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  • Steampunk setting?

    Just a question-how would you fine people build a steampunk superhero setting?
    Iím asking strictly for curiousness sake.

  • #2
    Re: Steampunk setting?

    No opinions huh?

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    • #3
      Re: Steampunk setting?

      Actually I've been working on one. Never run it but I've worked on the world building. It's an alter-earth, same time period, same geography, as the real world. But geo-politically, and technologically, RADICALLY different. It's set predominately in London, which is in Franka, where the UK is in the real world. It's very Victorian steam-punk in feel. The primary technological feature is the "aether-coil" which is the deux-ex power source in the setting. It's a highly efficient themo-battery capable of powering both steam and electrical systems. This allows for advanced retro-primative technology.

      I also want to mix in pre-existing public domain characters. For example I've worked on a league of criminal masterminds that include the likes of James Moriarty, Henry Jekyll, and Fantomas.

      The New World, while it has been discovered, has not been colonized. It is a wild savage land of natives and barbarians where dinosaurs still roam.

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      • #4
        Re: Steampunk setting?

        This is something I've been toying with lately, so I'll throw my hat into the ring.

        As for the original question: I really don't think building a steampunk supers setting (say that 10 times fast @_@) would be that much different from building any other supers setting. Do some research on the genre and the time period, depending on how much historical accuracy you want compared to speculating on the fantastic elements. A lot of it, especially in the case of devices, comes down to descriptors, as most things are going to be mechanical in nature.

        I've been working on building a setting of my own (either for RPG purposes or narrative prose) and spend a lot of time looking into what kinds of technology was available from the 1800s to the early 1900s, what society was like, did they or didn't they have access to X kinds of things or Y kinds of establishments, what did people do for fun, etc.

        To me, and this is purely my own feelings on the subject, a steampunk setting screams for a lower PL than your standard M&M game, but I also enjoy a taste of realism in my games/writing. If I were to ever run such a thing, I'd probably default to PL 4 characters, maybe PL 3 for a teen heroes game, and utilize the optional rules for Lethal Damage in the Game Mastery Guide. That base DC 15+ for Damage effects is going to hurt, like getting shot should in all reality, and I like the idea of characters trying to use their powers to find their way around fights rather than through them (or at the very least, needing to actually utilize cover in a firefight).

        As for heroes (and villains) scientists are an obvious go-to, what with their penchant for strange mechanical devices. At that low of a PL, you might be looking more at "everyday" heroes like circus strong men, private investigators, or the like. If you want to include a flair of the fantastic or supernatural, alchemy seems like a perfectly reasonable addition, and I'm fond of adding some Lovecraftian horror and ritual magic to such a setting.

        But, like with building a setting in any genre or era, it really comes down to which elements you want to play around with and emphasize in your game.

        @Bad People: That sounds like a fun and interesting setting. i'm curious to hear how dinosaurs managed to escape extinction, and I love the idea of a League of Criminal Masterminds. If you're anything like me and like adding some horror into your steampunk, I'd recommend adding something akin to Dracula or Dr. Frankenstein to the group, but that's just me.

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        • #5
          Re: Steampunk setting?

          How I would do it is cheat.

          I would look at the steampunk gaming books that I already have and use them for inspiration. Usually when people mention steampunk, they think "Victorian", so that gives you something else to look into. The best part of already having books to draw from is that they have often already done research, or at least enough to give you some ideas.

          Some of the sources that I deem as good (but their usefulness will vary by what you are looking for) are:

          • Leagues of Adventure
          • Castle Falkenstein
          • Pure Steam
          • The Imperial Age
          • Space 1889


          I have been thinking about running a game of Space 1889 where the Mars they find is more like the Mars of John Carter.

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          • #6
            Re: Steampunk setting?

            The technology is so different. I would spend a lot of time developing technology "feature" equipment. Because the tech level is lower, a lot of tech we take for granted (such as a lot of medical technology) wouldn't exist, creating space for non-combative powered people to replace those roles. I'd expect to see doctors, but few surgeons, instead low-PL NPCs with Healing and similar powers.

            Communication equipment would be a lot rarer, and any character with a Communication power would find that ability extremely handy. I could picture a lot of Communication or Healing equipment being restricted to "headquarters" (essentially an NPC bought a headquarters and spent points on those powers within the headquarters... and only within those headquarters).

            Inventors would be really useful, especially as PCs. While everything would have to be "flavored" as steampunk, I see no reason why such inventions cannot replicate the functionality of modern-day devices. They only last a scene anyway

            Vehicles would be somewhat different, of course. Trains would be common, and steamships, airships, and the like, plus autogyros and ornithopters to replace helicopters. An autogyro is a primitive helicopter, with a body like an airplane; I believe it could not take off vertically. An ornithopter basically flaps giant wings to fly, and that was a technology used frequently in various steampunk settings, plus the Dune series, but I don't believe it has ever worked in real life.


            Most land vehicles at least being a little slower than today's land vehicles. Things like steam tanks could exist, but these are probably specialty equipment created by mad inventor NPCs. Imagine if only one person in the world could make tanks? Whichever country they work for would need to surround them with bodyguards to prevent their kidnapping, killing, or simply having a tech-trained telepath mentally steal their inventions. (Said "tech-trained telepath" probably uses a steam-powered helmet to give them Mind Reading, Easily Removable.)

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            • #7
              Re: Steampunk setting?

              One thing I would suggest is to play up external sources for everything but enhanced physical capabilities and telepathic capabilities (but even for both of those, at some point). Sometimes this would mean Removable or Easily Removable, but often it's about the descriptors (things like attached mechanical arms and things). There's a big theme in literature of the time of the universe being a grand device our understanding of which can unlock superpowers. Sometimes that means understanding the sciences, sometimes it means building new and wondrous machines, sometimes it's tricks of training and diet and mental regimen, but it's rarely inborn like a mutant's x-gene (other than virtue and class and wealth, of course) it's learned. Genius, of course, is just about the only "superpower" that would be unrestricted. Well, that, and Batman's stated superpower from Justice League: "I'm rich."

              I might also place more emphasis on social skills, advantages, and powers than Mutants & Masterminds does so generally.

              And for all that I hold dear, I beg you to work to avoid or critique the racism, classism, and sexism embedded in Victorian culture. That's not an indictment of steampunk, by the way, just a pitfall I would enjoy knowing more people have avoided. I do think steampunk in general could use more Oscar Wilde, though.
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              • #8
                What about steampunky movement powers?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Abe ray View Post
                  What about steampunky movement powers?
                  Well, as stated above, there's all sorts of vehicles that fit the steampunk aesthetic. You just adjust them to be personal rather than the vehicle. Or if you want to get silly, you wind up with people using things like steam-powered pants (only breaks legs in 23% of the subjects when sprinting!) or shoes with massive springs on them.
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