Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Aliens In Space by Steven Caldwell...

I've said this before (and probably will again) that growing up in the 70s BEFORE gaming went mainstream meant that we had to find inspiration from non-gaming sources.  This not only gave us material for our games, but engendered a sense of ownership as we converted things for use in our own campaign settings...

And so while we previously talked about Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials and Kamandi, this time around we'll be praising a book by Steven Caldwell, called Aliens in Space: An Illustrated Guide to the Inhabited Galaxy!

Simply put (and as its name suggests) this is an encyclopedia of imaginary civilizations in an imaginary Milky Way, making it a great reference for a sci-fi campaign, providing a detailed breakdown of inhabited worlds, including their dominant life, culture, and native flora and incredible fauna.  This is detailed enough to tell its tale while keeping plenty open for GM interpretation...


Each chapter deals with a specific world, and these are many and varied, including frozen planets and steaming jungle worlds crawling with hungry life!  One planet even has vegetation that grows on clouds, to give some idea of the variety and imagination on display, and this offers one of many adventure hooks...

But it's the incredible artwork (on glossy, full-color interior pages) that compliment the writing and helps bring this universe to completion.  The feel is something like a cross between a coffee table book and a reference work, and since a picture here really is worth a thousand words, the visuals are an invaluable part of the story being told (and some are outright nightmare fuel). 

Beast from a frozen world and an
inhabitant of the enigmatic Neo-Nevada,
bristling with mystery...

Steven Caldwell is a science fiction author who's dabbled in imaginary references before.  His Terran Trade Federation books also provided an imagined (and coherent) universe.  And like this later offering, the writing is obviously centered on the evocative artwork that fills its glossy, full-color pages.  But Aliens in Space is special because it focuses on living worlds and the lifeforms that occupy these strange places.  This is GAMER FUEL for sure! 

Those wishing to buy the book, read it, and enjoy its artwork can easily lose a few quality hours in its 65 pages.  But anyone wanting to employ it as a campaign setting will still need to map out the Milky Way and place any additional worlds their milieu demands, with whatever other details seem appropriate...

And, of course, there's the matter of selecting a system, which really shouldn't be a problem.  Lots to choose from!

Aliens in Space wasn't especially rare, and finding a used copy should be easy enough, although getting a GOOD one may require more time and money.  But if you just want a decent working copy for reference during play, chances are, you can find an acceptable one online or perhaps at your local used bookstore.  These treasures make scouring the shelves worth the trouble and provide inspiration for gaming that precede its roots and feel completely original...

2 comments:

  1. My library had this. Checked it out repeatedly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can't say as I blame you! It's GOOD stuff...

      Delete