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Tabletop Game / Coriolis: The Third Horizon

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Created by Swedish tabletop developer Free League Publishing and released in english by Modiphius Entertainment, Coriolis: The Third Horizon is a tabletop roleplaying game that combines Space Opera with an "Arabian Nights" Days feel.

Long ago, two seedships left Earth: The Nadir, and the Zenith. They were sent to the world of Dabaran, many lightyears distant. In the years that followed, humanity discovered the Portals, triggering a diaspora that outpaced the two ships. Humanity settled the Horizons, interconnected regions of stars linked by the portals. The Third Horizon in particular became a haven for free thinkers, radicals, and those looking to escape the grasp of the mother world.

Eventually, the First Horizon attempted to subjegate the others. The Third Horizon resisted, and fought off the invaders. Victory, however, came at a cost. The portals linking the Third Horizon to the others were severed by the weapons they brought to bear. And it was into the war-wearied Third Horizon that the Zenith arrived, lumbering out of the void.

Initially confused and astounded that their home-to-be had been settled for nearly 500 years, the Zenith and its crew moved the seedship to the world at the center of the Horizon. There, they split into two groups. One settled the jungle moon, while the other stripped the Zenith, converting it to a massive space station: Coriolis. Reaching out, the inhabitants of Coriolis built a council of many of the factions that held power in the Third Horizon so as to keep peace between the First Come and the Zenith Colonists. Only the Syndicate and Nomad Federation declined membership. From a nearby gas giant emerged the mysterious Emissaries, who demanded, and were granted, a seat on the council.

But the Third Horizons is by no means at peace. Tension between the factions remains constant, and the Emissaries themselves have brought a conflict of their own. And into this enters the player characters...

Tropes in Coriolis: The Third Horizon include:

  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Is noted as being an inspiration for the setting's feel. It's also notable in some of the terminology- intelligent computer systems are referred to as Djinn in-universe, for example.
  • Big Dumb Object: Early explorers on the jungle planet Kua found a gigantic alien structure called The Monolith. It has since been turned into the capital of the aristocratic Zenethian Hegemony.
  • Black Box: Averted and played straight all at once: The portals' exact nature isn't quite understood, but according to the Artifacts & Faction Tech supplement some of the energy fields that create portals apparently are. However, the Consortium scientist leading the research died when his attempt at creating a portal imploded. The Consortium managed to stabilize the field later, creating the particularly nasty One-Dimensional Blades for their special operations groups.
  • Dark Is Evil: Played straight both in-universe and out. The Dark Between Stars is the antithesis of the Icons in-universe, and it provides the name to the Dark Points that the GM can use to mess with players.
  • Fantastic Racism: Humanites regularly face persecution, while aliens are known as "semi-intelligences" and are treated like animals despite having language and tribal societies. Players who want to play semi-intelligences are recommended to have a human PC "own" them, at least when on civilized planets or Coriolis.
  • Global Currency: Birr, though it’s technically an abstraction of several local currencies.
  • Human Subspecies: Humanites are the genetically modified version, comprising roughly 10% of the Third Horizon's population. Examples include the aquatic Nerid, pheromonally-socialized Sirb, and desert-adapted Xinghur. There's also unsubstantiated rumors that the nekatra are actually humanites spliced with lupine genes by the Legion.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Played with. While functionally inverted in that the Portals are less dangerous than trying to traverse the Dark Between Stars, that doesn't mean the Portals are safer. Whatever energy fields allowing Portals to function aren't compatible with conscious humans (being awake is stated to be suicide and will require making a new character), meaning that being a Human Popsicle is a requirement for Portal travel.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: The sapient aliens in the setting, known as "semi-intelligences", are described in zoomorphic terms. The nekatra are like Savage Wolves, skawara are compared to badgers, ekilibri like meter-tall lemurs, and desdemodu seem like enormous tapirs with two giant horns on their heads.
  • Lightspeed Leapfrog: Happened to the Zenith in the background, since humanity discovered the Portals after it was launched, leaving it to arrive after the Third Horizon had been settled.
  • Lost Colony: The Third Horizon is a whole region of these by choice, having collapsed the Portals leading back to the First and Second Horizons near the end of the war against Earth's empire.
  • MegaCorp: The Consortium faction is made up of several of these that opted to band together.
  • Memetics in Fiction: Mind Memes are treated like physical diseases that affect the mind, one of the more notable ones is "The Dars' Curse", which makes the infected haughty and arrogant and susceptible to manipulation. Ahlam's Temple is skilled in treating and creating memes with their Proxy technology.
  • Oh, My Gods!: The Icons, the deities worshipped by humanity in the Third Horizon; notably they're almost always referred to as a collective group.
  • Pilgrimage: One suggested campaign concept is pilgrimage, fitting the game's central concept of "Arabian Nights in Space". It functions as something of a catch-all for campaigns that don't fit other concepts like free traders, military, or exploration; with notes that the themes can also fit Space Nomads or a traveling circus.
  • Portal Network: This is how one gets between star systems in the Third Horizon. Who built them is unknown, and humanity's understanding goes far enough to use them relatively safely and what can destablize or collapse them.
  • Powered Armor: Animate Armor is a signature technology of the Order of the Pariah. Its biotech components allow it to fully attune with its user and adapt itself to different environments or attacks.
  • Precursors: A previous civilization left behind the Portal Networks and other artifacts. No one is certain whether they were human or not, and there's times where if it was even just one civilization is is vague.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: Is a game mechanic. Offering a prayer to a character's patron Icon can (at the GM's discretion) net you a re-roll for any dice in your pool that aren't successes, but at the cost of giving the GM another Dark Point to play with.
  • Psychic Powers: Mystics have psychic abilities but using them gives the GM Dark Points, and they are feared and hated by just about everyone in setting.
  • Shrines and Temples: If it's any kind of long-term habitation in the Third Horizon, there will be a dedicated spot to pray to the Icons at. This includes any ship larger than a shuttle.
  • The Syndicate: Is named such in-universe. The Third Horizon's largest criminal enterprise, and a possible faction for players to have dealings with.
  • Transplanted Aliens: The nekatra can be found in many different systems, and so far as anyone can tell they were there before humanity came to the Horizon despite their tribal state. Since then the Legion occasionally experiments with using them as shock troops and they're popular in arenas as well. Skavara and ekilibri are known to be from Arnedo and Kua, respectively, but human traders have exported them to other planets.
  • Wham Episode: The Mercy of the Icons adventure books are massive ones that shake up the entire setting Emissary Lost reveals that the agents of the Eternal Emperor are still active in the Third Horizon, and that the First Horizon isn't cut off as believed to be. The Last Cyclade ends with the Monolith being activated, followed by the destruction of Coriolis itself and a huge shift in the balance of power in the Third Horizon.