Emissary Lost is the first in the three-part Mercy of the Icons campaign for the Coriolis: The Third Horizon roleplaying game by Free League Publishing (reviewed here). The Last Voyage of the Ghazali, a separate scenario for Coriolis: The Third Horizon, acts as the campaign’s prologue.
The Mercy of the Icons campaign is epic, in every sense of the word. The first volume in this trilogy includes two three-act scenarios and is over 230 pages long. The first scenario is focussed on a hunt for kidnappers throughout the Coriolis station, whilst the second descends onto the planet that it orbits and finds characters pitted against a special force’s hit squad. The ramifications of these scenarios will have colossal repercussions for the third horizon.
One of the reasons that Emissary Lost is so huge, is that it includes everything a games master (GM) will need to run the campaign. It makes no assumptions of how experienced the GM may be or any prior knowledge of the game. Essentially, Emissary Lost could be run by a GM as their very first storyline in the Coriolis universe.
However, although Emissary Lost acts as a perfect introduction to the Coriolis station and the planet of Kua, the events of the campaign will have a much greater impact after the players have become familiar with the setting and realise what is at stake.
The Mercy of the Icons campaign begins properly with the Last Voyage of the Ghazali. In this scenario, the characters find themselves in a race onboard a dying ship as it plummets towards a star. Whilst Emissary Lost, and the rest of the campaign, can be easily played without first playing this prelude, the Final Voyage of the Ghazali adds context to the campaign. Furthermore, the events that the player characters will find themselves in directly lead into the Mercy of the Icons campaign.
One of the greatest things about Emissary Lost is that it is not just a series of combat encounters, but requires significant investigative work and social interaction by the player characters. These can vary from conversing with the social elite of Coriolis, to navigating the criminal underbelly of the station. Each of the characters they meet comes with their accompanying statistics and a portrait.
Like the Destroyer of Worlds cinematic scenario (reviewed here) for Alien: The Roleplaying Game (reviewed here), also by Free League Publishing, Emissary Lost is a complete story for Coriolis: The Third Horizon. However, unlike the Destroyer of the Worlds, it does not have any handouts (be it physical or as PDF), despite several instances of players getting access to new information as a map, email or tablet.
This lack of maps and print outs means that GMs will be forced to photocopy, or print from the PDF, each of the pages that includes player information. However, these images are often squeezed onto a page containing GM information and will require cutting out and resizing to a more easily viewable scale.
A side-effect of catering for all GM levels is that the more experienced GM will find some material to be unnecessary. In creating an investigative-led series of scenarios for an inexperienced GM, from covering possible avenues of enquiry, the consequences of each possible outcome and suggested encounters during each investigation, there is almost a surplus of material. That said, much of this excess material could be incorporated into scenarios created by the GM.
In assuming a novice GM would run this campaign, it seems to indicate that Emissary Lost is designed for equally novice players experiencing Coriolis: The Third Horizon for the first time. However, this campaign would work best with players that have become familiar with the setting and have characters that are building a reputation. In this way, players will be accustomed with the setting and the subsequent revelations become that much more impactful.