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Mikko Karvonen
Nelikymppinen nörtti, joka on elänyt muissa maailmoissa koko ikänsä. Arvostan erityisesti vahvoja hahmoja ja oivaltavaa maailmasuunnittelua.
Nelikymppinen nörtti, joka on elänyt muissa maailmoissa koko ikänsä. Arvostan erityisesti vahvoja hahmoja ja oivaltavaa maailmasuunnittelua.

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A campaign that has been running for nearly two years had its epic climax on Wednesday evening, with heroes finally got face-to-face with the Big Evil – a human who had struck a deal with a demon that allowed her to shape shift into a huge void dragon. The final confrontation consisted of forcing her into her human form, breaking her connection to the demon, and then finally taking her down.

Photos of the setup at the beginning of the battle and the heroes posing with their slain foe afterwards.
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We wrapped up our third Coriolis session and first complete adventure yesterday. It has been a great, great ride so far - I have rarely seen players so excited and involved after a session than yesterday. They love the setting and the way having their own spaceship, everyone having their personal problems and all that ties a slightly dysfunctional group together. And ending the session with their first taste of space combat clearly increased the excitement. The space combat system may seem bit clunky at first sight, but it does very, very good job in giving everyone a clear role and allowing them to contribute.

To sum it up: we absolutely love Coriolis!

For this group, I have taken the setting more towards the supernatural, lovecraftian horror than most seem to have. The players chose explorers as their group concept and chose patron and nemesis that pushed them towards the weird and strange of the universe.

The first adventure saw them exploring a vanishing moon for their patron: a strange moon that appears for only a day at the time, every ten years or so. They first visited the planet below to hear some of the local stories about the moon. When heading to the moon itself, they were caught by some Darkness Points in the form of an explosion that blew their engine out. They were able to land safely, but had to find some spare parts to get out of the moon before it vanishes again.

They were able to find a pre-portal wars spaceship that was abandoned on the moon's surface. Exploring it, they found that all the databanks and books on the ship had been wiped clean. Soon they realised they were being haunted by a strange, dark spirit: literally half-a-man that was able to attack them both physically and mentally.

After avoiding the spirit and repairing their ship with some scavenged spare parts, they found that the moon was covered in strange fields of energy, reminiscent, but not quite similar to the portals connecting the systems to each other. Around each of these fields was a small ecosystem based on bacteria that drew energy from the fields themselves.

Couple other encounters followed before the characters found an ancient building that was ominous to say the least. They went in, found the crew of the abandoned spaceship in a state of un-death and finally a powerful, dark efreet somehow bound in that place. That was too much for the characters and they decided to run for it. They fought their way through the half-a-man spirit who almost dropped their data djinn with a single attack (crit, lacerated kidneys), and made their escape chased by a small scout ship possessed by that dark efreet.

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There are a number of rather obvious sources to draw inspiration for Coriolis from, but have you come across anything less obvious? Please list also what kind of inspiration could be drawn from it.

I have a few I've been thinking of myself:

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers ( This is not your typical spacefaring action story, but it's a great read for dynamics within a small spaceship crew on a long voyage. Also a great source of inspiration for interactions with AIs.

Binti and Home by Nnedi Okorafor (, Two novellas that explore a really interesting juxtaposition between star-faring technology and traditional, relatively primitive lifestyle and worldview. I'm planning to use this as an inspiration for the more remote ends of Third Horizon.

Numenera by Monte Cook Games ( In addition to being one of the most interesting new RPGs during the past few years, it's a great source of inspiration how to make the universe more strange and incomprehensible, especially when dealing with anything left behind by the portal builders.

Valerian and Laureline comics by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières. Another take on what spacefaring could be like, what kind of strange sights remote planets could offer, and how semi-intelligent races could seem like for humans.

We had our first Coriolis session yesterday and the players absolutely loved it. Rarely have I encountered such eagerness to agree on the next session.

There was once aspect they were unhappy with, though, and that was the dice mechanic, exactly for the reasons discussed here before. It didn't help that that the first impressions were not great: the first roll was something the character was very good at, rolling 8 dice, getting no sixes, praying to re-roll everything, and still getting no successes.

Promising I'd look for alternatives, I played around with the probabilities after the session, and felt that one of the problems is that the probability of success does not scale up well. If you compare someone pretty decent, rolling 5 dice, to someone very skilled, rolling 8 dice, there is only about 17% increase in the probability of success. This does not match our expectations, so the result is underwhelming.

The upside is that attribute+skill, both on 1-5 scale, is a very common mechanic, so it's easy to tweak. One option is changing the type of dice in the pool, and the probability of success from each one, but that does not get rid off the scaling problem. Unisystem would be a super simple solution as it has the snake 1-5 scale and just adds a single exploding d10 on top of it. A third option would be keeping the dice mechanic as it is, but adding a rule that if you don't roll any sixes, but the sum of your rolled dice exceeds some number (let's say 20), you still get one success. This third option would give you an advantage when rolling a larger number of dice.

Busy preparing for my first Coriolis session - our trial starts on Wednesday and I'm happy to say that the players seem already excited for a more long-term venture.

During my preparation work, I've run into two questions I'd like to hear your thoughts on:

1. Salvaging. What's the value of stuff you can salvage from let's say an abandoned spaceship? 10% of the original value? 25%? Assuming a good shape, of course, but not good enough to fly away.

2. Quirky ship AI. To me it feels like making most out of this means giving the ship AI an actual personality. Has anyone had this kind of approach? What kind of personalities have you used?

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A gallery of landscape photos from our recent trip to Isle of Skye (and beyond).
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I recently visited Isle of Skye. Here is a collection of animal photos I captured during the trip.
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Nothing to worry about. Business as usual. Keep going. Remember the debt and refugees.
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