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OSR [Let's Read] Magical Industrial Revolution

Libertad

Explorer

Gary Gygax said:
If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly, or the referee is forced to change the game into a new framework which will accommodate what he has created by way of player-characters.

Most D&D settings, OSR and otherwise, are pretty conservative in wanting to maintain a stagnated level of pseudo-medieval technology. Innovations, magical and otherwise, have various handwavium explanations for why they fail to impact society especially in regards to economy and standards of living. Barring higher-fantasy examples such as Netheril’s floating cities or dragon-sorcerers turning Athas into a desert. While said societies inevitably fell into ruin, there aren’t many campaign settings with focus on their grandness before their downfall.

Magical Industrial Revolution was written to turn this trope on its head, positing the city-based setting of Endon where magical inventions are rapidly transforming society in ways both positive and negative. It is a pre-apocalyptic setting: magic is not inherently destructive, but bereft of societal and ethical considerations it runs a very real risk of causing disaster and/or being turned into yet another tool of oppression for the powerful. But in the meantime, Endon is meant to be an up and coming magical superpower inserted into the GM’s preferred setting, drawing people from all over the world hoping to take advantage of its many boons. It is built for that pseudo-B/X ruleset that predominates the OSR, although it has some mentions here and there of more modern iterations of D&D. A lot of its charts and tables are more or less system-neutral, which helps in this regard.

Magical Industrial Revolution has a Victorian aesthetic, although the author Skerples mentions that it can still fit in typical Ye Olde Medieval Fantasy. He points out that real-world technological industrialization wasn’t spread out evenly even in the 19th Century, and many realms remained rural even when they gained access to machinery. Furthermore, Endon is also meant to serve as an example of one of those Golden Age civilizations of magic whose legacy seems to dot many campaign worlds as ruins brimming with treasure. Once the city and its surrounding network falls, the spells and magic items once taken for granted are now rare and precious things.

Endon is thus representative of a transition period from Renaissance feudalism to modern industrialism, although said author does is also insistent that the book is not meant to be a political allegory beyond how “even good intentions and idealism can wreak dreadful havoc.” I disagree with this premise in that the political subtexts of changing Victorian society still seep through, but I’ll go into more detail on this in later chapters.

But in spite of the toolbox nature, MIR does come with some pseudo-setting preconditions. One, Endon’s magic is mostly arcane in nature; most inhabitants are secular and the gods if they exist seem to have a hands-off approach towards the city’s events. Furthermore, scholars have a theory that spells are living beings not unlike souls. Spellcasters “learn” magic by allowing said spells to attach to their own soul in a symbiotic relationship. Spells gain sustenance by being cast and bound into objects, and the energy they require for sustenance comes from the sun which is why most spell slots and spell effects recharge on a daily basis. This is also why magical items of a permanent or multi-charge nature take more resources to build, for they require more “spell food” to keep the spells within them alive.

Secondly, there are brief alterations to gold and XP gain. The standard OSR means of accumulation exist, but PCs can gain XP for ‘story-based awards’ such as inventing something new, getting appointed to public office, averting some magical disaster, and other means of making a mark upon society. Additionally, gold piece values correspond on a 1-1 basis of what 1 British Pound was worth in 1800. Which according to the Bank of England is equivalent to 844 pounds in 2019 via adjusting for inflation, or $1,100 US Dollars in modern times. The book claims that it’s $100 USD modern, but my much larger findings are based on Bank of England website and MorningStar Investment. The latter I found via Googling “British Pound to US Dollars” and using the calculator provided. But at the end of the day I’m not an economist so I may be off in some regard and just using the more immediate results. For gaming groups using AD&D or 5th Edition rulesets, they’re advised to increase gold piece prices tenfold.

Thirdly, a set of new rules for campaign progression are given. There are 8 major Innovations occurring in Endon that can transform society in a big way, each with 6 Stages. The final Stage causes an apocalyptic event that irreversibly changes Endon (and possibly the world) for the worse. The GM can use as many or as few Innovations as they desire, but generally speaking barring actions from the PCs every Season/year/game session* a 1d6 for each Innovation is rolled. If it is equal to or greater than the current Stage, it advances to the next Stage. Furthermore, there’s also a Tempo score ranging from 1 to 3, which represents how the city itself changes both magically, technologically, and socially as a result. The score starts out at 1 and goes to 2 once all Innovations reach Stage 3, and goes to 3 when they’re all Stage 4 or above. A lot of locations and events give a list of how things change via Tempo, and for campaigns taking place in or with frequent trips to Endon it helps convey a gradual sense of change. Basically higher Tempos cause magical services and items to become cheaper, but at an increase of strange supernatural phenomena, arcane pollution, and radical social changes resulting from the freeing up of human manual labor and an extremely high output of once-rarer resources.

*depending on ideal campaign flow.


Endon is more or less an independent city-state, and its inhabitants are called Endoners. Humans are the dominant population at all levels of society, although the fantasy races exist in small pockets throughout. While there are foreigners from all over the world, Endoners have a bit of an elitist streak and tend to downplay the accomplishments of other civilizations by making favorable comparisons to their own. The provided history of the city is minimalist: it was originally a military camp that grew into a settlement of its own and soon a large city over the course of a thousand years. But ten years ago two major events happened: first, a foreign wizard made great innovations in magical theory which he collected into the Principia Arcana. Said work posited a grand unified theory of magic, linking otherwise disparate traditions and spells together as well as putting forth the theory of spells being living creatures that feed off of energy from the sun. Secondly, a wizard used a pair of minor spells to create a self-carding, self-spinning loom which brought him great wealth in the textile industry. These two wizards marked the beginning of a progression of events that inspired the Magical Industrial Revolution.

Important Locations covers 25 major landmarks and buildings in Endon along with a full-page map and cross-referencing of appropriate page numbers for related material (tables for opera plays, politicians, etc). They are simple three-sentence descriptions (one sentence for each Tempo) and an accompanying NPC who can provide goods and services to the party. There’s quite a bit of good material, and the brevity manages to adequately convey the atmosphere of the place and social change. For example, at Tempo 2 the Parliament building erects a giant enchanted clock tower that can broadcast emergency messages. The River Burl becomes increasingly hazardous and filthy as the campaign progresses: at Tempo 2 street urchins sifting through sewage take to wearing stilts to avoid mutations and disease which some of them catch anyway, while at Tempo 3 packs of dangerous eels prowl the waters to feed off of magical residue.

Weather in Endon conforms closely to real-world London, being a temperate-to-cold climate and very foggy. A d12 table is rolled at a time convenient for the GM to mark the day’s weather; at Tempo 1 a 1d6 is rolled, while Tempo 2 and 3 are d10 and d12. The first 6 results are rather mundane, although 7 to 10 causes more erratic changes such as dense haze and a “stinkwave” of chemical smells from rivers and factories. The 12th result is a Nightmare Fog, a dangerous result of the build-up of thousands of spells being cast in a day over long periods of time, giving rise to dangerous tentacular multi-colored smoke. Said fog deals 1d4 damage per round to those within it, but can be kept at bay with heat sources and wind. The first time it strikes the city it will kill hundreds of people and go down as a national tragedy, but later on the city will adapt to future Nightmare Fogs by enacting safety measures of varying effectiveness.

And it would not be a proper OSR sourcebook without new tables! Among our results we have d100 Buildings in Endon, with the latter 50 separated into smaller d10 tables representative of a neighborhood’s social class; d100 Random Encounters with similar d20 tables separated by social class and subject matter ranging from street-sellers to angry mobs to run-away carts and arcane experiments. There’s also less eventful sightings such as a passing hot air balloon in the sky or a news reporter conducting street interviews. Furthermore there’s also Rambles, a jumbled condensed collection of half-sentences for the GM to randomly throw in to scenes representing the constant presence of people in a big city.

Our chapter ends with an in-character advertisement from one of Endon’s newspapers. Boff! Magazine is a political satire pamphlet whose jokes are a continued presence in this book:




From the theoretical to the practical, all sorts of new spells, gadgets, and species are being created in Endon. However, only a few people have both the connections, skills, and capital to ensure that their research changes society on a truly grand scale. These 8 Innovations are the primary movers of Endon’s Tempo, and each of their initial 5 Stages provide new goods and services in line with their industry (and cheaper prices for existing goods and services). Stage 6 represents Terminal Events that cause things to come crashing down in a catastrophic way, and there are suggestions provided for how PCs can Avert the Apocalypse. Half of the Innovations come with an NPC Innovator (or pair of Innovators) who are the primary inventors, while the other half represent a common phenomenon or service that cannot be claimed by one owner but is instead a group of competing industries or an eventual monopoly of the service. The Innovators are not high-level archmages, and are 2-3 Hit Die characters with middling combat capabilities save for perhaps their own unique spell/item that can give them an edge.

Each Innovation’s means of Averting differ, but tend to have a few similarities: PCs can turn public opinion on to the dangers of it, they could sabotage the industry or turn the public on to an alternative service or resource, and/or predicting the upcoming dangers and devising safeguards to prevent them. Not all of the solutions are Luddite in getting rid of said industry, although a few suggest that legislating and taxing the market as an end in and of itself to make said industry grow less. While I’m not some laissez-faire capitalist, later chapters will reveal that Endon’s legal system is a joke and that government regulation is unlikely to work given the mixture of incompetence and corruption in the halls of power.

Miles’ Moving Miracles: George Miles wants to improve upon the rare, expensive, and just not all that safe array of aerial magical transport; it’s far too easy to fall off a broomstick or carpet. Starting out with floating rods that can move via a small jolt of magic, Miles improves upon this with proper vehicle frames such as coaches that can hop long distances and flying carriages powered by successive castings of levitation and mundane propulsion. The military takes interest in this and funds his company for aerial warfare, and eventually George decides to devote all of his efforts in building a machine to fly to the moon. Said pseudo-rocket looks like a giant iron tree made up of millions of Movable Rods. It will inevitably explode and shower Endon in molten iron once it takes off, or destroy the ozone layer and expose the world to unfiltered sunlight, or push the entire city into the sea by falling over.

*In the book there’s no apostrophe, but this appears to be the grammatically correct choice.

Room to Live: The use of extradimensional spaces usually produces small rooms capable of holding no more than a few people at once and are typically used by adventuring types. But what if their use is devoted to the expansion of living space and large-scale storage? The creation of a Portable Room catches on among the rich and famous, with an interior that can last for 10 years. Over time entire industries migrate indoors, shipping companies can transport huge loads efficiently, and the creation of extradimensional reservoirs combat flooding. Endon can afford more living space, but the lack of proper air circulation in said spaces causes low-income housing to be sweaty, smoke-filled spaces and proper counting of population is next to impossible save via the counting of chimneys. The Terminal Events represent the rending of space-time as rooms collapse in on each other, unexpectedly shrink or expand, and portals no longer reliably leading to their intended locations. Buildings and their entire inhabitants seemingly vanish, causing many to turn to cannibalism as they’re trapped in a maze of interdimensional spaces.

A World Without Roads: Teleportation spells are both high-level and tend to only transport a relatively small amount of mass. True “teleportals” that are permanent and can be used without an archmage are a highly-desirable good. The creation of the True Teleport spell begins with Earnest Perring building a pair of teleportation circles in two neighborhoods, and soon a self-regulatory business known as the Circle League is established by taking over smaller teleportation-related businesses in the industry. The League uses its resources to establish more complicated circles to work over longer distances while making said circles from cheaper spell components. Endon opens up a circle with another major city in the campaign setting, although this boon to trade and transport comes at a cost as extradimensional creatures from “Elsewhere” pop up with frightening frequency to attack people, and the Circle League resorts to threats and violence to cover up such incidents. The Terminal Event comes as Elsewhere Rifts pop up around the circles, consuming the surrounding landscape and letting otherworldly horrors invade the Material Plane.

True Polymorph: While the power to shapechange has many boons, the major industries of Endon find success in the alteration of animal test experiments. Menageries of “unnatural creatures” spring up as tourist attractions and pets for the rich, polymorphed meat means that the poor no longer have to be vegetarian as said meat becomes even cheaper than fruits and vegetables due to the abundance of transformable rats and pigeons. Meanwhile, businesses delve into the potential of polymorphing creatures into the forms of long-extinct and totally fictitious creatures. The Terminal Events include a range of maladies: polymorphed meat giving eaters magical cancer, while polymorphed creatures based off of dinosaurs and the nightmarish dreams of transmuters break out of captivity and lay waste to the city.

A Peaceful City: The use of divination magic to prevent crime and apprehend lawbreakers catches on after a serial killer is apprehended due to the use of a scrying spell. Household industries pop up of detective-diviners offering to locate lost people and objects while law enforcement makes use of it for obvious reasons. The use of scrying spells for sexual voyeurism creates public outcry to take it out of the private sector in favor of “responsible use.” Scrying is restricted to police use, and Endon’s crime rate drops, but law enforcement becomes increasingly authoritarian and uses divination to gather blackmail material in order to cement their power. The Terminal Event occurs as Endon stops culturally evolving and innovating as hordes of people move out, the remaining people become half-starved, magically enchanted thralls whose minds are shaped into “proper moral behavior” under the new police state.

Conjured Workforce: A small-time illusionist by the name of Neil Bligh creates an invisible workforce of “illusionary servants” to perform tricks for the public. He then realizes he can offer said servants for rent. Neil starts to make alterations on his spell for wider arrays of tasks, and other businesses follow in his wake. Entire industries fire their own laborers in favor of said magical servants, and being a wage labor economy with no social safety net this causes mass poverty and unemployment. Those whose jobs do not depend on physical exertion are safe, but they are 20% of the population. Political radicalism and angry mobs turn Endon into a more violent place. Bligh creates a new “Intelligent Servant” that seems self-aware, and other spells become harder to cast in Endon. Eventually a legion of said intelligent servants, feeding off of the ambient magical energy, turn Endon into a giant magic drain and take over the city, enslaving spellcasters to “feed” them magic and driving out or killing off everyone else.

Coal & Iron: The rediscovery of geomancy via research allows a Thaumaturgic Mining Guild to gain government backing to part the earth and gain access to new sources of ever-deeper mineral veins. Iron and coal become ever more common to the point that roads and skyscrapers made of iron are omnipresent, while steam engines and railways are a common means of private and mass transit. A huge military-reinforced wall is eventually built around Endon. The Terminal Event is that after widespread damage to the earth a group of earth elementals or some other subterranean monster awakens from digging too deep and lays waste to the city. Or maybe instead a group of rust monster eggs hatch, with all the food they could ever want and soon breed out of control, burying the city in piles of rusty flakes.

The Power of Creation: Anna Hartwell and her business partner John Huffman use logic gates to program clay golems with simple instructions. They then create Personal Calculating Golems which can perform mathematical functions and become a mainstay for financial institutions and scientific bodies. Illusion spells are used to make golems that are primitive computers, and despite becoming the richest business in Endon the two inventors are unsatisfied. They begin work on an Omni-Spell, a theoretical programmable spell of unlimited creation and transformation. The Terminal Event comes when a golem-computer device installed with this spell is told to create ten copies of itself at a public demonstration. The copies then make more copies, which then create even more copies, rapidly sucking up spell energy and creating a magical dirty bomb in the process that destroys Endon. Alternatively they could give it the command “Live” and thus create a selfish god-like being. Or the spell conjures 100 million gold coins and crashes the economy.

Thoughts So Far: The initial set-up of a high-magic Victorian metropolis is a rather peculiar setting for the OSR. I do like how Magical Industrial Revolution posits a world where Vancian casting logically applied can result in some rapid social change, and manages to answer why much of the world can still be “recognizably medieval” while also not necessarily leading to an age of prosperity.

The use of Innovations and Tempos to reflect a changing setting is also a cool one, and I do like how they’re not solely background elements. Each of the innovations comes with new and advanced equipment and services that PCs can make use of. I do feel that some of the Terminal Events feel a bit slap-dash or out of nowhere. The gradual increase of weird phenomena for Room to Live and World Without Roads give the PCs good precursors of wrongness, but the exploding rocket-rod of Miles’ Moving Miracles comes out of nowhere. There’s also the fact that Endon is inevitably doomed unless the PCs can avert all 8 catastrophes. It is meant to be a pre-apocalyptic setting, but this inevitable fatalism may make the players’ efforts feel wasted depending on the gaming group.

Join us next time as we cover the next few chapters covering Services, Social Classes, and Seasons of Endon!
 
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Libertad

Explorer

This chapter goes over some of the non-item things PCs may wish to purchase in Endon, along with crime and punishment. Endon’s criminal justice system is not concerned with determining whether or not someone’s guilty, but to show the power of the State to the public in the belief this will enforce good behavior. Trials rarely last longer than a day, and typically are never held unless the prosecution is 100% certain they can score a conviction. Penalties for crimes tend to be either fines, prison terms, or forced labor in a remote colony of Endon. Capital punishment is reserved for the most heinous of crimes, usually murder and treason. Police officers, informally known as Coppers, are meager 1 Hit Die warriors although they gain access to better gear at higher Tempos. Such devices include a uniform and helmet that reduces all incoming damage by 1, the chance to dispel a hostile magical effect targeting the wearer, a whistle that can be clearly heard out to 200 feet in any condition, and an upgrade to said whistle that can also let it paralyze a target. Endon has an army, although it operates far from the city due to the city being at war with various small nations around the globe so we at least know the government doesn’t begin and end at the metropolis’ walls. Its cavalry corps is well-paid and made up of the nobility, although its Navy is so infamous and dangerous that many among the poor prefer prison to serving on a ship. Endon’s navy is also the only government institution that forbids spellcasters from joining due to old laws.

Certain spells are illegal to cast or have possession of (whether by item or spellbook) in Endon, although most are based on circumstance. Anti-magic spells can cause havoc if cast willy-nilly so they’re only justified when it comes to personal protection. Enchantment, curses, mind-reading, and scrying* are illegal without the target’s express consent, and using magic to alter currency falls under related crimes (fraud, theft, etc). Only necromancy is a spell illegal in and of itself due to laws against trapping the passage of a soul to the afterlife. Raising soulless undead is technically legal but most police have neither the knowledge nor means to tell apart the types of undead.

*At least at the beginning of the campaign.

Beyond law and order, PCs can make use of existing and innovative healthcare. Physicians both non-magical and magical are in abundance, although due to the lack of divine magic curing the more serious diseases and injuries are still in their infancy. Doctors are wont to try out unorthodox cures represented as a d10 + Tempo + other modifiers table, and the results range from magically-infused liquor to shocking the system with extreme heat or cold; many have potentially negative effects. We also have a 1d20 table of new magical diseases, such as being telekinetically flung in a random direction whenever you move fast to your body becoming magnetic. Accommodations and Transportation are standard fare (plus bicycles as equipment and hot air balloon rides), although the real interest are tables for generating the names of inns, cab drivers, and things said inns and drivers are known for.

Our section ends by briefly covering Newspapers in Endon. They run the gamut of truthfulness and quality, and penny dreadfuls are cheap short stories specializing in action and adventure. There’s a sidebar for the costs of running a newspaper business for journalistically-inclined PCs, and how the Tempo can add moving pictures and other magical enhancements to the printing press.


This is where MIR’s apolitical stance falls apart. Skerples liberally borrows quotes from 19th-century social commenters on the contemporary state of affairs, ranging from Karl Marx talking about the commodification of human life, Charles Dickens describing the maddening sights and sounds of urban life and the hypocrisies of British Old Money, and George Orwell commenting on how the lower-middle class has been fooled by the rich into thinking that society has evolved beyond the base pursuit of greed. When you combine this with the automation of the workplace via unseen servants in the Innovation chapter, the book is painting a pretty blatant condemnation of social conservatism and free-market enterprise. I personally do not mind this message, for I’m rather left-wing myself. But you ain’t fooling me!

Tangent aside, Endon is divided into four broad social classes: the Poor are made up of the homeless, criminals, beggars, scavengers, and others who are unsure where their next meal will come. Anyone can fall into this social class by running out of money. The Lower Class are those who live hand to mouth and have just enough means to live a spartan, self-sufficient lifestyle. They are the laborers of all manner of works in Endon, and they are at constant risk of falling into the Poor from a single spate of misfortune. The Middle Class are those whose occupations center around owners of small businesses, learned folk such as doctors and lawyers, novelists and artists of some popularity, and spellcasters who found a demand for their magical services. They care more for social appearances and thus are prone to gossip and portraying exaggerated fronts of patriotism, integrity, and other social mannerisms deemed proper. The Upper Class are overwhelmingly old money nobles and thus form a tight-knit social circle. Even the richest of the Middle Class cannot be considered this unless the Monarch elevates someone to this or they marry into a family. They as a society are fearful of the changes coming to Endon and are actually more libertine in social faux pas than the Middle Class, provided that said behavior is kept out of the papers.

Each social class has a listing for necessary equipment and/or property ownership along with Daily/Seasonal gold piece costs. Each one also has a series of specific benefits: the Poor can more easily disappear into the city and make a new identity, the Working Class are not punished for Moral Crimes (sodomy,* minor illegal magic, abortion, slander, etc) as the police don’t consider it worth the trouble to prosecute, the Middle Class can vote in elections if they own property worth more than 1,000 gp and can live off of investments, while the Upper Class do not need to work to live, can be elected to Parliament, and can get away with just about any crime provided it’s kept out of the papers.

*Yes, Endon is a rather socially conservative setting. Beyond this women cannot serve in the military, and they don’t start attending higher learning institutions in appreciable numbers until the city reaches Tempo 3.

Minsters of Endon discusses Endon’s government in regards to Parliament, its chief legislative body. Although ostensibly a democracy, only men of the Upper Class can run for office, and only the property-owning Middle and Upper Class are allowed to vote. Prospective candidates must run a campaign to spread awareness of their deeds and worthiness for public office (justified or no). Two political parties, the Gumperts and Bogs, are effectively rival noble families who respectively represent Good Ol’ Days Conservatism and Free-Market Military-Industrial Neoliberalism. PCs may be able to sway Parliament via use of the newspapers (cheap) or via bribing enough people (expensive, at least 40k gp).

Parliament is corrupt and ineffective. All members are highly encouraged to vote on issues down the line via party, and actual legal scholarship is viewed as being too suspicious so most members sign laws they don’t even understand. Nobody proposes the creation of new laws or different economic policies save in overwhelming need. Ministers are the executive branch and oversee Ministries dedicated to specific areas of governance.

The Monarch, King Harold II, is Endon’s head of state and is widely beloved by the public. He has a careful balance of power with Parliament, where the Monarch is capable of exerting legal influence to override Parliament but rarely does so. In return, Parliament will not move to restrict the Monarch’s powers.

King Harold II is a 5 Hit Die non-combatant with no inherent special abilities besides an amazing Morale score and sheer authority that forces anyone attacking him to make a saving throw (unsaid which one) or freeze from inaction. Following the stat block are 1d20 rewards the Monarch may bestow upon a party when they avert a magical apocalypse or perform some other amazing deed that saves Endon. Said rewards are not all useful and vary in practicality. Minorly useful ones include the Key to the City which allows them to avoid parking and zoning fees, gaining a Sinecure post that pays a lot of money for but two hours of work a week, or the Monarch using his influence to destroy an enemy socially (such as framing them for a capital offense). Others are a hidden inconvenience, like the Monarch giving a speech wildly exaggerating the party’s deeds and thus become tasked by the public to solve troubles beyond their ability.


By far the shortest chapter of the book, a Season represents a five-month passage of time during which events happen and things are rolled for (such as with Innovations). It presumes a slower-paced type of campaign, where PCs go on a major adventure or dungeon crawl, and once that’s over the Season ends and PCs are presumed to tend to their wounds and perform more mundane activities from magical research to maintaining a business. A d100 Carousing table is provided for what happens for PCs during the Off-Season, separated into smaller d10 tables representing Endon’s 8 Deadly Sins and a d20 General Events table. They range wildly in potential boons and banes, such as being able to reroll a d20 1/session during the next Season, overeating and getting “Bulk” that takes up carrying capacity, gaining a random magic weapon, and an enemy suspecting that you have died due to your slothful indolence.

Speaking of sinning, Endonian culture is obsessed with the number eight, where major aspects of reality are believed to come in eights: there are eight points on a compass, eight noble metals, eight true colors, and eight deadly sins. Hatred is added as a new sin to the classic seven: whereas wrath represents passionate “in the heat of the moment” anger, hate represents a more detached and long-running form of contempt. Various aspect of Endonian society are associated with these sins such as dining halls for gluttony or newsagents preying upon fear and prejudice for hatred. Some sins and their institutions are associated more with certain classes (“carriage-watching” envy for lower and middle classes, “ever=changing fashions” pride with the upper) while some are more or less universal (gambling for greed and sex work for lust).

Our chapter ends with some sample poetic songs of Endon, and another clipping from Boff Magazine:


Thoughts So Far: I like the rather seamless blend of both world-building and the coverage of common goods and activities of likely interest to PCs. I’m a big fan of PCs running their own newspaper, as the “trouble seeking reporter” is a great means of getting the party into the next big adventure hook. The explanations of magic and the law sound plausible on the surface while also reflecting a flawed institution. The Season sub-system sounds interesting, although it’s geared towards a certain campaign style. The social classes and their benefits wildly differ in wealth upkeep, although I can see most PCs gravitating towards the Lower Class or the Upper if they earn the favor of the Monarch. Being able to more easily evade prosecution of Moral Crimes is something of more worth to the average adventurer than being able to vote or live off of investments. Speaking of which, sodomy laws and the barring of women from various institutions posits Endon as a less enlightened realm/setting which may not be to all gaming groups’ tastes. But overall, I liked these chapters.

Join us next time as we delve into the wizardly wonders of Endon with Magical Industry!
 

Libertad

Explorer

By far the longest chapter of the book, Magical Industry covers new spells, equipment used in the breeding and design of new spells, purchasing magical services from NPCs, charts and tables for various goods and services magical and otherwise, and an explanation on the Principia Arcana and Endon’s prevailing magical laws and theories. It covers practically everything save for proper Magic Items, which have a chapter of their own. Material from previous chapters is repeated and expanded upon for convenience’s sake, and we also have tables for magic item prices both limited-use and permanent. Generally speaking, magic becomes cheaper across the board as the Tempo Increases, sometimes dropping to a third or a quarter of their Tempo 1 price.

The Paradigm is the unified theory of magic of which most of Endon’s spellcasters follow. In keeping with the rule of eight, wizards recognize eight metals and eight gems to have particular magical attunement. Gold is ideal for channeling magic associated with the sun, iron best channels spells of harm and violence, lead is a magical absorbent/reflector, etc. A fictional metal known as Occultum is pure condensed magic which can be used to transmute metals one step “higher” on the d8 table via the proper tools. Beyond such basic matter, there’s a Periodic Table of Spells which groups known magic by level and by school. Said Table is still a matter of conjecture and various entries are subject to debate; there was a desire to put spells into eight Grand Schools but more discoveries turned this on its head. Light magic turned out to be Illusion and not Evocation, mages are loath to place curative magic as Necromancy for both legal and social reasons, and what was once considered Evocation was a myriad array of Elemental spells.



Magical Accumulators and Magical Batteries can be used to refill and store a magic item’s charges respectively. The amount of charges they can store/generate is based on both the device’s size and the setting Tempo. Spell Breeding Reactors can be used to create spells which are collected into scrolls and spellbooks, and spells beyond 2nd level require reactors of increasingly prohibitive costs. Reactors that can breed level 9 spells are too rare to be sold on the open market but cost 100,000 gp to build. Finally, Enchantment Engravers can bind spells to objects, which I presume cover both wands and potions as well as permanent items although the text does not specify. It’s surprisingly cheap, with 300 gp for 0 to 2nd level spells and 1,000 for 6th to 8th level spells.

The prices of these 3 kinds of devices are set in stone regardless of Tempo, ranging anywhere from 2,000 to 20,000 gp. As such they are something out of the hands of low-level parties, but a group of sufficient level can afford one to a few with a significant investment.

There’s guidelines for both the GM and PCs in designing new Magical Equipment via checking prices of existing material in this book. Inventing new Magical Equipment has the side effect of the GM creating a new Innovation and apocalyptic Terminal Event regardless of the inventor’s intentions. Building magical items are one thing, but making a profit by selling them is another: first off, a new device must be able to give something to society not already filled by a common thing. If non-magical items can do it then there’s not a market for it beyond some novel collectors, and most 0 to 2nd level spells have already been commercialized by big businesses who more or less cornered the market and can set prices low enough to drive away competition.

We have 3 tables for Magical Explosions, Spell Mutations, and Spell Cross-Breeds. Magical explosions can happen with risky use of the above items (overcharging a charged item, for instance), while the latter two are the result of spell breeding reactors. Mutations are alterations to an existing spell both positive and negative represented by a d20 table and have a 10% chance of happening. They range in effect from rolling less dice for the spell, changing its energy type, having it be cast as the next fastest action, or granting targets a bonus/penalty to their saves against it among other things. Spell Cross-Breeds are what happens when you add two different spells to a spell reactor, and is a highly risky science. There’s a chance of Causing a Magical Explosion which increases every day, but the d10 crossbreed results have varying effects. A lot of them are negative (base metals ooze out and damage nearby creatures and objects, the spell is a harmless dud cantrip, etc) but some can create a random Low-Level or Discount Spell, while a result of 10 is a success as the spell is successfully crossbred and is a perfect blend of the two original spells.

1d50 Generic Low-Level Spells and 1d50 Unique Low-Level Spells provide a series of new magic for one’s OSR games. They are without exception 0 to 2nd level, and quite a few of the Generic spells are from newer D&D Editions (Grease, Mending, Shocking Grasp, etc) converted back to a B/X framework. Some of the interesting generic spells include Control Element (alter up to a 30 foot cube of said element), Deflect Spell (deflect a spell within 10 feet of caster to a new point 1d10x10 feet away), False Teleport (caster turns into gas, flies up to 100 feet away, then reforms), Hex (target takes double damage from magical attacks and -2 to attack rolls), and Warding Mark (caster marks a surface area and contingent condition; when activated nearby targets must save or be stunned and caster knows it was activated).

Unique Spells are found only in Endon because of their relative newness to the world. A few interesting ones include Butterfly Hurricane (can grant immunity to non-area ranged attacks and stun targets inside), Hone (object’s edge becomes razor sharp and deals 1d6 additional damage), Lavin’s Pathclearing Servant (10 foot wide by 100 foot long force blade pushes objects out of the way), Newspaper Trap (enchants up to 10 pounds of paper to fly and cover a nearby target’s face), and the Creature Comforts of Tuttle Wren (creates a large tent that wards outside elements for 8 hours and contains various survival gear, cookware, high-quality furniture, and an erotic novel that is less erotic than expected).

Discount Spells are a d50 table with titles only. They include such entries as Mass Yawning, Stew to Soup, Frighten Ducks, and other such comical things.

Buying and Selling Spells covers what happens when the party looks for magical assistance outside their own capabilities. Mages in Endon rarely sell knowledge of spells directly, instead preferring to sell magic items. Spells of 0 to 2nd level are cheap as dirt regardless of Tempo (10 to 2 gp), while 3rd to 5th level spells are pricier (150 to 20 gp) and have a chance at having a Complication. 6th to 8th level spells are a pretty penny regardless of Tempo (1,000 to 550 gp) and always have a Complication. 9th level spells are too rare and precious to be sold on the open market. Buying the spell in scroll form doubles the cost, while wands increase the price tenfold. Spells can be purchased via a reputable firm, from a university, or via the criminal underworld (likelier chances of duds, misfires, etc). There’s a list of 7 Reputable Firms and 8 Disreputable Wizards along with their locations in Endon, their areas of expertise, and the seller’s quirky personality traits in the case of Disreputable Wizards. Reputable Firms are strongly classist and will bar entry to anyone not obviously Middle or Upper Class. Disreputable Wizards will sell to anyone, and can even dabble in illegal magic and stolen items, but they buy items at 10% market value and can rarely buy more than 100 gold worth of items and spells at any one time. As such, they prefer operating on a favor-based economy.

Complications are a d20 table that represents some flawed process in the spell breeding or in regards to how said spell/item was gained. Sample complications include being less accurate than normal, inflicting damage to the caster, the spell/magic item being used in a crime and can bring police attention, or the seller being paranoid of the prospective buyer.

PCs selling spells works a bit differently. Common spells and those low-level ones you see in just about every Edition are virtually worthless due to high supply, and there’s more money to be had in rare and complicated spells with an alternate effect or novelty feature. Additionally Endon’s economy prioritizes spells which have a clear industrial application. As such, prices PCs can get away with range from 1d10 gp (common) to 1d10x1,000 gp minimum for rare and powerful spells with clear industrial applications. There’s also a d20 Complication table too, ranging from the prospective buyer planning on mugging the PCs to rumours of the party’s financial prosperity attracting all manner of greedy folk.

Our chapter ends with Unsolved Problems unaddressed by the Paradigm. A few problems include the lack of universality of the number 8 and the commonality of 12 as a counterpoint,* whether or not the process used in binding a soul to undead flesh can be used to transfer living souls into golem bodies, why time can be slowed down but not sped up, whether there is anything that can travel faster than the speed of light, and if summoned creatures actually come from somewhere vs being conjured from the spell itself.

*twelve months in a year, twelve hours each in the “day” and the “night.


Thoughts So Far: I really like this chapter, for it emphasises Endon’s high-magic nature. The commodification of spells and “magic item marts” are a rather contentious issue among D&D players, but in the industrial capitalist Weird Wizard Show of Magical Industrial Revolution it is a great fit. Being able to cross-breed and mutate spells, build one’s own magic items, and Complications from acquired spells and magic items really adds to the atmosphere of charting dangerous new horizons and gives ample room for PCs to get in on it beyond GM Fiat. My chief concern is that the relative cheapness of spells and items as the Tempo increases may make spellcasting PCs and those with charged magical items even more powerful. But given that only low-level magic can really be bought in abundance without consequence mutes my concerns a bit. That it’s in line with the setting’s increasing creep towards a golden-age-turned-armageddon makes a bit of thematic sense.

Join us next time as we cover Magic Items, Citizens of Endon, and a Menagerie bestiary!
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
This is a really good book, and I firmly intend to do a campaign in this setting... but it has to be done "right" - you need the right group and the right "mind set". This isn't a "kill the monsters" game definitely. Looking forward to it!
 

Libertad

Explorer

While the previous chapter had magic items, they more or less existed for the creation of spells and other magic items rather than being objects that could achieve effects on their own. The vast majority of this chapter are tables for various types of supernatural equipment as well as new rules for magical prosthetics. Price lists are very simple, being universal for the table type as opposed to having prices for each individual item. Minor Magic Items and Magic Potions can cost anywhere from a few silver to a few gold depending on the Tempo,* while Magic Weapons can cost anywhere from 4 to 15 gold if Minor, or 30 to 100 if regular. Prosthetics are a different matter, whose cost is based on whether it merely replaces or enhances the lost body part and if it is “sensible” for the patient’s body type. Prices for magical prosthetics can be anywhere from 30 to 250 gold and stay the same regardless of Tempo.

*the higher the Tempo the cheaper.

1d100 Minor Magic Items is separated into 5 d20 smaller tables grouped by subject: tools, personal, entertainment, food & drink, and the dubiously legal. Most of them have minor tricks and gimmicks of limited duration, such as Pocket Scales that make a shrill noise if counterfeit coins are placed upon them, an Autoscribe quill that can transcribe speech into any language when activated, a toy Wooden Fish that can swim around in water, a primitive Iconograph camera, or a Cousin M rubber orb which if tossed inflates into a decoy copy of the thrower.

Potions have a demand for those who need a single-use effect of limited durability, and as such are favored by people on a budget. The d20 table includes some predictable results (reduce damage from a certain enemy type, heal damage, grant invisibility) although some of the more inventive ones include teleporting the drinker a short distance, granting a +8 bonus to the next d20 roll but suffer -8 on a future one assigned by the GM, transforming the drinker into a rat, or one that can turn the drinker into intangible smoke.

Minor Magic Weapons are so called because they are offensive in use but either of limited duration or are indirectly lethal. The d20 table includes various grenades and handheld pistols and tubes which can perform some kind of ranged attack. Some of the more interesting results include a Toad Grenade which turns creatures in the AoE into a toad for 1 round, a wooden spyglass which can change the personal gravity of a nearby target by 90 degrees, a Badgerbanger tin can that unleashes an angry illusory badger, and a hand cranked Calliope Saw which can unleash a cone of sharp lashing wires.

Magic Weapons are more variable in that the d100 table lists specific enhancements to apply to the properties of an existing non-magical weapon type. There’s an awful lot of results, some conventional and others more novel. Some of the interesting results include Namefinding that causes the weapon to shout the true name of a struck target, Gambler’s Aid which can summon the weapon to the wielder’s hand in exchange for swapping places with a coin on the wielder’s person, Fertile where the weapon can produce silver seeds which grow into swords if planted in soil, and Momentous which can change the weapon of a weight mid-swing to deal 1d6 bonus damage provided that the wielder accepts acting last in the initiative order after the result of the attack.

Speaking of which, firearms both magical and mundane exist in Endon, although most of them are 17th century at best: you’re getting muskets, blunderbusses, and fowling pieces rather than revolvers and bolt-action rifles.


Prosthetics both magical and mundane are available for sale in Endon. Prevailing theory claims that the soul of a person is roughly the same shape as their body, thus explaining why those who lost limbs have phantom sensations in the removed area. Thus magical prosthetics attune themselves to the donor by trapping the bodiless part of the soul in them. Non-magical prosthetics for various body parts have various rules but have minor penalties: for example, prosthetic legs have reduced movements but may be hollow enough to hold small objects. Magical prosthetics are good enough to alleviate any shortcomings and perform as well as their organic counterparts. Some prosthetics can go even further: a Ghost Limb can be treated as ethereal and invisible, plate armour can be installed as skin grafts, Powderkeg Legs can let the user jump up to 30 feet in the air, and so on and so forth.


Every GM at some point needs to make up an NPC on the spot, or needs some additional inspiration in creating one ahead of time. This chapter provides a little bit of both. We start out with d100 NPCs and Rumours, split into 2 categories of “Who Knows?” and “What Do they Know?” to provide potential adventuring hooks or just interesting goings-on. 1d100 Wizards or Nobles has one table each for personal names, family names, notable physical features, and eccentric personality traits.

Useful NPCs are 20 predone characters meant to be used as potential contacts and recurring characters. They are separated by social class and have no game statistics, but provide information on their talents, personalities, and what kinds of PCs are the most likely to interact with them.

We then move on to characters with specific stat blocks, aka ones PCs are likely to end up fighting. The Mob is an all-purpose stat block for a group of angry and violent people, who are Unarmoured and move slowly, but can automatically outflank individuals, have a variable number of Hit Die based on their size, gain additional attacks and actions based on said size, and can grow larger and replenish their numbers based upon various conditions. People do not riot for no reason, and every Mob has a Cause which determines their overall goals and actions.

Thieves & Urchins are innumerable. Thieves tend to be involved in gangs but are rather averse to violence, while Urchins are child noncombatants who are highly mobile: they have AC equivalent to chainmail when moving, and can move at base speed through tight spaces and in encumbering environmental conditions. Both NPC types have their own tables, determining the overall theme of the criminal group for Thieves (flamboyant highwaymen, masters of disguise, sex workers who moonlight as burglars, etc) or some interesting personality trait or talent for Urchins (is somehow immune to magic, is a musical prodigy, Hides in the Catacombs*, etc).

*a dungeon that will be detailed in a future chapter.

Eventually PCs will earn the enmity of big-time villains one step above nameless rogues. Scoundrels are made via d20 tables of various traits for a notable villain, ranging from their favored Schemes to social Tools and assets to their Lair. Not all results are crime lord types. You can very easily roll up a tattooed necromancer dying of consumption who makes money by industrial espionage, or a woman dressed in funeral attire with a bandolier of high-powered magic wands plotting to kidnap a prominent Minister. And for those GMs who want a predone antagonist right now, Rivals & Villains presents 8 such characters. Most are relatively low-powered yet still a cut above the common cloth, ranging from 2 to 7 Hit Die and more likely than not to be a spellcaster. My favorite villains include a crime lord cursed into the form of a gorilla, a pair of pistoleer twins who are actually one soul sharing two bodies, and a eugenicist nobleman whose charitable soup kitchens and workhouses are filled with sterility-causing food as part of a plot to rid Endon of “undesirables.”

Our chapter ends with a 1d50 Wrongs & Injustices table to come up with hooks for how your arch-villain may have wronged (or will wrong) a PC. They are broad in nature, such as addicting a relative to drugs, stole something from the character, or was a childhood bully or workplace dick from their past.


This chapter is the bestiary of Magical Industrial Revolution. There’s but a mere 10 entries, but 4 of them come with tables full of customizable options which greatly expands their utility. Quite a few monsters have their numbers per encounter increase with the Tempo.

Elsewhere Creatures are a catch-all term for the strange, alien beings that come from other dimensions as a result of teleportation circle malfunctions. Their Hit Die, appearance, special abilities, and attacks are randomly generated and include such things as spitting balls of stunning electricity, having a 2-dimensional form which is invisible at an angle, and communicating with what sounds like thousands of scissors cutting through silk. We also have Elsewhere Rifts for generating portals to other planes, including atmosphere, gravity, weather, and common hazards and loot. The planar environments are appropriately trippy, such as stacked ceramic bowls the size of counties with mercury-filled lakes, lightless depressions filled with smooth sliding spheres, or a dark void of blue-white stars. This is easily my favorite entry in the Menagerie.

Exotic & Nightmarish Creatures is a 1d50 table for generating polymorphed monsters drawn from the imaginations of transmuters. We have two columns, one for “Exotic Creatures” which include mundane animals and giant versions of said animals, and Nightmarish Creatures which include stone-eating giant earthworms, goblins that can split into 16 new versions every full moon, and half-human half-carrot were-vegetables. There are no sample Hit Dice, AC, or other game stats provided, so the GM has to do a bit more work here.

Gel Knights are specially-bred oozes poured into a suit of armor and then taught to pilot it. Wizards are fond of using the things as guards. They are 4 HD monsters with AC equal to that of a plate and shield and can attack twice per round with a sword, but are of animal intelligence.

Mild Dogs Are specially-bred dogs that exude an aura of happiness, calm, and other positive emotions in a 10 foot radius. Those who fail a saving throw find themselves unable to do anything violent, selfish, or rude in their presence and thus many owners use them to guard against evildoers and to ward against violence.

The Ghost Whale of Endon is a unique creature that originated as a polymorphed stray dog. Although the creature died, its soul lives on and will soon take to haunting Endon’s streets as the Tempo increases. It has an AoE howl that can cause damage and Save or Die if it howls for 2 rounds. Those who are indoors are immune to the latter effect. The Ghost Whale has 7 HD, is incorporeal, and can fly.

Skeletons are nothing new, although for some reason there are species of living beings that appear just like skeletons and are “false undead.” We have a table of 1d100 Skeleton Variants to reflect this diversity, the first 50 being true undead and the latter 50 skeleton-like beings.

Speaking Rat Society is an organization of intelligent rats that gained sapience from Endon’s magic-soaked environment. Their Society views humans, cats, and dogs as an existential threat and thus seek to bring about their destruction. Other than this, they wish to seize as much food, fabrics, and shiny objects as possible. They have no special abilities besides human-like intelligence and the ability to speak actual words provided they’re gathered in a swarm. And even then, each individual word is spoken by a different rat in the swarm.

Stray Spells are a rare phenomenon when a magic item breaks and the spell powering it is released, a spell is miscast, or some other accident happens that frees a spell from its limited trappings. They become more common as the Tempo increases. Stray Spells are 2 HD monsters which reduce all non-magical damage to 1 point, can fly, and have a 1d20 table to determine its special ability/form. Examples include a cloud that can put people to sleep, a swarm of silver-green darts that can untie ropes and open locks, harmless motes of light, and a flying newspaper that explodes when read.

Thaumovoric Eels are a mutant species of fish that live in the River Burl. The ambient magical pollution being poured into this body of water caused said species of eel to evolve and live off of magical energy. They can also fly and drain charges and spell slots from a spellcaster or item via a successful bite attack. Those who cook and eat said eels reduce all damage of a magical origin by 1 point for 1 hour.

Tunnel Trolls are mutated trolls living in the Catacombs of Endon. Their base stats are close to OSR trolls (claws and bite attacks, have 7 HD), but they cannot regenerate damage and can squeeze through spaces normally too large for their size. Arcane experiments of all kinds are the origin for innumerable strains, reflected in a d10 table of variant traits. The table includes a variety of results, such as being able to vomit an AoE line of acid, being able to reshape itself into a caricature of a hated foe via reading a target’s mind, and exploding after 1d6 rounds if set on fire.

Thoughts So Far: I’m quite fond of the variant magical items and how many are geared towards applications not of immediate use to adventuring types yet can still be useful in said adventurers’ hands with some creativity. While stats for non-magical versions are not given out, I’m a bit happy that the author didn’t try to avoid the inclusion of firearms and instead treated them as yet another potential piece of technology that can be invented or adapted as a result of Endon’s high-magic society.

New NPCs are a bit hit or miss: the sample generic stat blocks and random NPC generation are material I’ve seen in plenty of other GM-friendly OSR material, although I do like the Scoundrel table for generating arch-enemies with appropriately Penny Dreadful vibes. The new monsters are cool, and aside from skeletons each has an explicit inbuilt purpose within the setting.

Join us next time as we wrap up this book with Dungeons, Appendices, and Pamphlets!
 

Libertad

Explorer

Two sample dungeons, two Make Your Own Dungeons, and a list of sample residential dwellings by income level comprise this chapter. Our first entry, the Catacombs, is an expansive underground network of tunnels beneath Endon. Extending beyond the sewer system, it is possible to enter through basements, storm drains, the Old Endon Cemetery, and even the Auld Grey Cathedral. There’s a variety of tables for determining entrances, atmospheric details, potentially hazardous complications, and random encounters which can also be a treasure hoard of coins and/or magic items. We also have 15 mini-map locations laid out in grid patterns, ranging from Crypts to Ladder Shafts to Sunken Pools and even Stone Circles brimming with magical energy.

The Bells of St. Bristow is a 7-room dungeon crawl where a priest pays the PCs to track down the theft of three bronze bells. The bells in fact have been stolen by a giant hermit crab which lairs beneath a small church as part of a larger infestation. The Biggest Aspidistra in the World is actually a mere residential home...lifted up hundreds of feet into the air courtesy of a magical plant that grew rapidly overnight. Several of the “rooms” are in fact portions of the stalk and plant leaves home to various insectoid monsters; the PCs can encounter a stranded balloonist who tried to rescue the home’s family before the party got around to doing the same thing, and said family is dysfunctional and practically at their wit’s end due to the stress of the situation. Generic Dwellings are a set of 4 maps with accompanying 1d10 and 1d20 tables for determining “eccentricities” notable in their construction and/or residents. There’s also a 1d10 “Guards, Guards!” table for determining a house’s security. Said security can range from mere civilians armed with improvised weapons to trained magical creatures or even a maid with a Minor Magic Weapon. Finally, the Wonder-Mansion Generator is a pair of 1d20 tables for populating the domains of nobles and well-to-do wizards. The Contents table showcases weird art projects and rare items worth a pretty gold piece, while Complications determines traps, enemies, and other opposition which stands in the way of the PCs who might try to steal them.


This is full of material that does not easily fit anywhere else in the book. We first start off with Reasons to Visit Endon that include generic ones (selling/buying magic items, profitable ventures, cosmopolitan resources) as well as ones separated by character class (instill religious morality, tracking down enemies of your order, etc). Interestingly the classes adhere to 5th Edition terminology barring some mention of OSR renames (Thieves/Rogues/Assassins), and there’s reasons given for Sorcerers and Warlocks, classes which didn’t exist in TSR-era D&D.

Afterwards we have three 1d20 tables for Generic Plot Hooks, Lectures at Loxdon College, and Plays & Operas. The Plot Hooks are one-sentence summaries of potential events in Endon ranging from the mundane (military coup, someone unjustly committed to an asylum) to the more fantastical (a serial killer rises from the dead to continue his bloody work, mad scientist threatens to zap Endon with a death ray unless given lots of money). Lectures at Loxdon College cover the types of things one would expect from a magical Victorian setting, such as The Language of Whales or Life and Commerce on the Moon. Plays and Operas include titles, authors, and descriptions along with a second table for determining one-sentence blurbs from acerbic reviewers, many of which are quite witty (“the music is better than it sounds”).

Finally we have an Index, a Bibliography, Inspirational Media, an oddly-placed 1d100 I Search the Body table with d20 results separated by social class (last d20 is “Unusual”), and a Pre-Session Checklist for keeping track of Innovation Progression, Tempo, and a brief list of GMing tips. And our very last page is a Solve My Problems Sheet which has answers to some common questions of likely interest to PCs and their shenanigans. For example “I’ve done something illegal” gives a brief description and page references to Copper stat blocks and the criminal justice system.

Pamphlets

These are not part of the book itself, but separate 1-2 page PDFs that come with the eBook purchase of MIR. As I do not own the physical copy I don’t know if they’re physical handouts or just bonus pages. Cumberworld’s Handbook of Magical Industry is an abridged version of the most pertinent aspects of the Magical Industry Chapter in handout form for PCs. Dreadful Life is a collection of in-character newspaper advertisements and a short news article on the trials of individual criminals of Endon. The Secret Key, or a Visitor’s Guide to Endon is an in-character handout of a map of the city and its 25 major locations, more in-character advertisements, mention of tourist attractions, and a portrait of the Monarch with a brief explanation of who he is in very flattering terms.

Thoughts So Far: The dungeons are a nice touch, and I particularly appreciate the maps for residences and underground urban areas. The bronze bell dungeon crawl feels a bit out of place in a setting largely bereft of religion, but the house stuck at the top of a giant plant is cool and novel. The appendices are a nice touch, as are the handout pamphlets.

Final Thoughts: I haven’t really perused the work of Skerples before this, but after reading Magical Industrial Revolution I can understand the popularity of his content. Magical Industrial Revolution gives us a setting that is novel in multiple ways: besides being set in a Fantasy Victorian culture ill-explored by D&D, it does a great job of threading the needle between the complications of magic changing society while also presenting plausible changes and turmoil that can come with progress. Like Eberron it discusses how various spells and magical items can revolutionize day to day life. But unlike Eberron, domestic and “industrial” spells and items are more easily attainable by PCs without becoming overly cost-prohibitive, and there are rules for the party setting up their own Magic Item Mart (albeit at a smaller, more individual scale).

All in all, Magical Industrial Revolution is a definite recommendation, whether or not you’re a purveyor of OSR games. The material within is easily minable for other systems, although some care may have to be taken if transitioning it to games that use a Wealth-by-Level mechanic or ones where the cheapening of scrolls, wands, and other such fare can cause a massive power imbalance. I do get that this is the point of the setting, but it’s still something to look out for nonetheless.

I have plans on reviewing another book, although I cannot predict which book in particular that will be or when I’ll start. For now, I thank everyone who read this far. See you all on the next Let’s Read!

Author’s Comments

So while hanging out in an OSR Discord, the author of this book commented on some choices in regards to design. With his permission I’m quoting them here:

Skerples responding to a reader comment said:
"I found just with experimenting, that one phenomenon would increase at a constant rate while the other 7 stalled. Just a quirk of the math."

How much testing? Did a fair bit over here. Spent many hours rolling dice and charting things on graph paper. The goal was to have a semi-constant rate to apocalyptic explosions without stalling out (so some arcs wouldn't take 20 sessions, some 4). Seems to work fairly well. Some innovations progress quickly, some stall. If they all ticked up automatically the GM would have a lot to track and introduce each Season.

And there tends to be a nice delay between the first innovation hitting the final stage and the next one hitting it.

Gives the PCs time to breathe, regroup, etc.

Also Skerples said:
Enjoying the readthrough + comments on various sites. I might put together a blog post answering some questions at the end (instead of creating several accounts).

One interesting note is the pound conversion rate. If you use a standard calculator, yes, 1gbp in 1800 will come out closer to $1,000 modern USD. But if you calibrate on purchasing power and intuitive pricing, it's closer to $100. E.g. an income of £500 a year was pretty dire for a family in a Jane Austen novel. $500,000 doesn't feel too dire; $50,000 easily could be. I calibrated values using historical price lists, advertisements, reports, etc.

The reasons for this disparity are... complicated.
 

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