MINDJAMMER – THE ROLEPLAYING GAME by Sarah Newton, Mindjammer Press, h/b, £32.99, www.mindjammerpress.com
Reviewed by Steve Dean
The first thing you notice when you have a copy of this book in your hand is its sheer weight. 497 pages and a decent hard cover add up to a substantial tome. But, as the saying goes, size isn’t everything, what about the contents?
The interior is divided into 24 chapters. The first third or so is for the players to create their characters, the rest is aimed more at the GM. There are also some useful appendices and a fairly detailed index.
This is a new edition of the old setting, rewritten for the Fate Core rules system. It uses dice for resolving randomised events, in this case 4dF, or Fudge dice (no, they’re not made of fudge.) You can use 4d6 and translate the numbers over, or just directly use the d6s. The rules work just as easily with either, or even both, but Fudge dice give results between -4 and +4, while d6s give results between -5 and +5, changing the dynamic of your game.
Chapter one is an introduction, chapter two goes through some basics, like what a PC and NPC are, you can probably skip this if you’ve ever played an RPG before.
Chapter three gets into the meat of creating your character. There’s no dice rolling here, just choosing from a list of skills and extras etc, as well as race, species and physical description. If you’ve played any other system before you’ll probably be familiar with this stuff, although you might know it by a different name. If this is your first time, there’s a handy check list to make sure you’ve got everything you need.
Chapters four to eight explain all the stuff you just chose in chapter three, including some nice weapons and the body armour you are going to need.
Chapter nine tells you a bit more about how to play the game, from interpreting the dice rolls to character progression. Again, the experienced will know most of this stuff, but it never hurts to double check. For the beginner, this chapter is particularly useful.
For the GM, chapter ten is where it all starts. This is a specific chapter which explains the role of the GM, and gives hints and tips on running the game. The chapter covers preparation, adjudication and dealing with all the things the characters are going to try and do. It also includes those sage words of advise to every GM; “You’re the GM, not God!”
The rest of the chapters cover the setting itself, the Mindjammer Universe. I would say it’s up to the GM whether they allow players to read this stuff, it’s very detailed, and obviously contains many spoilers.
So, the Mindscape is the thing that gives the setting its name. Think of it as what the internet will be when we all have wireless dongles implanted in our heads. It allows access to data, the storage of memories and the control of various remote equipment. It can also be used to attack others, either living or artificial beings, as well as many other things. The Mindscape covers most of the galaxy, although there are still places with no access, just like Wi-Fi.
The rest of the book is crammed with a mass of detail, far too much for me to write about here. It includes spaceship types, complete with layouts, and even where the toilets are. (I kid you not.) Alien races, civilizations, corporations, planetary systems, robots and advice on creating and running your campaign. The book describes many of the places and items in detail, but gives advice on creating your own, if that’s what you’re into. And of course it has all the blank maps and character sheets we’ve come to expect.
The book itself, as I’ve mentioned, is a solid chunk of SF goodness, printed on high-quality paper, with a hard cover to protect it, and even has a built-in bookmark. The internal artwork is good but not intrusive and leaves plenty of room for the content.
Overall, this is an impressive volume of work. I would say it achieves everything it sets out to do, and does it with style, quality and passion. Sarah Newton, and all her Newtonians, deserve a hearty round of applause. If I was giving out scores, this would be a perfect 10.