In the Gaean Reach, almost every world capable of supporting life gave rise to creatures of an insect-like body configuration. Though biologists assign each planet’s evolutionary tree its own taxonomic categories, in both lay and scientific circles the term “insect” is used to describe them all. The so-called insects of Achernar, for example, bear no genetic connection to those of Zonk’s Star. Yet the operation of parallel evolution assures that similar environments on quite separate planets gave rise to similar animal forms, insects included. Thus mosquito-like insects can be found on most planets in places where stagnant waters coexist next to warm-blooded beings.

Some planets run by nature conservancies have managed to largely screen out invasive lifeforms. But few worlds were settled with such care. All manner of plant, animal and fungal species have spread throughout the universe in the wake of that destructive beast, homo sapiens. Initially the invasiveness ran along one vector, from Old Earth outwards to other stars. Over the centuries, spillover from biospheres has run in all directions. Earth’s cockroaches, once considered invulnerable, have been all but replaced by even tougher and more tenacious equivalents first encountered by penal colony residents on the planet Boniface.

These factors complicate the work of forensic entomologists, yet also give them a topic to endlessly drone about. Always determine the loquacity of an entomologist before agreeing to go on a long star voyage with him!

One religious faith-slash-gambling syndicate, the Thorax Cacophony, deliberately introduces the insect species of different worlds to new planetary environments. They seek out planets with nitrogen-rich atmospheres, which allow arthropod species to hyper-evolve to gigantic sizes. Once nature has achieved this, Thorax Cacophony priestesses train the giant insects for gladiatorial combat, to the disgust and delight of spectators, adherents and well-financed nonbelievers alike. Needless to say, one must wear breathing apparatus in order to witness the bouts first hand. Many bettors prefer to observe the battles from the comfort of orbiting space yachts, via video feed.

Yet a recent rash of incidents has raised concerns of match-fixing, and you and your crew suspect that the mastermind behind them is Quandos Vorn, against whom all of you have sworn deadly vengeance. Is it time to infiltrate the Thorax Cacophony?

Death to Quandos Vorn!

We would never be so indelicate as to suggest that you, as member of a ragtag band of interstellar vengeance-seekers, would ever commit a homicide in the course of your implacable hunt for arch-criminal Quandos Vorn. Yet in the pursuit of this entirely justified enterprise, one might theoretically find oneself saddled with a recently deceased individual whose discovery would inconvenience your crew. Depending on your position in the vast sector of space known as the Gaean Reach, you might consider any of the following spots as places to dispose of incriminating remains.

  1. Crystal Marsh, Nion. The ever-shifting monoliths of this beautiful natural formation (pictured) quickly absorb any matter from the manufactured to the organic, rearranging it on the molecular level.
  2. Energy Fountains, Palmetto Islands, Ys. This laser sculpture provides hours of quiet contemplation to the residents of the area’s many retirement communities. Clients bored with life, or unable to pay for their upkeep, sometimes wander into the beam projectors. (The artist stipulated that no protective barriers obscure the view.) No one bats an eye when one of the beams momentarily fizzes.
  3. Palga Plateau, Koryphon. Inhabitants of this plain, the Wind-runners, object to others flying over their land. They shoot down any and all airborne vessels with their light-cannon. One need merely place the body in a disposable glider or atmospheric torpedo, loft it over the plateau, and let the Wind-runners do the rest.
  4. Port Swaven, Boniface. In this prison processing town, brokers maintain a brisk trade in fresh offworld corpses. With the connivance of corrupt guards these are used to fake convicts’ deaths, allowing them to escape under new identities. No one will find the criminal you seek to get rid of if he’s buried in the grave of an entirely different wrongdoer.
  5. Smugglers City, Terence Dowling’s World. Several competing businesses in this bustling criminal hive refashion corpses into attractive memento mori. Their catalogs offer such choices as keychains, watch fobs, steering mechanism covers, and drink cozies, all guaranteed to resist DNA testing of any kind.
  6. Yink’s Crocodile Park, Old Earth. By centuries-old custom, police officials may not venture into this combination tourist attraction and religious mecca. Acolytes of the Reptile God will baptize you for free in the sacred waters of the Sippewissa River when you provide 50 kg or more of carrion for the delectation of their deity’s earthly avatars.
  7. Zonk’s Star. Any solar orb will utterly incinerate any unwanted biohazards, if you’re willing to steer your space boat close enough. Zonk’s Star, named after a legendary pirate who himself is said to have undergone a so-called “flare funeral”, seems as poetically apt a choice as any.

Frustrated in your hunt for Quandos Vorn, the arch-criminal of the Gaean Reach upon whom you have sworn vengeance dire? Rather than seek him directly, you and the rest of your rag-tag band of righteous grudge holders may find it fruitful to follow the trail of an item he has stolen. Yes, perhaps in some cases the item will turn out to have been purloined by others. But one of them must surely bring you face to face with the man himself–or at least to one of his bases, or a lackey eager to betray his present location.

  1. Prototype of the First Intersplit Drive. Stolen from the European Aeronautics Museum in Brussels, Old Earth, by an as yet unknown subterfuge. Docents discovered a hologram in its place eight days after its last confirmed cleaning. Recovering this object will entail logistical challenges, as it weighs in at half a tonne.
  2. Sapphire Crown of the Swamp Witch. Carved from an enormous gem of the specified type, this was taken from a shaman of Wyst in a savage raid that left her and seven members of her retinue dead.
  3. Pocket Watch once owned by Ferebos Yalune. Taken from a memorabilia auction on Alcydon. On record as admiring Yalune’s reign of terror from three centuries ago, Quandos Vorn collects artifacts related to his life and is thus suspected in this theft.
  4. Phryndal’s Recursive Refusium. Self-explanatory.
  5. The Jandoon Hotel at Calara. Dematerialized in its entirety, with seventy guests and one hundred and forty staff members, after a billing dispute with a roue later revealed to be a Quandos Vorn alias. Assumed destroyed until relatives of wealthy missing guests began receiving ransom demands. Staff members are believed to have been sold by human traffickers somewhere in the Ferriers sector.
  6. The Perfect Strawberry. Preserved in a beautiful crystal cryosphere, this was judged the apex of the fragaria ananassa at the 143rd Gustation Tournament of Yaphet. It spent its next hundred and twelve years in the Botanic Hall of Fame until it was taken at projac-point by known Vorn associates. Speculation has it that Vorn intends to eat it as part of his upcoming birthday celebrationtime and location to be announced.
  7. Murmurings of the Concrete Column at Plast. Copies of this inexplicable recording of course remain in various top-secret databanks, but the voice unit that captured the original audio was taken during a starmenter raid on the ship Ecdysiast.

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. This ingenious hybrid fuses the investigative clarity of the GUMSHOE system with the lethal wit of the Dying Earth Roleplaying Game. Purchase The Gaean Reach in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

As you scour the spacelanes of the Gaean Reach for traces of Quandos Vorn, the interstellar arch-criminal you have sworn at all costs to destroy, you may find it advantageous to familiarize yourself with the very latest terms of abuse. Although humanity in its vast sprawl through the galaxy has retained a common language, local slang terms continue to form, mutate, spread, then fall into disuse. Spurred by ever-present bureaucratic obstruction, the language hungrily seeks new ways to express frustration, contempt and calumny. You may need to know these terms to understand when you are being mocked, or to spur the laggardly into satisfactory action.

Armback: a stupid and/or gullible person. As in, you could convince him he has a third arm growing out of his back.

“No, you wretched armback! I don’t want you to perform the emergency procedure! I want you to learn the emergency procedure!”

Blurniquet: a generally useless person or thing. Derives from the story of Blurn of Blurn’s Planet, notorious for selling substandard or quack medical supplies.

“Don’t just lie there like a blurniquet! The leopards are invading the station!”

Borb: a person whose conversation one immediately wishes to extricate oneself from.

“Why in the name of Diana’s moons did you not rescue me from that unrelenting borb?”

Corruction: to punish with enforced party attendance. Often connotes metaphorical or literal coercion to consume heavy intoxicating or psychoactive substances.

“Beware, Spavine, or we shall subject you to corruction at the nearest star port.”

Glummiker: a complainer or congenital pessimist, especially one who cannot respond in kind to any expression of hope or pride.

“Well, we see who the glummiker is on this mission.”

Goyster: a person or situation that fails to live up to initial promise. Named from the delicious-looking false oysters of Goyanus Prime, a rare example of a food whose nutritional content is negative.

“The intersplit drive looked like a bargain, until I got under the console and saw it was an utter goyster.”

Hasbad: a once fearsome, now risible, individual.

“Take the projac, for all the good it will do you, you pathetic hasbad!”

Quasling: a wishy washy person, who is neither here nor there. A waffler.

“After six hours of interminable blather the quasling would still not definitively say if he has the supplies we need.”

 


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. This ingenious hybrid fuses the investigative clarity of the GUMSHOE system with the lethal wit of the Dying Earth Roleplaying Game. Purchase The Gaean Reach in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

As the galactic vengeance-seekers of The Gaean Reach Roleplaying Game, you may from time to time find it necessary to invoke the legal system as a tool in your hunt for Quandos Vorn. Naturally you will not in the end turn this arch-villain over to the proper authorities, but rather exact your own revenge. Still, to earn the reluctant cooperation of foot-dragging local enforcement officers, a claim to connections in the Interworld Police Coordinating Company may prove essential.

Officials of various sub-jurisdictions take an interest in particular crimes that might best be described as capricious. You will thus be well-served to be able to cite a wide range of charges lodged against Quandos Vorn, especially those of recent vintage. Parochial constables may react differently depending on the planet making the charge. For example, an officer of the Connatic knows well to exercise skepticism regarding criminal offenses alleged on Copus, as these are frequently made to obtain leverage in disputes over bar tabs. On the other hand, planets heavily engaged in the pold trade take warrants issued on Nion quite seriously, lest their traders face a commercial disadvantage at contract renegotiation time.

With this in mind, pay heed to these recent charges laid against Quandos Vorn, sorted by jurisdiction. Some may be spurious, but is that your concern?

Capella IX: Assault, Aggravated Assault, Murder, Torture, Excessive Blinking.

Fallorne: Assault, Imposture, Reckless Operation of an Aerial Vehicle, Reckless Operation of a Ground Vehicle, Reckless Operation of a Space Vehicle, Reckless Inhabitation of a Stationary Vehicle, Murder.

Jimper’s World: Slander, Libel, Counterfeiting, Trademark Violation, Consumption of Unlicensed Entertainment Content, Encouraging Intellectual Property Violation By Minors, Murder, Cannibalism.

Ladaque-Royale: Theft of an Animal (under 10 kg), Theft of an Animal (over 100 kg; multiple counts), Interference with an Animal, Ecosystem Shock, Murder, Forced Trepanation.

Mossambey: Possession of Distilled Essence, Skin Theft, Hair Removal, Grandiosity, Murder (Involuntary), Manslaughter (Voluntary.)

Tacityl: Genetic Despiraling, Petty Theft, Grand Theft, Macroeconomic Theft, Murder (Direct), Murder (Sociological.)

Unicorn: Assault, Ritual Mockery, Sumptuary Violations, Importuning an Aristocrat, Kidnapping, Murder, Social Mobility, Intent to Commit Poisoning

Wittenmond: Aggravated Disrespect, Crimes Against the Reinheitsgebot, Murder, Improper Disposal of Human Remains, Improper Contamination of a Beer Vat.

Xion: Assault, Organ Trafficking (Human), Organ Trafficking (Inhuman), Overage Drinking, Murder.

Zeck: Murder (Economic), Murder (Recreational), Murder (Economic with Recreational Overtones.)


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. This ingenious hybrid fuses the investigative clarity of the GUMSHOE system with the lethal wit of the Dying Earth Roleplaying Game. Purchase The Gaean Reach in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

A GUMSHOE core clue can be seen as a key, giving the PCs access to a door, behind which more of the story waits. With the key, they can interact with, change, master, and adjust that story.

Sometimes a core clue can be a literal key. Literal for the characters, that is, and imagined by the players and GM. The appearance of a mysterious key is all the premise you need for any GUMSHOE scenario, whatever the game.

To make this work you need two elements:

  • a reason to think of the key as mysterious
  • information allowing the investigators to find the door or box the key opens

The key might be mysterious because:

  • The investigators know who sent it to them, and mystery already surrounds that person. The sender of the key could be dead or missing. Alternately, the sender might be an antagonist figure the heroes don’t expect to do them any favors. It comes from a mutant serial killer, a lackey of the hated Quandos Vorn, or Nyarlathotep himself.
  • Something about the arrival of the key signals sinister purpose. Blood dots the envelope it arrived in. Or ichor. It comes with some other document or object of interest to the investigators: a compromising photo, a scrap from an arcane manuscript. Somebody tried to mug the mailman before he could deliver it.

The simplest way to move the investigators from the discovery of the key to the lock it opens is to have whoever sent it helpfully supply the address. In that case you should open the scenario with the investigators already there, with key in hand.

To make the transition interesting, give them a reason to gather additional information before going to the site. For example, if they know Quandos Vorn wants them to go there, they might want to scout for traps and evidence of his current crimes before arriving.

Alternately, the key becomes a pipe clue, to pay off later. Here the investigators are already on another case, and the key arrives without explanation or a means of finding its corresponding lock. Later their inquiries lead them to a locked door or box, and voila, they know what the key is for.

The big trick, and the exercise we leave to you, the GM, is to make sure that whatever they find when they turn that key justifies the build-up.

You will surely not employ professional killers to slay galactic arch-villain Quandos Vorn. What he did to you was too cruel, too awful, to allow you to take your sworn vengeance from a remove. However, prowling after him will require you to move in his circles—a milieu also swimming with murderers-for-hire. As many others wish Vorn dead, highly-compensated death-dealers might complicate with your plans with their own attempts to exterminate him. After you start thwarting his schemes, Quandos Vorn may hire assassins to neutralize you. It is therefore wise to acquaint yourself with the top killers working in the Gaean Reach today. With his penchant for disguises, one or more of the names on this list might be Quandos Vorn.

  1. Armas Chent. A devolved human with crystalline hair, taken as a mascot by starmenters, who tormented him enthusiastically. After systematically slaying all of them and taking their ship, he uses the skills they taught to satisfy his twin lusts for cash and slaughter.
  2. Rendis Fole. A native of Astropolis, Fole claims to be the current incarnation of Flust, the unspeakable 13th god of that planet (or star cluster—one is never sure.) He proves his case to skeptics by showing them video of the rite in which Flust mounted him. Those who continue to doubt his divinity taste the point of his anti-matter rapier.
  3. Ellegus Ria. Red-haired, pale-skinned rogue princess of Denebola IV. Generally taciturn but voluble on the subject of the six eviscerations, and the proper order in which to perform them. Gainsay her at your peril.
  4. The Lambkin. Former miner of the Rhea asteroid field. Specializes in death by suffocation but will branch out on request. The sobriquet is ironic.
  5. Slelum Ah. Formerly of the planet Nion, this short, unassuming killer lit out for the spaceways after deciding he never again wanted to eat a bowl of pold. Notorious for weeping during his murders, a propensity his lucky survivors find disconcerting. Favors knives and needles.
  6. Verina. Swore vengeance on Quandos Vorn’s mentor when he drained her formerly lush planet of water, transforming it into an arid hellhole. Agrees to murder only other murderers. Noted for her surgical use of mag grenades.
  7. Iller the Amnesiac. Had his memories surgically removed, a decision that, no longer understanding why he took this step, he now regards as rash. A starred oracle of Euville told him he could restore his recall by committing a string of murders. Iller reckons that he might as well choose victims someone else wants dead, as they are statistically more likely than the general population to deserve it.

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. This ingenious hybrid fuses the investigative clarity of the GUMSHOE system with the lethal wit of the Dying Earth Roleplaying Game. Purchase The Gaean Reach in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

wade_GR_opponents_v2In The Gaean Reach Roleplaying Game, your posse of vengeance-seekers hunt for interstellar villain, Quandos Vorn. Pick apart Vorn’s network of comrades for leads to the scum’s whereabouts. Choose one or more of these figures to investigate, interrogate, and eliminate, and let your GM know that your selection of quarry has widened. The following is a list of Quandos Vorn’s known associates.

Vark Carbines, pirate-baron turned poet. An old raiding-buddy of Vorn’s, the duo share verse and spirits while bombarding helpless colonies. They ride twice yearly through Alastor’s backwater worlds, blasting villages into smithereens. Vark’s penchant for rapine and murder are second to his poetic aspirations. Functionally illiterate, Vark dictates his free-verse to transcription slaves. His only published work, A Life of Mine: My Life: a Cantos Completica, was edited and printed at gun-point. Do not underestimate Vark. His sword-and-pistol style is rivaled by few.

Vark Carbines
Abilities: Athletics 8, Health 6, Scuffling 12, Shooting 10
Weapons/damage: sword +1, projac
Hit threshold: 4
Alertness modifier: +1
Stealth modifier: +1

Taglines:
“Regrettably, it appears that illiteracy is no longer a barrier to publication.”
“This sounds remarkably like bad poetry.”
“I admire your torpor.”

Teagen Bray, long gun hunter. Bray and Vorn disappear for weeks into the jungles of Camberwell for leviathan game hunting. Her long gun, Rhythm, was a present from Vorn, after she saved his life from the maw of a beast, which became known as the Vornbane. They still hunt the thing today. Bray can kill from miles away, but she likes to watch her target’s death throws at close range. She moonlights as a gun-for-hire, dispatching Vorn’s foes, usually in open clearings, crowded markets, and dank bars.

Teagen Bray
Abilities: Athletics 8, Health 6, Scuffling 10, Shooting 12
Weapons/damage: long gun +1, knife +0
Attack pattern: (shooting) +4/+2/+2/+4
Hit threshold: 4
Alertness modifier: +2
Stealth modifier: +2

Taglines:
“That would be a long shot.”
“I can see well enough, through a scope!”
“Make note of this: taken on recommendation.”

Lidya Ennister, Reach renown chef and poisonista. Captain and chef de cuisine of the ultra-luxurious interstellar dining yacht, the Kitchen, Ennister’s provides for the Reach’s wealthiest. Her best customer, Quandos Vorn, has an open seat at a table for two, every night. Reservations are stratospherically priced, and hard to come by. Often, meals are paid with rare ingredients for Ennister’s true passion, poisoncraft. She handcrafts salves and poultices of varying lethality for saboteurs Reach-wide. This poison sommelier is responsible for a dinner time coup of several generations of Connatic families.

Lidya Ennister
Abilities: Athletics 6, Health 6, Scuffling 10
Weapons/damage: airtube +1, knife +0
Airtube darts: sleeping, hallucination, paralyzing
Hit threshold: 3
Alertness modifier: +0
Stealth modifier: +0

Taglines:
“You may do well to savor this.”
“Bad taste is rather refreshing.”
“I have had my fill.”

Dealgrim Mateus, 99th degree Fellow at the Institute. Setter of Policy and member of Dexad, Mateus owes a lot to Vorn. His position, clout, and respect were all earned in return for modest favors to Vorn. If Vorn needs at trade embargos, a grant for a dubious project, or an within the Institute, Mateus will serve. He is a lanky man, never seen without a cane or his misogyny. He is careful, rarely dirtying his hands with enemy’s blood, and acts through intermediaries. Mateus hosts week-long masquerade parties at his residence on Koryphon, which Vorn is rumoured to attend in deep disguise.

Dealgrim Mateus
Abilities: Athletics 6, Health 6, Scuffling 8
Weapons/damage: cane sword +0
Hit threshold: 3
Alertness modifier: +0
Stealth modifier: -1

Taglines:
“Small men cannot concern themselves with grand things.”
“Be succinct, fool.”
“This situation necessitates your leaving”.

Adeline [surname unknown], Inquisitor. Adeline manages a complex network of intelligence operatives throughout the Reach. She has bureaus in every major space port, and some minor ones. Based in the city of Budapest on Old Earth, Adeline is believed to be a blood relative of Quandos Vorn. Adeline’s network, the School, keeps tabs on every vengeance-seeker after her precious Quandos. The School has open enrolment, offering work in fields such as private investigations, background checks, and contract killings.

Adeline
Abilities: Athletics 10, Health 6, Scuffling 12, Shooting 12
Weapons/damage: sword +1, projac
Hit threshold: 4
Alertness modifier: +2
Stealth modifier: +2

Tag Lines:
“I am in the business of evasion.”
“This is an amazing distraction.”
“Patience is not a component of this identity.”

Do not expect your quest for vengeance against the interstellar arch-criminal Quandos Vorn to be met with universal equanimity. Especially uninterested in the havoc you may wreak while doing so are the Gaean Reach various officials and gatekeepers. Here appear reasons they might give you for dragging their feet or refusing cooperation entirely. Be prepared in advance to refute them.

  1. I recently supplied some information of a like nature and am now being sued. Can you idemnify me against all legal exposure? Do not reply; the question is rhetorical.
  2. By expressing yourself so violently, you have engaged in active ill-feeling. Please be advised that emotional assault contravenes local law.
  3. Though apparently sound on a practical basis we need to know more about the philosophy underpinning your proposal. Please refer to the attached style sheet for information regarding the format of the required essay.
  4. I’m afraid that your application to hunt Quandos Vorn has been queued for future attention, as many others claim the right to bring about the same result. We must not show favoritism.
  5. Due to mental disability I am unable to remember requests. Though I do not discourage you from making them I am obliged to warn you that all effort shall prove bootless.
  6. I shall attend to your requests with maximum dispatch. To which planet shall I mail the results of my inquiries? What? No, I’m sorry, responses may not be mailed to the planet of request. Labor relations demand strict adherence to this policy.
  7. Religious scruples prevent me from taking action before the Ides of Yench.
  8. I have already accepted bribes to stop you from proceeding. The suggestion that I would go back on prior promises traduces my honesty.
  9. Lest I be accused of entertaining the receipt of bribes, your request must be heard in the presence of a bureaucratic chaperone. I shall put in a requisition for such services. Typical wait time is four to six weeks.
  10. Quandos Vorn? Incised on the form here it clearly says Quandos Chorn. A common input-output error of the form inciser, but needless to say we must start over.
  11. I will be frank and say that the thought of satisfying your entreaty terrifies me.

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. Purchase The Gaean Reach in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

huth_GR_gaztechGaean Reach Downloads

 

  • Download blank character sheet
  • Download the Gaean Reach Series Premise
  • Download the three sets of Build Cards (Knowledge, Persona, Life)
  • Download a set of Vancian taglines
  • Download the taglines for The Cerulean Duke
  • Download a Vengeance-Seeker Ability Matrix
  • Download a Scenario Worksheet
  • Download an Antagonist Record Sheet

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