Review: Rogue Games – Transmissions from Piper

Product Name: Transmissions from Piper
Publisher: Rogue Games
Author: H. Beam Piper, John Appel, Vaclav G. Ujcik, Greg Videll
System: 12°
Setting: Thousand Suns
Theme: Space Opera, Social Sci-Fi
Type: Supplement

At its most basic, Transmissions from Piper is a sourcebook for Thousand Suns bringing new races, planets, skills, weapons and various other bits and pieces into the system. Considering its content, Transmission from Piper is a collection of three short stories written by H. Beam Piper in the 1950’s and appended with mechanics that translate each story into gaming terminology and in-game effects. While the content strips the mechanics from the short stories, the stories themselves also present the GM with an adventure or campaign framework.

These stories have a very Imperial Sci-Fi feel (as coined by Rogue Games when describing Thousand Suns) with the premises that humanity has reached other planets and spends time exploring and dealing with common day-to-day activities rather than massive combat against threatening races. These stories have multiple purposes and present the GM with a multitude of new options for running new games or expanding their current one.


Naudsonce is a short story about inter-galactic growth in an Imperial type society. A group of explorers is formed through various individuals from social and technological sciences along with space and ground units to support them. This group is requisitioned to explore new planets and attempt to establish a new colony. The story brings this expeditionary group into contact with a humanoid alien race with a number of differences between themselves and the humans. The Naudsonce goes on to describe the challenges faced by the expeditionary group from basic communication to establishing trust between themselves and the new race. The story itself reflects a Social Sci-Fi storyline with adventure seeds that can be used to create a Space Opera adventure or campaign.

The Thousand Suns mechanics for Naudsonce are quite vast. This includes a detailed look at the new race introduced in the story along with a detailed look at their planet, society, creating characters, and bestiary. The rest of the mechanics focus on the contact between the alien race and the Terran-humans including adventure seeds, spacecraft, equipment, and complete NPC listings for the majority of the landing party.


Last Enemy is a peculiar look at science fiction writing. The basic premises is that on Earth, there are parallel realities all residing within the same areas. While most realities (referred to as levels) are not aware of the others, there are certain people that can travel between the different levels along with a policing force at the lowest level. This is just the start. One of the levels is an alien race that has moved past the basics of life and death and have come to fully understand reincarnation. There are certain groups within this race that have found ways to manipulate this reincarnation in a way that allows one to travel from one level of society to another (not realities but society levels). Those who are a part have disappeared leading to a fantastic Space Opera adventure.

The mechanics for Last Enemy attempt to add substance to these alternate realities by describing them and how they interact together. Add to this the mechanics for this alien race, their society, organizations and mechanics for discarnation (the process of suicide for the purpose of reincarnation) and reincarnation. To add to the Space Opera feel, an assassin organization (also used as a bodyguard service) is brought into Thousand Suns along with using it as a career path and their associated weapons.


Ministry of Distrubance is a truly political look at life in an Imperial-type society, in a sort of convoluted way. But this is done purposefully, demonstrating how complicated a government could be when society gets so big (inter-galactic). The story is very Social in nature and brings about a political struggle but is mainly a story that develops the characters and focuses little on things outside of these characters.

The mechanics for Ministry of Disturbance are wonderful bringing three new worlds to the GMs tool-kit and a group of ministries that can be involved within any convoluted government structure. The main characters are described in a very detailed manner as fully-stated NPCs (lots of NPCs).


The stories are a good read, especially for an author many may have never heard of. However, the way the stories are transformed into game terms is seamless and really add a new way of looking at sci-fi fiction and how to interpret it into game terms. One thing Transmissions from Piper does so well is it demonstrates the key pieces of information to extract from the fiction and how to turn that into mechanics and in-game effects. Not only does this seemingly simple sourcebook provide a great amount of content and new mechanics, it also acts as a tool-kit (or rather guideline) for how a GM can perform this type of activity to add flavor and depth to their own campaigns by using the fiction they know and love the most.


Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Rogue Games did a great job of choosing the short stories to use for incorporating new mechanics into Thousand Suns. Not only do these stories offer great source material but they have the “look and feel” that Thousand Suns portrays. The layout and presentation is good, but there’s a fair amount of white space and a background image that is a little on the dark side (making reading a bit tricky at times). I would like to see more illustrations, especially their interpretation on the new bestiary. Transmissions from Piper does include some great planetary maps showing the different planets that are part of the story (and part of the grander storyline).

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
The new mechanics are phenomenal. Not only do they add a lot of value to the game system, but they demonstrate how a GM can go about extracting in-game mechanics and effects from a piece of fictional writing (this method can easily be applied to movies and TV shows as well). These new mechanics cover a lot of ground from new races and planets to weapons, vehicles and NPCs. Transmissions from Piper is truly a 360-degree look at how these short stories translate into game terms as opposed to simply adding one or two pieces of source material.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
Transmissions from Piper is a great value-add to Thousand Suns in many different ways. The stories themselves contain so much information that they add an inherent amount of value simply due to their storyline, but adding as many mechanics that have been added creates an entirely new level of value with this complete look (which includes all the already noted points of information). A secondary “value add” is the way the story is translated into game mechanics creating a sort of tool-kit for GMs to use for translating other fictional publications.

Overall: 9 out of 10
While I’m not a huge fan on the style of writing in these short stories as they mainly consist of dialog with very little description of the surrounding environments, I truly found them to be how I would expect a game of Thousand Suns to play like. Not only do these stories carry the same theme as Thousand Suns, but they almost read like an actual play transcript covering several game sessions. Add to that the fantastic mechanics that are brought into the system and you are presented with one fantastic sourcebook. Transmissions from Piper is a great addition to any GMs library.

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