Posted by: markfender | January 10, 2012

Transhuman Space – Under Pressure

Queue the Queen! It’s time for Under Pressure.

Under Pressure is the underwater sourcebook for Transhuman Space. Space is not the final frontier, as the marine biologists like to snootily point out.

First off, this book changes the layout and design of the Transhuman Space line. I fear change! It also features a lot of Poser-type art. So, bleah.

The Other Frontier (see?) begins the book with a timeline of developments under the sea, general information on underwater stuff (Admit it. You’ve always wanted to know about the Beaufort Wind Scale), and uses for the sea besides making terrifying movies about it.

Living in the Ocean is the next section. It starts out with a big section on the undersea city of Elandra. This was fairly cool, if a bit abbreviated. We then get some information on maritime law and coastal reclamation, followed up with all the gritty GURPS rules for underwater stuff. For instance, there’s a Decompression Table that warns that this is a simplified table for game purposes and should not be used in real life (Probably a good rule for anything you read in an RPG). So, now, you’ve got the rules for oxygen narcosis. Awesome.

The next section is on Extraterrestrial Oceans, because Mars has oceans now, dontcha know. The majority of this section is dedicated to Europa and is actually pretty cool. Besides maps and the history of the War Under the Ice, you also get personality profiles of the various bases, what their future plans are, and how the conflict might turn out. I’d probably say this is the best section of the book as it lays out the scenario well and provides extensive information to incorporate that scenario into your games.

Next we get Organizations. What is there to say about this chapter that hasn’t been said about every other Transhuman Space books? Maybe that the corporations in this section get more detail than in any other Transhuman Space books? For some reason, the Campaign and Adventures section is at the end of this chapter.

Characters is next and it includes all kinds of fun things to do, like be an ecoterrorist or a meteorologist. We also get lots and lots of bioroid, cybershell, and parahuman templates. There’s also animal templates for the uplifts. Included in this section is a sidebar about how aliens dolphins are and how we really don’t understand them and should probably fear them – all the while accompanied by the happiest dolphin picture you’ve ever seen. He looks so friendly… We’ve also got some writeups for characters, including Coak, the angry dolphin in charge of a radical Preservationist terrorist cell. But no word about the octopod menace…

Aquatic Technology is next and man, it’s long. Granted, underwater equipment wasn’t really detailed in previous books so there’s quite a bit of the “basics” that need to be covered. Plus, we’ve got the standard array of vehicles that need stats. So, strap in, I guess.

Lastly, we’ve got the Aquatic Vehicle Modular Design System, so that we can design, well, aquatic vehicles. Amazingly, it’s got even more detail than previous Modular Design Systems, since you’ve also got to worry about flotation, cavitation, and…..oh my god I so don’t care.

So, was this book any good? If you’re going to be running a game on Europa, I’d highly recommend this one. The details on that particular planet are super-cool and just waiting for some PCs to enter the situation and set off the powder keg. But a large proportion of the book just felt like the prequel to an actual underwater game. Too many bases to cover before beginning the actual adventures, as it were. So, bleah.

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