“Humanspace Empires” is a work in progress. You can go download the “playtest draft” for free over at “http://ixians.blogspot.com/“. For an incomplete game, this PDF has serious substance. Packed within 55 pages is a most marvelous blend of genres. The rules lend themselves to a tone ranging from whimsical to preternaturally dreadful. My group’s first quest took them inside the hidden internal organs of a planet; a planet both sentient and malevolent. I also tried to hint (albeit subtly) that the planet was aware of the adventurer’s intrusion, but it might be too early for them to have picked up on that.

The game’s focus is on weird character classes and powers. Almost every class (excluding the warrior) has some access to psychic abilities. The list of playable alien species is also particularly exhaustive. These aren’t your standard fare men with green skin martians. Many of the aliens aren’t even bipedal, which is something I really appreciate. If I want to play an alien in a game, I don’t want to play something vaguely human (but thats just me, nothing wrong with doing otherwise).

I think the game is so successful because it manages to fulfill both my fantasy and sci-fi needs as a gamemaster. Last night’s game might have been the most fun I’ve had running a “retro” game since my interest started. The “Gamer Achievement Award” goes to Basq, the group’s astronaut. Last night, Basq managed to recover from a staggering blow, only to take a shot in the dark, devastating the space-orc who left him for dead (gotta love lightning pistols). It was one of those game-stopping moments at the table where everyone just started clapping.

“Humanspace” promises several upcoming supplements, including a bestiary. Last night I modified some OSRIC critters to fit the setting. I had orcs in divers suits wielding slug-cannons. I had “orcinations” – abominations crafted from the corpses of several orcs to create a centipede-esque monstrosity that spits acid as well as opens a hidden stomach-maw (with a ravenously hungry fetus-orc waiting inside).  Last night my gamers described my narrative style as “Post-Cthulhu.” I have the elegant frame of “Humanspace Empires” to thank.

But whatever your style, I would guess that “Humanspace Empires” has something to offer any old-scool game that has a tendency toward the weird. If you need a break from throwing magic missile’s for a while, why don’t you roll up Scientist with a Z-Ray projector in “Humanspace Empires?”