YMMV: Space 1889

  • Audience-Alienating Premise: It is easy to imagine that Victorian science fiction seemed a bit silly (it isn’t, though) for the average science fiction role-player in 1988. Now genre-busting role-playing and steampunk has built up steam. Also, this was a relatively idealistic take on Victorian adventure stories in a time when the general trend was that heroes and stories got darker and grittier.
  • Critical Research Failure: Uncharacteristic for a GDW game and Frank Chadwick, there is a relatively basic one. Contrary to what it says in the main book about possible inventions, monoatomic hydrogen gas would not increase lift by 50% (the effect is more like 4%).
  • Default Setting Syndrome: The vast majority of adventures are set on Mars.
  • Only the Author Can Save Them Now: In Beastmen of Mars, the player characters are captured by an ancient powerful being and they have no idea how to get out at first. Fortunately the ancient is not going to kill them until he is bored with them, giving them time to find a risky way to get out if things get desperate. When he is no longer interested in the player characters and decides to kill them, he will warn them in advance and be surprised when they flee in the spaceship he left unlocked. (Well, the guy is nuts and very absent-minded.) Sure sounds like a dumb deus ex machina though.
  • 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, though 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.
  • Values Dissonance: If you're playing a human in this game, you're almost certainly playing a colonialist, with all the racism, land-theft, and culture-smashing that entails. The game makes neither denials of nor apologies for this; however, the adventures do not particularly emphasize those parts.