Jürgen Mang has created a German-language set of rules for Space Piracy, called SpacePirates. Fortunately for us monolingual English speakers, the “free, crazy and cartoonish Space Opera role-playing game” is now available in English as a free PDF.

On his website, we read

Very welcome to the english translation of SpacePirates. It is a free and crazy Space Opera role-playing game in the style of the 1980s animated series and comics. SpacePirates is intended for one-time adventures or short campaigns, the setting is therefore compact and the rules are lightweight.

If you just want something fun and fast, it could be worth a spin…

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission | Leave a comment

Traveller20 Returns

Traveller20 is again available for purchase!

Years ago, while Jason “Flynn” Kemp was at the helm of Stellar Reaches,  the rules of the adventures and vehicles here were to be largely based on the Traveller20 ruleset. That’s not true anymore, as I’m more comfortable with the Classic Traveller rules (and GURPS Traveller 3rd Edition, but that was just for two issues).

But the Traveller20 universe was set in the Solomani Rim War period, and that has remained true today for the base universe of Stellar Reaches.

Perhaps you are interested in setting up your own fanzine or website, using the Solomani Rim War timeperiod – but this time, remaining true to the Traveller20 rules. Maybe in the well-detailed Gateway Domain, with the Luriani minor race (minor only in not inventing jumpdrive, but in truth a major cultural/political player in the Domain) as protagonists.

I say go for it!

PS: This is the 1,100 post here on Stellar Reaches. I’m glad that there was some good news to mark the occasion!

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission | Leave a comment

Automated Guard Towers

Everyone (except the Vilani) hates guard duty, so the TL 9 rise of these automated guard towers will be welcomed by almost everyone.

The Tower Hawk System replaces conventional guard towers with unmanned towers set around the edge of the razor wire. It’s shipped in the form of containers and the towers that can be erected in less than an hour by six soldiers with only minimal training. Each tower is equipped with a Browning M-2 50-caliber machine gun and a 338 Lapua sniper rifle, though any other gun system can be swapped in.

Meanwhile, two soldiers in the base tactical operations center sit in front of large screens providing normal, thermal, and infrared vision for watching outside the perimeter. The operators use handheld controllers, at least some of which appear to be commercial video game controllers (that’s clearly an Xbox gamepad in the image below) that allow them to raise, lower, and rotate the weapons by 360 degrees, as well as fire them remotely. These are linked to the Joint All Hazard Command Control System software, which can differentiate between friend and foe, and can automatically track identified hostiles.

Armies with Vast Reserves don’t need these things: but it cost money to transport armed men across the stars, and you usually get a situation of 100,000 soldiers or so trying to occupy areas the size of Europe. Automation is going to be needed in these situations.

In addition to the packs of flying networked drones packing tasers, subsonic fear generators, and light machine guns.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission | Leave a comment

The 2015 U.S. Navy, in One Chart

Technically, this really doesn’t have any place in a Far Future game… but c’mon, even the Enterprise was named after a U.S. Naval vessel!

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission | Leave a comment

Ancient Space

I’m currently going through this YouTube playthough for the storyline (not the gameplay, which is both slow and management-intensive), with a tone which is suitably grim, militaristic, and a touch cynical. Not a bad inspiration, for one of the more depressing Imperial border regions.

It’s not a bad fit for the Empty Quarter: the adversary are pirates which can go toe-to-toe against Imperial capital ships (waves to the world of Ikon). But on the other hand, this is an exploration story, set in an area which is a lot less explored and settled than the Empty Quarter: an area which has been inhabited by men for ~5000 years now.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission | Leave a comment


The Empty Quarter is named after the Rub’ al Khali, a sterile, barren, and lifeless region of one of America’s most critical allies (cough), Saudi Arabia. Inevitably, this has strongly influence the culture, beliefs, and history of the region.

It would have been dishonest to use Bahrain as the template instead… but rather more pleasant, and a lot more fun.

Fortunately, your Third Imperium can be tailored to what you want it to be, instead of being chained tied to canon. This includes sector names and the nature of the original settlers (hint, hint).

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission | Leave a comment

The University Centre in Svalbard; The Nordic Future

The world looks different, when you look at things with the eyes of a Traveller.

For example, the images above remind me of a low-population ice world: not a bad place really with breathable oxygen and a human-compatible ecology, but with a planetary population of just under 3,000 – mainly tied up in mining, managed fisheries, and Imperial-funded cold world research – it isn’t most people’s first choice for a homeworld.

I have doubts if such a world could last long in the Empty Quarter, even if the Imperial Sector Fleet was still around, instead of fighting a war 200 parsecs away.

As it is, it would be a prime target for

  • Ikonaz raiders: who – being sophisticated pirates – knows the value of stolen research, accepting a percentage of all exports as ‘protection fees’ – especially all that tasty fish – and locals who clam up when Imperial Ministry of Justice men ask noisy questions; or
  • Suedzuk Vargr: who just want to position all the slaughtered corpses into artistic patterns.

The Empty Quarter is ethnically/religiously driven, so the best chance for survival is for the locals to have their own kin as protectors: perhaps genuine, fair-haired Star Vikings, perhaps an updated form of Teutonic Knights, now with plasma rifles and powered armour. There’s not a lot of friends for the Nordics, in a Arab/Hindi/Vilani/Bwap-dominated region of space: but perhaps, they will be able to hold their own in a harsh region of space.

In the long term, transcending tribe is better than relying on it, but cosmopolitan Imperial cultural theory often clashes with ultra-local blood-n-soil facts on the ground: and you play with the cards you are dealt with, not with what you wish you had. And to shape the future, you (or, more precisely, your descendants) first have to live long enough to get there: something that is never guaranteed, in the Empty Quarter.

Continue reading

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission | Leave a comment

Hate Thy Neighbour

One day, in July 1941, half of the population of a small east European town murdered the other half.

– Jan Tomasz Gross, Neighbours

In the article “Hate Thy Neighbour: The War Crime the Nazis Didn’t Commit”, the author, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, explores the book The Crime and the Silence by Anna Bikont. The book is most interesting for its journal entries – a confused jumble of entries and sixty-year-old memories that the reader – or an Imperial Army officer, digging up evidence of violations of the Imperial Laws of War – has to piece together to a coherent story – while ignoring the (hopefully immaterial) loose ends, as most investigator must to get a finding in the time allotted.

Poles alleged that during the Soviet occupation their Jewish neighbours had denounced them to the NKVD (in fact, only a handful of Jews collaborated): it is not until nearly a third of the way through the book that Bikont tells us about this. Nor does she directly describe the town’s social structure; it is only by inference that readers will gather that many of the Jews’ killers were their employees or their debtors.

There are a lot of Vilani-led corporations, employing lots of low-level Solomani employees out there.

But then again, the Vilani are not your typical market-dominant minority, like the Jews or the Armenians or the Chinese outside of their nation. For one thing, the Vilani are quite capable of engaging in large-scale genocidal operations themselves. For another, they have a lot of off-world friends, some of them very powerful indeed.

As for Nazis not doing much more than simply standing by, as the locals decide to wipe out their employers… you really need to get a Solomani Party man properly lubricated, if you want the most terrifying, hair-raising tales to come out.

As for the “Hate Thy Neighbour” attitude… well, that reached its peak in the Empty Quarter in the 800s-early 900s, culminating with the Hebrin Rebellion. The locals don’t exactly like their neighbours today, but more and more just want to make money, rather than chase the restless ghosts of old grievances and tribal hatreds.

But if you stop and listen carefully, you can still hear a few chains clinking and a distant mournful wail. Even a truly determined instigator would have a hard time reigniting the old rage across the stars, but there are always a few men who just want to watch worlds burn.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission | Leave a comment

Epic Space Battles

An interesting and free space supplement, Epic Space Battles.

Epic Space Battles is a free rules module for the Singularity System. It is designed to make combat between larger numbers of spaceships faster and more streamlined.


This game uses a streamlined, fast-generating, extremely customizable, proprietary d6 system (the titular Singularity System) with dice pools. The system has been built from the ground up to serve not the setting, but the genre of far-future science fiction adventure.

Epic Space Battles is fun, fast, and easy to play, in or out of an ongoing campaign. This PDF includes the rules for epic space fights, and the simplified stats for all starships released in both The Singularity System and Systems Malfunction.

There are a fair number of other sci-fi modules in the system (which cost money), including System Malfunction, where humanity develops from the ruins of an interstellar ark, a bit of Biotech, and some Firefight rules that worth contrasting with the Traveller equivalent.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission | Leave a comment


Actually, I admire this man’s determination to “accentuate the positive” – you should see his video on Afghanistan! I wonder what a hard-core ‘bright side of life’ personality would make of the Arab/Hindi regions of the Empty Quarter…

The Bengalis are an interesting bunch: a heavily populated, relatively non-violent Muslims of Hindi origin, who had a break-up with Pakistan over language issues. Giving the Bengali a 200 million population world of their own would be interesting.

Key concept gleaned from the video: “Enclaves. Enclaves within enclaves within enclaves, as far as the eye can see.” This would make for some tricky political/military situations…

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission | Leave a comment