Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kitchen Sink Expeditions: Lightspeed -- Part III

Think Space Wars vs. Space Trek. That's the ticket, yeah...
As I mentioned in Part I, there were several iterations of Lightspeed that came out before the current version. In those versions, there were some expansions and supplements that eventually got folded into the final Core Book of Lightspeed you see today. Some stayed in, some didn't make it, but all can give you a feel for the original dimensions of this particular Kitchen Sink Setting.


One of these expansions tackled ESPERs (known as wielders of Psionics and Mental Abilities and Super Powers in other settings).

Inspired, no doubt, by anime shows like Cosmo Police Justy and Dragon Ball, this aspect of the setting posited that high-powered ESPERs existed in the universe. Now don't think Counselor Troi of Star Trek or even the uplifted Telepaths of B5 -- think Goku and his friends, deputized by the AstroPol going out to fight other similarly powered villains.

Any GM worth his salt is going to sense that such a setting element would raise terrible questions in terms of the viability of SF setting plausibility, unless a Legion of Super-Heroes vibe is evoked. So that would mean ditching this particular aspect of the setting, unless the PCs themselves were all ESPERs of that class.

However, I did feel that the complete removal eliminated the potential PSI Judge, Jedi, PsiCorps, Mentat, or Lensman element to the series and wish it could be brought back somehow.


There's no shortage of races in Lightspeed, and there's certainly enough space to add your own in. Some of them come across as homages to certain well-known SF properties, while others take on a more archetypal feel:
  • Argesians: smart, great with technology, pacifistic. Star Trek Vulcans with a dash of the Known Universe Puppeteers.
  • Heshans: a race of ascetics who believe in non-violence, they do have the potential to ignite into a Battle Rage. Star Trek Vulcans crossed with Dragon Ball Z Saiyans (without the planet destroying power levels)
  • Hunters: xenophobic race that uses cloaking devices and prefers hand to hand weaponry when hunting all other races. Predators with the numbers filed off.
  • Krung: a tall, swarthy warrior race. Klingons, man.
  • Mronians: cat-people from outerspace. Chanur, anyone?
  • Nerfel: short, furry mammalian species that is very cute. Ewoks.
  • Yuzri: tall, furry bestial humanoids. Wookies.
  • Saure: an alien species that tends to hibernate in deep space until they encounter another races, then they awaken, hunt, and breed. Hated by the Hunters. Aliens (vs. Predators) to be sure.
  • The Robot Nexus: Think the Borg mixed with the AI Virus of Traveller.

Lightspeed has a lot of ship designs in their art, and even released a supplement on ships of the galaxy. Now while the ships of the Pan-Solar Empire have a distinctive Star Wars feel in the art, the Interstellar Federation doesn't seem to be quite as a Star Trek inspired. If I ran the campaign, I'd definitely make their ships more Trek-ish so contrast with the Empire, and (in my own opinion) the more Babylon 5 meets Firefly feel of the Old Earth Empire ships.

And I think that you'd have to hammer out the balances between the ship designs to make sure that questions wouldn't arise like: why doesn't the Federation wipe out the Empire in one afternoon and then warp back for tea?

To be fair, the author may have balanced out the ship designs, but I never really delved deep enough to figure out if the various factions were an even match for one another despite differences in technological paths.

Up Next: Wrapping things Up

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That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.