Steampunk inspiration and resources

Lose Yourself in the Immersive World of Stars of Empire

Stars of Empire Cover Art by Rachel Mayo

Stars of Empire Cover Art by Rachel Mayo

I am pretty new to this whole RPG (role playing game) scene, but creator Terry Sofian was kind enough to share the games that he and a group of collaborators designed. The first in the “Hive Queen and Country” series is called Stars of Empire and was released in 2011, with a new edition currently in the works. It is a “d-20” game, meaning that players use 20-sided dice to decide their fates during game play, and characters grow and change with each adventure.

Sofian has envisioned a rich alternate history which revolves around the discovery of a mineral that helps humans achieve lighter than air flight at a much earlier time. Between its discovery and the perfection of Babbage’s Analytical Engine within his lifetime, the human race ushers in the space age during the Victorian era. Both in the RPG and on the Hive Queen and Country website, you can see the detailed timeline on which the game and accompanying fiction is based. The shift in the timeline towards greater technological advances deeply influences the geopolitics of the entire globe. New empires are formed, new (and often uneasy) alliances are struck, and some countries, like a United States still reeling from the Civil War is content to keep its head down. For now…

Intrigued? Well wait, there’s more! Within a few decades of leaving Earth’s atmosphere, humans have visited the moon (Luna), Mars and Venus. Luna in this scenario resembles First Men in the Moon, where the hollow body houses a network of tunnels. But unlike the Wells’ story, Luna has been abandoned by its inhabitants. The most troubling discovery is there also appear to be human burials on its surface, and no one knows how they got there. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that Mars and Venus are not quite so empty. The same care and detail are given to describing the back-story of the alien races as to their Earthly counterparts, and gives another whole dimension to the types of adventures that can be crafted within this world.

So far, I have only read Stars of Empire and it is not for the faint of heart. At almost 300 pages, this is not a game that casual players will be able to pick up and learn in a single evening. But, if you enjoy d-20 games and are looking for a Steampunk world to immerse yourself in, I would definitely check out this title. There are tons of creatures, settings and characters available to create interesting scenarios and keep you engaged. The tone is realistic and the story has gravitas, so be prepared to assemble a group of serious gamers to play with.

In the RPG, Sofian notes that the game can also be played with miniatures to enhance the look, and makes recommendations on the website about where to find suitable aliens and vehicles. Stars of Empire is the first in the series and uses a timeline that ends in 1893, but subsequent books move the timeline forward through the first and second “Hive Wars,” as well as conflicts on Venus. The book includes stunning artwork by several artists including Rachel Mayo and Paul Daly.

You can find all of Sofian’s RPGs in a digital format at RPGnow.com, and Stars of Empire can be purchased in print from Amazon.

Do you enjoy tabletop RPG’s? Have you ever played anything in the Hive Queen and Country universe? Please comment below!

2 responses

  1. Pingback: How to Punk Your Steam: Make it Playable | For Whom the Gear Turns

  2. Pingback: Back Stars of Empire Now on Kickstarter | For Whom the Gear Turns

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