Today, The Handbook of Heroes blasts off into uncharted territory! Strap in and enjoy the ride as we set forth to explore that strange new world: Sponsored Content! These next couple of comics are all brought to you by Hypertelluriansa science fantasy RPG set in the future of old.

I’ll be honest with you guys: I love the crap out of this genre. It’s like A Trip to the Moon mashed up with The Barbarians with a sprinkling of Zelazny’s Amber on top. We’re talking gleaming silver rocket ships, space princesses, sword and sandals heroics, and I’m very much here for it.

Now that said, there is a bit of an issue when you sit down to play a science fantasy game. Mostly it has to do with shutting down that part of your brain that wears a lab coat, carries a clipboard, and shouts, “That’s not how it works!” whenever you’re trying to have fun.

You see, part of the charm of reading A Princess of Mars all these years later lies in its ability to produce wonder. When you’re exploring the arid highlands of Barsoom, mixing it up with four-armed white apes thanks to the super strength you earned by being a high-grav earthman, it’s pure pulp fun. The red planet isn’t a lifeless ball of rock. It’s an undiscovered world with fabulous cities and strange peoples, and anything at all may lie beyond the rim of the next crater. If you aren’t careful though, you can lose that sense of wonder when it comes time to sit down at the table. That clipboard-wielding part of your brain begins to protest. Mars doesn’t have a breathable atmosphere! Temperatures can get as low as −143 °C (−225 °F). I looked at those pictures from Opportunity and Curiosity, and I’m pretty sure there weren’t any apes. Ignoring that guy is easier said than done.

When you’re inside of a purely fantastical setting, it’s easy to pull off the old suspension of disbelief trick. There are dragons and fireballs about, so accepting the impossible is the price of admission. When you add in the trappings of sci-fi, however, it becomes a bit harder to deal with. Holding your breath so you can fight in space, opening the rainbow bridge to Asgard, or banking in your X-Wing as if you were dogfighting in atmosphere can all be deal-breakers for some people. My advice in these situations is to make like the Ultranaut in today’s comic: learn to live in the moment. The adventure is the thing, and the science is purely decorative.

So for today’s discussion question, what do you say we explore the milieu? How do you know you’re inside of a science fantasy setting? What distinguishes the genre from its sci-fi / fantasy parentage? Sound off with your favorite examples of “decorative science” and credulity-straining adventure down in the comments!


HYPERTELLURIANS! Travel the length and breadth of the Ultracosm in retro science fantasy style. Take control of one of six archetypes, and choose or create a unique concept by layering on fun, inventive, and story-driving powers. Play as a cursed shapeshifter, the wobbling dead, a pilot from a different time, a galvanic war machine, a sorcerous princess, an excitable half pony, an alien color, or so much more.

Try Hypertellurians if you like:

– quick character generation, with fast and daring gameplay,
– compelling and out of this world character powers,
– natural language rules that put the fun first,
– an expedition to the Viridian moon in a stylish aethercraft,
– and science fantasy adventure in the future of old!


ARE YOU AN IMPATIENT GAMER? If so, you should check out the “Henchman” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. For just one buck a month, you can get each and every Handbook of Heroes comic a day earlier than the rest of your party members. That’s bragging rights right there!