Cawnpore and Perseus are available in the Createspace eStore and on where, if you order a physical copy of the books, you get the ebook for free. They are also available as ebooks on every ereader out there.

I don’t see a lot of these around the internet, but like cars and appliances, it’s nice to know what the longevity, etc. of an expensive piece of equipment is likely to be.

My then-girlfriend bought me my first MacBook Air in October 2010, four years ago, mostly because I had so loved my first iPad she thought I might appreciate the aesthetics of the device and the small size and weight — important at the time, as I pretty much went everywhere by motorcycle, and it would fit in my tank bag. Here’s the initial impressions of the computer.

So, four years on, how is it? The body is still solid, doesn’t creak, and still looks great — no scratches or blemishes to speak of. The display is still clear and bright, with no pixels burned out. I don’t have quite as much need for the size, as I either work at home, or when the kid’s in daycare, which means I’m in the “cage” (car), but it’s still the most comfortable computer to use that I’ve owned.

Once I got used to the Mac interface, I found it worked quite well, although they really need to work on their help references; when you run into issues, you often have to go online and hit the Apple support boards to find answers. The Air has had four or five friggin’ OS changes since I bought her, and I suspect Yosemite — the latest — is going to see the end of support for the pre-2012 machines. That’s perhaps the one issue with Apple — they don’t do backward compatibility for more than a five or six years, then you are on obsolete OS and tech (the original iPad that found it’s way to my little girl is now in that limbo — none of the app she has are upgradable, and it can handle the new iOS8.) However, I’ve met plenty of folks still pounding along on decade old MacBooks and happy to not have the latest and greatest.

To that end — with Mountain Lion, the Air started having issues with video and running up the fans on the computer. For the first few months I didn’t even know it had them; I never heard them. The video card just can’t handle the new Flash and H.265 streams without get seriously hot. Even web sites with Flash would also run the machine hot and drain the battery. Up until recently, I used Chrome for most of my web work, but recently found the newer version of Safari was faster and did a better job of keeping the various ads from killing battery life.

As they’ve moved out the various OS, I saw negligible improvement or reduction in performance, battery life, etc. I was lucky and had none of the bugs that hit some of the machines for wifi and other problems, so I can’t comment to those that did. Yosemite was a sharp improvement in the user experience: you can make and receive phone call without getting your lazy ass up to find your phone (if you have a newer iPhone on iOS8), do text messaging the same, and their productivity suite has mostly recovered from the gutting it got to make it talk to the iOS version better. All the iCloud stuff is nice, but I don’t use it because I’m too cheap to pay for space, and too security conscious to throw all my data out where people can get at it easily. (I still pull the SD card with my personal stuff when traveling. Screw you, TSA.)

The older CPU is more than ample to handle most of my daily chores — i can have as many as six docs open, a few tabs on Safari, iTunes playing something that is stored on the external drive and have nary a skip in performance, although when it comes, it’s inevitably iTunes that’s the culprit. Battery life at 300 cycles, four years in, is about 6-7 hours doing some writing, some web surfing, and the like. If I turn off the wifi, it jumps about 2 hours. The original 6700 mAh is now 6067mAh (90%)…that’s pretty friggin’ good for a four year old machine. None of my old laptops had a battery survive more than two years before they had to be replaced. With the curve these batteries have, I can anticipate another year to two before battery failure.

So if you are in the market for a MacBook Air and don’t want to pay premium prices for a new one, a used laptop looks to be a good buy; if you want a new one, you can expect to keep it for four to five years before it slides out of the support stream…and even them should be usable. That’s only rivaled by my original Compaq from the late ’90s, and the 10″ Dell Inspiron I knew was still running like a top at six years old when I saw it last. (Sold it.)

After about a month, I’m finally getting around to doing a new AAR for our Battlestar Galactica game. Originally, that’s because we had a couple of “let’s talk about our feelings” episodes that are great for the players, but don’t really work well for these posts (or a season of The Walking Dead, either…) But tucked in all that character development, there have been big doings that are driving the plot in a direction that both mirrors the show (RDM, not TOS) and breaks away from it.

When last we checked in, the Kobol mission had succeeded, the roadmap to Earth was recovered, and the team had brought back the Lord of Kobol, ATHENA, inhabiting the body of their CAG. The government and military are skeptical about revealing this to the fleet, but the word gets out and soon the priests are clamoring to have access to her. The crew is split between those who really need her to be their Goddess of War and Wisdom, right now, and those who either view her with suspicion — some kind of Cylon, maybe? — or view her as some kind of advanced being, maybe not a “god”, but certainly something greater than humans. Some of her acquaintances are trying to reach out, see if there’s any of their old comrade, others reject her outright. They don’t know how she fits — she’s not in the chain of command and is being careful not to interfere with the operation of the ship or the government; she’s not an officer (they declared her KIA), but has offered to fly with the air group, and they don’t know how to even refer to her — is “sir” really acceptable for this creature? The commander pushes this option, but quickly is dismayed that the crew are referring to Athena as “your holiness”, or “your divinity”, or “your grace.” They’re leaving offerings at her door. It’s annoying the shit out of her.

They discover that much of Evripidi (the character that was possessed by Athena) is still there, and the memories and personalities and memories of the two are often in conflict. Evripidi has made Athena understand humans like she never bothered to — she was always a creature of reason and kept herself apart from romantic interludes and real connections; now she has the memories of love, lust, sex to contend with. Evripidi sees a fellow spirit who has lost her whole race, and is now on a divine mission to aid not just humans, but “life.” In one cryptic conversation, she tells Pindarus, the commander, that she still instinctively is an atheist, but knows how terribly wrong she is.

The government is trying to use her to bolster the spirits of a people who lost everything, then were crammed into metal cans in space, with limited food, space, and no way to blow off steam or escape their reality. There’s elections coming up and the president was not running again. He was quickly succumbing to his cancer, but an experimental treatment using Cylon blood has put him into remission in a matter of a week. The doctor and veterinarian that came up with the idea are still claiming it was Colonial science, and not Cylon blood, that did the trick. They are trying to find ways to artificially create the “leukobots” in Cylon blood to start treating those they know will eventually be stricken with cancer after a protracted interstellar flight in ships designed for short-term radiation exposure. (We’ve already established that most Fleet servicepeople get cancer later in life; it’s part of “the life.”)

With the Cylons locked into a civil war between the centurions and other machines vs. the biologial or biomimetic Cylons, the fleet splits to try and increase their chances of success. Kobol is destroyed, and with it most of the Cylon industrial base. There know where the other Cylon outposts are, and have a good number on the remaining basestar groups. With hit and run attacks, Admiral Cain thinks it is possible to break the Cylon supply lines, confounded them, and distract them while the fleet slips away to Earth. In a best case scenario, Pegasus could carry the flight back to the Colonies, then follow the fleet with survivors they found.

There were some gang machinations that toppled one of the PCs from running the black market, and cost him his position as security minister after it was discovered his aide was a Cylon. This group — the Salamir Cartel — is one of the oldest, savviest criminal enterprises, and they are getting involved in politics, looking to set up an alternative party to the Pindarus “regime.” They get some traction when the fleet stumbles across a Cylon battle group running from the centurions. After some tough moments, they finally manage to cut a deal for prisoner exchanges, and a truce — at least with this group. The president manages to catch enough support in the fleet (it was a HEROIC leadership test) that it’s mostly stable. But the Cartel is working to undermine him, already, and they are getting traction when in a show of trust after her near death defending the Kobol mission, Boomer is put back in uniform.

The crew is, again, split. Most are distrustful and furious, they think the commander is losing it. Others, including ATHENA think this is a necessary step. The cycle of hatred that has played out across time hasn’t worked, maybe it’s time to try the hard road of redemption and forgiveness. Pindarus risks his credibility by putting the one other Cylon that chose not to be exchanged — a Three that had been a sleeper in the Colonies, and still has trouble separating her “human” cover identity of LT Ishtar Biroi from her Cylon side. The commander is gaining insight into this sort of struggle from Athena, and decides to give her a chance. But the sides are hardening toward a possible mutiny, and it’s even splitting families in the fleet.

This is a subject that comes up frequently in RPG circles: Realism — how “real” should your games be? Ultimately, the issue is that you are not modeling reality, but are engaged in some form of storytelling. Dependent on the demands of genre, or the style of story told, your “reality” is likely to be different. Realism, however is the wrong word. A more appropriate one would be verisimilitude:

ver·i·si·mil·i·tude ˌverəsəˈmiliˌt(y)o͞od noun: the appearance of being true or real. “the detail gives the novel some verisimilitude.” Synonyms: realism, believability, plausibility, authenticity, credibility, lifelikeness “the verisimilitude of her performance is gripping”

Not only is it more accurate a description of what you are trying to explain, but it’s a damned cool-smart word.

Almost no movie, book, or game is going to be based in “reality.” There is some aspect of the fantastical — either you are in a world with elves, dwarves, and the like; or you are in a spy-fi world where you go out and hunt down bad guys (or are bad guys engaged in amazing acts of cool criminality) instead of sitting at a desk reading and translating a five foot high pile of SIGINT captures and hoping the TS-cleared coffee guys at the Starbucks in the lobby showed up today, while negotiating the hazards of the CIA Style Guide; or you are fighting killer robots in space, in airplane like fighters that have no business being plane-like in space; or you are fighting zombies/robots/ancient horrors….

See my point? Not reality. But you can use elements of reality to make it feel real. Steven King, for all his faults, is a great horror writer because most of his books start out normal. They really dig into the mundanity of every day life so that when things tip into the supernatural, or simply the dangerous (like getting stuck in a car with a rabid dog outside), the stakes feel heightened.

Why did the reimagined Battlestar Galactica work so well? Because it felt real. Clunky intercom phones, realistic military jargon, battered metal ships that broke down, guns not lasers. In the end, even the ability to do FTL jumps could be waved away, as there were issues with the time to “spin up” or distance limitations. The outlandish technology felt real because it seemed to have limits and they were consistent.

In multiple action movies, guys can shoot a propane tank –which, by the way, is probably built tougher than an actual battle “tank” — with a 9mm and BOOM! We don’t question it. You can shoot a car gas tank (again, kinda engineered to resist punctures) and BOOM! Pistols are magic. The heroes can fall ridiculous distances and with a pained grunt, limp away. We buy it. Grenades apparently explode in a neighborhood-sized ball of fire (they don’t; I know) and that fireball will travel linearly (just turn the corner!) and only as fast as you run/drive/fly. Is that real? Or even remotely realistic? No — but it is part of the tropes of that genre. It is the reality of that universe.

Is Tolkein “realistic”? Hell, no; but between the rich history, the different languages, the maps, the great characters, the feeling of real injury and danger, and the general consistency of how magic works, it feels real.

The key to verisimilitude is to, from the start, have a set of rules for the universe, or at the very least, an understanding of how it works. If technology works a certain way, don’t rewire the spiraling quantum whatsinator in your deflector dish this week to solve and issue, then forget all about it the next. If time travel requires living material, then your morphing death machine should still have to be inside a living creature to travel (and then it can be much more frighteningly revealed…) If your Cylons can’t breed, why? Is it “God” stopping them, or something to do with their bio-tech hybrid nature?

Example: Often when I run “spy-fi”, the game universe is based pretty tightly on how the nations, agencies, groups operate in reality. There’s politics to take into account, there’s technological limits to satellite imagery, cell phone captures, etc. You can’t get from Washington to Dubai in less than a day (but it’s still a nice smash cut for the sake of getting on with it.) You spend time doing some investigations, but often the analyst team has done the heavy lifting for you…otherwise, you are gaming sitting in an office going over reports and transcripts of phone calls. Guns aren’t magic, nor are explosives; you can only pack some many gadgets in a high-end car and if you keep breaking them, eventually they’re going to give you the Nissan subcompact rental with you have to pay for the insurance. This helps it feel real.

But you can still do things that are outside the norm of human ability — after all, you’re the heroes. And the villains are sometimes going to be larger than life — because that’s spy-fi. you can’t be hunting the same group of Islamic terrorists week to week; sometime you have to go for that evil environmental philanthropist looking to collapse the world economy to make another tens of billions on shorting currencies. (Not that governments would send you after these guys…they’re the politicians’ bread and butter.) This is what keeps it fun.

Depending on the genre and tone of the game, there will be a natural balance between the fantastic and verisimilitude. A ’30s pulp game could run the gambit from a Raiders of the Lost Ark setting where high action, very tough characters, and really high stakes (and the occasional supernatural) are going on but few generally know, to something a bit more outlandish like the plethora of masked crime-fighters from The Phantom and The Shadow to their more successful derivative, Batman. Pirates are loose in the world doing evil things, villains dress up like clowns, or guys have the power to “cloud men’s minds.” There is a natural step away from realism in these settings. You can embrace it, or you can try to amp up the “realism” but that only works if you show how unusual the hero and villain really are. (The Dark Knight does this to good effect in the first 2/3rds of the movie — Batman is established, but still odd, still an outsider; and the Joker…?)

Another great example of how verisimilitude can work is The Incredibles, a movie I borrowed a lot from for my short-lived Marvel Heroic RPG campaign. The heroes are pushed out of adventuring and crimefighting under the weight of a litigious society and ordinary folks’ envy and fear of them. I combined this with the desire of the state to box, catalogue, and control pretty much anything they can (read Seeing Like a State by James Scott) to make a game setting where heroes and villains exist, super-powered creatures have been around since the beginning of time, but with the population boom of the 20th Century, what was once a rare thing is still statistically rare, but common enough to be an ever-present threat. To use your powers, you needed licenses and insurance against damages. Many of our villains were folks that couldn’t get these permits and started operating outside the confines of the law. There was “the Crane” – a super-strong guy that worked construction illegally, but because it’s a federal crime, it’s a felony; there was the Hollywood heartthrob hero who liked little girls and lost it all. There were special teams of supers and well-trained normals with incredible gear to stop the bad guys. But it had certain rules to ground it in a reality where the normals were desperately trying to control creatures that were beyond that.

So how “real” do your game settings have to be? The answer is “it depends” — look at the conventions of the setting you are working with through the lens of the tone you want. There should be a natural balance that you will arrive at. Then be consistent with your rules.

Glen A Larson died at UCLA Medical Center of esophageal cancer this weekend. Without this producer, we wouldn’t have had the Star Wars knockoff that would be the inspiration for one of the best science fiction shows in TV history.

Since that reimagined show, and the RPG tied to it, is a (if not, the) major draw of visitors to this site, I thought it would be appropriate to mention him.

I was going to just do my usual quick review of the movie, but there’s so much going on tied to the success/failure, hype, and other aspects of this movie that have clearly skewed the other reviews of the film I want to address them first.

One of the bit bandied about the interwebz is about the “backlash” against Chris Nolan as a writer/director. His detractors view him as pompous — and certainly his statements about Interstellar have borne some of that out; his claims to have wanted to create something on par with 2001: A Space Odyssey seem to have infuriated that clique of sci-fi fans for whom the Kubrick opus cannot be matched. But that’s not the point. Is Interstellar  a better movie than 2001? No, it’s a different movie, and in some ways excels at storytelling in ways Kubrick often failed; in other ways, well it’s not that good.

Others claim Nolan’s films aren’t particularly clever, or complain about plot holes. Welcome to Hollywood — you’ve got two hours (well, three here) to do what you want or need to, and usually  that’s going to require some fudging figures. Complaints about The Dark Knight usually revolve about the weak last act with Harvey Dent, or the dense amount of social topics addressed rather offhandedly — like ubiquitous surveillance. Batman does it, there’s a bit of hand wringing, then it’s over; Winter Soldier kicked you in the face with the subject…but that was, in many ways, the main thrust of the movie. Inception is seen as overly convoluted to disguise its weaknesses. Fair enough. It was still fun. Insomnia was still great — anyone who can make Pacino act instead of yell for two hours is okay by me.

If there’s a sin Nolan commits as a filmmaker, its the same one we’re seeing with all writer/driectors, from Nolan, to Tarantino to Peter “Fuck, three movies to do what is essentially a novella” Jackson. Interstellar, like King Kong, or Inception, or Django Unchained would have been much more engaging if they were slightly shorter then Wagner’s Ring opera.

Then there’s the issue of hype and audience expectation. This is something I’ve noted, particularly from the know-it-all cinephiles in review circles — they can’t stand when the product doesn’t match the advertisement. It’s that Christmas toy that isn’t so cool once opened. We saw this a-plenty in recent sic-fi movies — particularly ones with the name Damon Lindelof in the writing credits somewhere. People were angst ridden that Ridley Scott’s Prometheus didn’t do deep meaningful questions about the state of reality and man’s existence. Yes, they tried to gussy the movie up with stunning visuals and a few hand waves at philosophy, but in the end — if you were paying attention — you were going to get a monster movie. Go in with that expectation, and it’s not that bad. (But certainly not up to the quality of the original Sphaits script.) Both of the JJ Abams Star Trek movies were awful if you expected a Star Trek movie; but if you realized they were set pieces for crazy fun action sequences with a bit of plot stringing them through — sort of a action porn movie — you probably didn’t feel like your childhood was raped out of you through your eyes.

At heart, though, the question should always, first be, did you have a good time?

So having heard about the overblown questions about the nature of reality, the importance of love as some kind of supernatural bond, and seeing the 2:45 runtime, i took my freebie Fandango ticket and went to see it on a Friday night.

…and I loved it.

It’s not without issues, but what film this year outside of Guardians of the Galaxy (yes, GotG is that fucking good) doesn’t have some issues. Here’s the first one: it’s too damned long. It’s been about 14 year since Lord of the Rings meant any successful writer/director stopped having to hire a damned editor. Chop some of the scenes back a bit – mostly the first 45 minutes on Earth and the black hole/time travel bits — it’s a fantastic movie. (Kinda like cutting the stargate sequence and trimming the intolerably long, dry talking bits from 2001 and concentrating on the events on Discovery would have improved that film.

It’s a bit schmaltzy. The Brand character (Hathaway) has a long diatrabe about the power of love and time and space, but she’s essentially trying to find anyway to convince Cooper — for whom she just destroyed his chance of seeing his kids before they were collecting Social Security — to take her to the planet her lover had surveyed. I didn’t see it as philosophizing; I saw a desperate woman trying to convince the kid she just screwed over to do things her way.

One of the critics’ complaints was the lack of a real emotional through line between Cooper (McConaghey) and his kids. I have a three year old that would fall apart if I left for another galaxy tomorrow; this apparently missing emotion queue kicked me in the balls so hard I started crying after the movie was over. Not during; after. For the whole walk home, I felt guilty about the possibility I might let my kid down in some hazily defined, not-going-to-space way. Bravo, Chris; screw you, critics.

The end is not as pathetically high-brow as 2001, and before your blather, yes, I read The Sentinel and yes, I understood what Kubrick was doing. It still sucked. This is the weakest point of the movie — the “in the black hole” act. It gets better after that.

The science is good enough for the average audience. Kind of like people bitching about satellite altitudes in Gravity, you’re missing the point if you’re busting out your Casio calculator watch and trying to work out the actual time dilation the planet should be experiencing. There’s no sound in space and Nolan uses the sudden silence of a decompression scene to scare you as easily as if he had done the big noise gotcha. The ship is well thought out and looks realistic enough. They worry about fuel, but not in the sort of numbers crunching way Apollo 13 did; that’s not the point of the movie. The “Earth is dying” trope is a bit worn out (sorry, environmentalists!) but it is a serviceable McGuffin for putting the characters in space.

The visuals are absolutely arresting. The sound design is great. Matt Damon plays a cowardly douchebag with abandon.

So past all the hype and hissy fits about Nolan, Interstellar was a solidly entertaining movie, with generally good performances, mind-boggling visuals, decent science, and a nice twist connected to time dilation at the end.

On my full-price, matinee, rent, borrow, avoid scale — it’s a full-price. I might have popped for IMAX, if I wasn’t a cheap bastard. But if it’s between Interstellar and Guardians of the Galaxy…Guardians, my son, Guardians.

Looks like Neill Blomkamp may have pulled it out of the fire for his next one. The Hollywood experience gave us the middling but pretty Elysium, with its overly preachy enviro and class-warfare messages. Here he goes after the artificial intelligence in a fearful human world theme, and it looks pretty good. It’s nice to see Hugh Jackman in something over that Wolverine garb, playing the heavy here.

I particularly like the Shirow-esque look of the robot.

I remember the first time I saw the original GDW Space: 1889 in The Compleat Strategist near Rittenhouse Square– I was living in Philadelphia and the main games our group was playing were either superheroes (DC Heroes by Mayfair), or espionage games (using James Bond: 007) and cyberpunk Cyberpunk (by R. Talsorian.) The look of the game was intriguing enough, with the great David Dietrick art — one of the big boys in game cover art at the time — and a quick look through the interior was enough to get me hooked. There was a board game, Sky Galleon of Mars, that tied in and allowed you to make the jump from the RPG to a wargame and back, and there were about a dozen supplements and adventure books published before GDW died. If have the book I bought a quarter century ago sitting in front of me as I write this.

After a bit of stumbling to put together a game, I wound up running some form of Victorian science-fiction — usually in the Space: 1889 universe — from 1990 until 2004, when I started to drift toward ’30s pulp and Exile’s Hollow Earth Expedition. The game was one of the reasons I went into history, my specialty was Early modern and Modern Europe until my doctorate (mostly due to the shoddy condition of the European section of the college) when I drifted into Modern US (which strangely coincided with my most to Hollow Earth Expedition.)

A few years ago, there was a Savage Worlds version of this, the original “steampunk” (gahd, how I hate that word!) game, and I have a PDF of that, as well, but never found SW made much sense, mechanically. Close to that time, it was announced that Clockwork in Germany was doing a version using Ubiquity — the rules set from Hollow Earth Expedition. In 2013, the Kickstarter for an English-language version was posted by Angus Abramson — who I worked for in the early days of Cubicle 7 on the Victoriana line — and his new Chronicle City house. I missed the Kickstart for this, having already blown dough on the Revelations of Mars book by Exile a month earlier (still not @#$%ing close to done…) Well, the PDF just dropped for sale yesterday with the print book not far behind, and I had a chance to do a quick read-through this afternoon.

The new book is very true to the original. There’s some difference in the verbiage and the arrangement of the book, but the setting is unchanged.  There is new artwork, some of which is an update of pieces in the original book, some of which is original. The quality is true to the original book, as well — mostly black and white pieces and the occasional color plate. The maps of Mars and Venus are updated and look better than the original, but when I looked at them side-by-side, they are “the same.” There is the alternate history from the original book — Edison’s flight in an airship with ether propeller to Mars, and the other alternate history moments. There’s a gazette for Earth, Mars, Venus, and Mercury. Here and there, you can see where the new publishers added bits and bobs to flesh out the worlds — new gadgets and gear, a few locations and “worlds in the ether”, etc.

Character generation is nearly the same as you would find in Hollow Earth Expedition, but there is a specific set of rules for older, more experienced characters that looks a lot like the character creation house rules we’ve been using for our HEX games. There are a few traits and flaws that are setting specific, the Status Resource is very slightly more fleshed out, but otherwise it’s the character generation from HEX. One of the things that I noticed was there were no real traits that differentiated the Martians from the human characters in the game. I would have expected something to take into account the acclimation to lower gravity and pressure, but Space: 1889 also has a much more friendly Mars than reality — heavier gravity and atmosphere than most alternate Mars settings. (Over a few campaigns, I started using a Mars with .5G, rather than the .9G of this game, and lower pressures, making mountain travel dangerous for Earthlings.)

Rules-wise, it’s Ubiquity: roll the number of dice (any even sided will do — even a coin) equal to your skill plus the connected attribute and beat the number of successes. It has the “take the average” than makes Hollow Earth Expedition work so well when fighting mooks and the like — the GM doesn’t have to do a lot of rolling and the action moves quickly; characters that just need a pass/fail result can take the average when they know it’s higher than the needed successes for the same reason — getting roll playing out of the way of role playing. If you know HEX, you can pick up and play this.

Style: The original game was pretty sharp for it’s time, with good color art and crappy line art for the rest; the new version is average RPG quality art for the black and white art, decent color. I’d go 3-3 1/2 out of 5. Substance: Unless you plan on really digging into political intrigue and the like, the book is good enough to launch into a campaign that night, and the rules are complete enough to handle mot situations. 4 out of 5. Is it worth the $56US for the print and pdf combo? If you are into this genre, yes; if you are an old Space:1889 fan that wants a better set of mechanics than the execrable ones from 1989, absolutely; if you’re just curious..? No.

Extra Review Goodness!

So, let me stack this up against the closest thing to it’s peer – Leagues of Adventure, also a Ubiquity-powered game set in a Victorian science-fiction alternate universe. This one is published by Triple Ace Games. Again — the mechanics, character creation, etc. is no different from Space: 1889 or Hollow Earth Expedition, but there are a few places where leagues of Adventure excels: in the character creation section, there is a great bit on the Rank Resource, and how it ties to the various real and invented clubs of the period. Being a member of a club was almost essential for the well-heeled gentleman, and certainly for the aristocrat. Like Space: 1889, the Status Resources is pretty sketchily defined, but at least Space:1889 makes room for people below the rank of peer or wealthy middle class (bravo!) Also, Leagues provides rules for Inventions — something Space: 1889 (like the original) glosses over. Characters as inventors seem to be an afterthought in Space: 1889, but there’s a nice set of rules for it in Leagues and a goodly selection of weird steam- and clockwork-powered science!

Style: 4 out of 5 — the Art is superior RPG quality, full color, and the layout is nicely done. Substance: There’s a lot on the society and the basics of the Victorian period, and the rules are more comprehensive than Hollow Earth Expedition was… 4 out of 5. Is it worth the price of $30 US for the book? Absolutely. Is it worth the $18 for the PDF — no. Buy the book.

Now, here’s my suggestion: I would be surprised if Clockwork and Chronicle City didn’t do some kind of reprint or series of splatbooks for Space:1889, and TAG already has one book out and another with weird inventions on the way…if you’re a Space; 1889 or Victorian speculative fiction RPG fan — buy them both and mix and match the bits and bobs you need to build up your setting. (It’s what I’m doing.)


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