Godstar is a campaign setting for the Cepheus Engine system from Zozer Games. It’s essentially Dune with the serial numbers filed off.
The setting is centered around a small desert world called Aurelia. Aureila doesn’t have spice, but it has the Godstar. The sun of the Aurelian system (the titular Godstar) seems to be a mysterious intelligent entity that serves as an oracle – handing out advice and information as it sees fit. This makes Aurelia the most important world in the universe.
No explanation is provided for the nature of the Godstar. Presumably the GM can keep it mysterious, or come up with their own explanation.
The various great houses of the Million Sun Empire jockey for position and scheme to control Aurelia. The crater cities teem with mercenaries, spies, and cultists.
In place of the fremen, Aurelia has the Utani, or Sand Men who dwell in the deep desert.
In this setting, most civilized people have access to repulsor belts: a personal force field that fends off all ranged weapon attacks, but are vulnerable to blades. As a result, much of the combat is likely to be melee.
What’s in the Book?
Here’s a list of the highlights of the 89 page book:
- The history & geography of Aurelia
- A list of all of the settings’ factions. The factions can be used as employers or adversaries for the players. Each faction has stats just as characters do. These determine how powerful each faction is and its capabilities. You can roll using the faction stats to decide whether a faction can or will carry out a particular action. If the players work for a faction they can raise or lower the stats through their adventures.
- Character generation rules. These modify the regular Cepheus Engine rules to match the setting. They include new rank names for careers, skill modifications, and benefits. There’s an alien race, the gaugamelans, available for players.
- There’s one new career: Priest. Priests in Godstar have access to the Way of Karam, magical powers provided by the Godstar itself.
- The Way of Karam is essentially a simple psionics system. It consists of two skills, Telepathy and Awareness. Each has a list of powers provided.
- The list of weapons, equipment, and vehicles is slight, with only a few Godstar-specific things (sand suits, repulsor belts). Sadly, no ornithopters.
- Since this is a melee-intensive setting, there are some optional rules for melee combat: backstabbing, parrying, spears providing better initiative etc.
- There’s nice little system for one-on-one duels. Duellists make a series of 8+ Melee rolls and keep track of the total Effect. First one to get to 6 inflicts a wound, winning the duel. I’m definitely stealing this for other games.
- Gladiatorial games are part of this setting, so there’s rules about becoming and surviving as a gladiator. It provides a short list of prizes and a description of how the Games are run.
- There’s a section on desert survival rules.
- A brief list of animals found on Aurelia. Interestingly, no sandworms.
- There’s a short list of scenario ideas. They mostly presume the players are in the service of House Pelinor (basically House Atreides)
- Stats for a few major and minor NPC’s .
Generally, I liked this book. It’s a fun little setting with lots of story hooks, and lots of opportunities for intrigue. It’s not a big book, so a GM would probably have to fill in a good number of details to run a Godstar campaign. I had a few minor quibbles:
- No table of contents and no index.
- The art is mostly stock. I don’t particularly mind this in a $8.00 PDF, but a better picture of the alien gaugamelan or the Oracle of Tanukh would have been nice. There is an image of a gaugamelan, but it’s clearly a B&W image of an orc. There are drawings of the various weapons found on Aurelia, and every faction has it’s own logo.
- A sample adventure would have been useful, or at least some adventure ideas not involving House Pelinor.
- Sadly, no ornithopters
If I ever get around to running this setting, I’ll probably also bring in the old 1984 Gamelords Classic Traveller supplement – The Desert Environment. It’s got a lot of fun desert survival rules, that would work well with Godstar.
Zozer’s own Dirtside supplement would also be helpful for desert survival adventures. The Godstar desert rules are a simplified version of the Dirtside rules.
There’s no Godstar-specific character sheet available, so I decided to make my own. It’s A4-sized, fillable, and will auto-generate wound boxes. I went for a Art Deco/Egyptian vibe for this one. I wanted it to look like a form you’d see in Dune (Lynch, not Villeneuve). There are three pages. The last sheet is specifically for Karam powers. You can also import an image. I’ve added it to my increasingly long and unwieldy list of character sheets.
Fun Font Fact: The font used for the title in the Godstar book (and on this sheet) is the Batman Forever font. You now have “Kiss from a Rose” stuck in your head. You’re welcome.