Steampunk Settings



What settings are people thinking of using for their Steampunk games? I don't know whether the book comes with a 'default' one or not. 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen', the comics rather than the film, is bound to be an influence and I believe there are other comics out there.

Britain and London in particular are almost compulsory as a setting. I rather fancy a series of unusual murders to start with. One victim could be a soldier if we need a hook for an army officer. The perpetrator could be an altered subject in a secret programme, whether a covert military project or the work of an individual madmen.

Other areas of interest include India, a huge and exotic setting. Have a look at the novel 'The Tomb' by F. Paul Wilson for a lovely scenario idea. The definitive book on the Thugee cult is almost unobtainable and I cannot remember what it is called though the film The Deceivers (1988) is very good.

Personally I have a soft spot for polar exploration, and you could find everything from Atlantis to Vikings frozen in the polar ice. The RN has a long history in this area, though often tragic – eg. The Franklin Expedition.

I am toying with the idea of having a king rather than queen Victoria. This would allow the British monarch to remain Elector of Hanover which gives them a link to the Germanies. I wonder if I could get away with marrying Victoria off and making her Queen of Prussia?

Speaking of Prussia it is difficult to get the French to win the Franco-Prussian war. All I can come up with is either Russian intervention or the use of poison gas by the French, dropped from balloons of course. This allows Germany to remain fragmented.

If one wants a cold war situation one could have Britain allied with Germany facing off against France and Russia. I am not so sure about Austria and the lesser European powers; Italy and the Balkans (as ever) could be hotbeds of espionage.

The CSA might have survived with British, or more likely French help. Allowing the Empire of Mexico to survive. The CSA might expand – westwards and into Cuba, maybe even, Waller style, into South America. Brazil, another slave state is a certain ally for them.

This should get you started. What do the rest of you think?

Well next year Kiln Publications will be putting out Victoria's World:1887. The basic premise is of course set in Britian. The is a major war brewing between them , Germany and France. Zeppelins rule the air and steam powered mecha will rule the battleground.... the occult will be a major player in the underground life in Britain also....the CSA came to a stalemate with the North after Britain sent over some prototype steam powered mecha... I figure that should help out some GM's....
kiln publications said:
Well next year Kiln Publications will be putting out Victoria's World:1887. The basic premise is of course set in Britian. The is a major war brewing between them , Germany and France. Zeppelins rule the air and steam powered mecha will rule the battleground.... the occult will be a major player in the underground life in Britain also....the CSA came to a stalemate with the North after Britain sent over some prototype steam powered mecha... I figure that should help out some GM's....


I've run an alternate Victorian England game a few times using D&D, and had very good luck with it. Wizards are trained by the Royal Academy of Wizardry, which also license sorcerers. Crimes against property more harshly punished than those against common people. The CofE (Both high and low (church or chapel?) and in Ireland Catholicism, Scotland Calvanism, etc. etc. etc.) it went very well. The campaign ended with a total party kill that one player summed up as 'That ruled!'... Let us just say that while they did in fact all die, they managed to prevent the evil plot from succeeding in the same, ermm, explosive moment...:)

I will look forward to this!

The Auld Grump
I'm planning on running a game in a alternate victorian setting, the players will be recruited to assist the great consulting detective Sherlock Holmes.... after he died at the Reichenbach Falls.
My thought was this... I had a really well developed world I created for D&D years and years ago. It occured to me, since OGL Steampunk includes the fantastical races, that I could reexamine my old world, move up up some 400-500 years and convert it for OGL Steampunk.
I am thinking of using a post Civil War era partly based on some of Harry Turtledoves "How Few Remain" ideas. The south did not lose, but the war ended in an armistance. (They resorted to Necromancy to raise the dead and even the odds man-power wise. Plus both sides used sorceryad n psychics to battle one another.)
Now a huge no man land about 10-20 miles wide seperates the Union and Confederacy. Trenches and fortifications run down it, and metal clad monitors patrol the rivers. Both sides have "Land Monitors" and the confederates have developed "Timber Clad" war walkers. Outlaws, Indians, deserters, smugglers, a nd horrid monsters live in this Mad-Max of the 1800s zone.
The Union trains mages at good ol' Miskatonic University.
Lots of other stuff in my notes about what is going on in Europe, but mainly North American based.
Elves are annoying visitors from their own dimension that meddle in human affairs from time to time. Dwarves have been with humans forever, living as miners, artisans, and metal and stone crafters. (the Masons have more dwarf members than human!) I could find no place for Orcs or gnomes. I should have some pictures of some converted figures I am doing for my characters ready soon. Also Paroom Station, distributed by The London Warroom in the US and Newline designs in England makes excellent figures, including many characters from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (The Comic version) for this era.
Praetorian said:
I am thinking of using a post Civil War era partly based on some of Harry Turtledoves "How Few Remain" ideas.
This sounds *fantastic*. I've been reading this saga from "How Few Remain" and am finishing the book 6, "American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold." Astonishingly good alternate history. Your spin on Turtledove's spin sounds fascinating! 8)
This time around I am going for a non-Victorian seting. (I already have a game set in 1887-1899 using the D&D rules, after some contemplation I decided it was happy there. Plus that world has no fantastic critters except those that have been conjured.)

For the game next week I am detailing the a nation in the 'New World' which has had two wars of secession in the last 100 years, a War of Consolidation that drove the Orcs into the mountains and deserts (Manifest Destiny strikes again) and took the western portion of the country from the control of one of the home countries competitors.

And during the most recent war of secession the orcs made several raids and managed to capture enough steam technology to start building their own. Those who think that I am styling what happened to the orcs after the aboriginal inhabitants of North America and that the orcs weren't the primary aggressors, well, you're right. This time I am giving them a fighting chance.:evil:

In the 'Old World' constant small wars between neigbors has been the normal situation for centuries, with the more industrialized nations now producing engines of destruction that the lesser nations cannot stop this is about to change. (Leading eventually to the confrontation of greater powers.)

There are three largely unexplored continents, all within the Southern Hemisphere, one of which is intended to be the 'Lost World' with an Australian twist. (A horrible concept brought about by a combination of The Crocodile Hunter, Jurassic Park, and too much pizza before bed...)

Unexplored does not mean uninhabited, but like our world some nations are eager to shoulder the 'white man's burden' and press into those areas to grant them civilized oversight. (If you've read Kipling you know what I mean...) In the process just coincidentally subjigating the natives and exploiting the regional resources...

Elfs are not native to this world, and concentrate around the 'places of power' mentioned in the Steampunk rulebook.

Gnomes are exiled from that other place, and dwarfs emigrated from their into the mountains of the 'Old World' millenia ago.

Dwarfs are the most integrated of the Eldrath, while the gnomes are ingratiating themselves to the companies.

Goblins are sort of like rats, they are everywhere, and dwell in the sewers and crannies of every human city. They like the elfs congregate around the places of power, those that lie at the core of nearly every great city, dark and polluted... And like elfs they are known to leave changelings that look much like humans. (In the long run the goblins, not the orcs, are the most dire threat - the goblins have a plan... and a god...)

Add to this mix killer fogs that slay thousands in a night (coal smoke + fog=sulphurous acid... breathe deep!) Labor laws that favor the company over the workers, and the workers reaction to this. A new subjigated class (the CoGs) created to work in the factories. The reaction of workers displaced by the CoGs. The determination by the court that any worker of proven sentience being protected by the law from slavery, and the lengths that some companies go to keep the sentience of some of their manufactured work force from being proven sentient... And the creation of something called 'The Worker's Manifesto'.

Religion is the part currently giving me difficulties, the goblins are done religion wise, the gnomes and the elf's have none, the dwarfs have ancestor worship... Humans... that's where I need to do some work.

This was a very quick and kluudgy world for me, but I wanted to get some playing in!

The Auld Grump, those who believe that the Industrial Revolution was bloodless have never studied the histories of the unions...

*EDIT* The places and nations do have have names, this is just an overview...

*EDIT 2 and 3* removed some redundancies.
I'm putting together a campaign world that mixes fantasy and the planes with a dash of steampunk. Entropy - the City at the End of the Multiverse - think a mixture of Sigil, Mega-City One and New Crobuzon, a vast urban sprawl built up over millenia and fought over by powerful factions, guilds and leagues (one of which is the Steelclads, formerly the Steamwrights Union and now a militant faction who have a great deal of influence as their members maintain the raised railways criss-crossing the regions), which it's easy to get into but a lot harder to get out of and where the combined effluent and smogs from a thousand alchemy labs, weapons factories and arcane workshops mean that in some Quarters life is short and in the under-towns strange mutants called alchemen are born. The fiends and celestials would value Entropy greatly for its position as a nexus of power and trade except that they themselves have the hardest time leaving the City once they're in; it's positioned over a planar breach, a wound that sucks away at the energy of the universe, and exemplars of belief in particular must make the greatest sacrifices to break free of its influence and return to the outer planes.
I have decided that the theme of the campaign is 'Gentlemen of the Great Game', the great game of course is espionage. The party consists of the 'Gentleman' and his assistants. My problem is that so far no one has created a magician of any flavor. There is the gentleman, his CoGS valet, his 'man of all work' (scoundrel) a female adventuress, and an inventor - who also tinkers with the adventuress' flying machine. (Which they cannot afford yet, so the backstory has it being refitted until they can actually afford it.) I need to retool some of the adventure unless I can convince the remaining player to create a magician. (Oddly a necromancer would be best, but any will do, there is magical evidence to be found dang it!)

A second portion will be dealing with the 'Orc Menace' coming down from the North. They will tie together when the war group finds out that someone is activelly selling technology to the orcs, that they aren't just relying on scavenged equipment, but have factories of their own... The ideal would be to have to actually diffferent groups playing the game, but it will end up being the same group of players with different characters I am fairly sure.

The Auld Grump
Well, he's decided to play a medium, so while not quite a magician the necromancy part is covered. (In truth, I more wanted a player to be able to talk with the dead than for someone being followed everywhere he went by a horde of shambolic horrors.:))

So my work around and retooling is going to be pretty minimal.

The Auld Grump, finishing up the last NPC for the first session of play.
Ran the first session yesterday... The ringer did his job well, dropped the proper hints, and was completely ignored by the party, who seem convinced that the leak is at the home office.

(An espionage campaign without a double agent is a day without sunshine...)

The Auld Grump

*EDIT* Heh, I suppose I should put a framework up around this statement... The party is a group of espionage agents currently investigating the death of one of their contacts. The victim was murdered because he found out the identity of a double agent in the organization. The ringer is an NPC being played by a player, and the murderer/double agent. The party consists of six 2nd level characters: One Noble/Investigator, one Adventuress, One Inventor (And father of the Adventuress), one Scoundrel, one Valet for the noble, and one Medium. The Medium has not yet talked to the dead agent.
Okay, I was wrong. :D Two of the players, seperately, have asked me if the ringer was supposed to be acting that way, and if so then they know who the culprit is! I am much happier with the world when my players use their noggins. So, rather than being behind schedule it looks like they are a bit ahead. They want to have the medium ask questions of the dead contact when the ringer isn't around.

The Auld Grump
The only player right now who frequents web forums is the ringer... And I think he already knows what he is up to.

The ringer's replacement character is the ghost of the murdered contact, so I may (or may not) have him play the character when the medium does his thing.

The Auld Grump

*EDIT* 'Course that will definitely give the game away, on the other hand it will also steer any rancorous feelings away from the player...
My players impressed me last game, after a sit down earlier in the week about their suspicions they set up a chance to catch him in the act. Which they did. The 'man of all work' was busier than they had originally thought, and I managed to plant some clues for later in the campaign... he was working for a traitor higher up in the organization. The ringer and the other players both handled things very well, and the ringer got to start his new character before the night ended.

Which puts them a week ahead of the loose schedule I had envisioned... So now I need to hammer out the next (unconected) scenario. I am planning on one out of four being a BAM! episode involving the main plot.

The Auld Grump, more Ludlum and le Carre than Fleming...
Current party make up:
1 Human male Noble (Aristocrat)/Invstigator (Intelligencer)
1 Human male Genius (Inventor)
1 Human female Adventuress (Pilot)
1 Ghost male Investigator (Intelligencer) (The murdered contact from the first session.)
1 CoGS Journeyman (Valet)
1 Human Male Occultist (Medium)

All working for an espionage agency, either directly or through the aristocrat.

The Auld Grump, so how long do you think it will take the elf on page 97 to realize that she is trying to write with her spoon while her pen sits in her tea?
Anonymous said:
What settings are people thinking of using for their Steampunk games?
Getting back to the OP's question (tho The Auld Grump's campaign sounds great! :D ), the game I'm currently working up is based on the Doc Sidhe books by Aaron Allston. The tech is a little more advanced that in the OGL Steampunk book - circa 1930's Worlds Fair stuff - but the magic system meshes almost perfectly.