Review: Khepera Publishing – HELLAS

HELLAS: Worlds of Sun and Stone
HELLAS is a complete space opera role-playing game (powered by the Omni System) written by Michael “Aeonite” Fiegel and Jerry D. Grayson and published by Khepera Publishing.
By Aaron T. Huss

HELLAS is a heroic space opera role-playing game designed around fact, fiction, and folklore of Ancient Greece. This is not Ancient Greece in space but rather a completely unique setting where character races, bestiary, gods, and much of the setting’s design derive from Ancient Greece. It is very unique compared to most space opera systems in that it’s very heroic in design similar to the adventures to be had in epic fantasy. This is not a game about exploring the depths of space and encountering unknown beings, it is about your characters being the center of a grand storyline that actually develops around their actions and decisions.

HELLAS is powered by the Omni System, a table-based d20 system where the results of a roll are determined by comparing them to the Omni Table with defined results. A character’s attribute and applicable skill are added together to form the modifier for the d20 roll along with difficulty modifiers determined by the Game Master (GM). Characters are designed to be heroic with an assortment of skills to choose from and a grouping of interesting character races straight from Greek mythology. HELLAS is an extremely unique game system with an exciting heroic version of space opera.


The HELLAS setting is broken into three parts: background, society (the main Hellene society), and space. The background is introduced in timeline format. Instead of using a narrative or picking out the important pieces, the history is given as bullet points (applicable years) on a lengthy timeline. While the timeline is long, the descriptions of each point are overviews. Nothing highly-detailed but enough to explain what’s going on. This seemed lacking to me until I read the rest of the publication. The reason is because the history of the setting is not necessarily an integral part of the adventures and campaigns designed for character play. The history helps define character races, political and religious views, and the information needed to understand how the setting arrived at its current stage.

While there are numerous character races, the only fully detailed society is the Hellene society. They are the dominant species in the galaxy and have had the most influence over their neighbors. Essentially, if you understand the Hellene society, you will understand most of the other societies. There is plenty of detail here including government practices, crime and punishment, general cultural practices, and military structure. Much of the setting and system are designed around these societal principles.

The third and final setting aspect is space: applicable planets and Slipspace. Slipspace is the area within space that allows for interstellar travel at a high speed. Using attached Slipsails, ships are able to travel through the AEtheric material and travel from system to system. Not only is this space detailed, but so is the fluff revolving around ships traveling through it. The second part of space are the planets on which the different races and societies reside. 42 total space regions are detailed.


Character Creation is the heroes journey before they start their actual journey. These are not characters that are just starting a life as adventurers, these are warriors who are ready to rise up to the heights of true hero and shape the galaxy around them. Eight character races are introduced each with their own unique flavor, like the Goregons and Kyklopes. Choosing your race defines the characters racial attributes and skills. Next characters choose their profession with more attribute and skill modifiers. Profession specialties, referred to as Callings, are then chosen giving the character depth. Characters then spend points to further their attributes, skills, and gain talents, turning them into the heroes they are. From here, you have more than just a character, you have a hero that is ready to take on galaxy-altering events.

A simple magic system, called Dynamism, is detailed as well should one be blessed by the gods. And to make things a bit easier, a full character creation example is given.


There are lots of mechanics designed to bring out the flavor of the setting: religion, equipment, and vehicles. HELLAS takes its religious influence from Greek Mythology in the design of the various gods. Each one is fully detailed and the concept of Glory is brought to the surface. Heroic deeds are recognized through Glory which is in-turn recognized by the god or goddess of choice in the form of a character bonus. The more you please the gods, the more Glory you gain and the more bonuses you receive.

Equipment is a very interesting combination of Ancient Greek, medieval, and space opera items.  Currency, goods and services, and personal equipment are quite standard. Kybernetics (think cybernetics) and machina (essentially robots) are included to increase those sci-fi appeals. And of course, in typical space opera fashion, weapons and armor range in technology level. With a bit of a Greek flair thrown in from time to time.

The final setting mechanics revolves around vehicles: planetary and space (although primarily space). A handful of planetary vehicles are listed but resemble much of what you may find the equivalents of on modern Earth. Space vehicles are a different story. There are lots of spacecraft detailed including personal space ships, fighters, transports, capital ships, and even equipment to outfit those ships. There are lots of very interesting spacecraft detailed here to allow you the chance to travel about or get into true space combat.


The core of HELLAS revolves around the use of the Omni System. It is a d20-based table that states what roll results (with applicable modifiers) are successes and failures (including critical and partial). All non-opposed rolls use this table to adjudicate dice rolls. Seems simple enough except that your roll is modified by attributes, skills, and a degree of difficulty defined by the GM. The degree of difficulty generally ranges from -10 to +10. Combat has a number of options available including the standard offensive and defensive moves along with the ability to perform stunts as desired by the player. Stunts give players and GMs the ability to be more creative and dynamic with their combat without being tied down by mechanics. Essentially you match the stunt you wish to perform with an applicable attribute and skill.

In addition to combat mechanics, vehicle mechanics are given (in regards to movement during a chase and combat). This is where all those spacecraft come into play. The mechanics are not extremely detailed, but they are available and can get game-play started.


GM Content is a lot of your standard GM material concerning tips and tactics on running adventures and campaigns including experience points, Glory, and Fate. More importantly, this is where you learn how heroic the characters really are. There are mechanics involving points awarded to the players they can in-turn be used to alter characteristics (not physical) of a planet including affluence, security, religion, and more. This is where the aspects of heroism truly come into play.


HELLAS campaigns are designed to be very grand and span decades of game time. The listed campaign is an overview of the different highlighted plot points that drive the campaign forward. Between these plot points are adventures, also listed, that act as the “in-between” time of the heroes as they continue to alter the galaxy. These remind me of how Savage Worlds savage tales are written and while they contain enough detail, they only consume 1 – 2 pages for each piece with plot points consuming 3 – 4 pieces each. The GM will have to fill in a lot of the details and storyline. However, it gives a full campaign that can be run across many exciting game sessions.


Fantasy is the most popular genre in tabletop role-playing. In fact, there are many fantasy players that just don’t care for science fiction. Most space opera systems contain aspects that these fantasy players simply do not find appealing. Space opera is not typically heroic in nature and characters rarely performing world-altering deeds. Their actions and decisions do not affect those around them, especially the world as a whole. In many fantasy settings, the deeds of the heroic characters are life and world altering. HELLAS bridges that gap between fantasy and space opera without simply turning into fantasy sci-fi. It takes the technology and spacecraft aspects of space opera and combines them with the heroic and life-altering deeds of fantasy. HELLAS could take those hesitant fantasy players and convince them that space opera can be just as exciting as fantasy.


Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
HELLAS has a very interesting layout. The entire book is published in landscape format with a flow and presentation that is simple, effective, and easy-to-read. Some sections have a tricky use of white space due to the placement of illustrations (particularly 1/4 page illustrations). The publication uses a lot of red and orange which get a bit overwhelming when in the form of tables. Other than that, the quality is fantastic with lots of beautiful illustrations. The full-page illustrations are excellent representations of the setting and everything carries that Greek appeal.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
The use of the Omni Table is very unique. On one hand you always know what your ultimate goal numbers should be, getting there could be a bit more difficult. There are quite a few modifiers along with the GM being able to define the roll’s difficulty providing yet another modifier. Rather than the skill check resolution, the heroic mechanics are great. HELLAS introduces Glory to increase your character’s heroic aspect (in the eyes of those around them) along with introducing Fate which brings them closer and closer to death. Test fate and you will lose in the end. It’s a great way of balancing cause and effect along with forcing players to make possibly difficult decisions. What makes the mechanics effective is how they are blended together with character creation and heroic game-play. The Omni System supports this heroic game-play and I believe that is its purpose.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10
One of the most desirable aspects of HELLAS is the uniqueness of the game setting. Not that Ancient Greece is unique, but interpreted in this way is unique. Possibly the other most desirable aspect is the heroic design of this space opera system as opposed to more traditional designs of space opera. The only thing that may deter players is the use of the Omni Table compared to traditional roll-under or roll-over methods. However, players and GMs should be aware that the true power of the system is the combination of the character attributes, skills, and heroic mechanics with the design of the Omni Table.

Overall: 8 out of 10
HELLAS is far from your traditional space opera setting and system. It perfectly blends heroic sci-fi with everything you can think about relating to Ancient Greece in a way that is not only unique but extremely interesting and colorful. It is also an all-encompassing system that includes the standard action and adventure along with space travel, space combat, politics (in a good way), and world altering encounters. It’s difficult to fully understand everything possible with HELLAS without actually seeing it.

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