Space 1889 is a Steampunk Tabletop Roleplaying Game by Frank Chadwick, and published first in 1988 by Game Designers Workshop, then by Heliograph Inc.It is set in an Alternate Universe Victorian era where the scientific theories of the day are true; a luminiferous aether fills the depths of space, which is what people use to travel from world to world in Cool Airships. Indeed, the game describes itself as Victorian era science fiction. As the game is set in an alternate-Victorian era, all the great powers have colonies on the other planets.It had at least two Tabletop Game semi-spinoff/semi-expansions; Sky Galleons of Mars, which provided detailed rules for ship-to-ship combat, and the Soldier's Companion, which provided rules for playing a miniatures wargame.There was also a 1989 Computer RPG, Mars 1889, which is mostly forgotten today. Savage Worlds also has a reedition called Red Sands.
Accentuate the Negative: Inverted. The game described but does not dwell very much on the dark sides of Victorian Britain or on the time in general. The average Victorian believes in Progress so it's mostly inverted in-universe too. This is a fairly optimistic game in general.
Achilles' Power Cord in a few stories the best way to stop a powerful, ancient machine is to stop the powerstation that powers it. It doesn’t have a literal cord, though.
Action Girl: She-Devil of the Desert from Caravans of Mars
Advanced Ancient Humans: there are hints of an advanced, human-like precursor race. There is eventually proof of this in Beastmen of Mars.
Advanced Ancient Acropolis well, there is functioning ancient advanced technology in Martian cities, City of Tomorrow from Challenge 77 and a mostly lost underwater civilization in the solo adventure Sub Africa in Challenge 57.
Adventure: The adventures in this role-playing game are very close to adventure stories from late 19th century and forward.
Adventurer Archaeologist: this character type makes perfect sense in the setting. Treasure hunting type archeology happens in some adventures.
Airborne Aircraft Carrier sort of. High Martian have flying ships, but can fly individually and can make a boarding attack without actually boarding laying their ship next to the boardee.
Aliens Are Bastards: mostly averted, all aliens come in all moral shades, except the High Martians that are universally filthy brutes. According to Red Sands, there are exceptions even to this.
Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Averted. Humans and Martians are generally unimpressed by each other’s current culture. Humans find many of the edifices of the old Martian civilization tasteful and impressive but the modern ones are often bad, gaudy imitations.
Alien Catnip: Perhaps hinted at. A captured human reported that high Martians fought over her lemon drops. High Martians certainly don’t need to be intoxicated to fight though. Martian spice Bhutan is mildly narcotic to humans and Martians alike.
Alien Non-Interference Clause: So averted it’s downright inverted. Europeans actually consider it a good thing if not an outright duty to intervene on Mars and spread the blessings of their civilization to others willy-nilly.
All Planets Are Earth-Like: Mercury, Venus, Mars and the moon can all support Human life quite easily (albeit not necessarily comfortably), although only Mars has any sort of civilization on it- Mercury has only very basic life, such as trilobites, Venus has Sentient Lizardmen, although they are only at the Stone Age level. Mars has an ancient Civilization based around their canals, although they have lost the technology necessary to build new canals or even to maintain their cities. The Moon can also support life, although there is no atmosphere on the surface- it only exists nearer to the Moon's core.
Allohistorical Allusion: surprisingly completely absent, unless you count the nutcase who has an alternative to the ether theory in the Adventure Canal Priests of Mars. The reason for the absence could be that this is alternate history very close to real history.
All Women Are Prudes: It’s the Victorian era. It is generally believed that women can love but have no sex drive. Romance or sexuality are not prominent in the adventures and stories of Space 1889 though.
Alternate History: The history is different, but similar. Given that laws of nature are slightly different some discoveries from the 18th century must have been different. However, the real point of divergence is 1870 when Edison travels to Mars. However, that changes, historical events on Earth surprisingly little and events basically follow their original path.
Alternate Techline: Not so much new technology but skyships, ether flyers and better calculating machines.
Amazon Brigade: Soldier's Companion mentions Company A of the 62nd St. John's Fusiliers of New Brunswick, Canada stationed in Syrtis Major, better known as the Amazonians, is all female except for the commanding captain. Averted in that it is not an elite unit. Soldier's Companion claims this unit existed historically. It is also mentioned in Transactions of Royal Martian Geographical Society part 1.
American Dream: The American dream is very much alive in the Victorian era. A poor person becoming rich is very much associated with the US (whether this is statistically more likely in America than elsewhere is another question of course). Self-improvement is very much an international, Western ideal by this time.
A Million Is a Statistic: Victorian mass media, id est newspapers, works like this sometimes historically and in the game. Newspaper readers might angrily demand a rescue expedition for the latest white explorer who set off in harm’s way on purpose, while ignoring such things as King Leopold’s multimillion-body-count-genocide in Congo.
Anachronism Stew: well, it is Victorians in Space meeting canal Martians which have a pre-industrial society with some leftover technology from a much more advanced era stone-age Hill Martians and High Martians on Mars and stone-age lizardmen and dinosaurs on Venus.
Apathetic Citizens Mostly averted, this was the time of plenty of grass root movements. In some adventures player characters are sometimes expected to intervene in matters that does not directly involve them for no reason than the goodness of their hearts. Most canal Martians are surprisingly resigned to the ineffectiveness of their rulers and the slow dying of their planet, though.
Apocalypse Cult: Not typical version at least. Cult of the Worm seeks to bring about the destruction of the world, but not by summoning or waking some great god of destruction. They revere the "Old Ones" but these are not some tremendously powerful and destructive deities.
Apocalypse How: The decay of the canals is likely to turn almost all of Mars into a desert uninhabitable for almost all current life-forms. This pretty much fits planetary species extinction and biosphere extinction. However, this decay doesn’t have the intense drama you would expect from an apocalypse. It has already been going on for millennia it will take a few more millennia to complete.
Applied Phlebotinum: Largely absent, except for Edison's Etheric Propeller, whose workings are not disclosed and Martian Liftwood, a Martian Tree whose specially treated wood can be used to make flying ships. Rest assured, all the Earthly Powers with influence on Mars are desperate to control more of this material which can create air born Dreadnoughts.
Arcology: City of Tomorrow from Challenge 77 and a mostly lost underwater civilization in the solo adventure Sub Africa in Challenge 57.
Armed Legs: One of the few times this trope is justified. The flying High Martians carry close combat weapons (that do not really correspond to any weapons humans use with their hands but mostly resembles spears or scythes) in their prehensile feet while using their webbed arms for flying. You can see it in the illustration in the background above and to the right (as seen from the viewer) of the blonde woman's head.
Armor Is Useless: Averted and played straight. Several Martian units have armor, and European armies have cuirassiers. In historical Victorian times armor is unlikely to stop a musket bullet and will definitely not stop a 19th century rifle shot. Red Sands has rules for armor and it does protect to some extent so it isn’t useless. Regular rules from main game makes armour useful in close combat only.
Asimov's Three Kinds of Science Fiction two of three types are well represented in the game. In the sourcebooks the new technologies are described in reasonable detail and the adventures are, well adventures. The social effects of the inventions mentioned are small (such as the difficulty of keeping clothes in their proper places in zero-G) and Europeans treat the other planets as just other colonies. Instead the historical conventions of late Victorian age are played straight.
Auction: a Red Sands adventure features an auction of a Bhutan spice plant, which could in the right hands start a complete plantation and break the lucrative English/Boreo-Syrtan monopoly.
A Wizard Did It: used exactly once: Tree of Souls in Challenge 46 has a dead person rising and creating zombies with incantations with no scientific explanation at all.
Bamboo Technology well Mars ship that looks like they were ships from 18th century or so that can fly and humans have ether flyers that look like and are from the late 19th century but can travel in space. It is justified in that there are reasons why this work. These are isolated cases of bamboo technology for the rest technology can achieve roughly what you expect it to.
Banana Republic: many nominally independent Martian city states are corrupt and heavily under the influence of human and Martian major powers. Likewise, on Earth many theoretically independent states are corrupt and strongly influenced by major powers on Earth.
Beastly Bloodsports Skrill riders have a very dangerous sport called the Games to determine who is to be the leader. In 1889 humans still practice stuff like bare-knuckle boxing and dog fighting. Medieval style animal-cruelty-as-public-entertainment is going out of fashion though.
Becoming the Mask: Basically how a upper class Victorian-style upbringing, education or training is supposed to work. Learn to show no fear, learn to feel no fear. Learn to seem noble, learn to be noble.
Beware the Nice Ones: Victorian behavior ideal for men. This is also how British diplomacy works. Though a bit of gunship diplomacy is often added, there is no need to be rude about it.
Big Bad: in Red Sands we have Kronos, leader of the Brotherhood of Luxor in Red Sands. Also in Beastmen of Mars we have the real leader of the Cult of the Worm. In the main book High Martian king Attabrax is mentioned.
Bizarre Alien Locomotion: Martian flyers use wings lift glands for actual lifting (overcoming gravity), wings for steering and propulsion –very different from Terran flight where overcoming gravity is usually the major problem.
Bizarre Alien Psychology: generally averted. Martians have human-like motivations. Space 1889 has a system of keywords indicating NPC motivations that can be randomized by rolling two six-sided dices. The same keywords are used for Martians and humans. Humans find Martian religion weird, morbid and obsessed with death and the end of things, though. They are also surprised to see Martians so accepting of the decline of their civilization and planet. These seem more like cultural rather than deep inherent psychological differences. Otherwise they are quite similar.
Black Box: there are plenty of such phenomena where you know the input and the output but how no idea how it is achieved in Space 1889. It is not only the fictional Martian left-over technology from long ago but plenty of things we now know how it works that were a mystery to historical Victorians. For instance the sun seems to send out a lot of energy from nowhere, much more than any known type of fuel could possibly sustain for more very long –leading some people to believe the solar system cannot be more than a few thousands year old. You seem to inherit traits from your parents, but having no idea of DNA, the mechanism for this is a mystery to Victorians who sometimes think it is somehow literally “in the blood” or “with the mother’s milk” but that makes it hard to explain how plants can inherit traits.
Blatant Lies part of the way Victorian-style manners work. “We are here to protect your independence.” “He is not at home.” “My most respectable opponent…”
Boarding Party: Boarding is going out of favor in the wet navy but is alive and well in the liftwood navy, particularly with the High Martians who can just fly to the enemy ship on their own power.
Bold Explorer: Several adventures are about exploration or about saving a lost exploration party. An explorer would be a perfectly suitable player character concept and it is also a career available in character generation.
Boldly Coming: romance in general is notably absent in the adventures. It is possible to act like this, but a player character who did this had better be very discreet. Victorian society frowns on sex outside marriage, interracial marriage and interspecies would be considered grotesque. In the adventure Exogamous Mating in Challenge 68 there is an extremely rare possibly unique human-Martian marriage. The adventure makes it very clear that Victorian society frown on this.
Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: played fairly straight and intended to be an antagonist –though it is also available as a player character career in character generation. The illustration fits the stereotype, complete with a cartoon bomb.
Born-Again Immortality: in Canal Priest of Mars we learn that the Canal Keepers of Garyaan believe this is what happens to Seldon, the person that united Mars a few millennia ago. Game Master desides if it is true.
Brain Fever: a perfectly normal diagnosis in the late 19th century.
Britain Is Only London: the players visit London in at least one adventure. This trooper cannot recall any single scene in any adventure that takes place in any specific other place that is part of Britain proper (as opposed to British colonies), though, so this is played straight.
British Stuffiness: being both British and Victorian, the player characters are expected to act like this.
But Thou Must: In adventure Ausonian Stalker in Tales of the Ether the player characters are drafted willy-nilly to help with a problem. Justified in that the Martian prince, Jharmook of Ausonia, who does draft them have the authority and very good reasons to do precisely this.
Can't Argue with Elves: inverted, this is many Martians’ opinion about how humans think that their ideas of Christianity, Progress and Science make them superior.
Cassandra Truth at the end of Beastmen of Mars it is stated that it is unlikely that people will believe the P Cs most sensational discoveries since they don’t have proof.
Cavemen vs. Astronauts Debate: In “Canal Priest of Mars” there is a man named Eric Thwaite who is endlessly debating in the newspapers that it should be spelled “the Aether” not “the Ether”. He’s ridiculously passionate about it. Somewhat subverted in that none of his opponents care that much about the issue.
Chekhov's Gun in Steppelords of Mars an NPC gets an unknown package to use in emergencies. Of course the is an emergency and the package turns out to contain dynamite quite useful in the situation.
Clothing Damage: there are a few such illustrations. Red Sands has two, including one on the cover, for instance.
Contrived Coincidence: a few times. In Canal Priest of Mars an acquaintance tells the player characters of a curious incident. It just happens to be a clue to the problem the player characters are working on right now.
Cool Airship: Mars and Earth now have flying ships based on liftwood. Venus has Zeppelins because liftwood deteriorates very quickly on Venus. In real history the first Zeppelin was built in 1900.
Crazy Jealous Guy: Murray Galway from Caravans of Mars. This doubles as hypocricy since he cheats on his wife.
Creator Thumbprint: Typical of Frank Chadwick and GDW (who have created such things as Traveller, Twilight 2000 and 2300 AD) is a well-created world, well-researched and realistic in many details even if the basic premise of the game is not realistic, science fiction with much emphasis on the military, original or unique when created inspiring others to come up with similar ideas later, tie-in with well-written boardgames but the role-playing game itself has simple and not very good rules. These rules also have similarities with other GDW role-playing games, such as a system for NPC motivation, even if Space 1889 uses two dices instead of a deck of cards.
Critical Research Failure: Uncharacteristic for a GDW game and Frank Chadwick there is a relatively basik one. Contrary to what it says in the main book about possible inventions monoatomic hydrogen gas would not increase lift by 50% it’s more like 4%.
Cure Your Gays: Attempted. In Canal Priests of Mars the John Douglas 9th Marquess of Queensbury is bringing his effeminite son Alfred to Mars to get him out of Oscar Wilde's influence and to 'toughen' him. Historically he would in 1895 trick Oscar Wilde into suing him -which ended up sending Oscar Wilde to prison. Historically Alfred didn't meet Oscar Wilde until 1891 and Canal Priests of Mars is persumably set in 1889 so this is slightly ahistorical.
Damsel in Distress: botanist Emilie van Warren in the Lurker in the Moor from More Tales from the Ether. She isn’t exactly helpless as a character trait, she explicitly described as psychologically though, but she is fairly defenseless in her current situation and needs to be rescued, twice. Lady Alianni från To Rescue a Lady Fair in Challenge 67 is another.
Defector from Decadence: Canal Martians with any sympathy for human ideas typically has this sympathy more out of disgust with the fatalistic acceptance of the planet’s decline and the general corruption and infighting than actual sympathy for human ideas. Anarchists in 1889 are more defectors from current society (and sometimes defectors from sanity) than strong believers in the anarchist idea.
Desert Punk: Caravans of Mars and Steppolords of Mars have elements of desert punk, particularly some illustrations.
Devolution Device: while not explicitly called devolution, the device in Ausonian Stalker from Tales from the Ether seems to turn people into a viscious, feral and primitive version of themselves.
Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: In Canal Priests of Mars the player characters get to have a conversation with an absolutely ancient, virtually immortal, being who is also the leader and founder of the horrifying Cult of the Worm.
Disposable Superhero Maker: a lot of inventions that can be the subject of an interesting adventure but are too disruptive to the campaign if mass-produced, are subject to this trope.
Ditto Aliens: Martians think humans look rather similar, but those that have actually seen non-caucasian humans are surprised by the diversity. Mars has had a global society and easy long-distance travel for millennia so regional differences between Canal Martians are next to non-existent.
Divided States of America: Not in the game but the Adventure novel Forever Engine takes place in a world very similar to Space 1889 apart from a few historical differences. One of these is that the Confederacy successfully seceded simply because Lincoln died a natural death during the Civil War and the North lost the will to fight.
Down the Drain: Martian cities have big, extensive sewer system, intended for much larger populations. The adventure Ausonian Stalker in Tales from the Ether makes the adventurers explore one.
Drill Tank: a possible invention in the main book though it has wheels in the picture. There is also one such excavator in Red Sands adventure “Digger’s Doom” though it is not expressly described as being a tracked vehicle.
Dungeon Crawling: the adventure Ausonian Stalker in Tales of the Ether has the player characters dungeon crawl through the sewers.
Dying Clue: in Transactions of the Royal Martian Geographical Society the British consul in Shaptash gives a clue to where the McGuffin is.
Dying Race: the canals are slowly decaying and cannot be repaired. Mars is about to become arid and basically uninhabitable again. Canal Martians generally more or less accept this, which the Europeans, who believe in Progress and sometimes in social darwinism, find offensive or a sign of weakness.
Dying Town: plenty of uninhabited areas, houses or floors of a larger building in most Martian cities. There are also dead towns.
Eagleland: The mid and upper class Victorians of Space 1889 and historical Victorians of these classes think of Americans as rich but somewhat lacking in manners, taste and humility id est mostly type II. Plenty of people see it as type I though. Nobody sees Americans as invaders and imperialists before 1898, though plenty of people disapprove of their treatment of native Americans. Europeans are proudly imperialist at this time. USA often criticize this.
Earthquakemachine: An earthquake machine or a volcano machine are possible inventions in the main book.
Easy Evangelism: averted. European attempts to spread Christianity on Mars go very poorly, worse than anywhere on Earth. This is not limited to religion, though. All other European ideas leave canal martians unimpressed. This extends to technology, human military technology is pretty much the only human thing the Canal Martians want. Humans are certainly unimpressed by the current canal Martians, but these generally do not try to spread their beliefs to humans -except their belief that humans should go home and that is not working.
Elites Are More Glamorous: In 1889 on earth few nations had any “special forces” in the modern sense. However, there were plenty of units that were especially prestigious and sought after –few of these units show up on Mars though. On Mars, outfitting and training your units with modern, European weapons is so expensive that only a few Martian units are so equipped. Even access to muzzle-loaded minié rifles makes a Martian unit above average.
Enemy Mine: Ganging up with someone you don’t like to fight a common enemy. Happens all the time in Space 1889 as well as the historical late Victorian Era it is based on. Shaptash is hostile to humans but doesn’t hesitate to gang up with Fenian terrorists and German agents to fight the British. Averted in that the obvious thing, Martians ganging up to throw the humans out, hasn’t happened and isn’t likely to happen in the near future.
Escape Pod: averted. Ship design is fairly realistic and escape pods does not exist for ether flyers or for sky ships. There aren’t even practical parachutes.
EVERYTHINGSBETTERWITHDINOSAURS: There are dinosaurs on Venus somewhat justified by Victorian ideas of aging worlds where Venus is a younger world than Earth. However, the real reason is of course that everything is better with dinosaurs.
Evil Laugh: a villain has this in Ausonian Stalker in Tales from the Ether.
Excessive Steam Syndrome: Justified where ships use solar boilers to power their "aether propellers" between planets. The boilers, which consist of a large parabolic mirror and a boiler on a turntable vent their safety valves directly into the engine room on a space ship, in order to preserve as much water as possible from being lost.
Fantastic Racism: Given that this is the late 19th century there is no shortage of perfectly regular human-on-human racism -though this is not emphasized in the adventures. There is not Canal Martian on Canal Martian racism because they have had easy long distance travel and even a global society for millenia so geographical features have disappeared; so no races and no such racism (Canal Martians do not necessarily get along, but that is not because of race or racism). Humans and Canal Martians generally do not get along. Humans generally think that Canal Martians have a dignified look and gait, but they are small-minded, staid, conservative, overly traditional, wrong-headed, organized in opressive, parochial, despotic and corrupt societies, devoted to absurd and morbid religions and incapable of progress or self-improvement. The book hints that humans also think that behaviour at many canal martian courts are "scandalous" but does not elaborate. Given that late 19th century human society is prone to thinking in terms of races, these differences are often considered racial rather than cultural (ignoring the fact that Canal Martians obviously were very different and quite prosperous and much more advanced than the humans millenia ago). Canal martians think the "red men" (caucasians look red to martian eyes) are small-eyed, undignified, disrespectful, short-sighted, terribly wasteful, pushy intruders who really should go home to their own planet. It does happen that martian cities explode in xenophobic, boxer-rebellion-like riots. Hill Martians have a more relaxed attitude and see humans pretty much like everything else in their world; another resource to be used or an enemy to be fought as the case might be. Humans tend to see Hill Martians as savages, noble or not. Canal Martians just look down on Hill Martians as primitives. Everybody else thinks, correctly, that High Martians are violent, hateful, nasty, brutish, barbarous, feral, primitive and filthy.
Fantastic Religious Weirdness: averted. The few Martians that have converted to Christianity have no particular problems following Christian religious tenets except that it might be hard to have a church and a priest, but that is because they are so few. They are also stigmatized in the Martian society. However, nothing about Mars or Martian biology makes Christianity particularly difficult.
Fantastic Slurs: Martians sometimes refer to humans as “Red Men” since caucasians seem reddish to Martian eyes. Not necessarily an intentional insult.
Femme Fatale: the adventure in Challenge 76 Mission to Shaptash has such a character.
Fighting for a Homeland: Plenty of people without a real, independent homeland that resents that in 1889. Polish and Irish people being the most obvious cases. Fenian terrorists are villains in a few stories. Jews are beginning to think about a homeland and first Zionist congress is in 1897.
First Contact: In Space 1889 first known contact happened in the 19th century. In some adventures, there are hints that Earth might have been visited before. There are also a few adventures where the player characters get to experience first contact with a new race or isolated civilization.
Forgotten Trope: The Edisonade. There are inventors like that in the adventures and in the backstory, including the real Edison. There are rules for making inventions so the players can have such a character too.
Frozen in Time: The game is explicitly set in alternate history 1889. No supplement or adventure advances this. The GM can relatively easily convert real history of 1890 and forward to Space 1889. However, the basic premise of the game is that it is set in the Victorian Age and that it basically follows real world history.
Fur and Loathing: completely averted. The Victorian world in game and real life is not squeamish at all about killing animals and using their skin or eating their meat or just keeping their bodies as trophies. Plenty of military units, such as hussars, have fur in their uniform.
Future Food Is Artificial: Absent. The Victorian Era sees many new forms of preserved or processed food, such as cornflakes or corned beef. This game has no truly real artificial food though.
Gadgeteer Genius: reigned in. Protagonists and antagonists can be inventors and come up with creative and effective machines, but it takes time, tools, material and they can’t just make anything. There is also a point system that puts limits on what you can make. No building a time-machine from the contents of a trashcan during lunchbreak.
Gaslamp Fantasy: Averted, there is nothing truly supernatural in Space 1889, except in Tree of Souls in Challenge 46. Though in Canal Priest of Mars one major religion believes that their leader reincarnates Dalai Lama style and uses astrology to find out where the leader’s newborn body is. The gamemaster may choose to allow this to actually work.
Gender Incompetence: Customary incompetence type was definitely present historically, but it is downplayed in the game. The game is set in the late 19th century, one of the historical epoques of the greatest cultural gender differences. Women are expected to be domestic, supportive and sensitive, men are expected to be professionally competent, brave and physically tough. People generally try to live up to what is expected of them and if you try to do otherwise you meet resistance and possibly downright hostility. One hindrance is that it will be hard for a man or woman to get training and practice in skills that are considered clearly outside their gender role. This is downplayed in the game and no rules prevent any gender from getting any skill once play has started. Nor are there any gender modifications to stats or so.
Gender Is No Object: Averted almost completely. Women are banned from pretty much all military matters (and many other things) in the Victorian era. There is a historical all-female Canadian militia unit in Soldier’s Companion though.
Genre-Busting: Science fiction in the past. Retro-science fiction. Alternate history with alternate natural laws. One of the first examples of steampunk.
Gentleman and a Scholar: plenty of them, both player characters and non-player characters. As a matter of fact, by the late 19th century it had relatively recently been possible to make a living as a scientist –previously it was almost exclusively the realm of the independently wealthy gentlemen and their hired assistants.
Ghost City: there are ghost cities on Mars, and ghost quarters of living cities and ghost floors of tall buildings.
Ghost Town: there are abandoned towns on Mars. Many of the buildings are still intact.
Giant Flyer: Quite a few on Mars. They have biological mechanisms that create "lift" the same way liftwood does so they can get much bigger than terran flyers. Skrill can actually carry a rider.
Giant Poofy Sleeves: Gigot-sleeves, also called leg-o-mutton sleeves are the height of fashion at the time.
Global Currency: Mostly averted. The British pound is the unit used in the books and often accepted on Mars (particularly in gold form), but each nation still has its own currency. Unlike modern times, many countries have gold standard in 1889 making exchange rates very stable.
Going Native short article about it in the main book. It was normal in 18th century. No longer acceptable by 1889. A British person is now expected to stay British even in completely different environments. Mixed marriages is definitely frowned upon.
Gold Digger: A minor female character in Canal Priests of Mars turns out to be a particularly unsympathetic example of golddigger.
Goldfish Poop Gang: Victorian colonists regard colonial uprisings and restless natives as a recurring annoyance, not as a real threat to their rule.
Good Powers, Bad People: High Martians are the only people that can grow liftwood, the wonderful material that greatly facilitates communications and transportation on Mars. Being nasty little creatures, they use it to build flying, slave-powered ships and capture slaves and sell it to other for slaves, weapons and resources.
Good Weapon, Evil Weapon the spear-polearm, fork and scythe-resembling weapons the High Martian carry in their prehensile feet sure look nasty.
Great White Hunter: in Steppelords of Mars the players meet a character who is aspiring to this and wants to bag a big predator. Big game hunter is also a career available in character generation.
Greek Fire: Something very similar is a possible invention according to the main book: “Liquid fire: A compound which burns fiercely when exposed to oxygen. Water will not extinguish it but dry sand will.”
Grey and Gray Morality: most of the international and interplanetary conflicts in the Space 1889 are of this type. However, in most adventures, the players’ antagonist is usually a fairly clear-cut bad guy.
Gunboat Diplomacy: The European great powers do it all the time. British Empire is most famous for doing it, though.
Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: there are illustrations of women with guns (typically sideams), but not with swords or other melee weapons.
Hand Wave: A few times. For instance, in the game Mars has a surface gravity is just a little bit lower than Earths. In reality it is less than half of Earth’s surface gravity. In the core book it is mentioned that Mars’ gravity is significantly higher than scientists had expected and that they have no real explanation for this.
Historical-Domain Character: Less often than you would expect. Quite a few first class passengers on the Ether Flyer in the adventure Canal Priests of Mars are also historical. The British officers mentioned in Soldier's Companion are historical.
Hobbes Was Right: Recently averted in 1889. Hobbes thoughts have been the excuse for all types of brutal government. By 1889 it has been demonstrated that brutal, authoritarian rule is not the only alternative to chaos. By 1889 there are plenty of budding democracies (though few have universal suffrage for women or men and sometimes more votes for rich people and often government is appointed by the king not the elected parlament). In Shaptash, Martians are giving this democracy thing a try. On Earth anarchists believed that if liberated from the oppressive structure of society people will naturally do good and act for the best of all humanity.
Hollywood Costuming: averted. The illustrations mostly show some version of late 19th century attire.
Hopeless War: A Martian trying to fight off humans is likely to feel this way if he is being honest with himself. Mars has been drying, developing backwards and diminishing in numbers for at least two millennia. Humans on the other hand are breeding like vermin and are constantly developing new and better machines, particularly weapons. Even a major victory is unlikely to reverse these trends and will thus be a very hollow victory.
Horse of a Different Color: Martian horse-equivalent is the gashant. Martian elephant equivalent is the Rhuumet Beer. They fill roughly the same niche as these work-animals, but look very different. The Gashant is two-legged for instance.
Hostage Situation happens a few times. Very likely to occur in “The Mystery at Fort Dickerson” from “More Tales from the Ether”.
How Unscientific!: Tree of Souls in Challenge 46 has a dead person rising and creating zombies with incantations with no scientific explanation at all.
Humanity Is Advanced: current human science and technology is more advanced than Martian or Venusian.
Humans Are Divided: averted in that Martians are at least as divided as humans. Many Martian nations are essentially just one city and the surrounding area.
Humans Are White: in late 19th century, white humans probably have the largest share of the total human population they ever had. Humans on Mars are almost exclusively white. Just a few Japanese in their out-of-the-way research station. Canal Martians do not have any significant geographical differences since they have had fairly easy long-distance travel and even a global society for millennia. Canal Martians refer to humans as “red men” because Caucasians look red to them.
Human Subspecies: There are hints that humans and Martians have a common ancestor, but they evolved on another planet do not seem to be even near the same species or genus. There is a short text in the main book however that says: “The High Martians Believed that Peel, with his pale complexion and unusual physique, was part Martian and welcomed him in their society.” Implying that at least the bestial High Martian imagine that such a crossbreed is possible. Anyway, there are alien subspecies; canal and hill Martians have not only cultural but also physical differences. They are also related to the High Martians and have lost the ability to fly relatively recently. In the book “A prince of Mars” the protagonist notice what seem to be a Canal Martian/High Martian crossbreed. If that hybrid is fertile, they are the same species.
Humongous Mecha: There are two prototype giant steam robots in the adventure Tom Fleet and his Steam Colossus in Challenge 61.
I Did What I Had to Do: The logic behind Europe’s duty to, sometimes violently, bring the benefits of international trade and western civilization to the rest of the world.
Idle Rich: People with social class 5 or 6 (on a scale to six) are independently wealthy and get money without working. You can still choose to put your character’s free time to good use, though, but he or she will probably consider real work for money, particularly if it is some form of manual labor, beneath him or her.
I Have No Son: In the adventure Mission to Shaptash in Challenge 76 a wealthy American has the player characters inform his son that unless he stops fighting the British as a privateer he will be disowned and disinherited.
Inexplicable Cultural Ties: in the novel Forever Engine a version of the Space 1889 world is one of many parallel worlds, the protagonist is from our world and time.
Innocent Bigot: this behaviour would be perfectly good roleplaying in many situations in Space 1889. For instance, in the introductory adventure on the moon it is perfectly reasonable for the player characters to react to the insect-like Selenites with something like: “Gosh I thought giant ants would be stupid, hive-minded and vicious –but you’re just people who just happens to look really unpleasant to us.”
Innocently Insensitive: pretty much bound to happen in Space 1889. The player characters are meeting cultures they do not know very much about (or might have received misinformation about).
Inscrutable Aliens: Mostly averted Martians and humans have similar motivations. The motivation rules for creating NP Cs in the main book does not differentiate between humans and Martians. Humans find much Martian religion incomprehensible, though.
Inscrutable Oriental the Japanese fit this trope a bit. According to Transactions of the Royal Martian Geographical Society no one even knows why the Japanese are on Mars. Their research station Ubeni is an apparently worthless piece of territory far away from anywhere else. They do not let anyone come near it.
Insufficiently Advanced Alien: Martians were much more technologically advanced than humans of the late 19th century, but there are no sign of them going to space. So from a Martian point of view when humans showed up in the 19th century with superior-to-current-Martian-but-much -less-advanced-when-zenith-Martian-technology humans are insufficiently advanced aliens.
In the Hood: Martian bad guys or just mooks in many stories wear this. Odd garment in fairly crowded cities where you need your peripheral vision but it never rains.
Intrepid Reporter: a few times. Historical Nellie Bly is mentioned in the rule book. The adventure “Madness in the Moab” from “More Tales from the Ether” has Miss Lillian Dewitt in this role. Whittington Cartwright-Lloyd from Steppelords of Mars is another such character. It would be a perfectly appropriate concept for a player character too. It is one of the careers possible in character generation.
Intrigued by Humanity: The cause of all the player characters troubles in Beastmen of Mars is that a powerful being is scheming to lure humans to him simply so he can satisfy his curiousity about them.
It's a Small World After All: sort of justified. Humans on Mars are not that common and tend to hang out among themselves, and Victorians usually socialize with and write letters to primarily adult people of their own gender and social status. Knowing a little bit about all humans on Mars of your gender and social class is doable.
Just Between You and Me: adventure Ausonian Stalker in Tales of the Ether has the player characters captured by the sadistic German doctor who then proceeds to explain his plans ending, predictably, with an Evil Laugh.
Just Think of the Potential: the stories sometimes suppose the player characters will react like this to some of the marvels they see. Such is the case with the liftwood engine in Canal Priests of Mars.
Kaiser Reich: often the antagonist -which is surprising given that Britain was more hostile to France and Russia in 1889 and there is nothing in the alternate history that would make them particularly more hostile.
Kick the Dog: an almost literal example in Canal Priest of Mars. That also doubles as Establishing Character Moment “She is accompanied by a maid and by three poodles housed in the kennels. Her character may be indicated by the fact that she won’t visit the dogs once during the voyage.” The trip in question is expected to take ten weeks.
Kill All Humans: Ground cleansers want to kill all humans on Mars. Cult of the Worm want the entire planet to die, including themselves.
King Bob the Nth: Seldon’s empire lasted for millennia and the last of the line was Seldon LXIX (that’s 69th ).
King in the Mountain: There is a Martian version of the legend of Arthur as sleeping King who will return in times of great need in Caravans of Mars.
Lady of Adventure: It’s a career for player characters in the main book. Since this is in Victorian times she is theoretically the loyal companion or servant of a male adventurer. This is just social camouflage, though.
Lightning Gun: the Moon Men have this. It is also a possible invention in the main book.
Like Reality Unless Noted: Space 1889 is set in historical 1889 except in the places where it is stated that it is different.
Lost at Sea: The player characters are on an ethership that loses its ability to navigate in Canal Priests of Mars. It gets better.
Lost Technology: The Martians were once a highly advanced Space-faring civilization, but have heavily declined over the millennia, until they reached the state that we find them now- a decadent Renaissance level world. Mars is a vast desert, and life only exists around the canals that the Martians built hundreds of thousands of years ago. The pump stations and power stations which enable their culture to exist were built for extreme long-use, but the more complex systems have failed, and some canals have disappeared as the water which filled them dried up. Martian cities are enormous and filled with gigantic skyscrapers, but the smaller populations who now inhabit them only live on the first few floors in the towers closest to the canals- the cities are too big and too tall to transverse by foot, but there are rumours of unexplored rooms with ancient Martian devices....
Lost World: Plenty of adventures are about this: Madness in Moab, moon adventures in the introductory adventure in the main book and in Tales from the Ether, solo adventure Sub Africa in Challenge 57.
Machine Worship: A toned-down version. Martians do not exactly worship the remaining still working devices of their great ancestors. However the reverance for these things, particularly the great canal system that is essential to pretty much all live on Mars, sometimes take a clearly religion dimension. Canal Keepers of Garyaan would be the most obvious example -a religious order charged with maintaining the canal system. Played perfectly straight with the Science Priests of "The Shining Flow" (electricity) in the adventure "River of Life" in "Tales from the Ether".
Made a Slave: at least one Red Sand scenario can start when the players are captured and enslaved by High Martians. There is another adventure in Challenge 42 where the players are captured by bandits who intend to sell them as slaves.
Madonna-Whore Complex: Victorian era pretty much runs on this trope. Sexuality is almost completely left out of the gamebooks and adventures though.
Maligned Mixed Marriage: played straight, in the adventure Exogamous Mating in Challenge 68 there is an extremely rare human-Martian marriage. Victorian Europeans strongly dislike this. This was a time when interracial marriage was often illegal and almost always frowned upon. Marrying someone from a different species is considered even worse.
Men Are the Expendable Gender in Victorian times males are expected to believe this and act like they did. They are expected to put themselves in harm’s way to protect women (and in many illustrations they seem to be doing just that) and accept being discriminated against in a triage situation. Logically, both genders are equally expendable in a monogamous society…
Merchant Prince: Boreo-Syrtian League on Mars is run by powerful merchant families.
Mighty Whitey: Steppelords of Mars successful conclusion of the adventure means the presumably white player characters temporarily join a Hill Martian tribe and stay honorary members.
Military Science-Fiction: Many of the supplements are wargames. Many of the adventures directly relate to military matters.
Mind-Control Device: the subject of a few adventures such as Cult of Doom from Challenge 60 and in one of the two alternative versions of Mission to Shaptash in Challenge 76. It is also mentioned as a possible invention in the main book.
Mission Briefing: most adventures have this in one form or another (usually not military style mission briefing, but simply their patron telling them what the situation is and what need to be done) but in a large minority of the adventures, things just start happening.
Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Relatively hard, perhaps 3.5. Two great exceptions to known laws of physics; liftwood and ether. Technologies built on these are explained in some detail and apart from these two exceptions, generally workable and within range of technology anno 1889. There are sometimes miracular devices appearing in some adventures, and typically destroyed by the end of the adventure. Some adventures are diffenerent though. Tree of Souls in Challenge 46 has a dead person rising and creating zombies with incantations with no scientific explanation at all.
More Dakka: in 1889 machine guns are beginning to demonstrate their usefulness, the maxim gun will become a symbol of the white Europeans military superiority in 1894.
Multicultural Alien Planet: Mars has plenty of languages, ways of life, cultures and religions and three different races/species of Martian.
Mundane Utility: liftwood can be used for other things than building flying ships. In Canal Priests of Mars there is a small box made of liftwood because someone obviously thinks a floating box is amusing. Plenty of the inventions that the main book enumerates as possible for player characters to make have mundane uses.
My Country, Right or Wrong: averted for the player characters. They are expected to be patriotic, but being patriotic is usually also the right thing to do so there is no dilemma.
Naytheist Godhaters from Transactions of the Royal Martian Geographical Society think that gods are evil or at least more bad than good for Martians (this makes them misotheists or dystheists to use the exact terms) and are dependent on worship or belief to stay powerful or even exist. Thus they refuse to worship and try to work against religion (making them antitheist to use the exact term).
New Technology Is Evil: Occasionally played straight where a mad scientist, obsessed with his latest, powerful invention, is the antagonist. Usually averted or downright inverted though. Player characters can invent new and useful things and or simply buy off-the-shelf cutting edge late Victorian technology and employ it against more primitive enemies. Antagonists are often primitives and reactionaries hostile to science and technology.
Nice Hat: it’s the late Victorian era. Plenty of impressive-looking hats, particularly for the ladies.
No Biochemical Barriers: Played fairly straight humans can breathe the air of Mars and Venus and eat the food. Humans just find typical Martian food way too spicy for their taste. Nothing seems to indicate that of crossbreeding between humans and aliens are possible though.
Noble Bigot: it’s almost unavoidable that the player characters will display a bit of this attitude. They are supposed to be Victorians, who mostly believe in Victorian values, but still be good guys.
Noble Savage: Mostly played straight with the nomadic Hill Martians. The feral, barbaric High Martians, however are clearly an inversion.
No Blood for Phlebotinum: liftwood is by far the most important resource on Mars, giving air supremacy to the party that can deny it to his opponent. It is by far the most important reason humans are on Mars and also a driving force behind the intra-Martian conflicts. This is somewhat subverted in that no state can really directly control this resource since it grows on high mountains controlled by the bestial High Martians. The main book also states that the Bhutan spice is controlled by Boreo-Syrtian league that trades exclusively with the British. Maintaining this monopoly is an important aim for the British, apparently even making the normally very anti-slavery British of late 19th century overlook the fact that it is exclusively grown by slaves.
No Control Group: justifiably absent. The idea of a control group is barely invented by 1889.
Non-Combat EXP: An unusual version with close combat and other experience points in parallell and completely separated. You get one skill point for every major event or episode, these point may not be used to purchase close combat skills. You also get one for every time you participated in close combat, those can only be used on close combat skills.
No Woman's Land: Victorian Britain treats respectable women with heavy-handed patronisation and women they choose not to respect horribly. Historical Victorians took Defiled Forever and Fate Worse than Death quite literally and expected respectable women to defend their chastity to death if necessary. The books state this, but the misogyni is de-emphasized in the stories and mentiones several women who managed to break out of their gender role and still be considered respectable -suggesting the female characters could be like those; a version of the Spirited Young Lady trope, perhaps.
Nubile Savage: illustrations of Hill Martian men and women sometimes fall into this trope combining it with Green-Skinned Space Babe. The of Steppelords of Mars, though, makes it clear that wasting water for washing is a crime and a taboo but there is not trace of this in the illustrations.
Oddly Common Rarity: leftover technology from the Canal Builders is many millennia old and very very rare. Yet it seems to show up in more than half of the Martian adventures.
Of Corsets Sexy: Given that it is the late 19th century, all women are expected to wear this and the figures of the women in the illustrations seem to strongly support this (look at waist of the woman on the cover in the illustration above for instance). You do not see an actual corset of course. That is underwear.
Once Green Mars: played perfectly straight, Mars was a fertile planet 35000 to 10000 years ago. The great canals were created to keep it reasonably so when it began to dry up.
One-Product Planet: Mostly averted. Mars and Venus export are dominated by a few products, not one product. And that is not because a great deal of interplanetary trade forced specialization but because of high transportation cost means few products are worth the cost.
Orbital Bombardment: completely absent, despite the fact that the way things work in Space 1889 it would be both possible and efficient for humans to use orbital bombardment. Bombarding from the air, though is normal operating procedure on Martian warfare.
Our Dragons Are Different: The main book mentions the Sand Wing a truly huge vicious flying creature capable of flying off with a ruumet breehr (elephant equivalent), that supposedly looked a lot like an oriental dragon (and that’s what the illustration shows). It is thought to be hunted to extinction.
Our Nudity Is Different: High humans in the far future in the adventure Time Voyager in Challenge 48 have no nudity taboo, much to the embarrassment of the Victorian time travelers.
Patriotic Fervor: the unusual mixed version. Patriotism can be the motivation of both the player characters and their enemies causing both good and bad behavior.
Plausible Deniability: the powers on Mars (and Earth) often do dirty tricks to one another (such as supporting native insurrections against a rival colonial power) that they publicly deny.
Pointy Ears: Martians have those. They are much more mobile than human ears and generally one of the more expressive parts of the Martian face.
* Politically Correct History: Mostly averted. The books describe the time period quite correctly and certainly do not deny that the Victorians looked down on uneducated workers, people of other cultures and races and treated respectable women like second class citizens in need of guidance and protection and women they choose not to respect downright terribly. (There are, for instance, maximum social status rules for certain types of people, such as black Americans.) These aspects of Victorian society are downplayed in the adventures though and in illustrations aristocrats, workers and women seem to be in the same adventuring party, even if the men often seem to make an effort to put the women out of harm's way. The books give some historical examples of female adventurers in the era and imply that players wanting to play female characters could play such a rare person, a version of Spirited Young Lady. All or almost all illustrations seem to imply that the player characters are white humans though.
Polluted Wasteland: Plenty of places on Earth in 1889 are a bit like this, much to the horror of the Canal Martians. Mars is an inversion, the now lost industrial society was not only very good at recycling, resource managing, waste care and building things to last, canal technology has saved much of the planet’s ecosystem. It is the slow collapse of this technology that creates wasteland.
Population Control: notably absent on Earth. Growing population is a bit of a problem on Earth in 1889, though many nations see it as a sign of strength. On Mars, it is completely inverted. Population is decreasing and there is a chronic manpower shortage.
Possession Implies Mastery: blatantly averted. Martians have access to some wonderful technology, particularly concerning canals and waste recycling. However, they have no idea how it works. Played relatively straight for the humans. Most late 19th century technology requires that you understand quite a bit about it to operate and maintain it properly and there are rules for player characters making inventions.
Power Crystal: A relatively scientific and mundane version. A glowcrystal from Mercury can work as a powerful rechargeable battery (not magic battery, perfectly regular battery giving away electrical DC current, just much better than late 19th century batteries and you charge it by sunlight rather than electricity). In Puzzle of the Shard in Challenge 42 there is a more powerful version that can store and release sunlight in powerful and dangerous quantities.
Praetorian Guard many of the Martian princes have one of those, they are typically the ones that get the most modern weapons. Plenty of European countries also have Royal or Imperial Guard units.
Prospector plenty of them on Mars and Venus –not usually after gold, though.
Proud Warrior Race Guy: Hill Martians and Skrill Riders have elements of this, but in the case of the Hill Martians, perhaps not more than any realistic depiction of a nomadic people in a harsh environment.
Queen Vicky: British are expected to toast to the "dear Queen" and use "for Queen and country" as a slogan -it is unlikely that they will meet her in person unless they perform som truly great deed and are awarded with some of the major orders of merit or the like. In one adventure in Transactions of the Royal Martian Geographical Society the PCs do get to meet her in person though not in her own body at first..
Ragnarok-Proofing: When the Ancient Martians built the Canal system and the Cities it supported, they already knew their world was declining. Hence, the cities were designing to be rather self-sustaining- Martian sewage is converted by bacteria deep under the city into gas which produce gas for lighting and heating, the buildings were made to be incredibly sturdy and the Canals themselves leak-by design- into the surrounding countryside, which creates a water table to support agriculture all along the canals. Some of the pumping stations have failed, although the stations have been built to many different designs, so although some complex systems are irreparable, other, very hardy and simple pumps look like they will continue to work for the foreseeable future. In any case, Mars is very short on raw materials- there is little metal or fuel on Mars, except for renewable resources like trees and the only arable land exists in bands around the canals which vary in width from 10 to 50 miles. Mars has stagnated, and seems unable to pick itself back up.
Railroading: many of the adventures are fairly railroad, with complete with suggested methods for the GM to get the players back on track. For instance, quite a few requires that the players are captured. Railroading is hard to avoid when you are trying to imitate adventure-type science fiction stories.
Random Encounters: some adventures has them, particularly intended for trouble in a chase scene in a Martian city or for wilderness travel.
Reasonable Authority Figure quite a few, the Martian Prince Jharmook of Ausonia in Ausonian Stalker in Tales from the Ether for example. Actually, most authority figures the player characters will meet in the adventures are reasonably competent and try to do a good job, from the Hill Martian chief to the colonial governor. Some of the British officers described in Soldier’s Companion are fairly incompetent and some Martian princes are just hedonists, though. Also, there is no shortage of Mad Scientists.
Recycled IN SPACE!: averted, despite what the title of the game sounds like. The game is one of the earliest examples of steampunk. Making a role-playing game based on late 19th century science fiction and historical late 19th century was a new idea, not an existing idea put in space. However the adventure Twenty thousand Leagues Through Martian Skies in Challenge 74 is Jules Vernes’ Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea recycled in the Martian atmosphere.
Reed Richards Is Useless quite a few inventions appear in the stories with little or no account of how it would affect the world as large. Often the story ends with the invention and the inventor destroyed. At other times, the trope is averted and the story ends with some suggestions for how the invention will affect the campaign.
Religionof Evil: Cult of the Worm from the core books and Cult of Phobos from Transactions of the Royal Martian Geographical Society 3.
Retro Universe: The complete slogan is: “Role-Playing In A More Civilized Time. Everything Jules Verne should have written. Everything H. G. Wells could have written. Everything A. Conan Doyle thought of, but never published because it was too fantastic.” Thus the game is obviously retro science fiction: a game about science fiction the way science fiction was a hundred years ago. The Space 1889 universe however, is not retro from the perspective of people in that world since it takes place in an alternative year 1889 with 1889-current technology (plus some extra), fashion, politics, ideology etc.
Rock Beats Laser averted. Europeans use their superior technology just as effectively against Martians as against, say black Africans. Martian terrain does not lend itself to effective guerilla warfare nor do the Europeans have much trouble with Martian diseases the way they are subject to tropical diseases on Earth. It is the cost of transport to Mars and the lack of resources needed for European-style warfare (particularly coal or some other burnable fuel for the steam engines and metal for casings) that is slowing European conquest and colonization.
Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The Hill and Canal Martians are taller and thinner than humans, have very different, movable ears and bigger eyes, the entire head is slightly differently shaped and usually longer than a human face. The gait is also different. Apart from that they are quite human-like. As is sometimes the case with Rubber-Forehead Aliens, there are some hints of the existence of a common ancestor in some of the adventures. In some illustrations, such as the ones in Steppelords of Mars, they are quite close to humans to the point were the women might qualify as Green-Skinned Space Babe.
Rule of Cool: the things requiring most suspension of disbelief are also the coolest; dinosaurs on Venus, Victorians in Space, supertough Martians riding on big scary birds, canals of Mars and flying ships. There are rather detailed and reasonably plausible explanations for these, if you accept slightly different natural laws, though. Perhaps the most blatant example of greater need for suspension of belief for extra cool styff is two prototype giant steam robots in the adventure Tom Fleet and his Steam Colossus in Challenge 61.
Ruritania is in Soldier’s Companion with flag, uniforms and military units.
Scary Dogmatic Aliens: You could possibly argue that some canal Martians see humans as this. Some Martians are religious fanatics.
Science Is Bad: clearly inverted. This is a game with about a time where belief in progress is strong.
Science Marches On: an odd version. Frank Chadwick explains flying ships and space travel by making the 19th century ether theory correct in the world of Space 1889. Also, Mars is fairly close to what some, certainly not all, 19th century scientists actually thought. There are no signs of other erroneous scientific theories of the late 19th century, such as élan vitale (life force) or recapitulation theory.
Sea Mine: Canal Priests of Mars have an aerial version.
Selective Enforcement: Victorian society will not enforce laws and rules against high status people unless absolutely necessary.
Selective Obliviousness in Victorian era, good manners requires this to a certain and sometimes great degree. For instances they have an extremely strict nudity taboo and any risk of showing a glimpse of underwear is considered extremely provocative and grossly inappropriate. At the same time admiring nude statues and paintings is somehow not considered sexual at all –but you will be completely ostracized if you are oogling such things in an obviously sexual way. Also an unmarried woman is expected to be completely ignorant about sex.
Servant Race: Mankind has three of them in the far future in the adventure Time Voyager in Challenge 48.
Shoulders of Doom: Many dress or parade uniforms from the Victorian era has epaulettes. For women the gigot sleeve or leg-of-mutton-sleeve was fashionable.
Shouting Shooter mostly averted, this behavior would be considered poor discipline and unprofessional in 1889. The militaries generally treated machine guns as a piece of artillery at that time.
Shown Their Work: Mostly averted. Frank Chadwick is obviously knowledgeable about late Victorian age but is a little bit too professional to feel the need to flaunt it. He sticks to talking about such things that are relevant or at least can serve as inspiration for role-playing in the Victorian age. Also he is not fussy about the exact chronology of late 19th century; steam turbines for ships is mentioned (didn't exist in 1889), Marquess of Queensbury tries to keep his son away from Oscar Wilde (they didn't meet until 1891), Zeppelins fly over Venus (first Zeppelin was in 1900), carbide lamps to be worn on hats and helmets are on the equipement list (wasn't invented until 1892). It's a game about alternate history after all. In Soldier's Companion he gets a lot more exact and accurate, claiming that all units raised on Earth and all biographies of British commanders are historically accurate as far as he has been able to ascertain -with the obvious exception that they historically never left earth.
Single-Biome Planet: A toned-down version. Mars is clearly dominated by deserts but still has poles and irrigated farmland, half-irrigated steppe and even a big swamp where canals broke down. Venus is clearly dominated by jungle and swamp.
Sky Pirate: A bit difficult to pull off without support from some Martian city, so privateer is much more likely than a true pirate. Shaptash employs privateers against the British. The adventure Mission to Shaptash in Challenge 76 is about this.
Slave Liberation: in Red Sands there are adventures about liberating High Martian slaves or creating a rebellion of the player characters are captured.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The characters are clearly expected to be fairly idealistic. Many antagonists are also idealistic in the form of religious fanaticism, patriotism or misguided scientific interest. On a related issue Victorians were typically very opimistic and believed in Progress, having seen quite a bit of it in their own lifetime. To Marsians, however, it is glaringly obvious that their world is in decline -the latest most offensive sign of this being the short-sighted, destroying-the-environment-and-consuming-resources-like-there-is-no-tomorrow, breeding-like-the-wermin-they-are, Red Men coming and trying to boss the martians around and take over their scarce resources.
Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness Victorian age and Victorian literature, in particular Victorian science fiction, which is the basis of the game, often seems rather silly to the modern mind. The game, however, takes itself seriously, there is very little humor. The adventure Canal Priests of Mars has a rather silly person as one of the passengers, but that’s about it. Generally speaking, historical Victorians took themselves seriously.
Society Marches On: An alternate history version: Mankind achieves space travel in 1870 and meets other intelligent species and gets access to material that makes flying ship possible -all other things being the same, including society. The discovery of other intelligent species, for instance have almost no effect on human society and european colonists treat the new planets as new places to explore, trade with and colonize and martians and lizard men as just new form of natives. Player characters are supposed to generally embody Victorian society and values, the players, of course, disagree with much of these. The in-game society is justifiably old-fashioned since it is actually set in an alternative past.
Some Nutty Publicity Stunt: there is no shortage of publicity stunts and hoaxes in late Victorian world. Inverted in that some of the more spectacular events that happen to the player characters leave them without evidence of their extraordinary claims (such as in Beastmen of Mars). People in general will believe the player characters’ story is a hoax or a publicity stunt if they tell a true version of what happened.
Space Elves: the main book explicitly states that Martians pointy ears makes some humans think they resemble elves. There is very little else about them that could be considered “elvish” though.
Space Is an Ocean: Justified. European countries have their regular ocean navies handle the liftwood ships and aether flyers and since liftwood is relatively new to the Europeans their shipbuilders use nomenclature, technologies and techniques from the regular navy.
Space Navy: averted as far as actual space is concerned. Combat in space is impractical. Combat takes place in the air or air-to-ground, not in space. Played straight in that sky ships are handled by the regular navy, space navy is not a separate branch of the armed forces, terminology and technology is very similar to those of the regular navy.
Space Station: The British have Harbringer, a heliograph station in space for sending messages to and from Mars by light signals, described in the adventure “Anarchy in the Ether” from Tales from the Ether.
Spacesuits Are SCUBA Gear: A variant. The analogy diving-suit space suit is there, and justified, because they are based on hard-hat diving suits. Space suits are based on hard-hat diving suits rather than the not-yet-invented SCUBA Gear.
Special Snowflake Syndrome: High Martians are barbaric, filthy, foul-tempered and vicious. Red Sands will allow you to play a reasonably civilized one.
Spartan Way: Taken to Eleven by the Skrill Riders. Their training kills 60% of their male population. Understandably, they are not monogamous.
Special Effect Branding: averted. Martian things resemble human objects with a similar purpose. They can be a little bit more showy, though.
Spice of Life: Bhutan. Not the country. It’s a mildly narcotic Martian spice one of Mars' most important exports. Monopolized in by the Boreo-Syrtan League.
Spinoff: there are quite a few tabletop games based on this universe (such as Sky Galleons of Mars) so they probably count as spinoff of the shared continuity kind.
Spirited Young Lady: the women in the illustrations depicting the PCs seem to be of this type, dressed in a compromise between practical and ladylike, typically with some type of handgun and in a dangerous and dramatic situation where they have presumably willing put themselves.
Stage Magician: in Magical Mystery Tour from Challenge 63 the player characters are supposed to escort and help a stage magician out-magic a warmongering shaman.
Standard Human Spaceship: completely averted flying ships mostly resembles late 19th century ships or, in the Martian case, late 18th century ships.
Standard Sci-Fi History: phase I exploration and colonization of the solar system. In this case, first contact happened very early.
Standard Sci Fi Setting: mostly averted, yes space is ocean-like and Moon men are a bit like the Greys in look if not in behavior and Lizard Men of Venus do look like the classic Reptilians. Also Hill Martian women are a bit like Space Babes in some illustrations, while not one-product planet, Mars and Venus exports are completely dominated by a few products and sky privateers are a bit like space pirates. However, the things absent are more noticeable: no faster than light, no jump portal, no psychic powers, no singularity, no federation humans are nationally divided, no proud warrior race (though Hill Martians have some element of this but probably not more than any realistically depicted nomadic people), robots are few and not human like, no space marines, no space battles and not even a really big war in the sky. Space 1889 is and is intended to be different from the standard science fiction setting.
Standard Time Units: Martians use their own time units, but since the Martian day is 24 hours and 40 minutes conversion is not really necessary. Martian year is close slightly less two earth years making conversion easy.
Stay in the Kitchen: It’s a perfectly normal attitude at the time that women should stay out of dangerous situations. In the illustrations you sometimes see women with weapons but often the men seem to want to put themselves between the danger and the women –as would be expected of them in Victorian society.
Steampunk one of the oldest examples of steampunk, from roughly about the time the term was invented, but before it was spread. That is, unless you are one of those who think that the suffix "-punk" requires the protagonists and the story to be disillusioned and somewhat anti-establishment -like the real punk culture or like the vast majority of the cyberpunk stories. Space 1889 will not fit such a definition. The adventures to Space 1889 generally expect the heroes to stand up for queen and country and for Victorian values against agents from foreign countries, native rebellions, mad scientists, mad cultists and Fenian or Anarchist terrorists.
Steampunk Gadgeteers There are rules for making inventions and plenty of suggestions for such inventions.
Stiff Upper Lip: well, the player characters are probably mostly British heroes and are expected to emulate this behavior. NP Cs also try to live up to this in the adventures.
Storyboarding the Apocalypse sort of. The dying canals are very visible on Mars. However it such slow dying out can be called an apocalypse is an open question. Also it is not part of the Call.
Subspace Ansible: sort of. There is no faster than light communication and radio is barely an experimental idea in 1889. However, thanks to a light system and Harbringer, a space station observatory, light signals can be sent from Earth to Mars and it is much, much faster than travelling from Earth to Mars.
Subspace or Hyperspace completely averted. Space ships use ether to travel fast, but still in perfectly regular space.
Sukhomlinov Effect generally inverted, the Europeans have colorful uniforms and will easily defeat rat-tag enemies.
Super Intelligence: there is an intelligence amplifier in Moon of Madness from Challenge 67.
Survivor Guilt: Averted by botanist Emilie van Warren in the Lurker in the Moor from More Tales from the Ether. She is the sole survivor of an expedition, her father was killed before her eyes and she was taken as a slave. She is very determined to follow through on her father’s work but shows no sign obvious sign of psychological trauma. The text states that this should make the player characters realize that she is very psychologically tough.
Sword Pointing: historically in 1889 most officers had swords as part of their uniform. They mostly used them for pointing while commanding troops, though. In some illustrations you can see precisely that.
Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Mostly averted. This is the age of rifles. Infantry with rifles dominates the land battlefield. Artillery and heavy machine guns are beginning to catch up. Tanks are far in the future but there are tripods as an option in Soldier’s companion. Battleship ironclads dominate the seas, just somewhat threatened by the sea mine and torpedo boat. In the sky, no ship type has clear dominance. The bombing ship, the boarding ship, the long-range gun ship, the short-range gun ship and the ship that tries to be able to do a bit of everything can defeat each other depending on circumstances, no one is rock against scissors.
Technology Uplift: European colonists see it as a duty to share their science and technology and “superior” culture. They can get annoyed then a rival colonial power sells advanced weapons to hostile natives, though.
Terra Deforming: progress-minded Europeans see areas not used for some sort of direct benefit for humans as wasted. In 1889 wilderness conservation is barely in its infancy.
The Greys: the Moon-men look quite a bit like this, their behaviour is different.
The Magic Versus Technology War: happens fairly often that some shaman manages to convince a bunch of natives that their faith or magic will make them invulnerable to the Europeans bullets or something like that. Since this is a world were magic doesn’t work but technology certainly does the result is a curb-stomp-battle.
The Main Characters Do Everything: mostly justified. Most adventures take place far away from human civilization and the player characters find themselves needing to do a bit of everything. Also even in the most advanced, urban, human civilizations people are a lot less specialized and trained in a speciality than they are today. It is not too difficult for an amateur detective to have useful knowledge a professional police investigator does not, to mention a regular beat cop. Furthermore social status is greatly respected and can allow you to push professionals around. If Lord X wants to demonstrate to a professional teacher how teaching should be done, the teacher is very likely to put up with it and keep his groaning silent.
The Man Behind the Curtain: in Beastmen of Mars the players will find out who is behind the horrifying Cult of the Worm. He’s fairly underwhelming, yet not…
The Pig Pen: Nomad Martians have a strict taboo for and punishments against wasting precious water (anything other than Martian, animal or plant consumption or Martian food preparation is wasting).
The Quisling In the human-occupied parts of Mars plenty of Martians try to do the best of the situation and curry favour with the new rulers. Many of their own race will see this as treason.
The Reptilians: Lizard men of Mars. They are not evil or sadistic though.
The Roleplayer: the game´s intended audience is people who like to play an adventure type story while playing a Victorian character. The very simple rules do not leave much room for min-maxing or munchkining. A munchkin player with a repeating rifle and a good marksmanship skill could kill the technologically inferior enemies easily, but once the enemy is in range there is very little that will protect him from enemy musketballs and arrows (no dodge skill, no camouflage, no bullet stopping armor unless we are talking about close combat). On the other hand, the detailed background put much emphasis on understanding Victorian society and mindset.
The Social Darwinist: absent in the Space 1889 adventures, despite the fact that it was historically quite present and mainstream in 1889.
The War on Terror Alert level yellow: It turns up in a few plots. A few plots, such as “Anarchy in the Ether” from Tales from the Ether, are about the struggle against 19th century terrorists, mostly anarchists and Fenians. Late 19th century is sometimes considered the birth of revolutionary terrorism. Some of its theories and ideologies come from this time: such as Bakunin’s ideas about “propaganda of the deed”. So it is sort of a prequel to the modern war on terrorism.
They Call Me Mister Tibbs: in the Victorian age, addressing people correctly not being overly familiar (and in rare cases being too formal) are very grave errors that can result in public shame, social ostracism or a duel.
Those Magnificent Flying Machines averted. Liftwood ships do not have wings, balloons or more than one propeller. They look and to a large extent function like ships. (Though the novel “A Prince of Mars” by Frank Chadwick describes the liftwood ships as less similar to regular ships than the role-playing game.) Even the early attempts at flight that historically looked like this are unlikely to occur in Space 1889 since liftwood has allowed practical flying ships. In the core book, however, there is a list of inventions that the player characters can make including flying machines. Many of them have illustrations that looks a lot like this.
Thousand-Yard Stare: there are a few pictures in the main book show shipwrecked people who have are going through an arduous wilderness journey. Some of these have a person looking at the reader with this stare.
Tidally Locked Planet: Mercury is tidally locked in the game giving rise to remarkable features and strange life-forms. A Challenge adventure adds that it is "nodding" a little, though.
Time Dilation: unusual for science fiction, this is not an issue with the relatively slow space travel in Space 1889. Also, it is an open question if Einsteinian relativity actually works in a world with Ether.
Time Travel: There is H G Wells’ style time travel to the far future in the adventure Time Voyager in Challenge 48.
Token Heroic Orc: Red Sands allow you to play a High Martian who is not brutal, filthy and bestial.
Toplessness from the Back: There is an illustration like that from Beastmen of Mars showing male and female player characters stripped to the waist to be sacrificed -they survive.
To Serve Man: strangely averted. Cannibalism was fairly common in adventure stories from this time period (the game is based on those) but it is absent from the game. Even aliens portrayed as barbaric (such as High Martians) will use humans as slaves or ransom them, not as food.
Treacherous Quest Giver: a few times in Red Sands in To Rescue a Lady Fair in Challenge 67 the questgiver doesn’t turn on the player characters but badly misleads them as to the nature of their quest –probably making them wanted men in the process.
Tripod Terror assumed to already exist in Soldier’s companion. It is also mentioned as an invention the player characters can make in the main book.
Turned Against Their Masters: some of the servitor races in the far future in the adventure Time Voyager in Challenge 48 have developed their own opinion about things but are not yet in open warfare against the high humans.
Villain Ball: the bad guy in Ausonian Stalker from Tales from the Ether can’t resist waiting until his prisoners regain consciousness to taunt them and start experimenting on them. He could easily have killed them or done the experiment while they were still unconscious.
Villain Has a Point surprisingly almost completely absent. Anarchists’ legitimate anger against the establishment is at best mentioned in passing. So is ground cleansers justified anger at human behavior on Mars. The description of the Fenians does contain a get a bit of the history of oppression of Catholics on Ireland. In the adventures, all these groups are just destructive terrorists though. The reasonably democratic government of Shaptash is the only player character antagonist that is sometimes described as somewhat sympathetic. In the adventure Steppelords of Mars, though, they are just enemy cavalry, bent on genocide against the nomads.
We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: justified. Photoshop is not yet invented and photo retouching, while popular, is comparatively primitive, usually fairly easy to see through. So generally photography counts as fairly strong evidence, which is often important for the player characters to show that they have really seen and done the things they claim.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In science fiction in general, first contact with another intelligent species is a really big deal giving rise to important questions about the nature of humanity. A lot less so in Space 1889. The colonial powers have treated Mars as another area to trade with and colonize and Martians as another type of native. Humans consider the human-like Canal and Hill Martians to have value near or just like a human. By trying to convert them to Christianity, for instance, they indirectly admit that Martians have souls and need salvation. This reaction is actually perfectly logical. To the average fairly racist late Victorian European mind it is a small concession to admit that someoone has a soul and a value near human. There are, after all, plenty of next-to-worthless humans (in their racist minds). Recognizing Martians as equal to white Europeans would be a completely different matter.
While Rome Burns: humans accuse Canal Martian leaders of plotting, warring and indulging in decadent behavior and strange religion while the canals are slowly deteriorating, dooming most life on the planet.
White Man's Burden: most white people believe in this (though Kipling's poem hasn't been published yet in 1889).
Who Wants to Live Forever?: There is a fairly clever version which is a plot point in Beastmen of Mars. A precursor society discovered a medical treatment that gave them something very close to complete immortality. As long as they are in a place that can sustain life they live, regenerating any injuries and suspended animation when the necessities for life is abscent and regeneration from suspended animation to regular form as soon as the necessities for life is present again. Only complete destruction of the body can kill them irrevocably. Paradoxically this made them terrified of and obsessed with death. A mortal fears sickness, an immortal fears the enthropy death of the universe. They also lacked memories to handle vast amount of time. Paradoxically immortality drew them to suicide by completely destroying their bodies. The only being capable of psychologically handling immortality is one person who is whimsy and forgetful to the point of being hopelessly insane.
Widow's Weeds: Victorian women are expected to take mourning rules seriously. According to a the adventure A Journey to Oblivion in Challenge 38 Canal Martians have picked up the human custom of women wearing veils while mourning.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: the expected attitude of a Victorian male, though at least in Canal Priest of Mars the player characters are very likely to end up having to kill a Martian female in self-defence.
Young Future Famous People: Surprisingly completely absent -unless you count the Marquis of Queensbury and his son Bosie. When they appear in “Canal Priests of Mars” they are already fairly known but they have yet to create the great scandal with Oscar Wilde which they are most famous for.
You Rebel Scum!: in a Challenge adventure an Arab leader who captured the player characters calls them infidels.