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Space Quest [2]

Entry updated 2 April 2015. Tagged: Game.

Role Playing Game (1977). Tyr Gamemakers. Designed by Paul Hume, George Nyhen.

Space Quest is an early science-fictional Role Playing Game with a Space Opera flavour. There is an optional setting, one based in a resurgent Galactic Empire which is recovering from a Long Night. (Unusually, the collapse of the Empire's preceding civilization was caused wholly by external attack rather than at least partially by internal decay.) This future milieu has the familiar social structure of an industrial feudalism (see Medieval Futurism), but shows influences from a curious mix of eras in the written genre, from the contraterrene matter (see Antimatter) of Jack Williamson's Seetee stories, through the species classification codes of James White's Sector General books, to the "autodocs" of Larry Niven's Tales of Known Space. The game's system is much influenced by the seminal mechanics of the original Dungeons and Dragons (see Role Playing Games), though with a notably more complex approach to generating random numbers using various types of dice and an occasional need to calculate square roots (a procedure which the text suggests can be more easily completed with the aid of a slide rule). However, Space Quest is most interesting for the many colourful (if not especially credible) details with which its Gamemaster can populate the universe. Various types of character are available to players, including "Mutates" (who have access to Psionic powers) and "Technics" (who are psychically connected to the machinery they maintain) (see Mutants). In an apparent homage to Jeffrey A Carver's Star Rigger series, members of a Starship's crew – known as "riggers" – are Cybernetically linked to its systems and sometimes use Precognition to operate them. Where the game's contemporary, Space Patrol (1977), concentrates on exploration of and combat upon unknown planets and Space Habitats, Space Quest emphasizes adventures in open space as well as those which might occur on the ground. Thus much of the rulebook is devoted to the hazards which can be encountered between suns, including Berserkers, "Voidsharks" (described as living interstellar ramjets), and a wide variety of creatures made of pure energy. Forerunners, rebellious Robots, and drifting space derelicts add to the dangers presented by the many monsters found in Hyperspace. It can fairly be said that Space Quest's fiction is one of the most original offered by the first wave of sf Role Playing Games.

Related works: A second edition was published in 1979, incorporating minor revisions. [NT]

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