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Minireview: The Conspiracies Sourcebook (Conspiracy X 2.0)

The Conspiracies Sourcebook is a sourcebook for Conspiracy X, second edition which provides an overview of several “conspiracies” in the game world, mainly Aegis (the default PC organization) and NDD (the default “bad guys”), along with a bunch of other smaller players. As far as I can figure out, it’s a combination of slightly modified reprints from 1st edition sourcebooks, along with a bunch of new material. It’s pretty good; there’s a lot of info here and much of it should be useful for anyone running this game, and I suspect many of these groups could be lifted whole from this game into some other “modern conspiracy” -type game with only minor modifications. Probably the best part – at least the interesting, to me – was the listing of several smaller cults and groups, along with info on how to construct your own.

As with the other books in this series, this is a dense book; the font is quite small and the pages thin, so the book ends up being a lot more hefty than it looks based on outside appearance. This is not a bad thing, but it’s not exactly quick, light reading. The writing is decent, quite good in some places and more plodding in others (probably due to different writers and/or sources). Art is the same as with previous books, sparse but decent enough.

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Minireview: The Paranormal Sourcebook (Conspiracy X)

The Paranormal Sourcebook is the latest sourcebook in the (new) Conspiracy X line. Like the previous sourcebook, it was funded via Kickstarter and did quite well. Also like the previous sourcebook, much of this book has lain in Limbo for ages waiting for a way for Eden to publish it – and now, with Kickstarter, it has finally seen the light of day.

As the title implies, this book describes the paranormal aspects of the game setting, divided into three section: psychic powers, magic and “cryptozoology” (i.e. weird critters). Much of this book is “crunch”, since it contains descriptions and mechanics for all sorts of weird powers. We get discussion on the “Seepage” phenomenon, and how psychic powers and magic interact (and don’t). There’s also some talk about Corruption, and some of the results (Vampires, Werewolves and such, in this game). The last chapter on cryptozoology is a bit of a sideline, but ties in with the two main topics due to some of the creatures in question having access to psychic powers and/or magic.

Overall, it’s a dense package of system into for the new Conspiracy X game. Pretty much essential stuff if you intend to run the game, since the coverage of these powers in the core book is quite skimpy.

Of course, there’s the old “why use this?” system, since there are other competing systems in the “modern day conspiracy/supernatural” genre, with the World of Darkness being the biggest and most direct competitor. There’s really no simple answer to that; this is no WoD clone (the links to X-Files are a lot clearer), and it runs a totally different system (Unisystem). It comes down to which system you like, and which system provides a “feel” that’s closer to what you want. Conspiracy is “lean and mean” compared to WoD, which can be a plus. Also, there are aliens in this setting, which can have a big effect on your game.

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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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