A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Infinite Futures 2.0

Infinite Futures 2.0 by A. J. Kenning, Ramsey “Tome Wyrm” Lundock, Sean Wilt, Robert Hemminger, Charles Smith and Lance McComber and published by the Avalon Game Company is a revised version of Infinite Futures, which is a total conversion of Paizo Publishing‘s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game to a science fiction setting. The supplement is covered by the Open Game License and therefore some of it is Open Game Content.

The supplement is available as a PDF from RPGNow at the normal price of $14.99, but it was purchased at the reduced price of $1. This is a 366 page PDF, of which one page is the colour front cover, one page is the front matter, one page the Contents, one page is the Open Game License and there is one page of adverts for other Avalon products. There are actually two PDFs, the regular one and a printer friendly version (which is two pages shorter, as it lacks the Open Game License and the page of adverts).

Infinite Futures 2.0The Pathfinder Core Rulebook is needed to use Infinite Futures, and some other Pathfinder books are recommended, along with the reasons why each is suggested. These are the Advanced Character Guide, the Advanced Player’s Guide, the Game Mastery Guide, Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Magic. Ultimate Magic is, going by the description in the suggested books list, the least relevant, especially as magic is not used to any great degree (indeed, it is suggested that in most IF campaigns, magic should not be used). The necessary details from this, and from the other supplements for that matter, are available in the online Pathfinder System Reference Document.

The supplement starts with the Introduction. This may be Chapter 1, or part of Chapter 1, or Chapter 1 may one of the immediate sections following it, but this is not clear, as there isn’t a Chapter 1 listed in either the Contents, the bookmarks or in the book itself. This section gives some of the history behind Infinite Futures, the main changes between this version and the original, the recommended Pathfinder books, as mentioned earlier, and defines the various tech levels.

Origins provides several different origins; effectively, races. The number of different origins is limited to only four in this book, to artificial humanoid, biologically augmented humanoid, cyber-sapiens and Earthling. There is also a random alien generator, but truly alien races are covered in other supplements.

Classes is pretty standard and provides six different classes for players.

Skills is also pretty standard, detailing various high tech skills.

Feats is another pretty standard chapter, this time covering feats.

Insights are what could be considered to be spell-like abilities, although there are differences, appropriate to two of the new classes, Field Medic and Tech. These are Engineering and Medical Insights.

Augments is cyber- and bioware augmentations that characters can have.

Personal Gear is another fairly standard section, this time covering high tech armour, weapons and other equipment.

Vehicles is a section on how to design suitable vehicles, detailing the different factors and technology that go into making them, as well as providing a few sample vehicles of different types, from ground to starships.

Travel and Adventure has various different methods of getting around, divided into different tech levels. It also covers a variety of new environments, and how they will affect characters.

Combat covers actual combat, including new and altered rules appropriate to a high tech setting, as well as some optional ones. With advanced weaponry, combat also has the potential to be rapidly fatal, and this is considered too.

Psionics covers the optional psionic rules for Infinite Futures 2.0. There are two new psionic classes, psionic feats and psionic powers, the later detailed in much the same way that spells are in a standard game.

Game Mastery is for the GameMaster, naturally enough. This covers the different genres of science fiction, as defined by IF, including many sub-genres. There are also some details on different star systems, star types and their potential game effects, then finally a short bestiary of foes.

Infinite Futures 2.0 in Review

The PDF has bookmarks, covering the major chapters and some of the major sections in each. The Contents also lists the chapters and some of the major sections, but not always the same ones. Given the length of the book, and the varied amount of content, this isn’t a particularly comprehensive level of detail. A complete index or, at the very least, more comprehensive bookmarks and Contents, are really required. Navigation could therefore be improved upon.

The supplement has a full colour cover and many colour images throughout, up to full page in size; each chapter begins with a full page colour illustration. There are also some black and white images from a different artist, as well as a graphic repeatedly used as a page fillers, which are also used in other supplements in the Infinite Futures range, both for the original version and 2.0. It’s not obvious as to what these fillers are actually portraying. Whether or not the majority of the images (those in colour) in the book appeal may be down to personal preference; there is nothing specifically wrong with them, but they may not appeal to everyone’s taste.

The layout various between two columns and a single format, sometimes on the same page and often with very little logic. It would perhaps have been better to stick with one layout or the other, rather than swapping between them. Spelling and grammar is generally better than some of Avalon’s products (such as the Arcana series of supplements), but there are quite a few spelling errors and more than a few chunks of duplicated text as well as the occasional missing word or words.

There are references to various races (most specifically the grays, but there are others) that are not covered in this supplement; there is a mention later on that in Infinite Futures 2.0 the descriptions of them were moved to the Races book – which does not actually exist under that name; the relevant supplement is probably Aliens of the Fringe. There is also the Infinite Origins supplement, which provides more races. Although there is a bestiary, there are probably not a sufficient number without purchasing some of the Infinite Threats range of supplements.

The chapter on Insights is divided into Medical and Engineering insights. Some of these insights are the same for each type, and they are completely duplicated for each section. This could have been improved upon, either by organising this the same way as is done in the Pathfinder rulebooks for spells, and only list each insight once, along with which classes can use it and what level it is, or in the duplicated entry referring back to the original.

Infinite Futures 2.0 is intended to be a fairly generic science fiction rewrite of Pathfinder that can be used for many of the different genres covered in the Game Mastery chapter, although some may require some of the other supplements in the range to develop properly. Some of the terminology is rather reminiscent of Star Trek (including a general description of a race that sounds suspiciously like Q).

There are a lot of additional supplements available and Infinite Futures is supported by regular, small releases, covering such things as threats (new monsters), equipment and new classes, and there are also some major sourcebooks such as Cyber Age, Lightspeed and The Fringe campaign setting, the latter of which also has supplementary material. The Fringe is the same setting used in other Avalon products, specifically their miniatures games such as Nova Blast, Battle Armor, Space Armada and Zero-G, which range from ground based to fleet combat. One area that is not well supported, however, is actual adventures. Shortly after Paizo released their own science fiction version of Pathfinder, Starfinder, Avalon published a version of Infinite Futures for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, as well as regular supplements for the new version.

In value for money terms, Infinite Futures 2.0 is substantially better value than the small supplements, which are substantially shorter but not commensurately cheaper. The overall system is a decent and comprehensive rewrite of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game for a completely different setting, and it looks to fit together quite nicely. It’s debatable as to whether this rulebook will stand by itself (apart from the required Pathfinder material that is). Although there are many different options and pretty much everything is covered, there are areas that are only minimally covered, such as the bestiary. Despite the flaws in the actual physical layout of the supplement, Infinite Futures 2.0 is a decent supplement and worth considering for anyone interested in taking their Pathfinder game to a new era.

 

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