Showing posts with label victorian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label victorian. Show all posts

Friday, July 28, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Cauldrons and Gaslight

Two projects that strike at the sweet spots in my heart.  Witches and Victorian Fantasy!

First up is one I should have told you all about weeks ago.

Gaslight Victorian Fantasy 3e for Savage Worlds


Savage Worlds is not my jam, but it is a really good fit for the Gaslight World.  If I were to play Savage Worlds again it would be in the Gaslight World.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/battlefieldpress/gaslight-victorian-fantasy-3e-for-savage-worlds

Next up is a board game about witches, so you know I am in!

Cauldron: Bubble and Boil Board Game


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/magic-circle-games/cauldron-bubble-and-boil-board-game

I have to admit it looks ridiculously fun.  Check out the game play videos and reviews on the KS page.

I hope to have more about both projects in future posts.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Team Synergy & London Gothic

I have a couple of really fun ones for you today!

First up is a Superhero team of cousins called Team Synergy.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hbcomics/team-synergy-vol-1-spellbound



From their Press Release:

“Team Synergy” Kickstarter Promises New Heroes For Young Girls
HBComics' super-hero comic on kickstarter is“For every young girl who never had a hero of her own”

HBComics, a boston based indie comic publisher, has launched a kickstarter campagin for “Team Synergy,” a comic about a super-team of teenage girls, aimed at getting young female readers interested in super heroes.

According to the creators, the book was very much inspired by their own daughters and nieces.

“This book is so important to be, because I have two young girls...we have a lot of girls in our family.” said Chris Hebert, in the campaign's video. “(The young girls at comic conventions) would light up when they saw the book. One girl was literally jumping up and down hugging it. She was so excited there was a book just for her.”

The description of the comic on the kickstarter reads: "Five Teenage Girls. All cousins. All super-powered. Trained by their great grandmother, the original super heroine, to be the next generation of heroes. For every young girl who never had a super hero of their own to look up to, this is TEAM SYNERGY!” The book is written by Alan Hebert (Writer of Lazerman) and has art by Scott Shiver (Fem Force) and colors by Chris Hebert.

The kickstarter is running until February 24th, and can be found here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hbcomics/team-synergy-vol-1-spellbound

About HBComics™: HBComics™ is an independent comic book publisher, founded by two brothers from Boston. More information on the company, or the titles being produced, can be found at www.hbcomics.com

####

If you'd like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please call Chris Hebert at 781-588-9867 or e-mail info@hbcomics.com

The heroes include team leader Awesome Girl, cheerleader turned superhero Hot Pink, introvert and skeptic punk (and destined to be a new fave here at the Other Side) Scatterbrain, shrinker and anime fan GlitterBug, and finally the hyper social butterfly Pinball. Love these names.  I could see these characters EASY in an Icons game.

Personally, I think it looks awesome and I love finding Kickstarters like this. For me this why Kickstarter was created; to help out independent creators get their creation out to you.

Switching from comic fun to the dark streets of Victorian London.

A London Gothic
Dark Tales of Vampires, Witches, & Demons on the Streets of Victorian London!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/415194828/a-london-gothic


As I mentioned to the author, Paul Voodindi,  "Vampires, Witches, Demons, London of the Victorian age?  Sounds like my Christmas list!"

From the press release for this:
Paul Voodini welcomes you to the dark and Gothic London of an alternative 1888. A dark and Gothic London where the shadow of Jack the Ripper still hangs over the streets of the East End like a malignant memory, fresh in the mind and with the power still to terrify. It is barely a month since Saucy Jack claimed the life of Mary Jane Kelly, yet, as our heroine Little Nell Trent is about to find out, there are more horrors than just old Jack lurking in the grim backstreets of Whitechapel.

Attacked on her own doorstep by a vampire girl, 18 year old Nell is herself transformed, joining the ranks of the East End vampires, known by the human residents as Tooth Fairies, and is plunged into a world of blood, lust, and dark wonder.

Captured by a human gang and forced into servitude, Nell befriends her one-time assailant Sally, the girl who originally turned her from mortal to vampire, and over the Christmas period of 1888, Sally protects her protégé as best she can, and every night recounts to her a Gothic tale from the dark underbelly of London.
“I had so many stories to tell,” explains Paul, “that I didn't know which one to focus on. So then I thought, why not write them all?!”

Inspired by the classic '1001 Arabian Nights', in which a wife successfully manages to stave off her execution by reciting a tale each night to her king husband, 'A London Gothic' features a series of short stories intertwined within the main narrative. And so, amongst others, we hear of Mary Shelley, who in this reality is a witch intent on raising back to life her dead friend, Amanda Frankenstein; Tiny Tim, the vampire boy, who prophecy tells will lead the vampire girls of London's East End out of the shadows and into the glittering heart of the British capital; and the poor, young funeral worker who on Christmas Eve is possessed by the unquiet spirit of Jacob Marley.

“Yes, these are tales of horror and melodrama,” says Paul, “but they are also tales of love and of loss, and although the anti-heroes of my stories are all creatures of the night, the stories they tell are of being cast adrift in a world that shuns them. I think that's a story that we can all, on one level or another, identify with.”
Find 'A London Gothic' on Kickstarter here: http://kck.st/2kwaq9b

See, sounds like a blast.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Reviews: New Castle Falkenstein Supplements

During October I reviewed a ton of new (and old) Victorian Era games and supplements.  I didn't get to everything I wanted so I going to fix that now.

Fist up are a couple of new books for the venerable Castle Falkenstein.

Full Disclosure: I received free copies of these PDFs in exchange for a review and also because the author knew I would like them. He was right.

Castle Falkenstein: Curious Creatures
Author J Gray, Artist Rick Hershey, Fat Goblin Games, 146 pages
Ok, we all know I love monster books. Like all Castle Falkenstein books, new and old, this book is gorgeous.  The art is fantastic.  The book is a nice mix of travel guide, creature catalog, and journal.  This is a fairly common feel to all CF books and it is served well here.  The first 50 or so pages cover some new rules and some various stories.  The central conceit of the book has notes from the very Doctor Doolittle. I have to admit this is really awesome.  I wish I had thought of it, to be honest.
The next 100 or so pages cover the Bestiary proper. This includes about three dozen monsters, as many normal creatures and a little more than 20 or so unique characters and intelligent animals.  This includes Doctor Doolittle, Gregor Mendel, Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde.  The surprises include Mowgli, Riki-Tikki-Tavi and Fantomah.   The mere fact that Fantomah is here really increases the value of this book in my mind.
The writing is very fluid and is a pleasure to read.  The CF stats are, well CF stats, you either like that game or you don't.  The bonus here is that this also makes the book extremely flexible for use with any number of systems.  In fact, this book is a very fine supplement to be used with any number of other game's monster books.  The art, is for the most part, Public Domain, but that is something I REALLY like in my Victorian books and here it flows seamlessly in with the text.
I don't have the softcover book, but I am considering picking it up now.  It is really that good looking and really that useful.
Do you all remember the old "Enchanted World" books from Time-Life books?  Well, this book reminds me of reading those.  It is less like a game book and more of a coffee table book of monsters.
This is a very, very fun book and I am so pleased to have it.

Castle Falkenstein: The Tarot Variation
Author J Gray, Artist Rick Hershey, Fat Goblin Games, 6 pages
Now this is a fun little book.  It's not long, only six pages, but it packs a punch.
This guide allows gamemasters of Castle Falkenstein to use a standard tarot deck instead of playing cards for the game.  There are additional rules to cover the Major Arcana.  If you play CF then I would easily say this is a must have.  If you play other games that have a playing card mechanic then is also a useful resource.  I am considering using this with Victoriana. I think it would work fantastically.

Both books are so much fun. I am really pleased to have them.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

October Horror Movie Challenge: Crimson Peak (2015)

This is one of the big movies I wanted to see this Challenge.  It had such a cool look and I was looking forward to watching it with my son.

Well I have to say it did not disappoint.  It is less a horror movie as it is a movie with horrific moments.  Much like it's not a ghost story as it is a story with ghosts.  I think that set some people off a bit.

The movie was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro and you can really tell.  Aside from all the Pacific Rim guest stars, there is also a Pan's Labyrinth feel to this.  
The actors are great really especially the three leads.

Connor really enjoyed it, loved the mystery but wanted it to be more scary.

Still. I enjoyed it.



2016 Movie tally
Watched: 31
New: 24


Friday, October 28, 2016

Reviews: Leagues of Gothic Horror Guides (and a Kickstarter)

Yesterday I went on (and on) about my love for the Triple Ace Games' Ubiquity-powered Leagues of Gothic Horror.   Today I want to focus on a few of the supplements from the Kickstarter.

In all cases, I am reviewing the dead tree and PDF versions of the books. I purchased these via the Kickstarter they had a while back.   All links are affiliate links. No review was solicited or expected outside of me emailing the author to say "hey,  I am reviewing your books" a couple of days ago.


Leagues of Adventure - Globetrotters' Guide to London
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 78 pages.
A great sourcebook for the Leagues of Adventure game this covers the City (and County) of London in the 1890s.  The bulk of the book is devoted to a "tour" around London pointing out places of interest.  There are also sections on the police force, entertainment, and transportation.  The book is largely fluff free (ie not much in the way of games stats) so it immediately has utility for a wide variety of games. Even the adventure hooks for London are game-stats free. Most of the game-related material comes in the form of detailing various NPCs and archetypes, but there is enough flavor test to still make them usable in other games too.
This is a well-researched guide and extremely useful.  If you are playing a London-based Leagues of Adventure, Leagues of Gothic Horror or Leagues of Cthulhu game then I say pick this up.

Leagues of Gothic Horror: Guide to Black Magic
(currently on sale at DriveThru RPG)
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 64 pages.
Set up in a similar fashion to all of TAG's "Guide to" books, this covers Black Magic and "Wickedness".  This book is fairly setting specific, so it has more game stats than some of the other guides.  I still found it to be a fantastic read and can't wait to try some of this out in my next Ubquity game.  The book covers a brief history of "black magic" practices around the world.  Later (Chapter 2) we move into why someone might take up this sort of power.  Fiendish lairs are also discussed since in the tried and true traditions of both Gothic and Pulp fiction every bad guy needs a lair.
The next three chapters I found the most interesting, they are respectively, Power, Demons and Evil NPCs.  So much great stuff here that I really could spend dozens of sessions working through all the ideas this has given me.  In particular, I have a Ghosts of Albion adventure that would work so much better with some of the ideas here. I am going to have to re-run now under Ubiquity to see.
For a small book it packs a lot of punch.

Leagues of Gothic Horror: Guide to Apparitions
(currently on sale at DriveThru RPG)
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 64 pages.
Set up in a similar fashion to all of TAG's "Guide to" books, this covers ghosts and the damned.  Again, this is fairly setting specific but a lot of the material here is drawn from myths and legends from around the world, so first of there should be something in this book that everyone recognizes. Secondly there is plenty in this book that everyone can use.
The first third of the book covers why ghosts happen and their nature. This is followed by the means of disposing of these pests and some of the powers that they have.  The last third (more like half) covers new monsters and some very specific ghosts.  Frankly it is worth the cover price for the ghost of Lady Macbeth alone.
I once said in a game at Gen Con that are more ghosts in London than living people.  This book helps prove my point rather nicely.
Another really solid buy.



Also don't forget about TAG's newest Kickstarter, Leagues of Cthulhu.  Yeah the name is awkward, but it does tell you exactly what this is about.  My youngest son, who is turning into quite a Lovecraft fan, really wants this game.
You add on any other "Leagues of..." book you like.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review: Leagues of Gothic Horror

A while back I spent some quality time with the Ubiquity system reviewing a number of games including Leagues of Adventure one of my favorites.

Today I want to have a look at Leagues of Gothic Horror, the gothic horror (naturally) supplement to Leagues of Adventure.

Leagues of Gothic Horror (LoGH) is not an independent game but rather a "thick" campaign supplement with a lot of rule additions.  In it is designed to be used with Leagues of Adventure, but it could also be used with any Ubiquity game with a little work.  Actually with a little more work it could be used with any Victorian era game.   It is light on crunch really and full of flavor.

I am reviewing my hardcover and PDF from my Kickstarter backing.  The book is 158 pages, color covers with black and white interiors.  Again for my money black and white interiors are the way to go for both Victorian and Horror.

I am just going to come right out and say this.  This book is damn near perfect.
This really has everything I enjoy in one volume. Gothic horror, the Victorian era, black magic, science, horror, it's all here.

Chapter 1 covers new Archetypes for the LoA game.  These include some of my favorites of gothic and Victorian lore such as the mystic, the mentalist and an old favorite, the alienist.   There is even a subsection on how to play Ghost characters!  If I didn't love this book so much I might feel threatened that it was encroaching on Ghosts of Albion's territory!
There are also new talents, skills, and flaws for your character.  These are of course designed with LoA in mind so no idea how they might overlap with say, Hollow Earth (HEX) or other Ubiquity games. There are also new Leagues.  These are usable in any game.  In particular, I was thinking of Victorious the whole time.
Chapter 2 details horror and sanity mechanics.  Again this is expected. The sanity system is mostly relegated to phobias.  This is fine for me since this game deals more with heroic actions of daring-do.
This chapter also deals with more magic including black magic, pagan magic, ceremonial magic and ritual magic.  There is a great sidebar here on various Solar and Lunar eclipses during the late Victorian era.  Really handy to have.
The large section of magical texts, their translations and uses is also really great. Not just to use, but to read.  Many are based on real-world books too.  Along with that are new magics and magical/occult artifacts.
Chapter 3 is another great addition with new monsters. All the usual suspects are here; vampires, golems, werewolves, demons, even evil witches and a couple of different types of necromancers.  We get a section on major villains too, Dracula, Count Orlock, Brain in a Jar, Lord Ruthven, Varney the Vampire, even Rasputin.  Pretty much any Gothic-age or Victorian-age bad guy is here. Like the leagues presented in Chapter 1 there are some new sinister cults.
Chapter 4 takes us on tour to the Dark Places of the world. Great addition to LoA.  Reminds me a bit of the old AD&D Gazetteer to Gothic Earth.  Specific locales are given and more generic ones for use anywhere in the world.
Chapter 5 covers advice for the gamemaster and Chapter 6 has ideas for running games using this book. There is a great "Gothic History" timeline and list of "Who's Who" in the real world.  The last page has a nice list of references of Gothic literature, audio, movies and television.  I'll admit I had fun trying to guess the references from the material in the book.  I did pretty well if I say so myself.

I have already gushed over this book, doing so more will only make me look foolish, but I can't help it.  It is that much fun.  I call it a "must have" if you are playing Leagues of Adventure.

If you are playing other Victorian era games and want to add more Gothicness (as opposed to "Gothiness") then please consider this book.

This is going to be a lot of fun when Leagues of Cthulhu is released.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Special Edition - Paternoster Investigations

I imagine that one day in the not too distant past, like 2015 or some exotic time like that Andrew Peregrine (Victoriana 2nd ed) and Walt Ciechanowski (Victoriana 3rd ed) were sitting on tops of the mounds of money that Cubicle 7 makes and discussing how they could get in on some of the Doctor Who fun.  They spoke to Dave Chapman (who was sitting on top of an equally obscene pile of cash) and convinced him to let them do a Victorian era book for the Doctor Who game.
The result is Doctor Who - Paternoster Investigations.

This book is a source guide to the Doctor Who universe's Victorian England.  The Doctor has been here many times and he is seriously running the risk of running into himself more often here than in 21st Century England.

The book is 128 pages, full color and done in the new "12th Doctor" trade dress.  The main conceit of the book revolves around the Paternoster Gang which includes Silurian warrior, Madame Vastra, her maid turned lover turned wife Jenny Flint, and Sontaran Commander turned nurse turned man-servant Strax.  I have featured Vastra and Jenny many times on my blog and worked out my own stats for them for the Doctor Who RPG and for Ghosts of Albion.  I have not bothered to see if my stats and the official stats are similar though.

This is a GREAT book, not just for the Doctor Who game but for Victorian games in general.
You will not see the depth of talking about Victorian times here as you would with the author's Victoriana books, but there is still plenty here.

The book breaks down into expected sections.
First, we have a chapter on the Victorian world and how it works.  This includes a bit of history, culture and important happenings.  There is also a section on how this all exist in the Doctor Who universe.

The second chapter/section is devoted to the specifics of the Doctor Who version of this time. This features a "driving" geography of London (useful for anygame) and some personalities that can be interacted with.  A pause while I point out how pleased I am to see "Alice Shield" AKA Ashildr AKA "Me" from the ninth season of Doctor Who.  No,  we never saw her in Victorian times, but we know from her accounts that she was there.  We even get a first generation version of Torchwood.
A++ to both Gentlemen Authors for putting together such a fun chapter for the game.

Third, we get to Victorian Adventures which is exactly what is says on the tin.  So many great ideas here.  I could not help but feel a little Victoriana entering here.  The jewels in this chapter are of course the descriptions of the PPaternoster Investigations Gang, the "Further Adventures of Jackson Lake" (the Man Who Would Be Lord) and my absolute favorite, Jago and Litefoot Investigations.  Right there is worth the price of the book alone.

The fourth section moves into what they call the Paternoster Campaign.
Ok let's push pause for a sec.  One of the big issues of Doctor Who, any Doctor Who RPG, is playing without the Doctor or Other Timelords.  UNIT helps this a little, Torchwood does it a little better, but the Paternoster Gang does it the best.  With this structure you may never need, or even may never want, to use a Time Lord in your game again. This details setting up and running your investigative teams or using one of the ones from the book.

The final chapter, "A Study in Flax" is an adventure for your Victorian investigative team.

The final pages are various characters from different Victorian episodes of Doctor Who.  Included are Vastra, Jenny, Strax, Jackson Lake, Rosita "Rose" Farisi, Henry Gordon Jago (!), Prof. Litefoot (!), another version of Clara, and Victoria Waterfield.

Who should get this? Everyone!
Seriously though, if you enjoyed the Vastra/Jenny episodes of the 11th and 12th Doctors, the 4th Doctor classic "Talons of Weng-Chiang" or it's spin off "Jago and Litefoot", then this is for you.
If you love Victorian games, then this is for you.
If you love the Doctor Who game, then this is for you.

Just buy it. You'll love it.

Reviews: Victoriana 3rd Edition Supplements

To wrap up my week of Victoriana I want to focus a little now on the supplements for the 3rd edition. Now per the 3rd Edition Core Rules supplements for the 2nd Edition game can be used with the newer 3rd edition game. One would also suppose and visa-versa. That really ups the utility of any of these supplements in my mind.

I am reviewing the PDF versions of these books. No idea if there are print versions or not. I bought these on my own so no expectation of review from Cubicle 7.

Liber Magica
144 Pages. Color cover, B&W interior
Liber Magica is the supplement I ALWAYS want for my games. A book on more magic? Yes please!
This book features a lot of familiar names from both 2nd and 3rd edition.   This is good given the changes to magic between the editions.  There is a section (half-a-page) about bringing over 2nd ed style magics to 3rd ed.  It is really easy stuff and most GMs will do it on the fly really.
This book contains a lot more magical options than the core book had.  The first five cover the types of magic detailed in the core book (Thaumaturgy,  Sigil Magic, Conjuration, Psychodumany/Magentism, and Maleficium).  The last two chapters cover magical items and curiosities and magical societies.  There are a lot of new spells.
I have the PDF of this book, but I really want a print copy next time I hit Gen Con.  It is one of the single most useful Victoriana PDFs I own.  I adapt ideas from this for a variety of game including converting all these to Magical Philosophies in Ghosts of Albion or Traditions for the Witch.  This morning, in fact, I was rereading this for use in Leagues of Gothic Horror.
A supremely useful book.

Streets of Shadow
144 Pages. Color cover, B&W interior
Streets of Shadow is an adventure path (to borrow a term) for Victoriana that has a lot of history.  Three of the adventures, Dragon in the Smoke (Chapter 1), The Hound of Hate (Chapter 3) and Rise of the Red God (Chapter 5) have been published previously for 1st edition Victoriana. Here they have been updated and tied together in a longer story. A "shilling shocker" according to the book.
This adventure also ties in to other Victoriana adventures, The Devil in the Dark (3rd ed) and The Marylebone Mummy (2nd ed).
This is a great example of both an adventure campaign and of a game honoring (and using) it's past.
Sure these are useful for other games too, but really there is something very "Victoriana" about these. If you are planning on running any Victoriana games at all I say get these.

NOTE:  Rise of the Red God for Victoriana 1st ed is still available.  I am thinking of grabbing it and my copy of Amazing Adventures Rise of the Red God and do a mega-adventure of two times, two games and one threat.

The Devil in the Dark
23 Pages. B&W cover and interior.
A beginning adventure for characters that have been through at least one or two other adventures but are still low rank. This is an expanded and updated version of a 1st Ed adventure. This adventure in 3 acts feels a lot like a mix of gothic horror and Sherlock Holmes. Great for the price.

The Spring Heeled Menace
14 Pages. B&W cover and interior. FREE
Can't complain about this price.  I fun little introductory adventure with some pre-gen PCs/NPCs.
One Spring-Heeled Jack is bad enough, what about an entire gang of them?  Great adventure to introduce 3rd Ed Victoriana to new players.

The Concert in Flames
160 pages. Color cover, B&W interior
Part gazetteer of Europe of 1865, part adventure campaign.  What is great about this book is that covers a number of lands that are often ignored in most Victorian-era games.  There are not a lot of details, it's not Wikipedia after all, but plenty for your game.  The adventure (or Penny-Dreadful in Victoriana-speak) is a continent hoping adventure in the pure adventure vein as "Around the World in 80 Days" or the last part of "Dracula". It is done in a way that only can be done in the Victorian-era.  The world is still big enough that other lands can be mysterious, but small enough that travel (thanks steam!) is quicker, easier and an adventure all it's own.  Again, this makes this book not just essential for Victoriana but also a good buy for anyone running any Victorian-era game.
There are also four new races near the end.

I don't know about all of you, but I want to do some Victorian-era gaming!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Review: Victoriana 3rd Edition

While Victoriana 1st edition first caught my attention and 2nd edition became a favorite, it is 3rd edition that might be the best version of the Victoriana game.  My deepest apologies to all the people that worked on the first two editions, some who I now consider friends.

Full Disclosure: I bought my own hardcover and pdf copies of these books. While I consider many of the fine folks at C7 to be friends, they did not solicit or expect a review.

Victoriana 3rd Edition uses the same system that powered Victoriana 2nd edition, but cleans up the game and gives it some new life.  Led by Walt Ciechanowski, Victoriana 3 became something a little different than before, but uniquely more "itself".  You can use all the supplements, adventures and characters in 3rd edition that you did with 2nd edition with now issues.  Vic 2nd edition has a conversion guide to 1st in case you need that.  There are sidebars to let you know where the major differences are between 3rd and 2nd edition.  There are even a couple of places where specific 2nd Edition books are mentioned.

Now set in 1856 (ten years earlier) we get a different feel for the age.  The world of Victoriana 3 is a little darker, a little more dangerous and a lot bigger.  So if you are using any of the supplements, such as the India one, you will need to adjust some events and tone, but not mechanics.  There are also sidebars that mention the differences between Victoriana world and the real world.  For example the Bolshivik revolution is getting started earlier here and Charales Darwin is now a "Dr." (he "only" had a Master's degree in real life).

This version of Victoriana puts more emphasis on technology. It is fantasy tech and steampunk tech, but there is more of it.  Not to say magic has taken a backseat here, but it is not as prevalent in the writing as it was before.  Also, the gothic horror elements have been turned up a bit in this as well.  Magic, when it is there, is scary.

Victoriana (any version, but especially this one) is the game where you can take anything from any other Victorian-era game, use it here and it works. Eldritch horrors from Cthulhu by Gaslight? yup.  Investigations from Baker Street? of course. Superhumanity from Victorious? Sure, why not!
In fact, this kitchen sink mentality works really well in Victoriana.

The system is the same. You get a dice pool of s6s. Roll them, explode the "6"s, count the successes.  If you have enough great.  The rules in this version read better.   I mentioned in my review of 2nd edition that the only way to truly review a game is not just to read it but to play it.  I have played Victoriana now for almost 10 years. Despite that, and even more years of World of Darkness and ShadowRun, I am not a fan of dice-pool games. I have tried play Victoriana using the Ghosts of Albion system. It worked, and it was fun. But it wasn't Victoriana anymore.  The Heresy game system is very much a part of what makes this game what it is. Much like the Basic Roleplaying System works for Call of Cthulhu and d20 for D&D, this system imparts a feel to Victoriana.  The black dice, the exploding 6s, all of it is part and parcel of the game experience.

Character creation is a bit easier, or at least a bit more guided in this version.  Emphasis is not placed more on social class than whether or not you are an orc, Eldren or human.  By the way, the Eldren (Elves) in this version get really strange.  You can be an elf, but be prepared to have some weird quirks or even some mental illness.  Personally, I loved this idea and would like to try it in other games where I have elves/Eldren.  Really, it is that cool.  There are some changes to gnomes and Huldufolk (halflings) that make them more different than each other and more interesting. Nocturnal academics vs. rustics with a keen interest in one area.
Note: This would be a great template on how to bring Castles & Crusades elves, gnomes, and halflings into a Victorious game.

The book is huge at 320 pages.  Again the cover is color and interior is black and white. And again this is how it should be.  The hardcover is sturdy and looks great. The PDF is bookmarked.  While I loved the mix of art in 2nd edition, the art in 3rd edition is more consistent.
The character sheet from 3rd edition is one of my favorites. It just looks so cool. A color option though would have also been nice for those special characters.

The rules include a great collection of items from the age and various forms of entertainment. There are also clarified rules on various chases (coach, boat, airships) and the effects of drinking and drugs.

Victoriana is one of the games with a quiet, but steady and dedicated following.  The fact that the games are always sold out in minutes at Gen Con is a testament.
For me, I will say this.  If there is anything you have ever wanted to do in a Victorian-era game then Victoriana has a way for you to do it.



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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Review: Victoriana, 2nd Edition

Victoriana and I have a long and complicated relationship.  I find it interesting that to date I have not done a review for this game.  So let me fix that now.  I discovered Victoriana, 1st Edition around the time I was writing Ghosts of Albion.  I picked up the game, but since I was deep into working on and playing Ghosts at the time I didn't look at it much.  Finally, I did and then learned a 2nd Ed was going to come out.

I spent some time reading the 1st Edition rules and thought it was interesting, if odd.  For starters, I am not sure why there was no U.S. Civil War. I was also not a fan of the Fuzion system.  I liked all the odd races for the game (even if it did lead to the infamous Orc from Africa debate) and felt like it was, as it has been later described as Victorian Age Steampunk.

The thing that struck me though is how similar that cover is to the Ghosts of Albion BBC logo.  In particular the silhouettes of  William and Tamara.   I am sure it is nothing but coincidence,  but I could not help but notice it all the same.  Save for the pointy ears on the Victoriana cover that *could* be Tamara and William from Ghosts.

I went into the 2nd edition with a lot of preconceived notions of what the game was.  That is until Gen Con 2007.  Friday night I ran a Ghosts of Albion game and a lot of the authors and playtesters for Victoria 2nd Ed came.  I later joined them on a 8:00am Saturday morning game.  I was hung over, battling the oncoming con crud.  I played an Ogre butler with a Wits (intelligence) score of two whose saving grace was a giant shotgun that he wielded like a pistol.  I had a GREAT time.

Victoriana is a perfect example of why you need to play a game instead of just reading it to do a full and proper review.  Reading through the rules the first few times gave me a bit of headache, but playing it was a snap.

Victoriana, 2nd Edition is a 286 page book. Color covers, black and white interior.  A couple of words about that.  The art for this book moves between D&D-esque fantasy races and vintage photographs.  Many of the photos are of author Andrew Peregrine's own family.  I think this gives the game a unique touch.  Personally, I do not want color art in my Victorian-era games. This is a world in black and white.

Vic is best described as a Victorian "cyberpunk" game; not just in terms of ethos, game design and play but also mechanics.  The game is based on d6 dice pool with the extra advantage of a "black dice" to add more random flavor.  Roll your pool of Characteristics, Skill, and Specialties and see how many successes you have.

The system that powers Victoriana is known as the Heresy system. Maybe an allusion to the game company that published Victoriana 1st ed.

The real feature of this game is the ability to play a number of fantasy races in a magic-is-real and in-the-open Victorian London 1867.   The similarities to ShadowRun continue here.  You can play dwarves, ogres, elves (Eldren) and other fantasy races.  It could also be described as Steampunk ShadowRun or even Steampunk D&D. To call it that would really be selling the game a little short to be honest.  I often described it as most Victorian games turned up to 11.

The game won a Silver Ennie for Best Writing and there is a ton of great material in this game, if viewed from Victoriana's own lens.

Appendix 3 Source Material is a great read for any fan of the Victorian era.  Six pages of great and pretty exhaustive material.

The supplements for Victorana are all top notch with the same artistic style and flare of the core book.

Victoriana is one of those games I always seek out to play at conventions when I can.  I have always had a great time.

If this sounds fun to you there is a free preview of the game here.



Friday, October 7, 2016

Willow & Tara: Victorious

I am continuing my week-long deep dive of the Victorious game and I thought I'd go back to some familiar territory for me.   Though to be fair, the game did give me this idea.

There are a couple of things about Victorious right from the start. First, the ability to port in other classes from other SEIGE Engine games, like Castles & Crusades.  Second, the in-game plot element that there are some characters there from the 21st Century.
So what if I DID decide to bring some characters? Who should I bring over?  No real question really.
While I was working on this post the question of Savage World's Rippers was also brought up. So why not try something with that too.

So here is my premise. Sometime in 2006 (not 2016) Willow and Tara are ripped out of their time back to London of the 1890s.  Let's just say 1896.  Digging through some old games....ah yes, they were at a museum in London and they saw a daguerreotype picture of themselves in Victorian period dress with another woman.  Maybe something like this.

Willow and Tara flanking the Slayer of Victorian Age, Tara LaGrange by mqken.
The other young woman is Tara LaGrange who is featured as a "Slayer" in the Rippers book.

So. Let's try bringing in my two favorite witches using some of the spell casting rules from Castles & Crusades (I'll do something different tomorrow) and see if I can build a Slayer using these rules.

As cool as those guns are and as tempted I am to really turn the Steampunk elements up to 11 on this, I also want to do a simple spellcaster conversion first.
I have a few things I need to consider.  1. Are spells Vancian in nature?  I think I am going to say yes with the option that certain low-level spells can be cast more than once. A signature spell so to speak.
2. Can spellcasters mix in magickal powers? Again yes, but I am going to limit it to just what they get for their CHA bonus +1.

For spellcasters, they take the "Spellcaster Power" every other level.  This gives them access to the next level of spells.  So Spellcaster as levels 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17 for spell levels Cantrips and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 respectively.  This gives them roughly half of the free Power Points of other characters. So these remainder points can be allocated as needed.  Typically I would see a spellcaster at first level taking Spellcasting, Blast (Magick) and Psycho-Kinesis.  The 1 point shortcoming is that the spells must be studied in a book of rituals.

Willow
Proper Name: Willow Danielle Rosenberg
Strength: 9 (0)
Dexterity: 11 (0)
Constitution: 13 (+1)
Intelligence: 18 (+3)*
Wisdom: 16 (+2)
Charisma: 17 (+2)*
INIT: +0
Actions: 1 per round
AC: 10, +6 (Mystic)
Defensive: +9 Vision
Hit Points: 44
Level: 12
Alignment: Good
Victory Points: 5
Skills: History/Legend (Intelligence), Linguist (Intelligence), Occult (Intelligence), Prime (Intelligence), Science (Intelligence)
Languages: English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew
Supernatural Powers: see Packages

Packages:
Spellcaster (Arcane) 12th level.
Spells
0: Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Light, Mage Hand, Message, Prestidigitation
1: Burning Hands, Comprehend Language, Identify, Magic Missile, Shield, Shocking Grasp
2: Darkness, Knock, Levitate, Locate Object, See Invisible
3: Clairvoyance/Clairaudience, Dispel Magic, Fly, Lightning Bolt, Suggestion
4: Arcane Eye, Fear, Mnemonic Enhancer
5: Contact Other Plane, Permanency, Telepathic Bond*
6: Chain Lighting, Guards and Wards

Powers: (Spellcaster) Blast 2, Keen Senses (Sight, Magick), Psycho-Kinesis 2, Telepathy,

Shortcomings: Enemy 2 (The Beast), Enemy 1 (Dracula), Minority (Lesbian Jew in 1890s England), Notorious, Phobia (Frogs), Watched (British Home Office)

Tara
Proper Name: Tara Ann Maclay
Strength: 12 (0)
Dexterity: 12 (0)
Constitution: 11 (+1)
Intelligence: 16 (+2)*
Wisdom: 18 (+3)*
Charisma: 16 (+2)*
INIT: +0
Actions: 1 per round
AC: 10, +6 (Mystic)
Defensive: +9 Vision
Hit Points: 42
Level: 11
Alignment: Good
Victory Points: 6
Skills: Fine Arts (Charisma) History/Legend (Intelligence), Occult (Intelligence), Prime (Wisdom)
Languages: English, Latin, Greek
Supernatural Powers: see Packages

Packages:
Spellcaster (Divine) 11th level.
Spells
0: Create Water, Detect Magic, Endure Elements, First Aid, Light, Purify Food & Drink
1: Animal Friendship, Calm Animals, Entangle, Faerie Fire, Obscuring Mist, Shillelagh
2: Animal Messenger, Cure Light Wounds, Hold Animal, Produce Flame, Speak with Animals
3: Call Lightning, Neutralize Poison, Protection from Elementals, Pyrotechnics, Speak with Plants
4: Cure Serious Wounds, Dispel Magic, Scrying
5: Cure Critical Wounds, Commune with Nature
6: Find the Path

Powers: (Spellcaster) Healing, Keen Senses (Sight, Magick), Psycho-Kinesis 2, Telepathy,

Shortcomings: Enemy 1 (The Beast), Enemy 1 (Dracula), Minority (Lesbian Wicca in 1890s England), Watched (British Home Office)

I like both of these. They are right out of C&C, but I feel they could go toe-to-toe with the big bads of Victorious.  I also think they compare favorably to their Amazing Adventures counterparts.

Now on to The Slayer.
Tara LaGrange appears in the Savage Worlds Rippers universe.  I converted her to Unisystem as both a normal girl and as an honest-to-goodness Vampire Slayer.
If I stick with 1896 then Miss LaGrange will be 21.

The Slayer
Proper Name: Tara LaGrange
Strength: 18 (+3) / 23 (+5)
Dexterity: 16 (+2) / 21 (+4)
Constitution: 13 (0) / 18 (+3)
Intelligence: 12 (0)
Wisdom: 12 (0)
Charisma: 16 (+2)
INIT: +12 (Intution, Lightning Speed)
Actions: 1 per round
AC: 10, +2/+4 (Dodge), +3 (Lightning Speed)
Defensive:
Hit Points: 50
Level: 5
Alignment: Good
Victory Points: 5
Skills: Prime (Strength), Melee
Languages: English, French
Supernatural Powers: see Packages and Powers

Packages:
Slayer (theme)**
- Attribute Increase: Strength
- Attribute Increase: Constitution
- Intuition
- Might
- Regeneration (heal self 1d6 per rank)
- Robust

Powers: Robust 2 (taken at level 2), Might 2 (taken at level 3), Attribute Increase (Dexterity) (taken at level 4), Robust 3 (taken at level 5)

Shortcomings: Enemy 2 (Vampires)**, Enemy 1 (Dracula), Obligation**, Watched (British Home Office)**

Powers marked with ** are part of the Slayer Package.


I might need to tweak it a bit more, but for Miss LaGrange here I think it will work rather nicely.
I am now thinking I want to run a game with these three!  Maybe do that vampire game I have been thinking about for a while now.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Reviews: Victorious Supplements

Victorious isn't just the core rulebook and some vague notions of inter-game compatibility.  There are a number of supplements already out for the game that you can grab right now.

More Disclaimers:  I bought all of these, Troll Lords did not supply any of these PDFs.

Victorious Night of the Jackals
This is a 24-page adventure from core book author Mike Stewart.
Now this is something fun.  It is an introductory adventure for 4-8 characters of 1st-3rd level. Ok, the DriveThruRPG page says 2-4, but the book says 1-3.  It follows directly from the adventure in the core book, Hyde and Seek, and involves none other than Professor James Moriarty.  I don't want to give too many details away, but if you are a fan of the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, then this will be a fun romp.
A bit of a nitpick, the DriveThruRPG text is a bit misleading. It looks like bits of it were copy-pasted from the Victorious RPG Core page. This is just the adventure.

Victorious Phantasmagoria
This is a 36-page supplement from Mike Stewart.  This supplement details a number of NPC, both good (9 total) and vile (12 total). They can be used as allies, villains, or even as Player Characters.  Not as interesting as the NPCs from the Core book, but then again how could they be! Couple of nitpicks here, some the characters are described as having children, though the ages of the kids and the heroes don't always work.  For example one heroine, Spellbinder is described as being in her late 20s and having a 12 year old son. She is also described as having a Ph.D.  Having a kid at 18 and then continuing to get a Ph.D. THEN getting sucked into the past?  It is DAMN hard to work on a Ph.D. when you have kids.  I know; so does the author of the book. So it struck me as odd. Make her "late 30s" or better yet "mid 40s".  I know the core book talks about the slow aging effects of supermankind, so say she is in her 40s but looks younger.
Also detailed is the secret organization "Sceptre"; used to fight the enemies of Queen and Country. A prison, Darkmore Prison, is given as a place to lock up all these bad guys you catch.

Victorious Hunter & Hunter Catalogue
This is a 44-page supplement from Mike Stewart.
Now this is a fun one!  Meant to be reminiscent of the old mail order catalogs of the time, this book takes its name from two of the premiere heroic NPCs of the core book.  The book is full of fantastical and mundane items characters can buy, find or engineer themselves.  And it is a full book.
Vital statistics are given including any bonuses it provides or damage it does (or can take) and the equally important availability (%) and price in British Pounds and American Dollars.
This is also a good book for any Victorian era game with a Steam-Punk lean to it.  It makes a nice companion piece to Cubicle 7's Victoriana - Faulkner's Millinery and Miscellanea.
My only complaint here is Troll Lords really missed out on the chance to make this look like a Vicotrian era catalog, complete with vintage art.  I know they were trying to maintain trade dress with the line and readability, but it would have been a lot of fun.
Buy this if you REALLY want to know how much the Nautalis would run you in Pounds Sterling.

Victorious Rules Britania, 42 pages
Victorious Manifest Destiny, 46 pages
These are "Guide" books for Great Britain and America respectively.  Both come with the same city maps of London and New York in PDFs.
Rules Britania details Great Britain in the time of Victoria and her world-wide empire. The city of London is also covered in some detail.
Man
ifest Destiny does the same for America and New York.
Both books are really pretty system neutral with a lot of background information that is great for any Victorian-era game.
Manifest Destiny edges out Rules Britania since America is often ignored in many Victorian games. Granted England is ignored in many Civil War and Western games too.  One of the features I really enjoyed about Manifest Destiny were the inclusion of the New York gangs.



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Plays Well With Others: Victorious and Victorian-era Games

Time once again for another chapter of Plays Well With Others.

Between some games there are often rivalries, heated debates, or even outright distaste.  Some games even have that between editions.
Not so for Victorian-era games.  We, the aficionados of such pastimes, fancy ourselves more genteel Lords and Ladies.  We generally get along and support each other and celebrate each other's successes.  This can be seen in the Facebook groups Victorian Gamers Association and +Jordan Bodewell's Victorian Adventure Enthusiast.

So today it will my pleasure to discuss how you can use Victorious with various other Victorian-era RPGS.

Note and Disclaimers: 1. I am making no attempt whatsoever to hide my biases here. 2. All books are mine. No book was provided for review purposes. 3. Links are affiliate links. 4. This will not be exhaustive.

Shall we begin?

Tho star with let's talk about what Victorious brings to the table that is unique. This is not just a Steampunk game or a game of Victorian daring-do. This is a game of Super-humanity from a Victorian point of view.  This is the writing of Friedrich Nietzsche writ-large with more hope, action, and steam. These are the promises of the ideas, but not the letter of, Charles Darwin.  The attitude is generally positive (which mind you can be a criticism of the game, the Victorian times were dirty, poor and generally terrible for many).
Victorious, true to it's name, is about striving for more and then seeing that goal realized.
If you go back to my review from yesterday you will see right off the cuff there are a few things that can easily be added to any Victorian game from Victorious.
1. The timeline
2. Background on the Victorian world, with various organizations.
3. The NPCs, in particular, the villains.

Many of the games I am talking about will also have these, but using them in concert makes for a better game.

Leagues of Adventure
Right off the bat Victorious has a LOT in common with Leagues of Adventure. Both games have similar motives and design goals.  Where Victorious can be summed up, though inadequately, as "Victorian Superheroes", Leagues of Adventure is summed up as "Victorian High Adventure".  Both have simlar Pre-Pulp sensibilities, and both have the point of view of Mankind will soon be much better.  I think the main difference to me is summed up by think how the characters could travel from London to New York in each game.  In Victorious the character would either fly by some sort of super-human means (in addition to other means) in LoA the characters would pilot a steam powered airship.
The timelines of both games are largely compatible and characters in one would feel right at home in the other game.


Could you imagine a team up of these characters?  I totally can.
The power levels of LoA are a little flatter than Victorious'.  Character start out and remain largely human-powered.  LoA has more skills, but Victorious' rules are a little faster on how skills are dealt with.  The GM of one game should find a lot material in the other game to give them plenty of ideas.

Victoriana
If Victorious is about super-humanity, then Victoriana is about weird-humanity and others.   Regardless of which edition you have/buy (1st Edition is pictured below), Victoriana is a little further on the "Castle Falkenstein" scale of Fantasy Victoriana than Victorious is.  It also takes place in the mid-Victorian era compared to Victorious' ever-popular late-Victorian era.


Victoriana is often described as Gaslight-Shadowrun. This is true. There are also plenty of other races like orcs, trolls, ogres, gnomes, elves (Eldren) and dwarves running around.  Victoriana is a fun game, but I sometimes wonder what it would be like under a different rule system.


Well not exactly like that...but you could fake a really cool Victoriana by mixing Victorious with Castles & Crusades. It would be a system that most of my readers would already be familiar with and still get at some similar types of game-play.  I would then advise GMs to grab some of the 3rd Edition Victoriana supplements.  Most of them are written with a minimum of game stats and all are absolutely beautiful.
While reading over Victorious I could not help but think of this picture from 1st Edition Victoriana.


This appendix in Victoriana covers very well what mixing 21st-century super-heroes with 19th-century sensibilities would be like.  It is a good read for anyone running a Victorious game.

In our hypothetical trip from London to New York, our Victoriana characters also travel by Airship, though it is not steam powered, but rather some eldritch magic.  Or they find an ancient Eldren gate.

Victoria
On the WAAAY other end of the "Castle Falkenstein Scale" is +Daniel Hodges' Victoria.  Victoria is very much set in the "real world". It is, however, a game I always suggest since it deals with the issues of the Victorian times better than pretty much every other game. Why? Because those issues are the focus of the game.   IF as a GM you really want to get a feel of the times then this is the game to use.  In fact, I have often wanted to run this game as an introduction game.  Everything is nice (well...not really nice) and normal then move on to the Fantastic game of choice once the characters learn of the "true world".


To travel to New York from London in this game you better book passage on a steamer and with some luck you will get there in about a week.

NOTE to FUTURE GAME DESIGNERS
We have now used up all versions of "Victoria" for a game!



Baker Street
On the same scale as Victoria is the Sherlock Holmes influenced Baker Street by +Bryce Whitacre.  Baker Street is set in "normal" Victorian times, albeit, one with Sherlock Holmes as a real person.  Victorious also has the world's most famous detective.  GMs should pick up a copy of Baker Street if Sherlock is going to play any part in their Victorious game.  Plus the clue-resolution system in Baker Street is fantastic and is something that can be lifted out to use in any game.
I will go as far as to say that Baker Street is one of those underrated games that should really get much more attention and many more awards.


Again. Steamer ship, arrive one week later.

Let's go to the other side of the scale into more Horror.  It is October after all.

Masque of the Red Death
Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death shares a lot of DNA with Victorious.  Either the d20/3rd edition or the original 2nd edition would work fine here.  I have already mentioned that you can mix Victorious with Tainted Lands and get something not unakin to Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death. Both games have several compliments to each other. Both have great and well-researched timelines. Both games have a great variety of NPCs and Villians. In fact, most of the material from one game can be used with the other with little fuss.  The big issues though are what does the Red Death mean in Victorious and how do super-humans work in Masque of the Red Death.  If you want to add some Gothic Horror to Victorious this is where I would start.   I for one would pick up MotRD's A Guide to Transylvania in a heartbeat to use with this.



Gaslight
Not too far away from Masque of the Red Death, but further up on the CF scale (this is a thing now) is Gaslight.  Gaslight is cut from the same cloth as Masque.  Since it is OGL/d20 it mixes with Victorious well.  I would argue that the system in Victorious/Castles & Crusades is better than d20 for this, but use some ideas from Gaslight to add a little more horror to your game.



Ghosts of Albion
In truth, Victorious and Ghosts of Albion are very, very different games.  Victorious takes place in the late Victorian era, Ghosts in the early. There are plenty of known superhuman and supernatural occurrences in Victorious. In Ghosts everything is hidden behind a veil of secrecy and magic.
But both games have a number of complimentary features.  First, if you plan to run one game in the other's time frame then both have good, detailed timelines.  Magic is a main feature of Ghosts, so if you are planning to add some more magical juice to Victorious then this is a good place to start.
I bet I could put together a "Protector" class for Victorious.  Mix in some details from Amazing Adventures and I could have a Ghost, Faerie and Vampire races for it as well.
Otherwise, the Magic quality is easily replicated by Victorious' Magicians.



One day I'll run an ultimate Victorian game with elements of these games plus Space: 1889 and Cthulhu by Gaslight.  Something truly epic.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

October Horror Movie Challenge: Gaslight (1940)

Amber Benson once told me that all great Victorian horror stories need to begin with a murder.  Gaslight is no exception.  Now there are few things about this movie.  First, this is the original British production from 1940, not the "remake" from America in 1944.  In truth, they are both remakes of the stage play.
Second, this movie is the origin (or maybe the American one is) of the term "Gaslighting"; or making someone (in particular a woman) think they are insane by manipulating the environment around them.   Upfront you can tell that is an adaption of a play. Not that this a bad thing, but there is a certain level of melodrama that comes from a stage play that you can see here.

The film is Noir even if the story is straight out of gothic literature. It makes for a great late-Victorian, early-Edwardian piece.  I am calling it horror because there are some fairly horrific implications of this movie.  Paul is quite a monster in this, to be honest.  I kept wanting him to die a horrible death.  His ending is very delicious.

The atmosphere skips between the whimsy I associate with films from the 1940s and the think gothic atmosphere of the story.

I saw the 1944 version years and years ago. This one really reminded me of that one.


2016 Movie tally
Watched: 4
New: 3



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.
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