Steampunk Settings

Bombaatu said:
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.

Heh! Beat me to it. Yes, they are a good fit, though set in an alternate 1930s. The first book can be downloaded for free at and is in the Free Library section of their website. Baen Books are the most adroit users of the internet in the publishing business, thinking that by giving away online versions they can annoy people into buying the print version rather than squinting at the CRT... What can I say? They're right in my case at least...

Another good fit is the series of post Napoleonic fantasy novels by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer:. Mairelon the Magician, The Magician's Ward, Sorcery & Cecialia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country (One of the longest titles I have seen in a while...), and its sequel The Grand Tour. Though no steam technology it is a glimpse at institutionalized magic.

The Auld Grump

*EDIT* Oh, and Doc Sidhe's author Aaron Alston is a gamer...
*Attaches electrodes to the dead topic, runs up a kite, and waits for the lightning strike....*
Live damn you! Live!

Well, I have written about my campaign, what are others brewing. (My game was cancelled yesterday do to Red Sox fever...)

The espionage concept seems to be working well, though I am thinking about swiping gear points from Spycraft so they can have Amazing Machines for a mission or two on loan from their organization. (At level 2 the Genius is about ready to invent an improved can opener, but not much better than that...) At this rate his aereoplane will never get off the ground...

The Auld Grump, needing a fresh blast of steam...
I've always been loyal to Frank Chadwick's Space: 1889 setting, and have periodically worked on converting the setting over to d20 (something more unique than d20 Modern and its variants). I just think Victorian science-fiction is a rich world that easily includes genres like the original Frankenstein (super-science horror).

Besides, it's just so, so, British. ;) And the crunchy bits (aka, cloudships and gunboats) are too cool. :D
Agreed, Space:1889 was a great setting. And the initiative system in Sodier's Companion for the game was the most brutal I have ever encountered.
Both sides roll initiative, adding modifiers
Winner moves, then shoots
Both sides roll initiative. adding modifiers... The British troops would roll over the Martians like anything. but were generally vastly outnumbered.

The Auld Grump, first rank - Volley!
TheAuldGrump said:
The Auld Grump, first rank - Volley!

Advance! :p :D

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Of course, I've just doomed my wife to another viewing of Zulu (something like viewing number 136 ;) ).

Just call me Color Sergeant Bourne. 8)
The game is still in print, though from a different company.

Yeah, Zulu and the Thin Red Line....

And a whole bunch of Knopf films. (The remakes have been pretty dank)

But I was actually wondering if anyone else is running the game right now, or am I all alone in an echoeing wasteland?

The Auld Grump, the blood dimmed tides are loosed...
TheAuldGrump said:
But I was actually wondering if anyone else is running the game right now, or am I all alone in an echoeing wasteland?

I actually started a campaign about 5-6 years lasted only about 3 months, though. I've worked on some strategic/story continuation stuff (to about 1895) since, but I haven't had an opportunity to continue the campaign.

For the record, the PCs were members of an adventuring society that were recruited to crew a specially-built flying yacht, using a newly-designed petrol boiler. The yacht, of course, owned by none other than Herbert George Wells, who is in search of materials to continue his experiments in power production....(the ultimate goal was to actually master the power of the atom).

The PCs' nemesis was unknown to them, but was actually the petrol boiler's inventor, a Royal Navy engineer and criminal mastermind who wanted whatever Wells was inventing (no one in the organization knew exactly what he was working on).

We completed two adventures. One dealt with the PCs visiting a Hill Martian tribe just before their chief is murdered (and one of the characters was, of course, framed for it). So, the PCs, with the help of one sympathetic elder (whose daughter was sweet on the accused), had to prove who really killed the chief.

The second one had them find another of the society's yachts (with a more-standard FDB), appearing like it had been hit by pirates. They land to investigate and find one survivor, who tells them that they had taken damage from pirates (but escaped), but were later attacked by High Martians (the PCs later find out that the group was trying to harvest some liftwood). Of course, two prominent scientists are among the captured, who are being held for a speedy trial and execution in a nearby krags...and the PCs have to go save them. ;)

Anyway, that was my last campaign. The villain hadn't revealed himself yet.
Whoops, I meant OGL Steampunk games.

I know there are still folks running 1889, I know some of them. I played in one of the games as a British aerial navy commander. The battle went straight downhill for the Martians when they got their sky galleon pinned against a mountain by the wind, and stove in their own bottom when they fired off their lob gun, driving them down into the mountains side. To say they were demoralized does not begin to describe it...

The Auld Grump
TheAuldGrump said:
But I was actually wondering if anyone else is running the game right now, or am I all alone in an echoeing wasteland?

I'm not actually running a game yet, but I'm in the planning stages. I'm writing up a gazeteer for my world. I chose not to set the game in an alternate history of our world, but instead to retrofit my old homebrew D&D fantasy world to OGL Steampunk. It fit in rather nicely too. There are many analogues in my world to our world. There's a British style empire, and various European influenced nations, and a nice Arab part of the world that I can do some kind of Sinbad-ish story. I even have an area where tribes of barbarians wander the plains on wild horses, so I can have a sort of cowboys & indians story if I want.

That's if the game goes on long enough for all that. My first concern is to just get the game *started*!! :) The important part, that of finding willing players, is already done. Now I just gotta plan me some adventures!
El Diablo Robotico said:
kiln publications said:
Man I wish I lived closer to anybody that plays OGL Steampunk

So, move to SoCal, and you're invited to my game!! ;)

So, what's the theme of your game? What's it all about? Any nifty house rules?

The Auld Grump, dang! the Red Sox won the series fat - maybe my game will actually take place this Saturday...
TheAuldGrump said:
So, what's the theme of your game? What's it all about? Any nifty house rules?

My campaign probably won't be a long running one. It will play out a story arc that I've devised. I stole my idea from the plot for the upcoming Nicholas Cage movie "National Treasure". So the main storyline will be a combination heist/save-the-world scenario. The main themes I'm hoping to incorporate are Industrial Revolution grittiness and class dichotomy combined with high society "Gentlemen's Clubs" and a certain Sherlock Holmes feel.

As far as house rules, I'm not a huge fan of hit points, so I'm reviewing a few options for that. I was originally thinking about using the Mutants & Masterminds combat "damage save" method. But I talked to my players and they're not too hep on that idea. They were talking about how Star Wars D20 does hit points. So I may end up going with that.

I designed my Steampunk world using an old D&D world I created a long time ago, so that I could fit in the fantasy races that are in the book (except gnomes, which I'm dropping because they don't really fit in my world, and they're a little bit redundant anyway). But my players would prefer to play humans. So, while I'm going to keep the fantasy races around, they won't play a prominent role.

The Auld Grump, dang! the Red Sox won the series fat - maybe my game will actually take place this Saturday...

SOX WIN, SOX WIN, SOX WIN!!!! I grew up in New England and have been a life long Red Sox fan. I'm ecstatic!
The players for my group have come up with character concepts! I've got a ne'er-do-well Aristocrat, an flying-machine engineer, and a medium with a penchant for spitting ectoplasm in your face. Heh.

I'm starting to get muy excited!
I'm working up a Steampunk setting right now, and I'm trying to come of with something interesting while keeping to some game concerns I have.

A lot of Steampunk settings have what I call "cyberpunk syndrome": if you like to explore, tough nuts because you can't go anywhere or do anything.

For inspiration I'm drawn to a couple of recent sources: first, China Mieville's "Perdido Street Station" and the world of Bas-Lag. This is a city-state milue that rolls in steam-tech, magic, a variety of races, and a lot of un- or under-explored territory. The biggest drawback to Bas-lag particularly is that it's hard to piece together its history, which is really essential for exploration-based games.

Second: Phil Foglio's "Girl Genius", which does a good job of explaining the why's of a city-state based steam-punk setting: "If knowledge is power, why would I share it?" The world of "Girl Genius" is the result of generations of mad scientists knocking each others' castles over.

If anyone here is interested, the first issue of Girl Genius is available free online:

That gets closer to what I was looking for: a world where adventure starts just outside the city wall and stretches back into the past beyond living memory.

I'm finding myself trying to repurpose a setting I was working on a couple of years ago, re-using maps that I never used then. A good exercise, I figure. A lot of the groundwork already done, just a lot of history to be written.

Anyway, if that tickles anyone's fancy, ask and I can provide some details.

Well, let me start with something basic: races.

I found it pretty irksome that in OGL Steampunk they basically tried to shoehorn your standard EDOT races (elfs & dwarfs & orcs & trolls) into a steampunk setting. I know, they do that with everything, but to me it doesn't fit.

If you go back to the old "scientific romances" that steampunk is drawn from, it's all pre-Tolkien and there isn't an elf in it anywhere. Mostly, any alien races, if there are any at all, tend to be cat-people or people with odd skin coloration. But players expect races to be able to draw from, so what to do?

An idea that occurred to me to steal was one I first ran across in Jack Vance's "The Dragon Masters", but would be more appropriately drawn period-wise from A. Merritt's "The Face in the Abyss": the notion of humans being bred to specific purposes. Some master race, now gone and forgotten, enslaved humanity and bred different types for specific funtions: big muscly ones to carry heavy things about, scrawny but highly-intelligent ones to keep the books balanced, wiry ones with big eyes and ears to catch rats, and so forth.

Practically, this is very similar to having EDOT, but without all the Tolkeinian baggage that goes with that. Plus you can have fun playing with secondary characteristics: night hunters would probably be dark-skinned with black hair as a matter of their function, but those characteristics don't matter for keeping books. Throw in enough time for some genetic drift and you have an interesting base of races.

At least, that's my idea right now. I'm open to suggestions.

I am creating a background that eliminates alot of the fantasy stuff. No elves or dwarves as PC's. Occult magic works okay, cause it's really slow any way. Same with psychic powers. You could say I'm just sticking with the weird-science bits, alot of mad scientist stuff.
kiln publications said:
Good idea, in Victoria's World right now I have no "magical races", just humans . I like where you are going with your campaign ideas....

That sounds cool. If I ran something that's what I would do.

As an aside, GURPS Steampunk has a lot of good ideas too in it.

And if you're using planetary travel in the ether. GURPS Mars is good too.