Sunday, August 3, 2014

Review and Commentary On The New Stars Without Numbers Book - Engines Of Babylon

book cover
Get It  In The Bundle Of  Holding 
I was able to snag a copy of this book through Stars Without Numbers writer/designer Kevin Crawford. So thanks for the review copy. This book will be hitting the shelves or pdf download sometime in September, if you want a copy get in on the bundle of holding action. You've got two days and the clock is ticking folks. This is for a great cause. Actually several great causes.
Engines of Babylon is sandbox gaming at its best. This is a great little book that manages to pack into forty two pages everything a SWN dungeon master might need to fill in some great stuff. This book isn't simply a set of vechile design guide lines or another hardware book. This book has all of those including some really nifty options for designing all of those wonderful toys that the PC's love to play with in the SWN backdrop. What we also get is view behind the curtain to the shiny and glitzy high technological past of the setting as well as the harder, darker, edges of the present. The practicalities of adventuring within the 'now' of Stars Without Number universe and we get a taste of how far we've fallen as one species among the glittering stars of the universe. We also get an expansion of the maltech that can cause entire worlds to fold into themselves with horror and depravity. Maltech dances through the SWN books like some evil jester waiting to wreck entire societies and worlds at the click of a button of some vile villain with little provocation. Maltech isn't something to be taken lightly and counts as both treasure, artifact, and evil device all at the same time and there's plenty of it for the DM to choose from. Choose very wisely though because this stuff can bring a campaign to its knees very quickly. Where Maltech is involved, a world is going to need heroes and adventurers fast.
This book is another of the Stars Without Number books with an eye towards hard core sand box gaming. The treasures described in the luxury section are technological materials that any one percenter would give their eye teeth for. There's plenty of artifacts here that could sell for beyond a king's ransom on a world. These luxuries are piece of technology that given the right circumstance could propel a world from the dark recesses of technological hell to a viable industrial model quite easily. But there are also pieces that collectors will pay big bucks for many of these items are one in the same. This is going to make adventuring quite dangerous, fun, and entertaining all at once.
There's some nice sections on using these technological goodies as well within the back drop of the SWN universe. But the material is done in such a way that one can easily use or discard any of the material in this book with ease.
 The material of Engines of Babylon builds upon the foundations laid out in many of the earlier Stars Without Number books but unlike many other rpg's this book does present the DM a corner to paint his or herself into. Instead we get an expansion of the pictures laid out in the earlier SWN books. This allows a DM to use and set up an adventure within the technological time frame described within this book. As I said this isn't just another equipment and  vehicles  books but rather an essential book that builds on what has come before.
 This book dovetails into books like Other Dust and the Sun Kings book as well as pulling from much of the free material available. This doesn't mean that there's tons of repeated material from the main SWN rule book or some of the other supplements. No, this is different take that allows a DM to create the backdrop technologies and material for their stories.
When players and DM's are designing adventures this is going to be one of the books that their going to be reaching for. The book packs plenty of bang for the dollar, and this book covers the essentials. Are you going to need a lower tech star ship for that adventure among the backwater worlds? This book has that material.
Need a world ending artifact with some very strange options then the Maltech devices are just what your looking for. Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy and those amazing ships are what your PC's want to fly? Those are available as well.
This book is perfect for creating lower tech level star ships without sacrificing the 'wow' factor or handing your PC's a spike drive ship when their not ready to get out of the planetary system just yet. This is also the book for designing those hybrid ships that the NPC villain forces need to give your heroes a bloody nose. They'll think twice about messing with the local planetary forces.
 This is a great read with lots of strong gamable stuff packed into this book's forty two pages.
There are a ton of reasons to recommend this book, my largest reason is this: This book will expand your game's campaign with lots of technological toys and plenty of room for your DM's thumb print when using this book to create adventures. This book will help to generate those adventures with a technological twist  and keep your players coming back for more.
I personally think that this is one of the Stars Without Number essential books that's coming on the market.
 Get it while you can or wait for it to make its appearance coming soon.
Personally why wait? If you've ever thought about jumping into the Stars Without Number campaign setting and system. Now is the perfect time to get in on the action. 


  1. Thanks for the review. I haven't picked this one up yet, but it sounds like I should!

  2. the book builds on the previous Stars Without Numbers Material for building an old school style sand box of the universe. This book is an addition to the previously published material especially Other Dust, the last Relics book, and basically adds a whole new level of nastiness with the Maltech artifact technology.
    More coming up. And thanks for the comments Trey.


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