Uncharted Worlds is a space opera of discovery and adventure, which explores a universe full of deadly beauty, hostile frontiers, rapacious organisations, and crippling debt. It’s a story-building game where dramatic encounters drive the narrative ever onward, building a solid, memorable universe that’s unique to each group. If you want to pilot your ship across the reaches of space, be the first human to make landfall on alien shores, bring back hard-won exotic cargo, deal with galactic corporations, go toe-to-toe corrupt empires and rebel scum, face down ruthless pirates (or perhaps engage in a bit of interstellar piracy yourself)… then strap yourself in, disengage your mooring clamps and prepare for one hell of a Wild Jump.
Uncharted Worlds is at its heart a space opera. It’s a humanocentric, stylized, operatic vision of the future, full of starships and explosions and lasers and Wild Jumps and space pirates and more explosions. The Rule of Cool is always in effect (if everyone thinks it’s cool, roll with it). Don’t get caught up in the details, be big, bold, larger-than-life, with an epic orchestral soundtrack in the background. One of the principals of Uncharted Worlds is ‘paint in primary colors’: Not black-and-white, but keeping things vibrant and bold.
Uncharted Worlds favors cooperative fiction- and narrative- building, with a conversational gameplay flow. This may be a bit unfamiliar to players more used to the stricter mechanical, number-driven, turn-based systems of more structured games. Here, the Game Master (“GM”) and the players are co-creators of the universe, driving the story forward, rather than oppositional forces. While there are certainly mechanics such as rolling dice and stat bonuses, these are used lightly, to resolve key events and shape the flow of the narrative. Those who are versed in the other games powered by the Apocalypse Engine (the excellent Apocalypse World, Monstehearts, Dungeon World, et al) will find many mechanics and methods in this book quite familiar.
Uncharted Worlds has a number of inspirations, various popular space operas and other sci-fi epics such as Mass Effect, Farscape Firefly, 5th Element, and Star Trek, with bits of Starcraft, Warhammer 40k and Galaxy Trucker thrown in for good measure. Special mentions go to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, and to Mongoose’s Traveller, the game that inspired me to make Uncharted Worlds in the first place.