Example of Play

Here’s an example of actual play on a forum at 1KM1KT. Come and check it out! The Hypnomechanical Theater, in Brazil

There are three PCs, one is a rich adventurer, the other is a street urchin turned actor and the third is a soldier turned big game hunter.

The three are on an adventure to bring the culture of theater to the indigenous tribes of Brazil. They also need to find and stop a creature from killing railroad workers. Can they do both? Can they do either? Tune in and find out! (’cause I don’t know either.)

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Ennies Submission and Wiki Report

Well, it’s a longshot but SPF has been submitted to the Ennies. I’d be floored if we got anywhere but hey I think we’ve got a pretty neat system here so hopefully they do too. I gotta say the Ennies crew are on the ball, the submission was handled immediately.

I put a new skin on the wiki, I’m happier with it but it still could use some tweaking. Most everything that was up before is now up on the new wiki and the skills in the basic game are all in there now. Next come the Events, I may be able to finish those off this weekend. This wiki is much faster, I got the first spammer on this software and deleted the page he (it?) created and his user. Maybe I should keep the user and ban them? In any event its much faster to take care of removing them on this platform.

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Story Seeds – Class Divide

By choosing this story seed the players indicate that they want the story to highlight the disparity between social, racial or economic classes. Victorian times are rife with strata of classes, some are on their way out and some are getting stronger. Hereditary classes are very slowly replaced with economic classes. Slavery is abolished in England and then the Americas but the class divide remains. Ethnocentrism, most often in the form of judging the value of “primitive” culture as below the “civilized” nations is common.

The class divides in Victorian times are abundant, for the most impact one type of divide should be chosen.

A class divide occurs when one social level (or strata) seems to have significant dominance over another social level. This makes the most striking story when it results in one class being wealthy and another reduced to poverty. A lack of the ability for individuals to move between these classes increases the tension. For example, many of those born poor in Victorian times had very little opportunity to improve their situation. Factory owners required long hours and paid very little.* A striking example of class divide is child labor where children’s life and limbs were put in danger while a child born into a wealthy household was not required to put their health in danger.#

Important Victorian Classes

Aristocracy

This class is made up of the royal family and lords above a baronet. Membership is most often dependent on heredity rather than merit. Interestingly, the aristocracy attempt to avoid defining themselves by any kind of profession besides the military. Being wealthy does not entitle one to the aristocracy (or to be noble) so some of the middle class were much wealthier than some in the aristocracy.

The Middle Class

Made up of mostly the newly wealthy. Captains of industry, bankers, merchants and clergy are examples of the middle class. Most people who make their living by a profession, no matter how wealthy would be considered the middle class. This can be divided into the upper middle class and the lower middle class based on how the profession is perceived but the distinction in this case is not relevant to building tension. It is useful to show the inflexibility of the system in insisting on stratifying society.

The Lower Class

Made up of laborers and the poor (jobless). With little chance of education and a system that often charged more for the necessities of life than they could possibly earn, the lower class have almost no chance of improving their lot in life. This results in a populace that is alienated and angry. Marxism builds up in many countries in the 19th century.

“Primative” Cultures

The ethnocentrism of the time lead most europeans to feel that any other culture that was unlike theirs was inherently primitive.  Pseudoscientific ideas like phrenology lead europeans to think of many native people they encountered as being inherently inferior mentally. Because of this, in many colonies the indigenous people were thought of very poorly and treated accordingly.

How To Incorporate Class Divide In A Story

Class divide is always present but it may be ignored unless the lower classes are ready to take action. To show the class divide at it’s peak, there should be an uprising simmering ready to boil up. In this situation, even small actions by upper classes can cause the lower classes to carry out acts of sabotage and protest. If abuse continues, a full fledged riot may break out.

In this situation, it may be the PC’s role to cause a revolt or attempt to calm one.

*Even though city life and factory work was difficult and paid poorly, it was often perceived as better than working in agricultural labor.

#Although wealthy households would sometimes send their young boys off to learn discipline by sending them into the navy as cabin boys.

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New Wiki

I’ve replaced the wiki, the new one doesn’t look very good yet but I’ll work on that. It’s more functional than the old one and hopefully it’ll be easier to manage.

Some of the info that was already imported was not moved over but this wiki is faster so it should be easier to get all the information in the PDF onto the wiki.

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Spam Is Out of Control On The Wiki

I may be moving the wiki to another solution, MediaWiki doesn’t seem to be working out. For one I’m having trouble with bringing up pages to edit them. I frequently get a blank page. Just navigating is sometimes a chore. Now there are a lot of spammers mucking up the works and MediaWiki doesn’t seem to have a solution to the problem. If anyone knows a good wiki solution, let me know.

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Working on The Wiki

I put some work into the wiki today, blocked a spammer and did some work on the alien planet story seed.

For the wiki. . .

Added the Athletics skill which has a pretty cool trick called Grappling

Added the Athlete event

Added Untrained Skills to the advanced rules

Added Advancing Skills to the advanced rules

Added the Constable event

I also filled in some of the existing skill descriptions that were in the PDF but not in the wiki yet.

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Story Seed – Alien Planet

This story seed introduces a habitable alien planet. In many cases this can be a planet in our own solar system such as Mars, Venus or even the moon. Alternatively it could be a mysterious planet X that has just been discovered. Interstellar flight would normally be considered inauthentic for a steampunk setting, with so much unknown about the existing planets in our solar system there are plenty of possibilities. Mars is the most prominent candidate for alien life in the steam age because of what was observed to be canals in the surface of the planet.

With this seed the players will either have to travel to the alien planet or they are transported against their will to it. Often some new form of energy is cited as the mode of travel when man is able to fly to other planets. Unless the characters are provided transport, one of them may have to invent one if they haven’t already in character creation.

All of the known planets in our solar system were discovered by the mid 1800’s (except Pluto which is a dwarf planet).

Mars

Mars was thought to be a dying planet with an ancient civilization because of the extensive canal system that seemed to criss cross it’s surface. Of all the planets, Mars was thought to be the most likely candidate to have the technology to visit Earth.

Because our name for the planet is the name of the Roman god of war, it was often speculated that the inhabitants of Mars must have been very militaristic. Although the logic behind this thinking would seem to be flawed, it never the less was commonly cited.

Moon

In the early 19th century in the stories of the time it is supposed that the Moon can be reached by balloon or some kind of airship. By the latter half of the 19th century writers begin to realize that more extraordinary methods are needed to get high enough to reach the Moon.

The Moon is frequently inhabited by all manner of creatures even though it is often depicted as rocky and barren of green vegetation.

Venus

Because of Venus is completely covered in cloud, it was assumed that the vast majority of the planet was covered in swamp or in ocean. Venus is used frequently in the period literature as a stormy wet planet. Inhabitants are often simply unusual animals similar to those in Earth’s prehistoric past.

By 1922 it had been proven that Venus’ heavy cloud cover was not water and so scientifically the chance that Venus was a water world became unlikely. Some scientist then proposed a dessert world but this did not catch on in popular literature.

Jupiter

It was frequently supposed that since Jupiter was so much bigger than Earth, any inhabitants must be enormous also. Possibly living much longer because their years were so much longer.

Jupiter is often depicted as a solid planet with dinosaur like life on it.

Saturn

As with Jupiter the inhabitants of Saturn were imagined to be large creatures. Saturn is sometimes inhabited in stories of the time but often it is rocky and desolate.

Other Stars

There are mentions of beings from other stars in stories of the time so the concept is not completely out of the picture but traveling to other stars is considered to be a vast beyond. Godlike aliens far more advanced than man can make the journey, possibly by catching a beam of light (as in Voltaire’s Micromegas).

Mechanical Considerations

Large sentient creatures need to be much stronger than man and this obviously means a high Strength attribute but Strength Methods should also be more effective. To accomplish this, large aliens (up to twice the size of a man) get a +1 to all Strength Methods. Very large aliens (twice to three times the size of man) get a +3 to all Strength methods. Gargantuan aliens (three to ten times bigger) get a +5 to all Strength Methods.

Other attributes may be treated similarly if for instance an ancient race has great intellect, their Intelligence attribute and methods may be boosted accordingly.

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Story Seed – Fast Inventions

In a story using the Fast Inventions seed, the time limit for building inventions is removed. Inventions still cost the same as far as SP but can be produced in game on very short notice. In this story, the inventors are the ultimate ‘makers’ being able to build in a matter of hours what it would normally take years for a regular person to accomplish. Games of this sort have the potential to be madcap building frenzies.

This will likely mean that there will be many low SP inventions introduced in the game with less realism unless the players take care in how they introduce inventions. If the desire is for a light humored game where inventors walk up and invent amazing machines on the spot, this seed works well. If players want a more serious game, several storytelling methods can be used.

I have one back at the lab

One way an invention that the players need can be introduced is by the players stating that they have been working on just such an item but have not yet mentioned it to anyone. It can be put to use as soon as it is retrieved. This explanation supposes that the inventor is always working on a large number of inventions but does not reveal them until there is an application for the invention.

I’ve been waiting to test this

In a similar vain, if the invention could have been carried in the inventors personal effects, the invention can be produced at just the right moment. They may have been working on a simple invention or even have been working out the concept for a time and finally is able to complete the project.

All I need is to combine these devices

The inventor is able to use available items to produce an invention that has the effect desired. The items may not have been in the GM’s description of a scene, the player introduces them.

I noticed earlier several coils of copper in the workshed. Along with some of these jars and tin from the kitchen, I should be able to produce a Layden jar and a method to deliver an electrical shock.

A simple modification

The player character may take an existing invention and modify it in short order. The description of the modification should potentially make some sense for this method to work.

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Story Seeds – Prolific Monsters

Someone has been busy, very busy making creatures. In this setting one of several possibilities have occurred. Some brilliant if possibly mad scientist has somehow made a huge number of creatures. It may be the case that the PCs have encountered a far away land where monsters have always lived. Otherwise many inventors have been hard at work making a myriad different types of monsters that now walk the earth.

In some stories, not all the monsters have to be a threat to the players. They may be created and used by a government to defend its borders. Some stories may even have domestic monsters that were made to do menial labor. This is up to the GM and players as to what flavor of situation should be taken.

Historically medicine of the time is only starting to be tested scientifically. In the steam age things like desires and moods are thought to be regulated by fluid imbalances and that can be tuned. Changing the nature of a creature according to this thinking could be as simple as adding or subtracting the right tissue or fluids.

Replicating Monsters

One possible way there could be such a large number of creatures is if they self replicate. Tiny creatures may be able to replicate in moments, larger creatures are likely to take days of incubation. How this process works is up to the GM but the speed and number of times a monster replicates should be balanced with how dangerous the creature is.

Newly Discovered Lands

Monsters may inhabit another land that the PCs have discovered, especially if other seeds like Primitive Society or Untamed Wilderness are selected. In this situation a iguanadon may be as common as deer in the forest.

An alternative is that something in this new land, mineral, gas or malevolent man, has made ordinary animals or human inhabitants into monstrous creatures.

Many Makers

The secret to creating creatures from animals, plants or turning humans into monsters has been known for some time from serums and many have tried their hand at it. Some monsters may be intelligent, others may act by animal instinct depending on the maker’s design.

How To Make Monsters

Monsters are built just like any other invention by purchasing invention items with SP. Monsters can be made from scratch using invention items like Buy an Attribute. Another option could be if the monster comes from existing animals or even humans using the Trade an Attribute item.

One example of how a monster could work is the Subhumans in the example scenario The Diabolical Flying Machine.

Animals normally start out with intelligence attributes of -2 through -10 with trainable animals usually being higher on the scale than wild animals. In order for a monster to take verbal instruction, it must have an Intelligence of at least -5. For it to have the rudimentary ability to solve problems it must be at least a -2. To speak it must have at least a -1.

Reference Works

Frankenstein, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Island of Doctor Moreau are examples of how a monster could be manufactured. The latter, The Island of Doctor Moreau is a good example of the Prolific Monsters story seed.

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Story Seeds – Airships

With the use of the airships story seed the story will focus on lighter than air craft as an important element. In this story, airships ply the skies like seagoing ships fill the seas.

An airship is a lighter than air gas filled, ridged framed vehicle that uses rudders, propellers and other kinds of propulsion to move. In a more fanciful setting, airships may use some kind of lift material such as an exotic mineral or gas more efficient than natural materials. Traditionally the lift mechanism is unpowered and simply offsets the weight of the other materials used in the vehicle.

In history, airships enjoyed popularity from the year 1900 through the first world war. Helium was rare so most airships outside of America used flammable hydrogen as their lift gas. In the story world the GM may decide that helium as a lift gas is more common than it was historically. However it was not until the invention of incendiary bullets that hydrogen gas was considered a major liability. The greatest danger to airships was the collapse of their airframe from flight stress.

One of the common misconceptions about an airship is that if there was a single puncture in it’s gas envelope, it would crash like a burst balloon. This is not true for two reasons. The first is that the pressure in the envelopes is so low and the volume of gas so great that even when punctured they leak very slowly. A punctured airship will eventually have to land but not for many hours. Second, airships carried their gas in multiple bags so that if one was punctured the others could remain intact. Even with the catastrophic failure of a bag, decent would not be a free fall.

Another common misconception is that airships are slow. This belief may come from existing videos of airships mooring or possibly the lack of motion in existing commercial blimps that are used for advertisement and stationary camera platforms. The Hindenburg was capable of traveling at 135 km/h (85 mph). In comparison, WWI biplanes flew at between 160 km/h (100 mph) and 210 km/h (130 mph).

In most steampunk settings, airships carry a larger payload than they did in real life in relation to the size of their gas envelope. This is a style issue that the GM and the players can discuss but normally unless the players wanted a very realistic game the exact appearance does not have to follow real life airships. Depending on the desired situation, airships abilities may not even follow what would normally be considered common sense. For example, players may want a world where there are ironclad airships. This may be especially true if the players also pick the story seed “Antigravity Mineral”.

Example Airships

The examples here are for fairly realistic airships. The SP given for each airship is based on NPC stats. If a PC is a crew member or a passenger, add in their SP to the vehicle’s Story

Personal Craft
Crew 4 to 6
Cargo 8,000 kg or 5-7 passengers
Story 4-13 (dependent on passengers)
Gun Multiplier 0 (not usually armed)
Methods
Flight – Agility +3
Maneuverable – Agility +3

Length: 75 m (246 ft)
Diameter: 25 m (82 ft)

Small Freight Carrier
Crew 12 to 18
Cargo 24,000 kg or 15-20 passengers
Story 12-60 (dependent on passengers)
Gun Multiplier 0 (not usually armed)
Methods
Flight – Agility +3

Length: 150 m (492 ft 1 in)
Diameter: 30  m (98 ft 5 in)

Large Freight Carrier
Crew 40 to 60
Cargo 80,000 kg or 50-70 passengers
Story 40-130 (dependent on passengers)
Gun Multiplier 2
Methods
Flight – Agility +1

Length: 240 m (787 ft 4 in)
Diameter: 40 m (131 ft 2 in)

Air Destroyer
Crew 30
Story 30
Gun Multiplier 10
Methods
Flight – Agility +3

Length: 150 m (492 ft 1 in)
Diameter: 30  m (98 ft 5 in)

Air Battleship
Crew 90
Story 90
Gun Multiplier 30 for cannon, 50 for bombs
Methods
Flight – Agility +1

Length: 240 m (787 ft 4 in)
Diameter: 40 m (131 ft 2 in)

Air Carrier
Crew 90
Story 90
Gun Multiplier 7
Methods
Flight – Agility +1

Length: 240 m (787 ft 4 in)
Diameter: 40 m (131 ft 2 in)

Carries up to five Biplanes
Crew 2
Story 2 (4 for ace NPCs)
Gun Multiplier 1 for machine gun 3 for bombs
Methods
Flight – Agility +5

Spider Silk Airships

Steampunkfitters is not limited to only realistic or historical settings. One more possibility for armoring an aircraft is to make the gas envelopes out of a very strong fabric. While materials like Kevlar would seem inauthentic in a steampunk setting, suspension of disbelief might be maintained if some scientist had found a way to milk spiders for their silk. This could be used to make a fabric potentially bullet proof and also resistant to cannon fire. Curtains of the material could be hung from the ship as protection. This would give the vehicle a trick similar to the Iron Hide trick or possibly a SP multiplier.

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