Metatopia 2018 Report – Part 5: Pillar of Fire

Per usual with all Metatopia recaps, everything presented here is based on playtest material and not final published versions.

Day 2

Pillar of Fire by Cam Banks/Atlas Games

Presented by Cam Banks

Pillar of Fire playtesters
Around the table: Rob, Ronald, Corey, Beth, Julian, and Cam. On the table: Swedish fish.

As a Cam Banks fan, I've been hearing about Pillar of Fire for a while now, but this is the first time I've played it, let alone really learned anything about it. It is very setting-heavy and also boasts a custom system, so it was a standout for me in that I don't have much to relate it to for reference.

The setting is far-future sci-fi rife with genetic manipulation and artificial intelligence with a large dose of political intrigue and scientific-spiritual exploration. Humanity is governed by a number of different Houses whose members focus on particular aspects of society. Character templates are different combinations of three different factors: the brand of genetic manipulation that led to the character's biological characteristics, the House or Houses that influenced the character's upbringing, and the nature of the character's soul, which in this setting is a quantifiable factor stemming from the stellar system of their birth.

The mechanics of the game were very interesting to me. It's based on a d6 pool, and the pass/fail mechanic is a sum vs. target number kind of deal. What's interesting, though, is that the roll also contributes a kind power point currency that allows players to use their special powers, and the mechanics are such that individual dice in the pool will either contribute to a successful check or grant power points for the future, but not both. I found it very neat!

In particular for this session, we were testing a kind of extended task/group mechanic, so we forewent checks for individual tasks in favor of...basically each character contributing successes to a group pool in order to get a large task accomplished. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on in this game, so this is another one I'm eager to see in its final form. It'll eventually make its way to Kickstarter as well, so if you're interested in being notified, you can sign up with an email address here.

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