“Try Before You Buy” is an occasional segment of Astral Projections. It spotlights free (or nearly free) supplements, quick-start rules, and modules for various RPGs.
This free module intrigued me in two ways. First it was for EsperGenesis, an upcoming science fiction RPG based on D&D 5e’s Open Gaming License. Second, it is published by Alligator Alley Entertainment, a company based in Florida, my home state. I couldn’t find out a lot about the company, other that it is less than a year old, incorporating in March of this year. EsperGenesis is due to release in 2017.
I really like this one. Backstory and (fictional) history often are what sells me on games. This PDF (download at the first link above) is only 39 pages and it has a lot of background packed into it (six-plus pages and a few sidebars), as well as a full in media res module and four pre-gen characters. There is a short introduction before the module proper, then Appendix III afterwards provides two historical type documents–a firsthand account and a scholarly essay. In addition to stats, each of the PCs includes a page of game and personal background. About two-thirds of each is a personal backstory and the other third details on the PC’s race. All this background increased my interest in the game.
The playtest scenario is an “escape the ship where you’re imprisoned” gig with a couple complications. There are full stats for NPCs and random encounters. Yes, there are even the “traditional alignments.” As I mentioned earlier, this is based on D&D 5e. Per the download page, you do need to have 5e to play the module. The free basic rules can be used, but might limit play options, it warns. The PDF also has an Appendix (II) of Rules just for EsperGenesis.
Appendix II has interim rules for playtesting before the final core book is published. Most of them are gear, weapon, and armor stats as well as descriptions and mechanics for the esper abilities PCs and NPCs may have. The esper and item stat blocks will look familiar to anyone who has played D&D 3.x or later. (Esper powers blocks are analogous to spell stat blocks, as you might expect.)
Appendix II also covers ship stats and space combat mechanics. From reading, these rules are similar to the FFG Star Wars mechanics. I am looking forward to the final mechanics. It will be interesting to see how the final space combat and other game-specific mechanics are to the playtest ones presented here.
I will probably pick this one up when it is released. No word on when in 2017 that will be, or the possible price. Alligator Alley is looking for beta playtesters at this point. At the bottom of the download page you can apply if you and your group are interested.