Earlier this year I reviewed the first new module for the Space Opera RPG in nearly thirty years that you can read about at this link – Star Sector Atlas 4: The galactic People’s Republic. The author, Glenn Price, was kind enough to send me an copy autographed by the author and the artist. I already had it in PDF form but it was nice to get a hard copy to go alongside my originals. If you are a fan of the old game then this is available in electronic format from Drivethru RPG or you can get a hard copy direct from Fantasy Games Unlimited.
Cheers Glen and Julia. Looking forward to seeing more modules hit the stores – electronic or otherwise.
Imagine my surprise when browsing Drivethrurpg and discovered that there was a new release for the venerable Space Opera role playing game. Behold Star Sector Atlas 4: The Galactic People’s Republic.
I had to immediately buy a pdf copy from Drivethrurpg to go alongside the other Space Opera Atlases I have. I hope that one day I can get a hard copy to go on my bookshelf but I might have to settle for a printed and bound pdf.
This Atlas covers the Marxist Galactic People’s Republic and it’s home sector NCG 1039. It details the background history to the formation of this particular state, from the events of the “Wet Firecracker War” of 2008 and the collapse of the Soviet Union (the USA and allies had invented, with some alien intervention, a nuclear damper – well it is Space Opera) through the machinations of the surviving members of the old regime and their comrades from the Peoples Republic of China and other hold-out socialist states and their decades long plan to export the revolution to someplace else where those pesky Western Alliance and later United World governments wouldn’t follow. It was nice to see that the original history of the Space Opera universe (written back in the 70s) has been maintained through to this date. Guess we call this an historical divergence. A potted history of the GPR and subsequent wars and a multitude of Five Year Plans takes up the first ten pages. A few pages on the Red Army, Red Space Navy and of course the KGB and some details of life in the GPR for the average comrade follow. The command economy of the GPR results in the expected shortages and inevitable queuing.
Goods for purchase tend to come for sale in areas in a sporadic way
that leads to long lines and lots of waiting. Another joke goes like this;
A man waiting in line in New Moscow gets fed up and declares he is
going to shoot the Chairman. He storms off towards the capital
buildings. Hours later he returns and gets back in line. When asked if
he had shot the Chairman, he said “No, the line was too long.
There are forty one planets detailed in the Atlas. The format is in the traditional Space Opera style. I remember when I got the first Atlas back in the early 1980s how much I liked the information presented compared to the simplified UPP (Universal Planetary Profile) of Traveller. However, rolling up a Space Opera planet was about ten times the work of making a Space Opera Character – which was about fifty times the work of making a Traveller one – you get the picture. But any system that lets you roll Xeno-Acceptance and planetary per capita GDP is still cool.
Production wise – the supplement is nice and crisp. The horrible typewriter font that was used in the original Space Opera supplements is gone. The interior artwork is totally reminiscent of the older modules from the 80s – with a few exceptions. The Soviet Style Propaganda posters are a nice touch, and would have looked great in colour. The only thing I don’t like is the sector map. It is one component of the module that I thought could have done with some updating.
The Space Opera setting is actually a very good one, if you pick and choose what parts you use. As written is was designed to be Traveller, Lensman, Star Wars and Star Trek all rolled into one, with a sprinkling of every other sci-fi novel written up to the late seventies included. I am seriously thinking that a Savage Worlds Space Opera would be popular.
The Star Atlas series was supposed to include Numbers 1-10 for the official setting and above that number for contributed sectors.
The series so far includes:
I am not sure who this new product will appeal to other than nostalgic role-players in their late 40s and 50s up – the exact demographic I am in. I am looking forward to the next release and am hoping to see it before another three decades have gone by.
With my interest in Scifi role-playing and drawing deck plans I browse a lot of star ship images and web sites that host them. I was fortunate to run across David Mueller’s Speculative Starship Designer site. I recommend that you go and have a look. An interesting mix of philosophy and science fiction. I began corresponding with David and asked his permission to try to do some of my deck plans based on some of his designs. He readily agreed and I have started with his Useful-class Freighter from his “STAR VESSELS” PROJECT.
David kindly provided me with some of the wire cage and WIP images he used to produce the images on his site, a few of which are published here. Please go to his site and spend some time browsing – you wont be disappointed.
His write up on the Star Hauler Useful
Star Hauler Useful
The “Useful” class Star Hauler is the most common Human medium cargo ship currently in service. It can tow two large cargo containers in addition to internally stowed freight. The main cargo bay can be accessed from both the front and rear of the vessel. A small complement of passengers can be accommodated along with the cargo. This stalwart second generation Tech Level 6 design has also been produced in survey ship and small hospital ship variants.
Date Entered Service : 464 RE (Radiant Era)
Length: 100.9 meters
Maximum Sublight Speed: 0.19 c
Maximum Warp-Jump Performance: 5.9 light years per day fully loaded
As far as stats for RPG games go – I have only worked this ship up as GURPS Space Ship design. As far as Traveller goes I am thinking about 4-5000Dtons comparing it to my other designs. As GURPS Spaceships design (my current favourite design system) it is a SM+10 ship (About 10,000 Stons).
An updated map of the Terran Sector for Space Opera, or in fact any other game using a 3D map. The map is a 200x200x200 Light Year cube, centered on the Sol System. Ninety stars are shown. It is important to remember that this volume of space contains over 30,000 stars. I have included a spreadsheet showing stellar distances. I would not print it out unless you have an A1 sized printer that can do floor plans. As far as a description of each system – I will leave that up to those who feel they need one. I was going to just use standard Traveller for this task. There are some pretty cool system generators out there that can do this for you in seconds.
If you would like a copy of the actual spreadsheet (or a blank for doing your own star sectors) then please contact me and I will send you a copy.
And one with the main routes of some of the major starlines of the sector shown.
The module Star Sector Atlas 1: The Terran Sector came with a large fold-out map of the Terran Quadrant. For someone used to Traveller subsectors a gaming map encompassing 99,840,000,000 cubic light years was pretty amazing. I have several copies of the original Quadrant map and wanted something electronic – so I knocked one up yesterday.
I changed the format somewhat but tried to keep to the original as much as possible. I have added my own Hadrian Sector to the map – a post on the work on that Sector will be made in the next day or two.
For my new campaign I am using GURPS Space as the basis but like most things I do there will be a lot of hybridisation going on. For example, I have not decided on what system to use for planetary and system generation. For simplicity I was thinking of sticking with Traveller but I have since found some pretty cool GURPS Space generators that can knock out a million systems in no time at all.
Warning: This is a big file – the map is 4688×3632 pixels and is 1.25Mb in size. The orange line is the approximate edge of the Orion Arm. Galactic Centre is towards the right of the map. The map is centred on the Terran Sector which is at location 000/000/000.
Distances are easily computed by simply applying the forumla:
Or even more easily by going to this web site and putting in the numbers. For example, to compute the distance between the Terran Sector and the Hadrian sector (Terran 000/000/000 and Hadrian 600/000/300) plug those into the website linked to above and get 670.8LY. Quite a haul in a cargo freighter crawling along at 10LY per day. Over two months. Only a few weeks in a fast courier though.
Another blast from the past today. Back in the early 80s I first discovered Fantasy Games Unlimited’s Space Opera science fiction role-playing game. A few friends and I sat down and tried to make characters. It wasn’t hard so much as somewhat tedious. Trying to figure all the pre-requisite skills for your Armsman became a chore when you wanted to get gaming. We reverted back to using Traveller for character generation.
However, I really liked the background of Space Opera – a mish-mash of science fiction staples of the time. There was the United Federation of Planets (obviously from Star Trek) but with a completely different style. There were Robert Heinlein’s Bugs from Starship Troopers. Hell, the Federation Marines were even called CAP troopers. The associated Sci-Fi Miniatures Wargame was called Space Marines (again long before Games Workshop tried to claim ownership of the term). The Federation’s biggest enemy was the Azuriach Imperium, an evil totalitarian racist state that actually farmed and cooked intelligent aliens – Space Turkey. I ended up doing what all good GMs do – I ran a Traveller game set in a Space Opera inspired setting. Converted lots of the ships over to Traveller versions and still have the paper deckplans.
In a few years, there were a whole heap of material published. There were about half a dozen Sector Modules published. These covered most of the major power centres of the official Space Opera setting. My favourite is still the first – The Terran Sector. Each sector encompassed a 200LY Cube. As much as I liked Traveller I really preferred the FTL used in Space Opera. It presented space in three dimensions as opposed to Traveller’s two dimensional hex-based star mapping system.
All you needed was a ruler and a slide-rule/calculator (or your head if you were into that sort of thing) and you could determine distance between stars in Light Years on the map.
Starship construction rules, like pretty much everything in this game, probably worked better if you were the guy who wrote the game. Even looking at the official starship designs it was obvious that the authors fudged the rules something chronic. I have tried to retro-engineer some of the designs and they almost always don’t add up.
I have collected every bit of official material published by FGU and sanctioned by them for this game. That even includes the Star Sector modules for a lost colony of humans who are enslaved and in rebellion against a race that look and sound like Klingons! There are lots of published adventures as well to give you a feel for the setting.
If you like retro sci-fi I cannot recommend this game enough. If nothing else you will get a good laugh and have some fun reading through the various books. Originals are still available pretty cheaply from time to time from places like Noble Knight Games and of course from eBay. DrivethruRPG also sells PDF copies of most of the material – often at quite a discount.