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What makes a good Steam Punk Game


indy523
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Giant Steam engines, Aeronaught Gyrocopters, Zeppelins air craft carriers, men in three piece suits and women in old style long dresses where a scandal is showing too much ankle.  What makes for a good Steam Punk Game and what rules capture the Zeitgeist of the books and stories of the genre.

 

I read a book that explained why you could have some modern advances but still be Steam Punk.  Essentially you accepted that physics as understood in the 19th century were real.  Space was not empty but filled with a medium called the Ether and that is how gravity and light propagated.   What we called atoms are not protons and neutrons orbited by electrons.  Instead Atoms are based on knot theory.  Essentially the Ether gnarls up and twists and forms strings and knots in it fabric and these knotted areas of space are what creates atoms.  Each atom on the periodic table had a set of twists and loops that represented matter.  The Ether was also the medium for the spiritual occult of that time as it represented the Ethereal plane.

 

In 19th century physics old school black gun powder works however the modern smokeless powder based on nitrocellulose, nitroglycerin and other more powerful explosives do not work.  The substances if the exist are inert.  This also means that dynamite of which nitroglycerin is a key component does not work either.

 

Petroleum exists and can be burned but it can't be refined into gasoline or diesel.  The best substances to use for fuel would be natural gas (methane (CH4) and alcohol but they would burn very quickly.  These would be used for explosive weapons and to give the energy needed for aeronaughts and gyrocopters to fly.  Due to the differences in physics of this world from ours engines based on alcohol or natural gas would tend to break down more quickly than steam power thus the reason it did not replace the steam engine.

 

What would be the types of weapons and rules that one would apply for a Steam Punk game.  It would not just be converting to a Victorian era science but the Occultism of the 19th century as well.

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For me, at least as important as the steampunk tech is the historical/social context of the era. For most steampunk settings we're looking at Victorian/Edwardian geopolitics and culture, with the effects of the addition of whatever radical tech source has been introduced. The characters and their interactions are thus of a different flavor than more contemporary settings.

 

I found what I consider a very good example of this approach, an animated movie titled, War of the Worlds: Goliath, set years after the initial Martian invasion, at what would have been the start of WWI on our Earth. Human civilization has adapted Martian technology and merged it with recognizable elements from the real era to create the steampunk esthetic, but the world is otherwise quite recognizable. At least until the Martians return...

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

Many steampunk games add fantasy races of Europe into the mix. It's bad enough you have to deal with Yellow and Black Savages and the French, you have to deel with Dwarves and Elves also.

 

Note: the only true savages are those who actually think that their is Yellow and Black Savages, but that was the time period...

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   Space 1889 was a wonderful example of a Steampunk game. Lots of backround info on the real era as well as the changed history. Nice sections on the attitudes of that time and explanations of the new technology.

   I personally never thought much of the rule system.....but.   A good resource for anyone wanting to play or run this genre.

P.S.  The Goliath movie can be found on YouTube.

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51f1AFG7wbL._AC_SY780_.jpg.d8b3136fcf7936c4cba4af6b0922d12b.jpg

 

This new steampunk series opens in 1880, when women aren't allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime. But twenty year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a hero. Her opportunity arrives in tragedy when the leader of the Society of Paragons, New York's greatest team of gentlemen adventurers, is murdered right before her eyes. To uncover the truth behind the assassination, Sarah joins forces with the amazing mechanical man known as The Automaton. Together they unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the Paragons that reveals the world of heroes and high-society is built on a crumbling foundation of greed and lies. When Sarah comes face to face with the megalomaniacal villain behind the murder, she must discover if she has the courage to sacrifice her life of privilege and save her clockwork friend.

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  • 1 month later...

Has any work of Steampunk ever mention the American Civil War? How exactly would you think steam technology would change the battle between the states?

 

Me? I would see the war becoming more about steam vs agriculture than freedom and slavery myself. With huge steam powered factories up north the need for expendable workers might outweigh the amount of imageints willing to sacrifice their lives for a better life for their children. So they might use slave labor to make up the difference.  Meanwhile the south would attract the idea of an idyllic farming situation and at least say to themselves how gentle their system of slavery is to that of the north (as whippings and starvation is better than death by overexertion and steam burns).

 

Eventually the south would also use steam technology. The big question is, how evil is steam vs slavery?

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Sounds very dark.  Two different evils, both justifying themselves.  If I ran a campaign like that, I'd make the player part of a third group that was trying to create Steam without expendable workers and Agriculture without slavery.  A 'new beacon' or 'shining light on a hill'...

 

Perhaps Lincoln would be a founding member.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/16/2022 at 6:58 PM, SCUBA Hero said:

Sounds very dark.  Two different evils, both justifying themselves.  If I ran a campaign like that, I'd make the player part of a third group that was trying to create Steam without expendable workers and Agriculture without slavery.  A 'new beacon' or 'shining light on a hill'...

 

Perhaps Lincoln would be a founding member.

 

Prehaps. 

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7 minutes ago, tkdguy said:

The Civil War did have quite a few elements common in the Steampunk genre.

 

The article omits a couple of points. Count Zeppelin was an observer in the Union side, and the balloons inspired him to create the airship bearing his name. One glaring omission was that the Confederacy used a submarine in combat.

Juat once. The first crew, including the engineer who built the thing, suffocated. What Navy there was in the Confederacy must have concluded it would be a suicide mission to try it again.

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