I got to play River of Heaven, the Guns of Olympus Mons, at Winter Con 2020 at Fanboy3 in Manchester last weekend just gone. On a personal level, it was great to play in a game with Jon Ossoway, a man who knows his Sci-fi troupes inside out. As a publisher of River of Heaven, it was great to be playing the game with John and seeing exactly how it ticks with the author playing it.
The set up was simple and direct. The Renoucers, a sort of Fascist Luddite paramilitary movement who are out to stop the rise of AI, had taken over a military base on Olympus Mons, which a huge extinct volcano on Mars. Since said base controls the planet’s defence grid, our team of Marines were going in hard and fast using drop-pods to take it out. So cue a fast-paced military-techno-thriller, with much sneaking about, hacking into systems, taking out guards from a distance, as well as the all-out firefights you’d expect. John had included some hooks in the character’s backgrounds which led to some great roleplaying from the players, so it wasn’t all grunts-n-gunplay. I had fun ‘weapons-testing’ the power armour and a quite frankly scary array of guns and grenades our characters were equipped with. My favourite one was the Smart Grenade, which can be programmed to have a delayed explosion (“Hey Google, set explosion for 30 seconds after impact”) and to only go off when near actual combatants, not say, civilians
The best thing of all was that it felt like we were in a distinct Sci-fi universe, not a cheap knock off Star-Wars, Star Trek or Aliens.