Long before it was a television show and prior to the book series by James S.A. Corey, The Expanse was originally a game. Now, the futuristic sci-fi world is headed back to its roots, thanks to Green Ronin Publishing, which launched a new role-playing game adaptation of The Expanse through Kickstarter earlier this week.
In 2001, series creator and co-author Ty Franck began to develop the world that would become The Expanse. Inspired by books like Alfred Bester’s novel The Stars My Destination, he had begun writing the early sketches of the world for a possible game, and when a Chinese internet company was interested in ideas for an exclusive game for its users, he developed it as a potential MMORPG.
That online game never went anywhere, but he recycled his extensive notes and put them to work as the basis for an online post-to-play RPG and an in-person game that drew in the likes of George R.R. Martin and his later collaborator, Daniel Abraham. Those two game sessions eventually formed the underpinning of the first novel of the series, Leviathan Wakes. The online group played as the crew of a spaceship that had been destroyed, while Martin and Abraham’s group played as detectives on Ceres.
The events of the first novel were directly inspired by RPG gaming sessions
The series has taken off since then. Franck and Abraham have published seven of nine novels under the name James S.A. Corey, while the Syfy channel — and now Amazon Studios — have adapted the novels into a TV series. There’s also been comic and a board game.
Green Ronin Publishing acquired the license for a game of its own, which is fitting, given the roots of the series. One of the best things about series is its setting. It’s a world that clearly has a lot of thought put into it, covering everything from the history of the settling of the solar system to how people live in space, which gives players plenty of detail to create their own scenarios. The company has worked on the game for over a year, and after coordinating closely with Franck and Abraham, it’s finished the rules.
Backers of the project can get a PDF of the game book for $20, while $50 will get you a hardcover edition. Additional tiers provide fans with the game master’s kit, and a special edition of the handbook. If you want to check it out before buying, the Kickstarter provides a link to a 40-page sample that people can download for free. The game — which funded in an hour and is well on its way to fulfilling a number of stretch goals — will be delivered in November 2018.