Pre-Release Review of The Last Parsec: Pinnacle Entertainment Kickstarts New Savage Worlds… in Deep

For gaming fans looking to get the low-down on upcoming product releases, GENCON provides the perfect opportunity to meet-and-greet their favorite publishers and authors. In seminar after seminar, mainstream and indie publishers offer tantalizing glimpses into new game designs and news about product lines due to be released over the coming year. Best of all, many of these seminars offer a chance to speak directly with publishers and game designers, providing a live forum for asking questions and giving feedback about a Role-playing game or system.

One such seminar of note was sponsored by Pinnacle Entertainment Group during GENCON 2014 this year. The creators of Dead Lands and the Savage Worlds Deluxe RPG system packed a room full of eager gamers ready to hear all about PEG’s upcoming releases for 2014-2015. There were a number of new PEG product lines announced for the upcoming year, which included an epic deep space setting called The Last Parsec – featuring three setting books full of science fiction adventures!

There is currently an active Kickstarter Campaign which is in its final 7 days for The Last Parsec setting books, and the project is already into its 8th Stretch Goal and heading toward its 9th! And Pinnacle Entertainment has been kind enough to offer EN WORLD NEWS one of the three new setting books The Last Parsec for this exclusive pre-release review!

The Last Parsec: Eris Beta V

  • Written by: Matthew Cutter
  • Cover Art: Tomek Tworek
  • Interior Art: Eric Lofgren, Bryan Syme, Tomek Tworek, Igor Vitkovskiy
  • Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment Group
  • Year: 2014
  • Media: PDF (96 pages)
  • Price: Varies - Kickstarter going on until October 23!

The Last Parsec: Eris Beta V
is one of three new setting books for a new Outer-Space SciFi setting for Savage Worlds Deluxe RPG by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. This setting sourcebook comes complete with details about an entire star system, including planetary data, astronomical phenomena, space stations, outposts, and other points of interest for Wild Cards to experience and explore. The setting book also includes new gear, vehicles, space ships, and alien artifacts to purchase or discover, along with new rules for space exploration and adventuring. And finally, The Last Parsec: Eris Beta V contains random encounters, alien creatures, adventure hooks, and a detailed Plot Point Campaign containing mysteries literally 2,000,000 years in the making!

Production Quality

The production quality of The Last Parsec: Eris Beta V is quite good overall, even in spite of the fact that this pre-release review copy was a pre-proofing as well! So while some of the bits in the book are still waiting for that final polish, the overall layout and authorship are top-notch indeed! The writing style is both fun and informative, and the author does a very good job of creating an exciting and plausible science fiction plot.

In the layout, the light cyan and blue color scheme of the background and page embellishments are evocative of a data screen, complete with “floating” side panel windows with special information, new rules, or notes of interest. Chapter and sub-section headers use either a bold sci-fi block font or a “glowing” blue aura font which look great and are consistent with the SciFi theme.

Regretfully, the pre-proofed pre-release copy of The Last Parsec: Eris Beta V came with a blank table of contents and an incomplete set of PDF bookmarks. But given the other PDF products released by PEG, there is little doubt that the finished work will have a full set of PDF bookmarks and a complete table of contents. (The latter quite possibly may even be page-linked as the ToC was in the Science Fiction Companion and Superpowers Companion released earlier in 2014.)

The art and illustrations in The Last Parsec: Eris Beta-V is also a bit incomplete in this pre-release review copy, with some images in the book having just a rough sketch for a placeholder. But admittedly, even incomplete, the color illustrations and sketches in the setting book are pretty awesome looking! The cover art depicts a space-suited explorer engaged in a gun-battle in an asteroid belt – a perilous situation to say the least! Additionally, there are some excellent illustrations inside the setting book of alien landscapes, space vistas, robots, artifacts, and other evocative imagery, along with some presumably placeholder sketches to be completed before release . As it currently stands, there is a little bit of “wall of text” feeling on some sections of the book where the page-to-illustration ratio is high, but overall, the artwork for The Last Parsec: Eris Beta-V is really very good.

They should have sent a poet…

The Last Parsec: Eris Beta-V
contains an entire massive solar system filled with asteroid miners, pirates, alien monsters, lost artifacts, and tons of mysterious dangers for Wild Cards to experience regardless of their backgrounds, professions, or species. This setting book is designed to use the rules and base setting material found in the Savage Worlds Deluxe rulebook and the Science Fiction Companion sourcebook from Pinnacle Entertainment, and presumes that the Reader has access to copies of these books for reference purposes. The book is divided into six chapters, with each one focusing on different topics pertaining to the setting in general and to facets of the Plot Point Campaign which takes place there.
Chapter One: JumpCorp Wants You! – The opening chapter provides a very solid introduction to the setting, designed to function as a plot driven advertisement transmission sent out to entice adventurers - spacers, explorers, scientists, miners, etc. - to come to the Eris system to seek their fortunes. The whole chapter is written in an ad-speak recruitment-film style and is completely safe to hand out to the players to give them background about the Eric Beta-V system. Space exploration, xeno-archeology, bounty hunting, asteroid mining, and artifact hunting are just some of the activities that could draw adventurous Wild Cards to this star system – and that’s not even yet touching on the Plot Point Campaign which is woven into the setting.

Chapter 2: Eris Beta-V
– This short chapter details the setting rules used while adventuring throughout this remote star system. Some of the setting rules include piloting around the Eris gas giants volatile and lucrative ring system, mining and ore extraction, and dealing with astronomical phenomena such as ringstorms and asteroids. This chapter also includes items for sale like survival packs, three new spaceships, and an aquatic modification to allow for underwater activities in one’s ship. For the most part, the contents of Chapter 2 is also safe to share with the players as Chapter 1 was.

Chapter 3: A Planetary Gazetteer
- This chapter is the single largest section of the book – a whopping 40 pages of contents out of a 96 page PDF! This chapter and the remaining four are really designed with the Gamemaster in mind, and it presents all the details, backstory, and mysteries that make up the potential adventures and the Plot Point Campaign. This section details all the major sites located in the system such as moons, space stations, ring system, and other locales. It also details their inhabitants and the nature of the site, including hazards and potential plot hooks. There are more setting rules about the nature of alien artifacts, random events and encounters in various locations, and a backstory of the gas giant and its many moons which goes back about 2,000,000 years! This chapter contains tons and tons of contents and is definitely not for the players eyes - spoilers abound here!
Chapter Four: The Spy Who Came in From The Void – This is the second longest chapter in the book at around 20 pages in length, and contains all the details about the Plot Point Campaign itself. The campaign story draws upon the background information contained in Chapter 3, and presents the GM with a summary of the plot along with the major scenes that can play out depending on how the players react to events with their Wild Cards. The campaign structure is generally pretty sand-boxy in nature – the whole setting is really a massive solar-system sized playground for the Wild Card characters – and there is a lot of room for personalization of the campaign to mesh with individual character stories and motivations. In fact, there is some encouragement from the author to do just that, and Wild Cards will definitely have a vested interest in the conspiracies and mysteries unfolding throughout the Plot Point Campaign. It should be noted that there are plenty of maps slotted to be added in this section of the book – in this review copy, there are just plenty of proofing notes about their nature and general location in the text.

Chapter 5: Savage Tales
– This chapter contains more than half a dozen short stand-alone adventures, complete with hooks, plot summaries, twists, and potential outcomes based upon the actions of the Wild Cards. The author has designed a number of good solid stories drawing on well-known tropes from sci-fi and action/adventure plots.

Chapter 6: Bestiary
– In this final chapter, the book presents a collection of alien creatures and NPCs which can be found on various moons and stations around the Eris Beta –V system. The author definitely designed some interesting threats for Wild Card characters might encounter in their travels, including some nightmarish alien horrors which would satisfy even Ridley Scott’s taste. Each of the entries here come with descriptions and stat blocks, but sadly there were no illustrations in this section to depict the creatures and NPCs here. Of course, that might be something will be added when the book is finally prepared for its release.

Overall Score: 8.1 out of 10.0

Based upon the contents of the Eris Beta-V campaign sourcebook, The Last Parsec setting is definitely off to a Big Bang of a start! The writing and layout are excellent, the plots are engaging and downright epic, and this is just the first of three books about to be released for this new Savage Worlds setting! While the pre-proof pre-release review copy was lacking some of the final polish, as well as some maps and illustrations, what was there in The Last Parsec: Eris Beta-V was still some slick edgy SciFi space adventure.

And right now, a minimal pledge of $35 to the Kickstarter will get you not only The Last Parsec: Eris Beta-V PDF, but also PDFs of the two other setting sourcebooks Scientorium and Leviathan -not to mention the eight stretch goals which include a Last Parsec die, figure flats, a sound track, GM screen PDF, ship deckplans, and a bonus adventure. Now that’s a ton of space loot for just a few credits!

Editorial Note
: This Reviewer received an advanced pre-release copy of the product in PDF format from which this review was written.

[Personal Note: I want to thank Jodi and the rest of the folks over at PEG for providing me with an advanced copy of TLP:EB-V to review! You guys got my Kickstarter pledge today for sure!]

Grade Card (Ratings 0 to 10)

  • Presentation: 7.5
  • - Design: 8.5 (Imaginative and wonderful writing; simple and solid layout; excellent bookmarks and ToC)
  • - Illustrations: 6.5 (Excellent cover; cool interior illustrations; would love to see more particularly in the Bestiary.)
  • Content: 8.25
  • - Crunch: 8.0 (Great adaptation of Savage World rules to a new space setting; very solid rule design!)
  • - Fluff: 8.5 (Fantastic vision and plot at work here; players guaranteed be shocked, confounded, and amazed!)
  • Value: 8.5 (Great price for three big PDF settings just brimming with adventures!)

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