2019/08/16

Magical Industrial Revolution - Kickstarter Update + Public Domain Tips

As of this post, we're just below 300% funding on the M.I.R Kickstarter! Hooray!

If you missed the announcements, all initial stretch goals have been cleared. That's 3 pamphlets and a bunch of art upgrades. Just 7 days remain. It's a short kickstarter, so spread the word; it'll be over before you know it.


For the last three days, I've been picking final art pieces for the book. While the excellent team of artists have provided lots of great pieces, the intent was always to use public domain art to fill in certain areas. Between Dore's London, old advertisements, and Punch magazine, I'm spoiled for choice.

When I started the project last year, I created a folder full of public domain odds and ends. As the project grew and the scope became more clear, the illustrations were sorted into subfolders: city scenes, citizens, monsters, wizards, industrial equipment, etc. Initial drafts used these illustrations as placeholders or reference images.


Now that it's time to put together the final copy, I'm going back through the folders, pulling out the best illustrations, whitepointing them (or checking past work) and manually cleaning up errors and distortions.

Some get composited (in this case, a recitation has turned into an invocation), but most illustrations are fine as-is.

I'm also checking licenses, publication dates, etc. to make absolutely certain the works are in the public domain. In some cases, where I'd really like to use a piece but can't find a high-quality scan, I've even scanned it myself from my library or from an archival collection.


Tips
  • Use multiple search engines to find what you're looking for. Google lets you search based on license and file size, which can be handy but can also ignore improperly tagged files.
  • Collect handy resource pages.
  • Save everything, listing the original site in the filename.
  • If you're sending works to a publisher or editor to include in a document, also send the original files + spares or alternates, just in case they need to make edits.
  • Dig deeper. Sites like the Public Domain Review are fantastic, but you can follow links into their original books to sometimes find higher-quality scans.
  • Grab multiple file shapes. Long horizontal illustrations, tall one-column scenes, square, rectangles, circles, things that can be partially masked by text, etc.
And the most important tip, in my opinion: 
  • Text before art.
Wherever possible, condense your text. Pages to paragraphs, paragraphs to d100 tables, d100 tables to 2-column d10 tables, etc. Figure out what your goal is and work towards that. Cut superfluous information. Then decide what you want to do with the art in the space remaining.

Given the choice between the "perfect" piece of art and an extra little table of helpful information, I'll go with the table every time.

I've tried to ensure M.I.R maintains the same standards as my other books. Clean lines. Ease of photocopying or home printing. No huge ink-sucking black blocks (no matter how cool they'd look).

It's important to make sure information is spaced out and properly landmarked (I like using art as "weenies" to help readers navigate a book), but in the end, if you're writing a book that's a toolbox, it's probably best to include as many tools as possible.

2019/08/11

2019/08/10

OSR: Appendix N...dustrial

Here's an incomplete list of all the works I specifically consulted, read or reread, watched or rewatched, during the preparation of Magical Industrial Revolution. I've probably missed a few vital ones; I suspect I'll be editing this post for weeks. This isn't a list off unconditional recommendations either. It includes are a few hours of my life I'd very much like back.

Fiction

Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll 
Barnaby Rudge, Charles Dickens 
Bleak House, Charles Dickens 
Darkness Visible, William Golding 
Feet of Clay, Terry Pratchett 
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens 
Going Postal, Terry Pratchett 
Hard Times, Charles Dickens 
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë 
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke 
Keep the Aspidistra Flying, George Orwell 
Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens 
Moving Pictures, Terry Pratchett 
Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens 
Peter Pan, J. M Barrie 
The Little Minister, J. M. Barrie 
Ra 
The Complete Saki, Saki (H. H. Munroe) 
The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle 
The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Oscar Wilde 
The Flashman Papers, George Macdonald Fraser 
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Laurence Sterne
Unsong
, Scott Alexander
Note: despite people telling me I really should, I haven't got around to the Mistborn series yet.

Nonfiction


1066 and All That, R. J. Yeatman and W. C. Sellar
1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices and Appliances
, Gardner D. Hiscox
Das Kapital
, Karl Marx
Description of the House and Museum of Sir John Soane, Architect
, John Soane
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles Mackay
The Inner Ring
, C. S. Lewis
London Labour and the London Poor
, Henry Mayhew
London: The Biography, Peter Ackroyd
Occult Chemistry: Investigations by Clairvoyant Magnification into the Structure of the Atoms of the Periodic Table and Some Compounds
, Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater
The Letters of Queen Victoria
, 1837-1861
The March of Folly
, Barbara W. Tuchman
The Proud Tower
, Barbara W. Tuchman
The Rise and Fall of a Regency Dandy
, T. A. J. Burnett
Vienna, 1814
, David King
Wage Labour and Capital
, Karl Marx
What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew
, Daniel Pool

Blogs & Modules


Against the Wicked City, Joseph Manola
Augmented Reality, The Holistic City Kit For CyberpunkGames
, Paul D Gallagher
City State of the Invincible Overlord
, Judges Guild
Fever-Dreaming Marlinko
, Chris Kutalik, Robert Parker
GURPS Goblins
, Malcolm Dale and Klaude Thomas
In Cörpathium
, Logan Knight
Infinigrad
, Michael Raston
Into the Odd
, Chris McDowall 

Gardens of Ynn, Emmy Allen
The Kerberos Club
, Benjamin Baugh
The Trilemma Adventures
, Michael Prescott
Umberwell: Blackened Be Thy Name
, Jack Shear

Internet Things


Radio


Hancock’s Half Hour, 1954-1961
Round the Horne
, 1965-1968
The Goon Show,
1951-1960

Film


Against All Flags, 1952
Barry Lyndon
, 1975
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
, 1971
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
, 1968
Crimson Peak
, 2015
Cromwell
, 1970
Elizabeth
, 1998
Elizabeth, the Golden Age
, 2007
From Hell
, 2001
Gold Diggers of 1933, 1933
Gosford Park
, 2001
Howl's Moving Castle, 2004
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
, 2003
Love and Friendship
, 2016
Master and Commander, the Far Side of the World
, 2003
Modern Times
, 1936
School for Scandal
, 2009
Steamboy
, 2004
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother
, 1975
The Critic,
1982
The Draughtsman’s Contract,
1982
The Fall of the House of Usher
, 1960
The Falls
, 1980
The First Great Train Robbery
, 1978
The Libertine
, 2004
The Remains of the Day
, 1993
The Ruling Class
, 1972
The Wolfman
, 2010
Trinity and Beyond
, 1995
Young Frankenstein
, 1974
Zulu
, 1964

TV Series


Blackadder, 1983-1989
Downton Abbey,
Series 1 and 2, 2010-2011
Horatio Hornblower
, 1998-2003
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
, 2015
Parade’s End
, 2012
Penny Dreadful
, 2014-2016
The entire Noel Coward BBC television play collection (particularly Hay Fever & the Vortex), 1980s
Witness for the Prosecution
, 2016

2019/08/07

OSR: 1d50 Missions for Small Groups of Medieval Mercenaries

As a late medieval mercenary, your time is divided between:
  • waiting around (something D&D can skip).
  • fighting a mass battle or siege (something D&D traditionally has trouble handling without switching to wargame scales).
  • staying alive.
  • having a good time.
Here are 50 missions for small groups of mercenaries (3-10 people, the size of a traditional D&D party).

Of course, ElfmaidsandOctopi got there first.



Jakub Rebelka




1d50 50 Mercenary Missions
1 There's a legend about that castle. They say, on the summer solstice, a fifth tower of pure gold appears at noon. And it's the summer solstice tomorrow...
2 For diplomatic reasons, you need to sack and burn this monastery while dressed as mercenaries from a rival company. Make sure you leave survivors. And don't loot anything too obvious.
3 See if you can find a path through that swamp. Map it or use markers. You may need to find a local guide.
4 This convent of nuns has a very important relic. Go steal it for the greater glory of the mercenary company. If the saint doesn't want to be stolen, you'll get smitten by lightning or something equally unpleasant.
5 The emperor of some foreign land is sending wax copies of his legs to a nearby city for custom-fitted armour. You're going to steal them and we're going to hold them for ransom.
6 The emperor of some foreign land wants to add a local beast to his menagerie. Go capture something magical and dangerous. Here's 50' of rope and a wooden mallet.
7 Our leader's favorite lover is very sick. A famous elderly physician resides two towns away, but refuses to travel to the camp despite offers of vast wealth. Go kidnap the physician... politely.
8 One of the Archpriest's legates is carrying secret letters to a nearby city. Insert this sealed letter among them. 
9 We need you to paint insulting slogans on these dead and diseased cows before we launch them over the walls.
10 There's a small castle along our line of march. It would be convenient if it was occupied before the bulk of our forces pass by. Bribe, fight, or bluff your way in.
11 Here's a laugh. Go ride out to this castle and tell the owner to surrender or we'll burn it at dawn. We won't of course. Too much trouble and it's too far away. But the owner might fall for it.
12 Apparently the queen of this town has a magic mirror that identifies pretty women for her. Weird, I know, but think of what we could do with that mirror! Go steal it.
13 There was a silver mine in the hills before the war. See if any of the locals remember where it was. It might still be operating. 
14 The court poet from a local city has written some very satirical verses about our leader. It'd be unfortunate if the poet met with a tragic accident on the road.
15 The enemy army has camped on a plain just below a dam. If someone breaks that dam, the river will burst its banks and sweep them away. Of course, it's behind enemy lines...
16 One of the Archpriest's legates is carrying vital letters. You need to steal them, copy them, and return them without the legate noticing.
17 Feint a night attack on this town, just to annoy them. Don't get killed, just make them raise the alarm.
18 The captain says he needs a tutor for his children. Go find someone suitable. A literate priest or something. They may need some persuading to work in a mercenary camp.
19 We've tried undermining the town's walls, but something keeps eating the miners. I mean the miners keep disappearing. Anyway, if you sort it out you'll get a nice bonus.
20 It's vitally important, for diplomatic purposes, this convent of nuns is protected. Make sure nobody bothers the nuns. That includes you. And keep your hands of their relics.
21 The enemy town has hired unbribeable killer mercenaries from Foreign Parts. They don't speak the local language so we can't corrupt them. Find someone who speaks their language, and quickly!
22 Our leader is hosting a banquet. Ride down to the coast, buy fresh fish, and get them back here before they start to smell. 
23 Our leader's astrologer-wizard started gibbering about "moondrops" and "beams of silver" and ran off into the night. Go find them and drag them back.
24 We need to bulk up our numbers before the assault. Go see if any of the local villagers can hold a sword or a spellbook. If they can and they want to fight, sign them up. 
25 Our leader is getting married. You lot need to get him a gift. Go steal something nice off the registry.
26 Remember that old manor house we took in the spring? Apparently there are tunnels below it. Some of the guards went in; only one of them made it out. Died in a tavern three days later, but his pockets were full of gold.
27 Go scout the enemy army and count their cannons. Don't get caught.
28 This fog isn't natural. It's a wizard business. Or a druid. Or worse. Head that-a-way and see if you find anything. We'll light a signal fire to guide scouting parties back home.
29 Here's the plan. You pose as deserters, sneak into the town, and spread the word that it will be violently sacked tomorrow. The nobles sneak their valuables out. We ambush them and share the proceeds.
30 Someone massacred a village and it wasn't us. Go take a look.
31 The wizard's tower is supposed to be empty, but something in there keeps lobbing spells at our troops. Fix it.
32 You look like clever people. Invent a terrifying weapon to impress our employers. It only needs to work once, during the demonstration. You've got a week.
33 You're our last hope. Get inside the town somehow and open the gates. 
34 To prevent the enemy from marching against us, set fire to all the grassland from here to the mountains It's been a dry month. Their horses will starve.
35 Some moron says he found "giant bones" down by the riverbed. There haven't been giants in these parts for centuries, but I hear a powder made from their bones makes your... well nevermind. Just go find them.
36 We're running low on horses. Go into the hills, find a village, and see if they've got any horses.
37 Go check on the condition of this road. Rumour has it goblins were seen in the trees, and where there's some goblins there's always more goblins.
38 See that hill? There are standing stones on the top with strange markings on them. Might be nothing, but you should check them for wizard business.
39 Our leader's worthless bastard son turned up. Take him on a "hunting trip" in the hills. I hope nothing conveniently tragic happens to the poor lad.
40 Your job is to deliver this letter to the leader of a rival mercenary company. Don't stick around for a reply. No seriously, it's best if you hand the letter to their leader and run.
41 We're running low on food. Go into the hills, find a village, and get as much food as you can. Take these two carts.
42 They say a tunnel went through that mountain in ancient times. Go see if you can find the entrance. It's not likely-smarter people have tried-but if you do you'll be legends.
43 They say there's a hidden village in the hills, inaccessible unless you know the path... or you're very smart. And you're very clever, right? Go find it and see what they're up to.
44 So we might have accidentally killed a bishop and his retinue. You could have been his twin. Put on this hat and robe, go where he was going, pretend to have a fever, and die of natural causes as soon as possible.
45 You need to fake a troop movement away from the camp. Convince any observers watching by night that we're sending a detachment to flank them. No, there's no budget. Figure it out.
46 The people paying us say we can only claim territory up to the border. The border stones are moveable if you've got a pickaxe, three oxen, and a cart. You only need to move... oh, two dozen. A mile or two will help.
47 An ambassador from a distant kingdom was kidnapped by some bandits. They're hiding in a small looted castle. The local nobles want the castle back but can't pay. The ambassador's ransom is unlikely to arrive.
48 A rival mercenary company just purchased a huge stock of gunpowder in preparation for a predicted siege. It'd be a real shame if someone set fire to it.
49 Old Simpkins, who sells us onions and those funny woodcuts, says bandits have been bothering him near the pass. Go sort them out. We like Old Simpkins.
50 A noble in a local town is stirring up trouble. Go assassinate him. Quietly, publicly, doesn't matter.

2019/07/29

OSR: M.I.R Update

The Magical Industrial Revolution is steaming ahead at full speed.

Art

The art is mostly done. There are still a few details that need to be worked out, but nothing significant. If you want to see the full cover, I've paywalled it on Patreon.
(Yes, that's very silly, because the moment the book goes up for sale the cover will be spammed all over the place, but maybe you're impatient. Or maybe you just want to sing the godawful Endonian National Anthem.)
Cover art and interior art by Luka Rejec. Map and more interior art by Jonathan Newell. Yet more interior art, including monsters, by Logan Stahl.

Text

The document is currently at the upgrading stage, where David Shugars takes my mangled and laughably distorted output and turns it into something approaching a real RPG book. The first- and second-round playtesting is done. An initial copy-editing pass is also complete.

Once the document is more presentable, it will be sent to patrons (and a few other folks; whine at me on Discord if your really really really want to test it) to make sure I haven't missed anything.

The book is currently ~150 pages, making it my largest and most ambitious project to date.


Distribution, Printing, and Other Exciting Details

I'm going to be coy, but Big Things are in the works.

Hype, etc.

Yes.

2019/07/26

OSR: One Page Dungeon Contest 3rd Place Winner: The Roving Wheel V2

I put an updated version of The Roving Wheel into the 2019 One Page Dungeon contest. Apparently it got 3rd place!

Today is a good day.

It's a fun adventure for a slightly gonzo campaign. There's a huge iron wheel rolling across the landscape. Get inside and divert the wheel before it crushes a city.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1fFhuTWa-2Ofh37rZj7kRhpIBuF-_Lni5

PDF LINK

Thanks to Abigail LaLonde (Twitter, Patreon) for the art. Be sure to check out the other entries.

2019/07/22

40k: Various Project Updates

Here are a few miniature projects I've started and/or finished in the last few months.

Terrain

Tin Can Landing Pad

Made from an old biscuit tin, some pipes, and some 40k terrain bits. Note the Xenos heads on plaques. Texture added using cut-up zip ties; an old greebling trick.
And painted. The hazard stripes really make the building stand out. It's large enough to accommodate most small landing craft.

Observation Tower

It's amazing what you can find at thrift stores. This tower was made from a broken toy starmap projector. If you're building terrain, always keep an eye out for interestingly shaped bits of plastic.

Train Segments

I've made a bunch of 1'x1' MDF segments. Here are 3 completed ones, with a mobile (and detachable) 40k-ified train. They're all modular.

Models

Cargo Hauler

This project is complete, but I don't have photos of the painted tractor and crates yet.

Rogue Trader Landing Craft

Converted from a Stormhawk Interceptor kit, some plasticard, and a lot of gap-filling compound. It's designed to look Imperial but fancy; a flying brick to show off a Rogue Trader's wealth.

Rogue Trader Ground Transport

And once you land on some inhospitable world, it's important to have proper transport. This is just a Taurox with the suspension lowered and widened. Nothing fancy, but it looks better.

Servitors

A test of the new Contrast paint line. They turned out OK, if a little candy-coloured. 2 are old metal models, 2 are converted from Goliath gangers and some leftover parts.

2019/07/14

Sci-Fi: Space 1977

It's May, 1977. For the past twenty years, there have been two kinds of space-based science fiction films:
  • The adventurous, shiny-chrome-bright, wholesome-to-horror sort (the black and white Buck Rogers serial, Forbidden Planet, Lost In Space, etc.) 
  • The philosophical, hexagon-dome near-future what-if view (2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Dark Star, Silent Running, etc.) 
These categories aren't exact (Star Trek sits between them), but if you're a B-movie producer, those are the two wells you're drawing from. And then, on May 25th, 1977, Star Wars: A New Hope is released. It's outrageously popular. Every other B-movie director sits up, salivates, and starts taking notes. What do people like? Spaceships and robots? Ok, we can do spaceships and robots. A princess? Got it. Some weird costumes? Grab some stuff from the Western and the Medieval section. And someone find me a distinguished British actor!

A whole slew of films took the plot elements of Star Wars, changed the order, and tried their luck.

Star Wars is a canon juggernaut today. The average character from the cantina scene has more backstory than I do. It's part of the cultural lexicon. But before canon solidifies, before Star Wars becomes a universe, other films moved in parallel.

Most nerds have thought "what if only the first Star Wars film was canon. Luke never uses a lightsaber. The Force doesn't move objects. Nobody's anybody's relative. What's a Jedi? What were the Clone Wars? Who is the Emperor?" In 1977, the facts are fluid.
Check out the "Soldiers of the Empire" article for the state of canon in 1977.
This blog article - this setting - assumes that all films directly inspired by Star Wars: A New Hope coexist in one shared universe: Space: 1977.

Film Criteria:

  • Release date between May 1977 (Star Wars: A New Hope) and May 1980 (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back).
  • Cannot be inspired by Alien (May 1979). A lot of films were; the special effects were less demanding.
  • No parodies. The film's worldbuilding has to take itself seriously. There needs to be a sense that the director hoped, somehow, that it'd spawn a line of action figures and lunchboxes.
  • Cannot take place mostly on Earth (or the moon). Earth can be mentioned, even visited, but it shouldn't be the whole setting.
The criteria are flexible. In this post, I'm going to review the potentially useful films. The next post will contain a synthesis of the ones that makes the cut, and the third post will contain some rules. I've got no particular timeline on this project. It's just a fun thought experiment.

And yes I've watched everything listed here while preparing this post and writing other content. If you want to fund my recovery, here's a link to my Patreon.

Unconditionally Canonical


Message from Space Battlestar Galactica Starcrash The Humanoid Battle Beyond the Stars Escape from Galaxy 3

1978/04 1978-1979 1979/03 1979/04 1980/05 1981/02
Sequences            
-Opening Text Crawl
x X X

-Opening Narration
X
X

-Slow Pan Under Giant Starship X X X X X X
-Diverse Rubber Alien Bar X




-Streaky Hyperspace



X
-Starfighters In Formation X X X x X X
-Trench Run X
X


Protagonists            
-Heroic Farmboy x x

X
-Plucky Smuggler x x X X X
-Furry Bear-Person





-Princess x x X
X X
-Wise Old Mentor x X X X X
-Non-Speaking Robot x X X X

-Cowardly Emotional Robot

X


-Other Robot X X X
X
Antagonists            
-Dark Helmet X x X X
x
-Emperor X X X x
x
-Faceless Goons X X
X X
-Giant Evil Space Base

X

X
Setting            
-Slightly on Earth





-Mostly on Earth





-Earth Mentioned
x
X X x
Tropes            
-Diverse Rubber Aliens X x

x
-Mysterious Mind Powers X x X X X
-Lightsabers

X


-Light-weapons


X

-Stirring Orchestral Theme X X X X x
-Leitmotifs





Texture            
-Used Future X X

x
-Shiny and Chrome X X X
X X

Capital X indicates a strong theme, small x is a dubious or minor reference.


Message from Space
1978/04
The soundtrack, in places, lifts whole stanzas from Star Wars. The costumes are excellent. Some (but not all) of the spaceships are... literally space-ships, with sails and everything. But the starfighter sequences are surprisingly vivid. The special effects artists must have had experience with miniature plane battles, because they use clouds and asteroids to create very dynamic turns and maneuvers. The non-miniature special effects, especially the green-screen sequences, are... very poor. But hey, it fits Space: 1977.

Battlestar Galactica
1978/09-1979/04
Just the first season. It prompted a lawsuit, so there are definitely similarities between it and Star Wars. There are aliens (and at least one Satan), factions, politics, starfighters, etc.

Starcrash
1979/03
  • Soundtrack by John Barry. A bumbling robot with a southern accent. Released nine months before The Black Hole.
  • A protagonist is captured and suspended upside-down in a cave. A protagonist gets frozen and has to be carefully thawed via timelapse. A protagonist's arm is injured in a lightsaber duel. A floating city has to be evacuated. Released a year before Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. 
  • A protagonist tosses his lightsaber to another protagonist, who proves unexpectedly proficient. The only way to save the day is to crash a ship into another ship in hyperspace. Released 32 years before the latest Star Wars trilogy.
Remarkably prescient, you might think. But on the other hand you've got janky stop-motion robots (both large and small), Christopher Plummer delivering some of the most ridiculous lines ever written, truly bizarre costume choices, very shoddy special effects, and young David Hasselhoff

The Humanoid

1979/04
After 3 minutes of credits, we get the opening crawl (also read aloud by an obliging narrator). The evil Lord Graal wears a black samurai helmet and commands a giant wedge-shaped spaceship. Floating landspeeders. Mysterious mind-powers (Tibetan mind-powers, no less). Laser bows.
Wait, what?
Anyway, this film is unquestionably Space: 1977.

Battle Beyond The Stars
1980/05
Seven Samurai.. in space! A plucky young hero forges a band of rebels, falls in love, flies a starship, etc. I'm going to combine this with Space Raiders (1983), which resuses most of the orignal effects and adds even more Star Wars elements.

Escape from Galaxy 3
1981/02
Technically it's outside the date range, but it's pure Star Wars inspiration. Space kings.  Planets exploding. All the miniature sequences are stock footage from Starcrash, just desaturated. Some of the props were recycled (or possibly remade). Even the protagonists have have similar names and costumes (Stella Star and Akton vs. Belle Star and Lithan).

Canon-Adjacent 


Buck Rogers in the 25th Century The Black Hole Galaxina Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone The Ice Pirates

1979/03 1979/12 1980/06 1983 1984
Sequences          
-Opening Text Crawl

X

-Opening Narration




-Slow Pan Under Giant Starship
X X   X
-Diverse Rubber Alien Bar

X
X
-Streaky Hyperspace
x
X X
-Starfighters In Formation X



-Trench Run X



Protagonists          
-Heroic Farmboy




-Plucky Smuggler

x X X
-Furry Bear-Person




-Princess X

x X
-Wise Old Mentor X x

x
-Non-Speaking Robot X X

X
-Cowardly Emotional Robot X X

X
-Other Robot
X X X X
Antagonists          
-Dark Helmet
x X x
-Emperor X


X
-Faceless Goons
X
x
-Giant Evil Space Base




Setting          
-Slightly on Earth




-Mostly on Earth X



-Earth Mentioned X X x X X
Tropes          
-Diverse Rubber Aliens

X
X
-Mysterious Mind Powers
X


-Lightsabers




-Light-weapons




-Stirring Orchestral Theme
X X X
-Leitmotifs
X
X
Texture          
-Used Future x X
X X
-Shiny and Chrome X
X


Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
1979/03
Too earth-based to qualify despite ticking a surprising number of boxes. The Draconians and their dynastic politics could be included without any issues. The political maneuvering is worth stealing. The rest, nah.

The Black Hole
1979/12
Look, I love this film. I really do. The Cygnus is one of the greatest haunted houses ever made. The score is bombastic. The robots should be corny but they feel real, not like props supported on wires. There's a chilling 3-minute-long unbroken camera flight through literal Hell. Yet, for all that, the film is less Star-Wars-adjacent and more of a sequel to Forbidden Planet. Some elements will make their way into Space: 1977.

Galaxina
1980/06
This film should be disqualified as a parody, but it's pulled out of the dustbin for two reasons: the bumbling crew, lead by Avery Schreiber's mustachioed captain in a uniform straight out of Rogue Trader, are clearly player characters, and the sets are pure Space: 1977. The film feels like someone's Traveller sessions.
C: Where did you get that egg McKinley? Is that an authorized egg?
M: I found it with the rock-eater's belongings. He probably stole it from somewhere. What do you think laid it, sir?
C: Let me have it.
M: Sure sir.
C: A real egg... you know, people used to eat these things. Difficult to imagine, isn't it?
T: It sure is.
M: I can't imagine it. In fact, the whole idea is revolting. Makes me nauseous. Turns my stomach.
T: Enough, private.
C: May I?
M: You're not going to eat it, are you sir?
C: Why not?
M: Well it makes me nauseous, turns my stomach, I really don't think you should eat it.
T: He's right sir. You don't know what kind of an egg that is. You don't know where it's been or who made it.
C: Nonsense. If people concerned themselves about where eggs came from they never would have eaten them.
[Cracks avacado-like egg, pours green goop into wineglass. Drinks. Giggles. Wipes lips. Convulses violently.]
Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone
1983/05
Alright, it's more of a Mad Max 2: Road Warrior film, and there's a grating teenage sidekick, and it's from 1983. Why is this on the list? First, the spaceships were clearly inspired by Stewart Cowley, which automatically bumps it up a category. Second, it's Canadian. Third, the sets are sometimes gorgeous. And fourth, it's got a very used-future PC-adventure vibe to it.

The Ice Pirates

1984/03
This really should be disqualified for being outside the date range, including elements from Alien and Mad Max 2: Road Warrior, and arguably being a parody, but come on! Fighting robots to combat the other side's fighting robots, repaired in the middle of combat! Piracy! Silly costumes! Ron Perlman!

Disqualified

The 4 films of Alfonso Brescia: 
Cosmos: War of the Planets - 1977/09
Battle of the Stars - 1978/02
War of the Robots - 1978/04
Star Odyssey - 1979/10 

The first of four attempts by director Alfonso Brescia (a.k.a Al Bradley) to cash in. Delightfully low-budget but, sadly, aside from the title, it's got nothing to do with Star Wars. The first film is a riff on Forbidden Planet or Planet of the Vampires; the rest are Buck Rogers in all respects. The aliens have golden bowl cuts and everyone has lightsabers.

The fourth film, Star Odyssey is the only one that even comes close to consideration. Earth gets sold to a despot, sight unseen. He turns up to collect it. Yeah, it's a Buck Rogers plot full of black-and-white stock footage, but it's got R2-D2, mind-powers, lightsabers, robots making an adorable suicide pact...

The Bunglers in the War of the Planets
(Brazilian Star Wars)

1978/12
Disqualified for being a parody.


War In Space

1977/12

Despite the name, this film has very little conceptual overlap with Star Wars. There are a few starfighter sequences, but it's almost entirely a blend of the 2 types of pre-Star Wars space films listed above: a Buck Rogers plot with 2001 space suits, with a Space Battleship Yamato twist.

Blake's 7
1978-1981
 

A classic British sci-fi series. So British. In the event of a murderous government coverup and brainwashing scheme, seek legal representation and go to your supervisor. Disqualified because despite having a rebellion and spaceships, it's really more of a slow-burn western in space.

The series has one really unusual trick. The alien spaceship stolen by the main characters is very advanced, but not so advanced that it can't be tinkered with or repaired by human experts. It's like giving Robert Stephenson a Haynes manual and telling him to change a head gasket on a modern car. Sure, it might take him ages, but he could probably figure it out. But do the same to Pythagoras? He wouldn't stand a chance. I like that... even if the sets do wobble alarmingly when the actors push buttons, and some of the panels are just gaffer tape on particleboard.

H. G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come
1979/05
Canadian, but that's not enough to save it. All Earth, all chrome and '50s robots with big pincher hands and dryer duct arms. Nothing to do with H.G. Wells' original story, and nothing to do with Star Wars iether.


Gamera: Super Monster
1980/03
Despite prominently featuring a knock-off star destroyer on the cover and in the title sequence, the rest of the film is standard giant monster fights and singing children.

Flash Gordon
1980/12
Don't get me wrong, I love the film... but it's definitely closer to a parody than to a serious attempt at worldbuilding.

The Man Who Saved The World (Turkish Star Wars)
1982/11
Disqualified for containing shots of Star Wars, sound cues from Battlestar Galactica, etc, etc, etc. It's absolutely bonkers and well worth watching, but as worldbuilding material it's got... issues.

If there are films or TV series that fit the criteria that I've missed, let me know. Some potential candidates (like the superb Kin-dza-dza! and the dreadful Space Mutiny) ended up being cut entirely. The rules can't be bent too far or every film will get included.

Future Posts

The Setting (synthesizing and tabulating the canon and canon-adjacent films).
Rules (probably based on SWN or Mothership or something).