Here we have what is technically the second faction book produced for the Darwin’s world line of game supplements. I say technically due to the fact that it came out AFTER Metal Gods, which many consider the first of the faction books.
There is no denying the fact that this book was heavily inspired by the Brotherhood of Steel from the Fallout line of games. You have a military organization, which is out to rebuild the world, and has technology that has been lost for nigh almost three hundred years. The organization has powered armor, energy weapons, armored military vehicles, and not to mention the manpower and the technical expertise to keep it running. They even are capable of researching NEW technology!
Now, having said this, it should be clear that I don’t think that using the Brotherhood of Steel as an inspiration is a bad thing, quite the opposite. The author is tipping his hat to one of the best computer RPG’s of all time.
Now, for a chapter by chapter review of the book.
Chapter 1: Foundation History
This was my favorite part of the book. It deals with how the survivors of the fall, the 689th quartermaster Company made it through the war, the nuclear exchange, and the trek across the blasted and ruined landscape from California to Arizona and back again, finally settling in a vault and locking it down for almost two hundred years.
The authors provide a concise timeline of the history and the major events that occur from the beginning of the fall, to the emergence from the vault in 2180, to the exploration of the ruined world, encounters with mutants and other factions.
The reason I said that this was my favorite part of the book is because, like Metal Gods, it gives an insight into what caused the fall, as well as gives the GM a precise time in which to start his or her game.
Plus, to top it off, there are many adventure seeds scattered through the history, events that could be expanded upon.
It also gives the reader a clear view on how the whole ideology of the foundation was born and nurtured into its present state.
Chapter 2: Characters
What faction book would be complete without a large chunk of it devoted to playing characters that come from said faction?
The chapter deals with joining the foundation, training (including feats and skills the characters would obtain), how the characters should act when it’s all said and done – through indoctrination and conditioning.
In some ways, it’s almost like 3.5 clerics. There are certain rules that a character has to follow, an actual Dogma, if you will. If you don’t follow these doctrines as they’re set up, the character could find him or her in a heap of trouble, facing expulsion or more commonly execution.
Pretty much all character classes could be found in the foundation, but there are several new branches that are available for a character to take. These prestige classes include the Foundation Demolitionist (make things go boom!), the Foundation Guardian (your typical soldier), the Foundation Road Jock (Mad Max on steroids), the Foundation Scout (sneaky infiltrators and spies), the Air Jock (Tom Cruise wannabes), and finally the Foundation Paladins (the elite arm of the military.
As with all books that deal with Character creation, this book has a number of feats that are available to Foundation characters, of which these could quite easily be adapted into other campaigns and systems. They’re pretty much all oriented to combat and military endeavors, but what would you expect? The Foundation is a military driven organization!
The chapter also covers the Hierarchy of the faction, and what privileges each particular ‘rank’ is entitled to. This doesn’t just cover the military arm, but the scientists (scribes) as well.
To further enhance the feel of this being a military organization, there is a section that covers medals and other awards that can be gained by its members.
The chapter is rounded out by a couple of pages covering the history of various regiments that are scattered across the wasteland. As with the first chapter, this was my particular favorite portion of the character generation, giving insight into the various regiments and what they are famous (or infamous) for having accomplished.
Chapter 3: The core
This chapter deals with the various research branches that the Foundationists are working on, and their priority. It covers everything from power generation to weapons research to food production and even space travel.
Each section is richly described in what they’re doing in regards to research, how high it is on the list of priorities and gives the reader a glimpse into potential adventures that could be created in the Foundations search to accomplish each of these projects. To top it off, each research project lists what key Foundationist base is working on it.
Another branch that is covered is the Foundationists Eugenic’s program. I personally feel this section should have been covered in the Character chapter, but I guess due to the nature of the program it was better suited to be where it’s located. It allows the player to create and play the role of a ‘Super sapiens artificialis’, complete with ‘mutations’ that only one of these new humans possess. That is, if the GM would allow a player to take one of these characters. They’re essentially mutants without the drawbacks of defects.
This section also briefly touches on cybernetics and the impact they have in the Foundation ranks. There is also a section devoted to new weapons, vehicles, powered armor, and robots.
The entire section is a rich addition to the Darwin’s world setting, showing just how powerful and dangerous the foundation is, and what they are capable of in the future.
Chapter 4: Fortresses and Outposts
My second favorite part of the book. This encompasses all the various installations that are controlled by the foundationists, including a history of each, how many personnel are stationed at the location, and what resources are available. Full color maps are available showing not only the exterior, but in some cases a overview of the interior, each section numbered so the reader can easily discern what is located and where.
Rounding out the chapter is a list of bases and facilities that remain known, but essentially untouched for various reasons by the foundation. All of these are what I would consider to be adventure seeds that a GM with a little elbow grease and a whole whack of imagination could turn into full fledged campaigns.
Chapter 5: Factions
This chapter covers the various factions within the foundation, as well as the splinter groups that formed during the revolt, which was described in Chapter one. It covers major NPC’s that are an integral part of the foundation, as well as the NPC’s that make up the leadership of the Revenants and the Dark Paladins.
Also covered in this chapter are the various factions described in the Darwin’s World 2nd edition hardcover, and the relationship the Foundation has with each (if any, that is).
Now, as the reader can tell, I really enjoyed this book. I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on the Foundationist/Metal Gods book when it comes out in December, as it would make a beautiful addition to my game book collection.
Overall, this book is in my humble opinion, the best book that has been put out to date for Darwin’s World. The GM is presented with a virtual gold mine of information and adventure seeds, and all the information he or she would need to run a campaign based on the Foundationists, who could quite well end up rebuilding the nation in their own image, given luck, technology and skill.
I would love to play a character in this organization!
5 out of 5