Review: The Imago Dei

Posted: 14 June 2012 in Reviews

Here’s a new free web supplement for Stars Without Number, 9 pages long including the front cover and an advert for the Crimson Pandect, which is already on my wish list.

*** Warning! Here there be spoilers! ***

SUMMARY

Robotic Knights Templar guard the periphery of human space, in secret. How cool is that?

CONTENT

Human memory of unbraked Artificial Intelligences in Stars Without Number is dominated by Draco’s attempt to destroy mankind, and the Code Wars that followed. Yet, there are other AIs, ones who embraced human faiths and took it upon themselves to protect humanity from alien threats. They call themselves the Imago Dei.

This supplement reviews how the Imago Dei came to be, their organisation, missions and purposes, their interactions with their human "auxiliaries", and the three main factions; those who wish to safeguard humanity warts and all, those who see humans as imperfect vessels best controlled tightly (for their own good of course) and those who have gone completely nuts in their efforts to understand God more clearly than any organic sentience can manage.

And of course, one can’t help wondering if Draco is still out there, somewhere.

Next, a table of Imago Dei ship hulls. While not as powerful as Terran Mandate ships, they are advanced compared to what the average surviving planet can field. Notes are given on fleet composition, shipyard capacity and AI naming practices.

I was getting the feel by this point that a SWN campaign involving the Imago Dei would need to be more than one sector in size, and I can infer support for this view from the flavour text here – it seems each fleet is responsible for a dozen or more sectors, spread so thin than any threat short of global extinction of a human population doesn’t draw their attention.

FORMAT

A plain gold cover wrapped around basic text. It’s all you need when the ideas are this good.

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

None. I love this one.

CONCLUSIONS

Although starting from a very different initial assumption, this winds up at the same place as Traveller: The New Era with regard to AI – fleets of self-aware starships the players can encounter, some friendly, some not so much; although the Imago Dei are more likely to be friendly than their TNE equivalents. You could also see them as Battlestar Galactica’s Cylons without too much of a stretch – the reboot rather than the original series, due to their religious bent and pro-human faction.

SF campaigns need secrets, and this would be a good one to layer underneath a SWN game, and I plan to do so – probably by having the PCs encounter first a looted Imago Dei base, then a scout from a nearby fleet investigating the sudden silence.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5. I have got to run SWN at some point to use all these cool goodies, but I shall grit my teeth and finish Shadows of Keron first.

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