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Transhuman Space Style Guide

Updated August 26, 2003

Transhuman Space Terminology

These style notes apply specifically to Transhuman Space. Authors must also read and follow the entire SJGames Style Guide and the GURPS Writers' Guidelines!

2100: The default date for the setting. Unless noted otherwise, all books are assumed to have a "present date" of Jan 1, 2100. The exception is the weekly Teralogos News report, where the dates match the present date. This should not be construed as an actual future timeline.

AI: Artificial Intelligence. No periods. There are three types of AI: nonsapient AI (NAI), low-sapient AI (LAI), and sapient AI (SAI). AI software is often rated by Complexity, viz. LAI-7.

AKV: Usual abbreviation for Autonomous Kill Vehicle, a robot space fighter.

bioroid: Not capitalized. An organic humanoid assembled via nanotechnology.

bioshell: Not capitalized. A bioshell is a living body controlled by an implanted computer's digital intelligence; do not confuse this with bioroid.

AU: Standard abbreviation for Astronomical Unit, a measure of interplanetary distance (approx. 93 million miles.) Caps, not lower case, and no periods.

asteroids: Use "asteroid" in preference to "minor planet" or "planetoid." When first referring to an asteroid, also give its catalog number prefix, viz. 1 Ceres; 259 Aletheia. In real life, current designations run to about 50,000 bodies, so if an asteroid is being "made up," pick a higher number! For more on designations for asteroids, comets, and other objects, see p. DB157.

Bureau 10: A Chinese intelligence agency - see p. TS97. Authors should note that its responsibilities are limited to scientific, economic, and technological operations; do not use it when another Chinese agency is more appropriate, such as the Ministry of Public Security (for counterintelligence operations).

Chinese names: Written personal name first, surname last, in the western fashion. Follow a similar convention for Japanese and other Asian names. See p. ITW93 for Chinese names.

corporations: Avoid real corporate names! For existing corporations, see pp. TS93-97 and pp. FW57, 59, 63, 69.

currency: Abbreviate as $, with prices tied to the U.S. dollar of 2100. For very large numbers, such as spacecraft prices, use M$ (million dollars).

cybershell: A robotic body housing a computer that can be inhabited by various forms of intelligence. Usually used for mobile robots. Cybershell should not usually be used to refer to wearable or static computers; the only exception to this is in game mechanic descriptions, where both use the same rules for cybershell templates.

cybershell templates: A cybershell template will have a generic name, e.g., bush robot. This is not capitalized outside of headers. Each template is designed to stand in for several similar models, so an example of a proper model name is usually given in the template's descriptive text, whose name is capitalized. Example: "One of the few bush robots to see commercial service is the Exogenesis Bushmaster."

Earth-Lunar space: An acceptable term for the region within about half a million miles of the Earth. This includes the Lagrange points L1 to L5, orbital space around Earth or Luna. See also Lagrange points.

European Union: Abbreviated as E.U. Note the periods.

G: Abbreviation for Gravity. Do not write "1-G" or "1 g." viz. "That moon's gravity is 0.07 G, so a Sudbury-class spacecraft with 0.05 G acceleration will not be able to blast off from its surface."

Genetic Upgrade: A genetically engineered human whose modifications remain within the limits of the human genome. "Upgrade" is acceptable in slang.

GURPS Books: Do not assume that Transhuman Space readers have any GURPS books outside the TS line other than Basic Set and Compendium I. If material from other GURPS books needs to be included, a brief excerpt is usually preferable to a page reference. Check with the line editor before making references.

He-3: The abbreviation for the fusion fuel Helium-3. Do not use superscript 3He - this is a change in usage from the core book.

HEO: High Earth Orbit. If referring to a world other than Earth, spell it out - e.g., "high Mars orbit." For an accurate definition of HEO's extent, see Chapter 1 of High Frontier.

infomorph: Any form of digital intelligence: ghost, shadow, or AI.

infosocialism: The philosophical-political movement that latter spawned nanosocialism. It stands in the same relationship to nanosocialism as "socialism" does with "communism."

Jovian space: An acceptable term for the region of space around Jupiter out to the outermost orbits of its moons.

Kazakstan: Not Kazakhstan. It is also Kazak, not Kazakh.

KBO: Abbreviation for a Kuiper Belt Object (plural KBOs). Use this term instead of "asteroid" or "comet" for icy or rocky minor planets within the Kuiper Belt region.

Lagrange points: Capitalize Lagrange. The Earth-Moon system has five Lagrange points, usually abbreviated L1, L2, etc. The abbreviation is preferred when referring to a specific point, e.g., L5. Do not use a dash (L-5).

LEO: Low Earth Orbit. See HEO. For an accurate definition of Low Earth Orbit's extent, see Chapter 1 of High Frontier.

low-sapient AI: Abbreviated LAI. Note the hyphen in low-sapient.

Luna: Earth's moon. Always use Luna in preference to the Moon.

lunar: Of or pertaining to Earth's moon.

Mandarin Chinese: One of the most common Chinese dialects. Use this, rather than just "Chinese" when giving the language of most Chinese-speaking characters, some of whom may also speak Cantonese Chinese or other dialects. See p. ITW92.

mass driver: An electromagnetic catapult. Two words, no hyphen.

Martian Triads: This is always plural: it is a coalition of several groups. However, it is "Triad operations" not "Triads operations."

meme: Comprehensive set of ideas and behavioral patterns, the evolutionary component of cultures, and the focus of the science of memetics. Transhuman Space books often group descriptions of religions, philosophies, fads, or cults into a Memes section. See also pp. TS86-93 and Toxic Memes. Pronounced "meem," not "meemee!"

metric system: Metric measurements, such as meters, are used "in character" in vignettes. They are not used in rules or descriptive text. viz. "Captain, the French AKV is 3,000 km distant and closing fast!"

Moon, the: Use Luna instead. viz., "Earth's moon, Luna, is one of the largest moons in the solar system."

nanobot: A mobile nanomachine. Nanobots are normally biological, roving through the bloodstream to perform activities; they are rarely found outside a body. Do not confuse nanobots with insect-sized microbot swarms.

nanomachine: The preferred term for a molecular-scale machine. Avoid "nanite."

nanosoc: A slang term for nanosocialist, slightly derogative. Only use it in vignettes.

nonhuman races: Proper names of variant human species - including genetic upgrades, parahuman, and bioroid types - are always capitalized. Examples: Tianyi, Ziusudra. Note the different procedure for cybershells.

nonsapient AI: Abbreviated NAI. Nonsapient is one word - do not use non-sapient.

pan-sapient rights: Note the hyphen. No capitals.

parahuman: A genetically engineered human which includes traits not previously found in the human genome.

PRA: Pacific Rim Alliance. No periods.

robot: A cybershell controlled by an AI. Rarely used.

SAC: South African Coalition. As this abbreviation is relatively rare, don't use it unless the context is obvious.

sapient: A being capable of reasoning, like a human, bioroid, LAI, or SAI. Do not use the term sentient.

satellite: Use this term primarily for uninhabited artificial objects orbiting a primary body such as a moon or planet. If the objects are natural, use moon or "natural satellite." If artificial and manned, use "orbital station" or "station."

SDV: Acceptable abbreviation for Space Dominance Vehicle, a class of military spacecraft. Not to be confused with SDB, which is the Traveller abbreviation for "System Defense Boat."

sentient: Do not confuse this with sapient! Sentient simply means "self-aware," while sapient is the capacity for reasoning. For example, a dog or a spider is sentient, a human is sapient, but a tree is neither.

Shackleton Station: The original settlement on Luna that was damaged by accident, rebuilt, and renamed Luna City after 2085. Use Shackleton Station only to refer to the original base prior to its rebuilding.

slinky: Slang term for a slink (p. TS64) recording. Do not use "slinky" to refer to slinks themselves.

SOLEX: An acceptable abbreviation for Solar Express, if used in a context where its meaning is clear.

spacecraft: This or "vessel" is preferred to "ship" or "spaceship." When referring to a spacecraft class, such as the Sudbury-class, the word "class" is never capitalized unless it is in a head or the line is all caps. Hyphenate the ship name and word "class," as per the example above. Ship names are italicized, whether or not they are labeled "-class."

"Resolution, Meizi-class."
"The HMS Revenge, a Resolution-class SDV, is now underway from Islandia."

Names of types are not capitalized; it is a "space dominance vehicle," not "Space Dominance Vehicle." However, the abbreviations are capitalized: SDV, not sdv.

Station: When capitalized and following the name of a base or space station, it refers to an off-world settlement on a moon or asteroid, or in deep space. These may range in size from uninhabited to a medium-sized town. By convention, the term is rarely used for towns on the surface of Earth or Mars, or for very large space habitats such as Islandia. viz.: Shackleton Station became Luna City.

tech levels: Tech levels should be omitted in TS line books. Do not refer to them or include them in character skills, equipment tables, etc. The exception is in notes that refer to GURPS books outside the line. e.g.: "The GM may also allow GURPS Bio-Tech biomods of TL10 or less." If adapting equipment from other GURPS books where price and weight vary by TL, assume the Transhuman Space setting is TL9 for purposes of weight and cost.

transhuman: Of or pertaining to transhumanism, a meme. A person who identifies himself as a believer in transhumanism is a transhumanist. Do not use transhuman or transhumans as a synonym for "people in 2100." See also p. TS93.

Transhuman Space: The name of the line. Do not use GURPS Transhuman Space!

Teralogos News: A major news agency in the setting, and also a Web feature sometimes offered bySteve Jackson Games. Can be referred to as just "Teralogos."

Tianyi: Singular and plural forms for this parahuman type are the same.

Triads: A group of crime families. It is the Martian Triads (multiple families), not the Martian Triad. However, it is "Triad operations" not "Triads operations."

TSA: Acceptable abbreviation for the Transpacific Socialist Alliance. No periods.

vessel: A term that may be used for spacecraft, ships, or submarines. If referring to spacecraft, use in preference to "ship."

v-tag: Acceptable abbreviation for virtual tag.

web or Web: Capitalize Web when referring to Earth's Web (the descendant of the old World Wide Web). Use lower case "web" for more generic references. Example: "Digital intelligences often spend most of their time surfing the web, according to a Teralogos news story recently posted on the Web."

Yousheng: The singular and plural forms of this parahuman name are the same.

Other Terminology and Jargon

Additional jargon, slang, and abbreviations used in Transhuman Space can be found in the Glossaries on p. TS204-205, p. DB156, p. FW141, and p. ITW137.


Characters in Transhuman Space can be complex, as they often combine two racial templates, such as an infomorph template and a cybershell template.

If a character has one or more racial templates, do not list all the individual advantages or disadvantages that make up the template. Simply list the template as a single advantage if the template's cost is zero or positive, or as a disadvantage if negative, including a page reference and any additional parenthetical notes required to distinguish it.

Advantages: Tennin III (p. DB115) [59].

Refer to Transhuman Space: Personnel Files as a source for correct formatting of a wide range of characters. Also refer to the GURPS Character and Template Layout Guide.

Racial Templates (including Cybershells)

If including racial templates, see pp. TS115-126 for correct formatting.

Upgrade, Bioroid, and Parahuman $ Cost: The prices are based on $1,000 per character point plus a base of $25,000 for an upgrade or uplifted animal, $50,000 for a parahuman, or $75,000 for a bioroid. This is simply a rule of thumb, however, and costs may vary if the point value does not adequately reflect the difficulty of the design.

Cybershell $ Costs: The prices of cybershell templates are calculated as the square of their point cost, rounded off to a fairly even number, with a minimum of $100. This may be increased or decreased if this formula gives a result that seems unrealistic, or to reflect abilities or disabilities not assigned a point value. For example, the cost of cybershells that appear more-or-less identical to human was multiplied by 5 to reflect additional biomorphics.

System Maps

For planets, moons, and asteroids, if space permits and characters are expected to be adventuring on the body in question, use the System Object Record form on p. ITW139. See the map of Mars on p. ITW140 as an example.

If a planet, moon, or other body is a central focus of the book, a more pictorial map can be used - see p. ITW18 for an entire planet and p. ITW22 for a regional map.

Vehicles and Spacecraft

These guidelines apply to spacecraft and vehicles. Lists of systems or components in vehicles are normally separated by semi-colons.


Spacecraft including stations are built using the modular design system (p. TS173) and presented using a condensed format. See p. TS191 for an example of this format, and Spacecraft of the Solar System for many worked examples. Refer to the Meizi-class PSV (p. TS191) for an example of how to do a complex craft with multiple hull shapes and Predator-class AKV (p. TS192) for an example of an unmanned spacecraft.

A spacecraft will have unique class name followed by the type, e.g. Pegasus-class Transatmospheric Vehicle. If desired, the type name can be abbreviated, e.g., TAV. See p. TS74 for spacecraft types and abbreviations. Each spacecraft has a description that follows the header, usually one or two paragraphs long. This give a brief history of the craft and its current users. Vessels, especially large ones, are usually given individual names that relate to the class name. If the class name is obscure, a short note explaining its derivation and/or a set of two or three examples of names is suggested. This is followed by a physical description that should include the vessel's shape and dimensions (in feet) including any radiator wings, and its usual number of crew, passengers, and typical payload in tons. If the spacecraft carries munitions packs or smaller craft these should be specified.

There are five bold headings for statistics: Crew, Design, Modules, Statistics, and Performance.

Crew: Give titles of crew positions and in parenthesis, the skill required, usually in order of seniority. If the vessel is unmanned, this should be stated - see the SIM-7 Predator on p. TS192. Titles are informal but see pp. TS191-193 for examples. A single crew position may have multiple roles.

Design: See pp. TS191-193 for the format and punctuation required.

Modules: List included modules in the order they appear in the modular design system. See pp. TS191-193. When referring to lasers, give both the type and the power, viz. "10-MJ heavy laser tower." Note the hyphen.

Statistics: See pp. TS191-193. Note that mass statistics are always in the form "EMass" (or CMass, etc.) not "Emass" - the letter M is always capitalized.

Performance: See pp. TS191-193. Delta-V for spacecraft should be calculated using the simple formula (p. TS189) unless specifically noted as using the realistic formula.

Ground Wheeled Vehicles

Use the standard Vehicle Design style template adjusted to match the style used on pp. ITW100-104.Dimensions are given as height x width x length unless otherwise noted. Walker vehicles may be constructed by modifying the system as described on p. DB154.

Hit locations should always be capitalized, e.g., Body or Open Mount.

Aquatic Vehicles

These are built using the system in Under Pressure and conform to its format.

Aircraft and Other Vehicles

These may be designed using GURPS Vehicles and depicted using the standard GURPS vehicle design format. See p. DB149-151 for aircraft built this way.

Certain modifications apply to GURPS Vehicles when used in the Transhuman Space setting. Contact the Transhuman Space Line Editor for a copy of the Transhuman Space Technical Appendix that details this.

A Short Treatise on Transhuman Space Writing Style

by David Pulver

Transhuman Space is a hard science fiction roleplaying game line. What does this mean? Primarily, that you should not introduce elements that break the laws of physics or otherwise stretch plausibility in ways that would be noticeable to an educated layperson, gamer, or science fiction reader. More generally, we aim for an air of realism throughout. For example, if you're going to write a section on, say, the Australian police in 2100, you should research the Australian police today, and consider how social and technological developments in the setting would impact law enforcement and crime a century from now.

Transhuman Space is a Powered by GURPS line. Ideally, you should not assume that readers have any other GURPS books beyond those in the Transhuman Space books. You may freely reference other books in the Transhuman Space line, the Basic Set, and Compendium I. However, do not assume your readers have other GURPS books, and if material covered in these books is necessary, you should include it (in the book if the information is less than a page long), or consult with the line editor to discuss an alternative or acceptable abridgement. Other books can be referenced for extra detail if the information is not critical, e.g., if your virtual reality theme park is based around the wild west, you might suggest GURPS Old West as an additional resource.

Transhuman Space is an international, multi-polar setting. While America, for example, is a major power in the future, it is not the sole power by any means. This means that examples and vignettes should make an attempt to include character and corporate names beyond the Anglo-Saxon of most traditional science fiction or the Anglo-Japanese of cyberpunk. Be careful to get foreign naming conventions correct!

Vignettes are an important part of the Transhuman Space style. If you are writing a full-length book and are comfortable writing fiction, every chapter should ideally open with a vignette. Vignettes are brief (usually no more than 500 words) fictional segments written from the perspective of someone within the setting. They do not have to be actual story pieces - they could be sections from a fictional article, etc. A vignette should not just be fluff - it should serve as a concise, colorful way to convey useful information about the setting that would be difficult express otherwise, such as how people of 2100 think, talk, and feel. If you are not comfortable writing vignettes, short quotes offer an alternative. A few boxed Top Five or Top Ten lists are also encouraged - see Chapters 3 and 5 of Transhuman Space for examples.

Transhuman Space is an expanding setting that aims to reach beyond the core GURPS audience. It is preferable to "front load" the book with setting and background, thus making the book easier to "get into." Where possible, split background from rules. Ideally, early chapters should contain system-light material, while entire chapters of characters, equipment, and similar game-mechanic-heavy content should be located near the end of the book.

Books may include a glossary that details any unusual jargon or slang introduced or emphasized in the text. Glossaries should only repeat terms that were defined in other Transhuman Space line books if these terms are ones that are central the new book's theme.

Lengthy books should also include one or two- page-long bibliography. The style used in Fifth Wave (a few entries, annotated) is preferred to the style used in the core book, unless the sheer number of entries would make this impractical.

Steve Jackson Games
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