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The Walking Dead RPG studio’s dark reimagining of Coriolis is “The Terror meets Deadwood in space”

They better have deep-space archaeologist Timothy Olyphant.

Coriolis: The Great Dark RPG launch art
Image credit: Free League

Swedish tabletop RPG publisher Free League will give their very first science-fiction title a major overhaul when Coriolis: The Great Dark hits Kickstarter next month. Inspired by dead gods, deep space and life on the lawless fringes, the sequel to Coriolis: The Great Horizon will focus on equal parts wonder and foreboding.

Designed by Free League co-founders Kosta Kostulas, Nils Karlén and Martin Grip, Coriolis: The Great Dark is described in a press release as “The Terror meets Deadwood in space”, immediately catching my interest by evoking two excellent television shows with their own definitions of mystery, danger and delicious set dressing.

The design team directly drew on 19-century polar expeditions and deep-sea divers as inspiration for the exploration undertaken by a fledgling human culture grasping the very edges of explored space known as The Lost Horizon. After fleeing a devastating war, people travel on massive Greatships and plumb the ruins of a long-dead civilisation for resources, technology and valuable artefacts that might just help them survive beyond the reach of galactic empire.

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There’s a strong vein of pulp archaeology to The Great Dark’s worldbuilding, complete with powers best left sleeping and the “Byzantine” machinations of influential guilds who see only profit and power amongst the unknown of The Lost Horizon. Players will explore vast expanses and solve complex mysteries while also skirting danger from within humanity and out amongst the stars.

Coriolis: The Great Dark is a fully standalone sequel to Coriolis: The Third Horizon and will use a version of Free League’s in-house Year Zero Engine that has been modified and grown to support some unique mechanical needs that the publisher isn’t quite ready to talk about. The setting takes place in the same general universe as The Third Horizon, but its setting is purposely shifted well far from the events of Free League’s very first sci-fi title.

It will be interesting to see what lessons the studio has learned from producing Blade Runner, Vaesen, The One Ring 2E, Alien the RPG and most recently The Walking Dead RPG. Free League has crafted a bit of a reputation adapting horror and dark fantasy-adjacent tabletop works, and The Great Dark seemingly fits right in. We also have The Electric State coming up on the horizon and bringing its distinctly American dystopia with it.

Coriolis: The Great Dark RPG launch art
Image credit: Free League

The Kickstarter campaign for Coriolis: The Great Dark will launch on March 19 and fund a physical and digital version of a single core rulebook. Free League will also publish a boxed campaign called The Flowers of Algorab that will launch alongside the core book and can be nabbed during the crowdfunding campaign.

Those creators who are as enamoured with this setting as I am will be interested to hear about the publisher’s new third-party licence that will cover works created for Coriolis: The Great Dark and RPG predecessor The Third Horizon RPG. The license says "all creators will have an irrevocable, worldwide, and royalty-free right to freely create, produce, and sell content and expansions for both games and their settings." More information will be available on Free League’s website in the near future.

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