So you have a lot of questions regarding equinox—about the setting, the rules, and our releases. Here are a few answers! Feel free to ask us any questions by contacting us!
The setting of equinox focuses on the war-ravaged and lawless Sol system and the shattered remains of Earth, now known as the Earth Belt. The characters are restless outcasts and misfits living on the fringe of galactic society. The basic setting considers them being rebels and pirates, encouraging stories with an emphasis on space battles, fighting the forces of evil, and carving out a living on the edge of the universe.
If your jaw dropped while watching Star Wars and you enjoyed the grittiness of Serenity, and the pulp of The Ice Pirates, then this is your game ... on steroids. The characters in this future fantasy space opera game are larger than life, outcasts wielding mystic powers and nethertech relics, perfect Hollywood action heroes playing parts in a fantastic saga set in space in a faraway future. For you and your friends, equinox will be a hell of a ride.
Despite us steering in a pirate-focused direction initially, the vast Equinox Universe combines a wide range of classic science fiction styles and ideas, and despite its inclusion of the fantastic and mystical, provides rationales for many tropes of the genre. Many of the ideas we have incorporated in equinox are quite common in science fiction, and draw from such famous movies and shows as FarScape, Firefly/Serenity, Aliens, Babylon 5, Titan AE, Deep Space 9, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Dune, Pitch Black/Chronicles of Riddick, and others. While the introduction of mystical energies takes the world into the fantastic, these energies obey strict 'scientific' rules and vary in power, depending on location. All this and more combines to make equinox a world that is vibrant and tangible, a unique blend setting it apart from other games out there.
The Equinox Universe looks vastly different from the one those early pioneers saw when they took to the stars. Thousands of years ago, in the golden age of ancient Earth, mankind managed to tame the mayan-predicted mystic cycles that brought magic to their homeworld and colonies. Mankind prospered and excelled at developing their control over the mystical forces, technology, and eventually even a fusion of both.
While it appeared that mankind had outwitted its enemy, their clever manipulations didn't go unnoticed. Billions died when the demons—horrible creatures from beyond hungering after mankind's souls—attacked, raining corrupted death down on the planets, turning every one of them into a living hell, giving way to the overwhelming forces of the demonic armies.
The unexpected attack left Earth and its colonies without a chance. Humanity fled to outer space, and the Sol system was lost entirely, leaving each colony isolated and alone. The mystics were left behind, and mankind watched their greatest achievements fall and their interstellar realm crumble to dust. Their new homes on starships and space stations were the only places safe from the mystical threat.
When the demons and their Shanrazi pawns finally found a way to overcome the void and reached for the stars, the human Consortium mounted a coordinated attack, something thought impossible by the demons and their servants. In this final battle for the cradle of humanity, the incredible energies released also resulted in the destruction of the very reason mankind came back—Earth itself. The Great Netherwar was over, humanity had won, but Earth lay shattered to pieces, pieces left strung along its former orbital path.
Now, just over a century later, and twenty years after a civil war of sorts, mankind once again feels in control of its own destiny. Tensions over the legacy of the demons had turned the Sol system into a lawless no-man's-land. Gateway Station, a giant ring structure allowing Earth's remains to pass through it, acts as a shield and portal between the remaining Consortium worlds, a natural and neutral nexus.
The rest of the Sol system became a hive of misfits and lowlifes, drawing in all those people unwanted in other parts of the galaxy. However, it also became the last, safe hideout for the Vagrants, rebels to the oppressive might of the Consortium—a government they deem to be fascistic and corrupted from deep within.
The Match System does a balancing act between being a story-focused and traditional "crunchy" set of rules. You won't find many tables listing stats for gear, modifications, or spaceships—nor are there many "hard" rules (like how many seconds a combat round lasts, how high your character can jump, or how far he can run). Yet, the list of abilities you can use is quite detailed, there is a combat system with stances, delayed actions, etc, lots of character progression options, and so on. This balance between the rules gripping more firmly and just tossing you out into the open might sound odd and appear contradictory at first glance. It really isn't however.
The Storygame Guide, on the other hand, is purely story-focused. It allows you to play the same game without spending too much time on explaining the rules, or to play on a casual basis with little or no preparation. It represents a "light" version of the Match System book if you will, but really is just an easy system suited for anyone wanting to play without paying too much attention to stats and numbers.
Both rulesets involve the players more than a traditional roleplaying game. Starting with the creation of the setting and the player character group—which happens as a team effort—test results can have a "suitable" narrative effects, provided by the player who rolled the dice—or anybody else having a great idea. The same result could also cause an additional wound on a target or speed up an ongoing action.
Depending on your group, you might need a healthy amount of discussions to figure out the common standards fitting your style of play. How far does a "suitable narrative effect" go? Do we really need to know the exact dimensions of a really big spaceship? And so on.
The Match System provides a rules framework you can use for many other roleplaying game settings. We want you to be creative with it, and encourage you to use and expand the ideas you find in there. For this reason, the text content of the Match System Guide was released under a Creative Commons license (creativecommons.org), specifically an Attribution-ShareAlike license (CC-BY-SA).
This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon the text material of the Match System Guide for commercial and noncommercial purposes, as long as you credit us and license the new creations under identical terms. This license can be compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on the Match System book will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. For the Attribution part, please add the following credit to your work: “The Match SystemTM and equinoxTM are trademarks of Carsten Damm and Vagrant Workshop. Copyright © Vagrant Workshop. All rights reserved. Visit vagrantworkshop.com for more information!” The credit must be easily accessible and visible to your audience. Don’t hesitate to get in touch when in doubt; we’ll be glad to help!
The Equinox Storygame Guide is based on the FU: The Freeform/Universal RPG (found at http://nathanrussell.net/fu), by Nathan Russell, licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). All rules and rules extensions created by us are available under the same terms (a Creative Commons Attribution license, CC-BY). To be able to use this material, add the following text to your and the FU: The Freeform/Universal RPG copyright notices: "Additional material by Vagrant Workshop (http://www.vagrantworkshop.com), licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)." The credit must be easily accessible and visible to your audience.
If you want to develop material for use with any of the books, just contact us! We encourage creativity and will support your work if possible. Again, let us know!
equinox was indeed born out of the idea to create a third setting in the far future of the universe shared by Earthdawn and Shadowrun. The idea came to us when we were working on Earthdawn, back in the day when we were part of RedBrick Limited. Unfortunately, that never came to happen because RedBrick broke apart while equinox was still in development.
There have been a dozen other influences shaping the equinox setting to what it is, however. If you look closely, you'll find equinox could still be a possible future—even though the games don't share anything else. The same could be said about other games—FFG's Fireborn, for example, could be a modern-day version of Earthdawn.
The Equinox Storygame Guide is based on the FU rules, which are fairly generic. The original FU rules contain a number of ideas of what can be done with them and how they can expanded. There is no real depth to the ruleset, it doesn't feature campaign play, has no artwork, no sample creatures, no world description, etc. The basic FU rules leave that to you. We adapted these ideas (and included a few new ones) to meet the specific requirements of the equinox setting. There was a lot to consider and play with, to say the least.
Here's one example: in the generic FU, you can spend FU Points to "use stunts and powers," along with a suggestion of what these could be in the same sentence. That's it—there are no practical examples, or even lists to choose from. In the Equinox Storygame Guide, we actually developed what these are and how you can learn them—these are your powers and spells connected to a variety of Mystic Paths and so on.
The main addition to the ruleset is the advancement system, enabling you to play a campaign and allowing your characters to grow. There are a couple of other additions and changes as well, but the point that drove us here is that equinox is a game of options. There are countless choices to build and advance your character with—Paths, Powers, Spells, Relics form the core of the equinox game experience. The Equinox Storygame Guide features the same abilities as the Match System, but featured broader descriptions. Still, all this adds up to fill a lot of pages.
Last but not least, the Equinox Storygame Guide features a chapter on setting creation, guiding you and your group to create the underlying groundwork for your adventures—locations, threats, important personalities, and much more—which gives you and your group a heap of story- and adventure hooks to play with.
The Freeform/Universal RPG is a generic set of roleplaying game rules created by Nathan Russel at Peril Planet. It allows you to create interesting characters very quickly. Its resolution mechanic is story-oriented, pushing towards interesting narrative with Yes and / Yes but / No but / No and results. In FU, only players roll the dice, leaving the gamemaster free to plot their doom!
The FU rules are easily modified and hacked, which we did to capture the equinox experience. We also expanded the ruleset to allow for setting creation, character advancement, and campaign play, and changed some of the terminology to fit!
The dice mechanics in the Equinox Storygame Guide deviate from the original FU core mechanics. That's because the original rules feature a more extreme alteration of the success chance. Rolling only the main die gives you a 50% chance of success. The first bonus die has a lot more weight there, increasing the chance of success by 25%; the first penalty die lowers it by 25%, and so on. Additional bonus or penalty dice have less extreme effects.
In the Equinox Storygame Guide, the first beneficial bonus die increases this chance by roughly 15%, the second roughly by another 10%, and so on. Penalty dice decrease the chance of success by similar amounts. The chance to score matching bonus or penalty dice is also about 10%. It pays having the right tags ready, doesn’t it?