Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Steam Punk Carnival

SteamPunk is not my favorite genre, this will probably be the worst RPG Blog Carnival contribution ever. I despise tech vs magic (which is usually done in the name of "balance") settings/systems.

Troika's Arcanum is an excellent SteamPunk / Fantasy computer RPG. It has a posse. You can probably find a copy "around". The Diamond Age is a sort of reverse SteamPunk (highly advanced civilization reproducing Victorian society) sci-fi novel that is pretty good reading.

I blogged about a steampunk campaign based around the characters operating a train. Called Fantasy Rails inspired by Iron Dragon board game and a RPG I played in at the Seattle Game Con. I was into it until Eberron & everyone else did steampunk.

Fantasy Rails

Steampunk tech, powerful but semi-rare magic. Powerful wizards, items, dragons, mystical and fantastic creatures. Only five wizards around, one known dragon, rare to even see magic.

Players operate a train, hauling cargo, taking odd jobs, slowly building up their train's capabilities and power. If "Firefly" was cowboys in space this is Firefly on a train in steampunk fantasy land. The party would start with a 2nd hand, old, broken down. simple engine + tender, falling apart, crappy, war surplus caboose, and some coins to customize/buy rolling stock. The goal would be to haul cargo, do jobs, raid the occasional indigenous peoples (aka orcs) camp earning enough coin to maintain and upgrade their train. Thus opening up more dangerous and lucrative jobs.

Adventure Hooks
  • Great Train Race - long distance with required specific odd ball deliveries (orc tears, 3 harpy feathers, dust from the Dungeon of Despair) .
  • Deliver valuable cargo which of course is the target of train raiders.
  • Deliver mundane cargo which has secret hidden valuable cargo that every low down dirty dog except the characters knows about .
  • Deliver circus full of mystical beasts with challenging requirements and they totally all escape along the way.
  • Patrol border / area with monsters, bandits, etc for local authority.
  • Train refit/upgrade vacation (aka go dungeon delving, tomb robbing, planar adventure hopping, etc)
  • Train stolen! - must pursue scoundrels and take it back only to discover the scoundrels were good guys who needed the train temporarily for humanitarian cause. But now that characters have taken it back orphan kids are gonna die.
  • * Support/protect railroad work crew expanding track.

  • Ye olde train robbery by druids and treants angry about despoiling of the prarie, by a dragon (of course),
  • Rail blockage 1d4 1) Gelatenous Cube 2) nypmh tied to tracks 3) bandits demanding toll 4) Tarasque
  • Missing track, repair crew, bandits, bridge out
  • Track goes into magical mist/portal
  • Bridge flooded out by lava!
  • Rampaging beasts up ahead over track/
  • Train to rear, the personal transport of noble/wizard demands right of way.
  • One track, two trains, with or without operational breaks
  • Giant has torn up and looping tracks turning train around back the way it came
  • Unexpected switch sends train wrong way.
  • Camp along tracks d6 1)gypsy 2)bandit 3)pilgrim 4) luddites with attitude! 5) humanoid 6)
  • Fire (forest, brush, plains) up ahead either side of tracks.
  • Caboose, other rolling stock comes loose.
  • Weather screws with boiler / makes track slippery / other hazards and delays.


  1. Transarctica - Moorcock's "Ice Schooner" with added steam trains, mammoth herds and the Viking Union

    Iron Council - the work crew on a transcontinental railroad revolt and set up a mobile anarcho-syndicalist community, with added magic.

  2. Chris Transarctica is my kind of Giant Train & Mammoth game. Thanks, your comment has at least doubled the worthyness of my post.

  3. For someone who doesn't like it, you do it rather well.


  4. Great ideas! I think I will have to think about introducing giant trains to my Asecia setting.

    By the way, do you know if the book series that Transartica was based on is available in English or German?


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