Sunday, July 10, 2011

Transfinite: Humanspace Design Notes - Responses to DHBoggs

More Humanspace design notes in the form of addressing some questions by DHBoggs from this post.
DHBoggs wrote:

Adventurer –
Should NOT be allowed any psychic ability; and conversely, should be allowed any skill level in other areas. This is going to be a very typical class type featuring a wide range of characters. As in real life, they should not be limited in how far they can progress in non psy, or non warrior areas of expertise. Anyone with PSY ability is (or should be) automatically either a magic user er, scientist, or they can join one of the mystic navigator/astronaut churches, er guilds.

There is no reason a person could not be an advanced geneticist or engineer or what have you and have no PSY ability. In fact I would assume most members of the scientific an academic community to have no psy ability.

Astronaught (cleric) – should be described as members of a guild or better, of competing guilds (churches whatever) where they receive their navigational and Psy training like in Dune or as the “pilgrims” in Wing Commander, and to some extent, the Jedi. Otherwise looks good so far. Pilgrims, if you are not familiar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wing_Commander_(film)

Scientist – please, please consider renaming – maybe Psytechs? Scientist does not work because it will be very confusing to talk about “regular” scientists, engineers and such, without getting them confused with the psy powered “magic user" type that make up the class.
The Adventurer class in Humanspace Empires was based on Glenn Rahman’s Adventurer class for EPT that appeared in Dragon Magazine #31.  Rahman intended that Adventurers would allow for the simulation of heroes of literary fantasy that like Moorcock’s Elric were wizards with warrior abilities or like Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane were warriors with some access to magic. The same philosophy applies to the Humanspace Adventurer and, as such, access to PSY powers seems a necessary part of the Adventurer class.  Further, the skills are not intended to be so vital to the game that access to a wider range of skills would justify the existence of the class.
As the rules are written in the playtest draft, a minimum PSY score of 9 is needed for the use of any PSY powers and a PSY score of at least 12 is needed for the more powerful (higher level) powers. This means that about 30% of all characters would have no PSY powers. I’ve considered raising the minimum PSY score to 10 or 11 which would limit PSY powers to around 50% of characters and revising the Scientist Skills/Powers table to further limit the number of Scientist characters with access to PSY or Super-Scientific powers.  I’ve also been looking at various schemes to give Scientists special abilities that are not PSY related.  Even without these changes, at least 30% of scientists would have no PSY ability. I suppose that my contention in the setting is that, during this period, the goal of science has focused, to a degree, on the use of the mind to tap into inter-planar power sources. 

Although it may be a bit of a stretch, the Humanspace Scientist was partially inspired by Dr. Morbius from Forbidden Planet. Although Morbius was a philologist by training, he was (in the grand space opera tradition) a brilliant multi-disciplinary scientist that embraced the idea that focusing mind powers to alter reality was the greatest goal of science.  Consider also the nexialists from Van Vogt’s Voyage of the Space Beagle.  The Nexialists sought to unify all the sciences and mental powers were an important aspect  of their training.
I definitely like the idea that Astronauts with PSY powers (like Scientists, at least 30% of Astronauts will have no PSY abilities) are members of competing cults or orders and this has been an area that I’ve intended to flesh out for some time.  The Pilgrims of Wing Commander are interesting and very similar to my original conception of PSY powered astronauts in Humanspace but I was not previously aware of them.
DHBoggs wrote:
Drune, are you aware of Dragons at Dawn? I'd be happy to hook you up with a pdf if you don't have one. I think there is a great deal on the Blackmoor boards you would find of interest too in terms of the Arneson/Barker context under which the EPT rules were birthed. AIF also, may be of particular use to you in developing your variant skill system.
I’m aware of Dragons at Dawn but haven’t read it.  Sounds very cool and I’d love a pdf copy.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Russ Nicholson's Regulan

Russ Nicholson, one of my favorite illustrators,  has graciously contributed the above illustration for use in the forthcoming Humanspace Empires rules.  Pictured is a Regulan or Vleshgu, perhaps the most inimical of man’s intergalactic foes.  I have been waiting for a suitable illustration to complete an article detailing this race so look for that in the near future.
The Humanspace rules, like the playtest draft, will be primarily illustrated with public domain science fiction illustrations from the pulp era but I feel that it is very important that some illustrations of classic EPT aliens be included and I would love it if a few were done by artists that have previously illustrated Tékumel publications.  Although best known for his work in the Fighting Fantasy series, the original Fiend Folio and in various Warhammer books, Russ’ art was featured in several issues of the 1990s Tékumel  zine, the Eye of All-Seeing Wonder. 
I want to take this opportunity to ask for additional artistic contributions for this project.  I need illustrations of spaced out Ahoggyá, Hláka,  Hlüss,  Mihálli, Páchi Léi, Pé Chói, Pygmy Folk, Ssú, Swamp Folk, Tinalíya and Urunén or any of the various EPT monsters for the Humanspace Space Monsters book.  Netherwerks have the Shén covered…
As Humanspace is a free, not for profit fan project with no budget, I am not able to commission art but I will try to compensate artists in some way, perhaps with a bound copy of the Humanspace book(s) in which their art appears.
Thanks again Russ!
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