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.

I also had the great pleasure of meeting people whose work I admire (like Vickey Beaver, Chris Sniezack, and Kevin Andrew Murphy) as well as talking more with some of the Savage community that I had met previously and always enjoy seeing. Shout outs especially to Clint and Jodi Black and of course the Savage Mommy, Chris Fuchs. All of those conversations should hopefully lead to things that you will be hearing about in the future.

However, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today, I want to take the rare and unusual step of giving specific mention to several of our competitors.

Why would I do such a thing? Well, because if there is one thing that Gen Con 2014 has taught me and many other game publishers, it is that we are less competition and more community than we ever thought. I keep coming back to that line that Shane likes to use so often, and nowhere has it seemed more true than this year's Gen Con. We are doing well as an industry, and that helps everyone. With that in mind, I decided I wanted to give a spotlight to my little segment of the industry and perhaps raise the tide a little more locally. So here we go! (Images are also product links.)


Gaslight, by Battlefield Press

I had a rare opportunity to run someone else's setting this year. Jonathan Thompson found himself short a GM in a slot where he was already running a game, so I ended up filling in at the last minute (i.e. - a few days out). This gave me a great chance to get a taste of his setting and also learn some new thoughts about adventure design. (This is a bit of a side note, but I have to compliment the ridiculously complete investigation results table for the adventure I ran.)

Gaslight is a Victorian horrorish setting for Savage Worlds. It feels very League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to me, and that's a flavor I quite enjoy. There are monsters and secret societies, and a fair bit of magic. But there is also a strong grounding in history, which I deeply appreciate. The world of Gaslight is one trying to find balance between mysticism and technology, a theme I think will appeal to many. I am only sad that my players wrecked the conspiracy before it ever made it to Chicago, so I never got to play Nikola Tesla.

The Widening Gyre

The Widening Gyre, by Blackwyrm Publishing

I have to apologize to the folks at Blackwyrm. I had somehow missed the news that they were converting The Widening Gyre to Savage Worlds, and the first I noticed was when I ran across their booth during my exhibit hall walk through. I was awkward about the ensuing conversation, and as a result I did not end up buying a book at the show. I promise to correct that soon.

The Widening Gyre is a solid steampunk setting that leans a little bit towards the fantastical, but more important is the sense of urgency that the setting generates. Heroes in this game are constantly engaging in missions to quite literally save the world. Think of this as a steampunk version of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. To compare it to other Savage Worlds Victorian settings - this book bridges the themes of Gaslight with the imagery of Steamscapes and wraps them around its own unique and exciting story.

Brass and Steel

Brass and Steel, by Pamean Games

This year I did not get a chance to participate in a Brass and Steel LARP, but I did last year. I have to say that they do a fine job of tapping into the steampunk community at large, so their games are always visually impressive. They are also unique in that they have managed to create a living world that grows and develops based on the games they run. The core book is a good primer for the rules and original setting, but the history of the setting has not stopped in the time since the book was released.

The setting itself is very classically British. This is definitely a high Victorian setting, although it does provide a decent amount of intrigue with various nations and groups attempting to fight the inevitability of imperialism. The technology is largely arcane in nature, but on the whole this game is very focused on its steampunk imagery. Fans of the genre will not be disappointed.


Jadepunk, by Reroll Productions

Steampunk, western gunslinging, and wuxia, together in a Fate-powered setting - what more could you want? Jadepunk presents a heroic underground fight against a corrupt authority using guns, airships, and mystical weapons. This is definitely an exciting new game that we are happy to see making a big splash, because we love to see more non-Eurostyle steampunk settings. This feels like an RPG soulmate to Jay Kristoff's Lotus War trilogy, and that's awesome.

"But wait," I hear you saying, "is that really a competitor? I mean, the others are a lot closer in style to Steamscapes, so isn't this stretching it a bit?" Well, as it happens...

Steamscapes: Asia

Steamscapes: Asia, by Four-in-Hand Games

Kickstarter coming very soon.

- Fairman Rogers