This installment of the evocative Gossamer Worlds-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
So what is The Black? The Black is a vast universe of thousands of high-scifi empires, galaxies-spanning confederations and empires, a realm where terra-forming and faster-than-light-travel are a dime a dozen among the civilized races; A realm where a powerful, immortal space-pharaoh has fleets of black pyramid-shaped ships at his beck and call, each of which can blast whole planets asunder. It is a realm where lobster-like xenobiologists and Nietzeschean centaur-like species abound, where a viral/fungoid psychic infection may depopulate whole planets.
It is a realm of infinite possibilities, only recently subject to the intrusion of the rare magic and teetering on the edge due to this influx – planets slowly plunging out of orbit, wobbling suns – something is distinctively wrong and when literally more than billions of minds far advanced beyond you and me set their minds to it, sooner or later, there *will* be an answer.
Whether it is the cult of those hapless people claiming that there was an original earth, the infections (including helpful guidelines for the DM) or the table is concerned – the Black is inspiring to the point where it can carry a lifetime of games regarding its concepts….I caught myself thinking rather often: “If only this were a full 300+ page setting…” – yeah, this is good.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s beautiful 2-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork consists of a blend of glorious full-color pieces that are absolutely gorgeous to behold.
Matt Banach’s The Black is definitely an inspired high-scifi setting – somewhere between Mass Effect and George R.R. Martin’s Thousand Worlds, the gossamer reality offer nigh limitless possibilities and writing-wise, is exceedingly inspired. That being said, it also suffers from the limitations imposed by the presentation – the sheer scope of The Black may be inspiring, but more often than not, I caught myself thinking that this deserves more detail – ships, tech, hazards, you name it: The frame is so inspiring you can create them yourself, yes, but still – this is a perfect candidate, where more quite simply would have been more: A 32 page gazetteer, a full-blown setting book –either would have been better to detail the vast scope of this colossal and evocative setting. The pdf left me wanting more – and that is a good thing. On the other side, though, there is so much touched upon that could use some closer inspection, it also left me with simply not enough – my final thought on the last page was “Oh, come on – I want more!” What I’m trying to say is that the scope of this gossamer world is too vast for such a small pdf and it suffers from it. My final verdict, hence, will “only” clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.