Review: Rogue Games – Foundation Transmissions (Thousand Suns)

Thousand Suns: Foundation Transmissions
Foundation Transmissions is a supplement for the space opera system Thousand Suns (powered by the 12° system) published by Rogue Games and written by Gabriel Brouillard, Richard Iorio II, Robert Saint John, James Maliszewski.
By Aaron T. Huss

Foundation Transmissions expands upon the core mechanics presented within the Thousand Suns core rulebook. It presents new tool-kits for creating great new things to add to your adventures and campaigns plus new options for running military-inspired games. These tool-kits coincide with how the game is designed, as a sandbox with plenty of options. While it may sound a bit cliche, Foundation Transmissions is the ultimate sourcebook for anyone playing Thousand Suns.


Moving Through the Ranks takes another look at how a group creates their team of player characters. If you think about the standard landing party in Star Trek, they are not composed of five characters of the same rank. The are in fact composed of multiple ranks and multiple job functions. This section presents mechanics and character creation options for designing a team of characters with differing ranks and job function. In addition, mechanics are created for actual rank names (such as officer or cadet) and a system of advancement. When you think of what a real exploration team would look like in real life, this is how most would imagine it. While this style of play may not be for everyone, as someone has to be the high ranking and others need to be down on the bottom, it is conducive to a style of play that feels more like a movie or novel. These ranks are matched up with levels in the core mechanics for full implementation into a regular campaign.


Not all encounters have to be combat oriented. In fact, large scenes can play out that never result in combat. Sometimes you want to a storyline that focuses on politics, social interaction, or even religion. But what happens when that storyline includes an amount of back-stabbing or manipulation? That’s where The Ways of Scheming comes in. Scheming involves grand plots against another person, group, society, or even the whole world and beyond, from a social aspect (as opposed to military). This may not be the simplest set of mechanics, but it gives a great addition to the game by allowing more non-combat options. Especially on such a grand level.


The Aurigan is a new race for Thousand Suns. They are not ideal as a player race but could make very interesting NPCs. This small section seems to be designed with the GM in mind, giving them a new race to add to their campaign.


Planets of the Core is kind of opposite of the Thousand Suns sandbox, although its definitely valuable material. 19 planets and other bodies are detailed here within a single sector. Each ones is described with profile, type, terrain, climate, atmosphere, hydrographics, gravity, native sapients, government, population, tech level, and brief explanation.


Custom Weapons is the ultimate weapon tool-kit for Thousand Suns. Instead of simply giving you a list of weapons which could go on and on for hundreds of pages, Foundation Transmissions gives you the tools needed to design your own. Weapon characteristics are listed with associated costs and mechanics. This includes characteristics like cleaving, firearms, size, pistol, and revolving barrels just to name a few. You then mix and match them appropriately to create your own, custom weapon. From here the mechanics are combined to give the new weapon its cost, range, bonuses or penalties, damage, and maximum damage. You now have the tools you need to create any weapon the mind can imagine.


Custom Protection is another tool-kit like Custom Weapons, but for armor. For armor, the mechanics are armor value, dissipation, cover, weight, bulk, cost, and coverage. These are determined using characteristics such as material, refinements, and custom additions. Again you are now able to create any type of armor imaginable.


Surprisingly enough, Robots and Androids and not just about adding them to your game, but also another complete tool-kit for creating your own custom robots. These are determined using characteristics such as tech-level, type, size and movement. As before, you can create any robot pictured in your mind.


Lingua Terra is a small addition to Foundation Transmissions defining the language often referred to throughout Thousand Suns. It reads much like a new language reference book and the language has an odd Latin-like influence. It’s quite interesting and can make your in-game language that much more interesting.


Foundation Transmissions is an excellent combination of direct mechanics and tool-kits for adding new goodies to your game. The weapons, armor and robot tool-kits are excellent for players looking to really add their own flavor to the game and the addition of scheming allows you to look beyond combat. For GMs there are pre-generated planets and a new race. For everyone, there is a new look at creating teams that include characters of different ranks, something you would expect a space exploration team to have. It truly contains all the right mechanics and tools needed for long-term Thousand Suns campaigns.


Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Rogue Games has a tendency to create simple books with a clean layout and presentation. They are easy to follow and pleasing on the eyes when reading. Foundation Transmissions sticks to those principals with its high-quality publication and even higher quality presentation. It is the presentation of the mechanics that truly stand out, although the illustrations help as well. Not only is it a great tool-kit, it’s a concise and fully detailed tool-kit that doesn’t require interpretation. There are many possible approaches to take for a tool-kit oriented sourcebook, this one definite took the right path.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Foundation Transmissions is all mechanics, pretty much. Each section contains its own set of mechanics being introduced or expanded upon compared to the core mechanics. The true perfection of these mechanics is how they are put together when using the tool-kits. There are so many options that you may be afraid of bloat. However, everything is presented in a standard and fairly generic method that the options don’t become bloated and you can see how much effort was placed on balance. When creating your own weapons and armor, you want to make sure you can easily match up your description to those of the tool-kit (and thus the given mechanics). Foundation Transmissions does this beautifully.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
If I could rate this higher, I would. However, 10 is the highest so I’ll stick to 10. From the mechanics and presentation, Foundation Transmissions is all value. There is literally something in it for everyone. You want to design your own weapon? Now you can. You want to design your own armor? Now you can. You want to design your own robot sentinel? Now you can! This is the perfect book to be married with the core rulebook, that’s how valuable it is.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Foundation Transmissions is an awesome sourcebook and tool-kit collection for Thousand Suns. It really sticks to the basic principal of presenting a sandbox setting with lots of flexibility. Especially since the core rulebook is filled with tool-kits as well. This is a definite must have for any Thousand Suns player.

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