What is the best steampunk TTRPG?

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Hornblower

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What is the best steampunk RPG? It must have lots of airship action and not overly crunchy. I'd prefer no magic and no fantasy races, if possible.
 

3rik

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Space: 1889 (Ubiquity edition) is a translation into English of a German version of Space: 1889 that doesn't disappoint. There also was a Savage Worlds version but I'm not familiar with that.

I'd call Space: 1889 Victorian SciFi rather than Steampunk, but it's still your best option IMHO.

Also for the Ubiquity system, there's Leagues of Adventure, a game of pulpy airship adventuring that leans slightly more towards actual Steampunk.
 
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David Johansen

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I've played the Savage Worlds version and it was okay but not spectacular. The more restrained, less fantastical take on things certainly appeals to me.

I've always wanted to try Lowel Was Right by Clash Bowlery. It's not exactly "steam punk" running rather on the ideas that have been scientifically disproven like the aether are real.

There's always Castle Falkenstien if you want magic and GURPS Girl Genius if you want science that is basically the same as magic.

Faerie Queen and Country is an interesting setting but The Amazing Engine isn't a great system. It should be easy enough to run with BRP. But it's not steam punk just the Victorian period with faeries.
 

TristramEvans

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Honestly there isn't a really good one yet. GURPs Steampunk wasn't bad as a sourcebook, but that's about it.The rest have all either been mediocre to unremarkable or just too flawed. And the majority of ones mentioned so far in this thread aren't Steampunk, just Victoriana.
 

David Johansen

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harsh...What would you say is missing. Personally I'd like scientific disciplines broken down into groups so inventors would have to specialize a bit. I guess it depends on what you mean by steam punk. Ideally lots of gadgets with exraneous gears.
 

TristramEvans

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harsh...What would you say is missing.

Two things primarily:

1) a fun, iconic syste that is instantly associated with and evokes the genre. It doesn't need to be perfect, but it needs to be the Pendragon to the Arthurian mythos or the Ars Magica to magic systems

ad 2) it needs to present a comprehensive (insofar as self- setting that actually takes the term "Steampunk" and makes it mean something: it needs it's equivalent of Megacorps in cyberpunk to be "punk" against, it needs tinkering/gadgeteering equivalent to cyberpunk's hacking, and it overall needs to present a society where players know, by default their role and how that translates to an archetypal "adventure" using the game.

I realize both of those are frustratingly vague, but if I could produce the perect Steampunk RPG myself, I would (if it didn't cut into the time that I'm working on 3 other ogoing projects at the moment). I just know that it, whatever it is specifically, hasn't come along yet, and so there's a nche still waiting to be filled in the hobby space, one I would like to see happen.
 

ScytheSong

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The thing is that GDW Space:1889 *can* be played SteamPunk -- there are inventor and anachist professions -- even though the trappings are more pro-Imperial Britian than Punk. (Social Class 5 is "gentry" and the description refers to people who look down on aristocrats who were elevated by Charles II as "that nouveau lot.") I may be prejudiced, because my longest-running game included PC's who were a Canal Martian Anarchist, an Artillery Officer and his Sergeant, an Adventuress and her female Servant, and an inventor who specialized in optics. We spent a lot of the game on class issues ("You can have the officer, milady. I'll take the sergeant. Like to like, you know")
 

Mankcam

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I bought Upwind earlier this year, but I have not had time to give it a decent look yet.
It's fantastic Steampunk, so don't expect gritty Victoriana with it
The art direction has a bit of a Studio Ghibli flavour
It's available from Chaosium (and it's not a version of BRP):

1659243405444.png

(Actually it's available for a good price at present: Upwind)
 
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The Butcher

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Not ”pure” steampunk, but I have yet to encounter a game that employs steampunk elements and catches my attention like Castle Falkenstein.

I dig Iron Kingdoms but again, not strictly steampunk.

Ditto Kerberos Club.

Come to think of it, I would be hard pressed to think of a game that fits Hornblower Hornblower ’s specs, let alone my personal conceit that most steampunk material has plenty of steam but very little punk.

If I was going to write a steampunk setting I’d go for something quite Difference Engine-ish. Malcontents sticking it to the Man. And then put in magic just to spite William Gibson.
 

Nick J

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I guess I'm trying to figure out what is being aimed for here? Hornblower Hornblower are you after some kind of Oswald Bastable inspired thing? If so it seems like you could use almost any kind of generic/universal rule-set with some airship rules. They only purpose-built RPG system that I could think of that's in the ballpark of what you described is Cakebread & Walton have Airship Pirates, that uses a dice pool system compatible with Victoriana. I've read it, but never played it, but it seems fairly well-regarded.
 
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Caesar Slaad

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If you are just wandering through this thread and don't share the OP's disdain for magic, I'll second Upwind.

That said, if I wanted steampunk sans magic and wanted to run it today, I'd use the Voyages Extraordinaires book for Broken Compass. Alas, I went to link it for you all on DTRPG (and if you search for that title on DTRPG, you'll end up at a game I am not recommending), and I don't think the setting book is out yet for folks who didn't back the kickstarter. :sad:

broken compass-ve.png

Here's a copy of the book I assume secondhand:

Here's the publisher's page on DTRPG where I assume the rest of their product line will show up on someday.
 

Simlasa

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I think the only steampunk I've read is Infernal Devices by Jeter... and I can't see that system would matter all that much for that one. I'd probably just use Call of Cthulhu.
Is Fallen London (a browser game that has some offshoots, including a basic RPG) steampunk? There are airships, IIRC. I'm not sure where the 'punk' is in it... maybe the bureaucracy and class system, keeping the average citizen down and out.
 

Toadmaster

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I don't think there can be a best as Steampunk is a pretty broad brush genre. Cakebread and Walton have Clockwork & Chivalry as well as Clockwork and Cthulhu, both of which use the Renaissance system (a BRP derivative). Pre-Victorian England but it has many of the features of traditional Steampunk, alchemists, war machines etc, but does feature some fantasy elements as well witchcraft, fantastic critters etc.

It also doesn't seem like it would be hard to add a touch of Steam Punk to Cthulhu by gaslight.
 

Toadmaster

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I bought Upwind earlier this year, but I have not had time to give it a decent look yet.
It's fantastic Steampunk, so don't expect gritty Victoriana with it
The art direction has a bit of a Studio Ghibli flavour
It's available from Chaosium (and it's not a version of BRP):

View attachment 48223

(Actually it's available for a good price at present: Upwind)

I did not know this was out yet, I've been looking forward to getting it.

If you are just wandering through this thread and don't share the OP's disdain for magic, I'll second Upwind.

That said, if I wanted steampunk sans magic and wanted to run it today, I'd use the Voyages Extraordinaires book for Broken Compass. Alas, I went to link it for you all on DTRPG (and if you search for that title on DTRPG, you'll end up at a game I am not recommending), and I don't think the setting book is out yet for folks who didn't back the kickstarter. :sad:

View attachment 48419

Here's a copy of the book I assume secondhand:

Here's the publisher's page on DTRPG where I assume the rest of their product line will show up on someday.

Not familiar with this one, will definitely keep an eye out for it.
 

The Butcher

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I just got looking through Castle Falkenstein in the last few days and wowser!!!!! I might be in love.
It’s a rare game that employs exposition through fiction, and gets you to look forward to each following chapter because said fiction is actually good; and which employs a non-dice-based resolution system, and doesn’t feel gimmicky.

Everyone already knows this but it bears repeating: Mike Pondsmith is a goddamn hero, and possibly a genius, in this hobby of ours.
 
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CRKrueger

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Is Steampunk even a genre? It’s a cosplay visual aesthetic loosely based on Victoriana, without any underlying source of worldbuilding or tropes, aside from the aforementioned Victoriana.

Steampunk was coined because it sounds cool, not because there’s any “Victorian Cyberpunk” going on.
 

The Butcher

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Is Steampunk even a genre? It’s a cosplay visual aesthetic loosely based on Victoriana, without any underlying source of worldbuilding or tropes, aside from the aforementioned Victoriana.

Steampunk was coined because it sounds cool, not because there’s any “Victorian Cyberpunk” going on.
It could have been a genre — Gibson’s “The Difference Engine” is every bit as “punk” as his cyberpunk writing — but to the best of my understanding, nowadays the term is chiefly applied to describe an aesthetic.
 

3rik

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Cakebread and Walton have Clockwork & Chivalry as well as Clockwork and Cthulhu, both of which use the Renaissance system (a BRP derivative). Pre-Victorian England but it has many of the features of traditional Steampunk, alchemists, war machines etc, but does feature some fantasy elements as well witchcraft, fantastic critters etc.
I believe the term for that subgenre is Clockpunk, since there's no steampowered technology but stuff that functions through clockwork mechanisms.
 

Toadmaster

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Is Steampunk even a genre? It’s a cosplay visual aesthetic loosely based on Victoriana, without any underlying source of worldbuilding or tropes, aside from the aforementioned Victoriana.

Steampunk was coined because it sounds cool, not because there’s any “Victorian Cyberpunk” going on.

Oh it is a thing, just a poorly defined thing. Often Victorian England based, but not exclusively, the 1960s TV show The Wild Wild West (and I guess by extension the similarly named movie) is pretty solidly in the steam punk genre as are most weird west settings . Obviously English based but I'd also include the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes movies. Agree the "punk" aspect is toned down significantly compared to most Cyberpunk, but real 19th Century Earth was fairly dystopian compared to the present, so not sure there really needs to be much adjustment from reality to qualify in that regard. Add in a few rayguns and rocket packs, and a backdated WW1 pretty much has the rest covered.
 

ScytheSong

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Oh it is a thing, just a poorly defined thing. Often Victorian England based, but not exclusively, the 1960s TV show The Wild Wild West (and I guess by extension the similarly named movie) is pretty solidly in the steam punk genre as are most weird west settings . Obviously English based but I'd also include the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes movies. Agree the "punk" aspect is toned down significantly compared to most Cyberpunk, but real 19th Century Earth was fairly dystopian compared to the present, so not sure there really needs to be much adjustment from reality to qualify in that regard. Add in a few rayguns and rocket packs, and a backdated WW1 pretty much has the rest covered.
The webcomic Girl Genius is the first thing I think of when "SteamPunk as Genre" comes up.
 

Fenris-77

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Cogs, Cakes and Swordsticks is a decent PbtA take in Steampunk, if I recall. I do love Castle Falkenstein though. There's a hack to play it with tarot cards instead of a normal deck that sounds like a hoot.
 

Brock Savage

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Someone needs to make Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age into a game setting. For me that is the quintessential Steampunk setting even though the "steam" in this sense is nanotech.
 
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