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Monday Mashup #31: Lensman

I promised the Lensman series, and thus the Lensman series will be mashed. Onwards, stalwart companions!

If you haven’t read the Lensman books, you should. They are a fundamental part of science fiction history; get past the sexism and you’ll find a surprisingly liberal — even radical — set of ideals. Particularly in Children of the Lens. You’ll also find big explosions, and everyone likes big explosions.

My Lensman campaign involves pirates. For the sake of argument, we’ll make the system Green Ronin’s Skull & Bones, which is certainly good enough for my purposes, although the particularly perverse may prefer Furry Pirates. It doesn’t much matter, as long as we’ve got the Caribbean.

And where there’s a Caribbean, there’re pirate utopias. They never existed the way Hakim Bey imagines them, but I say his vision is powerful enough for me. Imagine a powerful band of freebooters, free from all government oppression, battling the insidious drug-addicted totalitarian privateers sailing under oppressive government letters of marque.

In the shadowy distance stand twin figures, one belonging heart and soul to freedom and one sworn to the cause of tyranny. The second is Metternich — historical accuracy vanished about two paragraphs ago, thank you very much, so we can slip the pirate heyday a little later than it actually occured — and the first is Thomas Paine. Without revealing their involvement, they battle each other across the world, but the Caribbean is the nexus of their struggle.

Metternich works through the crowned heads of Europe, and the aforementioned privateers. His terrible drugs are the tools he uses to sap the natural impulse towards freedom that all men and women possess. Paine has only the free pirates as allies, albeit most of them do not yet know it — for he will not bind men to him unwillingly. Rather, his genius is in providing opportunities for good men and women to reach their apotheosis.

The free pirate port of Hispaniola is home to the crew of the most notable pirate ships, including the one crewed and captained by the player characters. Those who Paine observes and deems the most trustworthy — the Codemen — are given a tool by which they may safely identify themselves and communicate with other like-minded anarchistic pirates: a cipher devised by the good James Lovell, American cryptographer during the Revolutionary War. By clever use of the cipher (public key, of course), a Codeman may prove his identity beyond the shadow of a doubt, and leave messages for other Codemen in a pattern of knots or artfully arranged lanterns.

For liberty! for freedom! and for rum!


  1. Cool. I have been reading Theodore Sturgeon’s To Marry the Medusa. Good stuff. I will give your suggestion a try.


    To me, this is a perfect match for Over The Edge. It provides direction and goals for a game that otherwise lacks them, tho you sacrifice some of that juicy moral ambiguity. And there’s certainly plenty of anti-freedom forces in Al Amarja to fight.

  3. Game: HER0 5th Ed. Setting: 1970s. Concept: Something Scooby This Way Comes.

    Instead of Galactic Patrol, we have a bunch of college kids and their dog who find themselves cast as Earth’s Last Line of Defense against a growing supernatural threat. At first they’re facing Mean Old Mr Jenkins, but soon Ghosts, Vampires & Werewolves abound.


  4. Man, I couldn’t finish the Lensman books. It’s hard to fall in love with the liberal ideas of a series that makes you feel like a second class citizen.

    Now that I’ve bitched, I know I owe you ideas. I’ll try to send something later this week with a few things.

  5. No worries. It doesn’t get seriously weird and radical until the sixth book, and even then I wouldn’t say it’s not sexist. It’s just weird and sexist.

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