Space: 1889

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Space:1889
RPG published by
Game Designer's Workshop
Authors Frank Chadwick
First Publication 1988

Victorian Sci-Fi RPG. Only decent thing Games Designer Workshop have done since starting the whole sci-fi RPG genre with an earlier game. And there's no "punk" to this, just "steam." Notice a distinct lack of pilot goggles and cogs glued to random places.

The premise is all that junk science you see in 19th century magazines and novels turns out to be true. The space between worlds is filled with an sparse material called "ether" that you can push against with one of Thomas Edison's patented Ether Propellors or a good Edwardian Ether Screw. Vessels are crafted with the gravity-repelling material of liftwood, and are powered by steam engines with giant magnifying glasses to harness solar energy.

The inner planets are like different time periods: Mercury is a volcanic mire, Venus is a jungle of megaflora and dinosaurs, Earth has its kings and presidents, and Mars is dried-up canals, ancient ruins and godless heathens that regressed to barbarism. The moon is still dead and airless, but under the surface live Mooninites that are flipping you off as Victorian as they can right now.

Very Edgar Rice Burroughs.

So what do the different cultures of Humanity do when faced with the enormity of the cosmos? They go to war over it and carve out extensions of their colonial empires. The British own the largest chunk, because they're just plain good at brutally crushing natives. The French and the Germans are also major players, and the Russians are always a wild card. As for the Belgians, they're dicks. Ever read Heart of Darkness? It's sort of like that.

Also, this game has a skill for riding pterodactyls. Fuck, why are you not playing it right now?