Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Small but Telling Thing

Here's a bit from the Space Opera adventure Martigan Belt, published in 1981 and written by Stephen Kingsley that really struck me:
TRANSHUMANS: May have an empathy as low as 2. Transhumans do have a higher average Psionics score, add 3 to PC score*. Note: it is sometimes useful to keep Psionics scores hidden from the players until such time as they might become 'awakened'.

*These are ways that the designer runs Transhumans in contradiction to the formal Space Opera rules.
I don't know why but reading that asterisked section just floored me.

7 comments:

  1. I'm reminded of the old stories where Gary Gygax, in games he ran himself at conventions in the earliest days of the hobby, ignored many of his own rules or added stuff that wasn't in there.

    Personally, I think that line is super cool, especially for a complex game like Space Opera. It implies that 'to each their own' universes are possible and even supported by the games' creators.

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  2. That's right — Gygax wrote some articles about that in early Dragons. Things like "Well, I've been convinced to explain how *I* calculate falling damage in my games, as opposed to what the DMG says...."

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  3. What I find telling is that ever since my initial exposure to the word "transhumans" my eyes want to hide the N so that it looks like I am reading "trashumans", and then I think of people made of trash, and then the toxic avenger, and then I'm on a different subject.

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  4. I was on a discussion board for a game called GASLIGHT. One of the authors, Chris Palmer or Buck Surdo, posted on how to do casualty allocation. I pointed out that the contradicted the example given, and had to explain the example to him. He replied "Oh that's not how we do that."

    I spent a fair amount of time analyzing their example, to understand the rules they wrote. And they're "oh whatever". Made me wonder why I should buy or play their rules-and I haven't since.

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  5. As a Transhumanist myself, I now wonder what else Space Opera has to say on the subject. It's one of those games I never got around to buying back in the day.

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  6. Joseph,

    Space Opera's transhumans are just Vulcans by another time, except that, instead of being aliens, they're a naturally occurring mutation of basic human genetic stock. The implication is that they're the "next stage in human evolution," but it's neither self-willed nor achieved through technological improvement upon the species.

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  7. "I spent a fair amount of time analyzing their example, to understand the rules they wrote. And they're 'oh whatever'. Made me wonder why I should buy or play their rules-and I haven't since."

    I think that's a very fair assessment, actually.

    I don't mind sidebars listed as "options or possible variants". The Space Opera quote here doesn't rub me the wrong way. But I did finally get pretty irritated with the old TSR crew actually heaping contempt on anyone asking how the published rules were supposed to work in this type of vein. At least have some respect for your own written word.

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