Several years ago, I wrote a series of short pulpy steampunk novellas very much inspired by Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly and other episodic ensemble TV shows. I had a blast with it, and enjoyed the worldbuilding of my alt-history version of the ‘Grand British Empire.’
Now, my focus has switched to tabletop roleplaying game design, and Lady Jessica and the crew of the HMS Zephyr have appeared back in my imagination, shrouded in steam, and asking if their tall tales can be told once more.
2023’s main project is therefore going to be my TTRPG system set in this high-camp, high-action and steam-enveloped world.
I’m still at the mindmapping and brainstorming stage (although I already have a Trello set up), and am considering a rules-light D20/D6 system, with an additional mechanic featuring poker hands of normal playing cards.
This has been influenced by the Year Zero Engine from Free League Publishing, some of the aspects of Paizo games that I adore, the playing card concept from Savage Worlds, and a similar card mechanic from the miniature skirmish wargame Malifaux.
Coupled with that, I’m drawing inspiration from the faction mechanics from the likes of Blades In The Dark, and the ship-building mechanics from Starfinder (my game will feature a player-owned airship that can be modded so much it’ll be lucky if it manages to stay airborne.)
It will feature magic (‘mysticism‘) and weird science (‘aether‘), and will also include setting / world details and a three-episode intro campaign.
I will still be focusing on Call of Cthulhu scenarios, one-page RPGs and other projects, but sometime in 2023, my steampunk game will lift off…
I’ll devblog about it here, and will shortly share some of my early thoughts and experiences around character creation and the core mechanics.
Look to the skies, citizen!