Every Book’s a Sourcebook: Worlds of the Imperium

Recently I was reading a blog by the name ‘Blog of Holding’ and read this post. In summary he thinks that every book has roleplaying ideas in it, just waiting to be unlocked. I think this is an excellent idea, so I am going to go over some of the books I have done this summer. As a warning each one of these posts will have spoilers in it, though I will try not to give away too much.First up: Worlds of the Imperium by Keith Laumer. While better known for his Retief and Bolo series of book he also published others. Worlds of the Imperium is set in a continuum of universes, and in one of these universes scientists have discovered how to travel to the others.

There are only 3 universes with humans in it yet discovered. In all others we either never evolved, died out early on, or have annihilated ourselves. Our universe which has both avoided annihilating ourselves in a nuclear war, and not discovered dimensional travel. The Imperium which had dimensional travel and never discovered nuclear weapons and a world that underwent a nuclear war but managed to survive.

This gives some obvious roleplay ideas. Now of course you could have a world hopping campaign. This has been done both by GURPS Infinite Worlds and Alternity’s Tangents. In fact I suspect that the GURPS Infinite Worlds setting was inspired by this book due to its similar concept and the fact we know someone at SJ Games is a Keith Laumer fan (As I understand it Ogre was almost a Bolo license).

However imagine you are in a world where someone is about to build a dimensional travel device. The ability to find empty worlds and mine them for resources is a mighty one: You wouldn’t have to go looking for oil, you could just sail to somewhere that you have tapped out in this world and start drilling. Have troubles with garbage? Put it on a world humans never evolved. This would create a rush among governments and corporations to get their hands on the technology. Now add in the fact that in the book most universes ‘near’ to the Imperium were totally destroyed by early experiments with dimension traveling technology and you have the makings of a nice technothriller.

Other ideas:

  • A Criminal has fled to an uninhabited world, the heroes must bring him back…alive.
  • You must go back and retrieve an animal that is extinct in our world. However they are not sending you to get a dodo or Tasmanian tiger. No, they are sending you to bring back a live descendant of the Tyrannosaurus Rex!
  • Open warfare has erupted in one of the empty worlds between radical environmentalists and a corporation strip-mining several resources. Do the heroes side with the environmentalists and stop the corporation from despoiling a pristine world? Or are they merely a group of terrorists, harming innocent workers with their vicious attacks? Can the heroes negotiate a middle ground were the corporation agrees to use less destructive mining?

Well, that is the first post in this series. I have a few more books here including Glenn Cook’s Sweet Silver Blues and a stack of Keith Laumer books. I’ll see you soon, until then Stay Geeky.


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