Q: What is Solar Echoes?
A: Solar Echoes is an imaginative strategic role-playing game involving team-based social play in which you take on the role of a hero. Players gather together and immerse themselves in a science-fiction universe, developing their own created characters as they discover and explore new worlds, interact with alien beings, engage in combat with hostiles, and uncover shocking secrets at the far reaches of space. Solar Echoes is a universe designed with endless possibilities and choices.
Q: What can you do in this game?
A: You can do just about anything you can imagine in this game. You can explore the game universe, develop your own economic goals through trading, buying and selling, customize your own starship and weapons, become the leader of a colonized planet, discover the secrets of the Voidsea, defeat the most powerful enemies in the universe, etc. Rules exist to govern certain situations, such as Ranged and Melee Combat, Vehicle and Starship Combat, as well as Hacking and Dialogue challenges. The Mission Controller (MC) describes the scenario, manages rules, sets challenges, controls NPC’s (Non-Player Characters), and directs the story. He describes how everything responds to the players and their actions. The MC is there to make sure that the players are challenged and yet have fun overcoming the trials he presents. The possibilities are endless. Official mission scenarios are available at RPGNow.com, and creative MC’s can design their own scenarios and campaigns.
Q: What kind of skill system is used in Solar Echoes?
A: We use a broad-based skills system that encourages creative play and makes it easy for characters to have multiple roles in the party, allowing them to contribute in overcoming any challenge. It is nearly impossible in Solar Echoes to make a limited, “1-trick pony” character who can only: fight, talk, pilot, etc. Most characters will have at least 2 or 3 solid roles. No one character can do everything well, of course, but it is also rare for a character to be unable to contribute at all in any given challenge. Each time a character levels, the player gains skill points to distribute and may pick from hundreds of talents to customize his character. Each alien race also periodically gains special racial talents that further expand character options.
Solar Echoes is a d6-based system, where players will roll a number of dice equal to the attribute score of the related skill. The highest number rolled is picked, and then small skill bonuses and talent bonuses are added in. Opponents make an opposed skill check, and the highest number between the two wins. It is a fast and simple system that reflects the player’s skill investments and talent choices. For a simple battle illustrating this system, check out the Solar Echoes Orientation Guide at RPGNow.com, which can be viewed in its entirety or downloaded for free.
FREE Solar Echoes Orientation Guide at RPGnow.com
Q: What kind of initiative system is used?
A: Our card-based initiative system is not actually related to initiative at all, in the traditional RPG sense. The cards are for keeping track of which player has acted already during a particular phase, and this system encourages a more free-flow turn order as a result. The use of Reaction cards allow characters to perform certain limited, interruptive actions outside of normal turn order, which helps players remain engaged at all times through the quick rounds of combat. This achieves greater realism because characters are not completely helpless outside of their normal turn.
Q: How do I keep track of where things are and what is happening?
A: You copy and use the character sheet provided in the Player’s Guide. The MC provides a game board with a typical grid of 1”x1” squares. This game board is either a printed grid or a dry erase mat with a grid on it. Tokens or miniatures are placed on the game board to represent the players’ and enemies’ characters and vehicles. Players use the Movement, Action, and Reaction cards to keep track of combat phases. Tokens can be copied from the back of the Player’s Guide, purchased in gaming stores or online, or various toys can be used if desired.
Q: What are the Movement, Action, and Reaction cards?
A: They are found in the back of the Player’s Guide. They are necessary to easily keep track of each Phase in every Round. Every player should have one of each of these cards. Without the cards, the game can become chaotic and difficult for the MC to run. Using the cards allows the concept of simultaneous actions to occur without having to rely on an initiative turn order.
Q: What is the NEW Reactive Battle System?
A: Solar Echoes encourages fast game play by minimizing the number of different checks and rolls needed to accomplish a single task and by offering players many opportunities to change the outcome of an encounter without forcing them through repetitive challenges. Rounds are designed to pass quickly so players are not left waiting a long time for their turn. Even when players are not Moving or declaring Actions, they still can use Reactions to counter other events, which gives them interesting options that can be used at all times. This encourages players to remain focused upon the game, which in turn leads to fast and exciting action!
Q: What other games and influences does Solar Echoes take inspiration from?
A: Solar Echoes is inspired by a variety of other games and sources. Solar Echoes shares the theme of Shadowrun from the viewpoint of creating a game based on investigation, infiltration, and modern/futuristic combat; however, we spun it around and put the players on the side of the law in Solar Echoes, though their methods don’t vary from Shadowrunners as much as you’d expect. D&D spawned some ideas related to magic, because our Voidsea artifacts are as close to “magic” as we get in the futuristic universe of Solar Echoes. Other inspirations come from classic sci-fi movies and TV series—our “Federation” (the ISU) is simply a lot younger than the one in the Star Trek series and the individual races in Solar Echoes are not yet as trusting of each other. “Burn Notice,” “Covert Affairs,” “Act of Valor,” and similar shows based on spies and special forces were also great sources of information that allowed us to put a believable feel in the game, considering that the authors are not trained spies or special forces agents!