Sean's Picks of the Week (0205-0209) - Steam & Steel Week!
  • Sean's Picks of the Week (0205-0209) - Steam & Steel Week!


    From the focus on alt-history to the over-the-top gears-and-lightning fantastical, steampunk remains a compelling and entertaining genre that gains much of its life in the tabletop RPG world. As the company named for one of steampunk's greatest inspirations launches a car into space, it seemed like an apt time to take a look at some of the great genre offerings.


    1879 PLAYERS GUIDE

    We’re launching Steam & Steel Week with a product I had a brief history with, which the good folks at FASA have parlayed into a miniatures game line and an RPG. This one leans heavily on the “alt-history’ part of steampunk, opening the way with the line –

    "This isn’t your great-great-grandfather’s London!"

    Welcome to 1879, and discover the history that wasn’t.

    Victoria and Albert rule over a steam-powered British Empire that spans two worlds. Thanks to the portal known as the Rabbit Hole, a train ride away from London lies the Grosvenor Land, a new world of fertile plains, towering mountains, giant insects, and Babylonians with weird science zombies. Seems they got there first, three thousand years ago, and they’re not exactly the welcoming sort. The Saurid tribes, lizard-like folk who ride theropods and pteranodons, complicate matters further. Back home on Earth, clockwork engineering has brought mechanical computing to the world, and micro-steam engines drive airships through the sky. Stranger things are afoot, too, as a bit of magic seems to have come into the world with the opening of the portal. People are changing. Secret societies are finding their ancient occult practices a bit more effective. Who knows what might be lurking in the forests these days, or in that shipment from China?

    The 1879 Players Guide provides everything needed to play the game for characters in the Initiate, Novice, and Journeyman Tiers of advancement, from character generation to combat and from obscure magic to the latest in Victorian technology. An overview of the game world is included for player reference, along with multiple short fiction examples of the sorts of stories that can be told! From the heights of society to the depths of the criminal underworld, from the high street of London to the mountains of the Gruv, adventure is calling. There are worlds to explore, fortunes to be won, and battles to be fought.

    Onward!



    THROUGH THE BREACH

    We chug and clank along for Steam & Steel Week with this RPG adaptation of the popular minis-game world of Malifaux. Through the Breach is very notable for its use of a standard playing card deck instead of dice for task and challenge resolutions. The concept of Fate runs strong through the world via these mechanics. It’s a dark realm where fantasy crashes headlong into steampunk, and lots of folks just love it. My personal experience with the setting includes playing a fantasy-themed gunslinger blowing away demon trolls, and that was fun.

    Control your destiny.

    Journey back to the early 1900s, where a dimensional rift leading to the magical world of Malifaux has changed human history. Steam power and steel collide with magic and monsters in this dangerous and exciting roleplaying game. Are you brave enough to change your destiny?

    This second edition rulebook has been designed to be backwards compatible with all first edition Through the Breach supplements and adventures.

    The Core Rules contain all the information players need to begin adventuring in the world of Malifaux!



    IRON KINGDOMS

    Another “miniatures-to-RPG” translation, Iron Kingdoms is a multi-award-winning effort all its own and a fan-favorite for those who want a whole lot of “clank” in their steampunk. Interestingly, the rules are an expansion from the Warmachine and Hordes miniatures rules, which makes translating your favorite stuff from the latter to the roleplaying experience much easier.

    Embark upon a journey of adventure and intrigue in a steam-powered world fueled by magic and contested with gunfire and steel. Armed with mechanika and accompanied by mighty steamjacks, explore the soot-covered cities of the Iron Kingdoms and the fell ruins of ancient powers.

    This essential full-color guide to the award-winning Iron Kingdoms setting equips you with:

    • A robust, elegant rules system crafted especially for the world of the Iron Kingdoms. This system builds upon the rules foundation of the critically acclaimed WARMACHINE and HORDES miniatures games to meet the complex needs of a roleplaying game.
    • Rules for character creation and advancement that let you take on the role of iconic Iron Kingdoms characters like fell callers, field mechaniks, gun mages, warcasters, and more.
    • Details on diverse playable races: humans, gobbers, Iosans, Nyss, ogrun, Rhulfolk, and trollkin.
    • Crafting systems that enable you to explore the mysteries of mechanika and alchemy.
    • A comprehensive overview of life in the Iron Kingdoms and the history of western Immoren.


    A WORLD OF ADVENTURE AWAITS IN THE IRON KINGDOMS

    2013 ENnies Awards winner in 4 categories

    Best Game (Gold)

    Best Art, Cover (Gold)

    Best Rules (Silver)

    Best Production Values (Silver)



    JADEPUNK

    Today’s delve into Steam & Steel Week takes us Eastward and into a variant form of the steampunk genre that works wuxia into the mix. Jadepunk goes to some similar visual places as the movies The Man with the Iron Fists, Tai Chi 0, and Bunraku. More importantly, one of the key elements of steampunk outside of the visual aesthetic is the theme of the working class fighting oppression, and this setting goes there all the way.

    Overthrow oppression in Jadepunk! You are the Jianghu – a loose society of likeminded, yet quarrelsome, individuals and organizations. Using powerful Jadetech devices and martial arts techniques, you stand against oppression and injustice. Though you are few, the Council fears you, for you have the most powerful weapon in Kausao City – the hearts and minds of the people. Unite them, and they will fight with you.

    Jadepunk: Tales From Kausao City is a Fate Core roleplaying game about rebellious wuxia heroes in a fictional steampunk setting. Within its pages you will find:

    • An original setting that fuses the themes of Western steampunk and Asian wuxia.
    • The “Storytelling System” of creating character aspects that immerses them into the setting.
    • A comprehensive Asset system that lets you make any kind of device, martial arts technique, or companion you can imagine.
    • New dueling mechanics that use the contest system for fast and furious combat that won’t have the rest of your group sitting idly by.
    • Streamlined rules for gamemasters that give them the power to create scenes on the fly with the use of the “Scene Fractal”.
    • A new way of creating minor NPCs that takes no prep time. “Faces” give you everything you need to make an unimportant NPC feel alive and memorable.


    What are you waiting for? The people call for warriors to champion them against the oppressive forces of the Council of Nine. Take up your Jadetech weapon, prime the engines on your airship, and lead the fight for justice!



    THE WIDENING GYRE

    We come to the end of Steam & Steel Week with The Widening Gyre, written and designed by my friend and Evil Beagle Games partner, Bill “teh ebil bunneh” Keyes. While there’s also a Hero System version, the one that sings for most folks is this Savage Worlds iteration. Bill has an exceptional sense of storytelling-mixed-with-style, and he groks the steampunk genre in a way few others do; he gets that it’s about more than wearing brown stylishly and sticking some gears on your goggles*.

    (*) – Don’t get me wrong – I love wearing brown and sticking gears on my goggles. Just saying the deeper aesthetic definitely permeates through Bill’s work here.

    Welcome to The 19th Century That Never Was!

    It is a world of wonder, of horror, of adventure, of magic, of strange technology and unprecedented cultural revolution. This is the age that nearly was, filled with radium-powered flying machines, clockwork automata, and steam-driven computers. It is an age of dark magic, sinister secrets, and unholy cults. It is a time in which the world teeters on the edge of disaster, where the enlightened scientific mind battled against ancient superstition and ignorance, in which the souls of all mankind hung in the balance.

    The Widening Gyre presents an original steampunk campaign setting designed for use with the Savage Worlds rules. Recommended for experienced GMs and players looking to game in the Industrial Age As It Should Have Been, this worldbook includes…

    A comprehensive and immersive campaign background detailing the fantastical Victorian world of The Widening Gyre.

    -Character archetypes to play a wide variety of 19th century adventurers − Airship Pirates, Clockwork Men, Consulting Detectives, and more!

    -Rules for wild steampunk technology and sorcery, including weapons, armor, vehicles, bizarre Victorian devices, and magic spells.

    -Full stats for dozens of characters the heroes will encounter on their journeys, ranging from helpful allies to evil technologists to monstrous beasts from a darker era.

    -New Skills, Edges, and Hindrances.

    -A full bestiary with over 40 monsters and opponents.

    -A fully detailed campaign, six full adventures, and four variant campaign ideas.

    -Nearly twenty Savage Tales, a dozen one-sentence adventure ideas, plus an easy-to-use adventure generator to help put together quick adventures on the fly.

    -Enter a world of adventuring daredevils and academics, occultist thrill-seekers and Savants both heroic and insane, in which a secretive organization of benevolent technologists seeks to prevent the dark monsters of humanity’s past from overwhelming its bright and burgeoning future.


    I don't normally do this, but I felt so strongly about it, I've got to throw in an "honorable mention" this week, even though it didn't make the daily Picks. I've Picked it before, but it definitely fits on your steampunk games to consider list.


    MISTS OF AKUMA

    Almost two centuries ago the lightning-powered ships of Ceramia pierced the skies of Soburin heralding an age of oppression that still marks the lands with the resources stripped from the countryside. Ripped away from a long age of peace and broken by soldiers wielding scientifically advanced weaponry, the warriors of the prefectures were drafted into a distant conflict across the edge of the world and ancient traditions of violence have reawakened a thirst for blood in those few that survive in the decaying world. Emperor Hitoshi’s rebellion a decade ago threw down foreign rule but an ancient danger has reappeared to push society to the brink of collapse: the Mists of Akuma.

    The corrupting fog transforms those within it into bloodthirsty adeddo-oni, monsters that seek only the rending of flesh and the taste of living meat. Nobles have retreated to the cities dotting the countryside leaving the common folk to face the supernatural haze alone, adding to the undead horde. Nature itself has been perilously wounded and the technology that might save the prefectures is shunned and feared by the Masuto Dynasty and Emperor Hitoshi’s subjects.

    Mists of Akuma is an eastern fantasy noir steampunk campaign setting for use with the newest edition of the world’s most popular tabletop roleplaying game. Using new mechanics steeped in eastern lore, the book focuses on providing in-depth urban settings and a diverse array of character options to make truly unique parties of adventurers perfectly suited to survive the decay and desperation in Soburin. Bengoshi (governmental agents) empowered to deputize individuals in service of the Masuto Dynasty are attempting to hold the apocalypse at bay but intrigue and graft are as common and deadly as the corrupting fog, and the ancient threat’s influence is spread all the further by the despair of Emperor Hitoshi’s subjects.

    In the 275 page Mists of Akuma rulebook you’ll find...
    • An overview of the recent history of Soburin and basic information about the world including the dangerous Mists of Akuma, rules for traveling the prefectures, and what rigors maddened explorers must overcome to visit the apocalypse that has become of the other continents.
    • Over 100 NPCs and monsters ranging from foreign generals to eastern dragons, powerful bengoshi and underlings from each of the 24 unique clans, and more than two dozen kami, oni, and tsukumogami!
    • Cultural practices and traditions for Soburin inspired by and drawn from eastern lore.
    • Gorgeous cover artwork by Claudio Pozas, interior scene illustrations by Indi Martin and Sara Shijo, and character illustrations by Jacob Blackmon and Nathanael Batchelor!
    • A chapter each detailing three different cities: the capital of the Imperial Prefecture, Sanbaoshi, the advanced mechanical metropolis of Kyofu, and the traditionalist magic-steeped settlement of Nagabuki.
    • Short stories with gorgeous half page illustrations at the start of each chapter to firmly posit the desperation and diversity inherent to adventuring in Soburin!
    • Details on each of the two dozen clans of the prefectures, including the bengoshi that negotiate on the behalf of each ruling family’s lady or lord and how the Kengen Occupation affected each region of Soburin.
    • 7 new character backgrounds and guidelines for adapting existing character backgrounds when playing in Soburin as well as new conditions, the Culture skill, and 6 maps for the continent and its settlements by cartographers Michael McCarthy, Mike Myler, and Tommi Salama!
    • 19 different archetypes that provide exciting theme-appropriate character options for every class! Take the paladin samurai oath or the fell pact of the warlock wu-jen, grab some ninja rogue levels, or even become a bardic gun priest!
    • 14 new races to breathe life into Soburin, making it an exotic and unique world that is eager to shrug off the shackles of western imperialism: a trio of human subraces, bakemono goblins, ape folk enjin. 11 different kinds of hengeyokai, kappa turtle folk, gigantic mutants, undead necroji, corrupted oni-touched, psionic psonorous, frog-like pyon, hobgoblin shikome, automaton steametics, wily tanuki, soaring tengu, and the umibo water people!
    • 32 new character feats, over 10 pages of equipment that ranges from new armor and weapons to steampunk prostheses and vehicles, and 22 new eastern-themed spells!
    • Revenge of the Pale Master, an epic 25 page mystery adventure set in the industrialized city of Kizaki beneath the shadow of an ancient, evil necromancer that has the settlement firmly within his ethereal grasp.


    -----

    I do love this genre. One of my friends is a well-known musician who's done a lot of work in steampunk-style music (check out Nathaniel Johnstone when you get a chance).

    This is a working weekend as I get ready for Genghis Con 41 and the biggest, most epic Big Epic Game I've ever set up. It's the launching point for our fan organization/shared narrative experience group, Freedom Squadron: Global Operations Force. It's all in preparation for the 10 March 2018 launch of the Freedom Squadron Kickstarter! Check out this fun poster we crafted - it's one of many that we will be sending out to retail stores. It's an homage to the old "Knowing is half the battle," but each poster features messages from my daily #GamesAndLife posts on Facebook.


    The Adventure Continues!

    Note that I use affiliate links in all my posts as a way to generate additional revenue for my efforts; I make my Picks and other article choices, however, based on the desire to share a wide variety of things with you. Thank you for your support.

    Sean Patrick Fannon
    Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, much more
    Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!
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