Saturday, August 10, 2013

Steampunk Role-Playing Games

Steampunk week is now officially over with this post about various role-playing games in the steampunk genre.  This is not an attempt to be an exhaustive list but just a listing of links for information about some of the steampunk role-playing games I am aware of.
Castle Falkenstein was published in 1994 and I believe it is the oldest well-known steampunk rpg.  If someone knows differently, please let me know about other steampunk rpgs published before this one.  Castle Falkstein is set in New Europa during the 1870s and there are vast changes in the world such as the existence of mythical beasts, faerie races, and magic just to name a few.  I was able to find the Castle Falkenstein entry on Wikipedia that also mentioned a GURPS version but I kept getting error messages for all of the pages I found related to R. Talsorian.  Does anybody else have any information?
Eberron is not a stand-alone game but a campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons.  Eberron was the winning design by Keith Baker in the fantasy setting search done by Wizards of the Coast back in 2002.  Eberron is notable for combining traditional fantasy with magically powered non-traditional fantasy elements such as mechanical beings and skyships.  Eberron began under the 3E version of the D&D rules and has been updated for 4E.  More information can be found on the Eberron page at WoTC or the Eberron article at Wikipedia.
Iron Kingdoms was originally published by Privateer Press in 2004 under the d20 System.  They released a new version in 2012 that changed the rules to a d6 based system that was much closer to their miniature games Warmachine and Hordes.  Although the Wikipedia entry for Iron Kingdoms does provide some general information, anyone interested should really check out the details at the Privateer Press page for the game.
Lady Blackbird seemed to generate a decent amount of buzz several years ago.  If I remember correctly, it was an entry in the 24 hour rpg contest one year;  of course, I may be mistaken.  Does anyone reading this know for sure?  Lady Blackbird is set apart by the fact that is basically a steampunk game in a condensed form - there is very little prep time because the game comes with pregenerated characters, setting information, and a starting situation that will provide the details necessary for one or several sessions of play.  Lady Blackbird is available for download at the One Seven Design home page.
Pax Britannica is a pen & paper steampunk rpg set in a world described on the website as "an alternate present in which faeries are real, alchemists transmute lead into gold, the world runs on steam power and the sun never sets on the British Empire".  If this sounds like an interesting setup to you, there is more information available - including the game as a free download - at Pax Britannica RPG.  It seems that they are updating the rulebook but the progress has not been updated in some time.
SteamCraft is the latest offering from Perilous Journeys Publishing and is the only steampunk game that I own.  The SteamCraft page on their web page describes the setting as "a universe that mixes the scientific wonder of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells with elements of gritty, futuristic cyberpunk...a world inspired by a 19th century Earth...where both the industrial and informational revolutions occur at the same time.".  The book is well made and is all you need to play the game.  There is a wealth of world information on nations, religions, events, etc. without the reader being overwhelmed.  SteamCraft is available in pdf or print form and there is a free GM screen available.  An expansion is planned for later in the year.  I regularly talk with the author of the game and have probably bogged him down with all sorts of silly questions related to the business side of gaming but he always answers pretty quickly and eagerly.  SteamCraft is also supported by a message board on their site and I am a regular poster at those boards.

Steampunkfitters is described as "steampunk your way" on their blog which has been  active since late 2011.  The game is available for download and there are updates to the rules in the blog posts.  The art is appropriate but definitely has an "indie feel" or "indie look" to the illustrations on the blog.  I have downloaded the rules but I have yet to give them a thorough read through.

Tephra is the result of a hugely successful kickstarter campaign done by Cracked Monocle.  Their home page is full of information related to the game.  I do not own the game so I can not give any thoughts on the system or world but there was a recent post at Rather Gamey that does a fine job detailing the poster's personal experience with Tephra.  Please, read his post because I got nothing over here but a link to the designers.
Well, that is it for the listing of steampunk role-playing games.  Of course, with any list such as this there is a possibility of overlap or omission so if anyone has any additional thoughts or would like to correct something then please do so in the comments.


  1. My immediate thought was for Space: 1889, but you may not consider it to be steampunk...

    1. Thanks! I had originally intended to include it but forgot. Several others mentioned it. I am doing an update post later in the week and I will credit everyone for pointing out the games I missed.