Looking Back – Space Princess

Do you know I’ve been doing this blogging / game writing nonsense for about 10 years? Wow. That was never the intent. In fact, there was no intent – just me goofing around. I certainly never intended to write and publish books when I started.

So here I am, all these years into whatever the heck I’m doing, and I figure maybe it would be fun to look back. Today, I decided to jot down a few thoughts about an early publication of mine, and probably a mostly forgotten one, called Tales of the Space Princess.

Space Princess started out as my response on a message board thread that asked why science-fiction rpg’s had not become as popular as fantasy rpg’s, specifically Dungeons & Dragons. I don’t remember the other responses to the thread, but they were all genre-specific. My theory was that it had nothing to do with sci-fi vs. fantasy. D&D worked because it was a game above all else. Players controlled characters who wandered around a maze in search of treasure. Monsters and traps hindered them. Simple. Anything could be grafted onto D&D, and with each fun thing you added to the mix, D&D became itself more popular. It just so happened that the game was born out of a fantasy supplement to a medieval wargame.

The problem with early sci-fi games, I figured, was that they set out to replicate sci-fi movies and stories. RPG’s aren’t very good at that. Stories have plots, with characters under the writer’s control. They have pre-determined outcomes, which is anathema to games. Checkers works because you don’t know who will win – black or red. Dungeons & Dragons, early on, was the same way. If the characters died delving for treasure, you made new characters. Their death didn’t disrupt a plot – the characters were not central to a story, they were just “avatars” of the players. As a game, this works beautifully. In a novel, it would suck.

I went on to surmise that a sci-fi D&D could have been as popular as the fantasy D&D with the same focus on being a game that borrowed the trappings of science fiction. I took Star Wars as an example. In Star Wars, Luke, Ben, Chewie, Threepio and Artoo venture into the Death Star to rescue Princess Leia from Darth Vader. If we make this more generic, we get a party of adventurers go into a space fortress to rescue the space princess from the dark lord.

Of course, this got my brain popping, so I decided to actually write the game I was describing. I had published a few NODs and Pars Fortuna (more on that in another post), so I figured why not try something else new. I didn’t exactly base the rules entirely on the SRD because I wanted to try some new things. The characters, for example, didn’t have levels. You could start them out as novices, veterans or old-timers – their skills improved with age, but they got fewer luck points to get you through scrapes. This was designed to deal with the fact that, in the source material, you had young Luke Skywalker, old Ben Kenobi and Han Solo somewhere in the middle. How do you make a game work so that different “levels” of characters could adventure together? I had a similar challenge in Mystery Men – the Superman/Batman conundrum. Did my idea work? I decided to use “luck” as a balancing mechanism. Did it work? Heck – that’s for others to decide.

Beyond the rules, I tried to pack the game with all sorts of sci-fi stuff just the way D&D packed in the fantasy tropes. The playable species included humans, of course … which included anything that was basically humanoid and didn’t have special powers … androids and gynoids and “aliens”. The alien species had rules to allow all sorts of alien species to be created, either in imitation of species from existing sci-fi properties – such as vulcan and wookies – or something completely invented by the player.

The classes in the game are psychic, scientist, scoundrel, space ranger and star warrior. Looking through the book for the first time in years, I realize that I had forgotten about my sample characters in the game – Athena Laserwolf, the human star warrior (and an obvious homage to Morgan Ironwolf), Scrimshaw McGurk, the human scoundrel, and Zazzix, the alien psychic. The original art in the project was done by Jason Sholtis, and it was fantastic. It’s fun to rediscover things you wrote long enough ago to have forgotten!

For monsters, I tried to hit the highlights of sci-fi. Space brothers from UFOlogy rub shoulders with the ro-man from Robot Monster and martians from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The olvugai from Pars Fortuna made it into the game – I love sticking things from one of my games into others, to keep them all in the same “universe” – as did H.G. Well’s martians as zarks, the vulcans and klingons as red and blue voltans and the vampire from TV’s Buck Rogers made it in as the space vampire. I stuck girallons in the game because they were inspired by the white apes of Burrough’s Mars, and flail snails because I love flail snails. The point was to mix and match all sorts of nonsense to build gonzo space fortresses (i.e. dungeons), and that was what I did. I also included a way to build random (or non-random) alien animals.

I kept the equipment pretty simple, with some basic gear like weapons and spaceships, and then super-science gear – essentially the same as magic items.

Gameplay was designed to be divided into two phases. The first was the exploration of the space fortress to find and rescue the “space princess”, which can be an actual captive princess or a captive prince, or super weapon, or space station plans, or whatever you want it to be. The second phase is where the adventurers escape in their spaceship. They need a few turns before they can jump into hyperspace, and in the meantime have to battle some enemy fighters, a la Star Wars. Just as old D&D didn’t really deal with life outside of dungeon delving and stronghold-building, Space Princess kept it simple.

Space Princess … it originated in a message board discussion, turned into a chance to try new things in a game, It was a fun little experiment for a new author. Looking through the game, I’m actually pretty impressed with how much stuff I packed into a 44 page game! I guess maybe I should pull Tales of the Space Princess back out and give it another go. My daughter had a blast testing it when she was 14, and I think we have the old character sheets tucked away somewhere …

Bionic Warriors and Space Hippies

It could take up to 6 million quatloos to get a body like this!

Two new classes for the wonderful worlds of Space Princess

BIONIC WARRIOR
Bionic warriors are usually space warriors or astronauts who have been rebuilt due to injuries sustained in the line of duty. They are strong and quick, and come with their own built-in super science. Some hold a grudge against the scientists who built them, while others are glad to use their new-found abilities to help others.

HIT DICE: Bionic warriors roll d10 to determine hit points

REQUIREMENT: STR and DEX of 6 or higher

SKILLS: Bionic warriors can add their SKILL to the following tests: Climb (STR), Leap & Swing (STR) and SWIM (STR)

STARTING GEAR: Bionic warriors start with a hand weapon, ray gun and snazzy jumpsuit

.nobrtable br { display: none }

Level Hit Dice Skill Luck
Robo-Man/Woman 3 3 2
Cyber-Man/Woman 5 6 1
Bionic Man/Woman 8 10 0

Bionic warriors have three random bionic implants in their bodies. These implants can be disabled with other super science devices (electro-scramblers, EMPs, etc.).

ROLL / IMPLANT
1. Bionic brain (ie. mento-helmet)
2. Bionic calves (leaps as though had a SKILL of 12)
3. Bionic claws (retractable claws allow an additional claw attack for 1d4 points of damage)
4-6. Bionic ears (can listen at doors as though the bionic warrior had a SKILL of 12)
7-9. Bionic eyes (i.e. night goggles)
10. Bionic feet (i.e. gravity boots)
11. Bionic finger (finger acts as a basic ray gun with 3 shots per day and can be used to disable devices as though the bionic warrior had a SKILL of 10)
12-13. Bionic fists (fists are as potent as laser swords)
14. Bionic jaw (gains additional bite attack that deals 1d4 points of damage)
15. Bionic lungs (immune to toxic, narcotic and poisonous fumes and gases and can hold breath for 10 minutes)
16-17. Bionic nose (i.e. locator)
18. Bionic skeleton (i.e. exoskeleton)
19. Bionic skin (i.e. body armor)
20. Bionic thighs (increases movement from slow to normal, normal to fast or fast to very fast)

SPACE HIPPIE
Space hippies travel the star-ways, spreading their message of enlightenment. Space hippies are adventurous sorts. Some are rugged individualists, while others are just posers looking for a handout and their next smoke of Venusian red, but all space hippies cast disdain upon the “Herberts” – authority figures who don’t share their beliefs.

HIT DICE: Space hippies roll d6 to determine hit points

REQUIREMENT: MEN of 4 or higher

SKILLS: Space hippies can add their SKILL to the following tests: Identify substance (KNO), calm situation (MEN), hide (DEX), move silently (DEX), charm strangers (MEN), play instrument (MEN)

STARTING GEAR: Space hippies start with a musical instrument the clothes on their backs – they disdain weapons, but will fight to defend themselves from the Herberts (and space monsters) using their feet and fists. Space hippies aren’t looking for trouble, but they can handle what they find.

.nobrtable br { display: none }

Level Hit Dice Skill Luck
Joker 2 4 3
Star Child 5 8 1
Groovy Guru 7 12 0

Space hippies are capable of evoking emotional states with their music. This requires a play instrument test, with the following difficulties and effects:

PEACE, BROTHER (DC 15): This music calms hostile creatures. All who hear it cease fighting and can only begin fighting again after one round, and even then they must pass a MEN test (DC 15) to begin fighting. A combatant who is attacked can always choose to defend themselves.

THE BLUES (DC 15): All whom the space hippy targets must pass a MEN test or become very, very glum, suffering a -2 penalty to all tests and attacks.

RIGHT ON! (DC 10): All whom the space hippy targets are filled with righteous energy and enjoy a +2 bonus to all tests, but not to attacks.

KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON (DC 10): All who hear this that are under the effect of some mental effect can make a new test at +2 to shake it off.

SPACE TRUCKIN’ (DC 15): Pilots who hear this music enjoy a +1 bonus on all pilot tests.

AQUARIUS RISING (DC 25): All whom the space hippy targets with this masterful song can spend one free luck point on any test or attack they make while the effect lasts. This can only be done once per adventure.

PROTEST (DC 20): This protest song has the ability to counter any sonic ability or attack (including damage-dealing harmonics) used by an opponent.

Animals and simple beasts suffer a -2 penalty to tests against these effects, while militant aliens enjoy a +1 bonus. The effect lasts as long as the space hippy plays their music +1d4 rounds.

Cover of the Day

So tell me, dear readers. Is this fantasy or science-fantasy? Or science-fiction? I don’t know, but I do know that I love everything about this cover. Let’s break it down, along with some quick stats for Space Princess and Blood & Treasure.

We have to start with our heroine. Who sez the ladies were always helpless victims on old pulp and comic book covers? Okay, maybe 99% of the time, but still. From the cover blurb, we can assume this is one of Flint Baker’s amazon sky-troops. AMAZON SKY-TROOPS. Please tell me that phrase makes you smile. Tastefully dressed amazons equipped with morningstars flying about on the surprisingly strong necks of mutant vultures. If you look at the background closely, you’ll see that some of the amazons are riding on flat platforms being pulled by the birds – maybe the sci-fi equivalent of floating discs.

Amazon Sky-Trooper (B&T): Medium Humanoid, Neutral, Average Intelligence; HD 3; AC 14 [5]; Atk 1 morningstar (1d6+1); Move 30; Save F 14/R 12/W 14; XP 150; Special: No penalty to attack while mounted.

Amazon Sky-Trooper (SP): HD 3; DEF 16; FIGHT 8 (1d6+1); SHOOT 9; MOVE N; STR 5; DEX 6; MEN 4; KNO 4; DL 3; Special: No penalty to attack while mounted.

Vulturoid (B&T): Medium Animal, Neutral, Animal Intelligence; HD 6; AC 13 [6]; Atk 2 claws (1d6) and bite (1d6); Move 20 (Fly 90); Save F 10/R 9/W 15; XP 300; Special: None.

Vulturoid (SP): HD 6; DEF 17; FIGHT 14 (1d6); SHOOT 10; MOVE F; STR 8; DEX 4; MEN 3; KNO 0; DL 6; Special: None.

 

Moving downward, we come across a furry gent who is apparently a raider from the Red Moon. Perhaps we could also call him a Red Moonman. He’s not only furry, he also has cute little ears and demonic talons for feet. And check out the fork he’s holding that guy down with.

Raider of the Red Moon (B&T): Medium Humanoid, Chaotic, Low Intelligence; HD 2; AC 15 [4]; Atk 1 war-fork (1d4), dagger (1d4) or 2 talons (1d4); Move 20; Save F 12/R 15/W 16; XP 200; Special: Resistance to cold, can make two attacks per round with weapons, or, if has initiative, pounce and make four attacks with weapons and talons.

Raider of the Red Moon (SP): HD 2; DEF 16; FIGHT 6 (1d4); SHOOT 6; MOVE S; STR 4; DEX 4; MEN 4; KNO 2; DL 2; Special: Resistance to cold, can make two attacks per round with weapons, or, if has initiative, pounce and make four attacks with weapons and talons.

If we continue down, we meet, I assume, Flint Baker, and frankly, he’s the least interesting thing on this cover. No pixels will be wasted on Flint.

Other stories include Auro, Lord of Jupiter, Mars, God of War and Hunt Bowman in the Lost World. If you don’t name your next ranger Hunt Bowman, you might be taking your gaming just a tad too serious.

Beware the Genomes!

Can stats for Spaceman Spiff be far behind?

Genomes are small humanoid aliens with highly variable features (highly variable!) because of their penchant for body modification. I’m not talking about tattoos and piercings, folks. I’m talking about genetic engineering, mutagenic gases and the grafting of flesh onto flesh.

The standard stock for these genetic whiz-kids is that of a small humanoid, about 3 to 4 feet tall, with slightly hunched shoulders, a large, sensitive nose (per super scent), skin ranging from nut-brown to creamy white and very bright, clear eyes that pierce the darkness per infra-vision. Due to the aforementioned body modifications, most have 1d3 different “mutations” in play. These mutations mimic the different special abilities of alien characters.

MUTATION
1 Increase random ability score by +1
2 Bulk
3 Climbing
4 Electrical Field
5 Leap
6 Multiple Arms
7 Multiple Legs
8 Stunning Grasp
9 Super Hearing
10 Super Vision

Genomes operate in bands of 2d4 individuals, always looking to harvest genetic material for their experiments. They are as capable as scientists in terms of identifying and operating super scientific devices, and always carry medi-kits and mutation-rays. Creatures struck by a mutation ray suffer 1d3 points of damage to a random ability score (1 = Str, 2 = Dex, 3 = Men, 4 = Kno) and must pass a Strength test (DC 10) or be transmogrified into a random monster under the control of the genome for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, the character can make a Mentality test (using their normal MEN score). If they succeed, they change back to normal. If not, they remain in their monster form, but are no longer under the control of the genome. If captured, the creature can be changed back to normal provided his or her comrades have captured a mutation ray gun (and figured out how to use it) or they have a scientist capable of designing a mutation ray gun (super science DC 25).

RANDOM MONSTER
1 Ankheg
2 Baric
3 Flail Snail
4 Gelatinous Cube
5 Giant Beetle
6 Giant Lizard
7 Giant Spider
8 Great Horned Ape
9 Killer Shrew
10 Random Alien Animal

GENOME: HD 1; DEF 15; FIGHT 4 (vibro-pick 1d8); SHOOT 6 (mutation ray); MOVE N; STR 3; DEX 5; MEN 4; KNO 8; DL 3; Special: Infra-vision, super scent, 1d3 mutations, mutation ray.

Monster Matinee – Attack of the Crab Monsters

I’m working my way through the public domain sci-fi/horror movies on Pub-D-Hub, and last night I took in Roger Corman’s Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957).

Spoilers are a comin’, so be warned.

The combination of “Corman” and “Crab Monsters” doesn’t fill a person with much hope. The monsters, I assumed, would either be men in rubber suits or green-screened crabs made to look giant harassing a bunch of strangers, etc. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It is a movie in the sub-genre of “group of people menaced by monsters, dying one by one”, but had some pretty clever details – oh, and one of the characters is played by Russell Johnson, better known as the Professor on Giligan’s Island!

Still trying to get a transmitter to work, and not a coconut in sight

The “crab monsters” in the title weren’t what I expected. They were giant crabs altered by atomic tests on an island. As it was described in the movie, they weren’t just enlarged crabs. Their atoms had been detached from one another in such a manner that they were in a semi-liquid state – liquid given a permanent shape. Their weird atomic structure has given them additional abilities. When the crabs consume people, their atoms simply join the crab’s atoms, making them a sentient part of the crab. Several people’s minds and memories can exist within the crab simultaneously, and though they retain their memories, their personalities change. They now seek the continued survival of the crab, even if that means killing former friends. The crab’s are also capable of transmitting telepathic messages via bits of metal, these messages being in the voice of the people that have absorbed. The crabs can regenerate body parts and generate significant amounts of heat, but electricity turns them quickly to dust.

The giant crabs, there are two in the film initially, are intent on destroying their island to keep people from discovering their existence. One of them is “with child”, and once the crabs have increased their numbers under the waves, they plan on expanding their dominion. They are destroying the island using dynamite they have captured from the various groups of soldiers and scientists that have come to investigate an aircraft that crashed near the island.

Naturally, a monster this creative needs some game stats!

Crab Monster (Blood & Treasure)
Large Magical Beast, Neutral, Average Intelligence; Cast (1d6)

HD 6; AC 14; Atk 2 claws (2d6 + grapple); Speed 30 (Swim 20); Save F6, R7, W10; XP 600; Special: Immune to fire, generate heat, resistance to physical weapons, vulnerable to electricity, consume memories, telepathy 300-ft. (transmits through metal).

Crab monsters can generate heat in a radius of 30 feet. This can be done three times per day and 10 minutes at a time, and all in the radius suffer 1d4 points of damage per round. Metal in the area of effect is affected as per the heat metal spell.

Crab Monster (Mystery Men!)

Level 6; Physique 5; Mentality 5; DC 16; SPD 2; XP 2800; ATK 2 claws (2d6); POW consume memories*, correspond, energy burst (fire), energy immunity (fire, lasers), energy vulnerability (electricity), half damage from physical attacks

When a crab monster consumes a person, they add their mind to their own. These minds remain independent, but are now part of the crab and work for the crab’s survival and interests, even turning on former allies. The crab can correspond telepathically using the voices of the people it has consumed. Increase the crab’s Mentality score to that of the highest Intelligence it has consumed. Any psychic powers possessed by a person consumed by the crab monster are now possessed by the crab monster.

Crab Monster (Space Princess)

HD 6 | DEF 19 | FIGHT 12 (2d6) | SHOOT 11 | MOVE N | STR 6 | DEX 5 | MEN 4 | KNO 4 | DL 9

Crab monsters are immune to fire and heat, and suffer only half damage from lasers and ray guns and from physical attacks. Electricity attacks inflict double damage on them. Crab monsters absorb the KNO and MEN of people they consume, increasing their values to the highest value they have consumed. They also absorb the psychic powers and knowledge-based skills of people they consume, though they might not be able to use these skills due to physical limitations. Crab monsters communicate telepathically using the voices of the people they have absorbed. This telepathy can only be heard through metal.

The Corundar

Image by John M. Stater

Edit: Now with crappy art by yours truly

The corundar are a silicon-based lifeform native to volcanic areas. They grow in and consume mineral salts in solution, but can survive on humanoid blood if necessary. Most corundar lair around a mineral spring, preferably underground, using the spring as a hatchery and as their main source of food.

Corundar consider themselves creatures of perfection. They attempt to beautify their lairs by making the walls, floors and ceiling smooth and angular. They likewise favor perfection in living creatures, both in mind and body. Corundar will always attack creatures with a combined intelligence and charisma score of less than 20, and always attack creatures with the lowest combined score first. Generally, three corundar will rush the imperfect creature, while others will circle them and provide defense until the imperfect specimen has been destroyed.

Corundar look like pyramidal lumps of crystal, about 3 to 4 feet in height and colored red, blue, orange or green. They are supported on four stubby, crystalline legs and have three long mineral straws protruding from their main body mass. These straws can move in the manner of tentacles, and are razor sharp on the edges. Corundar have tiny motes of light moving through their bodies, originating in their hollow center, where they maintain a pocket of mineral salt solution. They can control these motes as a means of communication (a difficult language to learn, requiring a minimum intelligence of 15). They can see with their entire bodies, making them very difficult to surprise. They can sense vibrations from the air and ground as well, making it possible for them to understand speech.

Corundar attack with their straws, whipping and slicing with them or using one of them to spray a corrosive solution of mineral salts (10-ft. long cone, 2d6 points of acid damage, save for half damage, usable once per day). Corundar are immune to acid and cold and suffer only half damage from fire and electricity.

Corundar (Pars Fortuna)
HD 4; AC 16; Atk 3 straws (1d6+1) or spray; Move 9; Save 13; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Immune to acid and cold, resistance to fire and electricity (50%), surprise on 1 on 1d10, acid spray (see above).

PC Race: +1 Con, -2 Dex; surprised on 1 on 1d10; acid spray 1/day, immunities and resistances; knack for finding secret doors

Corundar (Space Princess)
HD 4; DEF 16; FIGHT 10; SHOOT 7; MOVE S; STR 6; DEX 3; MEN 5; KNO 4; DL

PC Species: Mineral (new type, see below) / multiple arms and multiple legs (must spend 1 point of Luck to play a Corundar)

Mineral Alien: Mineral aliens are composed of rock or crystal. They have slow movement and DEF +2.

Sample Lair:

1. Empty Cavern: This cavern is untouched by the corundar, who use it as a buffer between their lair and the outside world; they have erected a crude “scarecrow” here – essentially a skeletal corpse on a slab of rock

2. Guard Post: Two corundar are always on guard here; when not otherwise occupied, they are grinding the walls with their straws

3. Low Cavern: This cavern hosts a hot spring that was insufficiently infused with minerals to serve the corundar; it is a 10-ft. deep pool of scalding water (2d6 damage per round) that sends a thick mist into area [1]

4. Guard Post: Three corundar are always on guard here

5. Workshop: Five corundar work here grinding stone into tools and other pleasing shapes and turning shed crystal into lenses for the temple

6. Temple: The corundar worship a clear crystal pyramid that represents perfection to them; small lenses are hung from the ceiling by thin chains; the temple is guarded by two corundar and the idol is attended by a priest who cast spells as a 5th level magician

7. Laboratory: The corundar high priest [7] maintains a laboratory here; the walls are carved into shelves holding various jars and beakers of mineral solutions; a vat has been carved from the stone in the center of the room – there is a 1 in 10 chance that it holds the makings of a potion

8. Guard Post: Two corundar are always on guard here

9. Forge and Foundry: This room contains a vent of super-heated, poisonous gas (the corundar are immune, of course, since they need not breath, but the gas does mar their appearance) that they use for purifying and working copper ore; there is a 30% chance that two corundar are here working

10. Mine: This cavern connects to a seam of copper that is mined by the corundar; there are usually 2d6 corundar here collecting the ore

11. Rest Chamber: Corundar need to sleep about 6 hours a day; this chamber holds 2d6 sleeping corundar

12. Mud Chamber: This chamber is filled with steaming hot mud; the corundar have created a pool for the mud and channels leading from the walls; they bathe in the mud when damaged

13. Guard Post: Two corundar guards

14. Vibro-Chamber: This space has acoustics that allow the corundar to create pleasant vibrations – in essence, a corundar concert chamber

15. Mineral Baths: There are 3d6 young here and 2d4 adults

Space Princess Inspiration … Power Nelson!

Yesterday, Golden Age Comic Book Stories featured a Power Nelson comic with art by Dick Sprang (one of the greatest names ever). The combination of “out-there” science and old school art makes it a nice source of inspiration for Space Princess, so let’s have at it. We’ll begin with Power Nelson himself.

According to the Public Domain Super Heroes Wiki, Nelson comes from the unimaginable year of 1982, when two world wars had left the people of earth defenseless against a Mongol horde led by Emperor Seng I. Seng now rules from his palace in New-New York (yeah, they beat Futurama by half a century). A group of scientists have endowed Gene West with superhuman powers. When fighting the Mongols, he goes by the name Power Nelson (which is kinda weird, if you think about it – it’s like if Clark Kent called himself Super Hank when he put on his tights).

For Space Princess, Power Nelson is a perfect candidate for being an Atomic Superman. We’ll make him a combination Star Warrior / Atomic Superman:

POWER NELSON – Star Warrior (Veteran)
STR 10 | DEX 4 | MEN 3 | KNO 3 | HD 6 (34 hp) | DEF 16 | SKILL 6 | LUCK 1
Gear: Light body armor (+2 DEF)

Oh, and just for fun, why not some stats for Mystery Men! as well.

POWER NELSON (Gene West)
Adventurer Level 10 (17,800 XP)
STR 16| DEX 7 | CON 7 | INT 3 | WIL 4 | CHA 3
HP 63 | DC 14 | ATK +5 melee, +5 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Invulnerability III (15,000 XP), Super Constitution (3,000 XP), Super Dexterity (3,000 XP), Super Strength (10,000 XP)
Gear: Light Armor (600 XP), Spiked Boots (600 XP)

Yes, those yellow fellows above are the aforementioned Mongols. Since we’re not big on racist stereotypes here in the Land of Nod, we’re going to pretend they look that way because they are aliens from the planet Mongol-IV (which really isn’t that much better, to be honest).

MONGOL: Humanoid Alien (+1 DEX, -1 MEN) | Super Hearing

Ugi is the hapless son of the emperor. We’ll make him a rookie Star Warrior with pretty abysmal ability score.

UGI – Star Warrior (Cadet)
STR 2 | DEX 5 | MEN 3 | KNO 3 | HP 20 | DEF 15
Gear: None

Hey – there’s an interesting idea. You have a more powerful character adventuring with a bunch of lower level characters – how do you balance things? Give the powerful character his own personal Gilligan!

The scientists whip Power Nelson up a pretty slick spaceship in almost no time. From the size of it, I’d call it a blockade runner by Space Princess standards. Soon, he and Ugi are off to the planet Pluvius in search of radium needed to combat the green plague that is dropping people like flies in New-New York.

On the surface of Pluvius, they run smack-dab into a Tentacle Plant!

TENTACLE PLANT: HD 4 | DEF 18 | FIGHT 14 (1d8 tentacles x 6) | SHOOT 8 | MOVE n/a | STR 10 | DEX 4 | MEN 5 | KNO – | DL 5

Special: Those hit by the tentacles must make a STR test or be swallowed whole the next round, suffering 1d6 points of automatic suffocation and squeezing damage per round thereafter.

Next, the Gilligan of New-New York leaps into a yellow pool (why would you jump into a yellow pool to clean off?) that shrinks him to one-fifth his normal size. What a nice touch – a great little thing to throw into your next dungeon or space fortress.

The Ref is really socking it to them with the random encounters – now a Croco-Tiger!

CROCO-TIGER: HD 10 | DEF 17 | FIGHT 25 (2d6 bite) | SHOOT – | MOVE n/a | STR 15 | DEX 5 | MEN 3 | KNO 1 | DL 16

Power Nelson grabs him by his upper jaw and flings him into the yellow pool, shrinking him. Croco-tiggers definitely do not love strange yellow pools most of all.

Across the desert and another random encounter – Pluvian archers – maybe one of the best things I’ve seen all week. It’s like they’re wearing some kind of rubber armor.

PLUVIAN ARCHER: HD 1 | DEF 16 | FIGHT 5 | SHOOT 4 | MOVE n/a | STR 4 | DEX 3 | MEN 4 | KNO 3 | DL 2
Gear: Vulcanized Armor (+2 DEF, missed attacks by blunt weapons turn back on their attacker; super-science DC 15), Longbow (1d8 damage)

The king of the Pluvians, Rari, uses a ray gun to bridge the language gap. Essentially a wand of comprehend languages, or for Space Princess a Rosetta Ray (DC 15 super-science).

As with most kings, Rari sends Power Nelson and Ugi on a quest. Capture the queen of the Hairy Guroos and in turn get the radium needed to stop the green plague.

The Hairy Guroos can be portrayed as cloned cavemen armed with spears. Not surprisingly, Queen Wodo is a bit more attractive than her people.

Radium Catapult!!!

RADIUM CATAPULT: Range 100 paces; victim loses 1d10 points of strength. If reduced to STR 0, the victim is left unconscious.

Dungeon of Spikes!!! 

Damn this is a great comic. No stats needed for this one – you have an hour to live – straight up.

Just as Power Nelson is about to be killed, a “strange arm” appears with the antidote for the raw radium that sapped his strength. It’s Princess Leelee, the rightful Queen and a true space princess if ever there was one.

Health is not enough! – great motto

A quick kidnapping of the evil queen, and Power Nelson gets his radium and saves the world. Not bad for 15 pages of work.

But what of the cover? Worry not, gentle reader …

BUBBLE TANK: Super-Science DC 65 | HD 20 | DEF 25 | SPEED Slow
Attacks: Three flame throwers in separately controlled turrets (range 100 paces, 4d6 points of damage) and spiked tracks (DEX test against DC 10 to avoid, otherwise trampled for 6d6 points of damage)

The Esper – A New Class for Space Princess

And so it begins …

ESPER

Illustration by John Schoenherr

It’s a well known fact that approximately 0.000056% of sentient beings in the galaxy have latent psionic powers that can, with training, be fully realized.

One path of training goes through the monasteries of the psychics, who combine their psionic training with physical exercise and the art of laser swordsmanship. The other path of training is through the academies of the espers, who ignore the physical to attain mental perfection.

Many espers wear the saffron uniforms of Star Patrol’s Science Section (Psi Division), while others work for governments and private companies, giving them an edge in negotiations and helping them explore strange new worlds for resources. Still others operate independently of organizations as freelance troubleshooters, criminal masterminds or cult leaders.

HIT DICE: Espers roll d6 to determine hit points

REQUIREMENT: STR score of 4 or lower, MEN score of 5 or higher

SKILLS: Espers add their SKILL to the following tests: Activate Psychic Power (MEN)

STARTING GEAR: Ray gun, crystal pendant (for meditation and focus)

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Level Hit Dice Skill Powers Luck
Mentalist 2 4 3 3
Savant 4 8 6 1
Guru 6 12 9 0

The esper has a number of psychic powers depending on his level, plus ESP as a bonus power. Espers can also spend their starting luck points to buy additional powers. To use a power, an esper must make an activation test – essentially a MEN test against a Difficulty Class (DC) determined by the power to be activated. No power can be used more than once per hour. The player can choose these powers from the psychic’s power list in the main rulebook.

Espers can also attempt to activate powers that are not in their repertoire, but suffer a -10 penalty on their activation test to do so. Powers not in an esper’s repertoire can only be activated once per day.

X Minus 3 Days Until Space Princess Launch

Down to the nitty gritty! Here’s a quick preview of what I have in store …

Cover illustration by Allen Anderson – too beautiful not to use!

There are three “species” in Space Princess: Human, Robot and Alien. Alien’s are built from scratch by choosing from one of ten types and one of fourteen powers – so I guess technically the game has 140 alien species to choose from.

There are five classes in the game – Psychic, Scientist, Scoundrel, Space Ranger and Star Warrior. Creating a new class, if you like, should be a snap.

“Magic items” in Space Princess are called “Super Science”. There is a selection of 37 described in the game, but more could be added with ease. Twelve of them are land vehicles.

The rules for space battles just cover escapes from the forces of the Dark Lord. Seven spaceships are described, from the tiny starfighters to the massive dreadnaughts.

The rules of play take all of 4 pages. Essentially, you get time, movement, task resolution and combat. The point of the game is to be rules lite, and I think I’ve accomplished that at least.

The game has 108 monsters in the following categories: Astonishing Aliens, Fantastic Beasts, Living Dead, Men and Spacemen, Mutant Freaks, Rampaging Robots and Weird Entities. They include rules for randomly generating alien animals. You’ll find some old standbys of fantasy gaming and some new critters inspired by science-fiction films and stories.

The game looks like it’s going to come in at about 48 pages, which means it should sell for $10.

Special thanks to Jason Sholtis for contributing some spectacular art to the project. Check out his art at Underworld Ink, and his The Dungeon Dozen blog as well.

Martians!

BAH!

Ah – December! The crisp air, the smell of expensive holiday-themed candles, fruit cakes … it always brings one thing in particular to my mind. Martians!

In particular, the hapless buggers who dared kidnap Santa Claus. Having had the annual viewing of the MST3K classic riffing of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and with the eminent release of Space Princess, I figured it made sense to mash the two together. When the Christmas season rolls around and you’ve gathered your friends to play some Space Princess over a glass of eggnog, you’ll be well prepared.

Martian
The Martians are green-skinned humanoids of a (formerly) warlike race. From an early age Martians are educated by thought waves projected from computer banks and received by cybernetic antennae jutting from helmets almost always worn on their heads. These helms act as communicator devices (see Super Science). Martians arm themselves with freeze ray guns. Most wear skin-tight green costumes, while leaders are designated by their use of cloaks.

Martians dwell in subterranean cities that abut their famous canals, which transfer water from the poles to the warmer climes. Martians require very little air and are immune to cold. Despite their planet’s lower gravity, they appear to be just as strong as human beings.

The elders of the Martian race are called chochems. These mystics can employ four psychic powers. They dress in robes and carry staves.

For the past generation, Kimar has served as the leader of the Martian people. It was he who personally led the expedition to bring Santa Claus and Christmas to the Martians. In the time since the arrival of Santa, the Martians have become less warlike and more generous. Still, some elements among them seek a return to the old ways. A leader among these rebels is Voldar, a mustachioed thug with a cruel sense of humor.

MARTIAN WARRIOR: HD 2; DEFENSE 6; MELEE 6 (fists 1d4); RANGED 6 (freeze ray gun); MOVE N; STR 4; DEX 4; MEN 3; KNOW 5; DL 2; SPECIAL: Immune to cold.

CHOCHEM: HD 1; DEFENSE 4; MELEE 4 (staff 1d6); RANGED 4; MOVE N; STR 3; DEX 3; MEN 5; KNOW 7; DL 2; SPECIAL: Immune to cold, four psychic powers (activate +12).

VOLDAR: HD 6; DEFENSE 9; MELEE 12 (fists 1d4); RANGED 9 (freeze ray gun); MOVE N; STR 6; DEX 4; MEN 3; KNOW 5; DL 6; SPECIAL: Immune to cold.

KIMAR: HD 8; DEFENSE 13; MELEE 12 (fists 1d4); RANGED 13 (freeze ray gun); MOVE N; STR 4; DEX 5; MEN 4; KNOW 6; DL 8; SPECIAL: Immune to cold.

By the way – if any artist out there would like to draw their rendition of Capt. Kirk performing his famous flying kick on Voldar while Santa and Spock look on, well, I’m sure we’d all like to see it!

Images found here and here.