Monday, September 30, 2013

The Many-Colored Land

One series of books that I think would make a really fun RPG, or a setting source book for an existing game, is the Saga of Pliocene Exile, aka The Many-Colored Land series by Julian May.  The blurb goes something like this:

There is a one way gate discovered that leads back in time from the early 22 century to the Pliocene epoch some 3 million years in the ago.  Naturally people go through it, it in fact becomes a social safety valve for the discontented and the criminal to escape the overly ordered society that earth has become.  And way back in the past there are strange, wondrous and terrible things afoot.  One group of misfits goes through the gate and finds themselves in the middle of it all.

These are an excellent read and manage to tie folklore into sci-fi in a way that is satisfying and consistent.  It's is almost the inverse of something like Shadow Run, instead of having magic mixing in with the near future world, it is near future science mixing in with historical fable.  I'd hate to spoil anything for you by revealing too much.  It's got fine characters, intrigue, humour and some pretty sweet battles.  It also has a pretty decent world that would be pretty easy to stage a campaign in.  I'm actually very surprised that there isn't a Gurps or Savage Worlds supplement for this setting simply because it is so robust and well designed and sometimes reads like someones very excellent extended RP campaign.  If I was going to run it I would have to figure out how the 'magic' and tech could work together which is why one of the generic systems might be easiest to use.  It would be a good setting for a more narrative game as well, Fate or Dungeon World maybe, perhaps even re-skin the Marvel Heroic Cortex system.

The whole series runs for 4 books, The Many-Colored Land, The Golden Torc, The Nonborn King and The Adversary.  It's a good read with an expansive cast of interesting characters and a satisfying conclusion.  The story also leads into a second trilogy about the future world called The Galactic Milieu series.  This series is pretty good as well and contains a lot of related material although it isn't required reading. The Galactic Milieu is not quite as strong as the Pliocene books in my opinion, but it is still a decent read and if you like the first books you can't go wrong reading both series really.

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