Ask The Readers: What’s your favorite Steampunk RPG?

Steampunks by Kyle Cassidy. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported My recently-discovered love for the music of Abney Park and their upcoming roleplaying game Airship Pirates has made me quite excited for all things steampunk again.

And even though steampunk is probably not the most popular genre for roleplaying games, there are quite a few excellent games out there. The most well-known steampunk setting is probably Deadlands which combines the Western genre with elements of horror and steampunk into an original mix.

The classic roleplaying game Space 1889 might not actually what most people first think when they hear steampunk, but the Victorian Age Science Fiction RPG definitely features a lot of the common tropes of the genre.

Recently I wrote a review of the FATE edition of Kerberos Club, a game that allows you to run games in a Victorian Age touched by the “Strangeness”. Like Space 1889 it’s not a pure steampunk game, but more like a Victorian Superhero game with some steampunk elements. But because of the versatility of the FATE system, it should be pretty easy to use it to run a full-blown steampunk game.

When you are into indie games, you should definitely check out Lady Blackbird or fellow RPG blogger Rob Lang’s 24h RPG Cloudship Atlantis. Both are available for free and are a good introduction to the genre.

But I am sure there are dozens of other campaign settings or complete games using at least elements of steampunk that I haven’t mentioned here. WotC’s Eberron definitely has a healthy dose of steampunk-ish elements, even though it’s probably more like “magipunk”.

So, what is your favorite steampunk setting? Is there any game every steampunk fan should check out? Or perhaps you know of that one obscure game no one talks about. So please share your thoughts in the comments below and let us know about your favorite steampunk games!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

21 thoughts on “Ask The Readers: What’s your favorite Steampunk RPG?”

  1. Although it might more fall into the “magipunk” category as well, I quite enjoy RunePunk. It captures a lot of the same elements of the genre. Aside from that, GURPS Steampunk and/or Girl Genius would be worth checking in to. Even if you’re not fond of the GURPS system, the setting books are full of good source material and can be easily adapted to most RPGs.

      1. Oops.. Didn’t do my research on that one. :$ Apparently not. It’s been talked about for so long that I assumed that it had been.

  2. Is no one out there familiar with Victoriana? As far as my not-so-humble opinion goes it’s the only Steampunk RPG out there with some actual substance that isn’t just a hodgepodge of stylistic elements thrown on top of a system and labeled an RPG.

  3. I was going to suggest Victoriana and Dark Harvest. For the d20/ogl fans there is of course OGL Steampunk from Mongoose. But more overlooked an much better done is Ave Molech from Morbid Games. I’m sure I’m missing some.

    For indie games I like Full Light Full Steam from Josh Roby.

  4. Favorite steam punk setting/game is by far Iron Kingdoms, the d20 adaptation of the Warmachine tabletop miniatures game into an RPG format. That game rocks on so many different levels its amazing.

  5. I’ve been in love with Eberron since the day it came out. I think it embodies all the things I love about steampunk, and I don’t need to be a purist about it.

    Lady Blackbird is also one of the greatest games I’ve never played. I will fix that soon. But today is not that day.

    As far as settings go, Iron Kingdoms was quite good, but I never could get past the rules system.

  6. I’d definitely have to second “Iron Kingdoms” as the hands down winner of gritty, no punches pulled, Steampunk champion.

    Of course, I’m a long time fan.

    I’m also partial to my own setting, “Rhune: Dawn of Twilight,” although I’d describe it as more of a Stormpunk setting than the traditional genre.

  7. I loved the original version of Castle Falkenstein, but I’ve also got several GURPS and D20 steampunk sourcebooks.

    I liked Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death, Sidewinder: Recoiled, Sorcery & Steam, Deadlands, Space 1889, and Victoriana, and there are lots more indie games. The last time I ran a steampunk scenario, I used D20 Etherscope.

    I’m also looking forward to Airship Pirates, Kerberos Club, and Dragon Brigade.

  8. Runepunk. Play this on & off. Could be the spin we’ve put on it. Very much has a steampunk feel.

  9. I am a BIG fan of Space 1889 and played a couple of games but I don’t associate the games I played with the steampunk genre. Perhaps I downplayed the Victorian sci-fi aspect. Lady Blackbird I love and had a blast plying. I would certainly like to play some more steampunk, knowing my group, probably using Savage Worlds or a D20 variant.

  10. I looked at a few of these and they seem fun. Never tried a Steampunk game before, but I’ll give them a look. Reminds me of an article I saw a few days ago on Iron Realms. It was all about character development and the different types of personalities you could come up with. I have a link here somewhere…

    Aha, here it is.

    Good article, Stargazer. I’m looking forward to seeing some of these games in action. 😀

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