Product– Esper Genesis 5E Sci-fi – Core Manual
System-Dungeons and Dragons 5e
Producer– Alligator Alley Entertainment
TL; DR-5E IN SPACE! 92%
Basics-Want some DnD 5e but also want some spaceships and don’t want the less serious nature of Starjammer? Then Esper Genesis is the game for you. Hard space opera on the level of a Mass Effect with the crunch of the Forgotten Realms. Let’s go into the pieces first and then my thoughts on it.
Base Mechanic-Can you play DnD 5e? Then you know this system. That’s it. That’s not a bad or a good, it’s just the basic mechanics you know and you may love.
Classes-Like any system that bases itself on another base game there will be some reskins and some out of the box thinking taking the game in new directions. You have a not-fighter and a not-rogue, and the DnD 5e system needs those to work, but you also have whole new classes and a different magic system relying on new abilities, due to a new material found in moons across the galaxy. These new classes feel like combinations of clerics and wizards, and truly it’s not bad. It breaks fun new ground on the mechanics of the system.
Spaceship Dogfights-DnD is NOT a crunch heavy system that requires a battle map to play, so the spaceship part of the game can’t use that either. Each player gets a role on the ship and can do different actions in a round from repairs to shields to killing people with lasers. However, this is all done quickly via theater of the mind.
Those are the basics. Let’s look at my thoughts.
Mechanics or Crunch-Honestly, this is the shining highlight of the book. You have the cloned classes that you know were going to be there from the not-fighter to the not-rogue, but the changes in mechanics really help the players see a new universe of potential to the system. I like what I see here. Now, this is a reskin and cut and paste of some DnD things from spells that have to be healing word and cure wounds, but it is different enough so you get new things for you to explore. Heck, you can’t even say this is just a combo of Starfinder and DnD5e, as the stuff feels fresh enough that it has its own feel distinct from either of those properties. This isn’t just a hack job of reworked DnD 5e material, this is its own thing that stands strongly on its own two feet. 5/5
Theme or Fluff– I like what I see here, but like any gourmet meal, I left wanting more. There is a whole universe here to explore, but I felt like not enough time was spent on the world itself. It’s some amazing stuff, even if it does take some strong references from the Mass Effect series with elements like humans fighting then joining a galactic UN, a mystery element that gives powers. Now, this doesn’t make this game and its world derivative. The basic plot of “magic/science things give magic/science powers to people and now we deal with it” is a staple of the scifi and fantasy field, but what I don’t like is the limited amount of information on display. I wasn’t so much as left wanting more as I was left not getting enough. I wasn’t full waiting for my next book, but was more often than not given enough story to start strong. The world is fun, but not flushed out enough. I’m down to play and read more. What is here does draw you in, but I feel I need another 30 or so pages to really know the world or universe, from bad guys to who the main races are. That said, what is here is well done. I enjoy every piece of it, but just need more of it. 4.25/5
Execution– PDF? Yep! Hyperlinked? Yep! Ok, all the things I want standard in a book! The book is laid out well and typeset well, but the big issue I have is too many pages of double column text. Even the best world book or rule manual is simply a guide book or math textbook, and those NEED to be broken up to keep the reader involved. So I want more pictures to show me cool stuff of your world. Also, this is a third party product, so it has a limited budget. Many cool things are discussed like the monster manual in the back of the book, but I need pictures to see what you’re showing me. I want to see what you got. Also, as a new world that is whole-cloth your own, you NEED a short adventure to tell me your pacing and story structure. I read this as standard action adventure scifi, but you might have meant this to be hard R space horror. Overall, it’s well done, but it’s missing a few pieces to make it excellent. 4.5/5
Summary– From my review, you might think I don’t like this, but this is an amazing rpg. It’s got scifi using the nuts and bolts of the DnD 5e system while not just becoming spelljammer. It’s full of new flavor that is all its own and not just a copy paste from Star Wars. It’s got solid layout in a format I BEG the major RPG producers to do. All these things mean it is a solid game! My issues are minor, such as wanting more story in the base book, even though the authors clearly indicate other books that have come out since this game was published to build out the world like trailers for coming attractions. The execution of the book is good, but needs more pictures. I just want more in the book, but for a whole RPG from a small press RPG company, this is an amazing product. However, the inevitable comparison comes forward-Is this just Starfinder with 5e? And the answer, I think, is no. This is more light scifi with no space wizardry and none of the more fantastical elements that make Starfinder science fantasy while this is science fiction. The systems stay very separate from one another, as Starfinder embraces the hard crunch of Pathfinder while Esper Genesis has its own mechanics from 5e and modified as needed to give this the speed that 5e is famous for. With this book and the base DnD 5e book, you could make your own Starfinder game, but honestly, I’d use this book by itself to play an awesome game among the stars. If you are looking for your fast, fun, 5e scifi, look no further than this game! 92%