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Stay on Budget, Search for New Life in Elevation

The explorers of Elevation seek out new life and new cultures in a universe driven by greed and profit. On a shoestring budget and with outdated gear they pursue a noble vision of lifting up new worlds in the RPG Elevation.

Elevation-Front-Cover-500px.jpg

Elevation is a 172 page RPG of financial struggle, violence, and exploration for M-Space coming soon from FrostByte Books. I received a PDF copy to review. The universe if full of greedy merchants, dangerous criminals, and violent corporations. Elevation is the rare altruistic organization that wants to protect newly found alien cultures, not exploit them.

With only one new alien species found in 40 years, however, Elevation has seen grants dry up, backers drop away, and assets get sold to keep the lights on. In addition, the founder of the organization disappeared while exploring and hasn’t been heard from since. Only die hard explorers remain, working for little pay and with old gear hoping to find that next alien world to elevate.

Elevation includes new M-Space rules for seven organizations, gear, armor and weapons, planets, colonies, six alien species, and eight vehicles and starships. FTL is achieved via hyperspace jump. Foes include militant alien merchants, a black ops corporation, a ruthless and exploitive exploration company, an institute of mad scientists unbound by ethics, and space pirates with only a secretive troubleshooting organization as a possible ally. Alternate timelines allow groups to customize and tweak Elevation into the RPG they want. For example, a campaign could take place early in Elevation’s history when it is well-funded and optimistic or PCs might be secret agents opposing malevolent forces rather than explorers.

Elevation surprised and delighted me with its unique setting and themes. It juxtaposes the Star Trek idea of exploration without exploitation with a setting with a more realistic economic model and corporate cutthroat politics. It solved the challenge of trying to come up with a whole new planet and culture every game night by making finding an inhabited planet tough and taking a few sessions to complete.

The result is a violent, terrifying RPG that is also filled with wonder and triumph. The PCs may have to investigate a grisly murder, fight violent vicious corporate troubleshooters, and brave cruel and oppressive alien merchants to finally find and claim first contact with a new world of sapient aliens. And then have to hold onto that claim while searching for the next planet to elevate.
With concise language and well thought out conflicts, Elevation presents an entire universe for PCs to explore while challenging them with debt, outdated gear, powerful enemies, and the challenge of actually finding life in the emptiness of space. GMs could start a campaign with the murder mystery adventure the Triton Incident. The Triton Incident describes Farsight Station, the facility most likely to find inhabited planets for Elevation. Residents of the station are included along with a map and detailed descriptions of the station.

Elevation includes three scenarios that build on each other culminating in the PCs finding a new planet with sapient life. After the PCs solve the mystery on Farsight Station, the GM could use the scenarios in Elevation to help the PCs find their first world for alien contact. After that, the GM has 50 included adventure hook ideas ranging from a sentient nano-virus that warps living beings into rage-filled killers to an assassination plot the characters must foil.

Elevation is a well written and concise RPG with art, rules, and maps that provide concrete direction and detail. The setting is unique, the stakes are high, and the challenges are tough. Elevation is worth getting even if you don’t play M-Space for the clever ideas that will spark a GM’s imagination.

This article was contributed by Charles Dunwoody as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. Please note that Charles is a participant in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to DriveThruRPG. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!
 
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Charles Dunwoody

Comments

DMMike

Game Masticator
Well, you had me at "space pirates." Are there any interesting rules we should know about, or is it just a setting book?
 

Toriel

Explorer
M-Space cited in the article is a full RPG (using the Mythras system), and Elevation is a setting and campaign for it.
 

Connorsrpg

Adventurer
Sounds very interesting, though I have no idea about the M-Space system. Seems others don't too. Anyone want to give a very short overview on the core mechanic (and whether they like it or not). In any case, this sounds like a very well put together setting. Thanks for the review.
 

dirklancer

Villager
M-Space is part of Mythras, which is a d100 system that was the previous edition of Runequest. It is similar to Chaosium's BRP system, but with a different combat system that is tactical and action packed. M-Space also introduces variant simplified combat mechanics for people who don't want the crunch. This book would also work with most d100 systems with very little work, or could be adapted to other sci-fi systems with some additional work.
I can't really voice my opinion on the system considering I wrote Elevation. :)
 
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R Karan

Villager
M-Space, as Dirk Lancer says, is very close to Runequest and Call Of Cthulhu. It’s a roll-under percentage system with gritty combat, detailed skills and a cool conflict mechanic.

The core rules come from Mythras and M-Space adapts and expands them for sci-fi.

Starship design takes a modular approach that I’ve found quick to work with. Starship combat expands on the regular combat rules and have inspired creative fights in my players.

There are also nice systems for generating aliens, worlds, cultures and organizations. I like them better than those in Classic Traveller and much less fiddly than GURPS.

But my favorite mechanic is probably extended conflicts. I use it for everything from social conflicts, hacking, vehicle chases, solving puzzles and deciphering alien languages. It creates exciting situations from almost any conflict, making combat less important in my games.

Here’s a more detailed review (with a full description of extended conflicts):

https://elruneblog.blogspot.com/2019/03/review-of-m-space-d100-roleplaying-in.html?m=1
 
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