Saturday, August 16, 2014

Flanaess Sector

One of the campaigns that runs around in my head, that I'd like to run or better still play in, is what I tentatively call "Flanaess Sector". This is AD&D as a science fiction/science fantasy setting, though running it as a nearly hard-SF game (as "hard" as Traveller, say) could be very interesting indeed. Psionics and the Psionicist replace magic, technology is used instead of magic items, and the alien races are drawn from the more outré AD&D monsters. What it would need is a collection of new character classes, new technological items, starship rules, and perhaps trade and commerce rules (to handle Traveller style merchant campaigns, which are wonderfully flexible).

The aliens are mainly what I've given my thought to, little though it has been so far. I imagine an empire of Illithids, Ropers (which I imagine as being the first race that the Illithids were parasitic upon, drawing on the Urophion from The Illithiad) in a small sphere of resistance to the Illithids, Grell (in the Colonial Grell variety from Spelljammer), Neo-Otyugh, Neogi from Spelljammer with their Umber Hulk servants, maybe Xorn treated as a silicon-based life form, Flumphs, Ixitxachitl (suitably modified to not be based around Clerics, though they would make a great evil theocracy), Aboleths, and maybe a few others. I also greatly enjoy the Tyranids from Warhammer 40,000, so maybe those too. I don't have much love for humanoid aliens, but who knows? Maybe there are orcs or tabaxi among the stars.

The character classes might be based on the ones in Stars Without Number or maybe even Starships & Spacemen 2nd Edition, but rewritten to fit better with AD&D rather than B/X. Or, more likely, a set of interesting classes could be written from nearly whole cloth. I envision, in addition to the Psionicist I mentioned, Soldier, Pilot, Engineer (or Technician), maybe Merchant, Conman, and a few others. It being AD&D, there would be room for quite a few character class options. The classes in the old WotC Star Wars game might not be a bad set of choices.

Starships could be handled with any of a variety of systems. The aforementioned Starships & Spacemen and Stars Without Number are the obvious choices, but Terminal Space or some other OD&D-based SF supplement would be workable, as well. For that matter, Traveller's starships would work well, too. As an alternative, perhaps a system of Gates, similar to the ones in the Judges' Guild "Portals" trilogy, could connect the worlds. Perhaps not, though, as starships are half the reason to play SF instead of fantasy.

Here's a list of all the intelligent monsters from AD&D that I think would make good aliens: Aboleths, Beholders (but I don't want to use them, although there is a whole society built around them, especially in Spelljammer), Dopplegangers, Dragons (maybe, but if so, then especially the Blue or Black varieties), Flumphs, Formians (centaur-ants), Galeb Duhr (maybe, they're perhaps a little "magicky"), Grell (Colonial), Intellect Devourers, Ixitxachitl, Lizard Men, Mind Flayers, Myconids (there's also an ecology of mobile fungi for their homeworld, not to mention the special molds and slimes could be from their native environment, too), Neo-Otyughs, Ropers, Thri-kreen (mantis warriors), Treants (should they keep their ability to animate trees? I don't know; probably not, which is also a way to "fix" Galeb Duhr), Umber Hulks, and Xorn. Mi-go (if the DM has the first print Deities and Demigods) would fit perfectly into the setting.

As I said, I would prefer not using any humanoids (other than Lizard Men, Dopplegangers, and Myconids, perhaps), but if I did I would stick to the less common ones like Crabmen, Aarakocra (bird-men), Tabaxi (cat-men), Banderlogs, Grippli, and the like. Xill could be interesting, though they should probably have their ethereal powers and nature removed.

It might be interesting to include a "transcended" species that manifests as the faery creatures like Sprites, Pixies, and the like (there's a useful "ruling caste" for them to be found in Adventures Dark and Deep called Faeries). There's a race like that in the Star Fleet Universe, in the Omega Octant, called the Loriyill. Their starships have semi-magical effects like space fireballs and such.

Anyway, it seems like it could be a lot of fun, and leveraging the more science fiction/science fantasy elements of D&D seems like a good idea to me.


  1. Judging solely from a 5-second image search on Google, tyranids look a little bit like hook horrors. Galeb duhr could work as a silicon-based race, and the more familiar races (and animal races) could be genetic manipulation at work.

  2. Replies
    1. Glad that you think so. I try to build settings that suit my own sense of fun, and it's always good to hear that other people enjoy them, too. Not that I hardly get a chance to use them these days.

  3. And The Free City of Greyhawk is a renegade space station orbiting a enormous black hole called Nyr Dyv . . .

    - Ark

  4. I think some of your work has already been done for you. If you don't mind some OSR-goodness and classes couched in Barsoomian trappings, you might check this out:

    Warriors of the Red Planet is, in my opinion, how Mentalists (psionicists, which are essentially clerics reskinned) and Scientists (wizards reskinned) should be done! When I say 'reskinned," I mean in one of the most simple and coolest ways possible!

    The best thing? It's on for less than $4. LESS THAN $4!!! You get a nice, paperback book with a glossy cover and--despite this being a "beta" version--a mostly well-edited and well-thought out book.

    I bought 1 for myself, read it, and loved it enough to buy 3 more for my gaming group. Highly recommended.

    1. In fact, WoRP was on my mind, and I should have mentioned it. I picked up a copy nearly as soon as it came out, because that is definitely up my alley. That said, though, its features that are excellent for a pulp-style game of planetary romance don't really fit so well with the mostly-hard SF concept that I'm positing here. Someone else, though, might find that to be the best way to go, of course!

      To me, a cleaned up (as has been done several times, starting in Dragon magazine #78) psionics system, using "psychic powers" concepts mixed with a system of "spell points" in the form of psychic energy, combined with the mental combat system of AD&D psionics, helps give the feel of movies like Scanners and Firestarter, which seem to me to be the best cinematic approach to SF mind powers. I do want to include a sort of "Scientist" class, and am thinking on the best way to approach that. Perhaps something similar to the inventing rules in Space 1889, fixed up for AD&D…