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I've been kicking around the idea of a Steampunk(ish?) setting, but the options are swamping me every time I sit down to work on it. I need a little help culling them out.

Note: Some of them have "names"--don't pay too much attention to them; they're just tags to make it easier to identify them when my wife sees the odd look on my face and asks which one I'm thinking about.

Option 1: "Pulpy" steampunk - To the general public things are exactly as the were in the history books, to a select few technology is running rampant. Think the Secret Adventures of Jules Verne or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Some magic, some mysticism, lots of low-tech "high-tech" - This one is actually the quiet one.

Option 2: Alternate Fantasy - Some key failure in the past doesn't fail and technology takes a huge leap forward sooner then it did in our history. A la Stirling/Gibson's The Difference Engine - but probably not Babbage's Engine: too passe. No Magic, interesting flying machines, Lighter-than-air Aircraft carriers, politics, intrigue and maybe a very, very ugly war. - This one is noisy but I don't think it's sure whether it wants to be a game or a book.

Option 3: "Steammage" - Magic starts working again in the mid-17th Century; Newton says the hell with Calculus and looks for the Philosophers Stone. Opposing "Major" traditions (Alchemy and Thaumaturgy) draw lines based upon nationality, minor traditions (Runecasters, shaman and "witches") have to step carefully or run afoul of the (Reformed and Reunited?) Church, and straight science is tangled up in the middle of it all. Incredible advances in some areas of technology others are never investigated. Humans only (at least initially), lifting a few ideas of Iron Kingdoms. - This one has been very, very noisy.

And Option 4 (Not steampunk but it insists on being part of the list anyway): The Dresden Files meets Monster Hunter International (a wonderful book by Larry Correia MHI: The Novel « Monster Hunter Nation ) Think Call of Cthulhu "Lite" with a Dresden-esque magic system (or maybe more like Ars Magica ... I dunno). - Not so noisy but sulks loudly if I don't stroke it occasionally.

As you can see, there are some very noisey ideas bouncing around the inside of my head ... Any ideas? Comments? Votes? Recommendations of seeking profession help?

Thanks

E*

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I say the first one, less real work and you can use Cthulhu by gaslight stuff easy enough. A secret organization of inventors and adventurers gather together to keep technology from going wrong. Perhaps after the Martian Invasion is secretly thwarted they have to cross cross the globe to ensure it doesnt fall in the wrong hands.

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How about this:

The Martians invaded 30 years ago. At first they defeated and enslaved mankind but then they grew sick and died. New and old empires rose from the ashes and began to exploit the Martian technology left behind. Now Victorian engineers and scientists have created hybrid machines that humans can operate.

In the Near East the great Russian steam tripods threaten the Crimea while Western powers stand against them with their death-ray carrying airships. In the Far East the Japanese Empire seeks to overbear the heroic resistance of the Chinese Nationalists while in the Americas the United States seeks to rebuild itself after a catastrophic civil war fought with barely understood Martian technology. In the Jungles of the Amazon an old religion stirs a new empire and in Antarctica an altogether darker force is waking...

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think about it a dresdin world type but with annita blake vampires in the open magic is real but it all 1800.

ever read Alvin Maker by scott Card < i think that it>

or go with Shadow run precepts we turn a corner in the galaxy one day and magic returns !

along with atlantis- Avolan-lumeria -Mu and people start changing into thier orginal speacies -

1 is the old physic laws still in play?

2 what laws and goverments would survive?

3 what if pyshic laws are incomplete and now magic is back thing are really diffrent!

sorry I had to through my own ideals in there , i know you just asked us about yours, I like yours but really flesh them out more and see witch one come alive and witch one die on the table?

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I say the first one, less real work and you can use Cthulhu by gaslight stuff easy enough. A secret organization of inventors and adventurers gather together to keep technology from going wrong. Perhaps after the Martian Invasion is secretly thwarted they have to cross cross the globe to ensure it doesnt fall in the wrong hands.

It also gives the PC an incredible amount of resources available to the players; something I try to avoid as it takes a lot of the challenge away from any problem.

I dunno ... it just seems more of a Victorian Supers than a Steampunk setting; which is probably why it's quieter than the others.

Good food for thought

Thanks

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How about this:

The Martians invaded 30 years ago. At first they defeated and enslaved mankind but then they grew sick and died. New and old empires rose from the ashes and began to exploit the Martian technology left behind. Now Victorian engineers and scientists have created hybrid machines that humans can operate.

Awwww man ... here I am looking to thin out the herd of ideas and you come along and drop fresh material into the gene pool :D

Is an interesting concept with lots of potential. Strangely enough, I never made it all the way through War of the Worlds (kept falling asleep -- something about Wells' writing style, I guess); which I would have to do to have the fodder to pull this one together.

Hmmm ... I'm getting whispering of rolling in Space:1889 and counter-invasions of Mars ... Yikes!

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Christopher,

I'm not familiar with Blake ... and really don't want to add to the vampire genre; too emo for my taste -- I led a Jesuit Strike Team when Vampire LARPing was getting started in town, just so the goths could have something real to complain about (and the help the GM get a grip on the game that was out-of-control)

The Big problem with the Dresden-esque option is the magic system - the combination of spontaneous casting (Evoking as Butcher calls it), with "major" (Needs a lab) and "minor" (Chalk circle on the sidewalk) rituals keeps tripping me up.

There's a similar problem with the "Steammage" option: Trying to make 4-5 distinct styles of magic, keep some level of balance between them and then try to figure out ways to derive technology or enhancements to technology from them.

As to your questions about physics, law and government -- I have to ask, in which option?

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that hard <see BRP CONAN entry on diffrent magic styles>

oh I was not suggesty in the ittsy bitsy manner of EMO Vampires < my the Gods save us from WoD and Anne Rice!

not let talk last man standing< bruce wellis> meets I am legend with DRACULA thrown in for Victorian flavor, now set it during the American I am a new nation and little of Colonist mentality - well any way

as for witch setting all baby all !

other iwse start working on the loadest ones and see if they produce , who know you make end up merging all of them and form a cool world setting!

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I'll try to keep this short ... might be a bit choppy though so bear with me.

"Pulpy" Steampunk - hybrid physics model (Newtonian + some Alchemical/Wells-ian additions like Carmot, Cavorite, Heavy Elements, etc.) maybe some elements from Quantum physics thrown if if they make things interesting. Not seeing any major shakeups in politics of any "Major" nations ... some of them might be using more technology that their citizens think they are; maybe a few "free nations" actually being surveillance states, secret national police forces ... whatever it takes to get the dystopian atmosphere.

Alternate Fantasy - no big changes to natural laws (okay maybe relaxing a few a smidgen), just an alternate timeline as far as scientific development goes; maybe a little leveraging of hindsight to make a few key developments "take" a little better than they did. As an example, the significance of in-cylinder compression for internal combuston engines is recognised earlier (Carnot said compression was necessary for a heat engine in 1824, the first recorded suggestion of in-cylinder compression was in 1838 by William Barnet, but wasn't widely used until Nikolaus Otto developed his engine 25 years later). Still working out the politics ... assuming the technology break-through is prior to Babbage, it's probably that the tolerance issues that troubled the development of the Difference and Analytical Engines would be eliminated, thus some level of computer technology will exist. I'm seeing governments using this for various means of tracking "dissidents" (Anarchists, Communists and other "dangers to the state") and surveillance.

As you can see, my vision of Steampunk isn't too far removed from Cyberpunk -- the "Utopia of Technology" is a thin coat of paint over dysfunctional, dystopian societies.

Need to head to the store for a few things and this is getting long enough for one post. I'll grind out some thoughts on Steammage and Hunters and post them later today.

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While all of them sound good, I'd take something like the Option 4. Here is the thing though: With any setting, you need to find something that has not been done -- or at least not been done all in the same package -- and avoid what has been done.

For example, I'd frankly stay away from Faerie or even alternate races with the Steam-mage concept. And if you do, Go where Castle Falkenstein didn't: Efreeti are a natural with steam, go with the Arabian style all out. Heck, there is a huge amount of space largely under-developed there as a starting point.

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Physics model with the Steammage option is going to be tricky. Part of the reason I put the re-emergence of magic in the 17th century is so that it would really be noticed all that much -- that is to say the pioneering work that would become modern science simply takes a different path. So Newton and a few other "Fathers of Modern Science" switch to Alchemical and/or Mathe-magical research, as a result some of the basic laws of physics that we take for granted will either remain undiscovered or have their discovery delayed. For example, the reflecting telescope and the decomposition of light with a prism might not be developed/discovered until after Newton's time. Similarly, differential and integral calculus would solely be the work of Leibniz. This is assuming he develops it at all, as Leibniz might likewise be distracted by magical research, albeit a magic based in mathematics (as Thaumatugy was described by John Dee in ~1570). As I'm looking at the period of the play being 150-200 years after the re-emergence of magic, much of this will have been sorted out into a strange combination of Aristotelian/Copernican, "incomplete" Newtonian, and Magical laws. And I'm nowhere close to figuring that mix out. As a side note: While the immediate impact of magic on "physics" won't be dramatic, "technology" development will probably accelerate quickly as the problems that, in reality, took decades to solve with metallurgy and new designs could have magical solutions in months or years ... forestalling the solution we know today utterly, or at least until a time when a physical solution would be less expensive than the magical one.

I haven't looked at politics too closely, I'm kinda stumped by the reaction of religious authorities - magic working roughly on the heels of the Thirty Years War ... things might be a bit touchy.

Option 4: The world is just as we know it to be, except behind the scenes there are wizards; as well as ghosties, and ghoulies and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night. Magic still has to more or less, play by the same basic laws of physics as anything else; fire still behaves like fire even if it's magically conjured and spouting from the end of a wand ... once it leaves the wand it behaves like fires because it is fire. I'm not sure if there will be anything like the White Council, or if wizards fall under federal jurisdiction. The monster side of things is where law and government could get interesting. For example: in Monster Hunter International, there is a government bounty system that pays hunters for the destruction of monsters; the bounty depends upon the age/level of maturity of the monster; in the book a "newly blooded adult werewolf" brought $50,000 in bounty. But, as always, there's a catch; you can't tell anyone anything about your experiences, your job, or even about the existence of monsters, unless they know about monsters already. If you let the cat out of the bag, some nice Federal Agents come to visit you, quietly put a bullet in your head and walk away. Nice huh?

That about all I've got time for now ... does it answer?

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Have no worries Publius, it would take a very compelling argument for me to include non-human races in Steammage at least a player characters ... it just wouldn't fit.

The Efreeti in the steam engine is an interesting idea, but, in all honesty, don't have enough depth in my knowledge of Arabian culture to even think about attempting something like that.

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Option 1: "Pulpy" steampunk - To the general public things are exactly as the were in the history books, to a select few technology is running rampant. Think the Secret Adventures of Jules Verne or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Some magic, some mysticism, lots of low-tech "high-tech" - This one is actually the quiet one.

I like this idea, quite a bit, but...hold on while I channel AikiGhost...this isn't really "unique" enough to qualify as a brand new setting. It is just what you said Jules Verne vis-à-vis LXG. While it would be interesting to throw out some stats of the niftyness found therein, it probably wouldn't be all that "popular" since everyone already has an idea of "Pulpy Steampunk", thus you are presenting a point of view for (in the minds of some) a known setting, and thus open yourself to undue criticism. Again, I like it, but then at this point, I have well over 4 bookshelves of dead tree RPG's and...ummm, 3,496 game related files (man, I am a TOOL!), so, yeah, if you wrote it, dead tree or digital, I'd probably buy it...but again, I'm and addict, so...

Edited by sladethesniper
formating...of course!

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Have no worries Publius, it would take a very compelling argument for me to include non-human races in Steammage at least a player characters ... it just wouldn't fit.

The Efreeti in the steam engine is an interesting idea, but, in all honesty, don't have enough depth in my knowledge of Arabian culture to even think about attempting something like that.

Understood. You said Maybe. I agree with you btw. All too often races become stand-ins for character personality.

I also totally understand about the knowledge base, but a quick look might give you the "oomf" you need. It doesn't have to be accurate, you can say it is 'based on..." and get by nearly as well.

"The Afrit, which many believe were the basis for the legendary Efreeti, are creatures of water and steam..." or something like that. No worries though, just tossin' ideas as requested.

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*beats head on desk* Sorry, my bad ... should have been more precise. What I ment when I said "Humans only (at least initially)" was that I was considering having some non-human races in the world, more as "creatures" and texture for the new magical world ... Should have been more clear on that.

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Slade ... sorry for the delay in replying. Rebuilding the home computer, trying to recover data from a rapidly decaying hard drive and work haven't left a lot of time for other things.

Lemme see if I can keep this short, without being terse:

Re. Pulpy -- I agree that getting this one to stand out in a crowd might be a little difficult. It started as a twist on Cthulhu by Gaslight in a attempt to get the jaded, old salts in my game group (some of whom I've gamed with for 20+ years) out of a rut and interested in something out of the ordinary. Considering PK Games' comment last week, it hasn't gotten far from that origin. Just for completeness; it involved an immortal (and barking mad) John Dee, who after discovering Atlantis off the English coast (Celtic Shelf theory) and mastering the magic and technology of the lost civilization is building a criminal organization with the intent of controlling and and the world from the shadows. Nice premise (at least for the original use), but still needs to something. Store in a cool, dry place and let it age a little.

Re. Alternate Fantasy -- I was shooting for less of a Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow flavor and more for an Aubrey-Maturin (with air-ships) flavor but I can't deny an inspiration from Sky Captain either. I'm tending to agree with you on the "write the book first" strategy, especially considering I'm getting more "Characters talking to me" than game mechanics congealing. Place on the Other Stack of ideas.

Re. "Steammage" -- I'm thinking an 1850 to 1870 time frame, but it's really hard to say considering I'll have ~200 years of history to rewrite between the resurgence of magic and the period of play. I honestly don't know that the world will look like yet. Considering the age where magic "returns," I think the single biggest social influence will be the reaction of organized religion. Once I figure that out, the rest of the political and social impacts should fall into place. I hope.

My plans for technology are a little fuzzy -- I want something derived from the gadget/equipment rules but more detailed and intend to make sure that there are at least two ways to do everything ... adds flavor and style.

Re. Option 4 -- I really should get a name for this one too -- I've got the "theory of magic" figured out, at least with broader brushes; still need details but it will support most of the techniques and effects that Butcher describes; draws on Ars Magica, Taoism and a few "New Age" books we have around the house. I really need to do some research on how various governments have implemented bounty systems, as well as nail down how much folklore about monsters and killing them I'm going to incorporate. This one still has a lot of work that needs doing and I expect it to go through multiple iterations before it's ready for prime-time.

So, based upon comments so far; here’s where each of the options are being sorted out.

Top of the settings stack is Steammage followed by Option 4. Alternate Fantasy in over in another stack and Pulpy is back in the closet to ferment a bit more.

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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Guess I'll have to write that one up if ever I ever have the time. I would really like to play in that world. But my version would be a little darker and not so "gee whiz".

Sorry for the non-help:lol:

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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Guess I'll have to write that one up if ever I ever have the time. I would really like to play in that world. But my version would be a little darker and not so "gee whiz".

Sorry for the non-help:lol:

no sweat :) Send copies when you're done :D

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