Add new comment | Casual Game Revolution

Add new comment

Spark Sun

A world bound together by spark, contracts that cannot be broken, and a creator that is beginning to resent the growing power of those who control the spark — will you survive?

Currently on Kickstarter, Spark Sun is a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Setting & Supplement that introduces players to a whole new world and power system. While Dungeon and Dragons is not a casual game, and Spark Sun doesn’t change this fact, it is still an engaging and interesting world to visit for those interested in role-playing.

Gameplay

The core concept at the heart of Spark Sun is spark. Spark is the source of all life in the universe that Spark Sun is set in. Players take on the roles of manipulators, who can manipulate the spark to create powers. Powers are used in the game rather than magic, they create special effects when used, and you spend energy points to use them. Players have a set number of energy points based on their level, and energy points are replenished after long rests.

A key concept to this world is spark contracts. Only a specific class can write these but they are at the heart of making the world tick. They are contracts, signed by two consenting parties, that can involve any agreed-upon terms, an artificial intelligence. These contracts are incredibly powerful and are behind most of the society.

The world players will be questing in is a continent on a planet with a mostly early medieval level of technology. There are all-new races and classes to choose from for creating your character, all of which are connected to spark in different ways. As players level up, they level up in their race as well as their class, unlocking new race abilities as they go.

Players will also receive renown points. The game master can award these at the end of quests, but also for smaller role-playing moments or for completing specific tasks. There are certain abilities players can spend renown to perform, such as adding plus one to an attack or gaining advantage on a roll when attempting to persuade someone. As you spend renown points, you also track the total number of renown you have used in the game, this directly ties into how well known you become and unlocks further benefits.

Additionally, there are clans. There are many of these already established in the world, mostly kept together with spark contracts. But players can also create their own, and recruit members to it. A clan also has renown, and its renown grows as individual members of the clan spend their personal renown points.

When a player reaches zero health, he may choose to gain a trauma condition and remain conscious. Trauma conditions have negative effects such as halving your maximum health or forcing you to lose your ability to speak. A character has to spend five days resting in order to remove one of these conditions. Players can also gain madness effects throughout the game, some temporary and some permanent.

Spark Sun artwork

First Impressions

Spark Sun is detailed, vast, and well-thought-out. Its concept of spark is present in almost every aspect of its design, from your character’s aesthetic and class, to the society, the world creation, and the storylines you choose to play through. Even ideas like the danger of the wilderness outside the city walls leads back directly to the idea of spark. It is good storytelling, as it all ties together quite nicely, while also presenting an intriguing world to explore.

There’s a level-one adventure provided in the book for the game master to introduce players to new elements of the game, highlighting important concepts such as spark contracts and clans. But there’s a whole lot in the book provided to come up with your own adventures, as well. So many locations and environments are given in detail. Pouring over the map and comparing it with the places described is lots of fun. And the world has a fascinating back-story that offers a great jumping-off point for more quests and drama.

Elements like renown are also quite a clever addition, as it’s a way to directly reward players for smaller moments and engage in more role-playing, especially once you bring in the concept of clans, and that they benefit from you spending your renown. It adds extra meaning to your choices as well as rewarding you for simply making them, while the idea of spending renown unlocking things also encourages you not to horde your renown points but rather to just have fun with them.

There’s a really nice range of new classes, each bringing something interesting to the table. We quite liked the range and creativity in the races too, but maybe one or two more would have been nice to choose from. However, the fact that you also level up in your race as well as your class, is a nice touch and brings more weight to choosing your race during character creation.

The madness effects in the game are really fun, and some of them sound incredibly enjoyable to role play. It’s also nice that the trauma conditions provide a way to bring characters back into the fight once downed, while still keeping the stakes real.

Spark Sun, as a supplement, is probably not a great place to start for beginners, simply because you’re now learning something new on top of something else already new — but it is an interesting, nuanced world. There’s a lot of flavor text included in the book to give you a feel of the world, many new items, powers, and creatures to get to know, and there are some great ideas here designed to reward and enhance your game.

Pros: Range of classes and races, the many ideas of the world connect together nicely, a level one adventure to help introduce you to new mechanics, renown and spent renown mechanics

Cons: Not a great place to start for beginners, we would have liked one or two additional races to choose from

Disclosure: this preview is based on our first impressions of the rules and game components, which are subject to change prior to publication. We received a modest payment to write this article.