New Releases: Harlem Unbound, Sins of the Past Revisited

Today I take a quick look at a couple of new releases in two different genres: horror and superheroes. Both can be used to expand an existing campaign or as the backbone for a whole new campaign. These will be overviews, not full-fledged reviews since I have not had a chance to run either campaign.

Harlem Unbound

Cover of Harlem Unbound

If you want Cthulhu Mythos horror that flips the standard Lovecraftian view of minorities on its head, putting them in the roles of heroes who must struggle against cosmic horrors while also fighting for a chance at equality, this is the sourcebook for you.

Harlem Unbound is a 274-page sourcebook for Cthulhu Mythos role-play written by Chris Spivey and published by Darker Hue Studios, which provides setting history, locations, characters, adventures, and game-master advice for the Harlem neighbourhood of New York City during the 1920s, the era known as the Harlem Renaissance.

System-wise, elements are detailed for play with both Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed. (Chaosium) and the GUMSHOE system (Pelgrane Press). In fact, you can play it as a GUMSHOE standalone, it contains the necessary rules; or you could play it with a GUMSHOE game such as Trail of Cthulhu, Fear Itself, The Yellow King, or The Esoterrorists.

However, the materials offered in Harlem Unbound are rich and well-formulated so that in my opinion, there should be little trouble adapting them to another system of your choice. Mechanics are the least of your worries—doing the material justice in play is the GM and players’ true challenge. This is exactly the game supplement you need to run adventures in the vein of The Ballad of Black Tom (Victor LaValle) or Lovecraft Country: A Novel (Matt Ruff).

The art is of course strongly influenced by luminaries of the Harlem Artists Guild and precursors. Some of it is not my cup of tea (the gorier images), but it is nevertheless well done. I am particularly fond of artist Nino Malong’s contributions.

If you missed the Kickstarter funding campaign, you can still pre-order Harlem Unbound on Backerkit.

Sins of the Past, Revisited

Sins of the Past Revisited - coverThe original Sins of the Past adventure, published back in 2010, is one of the best scenarios ever written for the superhero game ICONS. Since its release, however, the system has undergone a revision and expansion published as the Assembled Edition in 2014.

Sins of the Past, Revisited is a 52-page adventure written by Theron Bretz, illustrated by Dan Houser—the same team that created the original edition—and published by Ad Infinitum Adventures for ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition.

It does not only update the mechanical bits to reflect the most recent version of the game; it offers new material, game-master advice, and notes on the playtest games. There is more art and new maps, everything a GM needs to run exciting scenes of superheroic action.

To top it off, if you prefer to run ICONS using the original rules, this comes with the 2010 version of the adventure for free. This means you can enjoy the new materials without major system adjustments.

The adventure connects modern-day superheroes (and villains) with those of the Golden Age. I think the adventure might have the most impact if its chapters were introduced one at a time over the course of a long-running campaign, when some of the GM characters have become familiar figures of the game setting. This could create fantastic buy-in for the players, inviting their characters to shoulder a legacy.

You can get the PDF on DriveThruRPG, and I understand that the print version will be available soon.

Advertisements

DramaSystem/Hillfolk: A Brief Review

Blood On The Snow cover Hillfolk coverOver a year ago I posted a book review of the two-book set, Hillfolk and Blood on the Snow (Pelgrane Press.) I loved both as source material, but I wanted more experience with the game mechanics in play before I could review the system itself. Since I gave a pretty lengthy description of the two volumes last year, I will concentrate here on the mechanics and the feel of the game.

I experienced the system in two modes: I hosted a game at Big Bad Con 2013 using the “Colony Wars” setting pitch by Emily Care Boss; and I played in a mini-series inspired by Kevin Allen Jr.’s series pitch “To End All Wars.” Both groups of players were just fantastic.

The system relies on shared narrative control between all participants, everyone taking turns at selecting theme and setting scenes, starting with the game-master. The focus of the game is the cast of player characters, which are created in the first session and are linked by a web of relationships established by the players. These relationships are deliberately held in balanced tension and constitute the dramatic underpinnings of the game.

The character creation process is also largely the setting creation, and with a group of people who enjoy shared narration, this turns into pure magic.

Two types of scenes are used: dramatic scenes, in which one character tries to obtain something—an emotional reward—from another who presents some opposition; and procedural scenes, in which the characters confront and overcome external obstacles.

In most role-playing games, we are used to paying attention mostly to procedural resolution: opening the door, killing the monster, escaping the larger monster, and so forth. However, in most dramatic fiction, there is a lot of time spent on dramatic scenes: will President Roslin get Commander Adama’s support? Will G’Kar agree to help Lando Molari? Will Detective Marty Hart trust his creepy partner Rust Cohle?

A majority of the scenes in DramaSystem are expected to be, well, dramatic, with characters pushing and pulling on each others’ motivations. Each scene is set by a player in turn, with their character trying to get something from another. If the petition is granted, the player whose character yielded gets a Drama token; if the petition is refused, the one who was turned down gets the Drama token. In other words, you either get what you want or get a Drama token as consolation prize. Drama tokens can be used to force concessions later, to crash a scene where your character was not invited or, on the contrary, to avoid a scene you are called to, and so forth.

External challenges are resolved using procedural scenes, using three types of Procedural tokens (red, yellow and green) and ordinary playing cards. The Procedural tokens grant a certain number of card draws, and do not replenish until all three have been used (i.e., you won’t get another red token until you’ve used both your yellow and green ones; when you’re out, all three replenish.) Procedural scenes are normally resolved with two sides, either GM against one lead PC, or two lead PCs squaring off, and all other PCs either supporting one of the two sides or abstaining.

In addition, there are seven very broad skills (e.g., Talking, Fighting, etc.) and using one of your strong skills versus someone else’s middling skill grants an additional redraw, while using a strong skill versus a weak one means automatic success. In practice, of course, creative players always find a way to use their strong skills.

There is some back and forth between the two sides, taking turns describing the results of each action, and a stronger position can allow one side to knock high cards out. However, the truth is that the whole system, with its multiple tokens, unclear descriptions of card draws, and high luck factor just doesn’t feel very exciting. It’s not horrible, it’s certainly workable, and sometimes the cards even cooperate. But most of the time, procedural resolution ends up being rather anticlimactic. This was particularly highlighted for my husband and I recently by the contrast with another card-based resolution system that provided high suspense and interesting tactical options: the Motobushido RPG.

On the other hand, Hillfolk and especially Blood on the Snow provide a number of alternate rules options that we have not had a chance to try. I did use the advice for single-session play contained in these books when I ran “Colony Wars” at a convention, and found it very helpful. But reading the Advanced Procedural Rules presented in appendix in Blood on the Snow got our group somewhat confused.

In short, the tension and pacing supported by the DramaSystem structure, and the drama that resulted, were highly satisfying. However, the mechanical resolution of procedural scenes was lacklustre; in the future, I am likely to either tinker with the mechanics—perhaps using some of the plentiful ideas provided in the two books—or use the structure with a different system altogether. Nevertheless, I greatly enjoyed the games, I would certainly play this again with a suitable group, and I am glad I bought the books.

This is a great game for people who like to think about how a story is constructed and what makes dramatic characters tick, and who enjoy creating a lot of the setting material in-game. You may enjoy this game if you like Primetime Adventures, Fiasco, Universalis, or In A Wicked Age, or if you read Robin D. Laws’ Hamlet’s Hit Points and found yourself nodding in agreement. It’s probably not a good choice for people who prefer richly detailed sourcebooks, procedural action, lots of mechanical options, or dice rolling.

Book Review: “Hillfolk” and “Blood on the Snow”

Hillfolk coverToday I’d like to review Robin D. Laws book Hillfolk and its companion volume Blood on the Snow (Pelgrane Press, 2013).

Disclaimer: This is going to be a backwards review about everything but the core topic! You see, I don’t feel ready to review the game Hillfolk or the DramaSystem rules engine that powers it. I like to base my reviews on sufficient playtesting and so far I’ve only hosted one game. It went very well, but that’s not enough to speak with confidence on it, given that the system is intended to shine in continuing series.

However! This pair of books is an odd one, in many ways unlike your standard role-playing game, and I think it may actually be a good idea to review its other aspects separately. So here you are, this is a book review and not a game review. I’ll give you the latter after more playtesting.

Background

Blood On The Snow coverThis project attracted attention in the fall of 2012 with its Kickstarter crowdfunding. When the Kickstarter phase opened on October 3, Hillfolk was intended to be a small standalone project, described by lead author Robin Laws as “a 128-page book from a team of five people”.  The book was going to be a 6″ x 9″ pocket-format paperback “game of Iron Age conflict” based primarily on narration rules and a token-based economy, the text was complete, many of the illustrations were already prepared, the layout concept was known, and it was a pretty focused project seeking $3,000 to go to production.

Then Kickstarter caught fire, as it sometimes does; the project was funded within a few hours, and Pelgrane Press had to start rolling out stretch goals faster, earlier, and more often than anyone had hoped for.

At the same time, all this interest generated its own buzz; Kickstarter backers were able to look at the draft and many talented people started thinking: “Oh, you could use this system to play ___!” Next thing you know, people were submitting series pitches for games to run with DramaSystem besides Iron Age conflict, while others were sending their thoughts about “hacking” DramaSystem and about best practices to run games. These supplied a stream of stretch goals that really got the crowdfunding going.

In the first few days, I was mildly interested but not swept off my feet; the Iron Age setting seemed nice, well-written, but it’s not the kind of setting that gets me excited. But the flood of series pitches made the enthusiasm contagious; people whose previous work or blogging I really loved were throwing in sparkling settings like jewels on the river bottom, and I had to dive with the rest of the community.  (No, not lemmings! Bad reader, bad!)

As a result, when the Kickstarter phase ended 2,185 backers had pledged $93,845, or over 3,128 times the original $3,000 goal, and the project had become “two books of twice [the original] size, and a team of approximately eighty contributors”; the books were going to get hardcover and colour interior treatment, and the format had to change from the planned small size to full size because otherwise they would be too thick to handle properly. There was even material leftover that would become monthly series pitches released as PDF by Pelgrane Press, available by subscription.

The Result

So here is what Kickstarter backers got; I don’t want to detail every single option and tchotchke available, but the key points are:

  • For $10, you were able to get the final PDF versions of everything: Hillfolk, Blood on the Snow, and nine months of series pitches.
  • For $41 in the U.S., you got all this plus two hardcover books, shipping cost included. (If you have followed recent conversations on the Kickstarter model’s pitfalls, you know that shipping is a big issue. I’ll leave the discussion of international shipping to more knowledgeable people.)

In this review I want to talk essentially about everything the Kickstarter stretch goals added these books as books, i.e., excluding the other types of rewards like tokens, cards, or music; and also, perhaps strangely, excluding the core game for the reasons stated earlier.

Hillfolk is a 238-page, 8.5″x12″ (22 cm x 30.5 cm) hardcover book with glossy pages and colour illustrations. The first 65 pages are devoted to the system, the next 12 to the original “Hillfolk” Iron Age setting as essentially an extended series pitch, and the rest of the book offers thirty additional settings!

Blood on the Snow is 207-pages long and otherwise presented in the same form. It’s a companion book meant to enrich the reader’s experience with DramaSystem by offering advanced play and game-mastering advice, hacks such as a live-action role-playing (LARP) version, and 33 more series pitches.

I can’t think of any other role-playing product that offers this many alternate settings, or where so much of the material is effectively bonus material.

The Books as Objects

"Did I just get what I wanted?"The two books are hefty but pleasant to the touch. The art varies mostly from good to gorgeous, and even the monochrome art such as the pieces created by Jan Pospisil for the original, smaller-scale project benefits from the rich greys and sepias you can get with full-colour printing.

The covers are a bit too understated for my taste; they feature otherwise very good drawings by Scott Neil but placed in negative  as white images on a muted background, brown for Hillfolk and dark blue for Blood on the Snow. Both drawings show only the Iron Age setting. The books are so understated and give so little hint of what they contain that if I had not followed the Kickstarter, the only reason I would thumb through one at a game store is if I managed to notice Robin Laws’ name in thin font at the top.

The layout also goes for sober, elegant, and muted. It would have been a very good layout if the fonts selected had been at least two points larger. I don’t know if it was originally going to use that font size, or whether the change in book format and addition of so much material made some font reduction necessary, but both the PDF and the print books are terribly difficult for me to read now that I have reached the advanced age of 48. I can’t say for sure but I think it would have been too small for me even before my reading vision started deteriorating. I don’t have that problem with any other game books, but reading those two just kills me. To add insult to injury, the columns of text are narrow, making reading choppy, but the white margins are huge.

In fact, when I really need to study to understand, for example when I read system minutia, I have to rip the text section from the PDF and turn it into .mobi file I can read and zoom as needed on my Kindle. Unfortunately, it’s a huge amount of work to do that, particularly because of the staggered column format that turn text into mad-libs, so it would be a prohibitive effort to do for the whole books and even just for the system sections. Finally, the PDF files are not bookmarked. This is one of the reasons I’m not finished with playtesting DramaSystem: it’s so damn hard to read this.

The forms such as character sheet, list of recurring characters, etc. are usable but uninspired, and not very well sized to handle player handwriting. They remind me of the home-made character sheets we used to hatch on our word processors for White Wolf system hacks 20 years ago.

The Series Pitches

Let’s look at the bonus content: sixty-four series pitches including the original “Hillfolk” premise, plus nine more through the monthly subscription for a total of 73 game settings. The list of contributors is stunning, it’s like reading the list of cameo appearances in the movies Around the World in 80 Days or Mars Attacks.

What is a series pitch? In general, it’s a summary of the setting, key issues, key characters, etc. to propose a new series, such as television or graphic novel series. In our case, these are pitches for us to use, as the directors and editors of our own “shows”. Each pitch contains ideas of questions to explore in play, ways to ratchet up the stakes and suspense, and suggested names, relationship, and details to make the series come alive.

For me, the series pitches are the delicious chocolate centre of these two books. First, because that is how exactly how I start building a game idea; second, because it doesn’t matter if I end up loving DramaSystem or not: they are entirely usable in any genre-appropriate system of your choice. And third because for me they also spark lots more ideas of setting pitches to create.

I love that every single one of the writers who contributed a pitch is someone whose stuff I have read and loved elsewhere; some are not even primarily known as game authors but in other fiction media like comics (e.g., Gene Ha) or television (John Rogers). Some are directly employed by different publishers and just don’t end up contributing to the same books outside of this. Some are people whose articles, forum contributions and blog posts I’ve just enjoyed reading for years, and it’s my first chance to read their fiction.

Because the premise of DramaSystem is that the players are at the core of the action, the main characters in a continuing dramatic series, each pitch is created with this drama in mind to emulate the flavour of shows and books like Battlestar Galactica, A Game of Thrones, Firefly, NYPD Blues, or Lost. They offer hooks to create interesting characters, whether placed at the centre of power or skulking in the shadows. I love that the settings and genres represented are so varied.

I’m not sure how much the PDF alone will sell for; the books are still offered as a pre-order on Pelgrane Press’ site for the print+PDF bundle at US $30 or £19. But if the PDFs end up reasonably priced, I would recommend them for GMs who have a favourite system (e.g., GURPS, Hero, Fate, Heroquest) but like to try settings. (If it stays at $30 each, I would recommend checking whether you also like the system first.)

The “Masterclass” Advice

While I can’t discuss it in detail until I write my system review, I found the GM advice in both books to be very helpful. In particular, I used the advice on single-play session found in both books and was grateful for it. The hacks seemd full of clever ideas to customize the game to your group’s preferences.

Like the GUMSHOE system I reviewed recently, the core of DramaSystem can also be used as an add-on layer with another game system of your choice; the MasterClass advice provides useful tips, and studying the dramatic versus procedural discussions will be of great interest to GMs who like to run story-based games.

In fact, even if one never plays DramaSystem (which would be a shame but as usual, So many games, so little time…), the concepts discussed, the scene-setting process, the analysis of dramatic exchanges in fiction, etc. are all well-worth reading if you are the kind of gamer who got a lot out of such games as Primetime Adventures, Apocalypse World, The Burning Wheel, or Dust Devils.

If you try DramaSystem and like it, then I would say that for sure Blood on the Snow is going to be a worthwhile companion book for you.

Conclusion

Because I got in during the Kickstarter and got the books and PDF for a really good price, I can say that no matter how often I end up playing DramaSystem, this will have been a worthwhile purchase for me. I know I will use these ideas in my games. But dear Lord, if they ever put out an ebook version for sale at a reasonable price, I’m buying it.

To the 80+ writers, artists, and other contributors to these books: I want to hug you all, you gave us something new and exciting that I didn’t have in other game books.

My recommendation to game publishers for future Kickstarter stretch goals: I would place much more value on ebook format (such as .mobi or .ePub) than on special dice, bonus fiction, or even colour printing.

My recommendation to game publishers for layout: a game book is something that needs to be used quickly and clearly, no one has the time to decipher scribbles in play and if reading it makes one’s eyes water, it should be for the drama and not the font. I don’t care how elegant the layout is, you’re not publishing a coffee table art book.

All in all, very good books but not without peccadilloes.

Casefile: GUMSHOE

Warning right from the start: I recently promised to tackle a few reviews where I would be more critical than complimentary.  This is one.1

Background on the Suspect

The Esoterrorists coverI have talked before about using mysteries in role-playing games, and some of the challenges involved in when you want both the surprise of discovery and characters who feel competent.  The GUMSHOE system was created with this in mind, to avoid the problem of pixel-bitching which happens when players are floundering, looking for an obscure clue that will unlock the next part of the story.

Although it was intended straight from the beginning to be used in several different settings, GUMSHOE was not published as a standalone game; instead, its rules are explained in a customized form for each game they are used in. GUMSHOE first appeared in The Esoterrorists (2007), then in Fear Itself (2007), Trail of Cthulhu (2008), Mutant City Blues (2009), Ashen Stars (2011), and Night’s Black Agents (2012), all published by Pelgrane Press. I have played or run all of these except Fear Itself and Ashen Stars. The publisher recently released a system reference document (SRD) for the core system for game designers who might wish to use it in their products.

Trail of Cthulhu coverThe idea behind the system is simple, clever, and sound:

An investigative game is completely stalled if clues are missed altogether, and since in the genre fiction (novels, movies, etc.) we never see the heroes repeatedly poke around the same scene until they succeed in finding the elusive clue. What is interesting about such games and fiction is putting together the clues, not trying to see them.  Therefore, it makes no sense to ask players to roll pass-or-fail tests in order to locate the very clues that are indispensable to having a story. If you are a capable investigator with the relevant skill, you should just find the clue and move on to building a theory of the crime.

Mutant City Blues coverConsequently, GUMSHOE divides character skills in two groups: investigative abilities and general abilities. If you have even one point invested in an investigative ability and it is relevant to obtaining a particular core clue, no die roll is needed, the gamemaster will just tell you what you find.

For example: If you have the investigative ability “Data Retrieval” and you look at the victim’s computer, you will find the encrypted files that someone tried to erase because that’s a core clue; without it, the game would founder.

Night's Black Agents coverIf there is an opportunity to learn more but it’s not strictly essential to succeeding in the investigation, the GM will indicate that you can also spend a point of an appropriate investigative ability to get special benefits such as supplemental clues. These just provide interesting or useful information that may allow you to prepare better for future events in the story. However, when you run out of points on a particular ability you can’t spend from it anymore and you are limited to getting the core clues.

For example: If you have the investigative ability “Cryptography”, the GM may offer you a chance to spend one point of it in order to get an additional clue regarding the source of the obscure cipher being used in these files. However, you only have one point of Cryptography left to spend and you suspect that you will need it later, so you decline the offer. Without this supplemental clue you’ll still get to a solution but you may not be suspecting who else is involved in this mystery until later clues appear.

General abilities are the running, jumping, climbing trees kind of stuff we’re used to.  You can also spend them to add to your rolls, and they have different refresh rates.

The two types of abilities are rated on different scales, with investigative abilities usually rated 0-3 points and general abilities 0-10 or even more. This is where things start going wrong.

The Prosecution’s Evidence

Having two types of abilities with different ranges and different resolution systems might be a trifle untidy, but we’ve seen it before and it’s not necessarily that big a deal. Unfortunately, there is also an awful lot of disparity among each of the two categories.

By the author and publisher’s own admission, some investigative abilities are used much more often than others. But they all cost the same to purchase at character creation and with advancement, so some of them are just a bad bargain. This is partly compensated by the fact that the GM is encouraged to think in terms of the entire party’s skills, not character by character; it’s true that this means the party as a whole should be able to get through the story, but it also means some players will feel frustrated that their abilities are so cost-ineffective.

General abilities are even more haphazard: even among the category, ratings mark vastly different levels of competence (e.g., sometimes a 4 is pretty useful, sometimes it’s pathetic), resolution can use very different rules, and refresh rates can vary wildly.

Mechanically, although sub-systems vary, the rules are quite simple. However, they lack the narrative punch that other simple systems like Apocalypse World, PDQ or Fate—or Laws’ own Heroquest—lend to equally simple mechanics. In truth, it’s hard to get excited about the action when you’re using the general abilities.

The list of abilities of both types is too long and confusing.  Many of the ability descriptions turn out to mean something quite different from what one might guess from the name of the ability. To complicate matters, some general and investigative abilities have similar names and special rules allow some crossover between the two types of abilities.

Finally, it’s difficult to get a sense of whether a character is half-way decently designed until you’ve been playing for a while even when you are experienced with the system, because of the great variability in usefulness among both investigative and general abilities.

It feels like the primary problem is that at the very beginning, the question of what is an ability and how it should work was never convincingly answered, so now the basic structure goes unexamined and the adjustments from setting to setting are performed by tweaking the ability list. But is it even necessary to have two types of abilities? Couldn’t you simply have one type and give each a wide knowledge penumbra? Many systems make good use of this idea.

And why multiply the abilities when they overlap so much? I assume that the intent is to allow to customize different investigative specialists, but you could do that with much simpler and more universal means than a long list of abilities that always turns out to be missing some specialities anyway.

The Defense’s Arguments

The idea behind the system is a good one. There’s no doubt that Laws identified a crucial flaw of “traditional” role-playing games when it comes to investigative games such as murder mysteries, police procedurals, X Files-style spookiness, etc. His answer to the problem is a very valid one, as far as use of the investigative abilities go.

The system is simple. It may be inconsistent and kludged, but it’s not complicated. At its base, it’s just roll a d6 versus varying levels of difficulty and spend a few points if you want.

It would not be that hard to fix the glitches or to import the base concept into your favourite system. In fact, every time I play or read a GUMSHOE game, I’m itching to re-write its system. But it’s less work to simply borrow the core idea (i.e., “don’t make the players roll if failure means the story will stall.”)

Finally, it’s possible that all this time I’ve been doing something drastically wrong with this game; I just wrote about doing that with other games in the past. However, I feel I gave it a long fair try in several incarnations with different groups and the light bulb has not come on. Perhaps the system or explanations themselves can be improved.

The Verdict

What I am not saying: I’m not saying that it’s a bad system, an unworkable system, or that a good GM and players can’t have a great campaign with it. I’m also not saying that the author and publisher are not good at what they do (they are!), nor that you are wrong or stupid if you enjoy this family of games.

What I am saying: In its current form(s), I don’t think GUMSHOE can be called a good system. It’s a good idea, and it’s a workable system, but it needs an overhaul to live up to its promise. I hope this will happen because I would love to love GUMSHOE.

It is, however, something you can steal ideas from, something you can tinker with to make it better, and something that is worth paying attention to.

1 Disclosure: I’m a fan of Robin D. Laws’ work in designing role-playing games and in providing helpful advice to players and gamemasters.  I keep recommending his book of advice Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering (Steve Jackson Games), I loved his games Feng Shui (Atlas Games) and Skulduggery (Pelgrane Press), his Heroquest (Moon Design Publications) is one of my go-to systems, I play-tested Og: Unearther Edition (Firefly Games) and Mutant City Blues (Pelgrane Press), I loved his work on supplemental material for Over The Edge (Atlas Games) and Glorantha/Hero Wars/Heroquest (Issaries), and I recently talked about how I’d enjoyed running his new game Hillfolk (Pelgrane Press), though it will merit a whole review some day soon. I hope I’ve established my credentials as a gushing fan, so at least I won’t be accused of being a hater. Return.

Colony Wars: Casting call

For Big Bad Con this weekend, I have scheduled a game that uses Robin D. Laws’ DramaSystem from his new role-playing game Hillfolk (Pelgrane Press), along with a series pitch from Emily Care Boss (also published in Hillfolk) called “Colony Wars.”

One of the handouts I created is a collection of photos that can be used  represent characters, especially on the relationship map that is one of the core elements of the game.  I used celeb photos, so you can play a little game trying to see how many you can recognize.  My friends will also spot several of these from other games where I’ve used them.  As usual, I was trying to go for diversity and balance; comments welcomed.

Do you know, real people smile too much in their photos?  It’s awfully hard to get that “Oh shit, we’re about to impact an asteroid!” look outside movies.

Download as a PDF file (3 pages, 4. MB).

Photos for Colony Wars: sample