The Gaean Reach


Quandos Vorn Must Die!

In an impossibly distant future, our species has dispersed to the stars. Traveling in slender spacecraft, armed with projacs and needle guns, we have settled countless worlds. Cultures are everywhere different, yet propelled in the end by fundamental qualities humankind cannot shed: greed, egoism, pettiness, and a crippling passion for procedure.

Across the vastness of the Oikumene a few individuals of exceptional infamy project their lust for power. Fear of their names spreads from planet to planet like a cancer.

None of these evokes greater loathing and terror than the world-spanning criminal mastermind Quandos Vorn.

Quandos Vorn. Who you have sworn to kill.

The Gaean Reach, the Roleplaying Game of Interstellar Vengeance, brings to your tabletop the legendary cycle of science fiction classics by the great Jack Vance.

  • An ingenious hybrid, it fuses the investigative clarity of the GUMSHOE system with the lethal wit of the Dying Earth Roleplaying Game.

  • Designed by the master of both systems, Robin D. Laws.

  • Quick and elegant character generation launches you into play at the speed of an intersplit drive.

  • Fun and collaborative series setup allows your group to define just who Quandos Vorn is, what unspeakable things he did to merit their vengeance, and why bringing him down presents them with the challenge of a lifetime.

  • Limpid GM advice gives you the tools you need to game out the elegant schemes and sinister counter-schemes of Vancian SF.

  • Full introductory scenario vibrates with the lushness of an unspoiled yet predatory ecosystem, entomological espionage, and the wrath of a monstrous algal deity.

Do not succumb to wistful visions. Every moment you hesitate to purchase this essential exemplar of the roleplaying art, Quandos Vorn gains time to strengthen his hand against you. Buy now, read with relish, and embark on your mission forthwith!



Stock #: PELV01 Author: Robin D. Laws
Artist: Chris Huth Pages: 108pg, 6 x 9, Perfect Bound


23 Responses to “The Gaean Reach”

  1. Steve C. says:

    I’m really looking forward to this RPG, as a huge fan of Jack Vance and Pelgrane. Do you anticipate a release in 2012?

  2. Allan says:

    I was really hoping it was not connected to either of the other two rules systems.
    One my players don’t like.
    And the other I cant seem to ref properly and even though I have tried to start games a couple of times they have all flopped and now my players don’t like this system either.

    I was hoping it would be a breath of fresh air as far as rules go.


  3. David Nagy says:

    Hi, Simon
    Has The Gaean Reach been released yet?

    el D.

  4. Graham says:

    Hi Simon,

    Has there been any progress?

  5. […] The Gaean Reach, le JdR vancien SF de Pelgrane Press, est annoncé en version *.pdf d’ici à la fin de la […]

  6. Brett Evill says:

    Yoot! It’s out at last!

    I wonder whether this is going to be suitable for my long-running Vance-inspired (and Cordwainer Smith, etc.) serial-planetary-romance SF RPG setting?

    I wonder whether it’s going to be suitable to the Star-Trek done right campaign I’m setting up for that setting?

    I wonder how my players would react to being told to generate Gaean Reach characters instead of GURPS characters.

  7. Jerome says:

    in the book, there is mention of a ressource page for the game but i havent found it on the website. Can you help ? :)
    Thank you !

  8. CraigN says:

    The rules on using tokens in the Gaean Reach are not consistent. There’s the table on p. 24, which seems clear enough. But then the individual rules sections sometimes contradict it.

    How much does it cost to make a Desperate Bid, using a skill you don’t have, 3 tokens (p. 24) or 1 token (p. 32)?

    How much does it cost to make a Fortunate Avoidance, 3 tokens (p. 24) or 2 tokens (p. 39)?

    How much do ability increases cost, the amounts on p. 24, or the usually smaller amounts on p. 45?

    How much does it cost to overcome an Obstacle, 3 tokens (p. 24) or a variable number (p. 34)? Actually, for this one the rules text surely takes precedence.

  9. Casey says:

    Will this be available again soon? It states preorder as my only option currently.

  10. Gray St.Quintin says:

    G’day. What Casey said. Would love to get this, but need some more details about when it would actually get to me. Any help you can give would be great. Cheers.

  11. Mark Mohrfield says:

    When will the pdf only version be available?

  12. Matt Ryan says:


    Is this available as a book, and not pdf? I’d like both a physical book and a pdf of this and the Gazetteer. Is that possible?

  13. […] play in Trail of Cthulhu and Fate Core (Musketeers) campaigns, whilst my own sci-fi Fate Core and Gaean Reach games trundle along.  Combined with multiple Dark Heresy 2nd Edition one-offs, and my upcoming try […]

  14. Paul Cooper says:

    Where are the downloads for the quotes and character cards?

  15. […] Favourite new game of the last 12 months. Honestly? Nothing jumps out… Thinking of new games I’ve played, I wasn’t blown away by Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition or Atomic Robo. Night Witches looks like it could be interesting, but like I said, I haven’t played it enough to judge. Despite my excitement here, I never picked up East Texas University (can’t justify buying ANOTHER Savage Worlds book I never use), and Feng Shui 2 hasn’t yet come out in dead tree form. I dunno. Let’s say Dark Heresy Second Edition, which I think is just about within the last 12 months. Or if it isn’t, The Gaean Reach. […]

  16. […] pretty much knew what to expect when I picked up The Gaean Reach.  Unfamiliar as I was with Jack Vance’s work, I was extremely familiar with the Gumshoe system, […]

  17. […] The Gaean Reach RPG largely due to an unfortunate, yet ultimately advantageous, error originating from Pelgrane […]

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The Gaean Reach

By Peter Freeman and Jim Webster

The Gaean Reach is a fictional setting created by author Jack Vance and developed across a series of loosely connected novels. It exists in the far future and can be defined as those parts of our galaxy in which human colonies have become established. The scope of the Gaean Reach varies between novels, growing large over a timeline of several millennia at least.

The Gaean Reach is not an exact concept and appears to have its genesis in the first novel of the Demon Princes series, Star King (1964), in which human space is divided into the Oikumene, a loose federation of planets, and the lawless Beyond. The term itself first appears in the Alastor series and has since become Vance’s standard science fiction/fantasy universe. Many of his major works, including the Chronicles of Cadwal and the three Alastor books are set in the Gaean Reach universe, as are his most recent books, such as Ports of Call. Other books, most notably the Planet of Adventure Series are more loosely associated with the Gaean Reach, containing no specific references but apparently following the same time frame and internal logic.

This is a rational universe, unlike much of Vance’s work, containing no magic or inexplicable phenomena, but the books are not hard science fiction, with technical detail used only to support the story rather than for its own sake. The focus is on character and story-telling. Perhaps the most notable feature of the Gaean Reach, and one of Vance’s strong points, is the sheer scale and variety of human society, both that encountered by the protagonists of the various novels and hinted at in the rich background that is always a part of his work. Thus we see Earth itself and other long inhabited planets as ancient, hyper- civilized societies whose inhabitant are cultivated and specialized to an extraordinary degree, and in sharp contrast new, raw worlds, planets settled by monomaniac cults or forgotten and reverted to barbarity, along with very point between.

The books are also full of classic Vancian motifs; the remote intellectual, the terrifying virago, the swaggering bully, and the skilled but flawed hero. Characterization is always strong, perhaps even unnecessarily detailed in books such as Night Lamp, and even minor characters are usually distinctive, created with few but skilled strokes. Settings are equally rich, and Vance shows extraordinary skill in creating atmosphere with a minimal use of words.

The Gaean Reach as a Game Setting

Whilst the Gaean Reach shares with the Dying Earth the classic characters and the almost infinite variety of human societies, unlike the Dying Earth, the Reach has within it a concept of Law. There is within the Oikumene, a shared overarching legality to which individual worlds add their own particular eccentricities. Also, unlike in the Dying Earth, the law is not a set of regulations which appear to have been concocted for the sole purpose of extorting money out of the innocent stranger, but instead they appear to have been set up to ensure the smooth running of society. Indeed this respect for law as necessary to bind society together can be seen even in the Beyond, where on Planets such as Brinktown “the magistrates are assassins, the civil guard arsonists, extortioners and rapists, the elders of the council, bordello owners. But civic affairs proceeded with a punctilio and gravity worthy of the Grand Sessions at Borugstone.”

It has to be admitted that the law is often portrayed as slow and dependent entirely upon the initiative of individuals to function properly, and in many cases the protagonist has to work outside the law to ensure that the law functions. So as an RPG background it is rather different from the Dying Earth. Whereas there characters always drift through the scenarios, interacting as whim and fancy takes them, secure in the knowledge that the problems they encounter in one locality will not pursue them to the next, in the Gaean reach the characters may have long term goals, aims and objectives that they work towards. They may perhaps be Effectuators, or affiliates of the Interstellar Police Coordinating Committee (IPCC). There is also a far greater emphasis on investigation and solving mysteries that might take several sessions to unravel. However, morality is still loosely defined, and the law open to flexible interpretation.

Still you shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking this is just another detective RPG set in space, or another Space Opera role playing game. The richness of the settings, the vast array of cultures and races, each with their own bewildering customs and traditions ensure that this is a setting unlike any other. This is not a background where NPCs exist purely to provide clues for the next stage of the adventure, instead, the NPCs are complex individuals, with their own aims and objectives, with whom you have to interact and that interaction may send the game off in surprising directions.

One Response to “The Gaean Reach”

  1. Carrasco says:

    You guys did a great job with the Dying Earth RPG, and it seems that you really “get” the spirit of the Gaean Reach, what makes it interesting and distinctive.

    Eagerly awaiting!

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