Sunday, December 11, 2016

Inspiration: The Star Rebellions, 5764 AD

Yes, technically it should be “AD 5764,” assuming we're talking about anno domini ; however, there is no definitive connection between this setting and Earth.  'This setting,' by the way, comes from Freedom in the Galaxy, originally published in 1979 by SPI, then published as an Avalon Hill bookcase game in 1981.  In the game, “a small but valiant band of Rebels struggle to withstand the oppression of an empire bent on total domination.”  In other words, it's a blatant Star Wars knock-off.  Even the title of the game (hereinafter FitG ) is one thin preposition away from the last four words in the introductory scroll of the original film.  Why use a knock-off for inspiration instead of the genuine article?  It is in the differences of the knock-off in which we shall find points of interest.

FitG has three levels of complexity:  'single star system' has a rating of 4  – on Avalon Hill's scale of 1 (easy) to 10 (hard), 'province' (4 - 6 systems) has a rating of 7, and 'galactic' (all 25 systems – 51 planets) has a rating of 10 – “the ultimate in S-F realism.”  The 32-page rule book informs us, “The full Galactic Campaign Game...takes about 20 hours to play.”

Aside from the rule book, the game includes a 12 page 'Galactic Guide' including a backstory for the setting and details that are mostly 'color', but some are ancillary to the rules.  In the age of the Interstellar Concordance, the Interspecies Genetics Project combined Rhone (i.e., human) genetics with genes from other intelligent species.  The resulting hybrids “traveled to the worlds of their respective parent races” where they “tended to breed prodigiously.”  Eventually the hybrids battled against the elder races in the Galactic Extermination Wars.  Civilization collapsed and the survivors, “mostly hybrids and Rhones,” lost the secret of faster-than-light drive.  Eventually, a Rhone population developed faster-than-light transportation again and used this advantage to establish an interstellar empire.  Over several centuries, corruption festered in the Empire.  To thwart the depredations of the Empire, the Galactic Rebellion came into being.  Some of the various races in FitG include:  Yesters (bird people), Kayns (dog people), Piorads (“Space Vikings”), Segundens (“a dark-skin humanoid race”), and Saurians (lizard people).

FitG is a two-player game; one player controls the Empire and the other controls the Rebellion.  The game involves planetary loyalty scores and space combat; however, “Central to the play of Freedom in the Galaxy are the characters.”  Sabotage, Diplomacy, and Free Prisoners are examples of missions that players can assign to characters (or groups of characters).  Missions are resolved by drawing action cards.  Each action card lists events that occur depending upon the 'Environ' that the characters occupy.  Once the event is resolved, a letter code on the card indicates if the mission is successful.

Each character has six attributes:  Combat, Endurance, Intelligence, Leadership, Diplomacy, and Navigation.  Each attribute is rated from zero to six.  Some characters have a special ability.  For instance, Zina Adora (“Princess of Adare”), “Receives one bonus draw on Gather Information mission.”

Some interesting characters:

Sidir Ganang (psuedo-anagram of SPI employee Sid Ingang):  “'Sidir Ganang' and the Ganang Gang was one of the most popular stereovision shows shows on Bajukai, and Sidir Ganang posters, dolls, books, movies and grebble-gum cards made him a millionaire.  But his fortune tugged at the greed of some minor Imperial functionary, and Sidir Ganang was blacklisted from the entertainment business, and his fortune was confiscated.  Formerly, Ganang had merely portrayed galactic warriors on stereovision; now he actually became one, fighting against the Empire.”

Ly Mantok:  “An Imperial Sub-Commander is not supposed to have outside business concerns, but this is a rarely enforced policy.  Ly Mantok would no doubt have gotten away with his corrupt dealings, had not ten thousand Mantok Laser Rifles refused to function in the middle of the Battle of Banjukai.  When Mantok was...dismissed, he swore that he would go to someone who would appreciate his abilities.  The Rebels, at the time, were desperate enough to do just that.”

He starts the game with an Explorer spaceship.

Barca (because he's a dog person – get it?):  “Like all Kayns, Barca has a fierce loyalty for his friends and little mercy toward his enemies.  For 40 years, Barca has been the Grand Marshal of the Imperial Army, both on planet and in space.  His remarkable military prowess and ability to handle tactical and strategic combat situations is at the disposal of the Empire, as Barca's loyalties remain fixed to the Imperial throne and whoever sits upon it.”

Thysa Kymbo (more wordplay from the impish wits at SPI):  “Daughter of the current Emperor Coreguya, the princess has spent most of her adult life waiting for her father to die, so that she may ascend to the throne.  Because she has spent most of her life pampered in the Imperial Court, she is unaware that Redjac may have other plans for the throne that do not involve succession.  The princess became the bitter enemy of Zina Adora when she learned that Rayner Derban was more attracted to Zina than herself.”

Her voice was “as alluring as it was Imperial...”

Characters can also have companions.  One such companion is Norrocks (“The Thieves Guild constructed this bodyguard robot to protect its most important members.  Sometimes, through proper bargaining, the Guild can be persuaded to part with one of its defensive robot bodyguards.”).  Another companion is Charsot (“Resembling a little dog, the Charsot, an animal from the planet Midest, can sense thought waves and transmit its own waves of pacification and reason.  It can also sense the future to a limited extent.”).

FitG offers a plethora of creatures with which characters might interact during the course of their missions.  A sampling follows.
Derigion:  “Giant flying lizard with quick movements aided by instinctive precognition.”
Gach:  “Two-headed feline creature with two conflicting personalities.”
Hysnatons:  “Sewer snakes with hypnotic powers.”
Leonus:  “An unheard-of cross-breed a lion-like creature and a reptile, incredibly ferocious and stealthy.”  (Although unheard-of, it has a name.)
Lomrels:  “Large canines used as mounts be the local populace, who alone know the secret to their control.”
Prox:  “Large, crawling carnivorous insect that has huge, rending teeth, but is slow.”
Sandiabs:  “Feisty desert rats get off on watching travelers fall into carefully covered sand pits.  Mean no real harm, though...”
Vorozion:  “Highly evolved, hostile thought being; very impatient.”
Zop:  “Friendly, furry creature that does not attack...However, it senses good vibrations from Rebel characters, and so it gives them ancient family heirloom kept safe in cave for eons...”


  1. I had this game, played it only a couple times. Had it scheduled for a game group to play by mail and meetinngs after a Napoleonic war game, the club broke up before that game ended

  2. The French heroic fantasy RPG Bloodlust (where you play sentient weapons) used some of the creatures (derigions, vorozions, etc.) in that game as name for its cultures.

  3. I played that game 40 years when it first came out, but we had to change the rules a little -- missions are WAY too deadly for the characters under normal rules. (Cut the damage in half and you get a balanced game.)

    The only game I know of with a rebellion/revolution "Domino Effect" as a central feature. This was late 1970's, Cold War context, Viet Nam war ended just a few years before.