Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Victoria RPG

Continuing my exploration of Victorian era RPGS I can't help but mention the the game that uses the eponymous Queen herself.

Today, V is Victoria.

Victoria is the premier game from Daniel Hodges and Hazard Gaming.  Unlike most of the games I have reveiwed, Victoria is focused on running a game in the historical Victorian Era.  So focus on class, station and no magic (well...mostly).

Victoria is heavy on atmosphere and history.  In fact among the Victorian games, Victoria stresses the history the most.  It is trying to go for an authentic feel of the era sans monsters, magic.

So what does Victoria have? Well for starters character concept is king here.  You should have a good grip what sort of character you want to play.  The book suggests thinking about characters from literature or history.    One of the things things you are going to want to do is decide on your class.  Not how it is typically used in games, but social class.  Social class is everything in this game and there are plenty of examples of of how to use it in play.   The game is really targeted to the newer player with plenty of examples of game play and how to use skills.

Speaking of which, looking at the character sheet you might be surprised to see that everything is a skill.  The first three group are grouped by Social Class.  So there are Upper Class skills (High Society, Linguistics, etc.), Middle Class (Adventure, Law, etc.) and Working Class (Stealth, Street,etc.).  Depending on your class you have more points to allocate to one of the groups and then secondary and tertiary.   You can move points between skill groups (at a cost of course).  There is a fourth group, Personal, which are closer to "Attributes" but are treated just like skills.

The mechanic is a very interesting one and one I have not encountered before to be honest.  The skills are ranked 2 to 12, but you start around 7 and work your way out.    You roll a 2d6 and when you roll the number of your "Main" (a spread of scores) you make it, if you roll outside you don't.  Pretty easy really.
Double "1"s are a critical failure and double "6"s are always a distinctive success.  In either case you can be granted Plot Points.

Plot Points play like Drama Points or Hero Points in other games.  In Victoria the Point economy is bit freer with points being spent and gained quicker.  So if your Main is 5-9 and you roll an 11 then you can spend 2 Plot Points to extend your range and make it.  I mentioned before that critical rolls can grant you Plot Points.   If you fail, if you can describe your failure well then that is worth some plot points to be used at a later challenge.

Half the book is for the players and the other half for the Gamemaster.  The Gamemastering section is not to be missed really, especially if you are a new Gamemaster or starting one.  There is great advice here.  There is also good game-based advice for the giving out the Plot Points and how to reward play based on Social Class.

Chapter 10 is an interesting one since it deals with the Supernatural.  The "paradigm" of Victoria is the "Sherlock Holmes" one.  That is there is no magic, but many people that believe in it.  I think that is where this game works the best.  Some background (but not stats) are given for many creatures.  Chapter 11 similarly deals with alternate settings.  Chapter 12 is an example adventure that stretches science to near Frankenstein levels.

Victoria works best as "Charles Dickens" or "Sherlock Holmes" the Game.  Realism with real problems.
If you want a game with more magic, then we have those as well.  Take advantage of this game's strengths.

I would use this as an expansion is most any Victorian game to add another level of realism to the play. There is quite a bit of history and even a handy guide for how much various professions make in a year.
The character creation section is fantastic for any Victorian era game since it does require you to think about your character not as a collection of stats and numbers, but rather as a concept and as a person within society.

The book itself is fantastic to look at.  The layout is clean and easy to read. The art is the similar PD art found in Ghosts of Albion, Gaslight and Victoriana, but to me that is a good thing.  That is what a Victorian game should look like.

If you like historical games and like your games with a bit more realism in it, then Victoria is a great choice.

You can also go to Daniel's webpage to hear his weekly Podcasts.   In fact next week I am going to be in Episode 11.

Dirty Nellie
Dirty Nel

So, the one thing about Victoria is it lacks a proper magic system and supernatural creatures are non-existent.
That all being said, that doesn't mean I can't try to emulate my street faerie prostitute Dirty Nel.
You can see her in her Ghosts of Albion, Rippers, and Victoriana aspects. Here she is as a normal human.  She is still a prostitute working for the elite upper class. Her clientele are not just the upper class, but the upper-class spiritualist and occultist of the age.

Name: Dirty Nel
Class: Working
Occupation: Prostitute/Informant
Backstory: Nel is a young elfin-looking woman. She claims she fell on hard times, but Nel didn't have far to fall.
Flaw: Fallen Woman, Greedy

Upper Class

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
High Society X X X X
Linguistics X X X
Medicinal X X
Research X X

Middle Class
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Adventure X X X X
Law & Inv X X X X X
Martial X X X
Tactics & Org. X X X X

Working class

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Chameleon X X X X X X
Stealth X X X X X X
Street* X X X X X X X
Trade & Source X X X X
*extra skill speciality: Dark Secrets

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Atheltics X X X
Machines X X
People X X X X X
Wits X X X X
Possessions: clothes, boots, purse, couple of knives.
Ht: 5'0" Wt: 6.7 stone Age: 16
PP: 4
Money: what she made the night before.


Digital Orc said...

The core mechanic is interesting. Because of the two die, you get a bell curve (well, in this case more of a knife point) and can better predict how likely you are to succeed.

Is there a gradient to success? Can you succeed a lot compared to a little? (Sorry if I missed this in your post, the comment page doesn't let me scroll back up as I compose.)

Lowell Francis said...

Do you have tags for or a series link to your Victorian game product reviews?

hzdgmg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hzdgmg said...

Hi there Other Side readers.

I'm Daniel the writer and designer of Victoria and Tim's give me the all clear to field a couple of questions.

@Digital Orc The 2d6 resolution was used precisely for that reason. In skill development the law of diminishing returns applies especially when it's connected with the experience point system. It also gives people a feel for the likelihood of their success and a mental image as well.

There is a gradient of success in some respects especially when you work in Plot Points.

hzdgmg said...

The man himself, Tim Brannan has written the only published review so far which was the basis of this post.

The drivethrurpg version can be found at