Of all genres, science fiction is one of the hardest to do “generically.” There are certain basic themes and tropes to all genres, but in regards to science-fiction, these are so many and so varied that it’s really hard to consider any particular brand of sci-fi to be normative. Just look at how different Star Trek is from Star Wars, for example, and you’ll see how no two types of science fiction settings are really the same. The Galactic Edition of RPGObjects Blood & Space line, however, attempts to walk that narrow line of being generic enough for any Future d20 setting, while still having enough flavor to be interesting and appealing. Let’s see how they do.
The Galactic Edition of Blood & Space is basically an updated repackaging of a half-dozen previous B&S products. Unfortunately, I never got any of the previous books in this product line, so I can’t speak to what changes were made. However, this product contains six PDFs, along with a single PDF which is a compilation of all of the others. The filename makes it clear that this seventh PDF is meant to be a printer-friendly version, but it keeps pretty much all of the interior illustrations, which seems to defeat the purpose. Worse, the printer-friendly PDF doesn’t have bookmarks the way the other PDFs do, which is unforgiveable since the printer-friendly PDF is 170 pages in length.
Aside from that, though, the six individual PDFs each have a theme regarding what Future d20 materials they offer. The first PDF, High Flyers and Ground Pounders, gives new character-building options including not only advanced classes, feats, and skills, but also discussion of ranks and promotions within a space navy, among other things. The second half of the book gives a detailed set of rules for running starship combat.
Merchants, Pirates, and Smugglers is the second book. Whereas the first PDF focused on military themes, this one focuses on economic-oriented subjects. New character options are presented here, as in the first one, along with a wealth of new items that are commodities in the future, such as new mecha components, starship equipment, futuristic drugs, and rules for boarding ships and new options for buying and selling things.
The third PDF is the Starship Construction Manual. Shorter than the others, it walks you through the various steps of creating a starship, along with presenting a new variant system for building a new ship (utilizing “invention points”), and talks about what it means to have a prototype starship before presenting new advanced classes and new starship components.
One of the largest PDFs in this group is the fourth PDFs, the Prometheus Rising campaign setting. Set in our solar system several centuries in the future, this book spends roughly half of its page count giving new mechanical options (e.g. a feat system for psychic powers and abilities), while the second half of the book covers the future history of the solar system – which goes over several centuries divided into a number of epochs – along with a gazetteer for various worlds and moons during that time; interestingly, each location also has notes on what it’s like to be there during each period, so you can set your game during any of the major points in time over the future history.
Cosmic Fury, the fifth PDF, is perhaps the most thematic of them all, as it focuses on futuristic martial arts. People who’ve read the Blood & Fists line of products will see a great deal of similarities here, as the PDF uses the same combinations of feats, advanced classes, and masteries to denote martial arts, here for esoteric styles such as “beam sword.” A few NPCs are given almost as an afterthought at the end of the book.
Finally, the last PDF is aptly titled Space Monsters. A short book, it details several alien races that could be used for PC characters, along with other creatures that could only be used for threatening your PCs. There’s also a brief section on new diseases and, interestingly, a short discussion of new starships and NPCs to use in the Prometheus Rising campaign setting and bring it out of the solar system, where they’d likely meet the things detailed here. This was really a nice extra to help bring these monsters to a human-only campaign.
So how does all of this rack up in terms of how helpful it’ll be to your futuristic campaign setting? Again, it’s hard to say because it largely depends on what kind of setting you’re running. However, if you have anything that remotely resembles “classic” sci-fi, in that it has elements of space opera and starship combat, you’ll definitely find something, and more likely a lot, that’s worth your while here. The diversity of material lends itself to a wide variety of applications, even having a campaign setting if you’re in search of one. Blood & Space: Galactic Edition is almost a must-have if you’re seriously interested in Future d20, whatever way you run it.