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Minireview: The Extraterrestrials Sourcebook (Conspiracy X 2.0)

The results of yet another successful Kickstarter, the long-delayed Extraterrestrials Sourcebook for Conspiracy X 2.0 has now finally seen the light, with more books for the game line incoming. As the title implies, it’s a sourcebook about aliens for use in the game.

The book contains descriptions of three alien species (though if we’re pedantic, two of the species have tight (pre)historic ties with Earth so it’s debatable if they really qualify as “alien”). The first of these are the Atlanteans, who aren’t really from Atlantis in this game, that’s just the name of one of their Earth cities and also a bastardization of their own name for themselves. Semi-immortal humanoids, they are secretly the original progenitors of humanity and now lurk in the fringes, mainly concerned with high-stakes deadly games versus each other. This section is a mixed bag, there’s a lot of interesting stuff here mixed with some details which I found somewhat dubious. The time spans involved seem overly huge for anything as cohesive as this as a culture, for example.

Next up we get the Greys, who represent your typical “UFO visitor” (including references and reasons for cow mutilation!). Here they are given the twist of being originally aquatic, which is a bit strange but at least gets points for originality. They are highly psionic, and have come to Earth to figure out why the planet is a source of psionic “static” which plays hell with Greys and indirectly caused a major disaster for the race. Again, lots of interesting stuff mixed with some dubious material; again, scale becomes a “huh?” factor, this time scale involving distance instead of time. So there’s some psionic interference coming from Earth, and it’s powerful enough to disrupt a race hundreds of light-years away? Sure, we’re talking about a supernatural effect, but it was still a bit of a “huh” moment for me.

Last there’s the Saurians, an aggressive reptilian race. I originally expected these to be the least interesting, but was proved totally wrong: this is the most interesting segment in the book, the race is much more multi-faceted than I expected, and the reason they went away (and are now coming back), is very cool. It involves physics, which the two earlier race history descriptions tend to skip as irrelevant.

I found the book a bit slow to read through, partly because the writing was only so-so. I can’t really place my finger on the problem; there are few actual spelling or grammar errors, it’s more a question of the text being a bit dry. I would have expected more readability from a book about alien races, to be honest.

In sum, it’s a decent book with three quite detailed and very different alien races. I had some minor problems with some of the details, but there’s nothing here than a GM can’t easily tweak to suit tastes. Naturally enough, Unisystem game stats are included for the example NPC aliens and their gear, so this book should be easy to incorporate into pretty much any (modern-day) Unisystem game.

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