Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Book Review: The Empire of Silence

I'm an avid podcast and audible user, since I commute and it gives me a chance to "read" while on the go.  Lately, I've been trying to follow works that might give me additional Psi-Wars inspiration and I've certainly struck... well, silver with the latest work: Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio

I found the book in a local bookshop, and I'm always on the lookout for an audio book that will tide me over in between works, as I get one "credit" per month, with which I can pick up a free audio book, so I tend to be on the lookout for lengthy works with cheap price tags, and the book interested me.

So what is it?

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy. 
It was not his war. 
The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders. 
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world. 
Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand. --Empire of Silence, Sleeve Summary
 The book, it turns out, is "part 1" of a series, so all that cool stuff about fighting a war and destroying a star, while teased in the opening of the book, don't actually happen in the book.  Instead, it serves as the introduction to the main character, the aristocratic Hadrian Marlowe, and chronicles his noble origins, his fall from grace, his arrival on a new world, and his slow journey from ignominy back into a sort of freedom; that pursuit of freedom from the "gilded cage" of aristocracy is the core narrative thread of the book.

The book is decidedly space opera, and almost an homage to Dune.  It certainly differs from the book, in tone and in setting, as it explicitly includes aliens (including the Cielcin, against which the mentioned war is raged, but also other aliens, at least two others which feature in the book) and nothing like the spice of Dune or the hints of drug culture rife throughout that book.  Instead, it features aristocratic houses, shield belts, blade combat, and a more medieval culture, with an all-powerful religion featuring inquisitions, forbidden technologies replaced with superior mental training and genetic engineering, and sprinkles in gladiatorial combat for good measure.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Patreon Art Preview and Poll: The Eldoth

It took me a bit of time, but the art for the third major race, the Eldoth, is complete.  If you're a Fellow Traveler ($3+) patron, you can check it out.  I want to give you guys a big thank you. You literally make this happen, as I use the proceeds of Patreon to pay for the artwork.

What comes next? Well, that's up to you, dear Patron, to decide. If you're a Companion ($5+) patron, you can vote! This will be a more complicated vote than usual, and I don't want to post every time a poll comes up, so just keep your eye on the Patreon feed.

As always, thank you for your support!

Edit: Part II of the poll is up.
Edit: Part III of the poll is up

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Eye of Providence Closes

If you follow my blog more than you follow the GURPS Facebook group or the SJGames forums, you might not have heard by Pyramid is closing down.  It's been, what, nearly 30 years?

My own first pyramid was an actual magazine plucked from a store shelf.  I began following it back in the late 90s, and so I've had at least part of all three iterations of Pyramid, and fond memories of all three.  This is definitely a major blow, and I have quite a mix of emotions and thoughts about the announcement, as I'm sure you do as well, so I thought I would share some of them here.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Patreon Post: Let's Build a Vehicle (Starfighter Edition)

I continue my examination of my vehicles conversion by diving into starfighters.  Previously I looked at mostly civilian ground vehicles, but this time it's exclusively militaristic aerospatial vehicles using plasma thrusters.  As a result, I learned a lot about how Vehicles handles aerodynamics, and I got a thorough working of my engines, power-plants and took a new look at weaponry.  This is an ongoing process, and each step of the way teaches me a little more about vehicles.

In this case, I've converted a 4e fighter craft from a Pyramid Article, and then two classic vehicles from GURPS Starships: the Typhoon and the Starhawk.  I wouldn't take these versions as "gospel," because I think I'd go into more detail and change quite a few things about the Spaceship design, not the least of which because the SS designs are based on SS constraints, which we don't  have, nor need.

Still, I think it's worthwhile to get a sense of where the design process is going, and I hope you enjoy it.  This is a patreon post available to all $1+ patrons.  If you're a patron, check it out!  And thanks very much for your support.  If you're not a patron, don't worry.  Once I have this stuff worked out, I'll be back with more sci-fi goodness.  Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Patreon Post: Let's Build a Vehicle (the Ground Edition)

Those following this new Tech Series of Psi-Wars might have caught a whiff of GURPS Vehicles and, if so, you're exactly right.  I'm too dissatisfied with GURPS Spaceships for all of this, so I thought I would dive in with both feet to see if I could bring Vehicles into 4e.  With the conversion of propulsion, power and materials, that begins to look possible.

This patreon post contains three design diaries:

  • A generic hover-car
  • A generic hover-bike
  • A generic hover-tank
In these design diaries, I check to see if I like the results my numbers give me and look for holes or problems.  This post is available to all $1+ patrons (while it contains some preview information, it's more about a larger project to see what it would take to get Vehicles into 4e, which I think interests more than just the Psi-Wars fans).  If you're a patron, check it out!  And thank you for your support.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Psi-Wars Material Technology

In the far future of the Psi-Wars galaxy, industry makes use of new materials from which to construct their buildings, factories, starships and to armor their soldiers. Most of these materials resemble modern materials, but typically are far stronger and lighter, able to stand up to the firepower of a blaster and to shrug off more primitive attacks with ease. Some are the results of far superior crafting technology, but others are mined from the depths of planetary cores, or taken from exotic asteroids who passed too close to hyperspatial anomalies.

This post has two companion patreon posts:

  • For Fellow Travellers ($3+) I have a more detailed look at these materials, including using them for armor design, vehicle design, building design, and some advanced and primitive materials.
  • For Dreamers ($1+) I have some research notes on real-world sci-fi materials, as well as conversion notes for GURPS Vehicles 3e armor and GURPS Spaceships armor.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Psi-Wars Propulsion Technology

Psi-Wars features vehicles of all sorts, from hover cars for high speed chases to starfighters zipping around great and mighty capital ships in battles that look surprisingly reminiscent of WW2 battles.  This post takes a look at what technologies the Psi-Wars setting uses to traverse its planets and the galaxy, including:

  • Hyperspace drives
  • Hyperdynamic technology and aerospace engines including plasma thrusters, impulse drives and the grav drive
  • Ground-based propulsion technology including repulsorlift technology, legged vehicles and tracks.
  • Aquatic propulsion technology and why it is slowly becoming obsolete.
For those who want additional details about the design process, including the specifications (compatible with the design process of GURPS Vehicles 3e, and with the previous power post!), $3+ patrons can find the design notes here.

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