Posted by: markfender | December 20, 2011

Transhuman Space – Deep Beyond

Sweet nanoplague! It’s a Transhuman Space book!

As one of the thicker books in the line, this one covers a lot of territory. Namely everything past Mars. Remarkably, this begins with the asteroid belt. This section was pretty cool because it detailed some of the habitats of some of more unique ideas in the game – namely the Duncanites and the Nanodynamics/Exogenesis conflict. There’s a lot of example habitats, along with sidebars that discuss the various types of habitats found in space: everything from corporate to religious. Most of these maintain some realistic expectations, even if they’re based off wacky ideas (“White supremacists in space!”).

The next chapter’s Jupiter and it continues to be interesting, since we’ve got another conflict in the setting here on Europa – the War beneath the Ice. Here, Avatar Klusterkorp and the Europan Defense Force attempt to kill each other over terraforming, all while underwater. So that’s interesting. We also get some write-ups on other bases on other Jovian moons, notably Ganymede and Io.

If you learned your planet mnemonics in school, you know that Saturn is next. This section begins with a fiction vignette about a dude sleeping with a spaceship. Thus begins the freaky. HE3 mining is the big draw here, so we’ve got a lot of military presence and, of course, Titan. Inexplicably, we’ve got a two page map of Titan that has two whole landmasses detailed on it. It’s the most boring map you’ve ever seen, but made huge so you can be sure to see the lack of detail. I didn’t get it.

The next chapter is spookily titled “The Ocean of Night.” Ooh, scary. Uranus, Neptune and Triton, basically. There’s also some stuff on the Oort Cloud, Kuiper Belt objects, and discovered interstellar planetary bodies. You get into Red Duncanite and Gypsy Angel territory out here, so all your Duncanite factions and sub-factions are detailed in this book.

Organizations are next and this is where we get an extensive discussion on Duncanite Society. How does a nanarchist society work, anyway? This section tells you, I guess. I mean, it does require a bit of a suspension of disbelief to buy into the central premise, but I guess it makes sense. I mean, assuming you buy into the idea that judges, police, and all other governmental infrastructure can be franchised. The section does provide several examples of how the society functions, from how a crime would actually be pursued to how a judge would try said crime, so the book does give you plenty of information on the structure. Then we’ve got the now-quite typical sections on corporations, governmental agencies, military forces, activists and assorted bric-a-brac.

Characters starts off with another fiction vignette, this one proving that the author read Kushiel’s Dart. We then hit your typical character types section and new bioroid, cybershell, and parahuman templates. These include the elf kitten (which is a furry person who can’t speak and can only purr), and the Rat King (distributed intelligence rat swarms). And, then inexplicably, Sentient Snacks. Yup, you can eat weird moving jelly people. While that’s justifiably weird, what’s even weirder is that this is written up like a character template (-233 points, if you’re interested) as if you were going to play one. I’m not sure the Gingerbread Man really fits into your typical adventuring party. To me, this a, granted, weird food item and should probably just be written up as equipment. No idea why these needed full on character stats. But, we’re not done. We haven’t gotten into the biomods yet, which are described as “unsettling.” Yep. Andro-wombs, lactonarcotic (just parse that one out and feel squicky) bioreactors, and prehensile tongues are all here so you can relive your favorite hentai fantasies in GURPS. I know that you wanted to do that. Then, there’s a few characters statted up, complete with extensive biographies. These were pretty interesting, since they were showcasing some of the more out-there elements of the setting (I mean, not “heroin tits” out-there, but still interesting).

Technology is next. I’ve learned over the course of these reviews that whenever a chapter is titled “Technology” it really means “Math.” But this one actually starts out with a discussion on habitats and how the different types work. Maybe I’m fusing Eclipse Phase and Transhuman Space books in my head now, but I coulda swore this was already in a Transhuman Space book. Unfortunately, I’m too lazy to go look, so we’re just gonna have to deal with the staggering implications by ourselves. Another section I thought was pretty cool was the Exotic Technologies section which sorta covered the “hey, this is stuff people are working on which might lead to innovations in certain fields” ideas so when you run those corporate espionage games, you have something plausible to steal. Then we get lots of spacecraft stats and some ground vehicle stats to accompany them. There are also the statistics for a Pogo Stick.

The Appendix follows, which includes more options for Spacecraft Design. Mostly, this is stuff discussed in the Exotic Technologies section. There’s also rules for making walkers and a section on figuring out Crush Depth…because that matters, I guess.

There’s also a Glossary which includes the entirely oxymoronic heading of “Useful Formulas.”

So, I liked this book. None of the habitats seemed too off the beaten path of what’s possible. Plus, some of the more interesting setting elements are happening out here, what with the Duncanites and the whole Nanodynamic/Exogenesis war thing. Not to mention the situation on Europa. Plus, gas giants are just cool.

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