About Steamscapes

Steamscapes is a new game setting for Savage Worlds. It is a realistic alternative historical approach to steampunk. As such, it contains many of the things you would expect in a steampunk setting - airships, automatons, electricity gone wild - but places them in a real-world context. The world of Steamscapes is recognizable but changed. You will find many familiar faces and places, but their roles are not always what you expect.

Dev Notes 17 - Writing For, Not Writing About

In my last Developer Note, I outlined some of the key issues and assumptions that people have with game settings that claim to be “Asian-themed.” In that note, I asserted several times that we are doing things differently with Steamscapes: Asia. I hope that my explanations of how we are doing so support that assertion, but it does bring up another question that one might ask - What gives me the authority to write this setting? Is this even a question worth considering?

 

Fair enough. All questions are valid.

 

Dev Notes 16 - Asia, not "Asian-Themed"

I recently completed a successful Kickstarter! I was obviously quite happy about that, but I always believe that learning is necessary regardless of success or failure, so after it was over I posted a survey in the Savage Worlds community asking for feedback from those who had chosen not to back the project. Aside from the expected (but still important) reasons - such as not hearing about it, not liking the rewards, or having backed too many Kickstarters recently - one idea that seemed to show up frequently was that players are automatically turned off by "Asian-themed" settings. I saw this in replies to the forum post as well as in the Facebook and G+ Savage Worlds communities.

When I followed up to find out the reasons why, it became clear to me that there is a very strong association that players of roleplaying games have with the word "Asia," and it has nothing to do with what we are trying to develop. However, this association is so pervasive that many people were unwilling to look closely enough to even consider the possibility that we might be doing something different. For this reason, I am going to be doing a series of Dev Notes explaining how our setting differs from what has come before (and what will likely come after), how we approach the writing and development so as to avoid appropriation or stereotype, and how to help players feel comfortable taking on characters in this setting.

But first, we have to talk about how the gaming industry got to this point.

Dev Notes 15 - The Importance of Fiction

Our Kickstarter for Steamscapes: Asia has been up for a week now, and we are continuing to make good progress on that front. But I wanted to take a moment with my Developer Notes to highlight a feature of this campaign you might not notice unless you're the sort who skips around a Kickstarter page or reads everything very thoroughly. For Steamscapes: Asia, we have already hired not just one but three people to write short stories for the book - Will Hindmarch, Kevin Andrew Murphy, and William F Wu. We consider good fiction writers as essential for our products as good artists are. Allow me to explain why.

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Steamscapes: Asia Project Soundtrack

Long-term projects deserve a soundtrack. It helps inspire you and it puts you in a positive frame of mind for working on the project. Because Steamscapes: Asia will involve collaboration with more people than our previous projects, I thought I would create a soundtrack that could be shared. And then I thought - Why not share it with everyone? Part of the goal of our Kickstarter is to create a community, and nothing brings a community together quite like music. With that in mind, I would like to share with you the Steamscapes: Asia playlist:

 

Get Ready for the Steamscapes: Asia Kickstarter!

Save the Date

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Dev Notes 14 - The Rising Tide

"A rising tide lifts all boats." - Shane Hensley, frequently

The Nautilus

Okay, maybe not all, but you know what I mean.

Gen Con was very good this year. Having actual print books at the show makes quite a difference in exposure, and of course it means that people are much more willing to buy your product than if you try to point to a website and say "please go here later." This awareness may make me decide to do some exclusive show-only print copies of our otherwise PDF products, so next year look for information about a special-edition Gunslinger's Guide, and perhaps whatever else we do between now and then. (I think we'll probably manage at least one more profession guide by Gen Con 2015, but I don't know if we will be able to have it in print.) This is speculation, not confirmation, but I am thinking seriously about it.

House Rule Gaming Actual Play

The guys over at House Rule Gaming have recorded the first broadcast actual play of a Steamscapes adventure! They ran through the Automatic Murder scenario from the North America book. For many of them, it was their first taste of Savage Worlds as well as the Steamscapes setting, but they did an excellent job running and playing, and they all seemed to have a great time.

Go watch it now on Twitch!

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Dev Notes 13 - What are we modeling?

This Developer Note may act as sort of an update of my previous discussion about mechanics and play styles. I wouldn't say that the previous note is negated, but this one definitely reflects a maturing perspective as a result of many conversations and reflections I have had between then and now. 

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Dev Notes 12 - How to Run (and Tinker With) a Steamscapes Game

We have a rare moment of "betweenness" here at Four-in-Hand, so I would like to take this opportunity to step back and talk about design and GMing goals.

Phil Vecchione, the notable Gnome and cocaster of The Misdirected Mark podcast, has said on several occasions that he would like every game to include a section that describes how the designers envision games being run, and also how one might hack or alter that game. He feels that by bringing readers of a game under the hood, a designer can make the game more effective and more satisfying. I think this is a reasonable request, so this DevNote is dedicated to Phil.

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