Polaris RPG. Laura Hoffmann, Line Developer and Project Manager at Black Book Editions, answered a few questions about their spacy underwater Sci-Fi roleplaying game and the current Kickstarter project.
Before we start, let the exciting Polaris RPG trailer prepare the ground.
Honestly, after reading the announcement for the Polaris RPG Kickstarter, I thought this sounds like an underwater Dune meets Star Wars meets The Abyss. I think you have a better elevator pitch and please share your major inspirations.
Polaris RPG is somewhat an underwater Mad Max with a fair share of Red October and Aliens-feel to it, and certainly some Dune and Star Wars. The list of inspirations is HUGE for this game. You get the ravaged surface that forced humankind to flee and now they found shelter in another very hostile environment: the seas.
Please tell us more about the history of the game.
Polaris RPG was first created back in 1996 by French author Philippe Tessier and published through Halloween Concept. It was an instant success so that just two years later the second edition could be published. A real fan base gathered around Polaris quickly and when the publisher had to close down some years later, fans kept the game alive on various websites and forums.
Black Book Editions contacted Philippe Tessier in 2007 to relaunch a new edition of Polaris, adding Raphael Bombayl to the development team to create a more fluid game system. Again, this new edition was a frank success, especially after a pre-order campaign that unlocked a whole bunch of new sourcebooks.
During this campaign, Black Book Editions also announced the English language translation for Polaris. And here we are now, ready to sail off to new horizons!
What are in your opinion the most important features of the Polaris RPG – settingwise and ruleswise?
The setting and world behind the Polaris RPG is certainly the biggest reason for its success over these past 20 years. Only few games explore the depths of the oceans, this very hostile environment that comes with its big share of dangers. It’s a deadly game, filled with constant threats from limited oxygen, horrifying sea monsters, perpetual wars, the decrease of fertility and many mysteries.
Character creation lets you craft your character step by step, which gives every player the opportunity to develop them as he wishes. Raphael Bombayl, author of the game system, also created straightforward rules for naval combat.
Which character classes, races and special powers/feats can backers expect?
Characters are created by choosing a race (either human or „hybrid,“ who can be either natural, or the result of genetic experiments, or technologically enhanced) and going through a step-by-step „aging“ based on their environment of origin, education and a career. Professions are very varied and range from simple submariners to military officers or special agents. Character creation does also give you the possibility to add various mutations, advantages and disadvantages to your character, and even give him or her the ability to manipulate the Polaris Effect, some sort of psychic power. This mysterious force comes from what is called „the Flux“ and grants your character special powers that, if correctly controlled, lets you manipulate minds, the currents, energy and much more. But if it’s involuntary unleashed, the effects can be devastating. This is the reason why many people who have access to this power wear a special metallic headband which keeps the power in control.
Character creation is handled via a point-buy system, which ensures character balance within a group.
What are typical stories that the players will tell with the Polaris RPG and which threats they have to oppose?
Polaris RPG lets you play in many different ways. Your players could be mercenaries hired by the great nations to fulfill the work no one else is willing to do; they could be freelancers or pirates trying to survive on their own, scientific explorers seeking to unveil the mysteries of the Deep, etc. Adventures can be also driven around political intrigues between big nations and corporations.
I’ve heard that you collaborate with Paizo Inc. Please tell us more.
We are very happy about our collaboration with our friends at Paizo Inc.! They will be our sales agents for distribution and we are looking forward to this partnership.
Why do you think fans should jump aboard and support the Polaris RPG Kickstarter right now?
We believe that the Polaris RPG is a great game to discover, and we are happy to finally be able to publish it in English, so more people can have access to it. The theme of post-apocalyptic underwater Sci-Fi has not been approached very often in the American RPG market, so players now have the opportunity to explore something new, which is more and more difficult after more than 40 years of creativity in this industry. This Kickstarter gives us the opportunity to upgrade our product as best as possible, and give it the best possible start. There will be some free and exclusive stuff available throughout the Kickstarter (For example, if we reach the 40k Stretch Goal, a FREE sourcebook will be unlocked!), so don’t miss out on those! But for those of you who prefer to buy in their hobby stores, we are also happy to announce that the products will be available this summer in brick and mortar shops!
What kind of further development can we expect for the Polaris RPG after the Kickstarter?
The Polaris RPG line is already quite large in France. We hope to bring many supplements also in their English version in the near future. The first upcoming sourcebook is already in translation: „Creatures” is a 200+ page bestiary with many more monsters of the Deep! More setting sourcebooks and adventures will follow up.
Finally, a fun question: Please share something about the Polaris RPG which was a secret so far.
We just scheduled with Philippe Tessier (creator of the Polaris RPG) the upcoming sourcebooks that will also be original releases for our French fans. These books will talk about the surface, pirates and… maybe even space ;) For now, let’s just concentrate on the new release of the Core Rulebooks. :)
I’m a backer of the Kickstarter, although I usually avoid complex game systems like the Polaris RPG. Update 2. April 2016: I changed my mind and canceled my pledge for the Kickstarter. In my opinion, the Polaris RPG has too complex rules and the similarities to the Force of a galaxy not so far away are not my cup of tea.
The Beta of Rulebook 1 has 269 pages and offers a lot of crunchy bits
, but the unique setting sparks my interest. Good luck anyway. Furthermore there is no business or personal relationship to Black Book Editions or Laura Hoffmann.
- Polaris – The Roleplaying Game Kickstarter Launch 15th March 2016
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