Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review: Victorious

Victorious or Victorious: Steampunk Adventure in the Age of SuperMankind is a game that I had been waiting for sometime.  I had not been able back it in the Kickstarter so I picked it up this past Gen Con.  I was quite pleased to do so.

Victorious is not the game I thought is was.  That is not a problem of the game, but rather a problem with my expectations.  I thought this was going to be a Victorian steam-punk game closer to Leagues of Adventure.  The game I got  though is rather fun and different than other Victorian games I have played and own.  This is a very good thing.

Victorious is a game of Victorian era Steam Punk Superheroes.  Once I got that into my head then the rest was a ton of fun.

The system is the tried and true SIEGE Engine from Castles & Crusades and Amazing Adventures and is largely compatible with both of those games.  So adventures for one will work in the other.  In fact, I tried out an Amazing Adventures scenario I had used in the past and it worked brilliantly.

Let's look into the chapters.
First, though, full disclosures.
1. I purchased both the hardcover and the PDF versions with my own cash.  Troll Lords did not send me copies for review, nor are they expecting reviews.
2. Links in this review often link to affiliate sites where I get a small percentage of anything bought.
3. I have authored a Victorian game that could be considered competition to this game. I do not see this as such.  Victorious and Ghosts of Albion can be played in similar time periods and even tell similar stories (I am planning on running a Ghosts adventure under Victorious to test this) but the games are not in competition with each other or other Victorian era games.

The Book. The book is a sturdy hardcover with color covers, black and white interiors, 144 pages.  The form and format reminds me of the original AD&D books.  The PDF comes with two files, one is a little more print friendly than the other.  Both are bookmarked.

Introduction gives us the basics of the game, some background and some information on RPGs in general.  It should be noted the the GM in this game means "Genteel Magistrate".  Damn.  I wish I had thought of that first!

Only if we are very, very lucky...

Chapter 1 is all about Character Generation.  If you have played Amazing Adventures or Castles & Crusades (or even D&D) then you know how this works.  First, we go through the standard Attributes and modifiers.  This is followed by a simple skill system.  In fact, this skill system would make a nice important to Castles & Crusades.  Up next is the big feature of this game; the powers that the characters gain as they level up.  Again, this is the primary feature of the game.  There are quite a few powers listed here and they remind me a bit of Mutants & Masterminds.  This is not a surprise really, given the focus of the game.  One could, I imagine, add more powers from other d20-derived games.
Some hindrances and shortcomings are also discussed.  Such things as "enemy" or "fame".
This is followed with some character examples that are roughly character classes. These include the Contraptionist (gadget guy), the Hypnotist, the Inquiry Agent (Sherlock Holmes), the Magician, the Paragon (Victorian Super-men), the Radiant, the Strongman, and the Vigilante (Gaslight Batman). We end with some ideas on completing the character.
There are enough character concepts here to create any sort of character you want.  I mentally "stated up" a few characters and was able to come up a Victorious version of them.

Chapter 2 covers the rules of the game. If you know Castles and Crusades then these rules will be very familiar. The main addition here are a bunch of Victorian-era firearms and some Steam-Punk gadgets. If your C&C game has black powder then this is a great chapter to have. Unlike some Victorian games there is no lengthy list of firearms (looking at you Dracula RPG), and this is a good thing.

Chapter 3 Equipment and Encounters is kind of a catch-all chapter of money, equipment, vehicles. encounters and worldly goings on.  One nitpick, there is a section on "Cost of Living" that details various costs of goods in both British Pounds and American Dollars, but no actual cost of living.  Te second half of this chapter details various organizations active in the Victorian era.  If you play any Victorian game then this is a great chapter to have. Nearly every Victorian game has a chapter like this and I really can't get enough of it.  Many, if not all, of these can be used in any other Victorian game and the societies and groups from those games can also be used here.

Chapter 4 The Victorious Era details some of the world history from the point of view of this game.  At this point, I have one major issue with this game.  There is the assumption that there are some super powered humans that have time-travelled from the 21st Century here.  I understand why the author did this; to help players acclimate to the stranger times of Victorian England. Personally, I thought it was unneeded/unnecessary.   BUT it does fit with the game, so that is fine.  Personally I am not going to use it. If I am running a Victorian game you are going to play Victorian characters.
Ignoring that there is a bunch of information on Victorian life that is great for any game. There is a great section on criminal slang that gives us the expected British slang, but also the rarely printed American/East Coast slang.
There is a Chronolgy of the Victorious age next.  This lists all sorts of political and scientific advancements made.  Included in this are events from fiction (like Dracula and Sherlock Holmes) and events from within the game itself.

Chapter 5 is the Bestiary.  Included are a lot of animals and the expected monsters of the Gothic Tradition.  These monsters are 100% compatible with Castles & Crusades and Amazing Adventures. So if you need more monsters they can be found easy.

Chapter 6 covers Supermankind. This has some more information on the world of Victorious. This includes many of the NPCs; the good, the neutral and the bad.  There are some great characters here including John Henry, Sherlock Holmes and the Spring Heeled Jack.  Like most games (and most ficition) the bad guys are the most interesting. Listed here with full stats are Aleister Crowley, Baba Yaga, Dorain Grey, Dracula, Hyde, Moriarty, and Col. Moran.  Really a Whos-Who of Victorian Villainy.  Really the star chapter in this book.  Which is saying something because there is a good game here.  These NPCs could be used in Amazing Adventures too.

Next we get and adventure, Hyde and Seek, which is a lot of fun.
The Appendices cover the Designer Notes, which are really fun read. I have to admit reading these gave me a greater appreciation of this game. There are sections on quick combat, dice rulings, and my favorite; mob rules.
There is a section on "History vs. Fantasy" which is a great read if you have ever tried to run a pseudo-historical game.  There is a list of resources that is also a great read. It's not exhaustive and there are some really notable exclusions, but this in not *my* list but theirs.

All in all this is a really fun game and I have nearly endless uses for it.
Mix it with a bit of Castles & Crusades for more fantasy or Amazing Adventures for more pulp.  Include some ideas from Codex Celtarum to make a more fantastic faerie-themed game. Mix it even more with Tainted Lands and get something not unakin to Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death.
The game has a multitude of possibilities beyond what is presented in the two covers.

The game is full of possibilities to be honest, and I really can't wait to try some of them out.
This is certainly a game I would love to play at a Convention sometime.

Buy this game if you enjoy Victorian games, Castles & Crusades, or superhero games with a twist.

6 comments:

Zombie Chow said...

I do thank you for the review, and IMO its fair and well stated. As for playing at a convention, if you plan to be at GaryCon this year look me up. You've got a standing invite to sit in on my game!

Mike Stewart
The "Genteel Magistrate"

Zombie Chow said...

BTW, what works do you think I left out of my "Appendix N"? I'm always looking for more cool Victoriana to read! :)

Mike

Timothy Brannan said...

Mike,

I should come up with a list to be honest. Not that you left out so much! But there is so much good stuff out there.

Greyknight said...

If I had written a review, it would echo 90% of what you said! Victorious surprised me in several good ways and I'm looking forward to trying it out soon, like this weekend. Woot!

Zombie Chow said...

Since I annotated my suggestions list, I only listed things I had read, seen or played. There's certainly a lot more out there....for instance, I'd love to give Ghosts of Albion a try!

Mike

Mike David Jr. said...

I picked this up from Troll Lord Games. They had a great convention deal: the rulebook, first adventure, and four supplements for $40. That's an amazing deal. Your review helped sell the game.

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