Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Humanspace Empires GaryCon Playtest Report

School Master here, back from GaryCon! I must say that this is the sort of convention I like: small, intimate, and with an emphasis on actually gaming than on what's for sale in the vendor’s section.

Now, about that HSE game…

For a short time, I thought the game was going to be a complete wash. Since the “Open Gaming” area was far from the main gaming rooms, I didn’t think anyone was going to notice me. I made up some fliers and I got the attention off a couple or teenage boys, but I wasn’t sure that I was going to get enough people interested. Fortunately, my friend Victor Raymond was at the con and was aware of my plight, so he was able to send a few more players my way. Out of all the playtesters, only two had previous knowledge of the setting. We had a party of 5 that created the following list of characters: A Pé Chói Astronaut, a Human Adventurer, a pair of Human Warriors, and a Tinalíya Scientist.

I had created a three-level asteroid/dungeon and created a bestiary of creatures inspired on basic Labyrinth Lord monsters (I think I’ll post them up latter), but “tweaked” to reflect a pulpy sci-fi setting. I didn’t expect to get too deep into the scenario, but we had some fun role-playing opportunities where I hinted on Pariah God cult activities. Due to some lousy wandering monster rolls, we were only able to get in one combat session before a combination of a charity auction and players having to leave for other games forced me to cut it short.

While playing the game the following things came to light :
  • One player pointed out that limiting certain races to certain class levels (e.g. having Tinalíya warriors maxing at Level 8) would necessitate multi-classing. I’m not sure that would really be an issue since there are caps the classes in OD&D, but I thought I’d bring it up.
  • What’s the difference between Medic and Physician skills?
  • One complaint that was voiced by many were the rules for non-human PCs. They didn’t like that you had to have certain stat requirements before you could play a Pé Chói or a Shén, especially since the 3D6 rolls for this group tended to be rather mediocre. Stat requirements make sense for classes, but not for races. I actually recommend a traditional method for creating character races with Ability modifiers (i.e. +5 Strength, -2 Intelligence for alien X for example) along with the “perks” and “flaws” that come with that species.
  • Speaking of developing races, other than being an interesting role-playing option, there is no benefit to playing a Tinalíya. You might as well be playing a weak Con human.
  • I wasn’t sure if we were allowed to buy multiple instances of Class skills like background skills. If so, then I think there ought to be some clarification somewhere.
  • Personal thought: One of the things that I thought made little sense from original EPT was that when your character receives additional class skills upon leveling up, that you had to choose the “lowest” skills had to be bought first? I can see limiting their basic skills to a certain number at the beginning, but I fail to see any justification for making a Warrior learn “primitive weapons (Sword)” or “Primitive Weapons (Axe)” when they already know how to use a Space Sword and/or space Axe. 
That’s all that I can dredge up for now. In the meantime, I’m going to clean up my scenario a bit and unleash it on my semi-weekly AD&D group and possibly Victor Raymond's Madison Traditional Gaming group quite soon.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kingdom of Ignorance: A Hex-Less Crawl for DOOMQUEST (Part IV)

Continued from Part I, Part II, and Part III

Rather than wrapping up this crawl through Ignorance with Part IV, as I had originally intended, and due in large part to the overwhelmingly positive response received, and in no small part to the high time I've had with these posts and in equal parts to the fact that I've only scratched the surface of the voluminous notes that I had previously compiled and to the realization that I've still quite a bit to say about Ignorance, including the addition of a meta-plot for the campaign (a search for the Treasure of the Amethyst Dragon); I've decided to compile what has come before and what is yet to be written within a booklet that will be made available on this site as a free digital download rather than blogging on and on and on about…Ignorance.

I will try to have this booklet finished in the very near future but considering the unlikely contingency that some of you were hoping to do some DOOMQUESTING in Ignorance sooner rather than later, I've included, below, DQ stat blocks for several of the various fiends that might be encountered; though only those of vaguely human-like form that don't use magic. I've still a few things to work out…

Sword: 10 Sorcery: 5 Social: 4 Bonuses/Spells: +2 to Move silently, Athletics, Tracking
HP / Armor per location: Head: 4/1 Left Arm: 3/1 Right Arm: 3/1 Chest: 5/1 Abdomen: 4/1 Left Leg: 3/1 Right Leg: 3/1 Bite (d8), Encumbrance: 20 Move: 60’ XP: 75

Cave trolls
Sword: 25 Sorcery: 5 Social: 4 Bonuses/Spells: none
HP / Armor per location: Head: 9/3 Left Arm: 8/3 Right Arm: 8/3 Chest: 10/3 Abdomen: 9/3 Left Leg: 9/3 Right Leg: 9/3 Tough hide, Huge club (2d8, AP 6 HP 12), Encumbrance: 50 Move: 56’ XP: 270

Children of the Maize
Sword: 10 Sorcery: 5 Social: 4 Bonuses/Spells: +2 to Move silently, Athletics, Tracking
HP / Armor per location: Head: 4/0 Left Arm: 3/0 Right Arm: 3/0 Chest: 5/0 Abdomen: 4/0 Left Leg: 3/0 Right Leg: 3/0 Bite (d8), Encumbrance: 20 Move: 60’ XP: 75

Ignorant bandits
Sword: 10 Sorcery: 8 Social: 7 Bonuses/Spells: +2 to Move silently, Tracking
HP / Armor per location: Head: 4/2 Left Arm: 3/0 Right Arm: 3/0 Chest: 5/2 Abdomen: 4/2 Left Leg: 3/0 Right Leg: 3/0 Leather cap and jerkin, sword (d8, AP 6 HP 12), short bow (d8) Encumbrance: 13 Move: 53’ XP: 100

Ignorant city folk
Sword: 7 Sorcery: 8 Social: 6 Bonuses/Spells: none
HP / Armor per location: Head: 3/0 Left Arm: 2/0 Right Arm: 2/0 Chest: 4/0 Abdomen: 4/0 Left Leg: 3/0 Right Leg: 3/0 knife (d4, AP 4 HP 8), Encumbrance: 14 Move: 60’ XP: 80

Ignorant savages
Sword: 10 Sorcery: 5 Social: 4 Bonuses/Spells: +2 to Move silently, Tracking
HP / Armor per location: Head: 4/0 Left Arm: 3/0 Right Arm: 3/0 Chest: 5/2 Abdomen: 4/2 Left Leg: 3/0 Right Leg: 3/0 Furs and skins, War Club or spear (d8, AP 4 HP 8) sling or blowgun (d4), Encumbrance: 17 Move: 57’ XP: 100

Ignorant thieves
Sword: 9 Sorcery: 6 Social: 5 Bonuses/Spells: +2 to Move silently, Picking pockets
HP / Armor per location: Head: 3/2 Left Arm: 2/0 Right Arm: 2/0 Chest: 4/2 Abdomen: 3/2 Left Leg: 2/0 Right Leg: 2/0 Leather cap and jerkin, long knife (d6, AP 4 HP 2), sling or blowgun (d4) Encumbrance: 15 Move: 57’ XP: 90

Ignorant villagers /farmers
Sword: 9 Sorcery: 6 Social: 5 Bonuses/Spells: none
HP / Armor per location: Head: 3/0 Left Arm: 2/0 Right Arm: 2/0 Chest: 4/0 Abdomen: 4/0 Left Leg: 3/0 Right Leg: 3/0 Club, pitchfork or spear (d8, AP 4 HP 2), Encumbrance: 14 Move: 58’ XP: 80

When awful darkness and silence reign
Over the great Gromboolian plain,
Through the long, long wintry nights; --
When the angry breakers roar
As they beat on the rocky shore; --
When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights
Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore: --

Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
There moves what seems a fiery spark,
A lonely spark with silvery rays
Piercing the coal-black night, --
A Meteor strange and bright: --
Hither and thither the vision strays,
A single lurid light.

Slowly it wander, -- pauses, -- creeps, --
Anon it sparkles, -- flashes and leaps;
And ever as onward it gleaming goes
A light on the Bong-tree stems it throws.
And those who watch at that midnight hour
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as the wild light passes along, --
"The Dong! -- the Dong!
"The wandering Dong through the forest goes!
"The Dong! the Dong!
"The Dong with a luminous Nose!"

-from Edward Lear’s “the Dong with a Luminous Nose”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kingdom of Ignorance: A Hex-Less Crawl for DOOMQUEST (Part III)

Gazetteer of Ignorance
 Continued from Part I and Part II.

The Shan Shan Mountains are a range of magnificent, nearly impassable peaks, lying between the Wastes to the west and Kralorela and Chern Durel in the east. The Kingdom of Splendor maintains impregnable iron forts in the mountain passes to guard against incursions by Pentan raiders and chaos fiends. The higher peaks remain snow covered year round and icy winds blow through the mountain valleys.

Encounters in the Shan Shan (d20)
1-2 1d4 cliff toads
3-4 1d4 snow leopards
4-5 1d4 yaks
6 2d6 mounted Pentan raiders
7 2d6 Kralorelan soldiers on patrol
8 -9 1d4 cave trolls
10-11 2d6 feral broos
12-13 1d6 hsunchen (roll d6: 1-day bat or night bat, 2-spurred deer, 3-cloud leopard, 4-eagle, 5-wild pig, 6-combed sheep)
14 1d4 nupiter piffkin
15 1d6 wind children
16 1d4 spectres
17 1d4 Huan To
18-20 Roll on the Special Encounters in the Shan Shan Table

Special Encounters in the Shan Shan (d20)
1-2 1d8 spectres
3-4 1d3 yeti
5-6 1d4 nandis
7-8 1d6 cave trolls
9 1d6 hopping vampires
10 Huan To village
11 Caravan of Lunar traders
12 3d6 Black Sun cultists and 1d4 Priests or Priestesses at Hidden Shrine
13 Lofty tower of a mad mystic
14 Pentan raider camp with 6d6 Pentan warriors
15 1d6 Wind children warrior monks
16 1d8 dragonewts
17 Iron fort with 6d20 Kralorelan soldiers, 3d6 rocketeers and 1d4 Mandarins
18 1 dream dragon
19 the Dong with a Luminous Nose
20 the ghost of Sunstorm’s third eye

Shchyphth is the holy city and provincial capital of Chern Durel. Despite its size and relatively great population many of the city’s streets are deserted. The streets of Shchyphth are actually thronged with specters, many of which are invisible. Most buildings are cut from massive blocks of stone, have few doors or windows and are covered by vines and trees growing from the rooftops. The greatest architectural works in the city are the inverted open step pyramids excavated deep into the ground. These include the Temple of the Black Sun, the Temple of the Earth Eater, the water-filled Temple of the Secret Waters, the Temple of the Shadow Cancer, and the Temple of the Star Permutator. The latter pyramid houses a massive underground observatory at its base where intricate astrological machinery is lubricated with blood. Bizarre rituals, sacrifices and bloodydeath games are held within the other pyramids and often spill over into the city streets. City politics are complex, though crude and brutal. Alliances and feuds amongst the cults are common and ever changing and each maintains well armed contingents of temple guards. The Kralorelan troops tend to remain within the Zone of Bliss, a heavily fortified complex that houses the palace of the Exarch Can Shu, usually found within the southwestern quadrant of the city.

Numerous dirty and overpriced brothels, inns, shops and markets may be found in the city. Availability of goods is uneven; however owls, carts, rice, cranberry tarts, hives of silvery bees, pigs, green Jack-daws, monkeys and bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree are usually available. Ignorant sages, apothecaries, physicks and other such specialists may be found here.

Encounters in Shchyphth City (d20)
1 The streets are more deserted than usual
2-3 1d8 spectres
4-5 2d6 Ignorant city folk
6-7 1d8 Ignorant thieves
8 Ignorant merchant caravan
9-10 2d6 trollkin
111d6 stingworms
12 1d6 giant ticks
13 1d6 giant rats
14 1d6 trolls
15 -16 1d8 cultists (Roll d6 1-2 Black Sun, 3-Earth Eater, 4-Secret Waters, 5-Shadow Cancer, 6-Star Permutator)
17 2d6 cultists (see above) and 1d2 Priest or Priestess
18 3d6 Kralorelan soldiers (25% accompanied by a Mandarin)
19 -20 Roll on the Special Encounters in Shchyphth Table

Special Encounters in Shchyphth City (d20)
1-3 3d6 spectres
4 1d4 nupiter pipkins
5 1d4 Kralorelan mystics
6 2d6 Dark trolls
7 1d2 Black Sun false healers
81d6 black lotus pushers
9 1-2 city spirits
101d8 dragonewts
11 Lunar trading caravan
12 1d4 Wind Children warrior monks
13-14 2d6 Temple guards (Roll d6 1-2 Black Sun, 3-Earth Eater, 4-Secret Waters, 5-Shadow Cancer, 6-Star Permutator) and 1d2 Priest or Priestess
15 -16 3d6 cultists (Roll d6 1-2 Black Sun, 3-Earth Eater, 4-Secret Waters, 5-Shadow Cancer, 6-Star Permutator) desperate for human sacrifices
17 5d6 cultists (see above) and 1d4 Priest or Priestess conducting a rite
18 5d6 Kralorelan soldiers (50% accompanied by a Mandarin) collecting taxes
19 1 dream dragon
20 Can Shu with 10d6 Kralorelan soldiers and 3d4 Mandarins

The Torrible Zone may be less a place than a state of being. It may appear as any other area but a great sense of fear and doom is felt by those passing through.

Roll again on the Random Ignorance Locations Table, if a 17 is rolled, ignore and roll again. The Torrible Zone will resemble the area indicated, Roll encounters on the Special Encounters Table for that area or twice on the Encounters Table for that area if no Special Table is available.

Underednu  is another filthy town somewhat larger than Qyp. Its buildings are of small clay bricks and its streets are narrow and dusty. An inverted Black Sun pyramid is located in the town. Underednu also possesses a village metal smith, an Ignorant sage, several brothels, and an evil-looking tavern.

Encounters in Underednu (d20)
1-2 The streets are more deserted than usual
3-5 2d6 Ignorant villagers armed with clubs, pitchforks and spears
6 1d4 Ignorant thieves
7 Ignorant merchant caravan
8-9 2d6 trollkin
10-11 1d6 stingworms
12 1d6 giant ticks
13 1d4 giant river rats
14 1d4 trolls
15 1d6 Black Sun cultists
16 2d6 Black Sun cultists and 1d2 Priest or Priestess
17 1d8 Black Sun temple guards
18 1d6 Kralorelan soldiers
19 1d4 nupiter piffkin
20 1d4 spectres

The Western Sea is a large shallow and salty body of water often found in the regions of the Jankley Bore.

Encounters on the Western Sea (d20)
1-3 Roll on the Encounters in the Jankley Bore Table
4-6 1d6 Ignorant farmers basking on the beach
7-8 2d6 stingworms
9-10 2d4 giant river rats
11-12 1d6 cinquus
13 1d6 deer hsunchen
14 1d6 day bat or night bat hsunchen
15 1d2 snagarl
16 1d4 Secret Waters cultists
17 1d6 Secret Waters cultists and Priest or Priestess
18 2d6 Kralorelan soldiers on a black lotus barge
19 Can Shu’s Golden Pleasure Barge
20 Roll on the Special Encounters in Jankley Bore Table

The Zemery Fidd is usually associated with the eastern coastal regions of Chern Durel. The eastern sea laps at the smooth gray rocky beaches and oblong oysters are present in great quantities.

Encounters in the Zemery Fidd (d20)
1-2 1d6 Ignorant farmers basking on the beach
3 1d4 spectres
4-6 2d6 stingworms
7-8 2d4 giant river rats
9-10 1d4 snagarl
11-12 2d6 hunting Koromodol trolls
13 1d4 Secret Waters cultists
14 1d6 Secret Waters cultists and Priest or Priestess
15 1d4 killer whales
16 1d4 leopard seals
17 1 sea monster
18 2d6 Kralorelan soldiers on a black lotus barge
19 1d4 ships (Roll 1d6, 1-3 Karalorelan, 4 East Isles, 5-Teshnan, 6-Vadeli)
20 Roll twice on this table

(to be concluded)

Kingdom of Ignorance: A Hex-Less Crawl for DOOMQUEST (Part II)

Gazetteer of Ignorance
 Continued from Part I.

Kuwai Tan Kang (Kuwai River) is a great stream with its source in the Shan Shan Mountains. It ultimately flows to the southeast in Kralorela.

Roll for encounters on the Encounters on the River Table.

Mount Oggodoggo is a great snow covered peak often found in the Shan Shan Mountains or the Jankley Bore. It is known that a golden temple of Wind Children warrior monks stands at its summit where the five winds meet.

Encounters on Mount Oggodoggo (d20)
1-3 1d4 cliff toads
4-5 1d4 yaks
6 2d6 Ignorant savages
71d8 Ignorant bandits
8 -9 1d4 cave trolls
10-11 1d8 feral broos
12-13 1d6 hsunchen (roll d6: 1-day bat or night bat, 2-spurred deer, 3-cloud leopard, 4-eagle, 5-wild pig, 6-combed sheep)
14 1d4 nupiter piffkin
15 1d6 wind children
16 1d4 snow leopards
17 1d4 Huan To
18-20 Roll on the Special Encounters on Mount Oggodoggo Table

Special Encounters on Mount Oggodoggo (d20)
1-3 1d6 spectres
4-5 1d12 spectres in a Hall of Bones
6-7 1d4 nandis
8-9 1d6 hopping vampires
10 1-2 Earth spirits
11 Petroglyph on a rocky spire "YBB loves LJJ"
12 3d6 Earth Eater cultists and 1d4 Priests or Priestesses at Hidden Shrine
13 Lofty tower of a mad mystic
14 1d8 Orlanthi pilgrims
15 1d6 Wind children warrior monks
16 2d20 Wind children warrior monks at monastery
17 1d8 dragonewts
18 1 dream dragon
19 the Dong with a Luminous Nose
20 the ghost of Sunstorm’s third eye

Tan Kang (Jam River) is another great stream with its source in the Shan Shan Mountains. It ultimately flows to the southeast in Kralorela.

Roll for encounters on the Encounters on the River Table.

Qyp is an insalubrious town of muddy streets and crude mud encrusted stone houses. Few people are seen in the streets and those present tend to scuttle through the mud like rats. Qyp possesses a village metalsmith and two establishments where travelers might stay: a brothel, and an evil-looking tavern.

Encounters in Qyp (d20)
1-3 The streets are more deserted than usual
4-6 2d6 Ignorant villagers armed with clubs, pitchforks and spears
7 1d4 Ignorant thieves
8 Ignorant merchant caravan
9-10 2d6 trollkin
11-12 1d6 stingworms
13 1d6 giant ticks
14 1d4 giant river rats
15 1d4 trolls
16 1d4 Black Sun cultists
17 1d6 Black Sun cultists and Priest or Priestess
18 1d6 Kralorelan soldiers (25% accompanied by a Mandarin)
19 1d4 nupiter piffkin
20 1d4 spectres

River Dargul is a lesser stream and mushrooms grow tall on its banks.

Roll for encounters on the Encounters on the River Table.

(to be continued) 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kingdom of Ignorance: A Hex-Less Crawl for DOOMQUEST (Part I)

I picked up a copy of the most recent issue of Fight On! today primarily because it is the Runequest theme issue and I really wanted to take a look at Scott LeMein's DOOMQUEST RQ hack. Although DQ is probably a bit too rules light for my tastes it is still a pretty great idea and might work very well with a few modifications.  Mike D. at Sword +1 is already looking into hacking the hack.

Anyway, DOOMQUEST inspired me to start organizing lots of old notes from an RQ II campaign I was working on years ago set in Chern Durel or the Kingdom of Ignorance, a little known corner of Glorantha located north of Kralorela. 

What follows is a part the first of a hex-less crawl for DOOMQUEST or compatible games. I will post the remainder of the campaign as soon as I pull it together and maybe some explanatory details if anyone is interested. In the spirit of DOOMQUEST,  if any portions of these rules are insufficient, steal from another game or make it up yourself.


Chern Durel, the Kingdom of Ignorance, a bitter wasted land of rolling hills and twisted woods, ruins of inhuman civilizations dot the land ignored until a cult of twisted magic meets there and peoples it with adulating crowds, mobs of sacrifices, and flocks of lost and hungry dead.
 Once a powerful troll empire which rivalled Kralorela, [ Chern Durel ] is now a land of dark, blood-soaked ruins ruled by malignant humans and their even more malignant gods. Some trolls remain, warriors or hunters, who serve human masters and their dark designs.
 from People of Glorantha - Trolls

The culture of the native peoples of Chern Durel is somewhat analogous to ancient cultures of Meso-America such as the Toltecs, Maya or Aztecs.  Human sacrifice is practiced widely and maize is the staple crop.  The Ignorants are; however, a very backward people; hateful, lazy, inhumane, amoral, cruel and filthy. The land has been ruled as a province of Kralorela, the Kingdom of Splendour, for many years; however life amidst the desolate terrain and demonic madness of the land has taken a toll on both the natives and the occupiers. 

The geography of Chern Durel is uncertain and changeable. The relative locations of cities, towns and natural features vary from time to time. Each day roll 1d6, on a roll of 1-3, the party continues in the area. On a roll of 4-6 a randomly determined area or physical feature is encountered. Attempts to intentionally leave an area, excepting Grombul, the Jankley Bore, Shan Shan Mountains, Shchyphth City or the Zemery Fidd allow an additional roll unless the party is foolish enough to consult a map.

Random Ignorance Locations (d20)
1 Booloobil
2 Great Grombulian River
3-6 Grombul
7-9 the Jankley Bore
10 Jam Tan Kang (Jam River)
11 Kuwai Tan Kang (Kuwai River)
12 Mount Oggodoggo
13 Qyp
14 the River Dargul
15 Shan Shan Mountains
16 Shchyphth City
17 the Torrible Zone
18 Underednu
19 the Western Sea
20 the Zemery Fidd

Roll d4 daily for number of certain encounters in village or city. Roll d6 each day for encounters in wilderness areas. An encounter will occur on a roll of 4-5 in such areas, 1d2+1 encounters occur on a roll of 6. The referee may determine the timing of all encounters relevant to MGF.

Gazetteer of Ignorance

Booloobil is a small and filthy village of crude pine and bong-wood huts on the floodplain of the Great Grombulian River. The village is at the center of a great maze of maize. The Ignorant locals are always interested in sacrificing strangers in order to drain their blood for watering the crops. Beware the feral children of the maize.

Encounters in Booloobil (d20)
1-6 2d6 Ignorant villagers armed with clubs, pitchforks and spears
7-8 2d6 Children of the Maize
9-10 2d6 trollkin
11-12 1d6 stingworms
13 1d6 giant ticks
14 1d4 giant river rats
15 1d4 trolls
16 1d4 Black Sun cultists
17 1d6 Black Sun cultists and Priest or Priestess
18 1d6 Kralorelan soldiers (25% accompanied by a Mandarin)
19 1d4 nupiter piffkin
20 1d4 spectres

The Great Grombulian River meanders through Grombul. Its waters are murky, muddy and sometimes bloody after the maize planting time.

Encounters on the River (d20)
1-3 Roll on the Encounters in Grombul Table
4-6 1d6 Ignorant farmers lazing on the river banks
7-8 2d6 stingworms
9 2d4 giant river rats
10 1d2 duocanths
11 1d2 river spirits
12 1d6 cinquus
13 1d3 dinosaurs
14 1d6 deer hsunchen
15 1d2 snagarl
16 1d4 Secret Waters cultists
17 1d6 Secret Waters cultists and Priest or Priestess
18 2d6 Kralorelan soldiers on a black lotus barge (75% accompanied by 1d2 Mandarins)
19 Can Shu’s Golden Pleasure Barge
20 Roll on the Special Encounters in Grombul Table

Grombul or the Grombulian Plain is the inland flats of the Kingdom of Ignorance. Much of the territory is desolate and covered in twisted pine barrens or groves of twangum and bong-trees. Grombul is icy cold in Dark Season but thick crops of pumpkins grow on stout vines in Earth Season and the plain flowers beautifully in Fire Season.

Encounters in Grombul (d20)
1-2 1d6 giant ticks
3-4 1d6 stingworms
5 1d6 cinquus
6 2d12 Ignorant savages
7 1d8 Ignorant bandits
8 1d6 Ignorant farmers
9 2d12 mounted Pentan raiders
10 2d6 baboons
11 1d4 trolls and 2d6 trollkin
12 1d4 nupiter piffkin
13 2d6 feral broos
14 1d6 Jumblies
15 2d6 Kralorelan soldiers on patrol (25% accompanied by a Mandarin)
16-20 Roll on the Special Encounters in Grombul Table

Special Encounters in Grombul (d20)
1-3 1d4 spectres
4-5 1d12 spectres in a Hall of Bones
6-7 1d4 jack-o-bears
8 1d4 nandis
9 1d4 dinosaurs
10 1d6 Black Sun cultists
11-12 3d6 Black Sun cultists and 1d4 Priests or Priestesses at Hidden Shrine
13-14 Lofty tower of a mad mystic
15 4d6 Kralorelan soldiers and 1d4 Mandarins guarding a black lotus field
16 the King of the Cranes and Princess Dell
17 Jiboo Sarn
18 the Yonghy-Bongy-Bò
19 Can Shu with 10d20 Kralorelan soldiers and 1d6 Mandarins at a black lotus dust processing camp
20 the Dong with a Luminous Nose

The Jankley Bore are a range of mostly barren rocky iron rich hills and towering brown mountains with lumps of greyish trees huddled in gloomy valleys. It is sometimes found at the western edge of Grombul and east of the Shan Shan. It is the legendary home of several defunct gods; the ghost of Sunstorm’s third eye and the Dong with the Luminous Nose may be found wandering these accursed and lonely lands.

Encounters in the Jankley Bore (d20)
1-2 1d6 giant ticks
3-4 1d6 stingworms
5 2d6 baboons
6 2d12 Ignorant savages
7 1d8 Ignorant bandits
8 2d12 mounted Pentan raiders
9 1d4 trolls and 2d6 trollkin
10 2d6 feral broos
11 1d6 hsunchen (roll d6: 1-day bat or night bat, 2-spurred deer, 3-cloud leopard, 4-eagle, 5-wild pig, 6-combed sheep)
12 1d4 nupiter piffkin
13 1d6 wind children
14  1d4 spectres
15 2d6 Kralorelan soldiers on patrol (25% accompanied by a Mandarin)
16 1d6 Huan To
17 1d4 dinosaurs
18-20 Roll on the Special Encounters in the Jankley Bore Table

Special Encounters in the Jankley Bore (d20)
1-3 1d6 spectres
4-5 1d12 spectres in a Hall of Bones
6-7 1d4 nandis
8-9 1d6 hopping vampires
10-11 1d6 Earth Eater cultists
12 3d6 Earth Eater cultists and 1d4 Priests or Priestesses at Hidden Shrine
13 Lofty tower of a mad mystic
14 1d4 Lunar spies
15 Mostali mining camp
16 Huan To village
17 the Yonghy-Bongy-Bò
18 the Dong with a Luminous Nose
19 Chaos nest
20  the ghost of Sunstorm’s third eye

(to be continued)

Secret of the Ssú

The above image, a detail from the Richard Hescox illustrated cover for M.A.R. Barker’s 1985 novel Flamesong, features, aside from the curious green Ssú, a nice depiction of an ancient tube car.

You know how some folks really like a certain alien race or monster from Tékumel, like the Shén or Pé Choi; I have to admit  that I am absolutely crazy about the Ssú and I have some plans for them in Humanspace that go beyond being just some lasgun wielding interplanetary primitives pushed around by the armies of the Veritable Autocrator.

But what's up with the green Ssú ? According to an old Blue Room comment by Professor Barker:

 It is indeed reported by explorers of the southwestern seas beyond Livyánu that there are enclaves of greenish-grey and reddish-brown Ssú there. The same is said to be true of islands in the seas to the east of the farthest coasts of Salarvyyá (territory occupied by the jet-black humans called the Nom). These different kinds of Ssú are just as hostile and just as tough as the grey Ssú of Ssúyal. There were obviously various "races" of Ssú in ancient times, just as there are of us Terrans. The biggest and toughest are the Black Ssú, who dwell on an island off the western coast of the Tane region far beyond the Plain of Towers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Humanspace: Mars

Red and troubled, the Martian landscape, its deserts, craters and ancient cities, filled the starship’s view screen. Aboard was Tlixlála Túrjan, daughter of sub-Nar Thulzá Túrjan, Warlord of Jakár. The transport glided on the thin atmosphere, bound for her ancestral home.

A blinding flash, the golden ship was ripped apart by the diambrite charge that had been secreted in its engine room. The burning tail section spiraled and splintered on the rocky desert floor as the sun sank behind the mountains and a dismal indigo twilight fell beneath the two moons. Tlixlála Túrjan emerged alone from the wreckage engulfed within the black globe of a Nega-Sphere. Her hand fell to her swollen abdomen and she prayed that her eggs were intact. 

A squadron of heavily armed Shén clones mounted on Gakúz, great striped Martian lizards, appeared amidst the smoke and debris. One of the tall black scaled warriors leapt to the ground directly in front of the Martian woman. He lashed his tail and pounded his chest with a heavy fist.

“Mistress, we have come to take you home.”

As Terra is a glittering jewel amongst the many worlds of Humanspace, Mars is a burned out ember. Millennia past, during the dynasties of the Clonemasters, Mars rivaled Earth in wealth and power and stood as the stronghold of Ket Túrjan, greatest of the Gene Shaper houses. Nowhere in known space were the mad biological experimentations of the era as prevalent as on Mars. Even now, many bizarre and mutated creatures, products of the Martian gene vats, roam the desert sands of the red planet. It is also believed that the Nlyss and the genetically engineered Imperial Sultyat Clone Legions may trace their origins to Mars.

The long decline of the red planet began with the fall of the Second Empire. Although the noble house of Túrjan was spared dissolution, the fate of many Shaper houses, their power was forever broken. Ket Túrjan became a house divided. It split into warring factions and its members established themselves as feuding warlords of crumbling super-scientific city states. 

Once a verdant paradise, the first world remade by earthmen, Mars was reclaimed by desert as the great subterranean terraforming machinery went unmaintained. The air grew thin and tainted, the nights colder, the days hot and dusty and most Martians with the means to do so abandoned the planet.

Some wonder how the magnificent Humanspace Empire tolerates this failed world that sparkles red in the night skies of its capital. Perhaps, the Lords of Humanspace fear the rise of a unified Shaper house and see the chaos of Mars as an answer to this dilemma or one might consider the many death arena games so popular on Mars and throughout the Empire. The strife and wars of Mars may be great entertainment.

In recent centuries, the elites of Mars have become obsessed with the alien Shén and the ancient gene vats have been used to breed great numbers of cloned Shén warriors. Many serve in the armies of the various warlords and many more have escaped into the desert zones. Members of the human nobility have adopted aspects of Shén culture, some have even transformed themselves into Shén and all fashionable wealthy Martian ladies are mutated egg layers.

Image above is the Einstein Intersection copyright Peter Elson. More of Elson's work may be seen at his official site.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cold Text Files

Part 8 of Cold Text File C1, a series of amazing posts essentially deconstructing and analyzing "The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan," one of my favorite AD&D modules has just been posted at Lord of the Green Dragons.  I discovered this only recently and if you're not experienced, I recommend getting a cup of coffee and reading these now.

Sub-Space Interference or the Humanspace Skype Playtest

As some of you may recall, ckutalik of Hill Cantons ran the first known playtest of Humanspace Empires via Skype on March 18. He mentioned that a playtest report is in the works.

I played Nómek Kan, a human Martian 2nd level Adventurer, scoundrel and xeno-archaeologist. 

The other playtesters were:

Dan Scale of far Melbourne played Stinky the Ahoggya Warrior. He seemed much more clear headed than most of the other playtesters, perhaps because it was mid-day down under and late night for every one else.

Brian Murphy of Tentacled Monkey in Exile and Brad played, I believe a human Warrior and a Shen but didn't post their character sheets.

I'll leave some details for the referee's report but the game was beset by some pretty serious Skype problems and got underway about an hour and a half late. We fought our way past a few ill tempered cargo-bots, metallo-tentacled wall traps, and a golden robot with chainsaw arms to destroy the rogue asteroid and save the imperiled planet. Despite the sub-space interference I had a good time. I think the rules held up pretty well and I fielded some rules questions and spotted a few things that I want to clarify or change in the final books (or next playtest draft revision?).

I really enjoyed chatting with the few brave souls willing to fly this new game and hope a good time was had by all. I'd like to thank everyone that played. Post a comment here or email me at thedrune at gmaildotcom with your name as you would like it to appear as a playtester in the book's credits. Same goes for any other playtesters in the multiverse that I may not even know about.

Living and Dying in Humanspace Part I

Nómek Kan slipped through the closing tubecar doors as the vehicle lurched into motion; the two veregyá, imperial secret police agents, were left behind in Dar Püz Station under the twin great white suns and the sprawling blue ixlélatl trees. They had pursued Kan from the Museum of Man down the narrow cobblestone streets of Old Urtek and across the rooftops of the Alien Quarter, racing with the black shadows of starships and system-ships ascending from the nearby starport.

Kan loosened his grip on the Z-ray pistol in the pocket of his overcoat and slid into a seat next to a void eyed ancient astronaut lost in some mystic trance. The spherical car was crowded to capacity with diverse denizens of Sirius 7 and Humanspace travelers – spacers on shore leave, gray proles commuting to and from the factories, shipyards and power plants that ringed the space port, a many legged cluster of bone white Pé Chói tourists, a party of hooded and robed Nininyal trade collectivists, a beautiful black tressed human woman, a Citizen, in a see through blue brassiere and blood red cloak…

The many complexities and variability of life in the Humanspace or Third Terran Empire in the 621st century AD defy summation; however a number of generalities may be drawn and a fundamental understanding of key socio-political structures and institutions may assist the reader in imagining the milieu.

At this time in history, the vast Humanspace Empire consisted of over 700 populated systems, bounded by a zone of Beyonder worlds and the great Shén Star Empire in the direction of the Galactic Core and by the Rimward Beyond and Hokun space, in the vicinity of Canopus, toward the rim of the galaxy. Spinward of Terra are the Neutral Zone, Regulus and Algenubi, homes of the ancient enemies of man and the Pé Chói before, the Vleshgá and Hlutrgú. Trailing of Terra is a great expanse of Humanspace colony worlds extending past Mirach to the Outker Beyond and the regions of far Deneb.

Interstellar travel is made possible by the use of starships equipped with the NAFAL (Nearly as Fast as Light) Three-Light Drive and Interfogulator inter-planar drive. For millennia, the speed of communication in Humanspace was limited to the speed of light and travel was limited to 99% of light speed. As a result of the dilation of time, star travelers would age only several years while decades or even centuries passed on the worlds of their origin and destination. The inventions of the ansible, or inter-dimensional radio, in the 495th century and the inter-planar star-drive in the 530th century, freed travel, trade, and communication from the limitations of light speed.

Few denizens of the Empire; however, have journeyed beyond their native worlds. In fact, it is estimated that less than one sixth of the population of Humanspace are considered Citizens. Citizenship is not a birthright but a privilege that may be won through military service or success in the gladiatorial arenas, granted by the Lords of Humanspace, or purchased outright. At the base of Imperial society are slaves and Proles, non-citizens that perform the great array of menial and unpleasant labor required by the Super-Scientific society. Although robots and androids are utilized for many such tasks, it has been found that the use of enslaved or Prole labor is more economical in many situations.

Throughout Humanspace, Prole life is organized to promote maximum productive efficiency. Proles march in step with each other, wear nearly identical jump-suits color coded to their mode of production or technical designation, and live in immense public housing complexes.

Citizens have numerous advantages over slaves and Proles in Humanspace; their basic rights are, at least nominally, protected under the Compact and they are generally allowed to move freely about the various planets and across space. Citizens may legally purchase and possess weapons and vehicles (including space ships), own slaves, employ labor and earn profits from their business ventures.

A shadowy class exists between Prole and Citizen; criminals, smugglers, black marketers, adventurers and scoundrels that pose as Citizens, and individuals, often with the assistance of a Citizen-patron, that are working toward Citizenship.

Next: Part II :The Government and Militaries of Humanspace

The government of Humanspace may best be described as a vast bureaucracy operating under the council of Narenyel (hereditary Lords or Archons ) from the 16 great Ketyel, or Noble Houses, the many lesser Houses, and ultimately the Galactic Emperor. Each planetary system is independently governed, usually by a Lord or planetary governor, and a great council of Lords (held at different locales from time to time) meets as needs demand...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Talkin' 'bout my character generation

AFAIK, ckutalik de los Hill Cantons will be hosting a Humanspace Empires playtest Skype game on March 18.

See here and here.

I plan on joining the party and I've created a character: Nómek Kan, a human Martian 2nd level Adventurer. Kan is something of a Space Age da Vinci; xeno-archaeologist, expert in interstellar antiquities, troubleshooter, treasure hunter, scoundrel, author and thief.

I noticed a few gaffs in the most recent Humanspace Empires playtest draft that will need repair, some of the prices for super-scientific bombs and grenades are omitted and the weights and prices for some gear may need adjustment (e.g. the weight of a backpack will be reduced from 5 pounds to 2 pounds). I noticed that weight of gear and encumbrance might cause problems for character's with average or lower strength. I actually like the way this works out, it seems realistic and makes outfitting the character a bit more interesting and challenging.

I also noticed that characters in the playtest are given only CR 1000 to purchase equipment rather than 3d6 x CR 200 stated in the rules. CR 1000 doesn't go very far in Humanspace. I generated Kan's starting cash by the book and his equipment cost almost CR 2400. If the Referee has some reason to limit equipment to the bare minimum or can't be convinced to up the amount, I'll need to return a lot of super-scientific jank at Galactic Outfitters...

If anyone has any questions or comments on character generation reply to this post or email me at thedrune at gmail dot com.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Veritable Autocrator

The Veritable Autocrator and Emperor of Humanspace was born Muád ZaMún on Aldebaran 4 circa 61127 AD. Although his parentage is undocumented, the Galactic Emperor named his father as the deceased Nar-General Viz ZaMún, Planetary Governor of Aldebaran. Little is known of the Autocrator’s childhood on Aldebaran 4. It is believed that after the mysterious destruction of the Imperial Mission and garrison, the orphaned future Autocrator was taken in and nurtured by the subterranean and eyeless alien Vrilú.

Although various rumors and reports have incriminated the Mihálli, Regulus, and several local alien factions in the disaster, it may be most likely that the enigmatic and psychically powerful Vrilú were directly responsible for the death of the Autocrator’s family and the massacre of the Humanspace settlement on that world. The Vrilú had, for millennia, spurned all contact with interstellar society and protested any incursions on their vast, lush and primordial world. Regardless of their culpability, their reasons for adopting the young ZaMún remain unknown.

By the year 61145 AD, the young Autocrator had returned to Humanspace and was enrolled briefly at the Science Academy at Procyon. Drawn to the stars, the Autocrator stayed on no world for long. Backed by a powerful Nininyal trade collective, he explored Deep Space in the regions of far Deneb, returned with an extravagant fortune and placed himself at the head of Ket ZaMún, the House of ZaMún amongst the Imperial Archonates. In these acts, it became clear to his associates and enemies that the future Autocrator was a mentalic of extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented power. Within five years of his installation as a Lord of Humanspace, he deposed the Emperor Zurák and ascended to the Duranium Throne. In the first years of his reign the Autocrator launched a massive attack on Aldeberan 4 resulting in the extinction of the Vrilú.

The Veritable Autocrator, Emperor of Humanspace, rules from a grand palace on the terraformed and near deserted sixth moon of Jupiter in the company only of his many concubines and elite Sultyat Clone guard.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Back around the time that I formulated the Synthetic 75 system and started putting the draft playtest rules together for Humanspace Empires, I prepared a few notes for another game that I’d like to write and play. The working title is MICRODOTS: The Retro RPG of Inter-dimensional Espionage.

I see this game as kind of a mash-up of TSR’s Top Secret, Paranoia, and Lacuna from Memento Mori  running on rules similar to those used for Humanspace Empires. Characters would be inter-dimensional agents, spies, and assassins from a continuum similar to the worlds of 1960s spy films.

Here's a preliminary Appendix N:


William S. Burroughs-Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, The Ticket that Exploded, Nova Express

Michael Moorcock-The Final Programme, A Cure for Cancer, The English Assassin, The Condition of Muzak, The Adventures of Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius in the Twentieth Century

Films, Television, and Other Media

The Avengers
Danger Man
It Takes a Thief
Mission: Impossible
The Prisoner

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Broos not Orcs and Hot Elf Chicks

A recent post at Grognardia asked how various iconic D&D monsters have been re-imagined in readers' campaigns. The orc was presented as a case study. I found this interesting as I have never really liked orcs, particularly those of more porcine nature. Additionally, I have always avoided Tolkienesque tropes in my fantasy games, preferring more exotic and gritty swords and sorcery milieus.

At some point around 1979, after picking up a copy of 2nd edition Runequest, orcs were replaced with broos in most of the D&D campaigns that I ran. Below is a description of broos for use with Labyrinth Lord or compatible retro-clones. The following text is Open Game Content. The image above is copyright either Chaosium or Issaries and is probably in violation of the Glorantha fan publishing policy. It will be removed if requested.


No. Enc.: 2d4 (1d6x10)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 6 (25% at 5)
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: 1 (weapon or the horns)
Damage: weapon or 1d6 
Save: F1
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XIX
XP: 13

Broos are bestial creatures with humanoid bodies and the heads of a variety of horned animals, most commonly goats, deer, or antelopes. They have reddish eyes and usually wear heavy leather armor boiled in the blood of their victims; however, a few in each group will wear scavenged piecemeal metal armor. They are typically armed with spears or clubs but may be found with various melee and ranged weapons. Their equipment is always filthy and poorly maintained. They may attack with their horns for 1d6 damage if unarmed.

Broos are monsters of primal chaos, exceedingly cruel and rapacious and known to worship gods of rape, murder, and disease. The population is 90% male; however they can father children on almost any animal or being including humans and hot elf chicks. A broo will have a randomly determined chaos feature (see below) on a roll of 1 on 1d6. All broos are immune to poison and disease and there is a 50% chance that each will carry a randomly determined disease.* A large group of broos will have an exceptionally strong leader with 8 hit points and a 50% chance of possessing a chaos feature. He also receives a +1 bonus to weapon damage rolls.

Many broos are feral, more primitive beasts that have developed in isolated subterranean or wilderness locations; however, a large minority are tribal and somewhat more sophisticated. A broo tribal chief will be a powerful 4 HD monster with a weapon damage bonus of +2. There is a 60% chance that any tribal group consisting of 20 or more broos will have a shaman with the abilities of a 3rd level cleric. It is believed that, in a vile wasteland somewhere in the world, there is a great broo king, a demi-god with the head of a unicorn.

Optional Rule: Females baring broo spawn will either need to find some means of aborting the fetus, or face a difficult month-long pregnancy. At the end of the month, the victim will have to go through a bloody, agonizing labor that will deal 4d6 damage unless they make a saving throw against death, damage halved on success. School Master

* In lieu of disease, the very cool Dungeon Funk table from Gorgonmilk could be consulted.

While on the Gorgonmilk tip, I prepared the following partial table of random chaos features adapted from the Runequest SRD. Anyone like to suggest additional nasty broo-tations?

Chaotic Features (1d20)

01 Blessed by Chaos:Roll twice on this table.

02 Many eyes: The creature has numerous eyes on its head and various parts of its body. It is surprised only on roll of 1 on 1d8. There is a 20% chance that the creature also has multiple eyestalks and is surprised only on a roll of 1 on 1d10.

03 Cyclops: The creature only has a single eye. It suffers a –2 penalty to attack rolls.

04 Copper skin: The creature is completely covered by a thick skin of copper giving it a -3 AC Modifier.

05 Cloud of biting flies: A swarm of bloated biting flies surrounds the creature. All opponents within 5 feet suffer a -2 attack penalty.

06 Corrosive blood: Anyone within 5 feet of the creature takes 1d4 damage from splashing acidic blood if it is wounded.

07 Exploding death: When killed the creature explodes doing 2d6 damage to all in 1d4 x 10 foot radius, save vs. breath attacks for half damage.

08 Diseased: Any creature making physical contact with a Broo must make a saving roll or contact a wasting disease (-1 to Con per day until death or magically healed). Akrasia

09 Regeneration: Broo heals 1d6 hit points per round. Akrasia

10 Tentacles. 1d4 long, slimy, squid-like tentacles sprout randomly from their body. The creature may make a single additional attack for each tentacle. If the successful, the tentacle does 1d4 damage and the target is entangled in its grasp. If the character is not freed, the character will take 2d4 damage each turn thereafter. Optional Rule: There is also a 25% that a tentacle is actually an mutated, prehensile phallus. A female character who is ensnared has a 40% chance of being impregnated rather than taking additional damage, then released. The broo will no longer attack an impregnated female. Male characters are similarly violated for role-playing purposes (the broo is not particular), but only take the 2d4 damage. School Master

11 Spell reflection: The creature reflects first-level spells back at the caster. ckutalik

12 More spell reflection: Broo reflects first-and second-level spells back.ckutalik
13 Over-powering stench. All in 5' space around the creature must save vs. breath weapons or be nauseated for 1d4 rounds (-2 to attack).ckutalik

14 Anti-Magic Field: The broo generates a field of reality warping chaos that cancels out all magical energy. Spells and magical items within a 1d4 x 10 foot radius of the creature will not function until it is slain. School Master





19 Golden viscera: The creature has a randomly determined internal organ made of solid gold and worth 1d4 x 50gp.

20 Bejeweled: The creature has 1d3 random gems embedded in random parts of its body. Female broos with this feature are always vajazzled.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Super-Scientific Powers

 I noticed an error on the Psychic Power Scores table in the Revised Playtest Draft. The table states that a character with a PSY score of 9-12 is unable to use PSY powers from Group I-III.

 It should read: "a character with a PSY score of 9-12 is unable to use PSY powers from Levels 2-6.

 Below are a few new Super-Scientific powers.

New Super-Scientific (Scientist) Powers

Level 1

Repairing Ray (I): This power allows the user to project a ray to a range of 30 feet that will repair one damaged or non-functioning advanced or super-scientific device. The device repaired can weigh no more than 30 pounds and must be self-contained and not a part of a complex system. The power can be used once per day.

Level 3

Contra-Gravitic Ray: This power allows the user to project a ray upon himself or another being at a range of 30 feet. The ray empowers the target with the ability to fly, with up to 250 lbs of additional weight, at a speed of 120 feet per round for 3 turns per level. The flier may rise to a height of 180 feet. The power can be used only once per day.

Repairing Ray (II): This power allows the user to project a ray to a range of 30 feet that will repair one damaged or non-functioning advanced or super-scientific device. The device repaired can weigh no more than 300 pounds and must be self-contained and not a part of a complex system. The power can be used only once per day. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An Adamantine and Superbly Proud Character Sheet

Il Male, l'autore di the ever weird and excellent blog, the Yaqqothl Grimoire, has created a new, shiny, ready-to-print and use Humanspace Empires Character Sheet!

 Il Male's character sheet is much slicker than the generic and utilitarian five minute sheet that was included in the playtest draft and if you haven't seen it or followed any of the other inspired goings on at the Grimoire...check it out.

The art used on the sheet was taken from El Eternauta ("The Eternaut"), an Argentinian comic scripted by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and illustrated by Francisco Solano López that was published between 1957 and 1959 in the Hora Cero magazine.

I had never heard of this comic before but it seems pretty great,  Evidently, the story begins with a sudden deadly fluorescent snowfall killing nearly everyone in Buenos Aires. Juan Salvo and a few of his friends and family members survive because they were shut in playing truco. They cleverly craft a few hazard suits that allow them to roam about the post-apocalyptic world that's filled with the deadly snow, crazies, and the alien invaders that are responsible for the disaster.  Salvo is drafted into a resistance army fighting the invaders and eventually attempts escape with his wife and daughter using one of the alien spaceships.  The plan does not go well; however, Salvo accidentally activates a time travel device and he and his family members are separated, trapped in different dimensions of time. Salvo becomes El Eternauta, a voyager of eternity, searching for his family across the continuums.

 I find this particularly interesting; the comic, or at least several of the sequels, evolved into a critique of reactionary, military governments and US imperialism. A quote by Oesterheld, a radical leftist, probably disappeared by the government of Argentina in 1976, may provide a clue to a hidden Marxist ideology at the core of a near universal trope of rpg gaming...the party (perhaps the word itself is telling?)... 

Oesterheld wrote: 
 Now that I think about it, I believe that perhaps it is because of that lack of a central hero, that El Eternauta is one of my stories which brings me more pleasure to remember. The true hero of El Eternauta is a collective hero, a human group. And so it reflects, even if it wasn't my intention, my inner feelings: the only valid hero is the hero "in group", never the individual hero, the lone hero."  

Don't forget to take a look-see at Il Male's excellent Humanspace Empires character sheets comrades. Here is the preview:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Long Live Grand Admiral Ald'oh!

Ckutalik of Hill Cantons fame has announced that he will be running the first one-shot Humanspace playtest Skype game in this Universe on Friday March 18 at 20:00 CST (or GMT -6). I plan on flying this mission and I think there might be a few spots left so check out the details here.

Need more convincing?  Here's the back cover blurb:
Driven mad by an imperial cock-up that killed his special lady friend, Grand Admiral Ald'oh has been hatching various nefarious plans to exact his revenge.
Seizing control of an asteroid “generation ship”, the Admiral has set the star drives on a collision course with the small colony world of Marb IV. Only you and your band of space rowdies can penetrate the defenses of the asteroid ship's control complex and save Marb.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Revised Humanspace Empires Playtest Draft

Revised Humanspace Empires Playtest Draft

I have revised the draft posted yesterday, fixing various issues including quite a few typos, formatting problems, and a few errors or omissions in the text.  The revised draft is linked above as a free PDF download. I have also attempted to increase the image quality of the illustrations; however this was not possible for several images. I fixed the OGL to include copyright information for Labyrinth Lord. The very fine Labyrinth Lord text file that was recently released was used extensively in the preparation of this draft.  

I prepared an errata for the original draft  that may be downloaded from the link below.  This file may be useful for those that downloaded and printed the original draft and would rather not reprint the entire booklet.  I apologize for any inconvenience.  The errata includes all of the major fixes from the revised draft.  

Errata for Original Draft 

My  thanks to all that downloaded, read, and/or commented on the draft rules. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Humanspace Character: Kúrchek Urlirésh

With the release of the playtest rules, I thought I'd dive right in and create some characters based on my earlier vignette. Here's the fearless Kúrchek Urlirésh, formerly of the Imperial star legions, now a soldier of fortune with a fast ship, a stalwart crew, and a fully charged blaster.

(Yes, I'm using HeroMachine 2.5 for my character pics. I can't draw to save my skin!)

Name: Kúrchek Urlirésh

Class/Level: Warrior/1
Race/Sex: Human Male
Age: 29
Homeworld: Promaxia 3

Strength: 13     +1 To Melee Hit and Damage and Force Rolls.
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 16    +2 Hit Point Modifier/Hit Die, +2 Saving Throw Mod.
Intelligence: 10
Psychic Power: 8     Unable to use psychic powers.
Charisma: 9     4 Retainers, Retainer Morale: 7

Hit Points: 15

AC: 4 (Light Space Armor)

Background Skills: brawler, survivalist, driver, air pilot, accountant, electrician, astronomer, jack, security.

Class Skills: Space Swordsman, Space Axeman, Energy Pistol, Energy Rifle, Space Armor, Projectile Pistol, Projectile Rifle, Grenades, Heavy Weapons, Demolitions.

 Languages: Sunuz 

CR: 350
Gear: Lt. Space Armor, Z-Ray pistol, Space Sword, Utility Belt, Communicator, Translator Orb.

Humanspace Playtest Draft Rules

Humanspace Empires Playtest Draft

I have edited the download link above to access the Revised Draft Rules.
Errata for the original draft may also be downloaded. 

The draft playtest rules for Humanspace Empires, science fantasy adventures in the star-faring ancient past of Professor M.A.R. Barker's Tékumel, are linked above as a free pdf download.

These rules include character generation, PSY and Super-Scientific powers, and sufficient combat and adventuring rules to get a party through a space dungeon. The system is essentially an iteration of my Synthetic 75 Science Fantasy Retro Roleplaying concept, a mash up of (what I consider) the best from the hottest RPGs of 1975, Dungeons & Dragons and Prof. M.A.R. Barker's Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne.

Rules for robot and android characters have not been included in this draft.  I'm still not quite sure how to implement this class but I will post rules for the class on this blog or in a revised version of the playtest draft in the near future. Also, rules for starships, starship combat, wilderness or planetary adventures, and additional setting material will be gradually posted here and included in future publications.

I still envision the complete game pretty much as described in this post. The draft playtest rules will be expanded with additional material and will constitute Book 1: Science Fantasy Adventures. Book 2: Space Monsters will include a selection of inimical alien fiends, bug-eyed monsters, inter-dimensional horrors, and other terrible creatures and a system for randomly generating new space monsters.  Until this book is completed playtesters may use the Saturday Night Specials, create their own original space monsters, or modify creatures from Labyrinth Lord or broadly compatible games to serve as foes for the players. Book 3: Campaigns in Space and on Alien Planets will include starships and system ships, spaceship combat, vehicles, more detailed rules for planetary adventuring, encounter tables, and substantial setting material that will detail the worlds and star-faring civilizations of the 621st century AD.

Editing of the playtest draft was pretty minimal as the booklet was sort of rushed into production, hopefully to allow for some playtesting at an rpg con in the near future. Please let me know if you spot any problems or issues (I know of a few already) and I'd really like to hear any playtest reports.

I'm hoping that these rules will stir up some more interest in this project and enable a greater exchange of ideas on generalities and specifics as work continues on the game. I would also appreciate any contributions of rules, setting material, original art depicting the various species of Tekumel as they appear in the 621st century AD. As this is a free fan publication, no moneys will be involved, but you will certainly gain my gratitude and credit in the published work.

So please download, read, play, enjoy, and let me know what you think. Stay tuned to IX for more of Humanspace in the coming days...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Humanspace Empires Preview


I'm running a few days behind schedule on the Humanspace Empires Playtest Draft rules due to a mad mad week, long hours at work, busy weekend, and having to spend most of this evening editing a friend's term paper and writing a grad school recommendation for a former co-worker.

Still, the playtest draft is nearly finished. The current document runs about 45 pages and covers character generation, psychic and super-scientific powers, and combat. A few basic rules for Space Dungeon exploring are also included.

I fully expect to have a copy on-line tomorrow...or maybe the next day. In the interim, check out a few of the extracted pages...
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