Monday, December 28, 2015

Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi, and Sci-Fi

As I have said before, I am steadily re-working my S-F RPG Spacers into its second edition. As before, I am at a point where I can read others works and it is such luxury. Over the last month, I've found three. Considering that it's been December, it's like Santa Claus has defeated the martians and has returned home just to come and see me, his favorite 50 year-old adolescent.

If you don't watch this flik every year, the communists win.
The first product I found was Machinations of the Space Princess. A blog, well video blog, review by Bruno Galan prompted me to buy this work. While I had heard of it, the name kind of off-set me, a little too specific for my preconceptions of quality science fiction. All names should be about two words and one of the words has to be a variation of "star" or "space." Well, I am glad that I made the exception. Paraphrasing the author, James Desborough, Machinations strives for the sexiness and sleaze of the films from the 70s while applying old school D&D rules. His premise succeeds in getting the atmosphere right for say movies like Barbarella or War of the Robots, and his rules is capable of handling a big space fantasy campaign like Star Wars.  I really like how the writing is self-aware at one point explaining the promised sleaze, paraphrasing again, says something like "Shouldn't this be for adults? Sure but not really." Rules-wise I find his approach to alien classifications rather fun, think TSR's Star Frontier and take it a whole lot further. Space gaming-wise this is one Godzilla of a work, the more I think about it.

About a week or two later, I noticed Alpha Blue being advertised. Like all the space-ship laden sci-fi movies that came out after Star Wars, this game and its settings strives for sleazy sci-fi as well. It is a wonderfully crafted product. I like its ship combat rules. It's artwork is wonderful. The scenario towards the end has some great pacing complete with an intriguing map.
I still wonder why this book is its own game though. This work can easily be anybody's after 10pm sci-fi event setting for almost any RPG system. If one is looking for the space sexy tease of Lexx and wants to even delve into the more graphic fantasy of say Flesh Gordon or 2001: A Sex Odyssey. As a campaign though, most of the specifics would come in handy in the background.
In terms of rating it, I'd call to it a Loch Ness. Bigger than a Big Foot, very close to the size the of  King Kong, it just doesn't walk on its own.

Just as of last Saturday, I found Scott Malthouse's Somnium Void. Now I have been watching the author post his notes on this setting for his USR (the Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying) System for a few years now. Full disclosure we work together from time to time. I am not the world's biggest fan of the USR, but if he keeps coming out with settings like this one, I am totally going to keep buying them, even run a session or three. Void is more like Battlestar Gallactica (original or new) or Dune in scope than say a full-out gonzo universe like Star Wars. The writing though is beautiful, despite a couple editing slip ups.
The premise will remind the reader of the works of A.E. van Vogt or Samuel Delany, but the character "Archetypes" are pure space pulp. There is definitely some "hard sci-fi" here, though I doubt Malthouse was striving for anything but a good setting for drama and imagination exploration. My initial rating on the work is a King Kong. This may change as I am able to reflect upon it after the first reading.

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