Tag Archive: humanspace empires


To any faithful readers out there, I owe you an explanation. Over the past twenty days or so, I’ve been preoccupied with graduation as well as finding a job. Unfortunately, that whole finding a job thing hasn’t quite worked out yet. But I’m doing my damnedest! Below is a photograph of my buddy Mike on the day of graduation… Actually its Mike’s character Dorin, drawn by Alexander Swenson (see more of his drawings in the last post). I’ll never forget Dorin. Mike was going for a space dwarf motif, but what really solidified this concept for me is the quaff cannon. What is a quaff cannon you ask? Mike invented it – essentially it’s an axe launcher. Absurd? O yes, and in the best way. To Mike, Rich, Matt, Alex, Alex, & Alex its been a good RPG run, boys. Keep rolling high!

Ordinarily when I introduce a home-brew monster into a session, I try to limit its description to only a few words. My hope is that the players will come to define the creature on their own terms, filling in the blanks as needed. As referee I abstain entirely from offering any input into the appearance or mannerisms of the player characters (protagonist descriptions are something the other players should enjoy). But having artists around to game with is always a good thing. As fun as it is to think of the game-world as an amorphous reality, art lends the game stability. Being able to physically look at a thing, rather than to simply grasp at it in minds eye, lends permanency and thus believability to the campaign. I can thank Alexander Swenson for adding a layer of vividness to our sandbox campaign by letting me post his drawings. Make sure to check out more of his art here.

Here’s an image of Azi:

Azi is just as likely to pull out a med-kit as he is a space sword. Neigh.

Below are two images of O’Reny:

Four words: steam punk & mole man.

Below is an image of Moxu fighting one of my unnamed monsters (Moxu is attacking from behind… the sneaky fella). This monster was once a sentient avian alien from a dark region of space (thats a mouthful). As you can see, once mutated these creatures don’t look much like birds anymore. Exposed to an aquatic parasite, the spacefaring birds were transformed as the minds of host and parasite enmeshed to create a singular abominable intelligence. I’d love to get a name for these things if I could. What do you think? Bird + coral + crab = ??

Is it just me, or is there a face underneath the beak? I can make out an eye, nose, ear, and I think the mouth is a coral polyp.

Our Sandbox Campaign

The start of our campaign was dizzying, eerie, and pulpy as all hell. Once we got a firm grasp of the rules, it turned out be a really great first session. “Humanspace Empires” has such a great feel right now. It’s hard to describe exactly, but gamemastering these sessions is exhilarating. Go download this FREE game, and read my review of it in the previous post.

[This is Peter Mullen’s “mantoid” (http://mullenart.webs.com/index.htm). His work is really quite inspiring.]

In our campaign – this is a Pei Choi (read up on them in “Humanspace Empires” if you have the PDF). The Pei Choi are the original benefactors of the player characters.

Two major factions have appeared thus far:

The first is the Esperdyne Corporation. Through Esperdyne the Pei Choi have managed to secure their colonial efforts across humanspace. Largely, their operations have gone on protected by desperate but war-born casteless from across the stars, particularly humans. These men at arms are little more than pawns, but they have proven to be an efficient investment for the Pei Choi. The player characters start the game as Esperdyne mercenaries, on a routine low atmosphere carrier flight on an unnamed moon. This is a very important job, because the Pei Choi haven’t been able to expand without making some enemies. But when the the player’s ship crashes inexplicably, the heroes are left to find out the source of this invisible threat.

The second is the Zodiac Dog; a shadowy corporation with an elusive leader. The corporation has links to insurrectionist groups working against the Pei Choi expansion across the stars. The player characters recently stumbled across one of the ZD’s hidden compounds. Inside they found subservient robotic drones maintaining the facilities enormous energy output. The output from this very base, sent the energy waves that scrambled the carrier the PC’s had been flying in. Delving deeper into the base, the PC’s watched as the very halls became a myriad of flesh and beating-organs. After cutting through some monstrous enforcers for the ZD, the PC’s managed to shut down the base and escape to the surface, only to see that they were too late. The ZD managed to pull the Esperdyne satellite orbiting the moon right out of the sky. We ended the session with the heroes stranded from their employers… Or are they finally free?

I plan to write more Sandbox Campaign entries so keep an eye out for more in the future!

P.S. I also promised R. that I would write up a prestigious “courtesan guild” because his character has a background in that skill (see “Humanspace Empires”). He told me to think “Firefly.” So look out for that too. Because R. is a gladiator/courtesan, I think the guild could have a very interesting militant edge.

Pulp Sci-Fantasy

“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?”