Stars of Empire Second Edition Kickstarter is LIVE!

Since the end of Black Pigeon Press the RPG core rule book has been in limbo. We want to bring it back into the limelight! We also want to publish the Land Vehicles book. We intend upon doing both with a single Kickstarter Campaign.


Arun and I, and many other fine, talented folks, have been hard at work on a new game engine, additional source material and over 100 vehicle designs for the HQC Universe.

So why a Second Edition?

The first edition of Stars of Empire was published by Black Pigeon Press and used their Hacktastic game engine. Unfortunately Black Pigeon Press has closed its doors. Instead of letting the Hive, Queen and Country Universe just die I formed Aerolyth Enterprises LLC and began self publishing. I wanted to circle back and do a second edition of the core RPG rules.
How will the Second Edition be different?
The original edition was 8 by 10 inches and had 286 pages. The new edition will run to 350 pages and be 8.5 by 11 inches. The original was black and white one column per page while the new edition will be in full color with two columns (easing readability considerably). The new game engine is optimized for Victorian adventure and is highly streamlined to speed play and allow for more storytelling. A new and much simpler template for creatures will be provided that allows a referee to easily manage them during game play.
The extra page count will allow us to detail the cultures of this universe in greater depth. A large amount of new material will assist referees in developing their own versions of the worlds we designed. We are including additional artists that will help players and referees visualize the characters, cultures and creatures with which they can interact.
What will your money help us with?
Your funds will help us purchase artwork and editorial services. For stretch goals we will be looking at bringing out the Ground Fighting Machines book in rapid succession. The designs for it are all nearly completed.
How we are Different!The Hive, Queen and Country Universe is a hard Science-Science Fiction setting. First published in 2010 the background has been researched and discussed for over a decade. The detailed Universe has been created by a community of Role Playing and Miniatures Gamers, historians, scientists, engineers, lawyers, rogues, vagabonds, and heroes, Hive, Queen and Country has unprecedented depth and scope, with the flexibility to allow you to set pretty much any sort of campaign your game master and players desire. We present a detailed and fully realized game universe: Steampunk with an emphasis on the Steam-not the punk!

Arun’s work on the Land battleship

Arun and I have been hard at work on the Land Battleship. OK gave him a sketch, he worked it into a great set of detail drawings and this wonderful rendering!

This will be one of the dead end technologies of the HQC Universe.

The Land Battleship in all its glory

The Land Battleship in all its glory


Technical drawing of the land battleship

Technical drawing of the land battleship

Vehicle Height 8.6m
Vehicle Body Width9.2m
Vehicle Body Length46.9m (2 articulated segments)
Vehicle Weelbase (Length)51.192m
Vehicle Wheel Track9.172m
Wheel/Track Width1.97m
Vehicle Clearance1.07m
Vehicle Mass1754628kg
Vehicle Height (w/o turrets)5.76m
Vehicle CoG2.57m (total) / 3.02m (sprung)
Critical Tipping angle 61°
Ground Pressure 85kPa (83% of an M1 Tank)
Top2.54cm Steel
Bottom2.54cm Steel
Front11.43cm Steel
Back2.54cm Steel
Inter-segment2.54cm Steel
Left11.43cm Steel
Right11.43cm Steel
SuspensionLightly Damped Macpherson/Christie
Engine 7.6MW Electrical Motor
Power Source 9.5MW Turbine
TransmissionDirect Drive
Crew231 working + 160 carried
Reliability102 km/F
EquipmentWatertight Hull,,Tread Skirts,Toolbox,Commodore’s Flag Bridge
Nav & Sensor1 Aldis Lamp,1 CRF (4m),1 Plotting Board MkII,2 452km Radio
Cargo15147.73kg 30.3m^3
Weapons4 Colt Machine Gun (Coaxial), 16 Colt Machine Gun (Sponson), 16 Colt Machine Gun (bottom), 4 Rapid Fire Gun, 6-pounder, 10 5-inch BL Siege Rifle,
Max Speed
Asphalt , dry6.93m/s 24.95km/hr 15.49mi/hr
Asphalt, wet6.93m/s 24.95km/hr 15.49mi/hr
Dry Sand2.18m/s 7.85km/hr 4.87mi/hr
Clayey Soil2.18m/s 7.85km/hr 4.87mi/hr
Sandy Loam2.18m/s 7.85km/hr 4.87mi/hr
Snow2.15m/s 7.74km/hr 4.81mi/hr
Water Impassable
They were ordered by the czar for use in the steppes of the empire. He wanted to foreign source them to keep there details away from the  zucks. When the hive war broke out the US government was desperate for anything that could be used, so it confiscated the four of these being built.
The new names for them will be for presidents who had been generals
The command center was a Russian requirement but was not used by the us army. That space would be repurposed for something else.
Bottom turrets (Quad MGs) are retractable.

Help Design a huge City

We are fleshing out the vast and intricate details of HQC’s International City on Venus. It is being built between 1895 and 1910, but the design will be generally fleshed out before the first foundations are laid.

The maps of the city-one a street map and the other a basic topographical map, that also shows the location of the fortresses guarding Earth’s Outpost on Venus can be found on my Deviant Art Page
There is also a discussion about the city on The Miniatures Page-http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=372907
So I put it to the wise, knowledgeable and intelligent members of these various lists: What buildings, features, utilities and other things should adorn this city which has been specifically planned, designed and built to inspire, overawe and represent the very best that the Great Powers of earth have to offer at the end of the 19th Century?
What specific buildings? What specific engineers or architects? In the great park areas what amusements should be present? If the Emperor of France Napoleon IV should visit what amenities will he find in his palace? Which sculptors should be awarded commissions for statuary to grace the broad avenues?
If you wish to help out, if you have ideas please contact me through the Deviant Art page, the TMP page or sign up for the Yahoo! Group https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Hivequeen/info

Gaming at DragonCon 2014

I ran a large Hive and the Flame scenario at DragonCon this year. Last year I could only bring as much stuff as would get on an airplane. This year we drove down and had all the game that would fit into a Ford Ranger with a small camper shell!


DragonCon is not known to be a Gamer’s convention but I think it is far more gamer friendly than its reputation would indicate. They had a large amount of space in the Hilton. Although the space is in the basement it is well lit and the A/C down there works great! There is also a small food cart in the gaming area which makes getting a bite very convenient. The space is also on the same floor as the loading dock, which made getting all my figs and terrain in a fairly easy chore.

I had intended upon doing the large floor layout I had done at origins and DieCon but with all the traffic at Dragoncon decided it would be safer for the figures not to be on the floor overnight, so I did a large table game instead. I put out a lot of the terrain I had used before, Blue Moon’s Alamo as a ruined Colombian Mission and Monday Knight’s French farmhouse as a Hacienda, as well as a small village. Roads were from Hallowed Ground and rivers from Armorcast. Trees were Adventure Terrain’s.

A lot of the alien figs are from Rosa, which is 3D printing bugs from Rachael Mayo’s original artwork. Others were Scott Flower’s molds which I hand cast from during the winter months. Also there are bug figures from Ral Partha, Khurasan and several other makers. Human troops include TVAG, kit bashes, Arun’s Objects May Appear Shapeways store and Old Glory 15mm minis.

We started gaming after the parade finished on Saturday and ended about 6 PM Sunday so we played a total of around 12 hours in two days. The smaller table and its denser terrain layout favored the defense so I beefed up the Bug forces somewhat. I also tried to ensure that as random reinforcements came on they were balanced out by some extra help to the other side (I only did this once, when the humans got a number of air units on a single turn)

The Bugs rolled forward and were able to get into the refugee stream fairly quickly and the road became an unpaved linear slaughterhouse. Every turn the bug player kept advancing forward and overran more of the poor helpless civilians. The human player was never able to get a unit powerful enough to stop them. They had enough trouble just slowing down the main advance. As has they have proven in the past the Amazonian native workers provided far more staunch opposition then their stats would indicate. The Colombian Presidential Lancers were wiped out early on by a unit of flying lancers. As is also the case the bug flying lancer units troublesome to the human players, moving fast and attacking in unexpected directions. Those and the Supra Major shooters are consistently some of the most dangerous of all Hivemembers.

For their part the humans made great use of their ornithopters and then their more powerful armored aerial gunboats. The first of the bigger ships that came onto the table was used to prevent a unit of flying lancers from swarming the battery of Colombian Krupp guns. It was boarded by the aliens and although it wiped out that unit and preserved the artillery it was almost knocked out (It lost 19 of its twenty hits, and it came down to the last die roll with a single flying lancer and the ship having a single hit left).

The hacienda (Casa del Linegen-Defended by 15mm Elanor Parker and Charelton Heston from Blue Moon) stood up to the alien attack until the final turn on Sunday, when Heston was mortally wounded after defeating numerous giant bugs as they overran his position. His dying action was to ignite the remaining powder charges for his cannon blowing many of the “Damned Dirty Bugs” into oblivion!

When it came time to call the game the Bugs were advancing and eating refugees but the human line had not been broken, even though they had lost more than half their ornithopters, one of their big flyers was crippled and several ground units had been wiped out. It was too close to call, so by referee fiat and with player concurrence it was deemed a draw.

In all I had a couple of dozen players over the two days and everyone seemed to have a very good time!

A Great Bookstore in Atlanta-Atlanta Vintage Books


I love used books and I also really like cats; Atlanta Vintage Books has both! This is a used book store like used book stores should be. It is somewhat chaotic and only organized into fairly broad categories. That being said this store has an amazing selection and very reasonable pricing on most items. My wife and I spend the better part of an hour and half there and if hunger had not driven us to seek lunch might well still be there. Their military history section was huge and stocked with some nice classics as well as some very pleasant surprises. They had a large number of Squadron Signal books as well as several other series. They had really nice sections on civil aviation and maritime topics as well. Their railroad selection was good and they also have a large number of books on The West.

They have a number of friendly cats who roam the store staring at customers and looking longingly out the window at sidewalk pigeons. In addition to the feline staff the store has a very friendly humans as well. It was great to deal with the three people we met. They all love books and enjoy not only selling them but also discussing them. They know their business and have a pretty good idea what is on their shelves, but again a sharp eye can spot some exciting surprises!

This is one of the best bookstores I have had the joy to shop at in some time. It is probably in the top five used book stores I’ve ever been in. This store could hold its own with almost any shop in Hay-on-Wye and that is about the best praise I can lavish on a bookstore! If you are in Atlanta this is a must see stop for any bibliophile.


I went to Gencon for an hour

So I pack everything up Wednesday night and go grab a meal at a local fast food place. I get up early Thursday, stop and top off the tank, get a coffee and a cinnamon roll.

I drive nonstop the four hours from St Peters to Indy and find a parking spot. I’m feeling a bit queasy but put it down to the drive. I head to the restroom and am suddenly very very ill. Hoping this is one of those that hits very quickly and once you get rid of it you get well pretty quickly I drag myself over to the convention center. The nice people in Game Master Badging took mercy on me and cancelled my game for that day, got my badge from Will Call and helped me to first aid. First aid let me hang out for a bit and I tried to get back to the truck and to the hotel. No such luck. I didn’t even make it out of the convention center. I was sitting on a bench and decided laying on the floor would be better. Some nice people that I didn’t see because I was face down got the first aid folks again and a very nice female doctor, who might have been dressed like an elf (I think she had a gold leaf pattern hair band) assisted till they got there. Shawn P from Archon offered to call my wife back home but I had done that already, before I left first aid (THANKS man!). I was rolled back to first aid and laid down while folks tried to figure out what to do with me. While at first I was given evidence that this was not a get sick once and feel better illness as I was very very sick again. After a very brief discussion I consented to an ambulance. They arrived in due course and gave me some lovely anti nausea medicine. Methodist ED was very busy and I was parked in the hallway where the anti nausea medicine wore off with predictable results. I apparently had really irritated the spirits of Indianapolis because I was in the noisiest place in the hospital. Even for an ED there was a LOT of screaming. There was a child who screaming, there was also a women who was noncompliant with her meds and was in extreme pain for a really long time. I spend 11 hours there, and got three units of fluids and more of the lovely anti nausea medicine. My wife and our very good friend Mike arranged to come up and rescue me and the truck, which being stick was a bit on an issue. They finally got me about 1:00 AM Friday morning and we got a couple of hotel rooms half an hour away to get enough rest to drive home safely.


Since I am an EMT and have done first aid and safety at conventions and ren faires for many years it was really different to be on the other side of treatment. The first aid folks did a great job as did the ambulance crew and the ED staff. I really wish to thank the doctor that offered to treat my sorry looking mess I had become on the floor of the convention center. I’ve been that person before and it was nice to have someone come to my aid. If anyone knows who that was please let me know so I can say thanks.



The drafts of the Second Edition Stars of Empire Characters sheets are now available. These are drafts. We will continue to play with the data positioning. We also hope to add more graphics.


Stars of Empire Character sheet

Stars Character Back sheet


We will be using these this version of the sheets at Gencon next weekend!

Aerolyth Enterprises is sponsoring a writing contest!

Aerolyth Enterprises has not run a contest in a long time–So let’s start one right now!


And let’s do three separate categories really making it three contests!


The basic idea is design a “hangout” for Stars of Empire spacers or air crews during the period of 1890 to around 1910. One will be for aircrews on either Earth or Venus. The second will be for a spacer hangout on the ground of Earth or Venus and the third such a hangout on an orbital base or Luna or some other low gravity setting.


The setting can be for officers or enlisted crews or both. It can be military or civilian for air crews but civilian only for spacers (there aren’t really any military spacecraft in HQC yet)


The setting should include the owners and other important NPCs, what the interior looks like, the architecture, bill of fare, a list of other patrons, some basic traditions of the place (An example of this is that The Happy Bottom Riding Club only hung up photos of dead test pilots). Any drawings of the layout would be very welcome, as well as any artwork that shows the interior-if that artwork is available for publication (such as out of copyright photos and such) that would be great


So for prizes?


Everyone that completes a full entry gets a free .PDF of the Second Edition Stars of Empire rules when they are finished, as well the Air Machines 1900 book also in .PDF


Third place in each category gets a free hardcopy of the new Stars of Empire Second Edition book.


Second place in each category will see their setting included in HQC canon. The entry will be included as an official location in the game universe and all their NPCs will be provided with full stats in second edition Stars of Empire.


First Prize for each category: I will write an adventure tagged for the location, introducing additional NPCS and a full adventure (which should play out over at least eight hours for four to eight players, with full Game Master notes and materials


I think I would like to do a GRAND PRIZE but am not certain what the award would be. I am open to suggestions on that. I would be happy to run an adventure set in your locale for your gaming group if it isn’t too far to drive Let us say a place I can get up in the morning, drive there, run an eight hour game and return home without killing myself. If the winner would pony up a nice place to stay (one which in no way resembles a scene from Psycho, Misery, or, any film with the words: Camp, Friday, Saw (including “chainsaw”), Hostel, Elm, Night, Nightmare I would be willing to drive around eight hours, game for eight hours the next day and then drive home the following day (see I’m willing to give up a long weekend!)


My wife has also offered to do a watercolor of all of the first place winners. You get the un-matted original and we keep all the rights to the artwork (just scroll down to see some of her great work!)


The following film settings might provide some inspiration: Rick’s American Cafe from Casablanca, The Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars or The Happy Bottom Riding Club from The Right Stuff, the Bulldog Cafe from The Rocketeer and show a fraction of the types of establishments that might work for this contest. The traditional gentlemen’s club, as shown in the David Niven version of Around the World in 80 days is also a potential. On the other end of the spectrum from that would be a frontier trading post.


So to answer one question that many people might be asking: “If I don’t play Stars of Empire or any other games set in the Hive, Queen and Country Universe how can I write a decent entry”? I’ll make that a bit easier. If you send me a short description of your idea I will send you a copy of the .PDF of Stars of Empire first edition.




That should give you a pretty decent idea of the setting (since very little of that will change with the rewrite of the game engine). You will also receive an invitation to the very very active Hive, Queen and Country Yahoo! Group. The extensive archives will also give you a lot more background and you will be able to interact with the rest of the HQC community. In fact I will make it even easier than that; you can write a “generic” Steampunk/Victorian Science Fiction setting. Since many published and unpublished settings include very large flying machines that operate on some sort of anti-gravity lift technology and have boost to orbit transports, as well as orbital stations and interplanetary commercial travel. The setting can be painted with broad enough strokes to fit a lot of similar universes, and if the creator wants to produce an entry along those lines that would be perfect as well. How is that for easy?


So what does the entry need to include? How long should it be? What formats will be accepted?


Please submit as a .txt, .rtf, .doc or .docx file. The file should be 2000 to 5000 words. Illustrations may be included. If they are free of copyright or the copyright belongs to you and you wish to see them included with any Include a location of the establishment, a brief history and a general description of the place, its atmosphere and clientele.

At least five NPC employees

At least five NPC patrons

Basic Bill of Fare

Sketch floor plan

Our rights to any documents submitted:

We will have the right to publish the material in conventional or electronic format for use with Stars of Empire and Hive, Queen and Country. We may republish the material at any time for a period of ten years. This period may be extended by agreement of both parties.

During this period the author may use the original work in any way they choose except they may make no claim to any other aspects of Stars of Empire or Hive Queen and Country. They may republish or reuse any or all of their work in any other fashion so long as it doesn’t prevent our use as stated above.


Judging will be by a secret cabal of mysterious cloaked figures! We do reserve the right to issue no awards in any and all categories if there are no entrants that meet our requirements.

Submissions must be in by November 1st 2014 and winners will be announced on January 1st 2015.

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have.


Terry Sofian