Uranium Fever is the latest release from Stellagama Publishing and is available from Drivethru RPG for $5.99. It is available as a PDF and contains 49 pages; the product is partially aimed at Stellagama’s own sci-fi background ‘These Stars Are Ours’, but the content can be used perfectly well in any Cepheus Engine-compatible / 2D6 SF-RPG background or rules.
The book contains a comprehensive set of rules and source material for asteroid mining operations in space, aka ‘belting’. The book is broken down into four main sections:-
Belting in the 23rd Century
The Belters Career
Setting Claims and the Mining Area
Mining Ships and Hardware
Starting with the first few pages (9 pages) ‘Belting in the 23rd Century’ describes the background and history to mining in the 2200’s using the ‘These Stars Are Ours’ setting. This is a very detailed section and was interesting to read, with lots of information about the miners organisations (with some amusing pronunciations, such as ‘GOAT’ and ‘Tickle’) and how many small prospecting operations came into being. There is even a page and a half of mining slang that is used in 2260!
The belters career section (8 pages) follows the first chapter of the Cepheus Engine rules, but expands on the original belter career greatly. However, for completeness so you don’t have to refer back and forth between books, you are given the complete variant career rules. My favourite part are the new material mustering out benefits; three out of four of the potential benefits are some form of spacecraft ownership, being the 10-ton Kobold-class Gig, the 100-ton Bucca-class Prospector or the Coblynau-class subsidised miner. The latter two you receive a partnership, whereas the Gig is complete ownership. The final benefit are ship shares which can go towards the purchase of a ship. The three spacecraft are described in more detail later in the book.
Setting Claims and the Mining Area (13 pages) – starting with ‘Striking the Belt’, describes the actual makeup of asteroids, definitions, sizes and how to make a claim. Its pretty comprehensive stuff, for example the types of find are broken down into the types of yield and the amount in tons. It isn’t simply a job of picking an asteroid and start mining it, there are all sorts of legalities and this section covers this is great detail.
The final section ‘Mining Ships and Hardware’ (13 pages) is probably my overall favourite section of the book. Here you are presented with some variant ship rules with a rather nice table of ‘ship quirks’ that a spacecraft can acquire for every 10 years of service. Helps to give a ship some personality, I feel. There are three fully-described spacecraft, including deck plans and some lovely 3D illustrations by Ian Stead. You start with the TL9 10-ton Kobold-class Gig, next up is the TL11 100-ton Bucca-class Prospector and finally is the TL11 600-ton Coblynau-class Miner. The latter two are essentially ‘canisters’ in which several decks are located. To back up the spacecraft, the following section is ‘Tools of the Trade’; after all a miner isn’t a miner without a pick or in this case, its 23rd century-equivalent, the TL12 Plasma Drill! However most 23rd century mining is done by automated drone, so you get a page of mining drone specifications. To round off the book, what if the miner needs to venture outside? They’re going to need the right Vacc-suit so this section breaks down some specifications of different types.
Reading through the book, I think the authors have covered pretty much everything to do with belting and space-based mining operations. An ideal use for Uranium Fever would be for solo play, as you could quite easily set things up so that you can run some mining operations and trade rules. Add in a table of random encounters, you’ve got yourself an evenings gaming easily sorted. I can’t think of anything that has been missed as the book is very comprehensive without being overly onerous by introducing rules or information for the sake of it. The original Cepheus Engine rules have been enhanced and the right amount of extra information has made the book ‘balanced’ in all the right places. Along with some very high quality editing and some tasty art from Ian Stead (along with some stock art), this makes for a very fine purchase and useful addition to your games. Highly recommended! I would like to thank Omer Golan-Joel for kindly sending me a copy of Uranium Fever to review.