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RPG WTF 7: Space 1889

6 Jun, 2020


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Frank Chadwick’s 1988 Space 1889 was GDW’s foray into Steampunk roleplaying, although as I recall Jeter had just coined the term steampunk” and it wasn’t applied to Space 1889. Instead, this planetary adventure RPG, set in a Victorian era where implausible physics handed spaceflight to 19th century humans, got the tag line Science Fiction Role Playing in a More Civilized Time.“

Since this was a time when, for example, women in most nations barely had rights, sixty million or so Indians starved to death under the British, the Belgians were busily converting the Congo over to a severed-hand based currency, and the North American settler nations were enthusiastically genociding their way to the West Coast, it does raise the question of from whose perspective the 19th century could be said to be more civilized, and what precisely there was to be nostalgic about.