gaeanreachvoerA column on roleplaying

by Robin D. Laws

In The Gaean Reach Roleplaying Game, your team of interstellar grudge-holders journeys to the galaxy’s darkest crannies in search of the arch-criminal Quandos Vorn. In reprisal for the despicable wrongs he’s done each of you, you’ve sworn to track him down and send him to his grave. But with his vast resources and illimitable flair for chicanery, he’s so far managed to stay one step ahead of you. A flurry of contradictory new reports places him on a variety of worlds. Pick one, if not several, of these, giving your GM sufficient advance warning that you’ve found your next destination.

(Worlds listed here do not appear in the works of Jack Vance, the late science fiction master and creator of the Gaean Reach setting. So feel at liberty to destroy them.)


Thick, verdant flora covers the rocky continents of Ballairides. Despite its lushness, the plant life proves thinly rooted, surviving on a shallow but super-nutritious soil layer. Scientists prize not its run-of-the-mill carbon-based botanical species, or the lackluster food network of decapedes, crawlers and air slugs it supports. Ballairides’ true interest to researchers lies in the rocks themselves. Before meteoric spores seeded its present ecosystem, this world hosted a silicon-based fauna. Crystallized fossils of these bizarre, asymmetrical lifeforms fill its sedimentary rock layers. Licensed geo-plunderers drill deep beneath a hard igneous stone wrapper to find and harvest them. Prized both as museum pieces and as art objects spawned by rogue, whimsical nature, the fossils attract a criminal element of illicit looters. Dodging the efforts of understaffed rock wardens, these paleontological pirates covertly meet interstellar demand for Ballairides fossils.

Your informants tell you that Quandos Vorn now commissions a notably ruthless crew of fossil looters, insisting only on complete specimens of the most gigantic extinct lifeforms. Have his laboratories perfected a method, long thought possible in theory, to resurrect these lumbering titans? If so, to what destructive use does he intend to put them?

Cegiel’s Ghost

The last planet allegedly discovered by the legendary world-prospector Lamint Cegiel veritably burst with exploitable life and mineral resources. Probes from his ship, the Tactile, noted temperate climes, abundant timber, and, in its northern region, magma lakes literally made of liquid gold. Yet when eager clients flew to the coordinates he sold them, they found nothing. Or rather, the five per cent of them who returned said they’d found nothing. Occasionally communications arrays pick up messages from purported descendants of those vanished would-be settlers, begging others to join them on their paradisaical but sadly underpopulated planet. Now and then another group of crack-brained utopians falls for this obvious hoax and sets course for Cegiel’s coordinates, never to be seen again.

Some deluded believers say that Cegiel’s Ghost can only be a real planet, cut off from the rest of the galaxy by a space-time ripple. Those lucky enough to approach it at the right instant pass from our molecular resonance into the pocket reality it resides in.

Wiser heads presume that the world is as imaginary as ever, and that starmenters ambush those lured in by their faked beacon signals. After stealing their ships and supplies, the pirates leave them floating naked in space, their last thoughts wistful dreams of Cegiel’s World. Who might lead such vicious starmenters, if not Quandos Vorn?


Shallow seas cover the whole of Grentic. A long-lived, highly boredom-resistant person might circumnavigate the entire planet by wading, without ever getting wet above the mid-thigh. Occasional circuitous loops might be required in one’s path, to avoid its few ocean trenches. Settlers on Grentic live on interconnected platforms, chained to the profusion of granitic spires rising through the muddy seabed into the salt-choked sky. Feeding on a rich variety of quasi-crustaceans and cod-mollusks, Grentic’s people adhere to the founding maxim of its deliberately nameless first explorers: “We’ll mind our business and you mind yours.” Only the principle of unity against outside interference binds its population of sodden-toed libertarians. They join together with projacs and harpoons against any who would attempt extradition of any resident, no matter how recent his arrival. Fugitives tend not to tarry long here, due to its lack of amenities and excitement. Quandos Vorn, it is said, takes occasional Grentic idylls, freeing his turbulent mind from the pressing issues of arch-criminality.


Dithermal image showing Quandos Vorn on Grentic. Note the newly acquired scar on his left cheek.


Don your flame-suits when you step from your ship onto the heat-baked surface of Myrt. A luxuriant grassland covered its surface when first settled, five hundred years ago. By clearing it for farming, its pioneers triggered catastrophic climate change, turning it into a desert hellhole. Too proud to admit either defeat or fault, they tunneled beneath the surface, undergoing rapid hyper-evolution. Now blind, bald, hunched, and bleeping and burbling in a sonar language standard human ears cannot fully apprehend, Myrtans worship the stern fungal god Bletch, rigorously enforcing the many sanctions of their faith. Rumor has it that We-9Y, the psychotropic communion brew quaffed during its solemn festivals. confers extraordinary sensory powers. That users untrained in the psychic arts of Myrt often drop dead after a handful of doses does not deter questers after heightened perception.

You hear that Quandos Vorn has entered the We-9Y market in force. From this one can safely assume that he can at times be found in the tunnels of Myrt, or clues to his whereabouts might be found there. Persons less intent on vengeance than yourselves might note with caution the extent to which off-world trade in We-9Y has stoked divisions in Myrtan society. But what trouble could a little civil war cause you, now that you finally have a solid lead to Vorn’s whereabouts?

In the latest episode of their well-fortified podcast, Ken and Robin Talk the On Words conference, Jack Vance, defensive scenarios and The Nazi Occult.

Welcome to the Dying Earth RPG’s magnificent, nay superlative, index of publications

The Dying Earth Revivification Folio – the latest incarnation-

Out Now


Here you will find a brief listing of all the products available: each title linked to a full page of information

Dying Earth RPG (the original rulebook)
Turjan’s Tome of Beauty & Horror (advanced rules for Turjanic play)
Rhialto’s Book of Marvels (advanced rules for Rhialto-Level play)
The Primer of Practical Magic (Rules for taking D20 play into the Dying Earth, or the Dying Earth into D20 play)
The Dying Earth Revivification Folio (A different, streamlined way to run DERPG. A slightly tuned version of the Skulduggery rules.)
The Quickstart Rules (A downloadable free zipped pdf outlining the marvelous original rules system)

SOURCEBOOKS [Background information packs also using including adventure outlines] The Compendium of Universal Knowledge (the DERPG encyclopedia if you will)
The Kaiin Players Guide (sheer tons of information about the city of Kaiin and it’s inhabitants)
Demons of the Dying Earth (bringing occult horrors into play to test your jaded and over-confident PCs)
The Scaum Valley Gazetteer (massive details on an entire region of the Dying Earth)
Cugel’s Compendium of Indispensable Advantages (items, cantraps & new rules to enhance Cugel-Level play)
Ascolais & the Land of the Falling Wall (bumper double edition of the XPS in paperback form)
Tooth, Talon & Pinion (bumper double edition of the XPS in paperback form)
Fields of Silver (an adventure series in and around Erze Damath and the Silver Desert)

PDF ADVENTURES (not currently available in hard copy)
The Day of the Quelo (The official sample Cugel-Level scenario)
Gomoshan’s Tomb (The official sample Turjan-Level scenario)
The Creep of Inaccuracy (The official sample Rhialto-Level scenario)
All’s Fair At Azenomei (Part 1 of the Footsteps of Fools series)
Strangers in Saskervoy (Part 2 of the Footsteps of Fools series)
The Lords of Cil (Part 3 of the Footsteps of Fools series)
Beyond the Mountains of Magnatz (Part 4 of the Footsteps of Fools series)
And Thence to Almery (Part 5 of the Footsteps of Fools series)

The Dying Earth Map Collection (proudly produced by Sarah Wroot)
The Excellent Prismatic Spray magazines (full of adventure and amusement)
Blank character sheets – FREE to download: Cugel-Level front page V1; Cugel-Level front page V2; Turjan-Level front page; a universal back page; a third page for magicians. Or ALL of these (zipped pdfs).
Plus the Rhialto-Level character sheet: one double-sided pdf.

In the Footsteps of Fools (Overview page of that entire epic campaign)
Through Violet Cusps (a collection of authorized amateur articles and adventures, mostly free)

Stock #: various Author: various
Artist: various Pages: various

Click Here for our Ordering page


dying earth

A future, unimaginably distant…

The sun, now in its dotage is a swollen maroon orb. It stutters and blinks. At any moment it may finally go out.

Earth, immensely old… Dig anywhere and find a buried city or the shore of a vanished sea. Deodand-haunted woods stretch from decadent Kaiin to the Land of the Falling Wall. Erbs and grue hunt in the wilds. Isolated villages embrace surprising customs. Larger towns favor debauchery and mincing murder.

Magic, rich and colourful… Enchantment shapes the world. Any dabbler may know a few simple cantraps. Magicians in lavish manses struggle to master Earth’s last great spells, while all-powerful cabals intrigue against rivals or plot revenge for ancient feuds.

Buy the PDF now


Visit the Dying Earth

Enter this vivid world in the first roleplaying game authorized by master fantasist Jack Vance. Here, a flashing sword is less important than nimble wits, persuasive words, and a fine sense of fashion. Create an adventurer for any of three different kinds of stories:

  • a typical mortal such as Cugel the Clever, surviving by wits and cunning;
  • an ambitious magician searching for lost lore, like Turjan of Miir;
  • a supreme mage to rank with Rhialto the Marvellous, commanding the omnipotent but quarrelsome sandestins.

The Dying Earth features easy, fast-playing rules that encourage creativity and interaction. No knowledge of Jack Vance’s work is needed for play, but fans of the stories will enjoy the comprehensive summary of the world’s places, creatures, and known spells.

Download the original character sheet here.
Plus one with Trumps and rules info here.

Click here for a complete listing of Dying Earth Roleplaying Game products.


Stock #: PEL001 Author: Robin D. Laws, John Snead, Peter Freeman
Artist:Ralph Horsley, Hilary Wade, Greg Staples Pages: 192pp Hardback

Authorized and approved by Dying Earth fantasy novelist JACK VANCE. Based on the Dying Earth book series by Jack Vance. Produced and distributed by agreement with Jack Vance c/o Ralph Vicinanza, Ltd.