HELLAS is an epic space opera whose setting is based on Hellenic Greece. The players take on the roles of heroes striving to fulfill their destinies while avoiding falling into hubris. The juxtaposition of Greek mythology and space opera is not something that is easy to blend but Mr. Grayson does it and makes it look easy.
The mechanic at the heart of the system is fairly simple. A player states his intention when taking an action. This action is given a degree of difficulty ranging from positive to negative with positive numbers noting things that are easy to accomplish. A Character’s skill rating or attribute is added to the degree of difficulty along with the result of a D20 roll. The result is then compared to the result table to determine degree of success which ranges from critical failure to critical success. A very simple system with a wide array of possibilities for both player and gm alike.
The prize of HELLAS is the setting. I have been a fan of Greek mythology and Greek and Roman history since elementary school. When these things are taken and spun into a space opera the results are magnificent. The first part of the book is spent giving you the history of Hellene space. It is done in a timeline format with asides scatter throughout providing nice plot hooks to allow you play in any part of the history if you so choose though the actual time frame for the game is set in the end of the Fourth age. The races are wonderful adaptations of things from Greek mythology. My favorite are the Zintar which are the centaur analogs for the setting. They are a cephalopod race that have the innate ability to integrate with technology. They have various cybernetic bodies ranging from the required horse-form to more useful ground vehicles. They are most adept at piloting spaceships as they are capable of directly integrating with the ship. In addition to the Zintar, there are Nymphas, Kyklopes, and Amazorans to name a few of the races plucked from mythology and adapted to a space opera. In addition to these races, Greek mythology is further integrated into the setting by bringing in the gods and adapting them for a space fairing setting. My favorite detail in this regard are the temple moons. Each of the gods in the setting has a moon dedicated to their worship which fits well within how I’ve always viewed the Greek pantheon.
The book itself is a joy to behold. It is 342 pages long and full color throughout. The art throughout the book is lavish and well done. Each chapter is introduced with a piece of short fiction that ties into the purpose of the chapter as well as providing an ongoing story of the point of view character used throughout the book. The chapter break down is pretty standard for a table top role playing game. you get history, culture, equipment, combat and character creation just to name a few. My only issue with the book is that there isn’t a one page character creation guide. I became accustomed to them through my love of White Wolf games and I notice them missing in other books. The character creation sample at the the end of character chapter fulfills this duty ably it is just a matter of preference for me.
This game is well worth checking out. The mechanics are easy to master and allow for great flexibility within a traditional style role playing game. The setting is rich with story possibilities and calls out to anyone with even a passing interest in Greek mythology or history. Give it a try and let me know what you think.