One of the recent releases by Gypsy Knights Games, ‘Altrants in the Clement Sector’ is a supplement for their ATU product line which is compatible with ‘Clement Sector: The Rules’ and the Cepheus Engine rules set.
Available now from Drive Thru RPG, it can be purchased for $9.99 (discounted to $7.49 at time of writing) as a watermarked PDF, containing 81 pages. It is also available as a heavyweight softcover book for $22.99.
This is one of GKG’s more expensive titles compared to previous releases, so what do you get for your money?
The books overall premise is to introduce genetically-modified humans as individuals that can be part of a game as NPCs. Or if players wish to, create their characters based around the different abilities that are available depending on what ‘type’ of Altrant the player is basing their character around.
The introduction starts with the background on how Altrants came to exist in the Clement Sector, from their original inception as ‘Improved Persons’ created by Chinese scientists in the 2100’s by manipulating the genetic make up of unborn humans. Altrants were genetically engineered to cope with the different environments found off-world. These Altrants were used were it was too dangerous for ‘born’ humans – which essentially means they were worker slaves. A number of Earth nations sought to ban Altrant slavery, which some did achieve. However by the time of mid-24th century Clement Sector, Altrant slavery is still commonplace especially on some of the less-technologically developed worlds.
The next section covers where Altrants are found in the four main subsectors, namely Hub, Cascadia, Franklin and Sequoyah along with ‘The Colonies’. You get a brief description of how Altrants are viewed and treated on the respective worlds of each subsector.
The next section describes the types of Altrants most commonly found; starting with the ‘Achillies’, humans who have been altered at birth to be more effective soldiers. Aquans are Altrants created to be amphibious in order to better colonise water worlds. The Baaz are better at being in zero-G environments for extended periods. Gaishan are the ‘original’ Altrants, created by the Chinese for dealing with low gravity environments such as the Earths Moon. Khailt can cope with the extreme cold much better than ‘baseline humans’. Oskars are the opposite of the Gaishan, in that they were created for dealing with high gravity environments. The Pesoks were created by the Russians who are able to deal with dusty/arid worlds much better than baseline humans. Sirens were created to be sexual partners for baseline humans and are incapable of reproduction. Sniffers are Altrants who have had their breathing capability changed so they are able to breathe atmospheres that would otherwise require a filter mask.
The following section ‘Body Alterations and Altrant Creation’ details ways that characters can make alterations or enhancements to themselves – such feats are possible in the Clement Sector. The possibilities that are available to ‘baseline’ humans and creating an Altrant are explained, based on a points value, cost, time and tech level required. In some ways, it reminded me of the ‘chaos attribute’ tables in the ‘Warhammer Fantasy Role Play Books’, even including one of the old favourites ‘Prehensile Tail’. There is quite a variety presented here and it should present some challenges for players who wish their characters to have such ‘exotic’ enhancements and play them visiting a world that is not used to such visitors.
For those players that wish to play Altrant characters, you are presented with a character generation system, which is an enhancement of the Clement Sector: The Rules process. This is pretty detailed and you have the tools to build a background including subsector of origin, legal status, aging, common names and events according to what ‘status’ the Altrant is. Don’t forget: Altrants can be slaves or live in a mixed community.
The next four pages detail the background of four organisations that have something to do with Altrants, either fighting for their freedom or at the opposite end of the scale intent on their destruction.
The remaining few pages add an additional subsector and world details, plus some additional skills. Artwork is substantially provided for by Bradley Warnes, who has put together a large number of character scenes many of which are based on the Altrant described. There is in addition, a single piece created by Jennifer Leonard and Ian Stead.
This is a very well-written, balanced book in that it tries to describe what it is like to be ‘different’ in the 24th century. Unfortunately the human race hasn’t put aside its prejudices (as in Star Trek) and continues to find targets to isolate and attack. In some ways, this makes for more interesting and hopefully challenging way to play in the Clement Sector. In other fantasy games, the ‘traditional’ good vs evil races are quite easily identified and generally, characters in a party (Elves, Dwarves, Humans) work together towards a common goal such as fighting their way to the dragons hoard. In the Clement Sector, this book gives players the opportunity to explore by playing Altrants, what it is like to be ‘different’, deal with racism and hopefully with a careful referee, give people an appreciation of all sides and membership of a society. The Authors Note on the last page of the book gives some insight into the research process of the book and how by using the book, it can help to enhance games in the Clement Sector. I think that if you simply used the book to help roll up Altrant characters with special abilities, that help the rest of the party to get out of a sticky situation would not be getting the most out of the book and not get full value from it.
For me this is a definite purchase for fans of the Clement Sector that will help to substantially expand the its background. I would like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for kindly sending me a copy of the book to review.