Sunday, June 12, 2011

Transfinite: More Humanspace Empires Game Design Notes

In his Gamma World cover to cover series at Grognardia James Maliszewski  noted: "I can't help but notice both the vagueness and the ad hoc sub-systems created to patch over holes where D&D provided no rules or no model on which to make rules. I don't think this is a bad thing by any means. Indeed, I think I prefer this approach all things considered. However, it's definitely one that is alien to so much of contemporary game design and the culture of play that's grown up around it."

I definitely want to emulate this in Humanspace Empires...particularly the vagueness.  The lack of detail for many of the skills has been one of the major criticisms from playtesters and reviewers. Although I can see that a more thoughtful approach to skills and more clarification is needed, I don't want to lose vagueness and I don't want the importance of skills overstressed in the game.  I've started working on somewhat more detailed descriptions and a few changes in the Scientist skill set.  These will be posted in the near future.

I found one bit in Dungeon Crawl Classics that I liked quite a bit and plan to include in the final Humanspace rules to replace the somewhat artificial and arbitrary limits on the number of times that psychic and super-scientific powers can be used each day.  Excepting a few powers already noted in the Humanspace rules as being so draining that their use limits access to all psychic or superscientific powers for x days, there will be no limit on the number of times that an individual may attempt to use powers; however using any power will incur a  cumulative -1 penalty per use on subsequent power success rolls until the character is fully rested, typically after a period of at least 8 hours sleep.  I will begin using these rules in the PbP games immediately and see how it works. 


  1. Mostly what you covered are the major complains about the current play test rules for Human Space Empires. The above rules will be going into immediate use for this coming week. The vagueness of the rules is a strength & not a weakness of the system & the old school White Box rules.

  2. I really like this idea. The whole "Vancian" model of RPG magic used by D&D makes sense... if you're playing in Vancian setting. However, that's not what HSE (or even Tekumel) works, so the mechanic needs to be retooled to fit the setting.

  3. Awesome! The art is perfect!

  4. The cumulative -1 penalty to each additional attempt to use a power, etc. is a great way to handle things. It's simple, effective and allows for special items, objects, mechanisms, serums, gems, etc. to boost things in significant ways without getting over-powered.


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