I was impressed with Perilous Journeys - the previous product from Perilous Journeys Publishing - so I was very interested when I learned they were doing a kickstarter for their SteamCraft game to be released to retail stores in hardback. Unfortunately, I could participate in the kickstarter due to bad timing so I decided to wait until the public release to get a copy.
Fast forward a couple of months and Valentine's Day was near and the wife had "no idea what to get me" so I snuck in a request for SteamCraft. I even mentioned the fact that she could do it all from her laptop and would not even have to drive to a bookstore. This is a big deal for her because I am one of those people that tend to get lost in a bookstore. I could literally browse for hours and hours. I have tried to point out that it is similar to the way she can browse for clothes or purses but I do not thing she believes me. Anyway, back to SteamCraft.
We ordered from FRP Games and waited for the game to arrive. It was my first order from them and I was very satisfied with the service. I was kept in the loop by FRP Games during the entire process. I received emails to let me know my order was accepted, fulfilled, and shipped. My product was properly packed for shipment and I received it with no bends, creases, gouges, or other defects that can occur during shipping. I would recommend FRP Games to others after my experience.
The SteamCraft game and world is detailed in a single 216 page hardbound volume for a $35.95 listed price. I greatly appreciate the fact that this one volume is all you need to get started. I do not rule out a game if it requires multiple volumes but it sure is more convenient on my pocketbook and reading time to get it all down in one tome. The hardback feels sturdy, looks nice, and fits in well on my shelf of gaming products. I hope to see Perilous Journeys get the same treatment at some point in the future. The interior pages are laid out in a clear manner in the traditional black text on white background; grey background is used to set some information apart in the text. The text is a nice reading size that does not put a strain on the eyes and is easy to read.
The introduction takes up two pages and includes topics such as a quick overview, a role-playing definition, and a steampunk definition. I know many believe that the "what is role-playing" section is unnecessary in modern games. I disagree because you never know when some other interest might lead someone to a role-playing game based on that interest or something similar. If someone has never actually role-played before then this short section is needed. The best part of this section defines the genre of steampunk. I had a vague idea of the genre before purchasing this book and now I know for sure what steampunk is all about.
The next section of the rulebook covers the campaign world in 55 pages. There is a wealth of information about the Arcadian Coast and the various countries and locations within. In addition, there are entries that cover topics such as racism, sexism, social class, the Fae, technology, science & magic, health care, religion, and guilds. Not only is all of this information included but there are also various pages that resemble newspaper articles that have been clipped from in world sources; a nice touch that helps with immersion.
Character creation is covered in the next 44 pages of the rule book. Characters are created through a combination of selecting from the available options and spending points during a 12 step process. The first selection that must be made is race of the character; there are 7 nonhuman races such as dwarf, elf, & gnome in addition to the Human race. I guess you could technically consider SteamCraft a steampunk fantasy game with the inclusion of fantasy elements like magic and the nonhuman races - does steampunk typically include those elements or not? The selection of race will also help determine the base ratings of the attributes. Continuing through the character creation process will result in the selection of edges, flaws, abilities, and other derived statistics. There are no limited character classes, but there are some sample archetypes, in this game but each character is a unique combination of natural and learned abilities. At the end of the character creation chapter is a sample walk through of the character creation process. I would appreciate if all games put the sample of character creation in one spot instead of spread throughout the chapter. It makes it easier to follow and double check your own character.
I had planned to do my first impressions of SteamCraft as one post but real life got crazy this weekend so I am going to go ahead and post what I have so far. The rest is coming soon...