Esper Genesis: Sci-Fantasy for 5E
  • Esper Genesis: Sci-Fantasy for 5E


    Are you in the market for a science fantasy role playing game that runs on the 5E engine (SRD)? Well Esper Genesis might be the easy port over from D&D that you and your group are looking for.



    Esper Genesis is a science fantasy rpg from Alligator Alley Entertainment, with Rich Lescouflair as the lead designer. Certainly the team assembled to produce EG has experience and plenty to spare. What the team at AAE has created is a visually stunning and mechanically reliable game that would seem tailor made for moving players from fantasy towards more science fiction style of play. EG is not hard science fiction however, and the GM should be aware of the aesthetics presented. I would say EG is more akin to a space fantasy anime and absolutely very heroic. The characters are all espers (as the title suggests) and they live in an area of the galaxy known as the Silrayne Arc. Mysterious moon-sized Crucibles shadow the inhabited worlds and no two Crucibles are the same. Within the Crucibles is the powerful energy source known as Sorium. Exposure to Sorium is what triggers the esper genesis in the player characters, allowing characters to channel energies and affect their environment.

    A Heroic Universe

    Esper Genesis is a beautiful game. The art does a fantastic job of creating a great aesthetic and setting a tone for the kinds of adventures the game presents. The layout is easy to follow and explains how to play the game with a minimum of fuss. Each player is an esper thanks (or not) to the influence of the Crucibles and there is a definite connection to the sorium. This provides motivation and a sense of connection for the characters. The races seem alien though they are all bipeds and most are humanoids. The one that caught my eye was the Ashenforged; a race bio-engineered by another race (the Dendu) for the purpose of war. Although they are free now, their back story is fascinating. All the races are relatable and have some interesting bits that make them playable.

    Classes in EG revolve around a character’s use of their esper abilities. All classes are esper classes although they do not work the same way. The esper abilities are a mix of 5E magic, both arcane and divine, and what seems like some AD&D2E psionics or maybe even 3E. At least that is my impression. It is as if psionics has become the normal mainstream power, replacing magic. As you can expect this makes the powers themselves more psion focused, although there is plenty of damage dealing. Several powers are clearly inspired by science fiction, though rooted in the 5E paradigm for what these powers should be used for.

    Of course, EG has rules for FTL travel. I think these are actually are a strength of the game and dovetail nicely with starship combat and combat in other environments. I also like the game master screen as the information is very useful and notes some of the likely areas of confusion for new players.

    A Step Removed

    There is a theme that runs through the critique of Esper Genesis that pops up in several parts of the game. In essence, EG is a great use of the 5E rules that adds very little else to those rules. If you know how to play a 5E game already, then you will have zero issue playing EG. The alien species are interesting but they are all bipeds. The classes are excellent riffs off of the base classes, but don’t add much else. Certainly the psion powers are interesting, but space magic is still magic. EG is neither a Spelljammer that just transports fantasy characters into space or an Alternity that acts as a toolkit for various SF adventures. This may not be an issue for your group, but groups looking for a wide ranging SF game will likely not find Esper Genesis to their taste. What the game does, however, it does pretty well.

    This article was contributed by Sean Hillman (SMHWorlds) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!
    Comments 70 Comments
    1. jimmifett's Avatar
      jimmifett -
      My daughter is an named NPC in this. Great game, love playing this.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      fabtastic game - our campaign has been going for more than a year - started with playtest.
    1. Toriel -
      Just a note that some of the classes have powers that are technology based, where the PC can, for example, create drones that they can use to make attacks or hack computers, etc.
    1. Dragonhelm's Avatar
      Dragonhelm -
      How does Esper Genesis compare with Starfinder?
    1. Ed Laprade's Avatar
      Ed Laprade -
      Sorium = Spice?
    1. Skywalker's Avatar
      Skywalker -
      Esper Genesis is much closer to D&D5e than Starfinder is to Pathfinder.

      On saying that, Esper Genesis does still completely reskin the 5e ruleset for science fantasy. For example, divine magic is now tech based magic with Turn Undead becoming EMP Pulses, Animal Companions being Drones, and the Paladin equivalent's powers being explained by an exo-frame.
    1. Derren's Avatar
      Derren -
      So how does the combat work?
      Personally I do not think that the D20 system is useable for anything other than fantasy as thanks to HP bloat it is geared towards lengthy melee combat with characters that can simply sprint through heavy suppression fire and starts stabbing things because there is no way that they are killed by one round of ranged attacks. And that is simply an image which does not work for me in a modern or scifi setting.
    1. Skywalker's Avatar
      Skywalker -
      Quote Originally Posted by Derren View Post
      So how does the combat work?
      It works as in D&D5e resulting in Esper Genesis being pulp space opera much like D&D's pulp fantasy. Based on your preferences, I would say that Esper Genesis is not for you.
    1. Brodie's Avatar
      Brodie -
      This sounds interesting and I'm kinda curious how closely it matches the Unearthed Arcana Mystic's psionics rules. I'll have to look into this.
    1. Skywalker's Avatar
      Skywalker -
      Esper Genesis doesn't use the Mystic. Most "arcane magic" using classes (of which there are three) use a reskinned D&D5e magic system with the DMG alternate rules for Power Points.
    1. Lucas Yew's Avatar
      Lucas Yew -
      What about skill checks? Are the DCs per skill still not defined clearly other than Easy, Hard, etc.?
    1. Skywalker's Avatar
      Skywalker -
      Its the same as D&D5e in that regard.
    1. Wrathamon -
      I think 5e (and older d20) can work for future or modern.

      Too me it's han solo running at/away from a bunch of storm troopers and not getting killed (or hit) but he did lose a lot of hit points! I dont think its much fun to play a game where you get shot by blaster fire and die cause the dm rolled high.
    1. Connorsrpg's Avatar
      Connorsrpg -
      I have had this book for some time. Nice review. It IS 5E D&D for sci-fi-fantasy.

      The species are cool... I buy a lot of books just for races/species.

      The classes are so close to D&D classes that I actually had trouble gronking them conceptually. Mechanically, they are easy and 5E players would get them. For me, I wanted a little more on where each class fits into the world. They all use esper powers/sorium differently (mechanically), but what makes them different in the 'world'?

      The book is amazing. D&D 5E players can jump right in. I liked their take on a few new weapon properties too. (Those are important to me - hence why I wrote an EN5ider article on them :P). I have written up a lot of weapon properties for sci-fi weapons, but I really liked some of the ways EG deals with them.

      If you love the 5E D&D system and want some sci-fi action, you will jump right in... assuming you have some adventures in mind.
    1. Emirikol_Prime's Avatar
      Emirikol_Prime -
      Amazing book that I'm always surprised gets like zero attention. The best hardcover to come out for 5E beyond the core books.
    1. Connorsrpg's Avatar
      Connorsrpg -
      Deleted (double post).
    1. ninjayeti's Avatar
      ninjayeti -
      I would add that the game has a set of free basic rules (comparable to the 5E basic rules) for those that want a better idea of the game without having to buy anything.
    1. Eis's Avatar
      Eis -
      we've done a couple one shots and everyone in our group has really liked it ... one I ran turned into a King Kong movie and it was pretty glorious.... then my son and I ran one for his friends around Halloween that was straight up Aliens

      good times
    1. Ymdar's Avatar
      Ymdar -
      Can you use EG races for a fantasy game?
    1. JustinCase's Avatar
      JustinCase -
      I love the lasershooting, cybernatic aboleth-like creature on the cover!
    Comments Leave Comment