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Old 06-04-2009, 10:38 PM   #1
quarkstomper
 
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Default Steampunk Elves!

A while back in one of the solo games I run with my wife, I had her character pass through a dimensional portal and find herself in a room with Victorian Era furnishings but some odd differences; for example, the globe next to the big leather chair showed a large island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; and the portrait of Queen Victoria on the wall shows her to be an elf.

I didn't do much with the setting at the time, but I filed it away for future reference.

When we wrapped up our most recent campaign, we discussed running a Steampunk campaign and Lute reminded me of the Victorian Elf idea.

So I'm cobbling together this background, mostly on the fly because we run the game every night and I don't have a lot of time for planning.

Lute decided she wanted her character to be a gadgeteer and a human. I had decided that there are both elves and humans in this world, with the elves largely acting as the aristocracy. (What about dwarves, she asked this evening; are there any dwarves and what are their roles? Need to think about that)

So I'm having her start out as an engineering student at an American university. My original plan was that the campaign would mostly take place in England and Europe, but I wanted to establish her character first; so I'm starting her off in college at William and Mary in Virginia.

I've decided, for the sake of variety and to help differentiate this campaign from the Castle Falkenstein game I ran a few years back, that in this world, the Revolutionary War never happened and that the American Colonies negotiated a limited autonomy under the British Crown. (Lifting some ideas there from a Harry Turtledove novel The Two Georges). I chose the 1860s for the time period, (again, for variety's sake; I've done the Late Victorian Era several times). I'm thinking that in this timeline the Civil War hasn't happened; (or hasn't happened yet. This might be a future plot).

Is slavery still an issue? That's something I haven't decided yet. Did the British Parliament ban slavery in America, or is that one of the areas where the crown is permitting local rule to determine things? Or did the British and/or Americans work out a way to gradually phase out the "peculiar institution"? I need to work that out pretty quickly.

So far I've done a few sessions of Lute's character attending college, working on science projects and being courted by the handsome captain of the College Rowing Team. I want to get her involved in some intrigue, but I'm not exactly sure where to go with it. Perhaps her beau's father, an influential Virginia senator, is involved with a cabal with nefarious political goals. I have an idea in the back of my mind involving Atlantis, which I've decided has been inaccessible for millenia due to magical guards, but I think I want to save that for a while.

Anyway, that's some of what I've come up with so far. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:05 PM   #2
Mark Skarr
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Default Re: Steampunk Elves!

You might look into the old computer game Arcanum. You might find some interesting ideas there.
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steampunk Elves!

The elves in that one are quite anti-tech, however.
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Old 06-05-2009, 02:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steampunk Elves!

[QUOTE=quarkstomper;800621]

...because we run the game every night and I don't have a lot of time for planning.
[/QUOTE ]

I'm jealous.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quarkstomper View Post

Lute decided she wanted her character to be a gadgeteer and a human. I had decided that there are both elves and humans in this world, with the elves largely acting as the aristocracy. (What about dwarves, she asked this evening; are there any dwarves and what are their roles? Need to think about that)

So I'm having her start out as an engineering student at an American university. My original plan was that the campaign would mostly take place in England and Europe, but I wanted to establish her character first; so I'm starting her off in college at William and Mary in Virginia.

Is slavery still an issue? That's something I haven't decided yet. Did the British Parliament ban slavery in America, or is that one of the areas where the crown is permitting local rule to determine things? Or did the British and/or Americans work out a way to gradually phase out the "peculiar institution"? I need to work that out pretty quickly.

Anyway, that's some of what I've come up with so far. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?
Lots of ideas to consider. First of all how were the other races introduced into the world? Have they always been there, are they transplants from another dimension, are the result of shadowrun-esque spontaneous re-evolution etc?

I think that's the most pertinent question to answer first.

Other than that, or perhaps a segue from that, how do the races integrate into society? An entire sub-species could be enslaved - orcs maybe. That would be interesting given our generations abhorrence of slavery Players may feel sympathy to the idea of slavery even for a percieved 'monster' race and it might be an interesting campaign itself to tackle the subjugation of these orcs.

As for elven aristocracy, i imagine that most humans will despise this notion and do everything they can to bring to the elitist bourgeoisie elven empire toppling down by the proletariat human, dwarven factions possibly supported by the uprising of the orcish slaves.

As for steampunk, there are alot of things to make it interesting. I like to detail the technology in it's simplicity and complexity by explaining how things work so it encourages players to modify it, especially for innovative engineer characters.

I like to toss a few really cool gadgets/tech to the players early on to get them interested/excited. Like an airship, or a clockwork pistol to kind of give them a sense of comfort and confidence.
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Old 06-05-2009, 03:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steampunk Elves!

Quote:
Originally Posted by quarkstomper View Post
I had decided that there are both elves and humans in this world, with the elves largely acting as the aristocracy. (What about dwarves, she asked this evening; are there any dwarves and what are their roles? Need to think about that)

Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?
The aristocracy could be made up of 1/2 elves, 1/4 elves etc, rather than full bloods. Different human ethnicities could be matched to different types of elves. EDIT: The pure blood elves could have died out.

Dwarves could be itinerant engineers, with strongholds in geographic locations which suit the setting. Personally, the idea of dwarves with Welsh accents appeals. A dwarf with a mug of tea and cheese toasties...

Orc's: umm, nomadic mercenaries. Maybe something akin to the Dirlewanger Brigade, who apparantly had a habit of taking every cow, pig ,and horse that they came across, rendering them part army, part stock drive.
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Old 06-05-2009, 03:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steampunk Elves!

I suggest locating a copy of the graphic novel League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier. While the action takes place in the 1950's, there is a lot of background material about that world's Glorianan Age.

In that world, instead of Queen Elizabeth I, there was the reign of Queen Gloriana - from Spenser's Faerie Queen. The Tudor Age in that world was ruled by a Faerie aristocracy that was eventually hounded out by Cromwell and his Puritanism. Her reign was looked back on by future generations as a Golden Age for England. There should be some useful material there.

Also, consider the possibility of Victoria as a changeling. If you read the historical accounts of her conception (retold succinctly in the Brittanica-6 supplement), Queen Victoria's birth was the aftermath of a series of unlikely events. It might be feasible that Baby Victoria was either stillborn or never born, and the Faerie Folk (either in collusion with humans or of their own initiative) slipped a changeling in to become heir to the throne.

As for Dwarves ... the mythologies with the largest amount of dwarf-related material I know of are the Germanic, Norse, and Slavic mythoi, and all of those describe them as crafters of magical devices. So you could have them as a hard-working and skilled Germanic and Slavic proletariat filled with Socialist or Anarchist ferment and ready to erupt into revolution.

Oh and if possible ... don't forget airships! Mythic Victorian wouldn't be the same without airships!
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Old 06-05-2009, 04:09 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by NorphTehDwarf View Post
The elves in that one are quite anti-tech, however.
The aristocracy weren't all that hot on it IRL either ... their wealth tended to come from land and agriculture. It was the upper middle class who tended to be the main capitalists, although there were quite a few aristocrats who did hold their noses and get into business.
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Old 06-05-2009, 07:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steampunk Elves!

My suggestion is that England's moves to abolish slavery is threatening to send England and America to war again. England, along with the majority of politically correct Western Europeans at the time were quite oppossed to slavery continuing. So I don't think of it as a stretch to think of slavery as serving as the straw that might break the camel's back in another war. Especially if you assume bitter feelings on either side of the pond. America, of course, loves it's slaves. Or the slave holders do anyways.

I recently read that slaves used to eat more than 5,000 calories a day. Think of how much food that is. They probably worked harder than most of us realize and harder than most of us can imagine. The popular idea at the time was that freetrade and salaries would encourage freed slaves to work even harder. But no one would work that hard given the option to choose. So yeah, two very different ideas are at work here and could easily lead to war, not between north and south, but between America and England. The question is where the North stands in this mess, does the north side with its compatriots to the south? Or with like minded Brits? It's a good question, and probably room enough to add plenty of fun to the game. Don't forget the role that the civil war played in making America what it is. It might actually be more fitting to have a parallel civil war serve as the war that leads to independence.

I hope that's helpful. My other idea probably isn't: Asian Dwarves!!!!!
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Old 06-05-2009, 09:43 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steampunk Elves!

Dwarves fit into steampunk like a glove made just for their stubby-but-dextrous hands. The genre is made for coalminers and garage-inventors. It almost doesn't matter what the ratio of steam to punk is, their role is roughly the same.
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Old 06-05-2009, 09:56 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steampunk Elves!

How about:

Dwarves are the filthy proletariat, or at least part of it along with the humans, laboring in dark, Satanic mills and producing various technological wonders (elevators, horseless carriages, zeppelins, etc.). The elves are the aristocracy, living on their country estates and nicely-appointed town houses and telling everyone else what to do. They may not care much for technology, but it's mostly an "out of sight, out of mind" thing, much as corporate executives of the recent-but-not-too-recent past might benefit from the existence of computers but never touch one themselves; that's for secretaries, technicians, and other workers. The brass and steam gadgets are concealed behind facades of lacquer, oak panels, hammered metalwork, and velvet brocade.
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