Space: 1889

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Space: 1889
Space1889rpg.jpg
Designer(s) Frank Chadwick
Publisher(s) Game Designers' Workshop, Heliograph, Inc., Untreed Reads Publishing LLC
Publication date 1988, 2011
Genre(s) Steampunk, Victorian Science Fiction
System(s) Custom

Space: 1889 is a role-playing game of Victorian-era space-faring,[1] created by Frank Chadwick and originally published by Game Designers' Workshop from 1988 to 1991 and later reprinted by Heliograph, Inc. in 2000 and 2001. In February 2013 Chronicle City announced that they are working with Uhrwerk Verlag on a new English edition of Space 1889 RPG.[2]

The first published description of Space: 1889 was in the "Feedback" column in the TSR/SPI publication Ares Magazine in 1983, as a proposal for a board wargame.[3] The title is both a parody of the television show Space: 1999 and a continuation of the GDW naming convention applied to two of its previous role-playing games, Twilight: 2000 and Traveller: 2300 (the latter of which was later renamed 2300 AD in order to prevent confusion with Traveller), though neither previous game had any connection to the Space: 1889 universe. The name Space: 1889 is a registered trademark belonging to Chadwick.

Setting[edit]

The game presented an alternate history in which certain discredited Victorian scientific theories were instead found to be true and have led to the existence of new technologies. In the setting, Thomas Edison invented an "ether propeller" which could propel ships through the "luminiferous aether" (the universal medium that permeates space, based on a now outdated scientific theory), and traveled to Mars in 1870 accompanied by Scottish soldier of fortune Jack Armstrong, where they discovered that the planet was inhabited. By the time of the game's setting in 1889, the great powers have used Edison’s invention to extend their colonies and interests to the inner planets of the solar system. Venus and Mars have been colonised by Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia, Belgium (Mars only), and Italy (Venus only), whilst Japan and the USA maintain economic and scientific enclaves on Mars. There are no colonies or bases on the Moon. Only Great Britain maintains a (scientific) base on Mercury.

The inner planets reflect an evolutionary progression, the planets nearest to the sun being younger than those farther out. All planets have life, and most bear native sentient species. Mercury is primeval, tide locked and possesses only rudimentary lifeforms. Venus is a vast swamp world dominated by hulking reptiles and lizard men.[1] The Moon is an airless dead world, but with mysteries hidden deep beneath the surface. Mars is an ancient desert planet in decline, divided into warring decadent city-states clinging to a failing system of canals. Vulcan has died and become the asteroid belt. Due to limitations in technology the outer worlds remain unreachable and unexplored. There are also hints that some worlds may have terrain hidden beneath their surface.

One of the treasures that spurred the Europeans to Mars was "liftwood": a rare cultivated plant with anti-gravity properties that allowed for the construction of giant floating ships. While the Earthers used Martian sky galleons at first, they later constructed their own armored, steam powered flyers.

Since wireless was not invented yet in 1889, communication between Earth and Mars is handled by orbital heliograph stations. The game contains much more detail on the flora, fauna, and peoples of the planets. The majority of the published material is centered on Mars.

Publications[edit]

  • Space: 1889 by Frank Chadwick. The core rulebook for the role-playing game.
  • Tales from the Ether (ed) Frank Chadwick and Loren Wiseman. Five adventures set on the planets and the British orbital heliograph station.
  • More Tales from the Ether (ed) Frank Chadwick and Loren Wiseman. More short adventures on Mars and Venus.
  • Beastmen of Mars by Lester Smith. A campaign dealing with debased Martians, liftwood, and some mysteries of the planets.
  • Canal Priests of Mars by Marcus Rowland. A campaign that begins on the Earth, includes a voyage by ether liner to Mars, and concludes with a twist ending. The published version cut about a third of the author’s manuscript; Heliograph finally published the complete adventure as a PDF in July 2009, with a printed version to follow in August 2009. The Complete Canal Priests of Mars restores all of the original text and has new illustrations throughout.
  • Steppelords of Mars by John Theisen. Source book on Hill Martian tribes.
  • Caravans of Mars by Ed Andrews. Source book on Martian caravans and merchants.
  • Cloud Captains of Mars by Frank Chadwick. Details on the sky pirates and privateers of Mars.
  • Conklin’s Atlas and Handy Manual of the Worlds by Frank Chadwick. A gazetteer to the planets, including maps and information on Earth.
  • Soldier’s Companion by Frank Chadwick. Rules for colonial ground warfare using miniatures, including detailed army lists, as well as rules for tripods and land juggernauts.
  • Ironclads and Ether Flyers by Frank Chadwick. Rules for surface naval combat, including detailed information about Earth’s navies and flyers. The rules are a simplified version of Sky Galleons of Mars (see below).
  • The Liftwood conspiracy (published under license by 3W) Scenario involving liftwood poaching, and the bestial High Martians.
  • GDW's house magazine (Challenge) also contained material for the game.
  • Heliograph's magazine Transactions of the Royal Martian Geographical Society provided additional game material.
  • Space 1889: Red Sands A Savage Worlds Plot Point Campaign published by Pinnacle Entertainment Group as a full-color hardback. The campaign "pits a desperate band of heroes against the Inner Circle of the Brotherhood of Luxor. The Brotherhood, led by the mysterious Kronos, King of the Titans, plots to bring about the end of all worlds." The campaign was released on November, 2010, with a Gen Con debut in August.[4][5]
  • Space 1889 & Beyond - a new, fully licensed series of eBooks, launched in August 2011, from Untreed Reads Publishing. This new series is be spearheaded by Andy Frankham-Allen, who wrote for the short lived audio drama series produced by Noise Monster Productions in 2005/6.
  • Space: 1889 published by Uhrwerk Verlag in July 2012 as 264 A4 pages full-color hardback, based on the Ubiquity rules. Sourcebooks of Venus an Mars are planned.
  • Mars Needs Steam published by Test of Battle Games is planned in Fall 2012. Based on the Men Under Fire rules the rules focus on small unit actions and encounters.

Boxed games[edit]

  • Sky Galleons of Mars: Boxed game of aerial combat on Mars. It included large scale maps, ship miniatures, and rules.
  • Cloudships and Gunboats: Role playing game supplement with mini-scale deckplans, cardstock miniatures, rules, and ship diagrams.
  • Temple of the Beastmen: Boxed modular board game which never plays the same way twice.

Heliograph reprinted the rules portions of Sky Galleons of Mars and Cloudships and Gunboats, but did not reprint the boxed games themselves.

Miniatures[edit]

GDW released a range of 25mm miniatures sculpted by Bob Murch of RAFM. These sets were collectively called Adversaries, and included Soldiers of the Queen (a "company" of 20 British infantry), Legions of Mars (a warband of 20 Martians), Kraag Warriors (20 High Martians, 10 each flying and walking), and Victorian Adventurers (10 diverse personalities, as seen in Temple of the Beastmen).

All of these miniatures are currently available directly from RAFM, although the composition of the Victorian Adventurers set has changed. In 2002, RAFM released Martian colonial infantry, cavalry & artillery crew, as well as new gashants (a Martian cavalry mount), Hill Martians and Canal Martians.

On 1/25/08 RAFM opened a forum to discuss expanding their 1889 line of miniatures. You can view the forum here: http://www.rafm.com/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi?action=intro

Highlander studios has begun a line of 15mm miniatures see http://highlanderstudiosinc.com/shop/index.php?cPath=22.

Computer game[edit]

A computer game adaptation by the same name was also released in 1990 at the height of the game's popularity. It was developed by frequent GDW licensee Paragon for the Amiga, Atari ST and PC platforms.

Audio dramas[edit]

In 2005/06, Noise Monster Productions, run by Big Finish stalwart John Ainsworth, released four full-cast audio adventures on CD. These were produced under exclusive license from Frank Chadwick. The first three released stories are now commonly referred to as The Mars Trilogy, and the fourth release The Lunar Inheritance is a stand-alone tale. Each was released on a single CD with a running time of approximately 70 minutes.

As of 2006 the stories released have been:

eBooks[edit]

Conspiracy of Silence cover

In September 2011, Untreed Reads Publishing launched a new series of eBooks called "Space: 1889 & Beyond", edited by Andy Frankham-Allen. The first series was based, loosely, on the gaming book Tales from the Ether and introduced the key concepts of the series; the characters, the setting, the aether, the planets, and the politics. The first series ran until February 2012. The second series of six books began in August 2012, for the first time advancing the setting beyond the year 1889, and pushing the narrative forward to previously unexplored areas of the property. The opening book of series two, Conspiracy of Silence, is the first time any Space: 1889 product has been set entirely on Earth (featuring characters from Frank Chadwick's forthcoming prequel novel The Forever Engine).

Continuity: Journey to the Heart of Luna alludes to the appointment of the new governor of the British colony of Syrtis Major on Mars. This is a reference to Sir Henry Routledge, who was seen en route to his new position in the audio play Red Devils. The character is set to appear in A Fistful of Dust, confirming that The Mars Trilogy audio releases are part of the "Space: 1889 & Beyond" narrative. The Lunar Inheritance, however, is overwritten by Journey to the Heart of Luna and subsequent tales surrounding Luna and the inhabitants of that world.


The stories of series one are:

The stories of series two are:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b T. Hull (2004-07-23). "Review of Space: 1889". RPGnet. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  2. ^ "Space 1889". Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  3. ^ Anonymous (Spring 1983). "Feedback". Ares Magazine (14): 41. 
  4. ^ "Space 1889: Red Sands announcement". Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  5. ^ "Space 1889: Red Sands (Savage Worlds, S2P10012)". Amazon. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  6. ^ Snider, John C. (2006). "CD Review: Space: 1889 "The Lunar Inheritance" (an Audio Drama)". SciFiDimensions.com. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 

External links[edit]