The the mood of a Lovecraftian background, however, is absent.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Stygian Cycle I
by Todd C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2014 21:36:02
The material is interesting so I'm using it as a basis for some stuff I'm running now. Not using the system or the 'Organized Play' stuff but interesting story and the art is GREAT!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Stygian Cycle I
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The Void Core PDF
by Sarah B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/18/2014 01:01:53
This has potential to be an excellent game, but has yet to achieve excellence. Some things that my group and I noticed when playing, that could use some work... THe Horror tests need greater clarification and fairness for the initial test. And the effects can be very extreme and frustrating for the players when their character is removed from combat/task with no chance to recover with a saving roll or something simular. Character Sheet needs some tweaking it is confusing, some of the notes are in the wrong spot. Also the Character sheet is difficult to read when printed out. To much packed onto a single sheet, as a result some parts were to small to read properly.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
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The Void Core PDF
by Jenette D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/11/2014 21:07:13
It's hard to add anything to the already well done reviews already present, so I'll just add that for a free product the production quality is excellent and makes a solid addition to the survival horror in space genre.

Although it could have benefited from more artwork throughout the book, what artwork is present it of excellent quality, the setting is one sure to appeal to fans of sci-fi horror.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
by Todd C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/23/2014 19:38:20
Artwork, fiction and premise is very interesting to me which is why I dove in on this and have bought both Stygian Cycle adventures. I thing I like is the blend of sci-fi and horror for a very Aliens feel. It is also more approachable than some of the newer 'Transhuman' sci-fi games that are interesting but very hard to get players to understand the setting. Once again, this is easier to understand.

So if they idea, fiction, approachability and artwork are 5 stars, I gave this a 4 because the system is a 3 in my opinion. I'd suggest simply provide the setting for a couple base systems like Savage Worlds and Fate Core. I'd rather the authors focus on what they are good at...story. Leave the RPG system to something that people will know quickly and has been tested out alot already.

Also the intro adventure at the end had an interesting premise and build up but the ending and monsters were meh for me. So it was a 3 also.

I'm going to use some of this material in another setting with different rules anyways so the story is what I want to steal ideas from...solid start guys!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Chthonian Stars Core Setting
by andrew g. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/26/2014 22:47:06
I love this product. Even over the void. It feels more complete. It has more creatures than the void plus as it's traveller there is already plenty of support out as in central supply catalogue etc. I prefer to use 2300ad tools for frontier living as they are more hard scifi equipment. I know there is no support for chthonian stars however the void system is d6 while traveller is 2d6 so converting over creatures is a doddle despite the change in attribute names. Hopefully the world books will be just as easily converted. Beautiful product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chthonian Stars Core Setting
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The Void Core PDF
by Victor J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/07/2014 06:07:49
Unimaginative, uninteresting, and lazily written. Do not buy. Decent art and good presentation fail to save this product, which otherwise feels like a rough draft by a Cthulhutech fan who read, and failed to understand, Eclipse Phase. Even the characters in the fiction seem to recognize that their world is trite and derivative. Problems with basic English and, seemingly, knowledge of the Solar System further degrade the book.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
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The Void Core PDF
by Bill H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/09/2013 08:52:35
Previously published by me at http://www.themandragora.com/the-void-rpg-review/

The Void RPG is the latest offering from Wildfire, the makers of Cthulhutech. It’s a hard sci-fi setting, billed as part of the “Cthulhu Saga”. What follows is a review of sorts, although I should warn the reader that I do love Cthulhutech, so it may be slightly biased in favour of The Void RPG. Previously billed as “Cthonian Stars“, the book has been released as “Pay what you want” to want on DriveThruRPG. There’s quite a lot to The Void RPG, but the Core PDF gives the impression that its not quite finished yet. All the rules are there, but there’s often the sensation of something missing.

The System
--------------
The basic core test of The Void RPG is a familiar one; work out Attribute + Skill; roll that number of six-sided dice (a dice pool). A 5 or a 6 is necessary for a Success, and you need a number of successes to achieve one of four difficulties: Easy is 1 success, Hard requires 4. Epic fails occur in tests when you roll all ones. In all likelihood things will go very badly wrong – like botches of fumbles in other games.The GM can assign modifiers to the dice pool. In play, this worked very easily – it’s intuitive, easy to pick up, and works for everything, combat included. A welcome improvement onCthulhutech‘s poker system.

There are a vast number of skills, as there were with Cthulhutech, but this the dice pool system also allows for related skills. For example if you don’t have the Guns: Handgun skill, but have Guns: Rifle skill of 4, you have a related skill (with one die less). This means you have one die less in the pool, but it gives a much better chance of success, and makes PCs a bit more well-rounded. The sheer number of skills is a little off-putting, but each Warden type has some skills recommended to them.

Character creation takes around 30 minutes. Starting PCs in The Void RPG have the option of being one of the three Warden types: An Enforcer (soldier), Investigator (detective), and Researcher (tech/library). Each of these give you a number of skills that you can add points to, and give each PC their own distinct skill set. Interestingly too, the planet you come from also gives some extra skills, e.g. being able to move in low G, or being able to use EVA. You can also create your own PC from scratch.

All Player Characters (PCs) in The Void RPG have a number of additional components as such:

*Fate Points, as they are called, allow characters to cheat death in the same way as they do in WFRP. For example If a PC is about to fall off a giant cliff on Mars, perhaps he falls fifteen feet and grabs a handhold or falls to a ledge below. The PC is still alive, but now only faces the difficult task of climbing back up.
*Quirks are something I’m ambivalent about. Each PC has two of these, such as Juggling or Recite Movie Quotes. While this may give a bit of depth to a PC, some groups or players may think that they are too jokey and not in keeping with a Survival Horror game.
*Talents are special abilities, just like in Cthulhutech. They’re special abilities like “Wicked Smart” or “Double Tap”, much like feats in d20 games.
*Qualities are various advantages and disadvantages, like Eidetic Memory or Persistent Injury. In the case of Disadvantages, extra points are available during character creation depending upon the scale of disadvantage. If Cthulhutech was anything to go by, Players often forget any Disadvantages during the game :)

The are also some extra rules for the group as well.

*Nixes allow a group a veto on a specific roll. They can cancel a die roll one of the the group has rolled, but not the GM’s roll.
*Tension Points are very similar to the Drama Points as used in Cthulhutech. They are assigned to the GM and to the group, not an individual. They can be spent by both GM and players. Players can use theirs to re-roll a single roll. A GM can use these to deny players finding a needed item or resource, force a player to re-roll, or give an NPC a Fate Point (see below). This probably works, but I didn’t use it in the game.

Combat
---------

Combat in the Void RPG involves a contest; the successes compared to see if they hit or not. As things work, with individual initiatives (Awareness + Reaction), combat is relatively straightforward, even with firearms, and new player will pick it up quickly. Each weapon does a certain amount of damage in D6s, Armour reduces damage, then this is applied to your Health score. And it is here that I find a minor niggle that irritated me in Cthulhutech and has persisted in The Void RPG. Everything has a number of Wound Levels, five in total: Healthy, Bruised, Battered, Hurt, and Incapacitated. However you have to do some mental calculation when applying damage as a result e.g. most Humans have around Health 10. At up to 10 points they are Bruised, at 10 they are Battered, 20 they are Hurt, 30 Unconscious, and 40 Dead! One rule I really like is Armour becomes half as effective once the Hurt level is reached. It still protects you but is nowhere near as effective.
The Book

I ordered the book as a print On Demand (POD) from DriveThruRPG (who use Lightningsource). Unlike Cthulhutech, which was a hardback in a larger size, The Void RPG is a smaller paperback. It’s pretty robust and well presented, and the paper is good quality. If there are more pages being added to it I’d prefer a larger format hardback though, as the corners of the paperback are already a little worn – that’s not Wildfire’s fault though.

The internal content is well laid out in two columns with useful side bars that give you an “At a glance” summary. Like Cthulhutech the artwork is gorgeous, and is very high quality colour throughout. Both index and table of contents make things easy to find. However not all of the pages are numbered and it’s not always easy to find the information in one place. I still can’t find the section on Personality Traits anywhere. The obligatory character sheet is at the back and available for download – everything fits on one side. I’ll likely make my own fillable version of the PDF. While I don’t mind the fiction fluff in the book itself, there’s a lot of it, and sometimes seems like filler text.

The Void RPG setting
------------------------
There’s a lot to the setting, and it’s here there are gaps. There’s hardly any monsters, aside from the ones in the initial adventure (although they available separately as a PDF download). What language does everyone speak since there are only three real power blocs left on Earth? How are the Wardens organised? I would have liked to see a map of the solar system together with the moons of each planet clearly listed. A floorplan of a space station or colony would have been good for the adventure (see below). The setting feels unfinished as it were. I understand that Wildfire will add to the setting as their fans want, so thats no bad thing.

Despite these gaps its a very rich setting, especially in regards to its Survival Horror aspect – the nearest help is days or even months away in many cases, and the setting is very evocative of films such as Event Horizon, Outland, Alien, and Pandorum. Everything is held together by spit and baling wire and everybody is slightly on edge. Good GMs will quickly find it easy to creep out players, even without the monsters.

As I’ve said elsewhere, the impression I get is that Wildfire would prefer to place more information in the book at a later date. There’s enough detail to get the game going but its not too heavy. Cthulhutech suffers that in spades, and it puts a lot of people off playing or running it.

The Introductory Adventure
--------------------------------
I ran the introductory adventure with a group of new players. As well as the Void RPG rulebook, I downloaded the Void RPG Quick start rules, which are free and includes the adventure “To serve and survive”. Its very much a learning curve adventure for four players. I made it into six players as I wanted to create two new PCs for the purposes of this review.

If your players haven’t got the rulebook, it may be worth spending some time explaining some of their Qualities and Talents if they’re using the pre-generated characters. Players picked up the contest system easily and its pretty intuitive at that point. The biggest failing I made was not knowing where Chiron actually is (it isn’t stated) – it is a body orbiting Saturn. The adventure works well for introducing the players to the setting but there’s a few holes in the plot, and some GMs may lack the experience to deal with some of the complications resulting from the actions of the PCs. Many parts of the adventure will remind PCs of the movies, probably intentionally.

A map of the Mariner Valley Colony would have been great, along with floor-plans of both Chiron Station and Pandora’s Hope. All of these were missed, plus its never clearly stated how many infected are on board.

SPOILER ALERT!

However, given the creatures the group face in the adventure it is quite possible that the PCs may end up dead, even with Fate Point use. The Pandora’s Hope incident isn’t clearly explained as to how the crew of the Pandora’s Hope became infected from a drug destined for use by the miners of Chiron. The infected crewman are also very tough – 0ne infected crewman lasted several rounds of flame-throwers and shotgun blasts. That’s before the Karrak’in are found. So there’s a good chance your PCs will be running low on ammo and fuel, after a couple of run-ins with infected crewmen.

As a GM, you’ll need to tailor the adventure to your players – conceptually, it works in introducing the players to The Void RPG universe, the tests, horror, etc. but there are flaws. I would run it again but with the following changes:

*More things happening in Mariner Valley, to give it a bit more colour (think Total Recall), possibly expanding Chloe or the Martian Outback.
*Make sure the crew complements for each adventure site are noted down.
*A bit more background on the Pandora’s Hope crew could be useful.
*Figure out who owns the Pandora’s Hope, the Company (like Alien)?
*Encourage the players to gear up their PCs before they go – ammo will be hard to come by.
* You only need a handful of infected crewmen – the PCs will get swarmed under otherwise.
*The radiation leak is getting stronger (nothing like a countdown to get your players moving!)

Summary

Overall, the The Void RPG system is really intuitive and easy to use, compared to others. The Tension Points and other rules may cause some issues for GMs, but such things are optional anyway. The design quality is clear and consistent, the content is of good quality and its a nice little game. It could do with less fiction and maybe more background info – as I’ve said elsewhere – and its a shame there are no maps of floorplans included. However, these are minor criticisms at best. The “Pay what you want to pay” for a book of this quality is pretty good value. If there’s more of The Void RPG still to come from Wildfire, I’ll be very happy.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
by TiMar L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
The Void takes a path that I haven’t seen to often from an RPG, in that they have a creative community thing going on. The core rule book is free on DriveThru, with the option of paying for it at the amount you feel is appropriate for the work. Fans of the game are also encouraged to build on what’s in the core book and provide additional material for the game, and if it’s good enough be published by WildFire.

But lets talk about the game. The game is survival horror in space. So if you love Lovecraft you’re likely to like this game. But it also borrows from such classics as Event Horizon. But you could do a Resident Evil in space type thing with it. Or even a looming Mass Effect style Reaper threat. It’s really up to you. I think there is a lot of potential with Saturn revolution themed game.

Storyline wise the Earth has expanded to the stars. There is some kind of human presence on every planet in the solar system, and a bit beyond as well. Well not Pluto. Humanities exploration of the solar system has drawn the attention of an ancient being. A star is on a course towards Earth called the Cthonian Star. Strange and ancient creatures are awakening or in some cases arriving to prepare the solar system for it’s new masters.

All of this is being kept away from the greater populace of course. And that job falls to the PC’s. You play as Wardens, agents of the UWC, tasked with investigating strange things and then … killing them. Oh also covering that shit up. So it’s kinda like being a Man in Black, only in space.

The mechanics are fairly straight forward. If you’ve played the New World of Darkness or Shadowrun then you’re already familiar with how the dice are going to work. You create a dice pool from your attribute and skill and score success on a 5 or 6. Depending on how hard the task is will determine how many success you need to succeed. You also have advantages and talents that could affect the outcome of your roll.

Combat is fairly straight forward. You roll your attack dice pool and the defender rolls a defense dice pool. Bonus success adds to your damage roll. In regards to damage you also have armor that can subtract from the amount of damage you take. Though the more damage you take the less effective it will become overall. And of course you will start to incur dice penalties when you take to much damage.

There are no character classes in this game. Instead you are given 3 templates. You have the Enforcer, which is your typical front line solider type. You have the Investigator which does all the snooping around. Then you have the Researcher who is the science techie guy/medic. Instead of having money characters have wealth, a personal wealth and then your sponsors wealth. You also gain bonuses based on where you come from, getting the chance to choose from a list of planets or colonies throughout the solar system

There are also two pools which can affect the outcome of the game. You have a Fate dice, which allows you to avoid certain doom! There is also a Tension pool which is spent as a group. It can be spent on a variety of things to do such as re-rolls, getting a hint from the GM or buying an additional Fate point for someone who is really really having a bad day. The trick however with Tension dice is that Tension dice spent by the players are given to the GM who can then use them for nefarious deeds.

On the plus side the game doesn’t take long to get into. One of the first few chapters has an adventure designed for both the players and the GM to learn as they go. The book is also filled to the brim with helpful side bars that sum up the contents of that particular section for quick and easy reference.

All in all if you’re familiar with most games the learning curve on this one isn’t going to be bad. And if you’re not well it won’t be that hard to pick up and go.

One of the strongest points for this game (at least for me) was the diversity in the setting. The 4 PC’s provided for the adventure hailed from different places and had a nice variety in ethnicity. You had an African, Chinese, German and Latina. The fiction that helped set the mood for the game also used a varied cast of characters that made the setting pop and come alive for me in a way that few games do currently.

On the flipside however I did find some things lacking. The book is small, and only has three monsters. I know there is a Monsters book available but the game makes frequent references to a lot of things that go bump in the night and it would have been nice to have a bit more offered. It is a cheap book, but you can’t really describe that many creatures and not really provide more meat for the PC’s to kill and investigate.

Speaking of PC’s there are only three options. Rules are provided to do a template less character but the game seems heavily geared towards using the templates. This should be remedied when the Advanced Players Guide comes out, but for now it feels like a weak spot in the game. I think The Void would have benefited heavily from maybe one to two more Warden templates. I would have likely broken the Researcher into perhaps two templates, one that is more book wormy and one that is more science techie. And perhaps an infiltrator styled template that could be used to do some deep cover work really well.

GM side I was a little bit disappointed with the magic section. I would have preferred a bit more meat to this section too. With luck there will be some additional work put into it in future books. It’s workable, just rules light. As a GM I kinda like my magic to be a bit more rules heavy than what is offered.

Overall though this is a game worth getting. You can’t argue with the price. And it has a lot of themes and places to go. You could do some nice horror style Firefly for instance. With the government theme you could also kick it old school with some space X Files. The politics behind the UWC, Earth and her colonies also leaves plenty of room for more mundane type adventures. And this point bears repeating, the game has a very nice support of minorities and people of color. You see it in the artwork and the stories and it’s something that is praise worthy in any company you find it in.

So I give this game 4 Fro’s out of 5 (I really need an icon for such things!). The game is straight forward and fast to get into. The setting is very interesting. The starter adventure makes it possible for both GM and player to learn as you go. Lack of character options and monsters aside this isn’t a game I feel you should pass on.

P.S. This setting needs psionics. Just saying, it would rule!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Void Core PDF
by Stefaan P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/01/2013 17:33:27
Almost unbelievable that such quality is free. Thx guys.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Pandora's Paths I: Adventures
by Matthew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/14/2013 23:40:09
Another great supplement for The Void. Reading them gave me a great feel for how the game runs. Nice and concise with plenty of room for the GM to add as needed to start a campaign, run as one-shots or fit into an existing campaign.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Pandora's Paths I: Adventures
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The Void – Horrors of the Void 0: Expanded Monsters
by Matthew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/14/2013 23:36:07
This is a great start to what looks to be an amazing series of expansions for The Void. I've already run my first 2 game sessions and I'm liking it more and more with each session.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Void – Horrors of the Void 0: Expanded Monsters
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