Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: Victoriana 2nd Ed Supplements

Victoriana has some of the best-looking supplements I have seen for a game line.  This is largely in part due to Cubicle 7 and the general feel of the game.   What I love about these books is the fact that I can use them with a wide variety of Victorian-era games.  They are all heavy on style and light on the "Crunch" for the most part.

The Marylebone Mummy
56 pages. An update to an earlier adventure. This adventure is really designed not just for starting players (5 to 6) but also starting GMs.  All the materials you need to play are at your fingertips. There is not enough of the rules to make it a "Quick Play" but if you bought the core rules then this should be your next purchase.  The adventure deals with, appropriately enough, a mummy. It FEELS very Victorian too. Ancient curses conflicting with scientific discovery. Superstition vs Science. All within Victoriana's own hedy brew of magic-is-real and so-is-science world.  It makes for a lot of fun.
The adventure also follows the now familiar 3-act format of all Victoriana adventures. So if you have any desires to plan your own then this is a good model to follow.  It is, in a very real sense the Keep on the Borderlands for Victoriana.

Marvels of Science and Steampunk
152 pages. This is the book that makes Victoriana more Steam-punk, or at least more steam- and magic-tech.  The biggest, and coolest, new feature of this game are new rules for Airships.  Now I have to say that for me, Airships are a quintessential element for not only Steampunk games but of Victoriana in particular. You also get Victorian age computers (Babbage machines) and robots (metal men).  This is the fantastic future of science that the Victorian era promised with a chapter on magic and technology. Grabbing this book really sets your Victoriana game apart from the rest of the crowd.
The author, Walt Ciechanowski, would later go on to author the 3rd Edition of Victoriana and shape where that version of the game went. Like books from the Victoriana line there is a great collection of inspirational reading and viewing.

The Havering Adventures
This is a collection of three adventures that have appeared in one form or another in various conventions; notably Gen Con.  All deal with the wonderfully eccentric Havering family. I played "Lost Luggage" at one Gen Con and really enjoyed myself.   I got to play "Patterson".
These are adventures, so I am not going to spoil what is going on here.  I will say that these are perfect adventures to really give someone the feel of Victoriana. They highlight what makes the system work and what makes this time and world so much fun.  As players, you will be playing members of this family; ie. Pre-Gens, but it works.  A good GM can also get players to create their own characters, all members of a family and use them instead.
In particular I enjoyed the horse racing rules since we did something similar for Ghosts of Albion.
If you are looking to run Victoriana games OR need a ready to go adventure-idea for other Vicotrian games then this is where I would start. Keep in mind that various details of the "real world" have been changed to reflect the Victoriana world.

Faulkner's Millinery and Miscellanea
192 Pages.  Every Victorian-era game needs to have a book like Faulkner's Millinery and Miscellanea. If they don't then buy this one instead. Actually buy this one if they do.  At 192 pages it is full of items, clothing, gadgets, vehicles and even magical supplies for every need.  The currency is British Pound and the economy is set in 1867, so if you do use it for other games you will need to adjust.   There is more here than just price lists. The items may (or may not) be very familar to readers today so descriptions are given.
There is a great section on the economy and one worth reading. Here in the 21st century we are used to easy access to everything. We are also (in general) wealthier than any other time before ours.  This was not the case int he Victorian age, even in Victoriana's fantastical magical Victorian age. So this frame of reference helps.
In addition to equipment, there are common prices of travel and their various means. Prices for various entertainments.  Alos you will need to know how much to pay your household staff and where to find them in the first place. Some notable NPCs are also detailed.
This really is a must have book for any fan of Victorian RPGS and Victoriana in particular.

Faces in the Smoke Volume One
140 pages. What a cool supplement. This details all the secret societies in the Victorana game. The societies are grouped largely by role. Are they benign watchers? Are they conspirators of a dark cult?  Each group is given a role, a detailed history, and information on how they can interact with the characters and other organizations. Of course, multiple NPCs are detailed as well.  An index of NPC, sorted by Rank, is also given.

Faces in the Smoke Volume Two
140 pages. Like Vol.1, this covers all sort of societies and organizations the characters can interact with or join.  This volume focuses more on the adventuring activities and thus represent a number of clubs based on real-world Victorian societies.
Lots of great and colorful NPCs are included here.

Darwin's Catalogue: Beastmen of Britain
16 Pages. One of the smaller Victoriana books. This book details a number of additional Beastmen and their traits. Both as a "monster" and as a Player Race.
Following the guidelines in this book you could create more, but the list is pretty exhaustive.

Darwin's Catalogue: The Outsiders
14 Pages. One of the smaller Victoriana books.  This details five races for PCs; Giant, Karakon, Oni, Orc and Steppegoblin.  Also covered are Corporeal Mediums.

Jewel of the Empire
228 Pages.  This is a hefty tome.  It covers India and it's place not just in the British Empire, but in the Victorian world.
We get the requiste lands, geography, people and relgion of India in 1867, but also some discussion on the various religions.  Like all religions in Victoriana this is through the lens of the world. So license was taken with some of these. Obviously this was not meant to offend Hindus any more than the Core book was meant to offend Catholics or Anglicans. So keep in mind these are the religions of a game world, not the real world.
Some new races are included including some new and changed Beastmen.
There are new magics, spells, monsters and plenty of NPCs to populate this huge country.
Enough detail here to make you want to run nothing but India-based Victoriana games for a long time. I know I want to do exactly that!
Great for Victoriana and at least 2/5ths of it is also great for any other Victorian game as well.

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