Sunday, December 10, 2017

Saga of the Starnomads (Part I)

Art by Dave Billman

In Lords of Creation, Tom Moldvay offers seven settings.  One of these, Imperial Terra, is a space opera venue.  “Because of a series of man-made catastrophes,” states the description, “details of entire centuries of history have been lost, so it is impossible to date the Empire using 20th century time references.”  (Corvus Andromeda comes from Imperial Terra.)  The Rule Book has one-and-a-half pages dedicated to the details of Imperial Terra.  About one-quarter of a page is devoted to describing the Starnomads.  According to The Book of Foes, “A Starnomad is a member of a wandering futuristic culture that practices genetic selection of the fittest.”

Evidently, Moldvay put a great deal of thought into the Starnomads.  I think they're elitist jerks, but I'm just a mudhugger. To the premier issue of Heroes, Avalon Hill's magazine, Tom Moldvay contributed a Lords of Creation adventure, “Survival Run of the Starnomads.”  (However, the adventure refers to itself as “The STARNOMAD SURVIVAL MAZE.”)  In the 'Designer's Note' for the adventure, Moldvay explains, “In the summer of 1979, I designed a game system entitled 'Starnomads' for the amusement of my friends and myself.”  He further explains that the game system “was the grandfather of LORDS OF CREATION®.”

Along with the adventure, Moldvay provides an 'Historical Background' for the Starnomads, some of which is duplicative of the material in the Imperial Terra setting description.  The first part of this background follows.


  1. The Starnomads always struck me as being inspired by the Free Traders from Heinlein's "Citizen of the Galaxy."

    1. The Free Traders were certainly an inspiration, but Moldvay put his own spin on the concept.