Review: Hope’s Horizon – Starter Kit

Welcome to Orion’s Spur. Come explore the Black with us…

This is it. This is what we’ve been pushing toward for the last two months. Today, the Hope’s Horizon Starter Kit went live on DriveThruRPG.com, and we’re so excited to share it with all of you. I want to take a little time today and walk you through some of the things you’ll find inside this book and talk a bit about what we’ve got coming up for you to go with it. There’s a lot, and I can’t share it all in this one post, but hopefully, by the end, you’ll have a better idea of where we’re headed with this.

Hope’s Horizon began as an experimental setting for Joann and I to do some of our paired writing in. I believe it was the one of the first instances of us using characters that were built around the Cypher System character sentence. That was back in February 2019. Over the course of the next year and a half, we continued writing in that headspace because there were just so many stories to tell and interesting characters we kept dreaming up. When we began Angel’s Citadel in August 2020, it was the natural first step for a first foray into writing a setting.

With Hope’s Horizon, we wanted to evoke some specific feelings with the setting. As we pondered how to do that, Joann came up with the idea of adjusting the character sentence from what is found in the Revised Cypher System Rulebook on page 18. We eliminated the character descriptor. This is not to say that your character shouldn’t have a personality. We both love the way that highlights the major personality trait of a character. But we didn’t want the mechanics tied there. We felt like that belonged solidly in the narrative. Instead, we changed it to the following:

“I am a Species Type from Origin who Foci

Hope’s Horizon Starter Kit, page 15

The reason for the changes is that in Hope’s Horizon, we wanted both the species you choose and where they came from to mean something. We felt it would both change who the character was at their core and what their outlook was on the galaxy around them. As a result, each species has several customized types that reflect their unique training, and societal philosophy. After these, there are 4 generic types that any species can take (the Doctor, the Pilot, the Infiltrator, and the Wrench). This is not intended to limit what you can do in your games, but to give you templates of what types customized for a space setting such as this might look like.

The other side of this coin is Origins. Not only can your species’ culture influence who you are and how you look at the universe around you, so can where you come from. Planetary environmental conditions, prevalence of cities or technology, and even whether or not you come from a planet at all can all change your knowledge base and the way you view how you do things.

What you know often only matters if you have the right tool for the job. The section on equipment offers a variety of tools for your character’s use. From weaponry, to scientific tools, to espionage, and transportation costs, it gives a starting character a baseline of items. There is also a section on Lifestyles that offer a simplified way to look at covering basic necessities if there is a desire to abstract things some. The astute reader will notice that there is no mention of vehicle costs. At Tier 1, you are not likely to be able to afford a vehicle, much less a spaceship. However, vehicles as equipment and rules for vehicular and ship combat will be coming in the Core Rulebook that will take characters all the way up to Tier 6.

After Equipment comes a short section detailing some of our thoughts regarding running Hope’s Horizon as a Cypher System game. This section will be expanded in the Core Rulebook, but we wanted to give a little bit here as well. Beyond that is 30 pages of setting information detailing some of the core worlds in the United Galactic Territories, the Gh’odas Continuum, and Freespace. Each entry contains an overview of the area itself, some of the major cities/locations, and some rumors and adventure seeds for the GM to use as idea starters. This section will be greatly expanded in the Core Rulebook with much more detail for each system that these planets are in.

Finally, we give you a map of Orion’s Spur, the actual portion of the Milky Way where Sol system is situated. This map, at the moment, just has the areas mentioned in the Starter Kit (and the Core Rulebook). We have plans, however, to expand it greatly based on material from the fiction that we’ve written that I mentioned earlier. Supplements with more planets, more playable species, more equipment, and well… just more, will flesh out this setting.

Will you play as a Grimalkine Hunter from Cia’tune who Infiltrates, seeking to bring down an underground criminal organization providing unwilling test subjects for cutting edge cybernetic replacement testing by a corporation that is trying to beat its competitors to market?  Perhaps you’re a Human Diplomat from Iliar who Commands Mental Powers trying to repair relations with an alien race despite forces within and without your own government trying to hinder or stop your efforts?  Maybe you’re a Thelvae Rover from the Arkh who Employs Magnetism that is trying to track down what happened to their father who took an exploratory party into an uncharted system in Freespace and never returned?  It’s a big galaxy, with lots of stories to tell. Hope’s Horizon can help you tell them all. Join us, and leave your mark on Hope’s Horizon.

This has been an amazing journey, and we’ve learned so much. From Joann who did an amazing job trying to figure out how to do Layout and Graphic Design (for which the invaluable help of Char Irrgang and the Irrgardless crew as well as Chris Negelein and Chris Harris cannot be overstated), to struggling with how to put all these crazy ideas and thoughts and dreams of ours down on paper in a way that someone could actually use, it’s been a crazy two months. We have so many friends that have encouraged us along the way and it’s carried us through the hard times. For that, we thank you all. This one is finished, however, and live on DriveThruRPG right now. So please, we invite you to take a look at the Hope’s Horizon Starter Kit. We printed one out and bound it so that we could show it to you.

So what does the future hold? As it stands right now, next year is going to be filled with more Space, more Hope, and (probably to Joann’s dismay), more layout. But after that, we’ve got so many ideas that we’re trying to bring to the table, and a huge chunk of them aren’t actually related to this setting. Hope’s Horizon is only the beginning for Angel’s Citadel. We’re committed to bringing you quality roleplaying content that we personally would actually want to play. Stuff we get excited and passionate about. We can’t wait to share it all with you. But for now, go check out the Hope’s Horizon Starter Kit on DriveThruRPG. After that, if you could, leave us a note there telling us what you think. Happy gaming!

  • Josh Walles

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