Review: Corefun Studios – Player’s Guide (Solar Echoes)

Player’s Guide
Player’s Guide is one of the core rulebooks for the space opera game Solar Echoes written by Andy Mitchell, Matthew Hannum, and Peter Kuyatt and published by Corefun Studios.
By Aaron T. Huss

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Solar Echoes Player’s Guide is the base handbook for the Solar Echoes core mechanics and a very high-level overview of the setting in terms of the history that has led to the setting’s present day and a look at the different character races. Everything else is core mechanics only, giving the player everything they need to play in an adventure or campaign. While not saying it outright, Solar Echoes is a space opera setting whereas the player characters are explorers or warriors of some type that travel the stars along with a host of others.

Solar Echoes utilizes a roll-over dice pool system whereas a player rolls a number of d6’s equivalent to the character’s base stat and adds any applicable modifiers (including those from skills) in hopes to meet or exceed the given target number. (Opposed rolls use a dice pool where the only the highest die rolled is considered.) The target numbers are fairly static meaning that as a character progresses, they do get better because the target numbers don’t continually increase. The base dice mechanics are very simple and straight-forward. Base attributes are determined by character race and then players choose the skills their character is going to have. There are no character classes and players are free to create whatever character type they want, given the inherent flavor of the character race. The game does include a number of recommended archetypes to help players get started.

As stated, this Player’s Guide provides all the basics and core mechanics. Outside of that and you’ll have to get the Mission Controller’s Guide.


History presents a very brief introduction to the Solar Echoes setting. You don’t get to learn very much, but at least you have a vague sense of how life reached this point.

Player Races is a collection of seven races to choose from. These races are quite varied and I appreciate the alien nature of all the non-humans. These races are definitely interesting and have a great sci-fi appeal.

Character Creation presents all the steps necessary to construct your character. This starts with the defining of the base attributes by character race and following through physique, personality, and reputation. From here you learn about character advancement as well.

Skills is an explanation of the available skills. The list is kept short and definitely supports the sci-fi action and adventure of the setting.

Talents are the things that give your character more focus, defining his or her role. The list is quite long and each talent is fully described and detailed. These are cool ways of focusing your character into a given “profession.” Each talent appears to be geared toward the various types of combat.

Movement discusses all types of movement from the standard to movement across ladders and considerations of balance.

Squad Combat deals with group combat and how your actions and reactions affect another character’s actions and reactions (in terms of movement and physical placement). This also discusses the various options available during group combat.

Observing the World is basically a continuation of Squad Combat with a look at visibility on the battlefield.

Social Interaction deals with the mechanics for interacting with NPCs.

Vehicle Combat discusses the mechanics for all types of vehicle combat. These mechanics are quite extensive and seem more like a miniatures war game than a role-playing game.

Injury and Death deals with damage, damage types, healing, dying, survival, diseases, and conditions.

Hacking the Stream is about data hacking the streams that flow from planet to planet.

Equipment is a discussion about weapons, armor, equipment loads, traps, general equipment, and cyberware.

Terrestrial, Aircraft, and Starship Vehicles is a collection of pregenerated vehicles along with a listing of vehicle options. However, there is little in terms of discussing the mechanics governing these vehicles.

Locations and Organizations is a collection with brief descriptions about places to go. However, without a map it is unknown where they actually are.

Appendix is a collection of quick reference items.


Solar Echoes is a decent space opera system. I can’t say much about the setting as there is little information here in regards to the setting. The combat system utilizes an integrated turn sequence whereas the players and MC act upon and react to each other going back and forth without slowing down. It can definitely keep the game moving better and keep players from getting bored. However, there are a lot of mechanics and it almost seems as though there are too many situations attempting to be discerned in the core mechanics. In other words, too many modifiers for too many situations means too much memorization or constantly referencing back through the book.


Publication Quality: 6 out of 10
Solar Echoes Player’s Guide is a decent publication. The layout is smooth enough, but I was quite let down by the artwork. Each chapter has a two-page piece of artwork leading into the chapter, although none of them seem to pertain to what that chapter is about. Yes the artwork looks cool, but it has little to no meaning to the system or setting. While the cover art looks excellent and really draws you in, the large color pieces inside are let downs. The artwork in the character creation and equipment sections look awesome, and the rest of the artwork should have followed their lead. I also found a problem with all of the sidebars – none of them seemed to be legible. Either the font wasn’t right or they weren’t placed properly, but I really couldn’t read any of them without squinting.

The content formatting, however, was fairly bland; most of it read like a Power Point presentation. Each section has lots and lots of crunch, but there is very little narrative to either fully introduce the section, describe the mechanics, tie the mechanics to the setting or to other mechanics, or to simply give the reader something to read. There was definitely too much crunch and not enough narrative, and the setting doesn’t come through outside of History and Character Creation.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
The base mechanics are interesting enough, but suffer from bloating in some areas. Although the character creation part is streamlined and the skills are kept trim, combat and talents are a bit much. The talents all seemed to be oriented toward combat leading to characters that may be useless outside of combat or at least the game falls short on exciting non-combat encounters. Additionally, a lot of the mechanics carried too many situations for penalties or bonuses whereas too many situations are trying to be compensated for instead of keeping it simple and consistent. Combat, while interesting and designed to keep everyone involved all the time, has a lot of fiddly rules that seem more like a miniatures war game than a role-playing game. All of the combat mechanics appear to be written exclusively with the use of a square-grid battlemap, otherwise they may break down. To me, this could slow things down. I would have preferred to see all the mechanics as trim and streamlined as character creation and skill usage.

Desire to Play: 6 out of 10
The core mechanics for Solar Echoes present an RPG that is interesting and unique. However, the setting information within this Player’s Guide does not; it completely falls flat and fails to present the player with enough information to immerse themselves within the game’s setting. If you want to try something new whereas combat is designed to be more interactive and presents itself as a grid-based system, then Solar Echoes is a great place to start. However, there is very little setting information and you would have to get as much out of it as you can or want to.

Overall: 6 out of 10
Solar Echoes Player’s Guide is obviously a great place for players to start should they be getting ready to play a Solar Echoes adventure or campaign. You’ll have to rely on the MC to provide additional setting information (hopefully) from the Mission Controller’s Guide, but you’ll definitely have no problem making a character. You may have some difficulty plowing through the combat mechanics during the first few sessions, but having a chance to act and react back-and-forth from PC to NPC can make for some excellent game sessions and you may find yourself preferring the integrated turn sequence over the basic initiative system.

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