Welcome to Castle Falkenstein!

posted by Wapole Languray Original SA post

It was 1994, and White Wolf was King. Vampire: The Masquerade had came out three years earlier in 1991 and tabletop gaming was never the same. This was the age of experimental systems, gobs upon gobs of metaplot, and things were getting weird and dark.

So, in 1994, Mike Pondsmith made a game. One has to wonder, what did people expect? He was still a semi-famous guy, he made Cyberpunk: 2020 after all, the first and some would argue best of its kind. His other games were anime-mech themed Mekton and silly sci-fi adventure Teens from Outer Space! So, what would a gamer in say, 1993 think a new Mike Pondsmith game would be? Maybe a new edition of Cyberpunk: 2020? Maybe something that’s pretty much the same. Whatever it is, you could be safe to assume it would be sci-fi. Probably dark and grim and gritty, and very very “serious”. The sci-fi answer to White Wolf in short, right?



I discovered this game via this thread in fact. Somewhere around page 13 or so, somebody mentioned this game, and I just thought the name was interesting. I tracked down a copy, picked it up, started reading, and now I’m here to tell everyone else about it.

Welcome to Castle Falkenstein!

Upon reaching the first page of the book, you realize three things:

So join me at Castle Falkenstein next time, for Spellnapped! the actual beginning of the book!

Spellnapped!: In Which the Principle Players are Introduced, the Setting Is Established, and the Adventure Begins.

posted by Wapole Languray Original SA post

Spellnapped!: In Which the Principle Players are Introduced, the Setting Is Established, and the Adventure Begins.

As previously mentioned, the book is written as the journals of Tom Olam, a game designer for Hypertech Inc. The story begins with Tom on vacation in Europe, visiting scenic Neuschwanstein (New Swan Rock) castle in Bavaria. If you’ve never seen it, here’s a picture:

If you couldn’t tell, this is the basis for most fairy-tale castles you’ve seen in Disney films, in particular Cinderella’s Castle, which is the centerpiece of Disney’s Magic Kingdom and features prominently in the Disney logo.

Neuschwanstein was built as a sort of dream-home for the eccentric and reclusive King Ludwig II of Bavaria, before he mysteriously died the day after being declared insane, and in no way was assassinated for being a crazy recluse that payed for the castle by plunging Bavaria into debt. While in Neuschwanstein, Tom gets distracted sketching the architecture of the castle and loses his tour-group. He notices but isn’t particularly bothered, up until a magic hole made of rainbows and fire sucks him into another dimension.

Then we get a rough overview of the setting that I’m skipping, as it’ll all be filled in later. The only important thing it tells you is this: The world of Castle Falkenstein is a mixed up version of Europe, called New Europa in this world, circa the mid 1800s, just with crazy steampunk technology, magick, faeries, and other such things running around.

The book often does this, inserting what is essentially setting info in between the narrative sections, so forgive me if it seems like I’m jumping between topics. The point of this is to simultaneously show you the game’s world, as well as tell a story that is in essence the exact sort of adventure you’re planned to play in the game. Unlike most other books with a focus on what are essentially GMPCs doing stuff, it is made obvious that they aren’t special superpeople doing things the players will never get to do (ala Deadlands, many White Wolf books, older Forgotten Realms), but are typical examples of PCs and the sorts of adventures you SHOULD be running!

But, we must return to the story for a moment. Upon waking he discovers who spellnapped him: Grey Morrolan, Wizard of the Illuminated Brotherhood of Bayern (Yes, the Illuminati) and Lord Auberon Valerix, High King of the Faerie and Lord of the Seelie Court.

See, they were attempting to get, well, something to help them (Why they need help will be explained later. The book is only vaguely chronological), but instead of being specific they just used a spell that pulled whatever would be most useful to them from another dimension, and for some reason they get a game developer from 1994 Earth. They are rather less than impressed.

Back to Lore now! So to contextualize the other characters we are to meet, the book feels that it must first design the setting we will be meeting them in: The Kingdom of Bayern (An archaic name for Bavaria), and in particular the eponymous

It’s interesting to note that Falkenstein (Falcon Stone), at least the Castle the game is named after, does not exist in our world. At least, not outside of paintings and designs. It was planned to be a sort of Neuschwanstein II, if Ludwig II hadn’t gotten mysteriously not-alive.So, already you got the weirdness of a castle that only existed in our world conceptually. Then you add in the fact that it wasn’t built by men, but faeries. Or faerie. See, the castle was created by Lord Auberon pretty much from scratch, built not by hands but by Magick, and as such the whole thing is all sortsa wacky. The castle is so massive nobody has so far actually mapped it out, rooms appear and disappear, constantly changing, and the thing even passes through alien dimensions. Go wandering too deep into the castle and you may never return, and strangers speaking strange tongues and wearing strange clothes have just appeared, wandering in from distant rooms confused and lost.

Then there’s the massive cave system that stretches miles down into the Earth that is so saturated with magick it’s basically a death sentence to explore it. They don’t say much, except that it is likely where Faeries first came to New Europa and it may in fact be the most powerfully magickal place in the world.

As you might imagine, it’s rarely used by the Bayern government, and acts more in a symbolic function, though if an event of state is big and important enough they hold it here.

Now we come to lovely scenic Bayern . Or Bavaria, if you speak English. This is pre-Germanic unification, so Bayern is an independent nation, and in fact is the second largest Germanic state next to Prussia. The politics of Bayern will be explored later, as of now what is important is the feel of the country. Bayern is a proto-typical Fairy-Tale kingdom, mostly filled with rolling hills and glades full of peaceful rustic villages, and the more playful and friendly sorts of Fae abound. So, lots of little wooden houses with colorful flower gardens, cheerful red faced peasant-folk who love guests and are hospitable to a fault to anyone except vampires (or worse, Anarchists!), and inns where you can always find an affordable bed the size of a small house and an ornate stein full of the Best Beer in the World (According to the Bayernese).

The cities are well developed, if not nearly as cosmopolitan and impressive as Paris or London. Construction is of brick and cobble, with Old Munchen (Munich) being the largest and most populous city, the center of both government and culture. As for non-human residents, the wilds of Bayern are teeming with the Fae, in particular the nicer sorts. Brownies help with the housework, Goblins play pranks on the village people, Pixies dance among the fields and flowers, etc. etc. Of note is the existence of the Weisse Damen, or White Lady, a type of forest Faerie unique to Bayern who live in the deep woods. They act as protectors, particularly of children and guide them out of the woods back home if they become lost at night.

In the south Bayern is bordered by the mighty Alps, home to quite a number of non-Humans who you may see in Bayern. The high peaks of the mountains are the traditional homes of Dragons, and are also haunted by Trolls, Giants, and other nasty Fae who take refuge in the high passes to ambush or extort travelers. Inside the mountains are many Dwarf cities, making the mountains the heart of New Europan engineering (You’ll learn about Dwarfs later).

Oh hey, if you’re sharp eyed you may have noticed something weird about that map. If you didn’t, either you didn’t actually look at the map, or you don’t know where Bavaria is in the real world. Just, look close. See, up there? In the top left? Now do you notice it?

So, what the hell is an ocean doing in central Europe?

The Inner sea stretches from just south of Amsterdam all the way to just north of Nuremberg. It’s about “half again the size of Lake Superior in the United States” and is several thousand feet deep at at its widest about three hundred miles across. So, how did it get there? According to local lore, way back in prehistory, a Faerie lord climbed up to the top of the Alps and just ripped a giant hole in central New Europa. So, now Bavaria has a northern coast and Wurzburg is a port-town.

Next Time: Spellnapped! Part Zwei; We Meet the Rest of our Players, and Learn about Ladies, Dwarves, Kings, Faeries, and Smart Career Choices for The Young Gentle(wo)man

Spellnapped! Part Zwei; We Meet the Rest of our Players, and Learn about Ladies, Dwarfs, Kings, Faeries, and Smart Career Choices for The Young Gentle(wo)man

posted by Wapole Languray Original SA post

Spellnapped! Part Zwei; We Meet the Rest of our Players, and Learn about Ladies, Dwarfs, Kings, Faeries, and Smart Career Choices for The Young Gentle(wo)man


Countess Marianne Theresa Desiree is a flower of French nobility. She is beautiful to a fault, has an adorable French accent, a love for elegant frilly dresses, and has killed at least thirty men in duels across New Europa. Forced to flee France after a Parisian noble’s son tried to rape her and she responded by gutting the little shit, she has been to every corner of New Europa and places beyond. She is assigned to be Tom’s bodyguard and guide, and eventually becomes a proper love-interest, in an on-again off-again way. Hard to commit when most of your boyfriends are dead. Because you killed them.

Lady, Adventuress, Demimondaine

Now we must discuss Women in the world of Castle Falkenstein. Which is a bit of a sticking point, yes? I mean, the fact is the Real Victorian Era was pretty damn shitty about women’s rights. So, what about Castle Falkenstein? Pretty much Feminism has happened, and is winning. Women are, in almost every way, equal to men. They can own property, run businesses, and participate in any career they please. The reason for this is twofold: One, is that women are much more likely to be born with a talent for Magick, and they are often stronger than their male counterparts; and Two, act misogynistic to a Fae woman and you’ll be wondering why your leg is bending that way.

This does not mean that women are exactly like men though. There are parts of New Europan society where women excel far beyond their male counterparts. The most visible is that all the greatest celebrities are women. Oh sure there are famous male opera singers and actors, but it is the women who are the real stars of the show. Ladies also are dubbed the leaders of New Europan Society, with a capital S. They say what is in, what is out, and who is who. If that sounds rather insulting, understand this: Everything in New Europa is done at balls, soirees, salons and dinner parties. Every connection you make, every friend and ally you find, you most likely will meet at a Society Event. Get on the wrong Ladies side, and she’ll make sure you never talk to anyone more important than the local bartender again.

And of course, you cannot forget the Demimondaine. In our world, a Demimondaine was a sort of proto-Feminist, a precursor to the Flapper of the early 1900s. In Castle Falkenstein though, they are a mix of Diva, Celebrity and Courtesan. Demimondaine’s are the most fashionable, most desirable, and most popular women on the continent. They set all the trends, are lavished upon by men of every type and description, and fill the newspapers with their exploits and scandals. Mind, mess with a Demimondaine and she will gladly bury you. A good demimondaine has connections everywhere, with men, and sometimes women, at all levels of power. They can easily grease the gears of the world, or throw you into the teeth.

Colonel Tarlenheim

Colonel Rudolph von Tarlenheim is the Garrison Commander of Castle Falkenstein, and the definitive Old Soldier. Formerly both Commander in Chief of the Bayernese Guard and the Head of His Majesty’s Secret Service, until Ludwig II “died” in a yachting accident, and was replaced by an as yet unnamed Regent who was running Bayern into the ground. Tarlenheim was rather displeased with this, and objected to the Regent’s actions, in particular the allowance of Prussian “advisors” into Bayern. As a reward Tarlenheim was fired and given command of Alt Schloss Fakenstein (Old Castle Falcon Rock) a ruined fortress used as a border post where disgraced soldiers were stationed to keep them out of the way.

He stayed there for several years guarding a rotting pile of rocks and watching Bayern go to pot, his only friend being Morrolan the Sorcerer. Then one day Auberon showed up with King Ludwig himself, magickally built Falkenstein in a single night on the ruins of the old castle, and made Tarlenheim the new garrison commander of the new Falkenstein.

Soldier, Sailor, Tinkerer...Wizard?

This is a short section on the sort of careers one might pursue in New Europa, and works to give your players an idea of what sort of people you can play or meet in the setting of Castle Falkenstein. I’m also skipping it, as it’s literally just a list of jobs you can have, and honestly this is better explained everywhere else in the book, so I’m not going to be repeating myself over and over again.

Rhyme: Dwarf Mad Scientist

Rhyme is the resident handyman and castle Mad Scientist. As a day job he keeps the castle in “repair”, which is rather difficult as it is highly magickal. When the foundation is non-euclidian, a handyman has his work cut out for him! But, Rhyme’s real passion is SCIENCE! He has an entire basement level dedicated to a massive lab and has invented such wonders as a turbine powered roasting spit, a mechanical swan-boat, and a mirror based lighting system for the windowless second floor library. He also has no sense of personal property, and sees everything in Falkenstein as free for him to fix, improve, or overhaul as he sees fit.

About Dwarfs

Dwarfs in Castle Falkenstein are, like most mythical things, much more tied to folklore than Tolkienian tradition. They do not wear furs or chainmail or leather, in fact they like a nice pair of workman’s coveralls when they’re on the job and a nice three-piece suit when they’re not. If a dwarf is carrying a hammer it’s to flatten nails or detail metal, and axes are right out for anything that isn’t chopping wood. Dwarfs prefer sabers and pistols, same as anyone else, though an angry dwarf with a sizable wrench isn’t to be underestimated. They also aren’t that short, ranging between 4 foot and 5’ 5’’. They do look shorter than they are mainly because all dwarves are built like brick houses, being almost as wide as they are tall. Heck, they don’t even all have beards! Some rather enjoy goatees and moustaches as an alternative to the traditional big bushy beards.

Dwarfs do live underground, though they aren’t miners. They leave that to Kobolds and other mine-spirits, for Dwarfs are craftsmen. They make things, and not ordinary things either. Every object made by a dwarf is a unique work of art and ingenuity, and you can tell a dwarf, or dwarfhold, just by looking at a devices styling and build.

Oh, and one last little Tolkeinism to dispel: There are no female Dwarfs. Why? Well, Dwarfs are technically (It’s explained later) Faeries. As such, when a Dwarf wants to start a family he marries a nice Seelie Fae girl of some sort such as a Dryad or Sidhe. The boys are always Dwarfs and the girls are whatever sort of Fae the mother is. Dwarf/Fae couples rarely stay together though, with the Dwarf raising the Sons and the Fae mother raising the daughters, with the whole family visiting if they are close and getting together in big family reunions several times a year.

Now, we must cover a few things that are uniquely Falkenstein. Firstly, Dwarfs are only technically Faeries. They lack both the traditional powers of the Fae, as well as their weaknesses. Why? It’ll be explained later, this is just a quick intro so that people don’t wonder what the heck is up with those Dwarfs as they read the book. They also only live, at least in any great numbers, in continental New Europa, particularly the Alps and Scandinavia.

One very odd thing about Dwarfs are their feet. Dwarf feet look birdlike, similar to a duck or chicken, and they are chronically embarrassed about them. A Dwarf is never to be seen without his shoes, and making fun of a Dwarfs feet is the gravest of insults. I have NO idea where this idea comes from, I’m assuming some obscure bit of folk-mythology that isn’t on the internet, but if someone can tell me where this idea is from I’d appreciate it.

The Mad King: Ludwig the Second

In New Europa, Prince Ludwig, heir to the throne of Bayern myseriously vanished in a shipwreck in the Aegean Sea, never to be found. This led to his insane brother Otto (He thinks he’s a dog) to take the throne, under the Regency of the Chancellor Count Hohenloe, who proceeded to basically sell Bayern out to the Prussians.

Then one day years later, Auberon shows up with Ludwig over one shoulder and a plan to put him back on the throne! Now, this works quite well, though the book never properly tells you how they did it because honestly it’s not that important for players! It’s enough to say there is much derring-do and clever schemes and such that led to Mad King Otto getting the boot and Ludwig getting the crown.

What does matter is the fact that both Morrolan and Tom Olam don’t think that he’s the real Ludwig. Or, at least not the Ludwig that went missing all those years ago. See, Auberon claims that he was kidnapped by the Unseelie Court (More on them in a bit), and was hidden in the Faerie Veil (More on that later as well, but “Faerie Land” is good enough for now) but this doesn't add up. The Ludwig Auberon brought back is about 5 years older than he should be, acts far more… stable than Ludwig should act, and in particular knows thing she shouldn't. He knows what telephone’s are (Not yet invented), talks of Neuschwanstein (Which he hasn't built), and mentioned works of Richard Wagner that aren't yet written! (The real Ludwig II was a huge supporter and patron of Richard Wagner)

So, Tom and Morrolan are pretty sure that the “real” Ludwig is long dead, and this is a Ludwig from another world. Which is considered to be rather disconcerting. Not because of Ludwig, who is a fine and upstanding king in every aspect, but because Auberon is involved. And the Fae make everything complicated, no matter how well meaning they are.

Cousin Sisi: Empress Elizabeth of Austria
This is a short bit, but I like it. There’s mention of Elizabeth being Ludwig’s best friend and closest relation, as well as a bonified Adventuress. Appearently she has


... tied herself to the mast of her yacht during a storm, gone on expeditions to India, and studied eastern mysticism-strange behavior indeed for an Empress, but not all that unusual in this extended family of dreamer-philosopher kings.

The Iron Chancellor: Otto von Bismarck

In the real world Otto von Bismarck was a Prussian statesman who unified the various Germanic kingdoms of Europe into the German Empire, stabilized Europe politically, and was generally an uncompromising but not evil man. Heck, he’s the one who invented the idea of a welfare state! Mind, this was to make sure the poor didn’t overthrow the government in a communist revolution, but still. What I’m getting at is that he was not a proto-Hitler, but was a fairly complex man who did things both good and bad.

Now, Castle Falkenstein Otto von Bismarck is basically the same guy, if he was also a Bond villain. Otto von Bismarck is Falkenstein’s general Big Bad, the main top dog villain that, alongside say Professor Moriarty and the Steam Lords, will be at the root of many of the Evil Doings the players will foil. Well, sorta. See, to really tell you about Bismarck, I have to tell you about the real Big Bad. The True Villain. The guy who may just be behind pretty much every villainous plot in New Europa, and if he isn’t he wants to be.

The Adversary: Lord of the Unseelie Court

The Fairie Host is made up of two general factions: The Seelie and Unseelie Courts. The Seelie court, ruled by Lord Auberon, are generally fond of humanity and wish to live alongside us in relative harmony. The Unseelie, led by a being only known as The Adversary, do not. They want nothing more than to sweep across the world, killing or enslaving every human they find. And, if it wasn't for the Compact, they’d do it too. The Compact is a peace-treaty of sorts, which Auberon tricked the Adversary into signing. The Compact makes war between Faerie and Humans… not illegal exactly, but impossible. Auberon cannot march forth to slaughter the Unseelie, but the Unseelie cannot do the same, or march against Humanity, on pain of death. Not as a legal consequence, but a literal one: For a Faerie to break a promise is instant death.

This means the Adversary instead seeks to make Humanity enslave and destroy itself, using a series of puppet rulers to do his conquering for him, and his current favorite is The Iron Chancellor himself.

Otto von Bismarck: Zwei Harder

Okay, so, now that you know about the Adversary, I can finish talking about Bismarck. Bismarck is, as I said, basically the same fellow he was historically. Big, blustery, very little temper, and the ability to run roughshod over any political opponent by sheer force of will. Add to that a lifetime of experience in statesmanship, a keen military mind, a massive spy network, and the aid of an extra-dimensional Demigod and his army of monsters, Bismarck is rightly feared by every power in Europe, as he’s very unlikely to settle for just conquering the German kingdoms.

There are two notable things about Bismarck, and by extension Prussia, that stand out. Firstly, he has Tanks. Well, they call them Landwehr Fortresses, but they’re basically big clunky steam-tanks, courtesy of the Adversary. Second, he’s literally a Bond villain, complete with a weird disfigurement, in the form of a clockwork left arm loaded with gadgets and weapons.

Woof, that’s a lot of text. This update took ages to write up because the book isn't in any sort of… chronological order, so I skipped around a bit to make it more readable in post-form. Fortunately, the next few should go much quicker. So be back next time for

To Rule the World! The Nations of Castle Falkenstein

To Rule the World! The Nations of Castle Falkenstein

posted by Wapole Languray Original SA post


To Rule the World! The Nations of Castle Falkenstein

It’s time to learn about the nations of this strange new world we find ourselves in! History nerds are welcome to geek out now.

The Kingdom of Bayern (Bavaria)

Ruled by the extensive Wittlesbach family, Bayern is a constitutional monarchy ruled currently by King Ludwig II. It is a peaceful nation which holds to enlightened and cosmopolitan ideals. It is known for both it’s advanced technology and magickal arts.

Geographically Bayern is mostly gently rolling hills and heavy forests. Your typical village is made up of a collection of wooden cottages, small churches, lots of flowers, and a central market square with at least one Inn and beer-garden.

The most important part of the country is the capital of Munchen (Munich). Built mostly in Neo-Grecian style, and is known for its high culture and academia. Notable locations are the Alte Pinothek, one of the largest art galleries on the continent, the Residenz, home of King Ludwig and the Royal Palace, the Englishergarten, a massive Victorian park, and the University capital of Germanic learning.

The Austrian-Hungarian Empire

Formerly a powerhouse of New Europa, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire is now showing its age, though it still serves as an international center and is not to be dismissed. The Empire is an absolute monarchy ruled by the kindly Emperor Franz Joseph, and held together by one of the largest spy and police organizations on the continent and a masterful diplomatic corps.

Clearly outarmed and outteched by the Prussians, Austria-Hungary is looking east to the Balkans as its new frontier, which as any history major will tell you is a bad idea. While overall cosmopolitan and peacable, there are ethnic and nationalist stirrings in the Empire, as the various peoples that make it up are starting to agitate for independence. It’s hard to keep Germans, Coats, Serbians, Turks, Italians, Jews, Magyars, Slavs, Armenians, and Greeks together as one big happy family.

Major cities are Prague, Cracow, Budapest, and the capital Vienna which is a lovely place for parties, dancing, talking long walks in the woods, and dealing with intrigue, secret agents, and backstabbing diplomacy.

The Second Empire (France)

Ruled by Emperor Napolean III (Nephew of Bonaparte) the Second Empire of France is the capital of New Europan fashion and culture. While lacking the industrial might of their ancient rival Britain, they make up for it in style.

Go to France for fashion, art, cuisine, literature, philosophy, the finest shopping, and of course parties parties parties! And if you want some exoticness feel free to visit one of the Empires foreign colonies, like Algiers, Martinique, or the Pacific islands. So, if you want beauty, class, fashion, and high society head to Paris!

Also if you want Mad Science. Turns out Napoleon the III has a thing for eccentric geniuses and has named an obscure writer by the name of Jules Verne as his Minister of Science. Mssr. Verne is responsible for the ace up France’s sleeve, the Verne Cannon a 275cm intercontinental cannon aimed by Babbage Calculation Engine and able to rain devastation anywhere in New Europa.

The British Empire

The World Power of the Steam Age and big boss of Industry. Britain controls the largest Empire on Earth, funded by the trade fleets that bring the wealth of the world to merry ol’ England and protected by the war fleets of Ironclads that form the mightiest navy in the world. This power is thanks to Britain’s massive and rapid industrialization which has turned the country into a double-sided Nightmare/Paradise.

In the cosmopolitan heart of London and the high-class countryside Britain looks like My Fair Lady come to life. In the country there are horse rides and fox hunts and balls at country manors held by members of the British peerage, while the city is marked by bustling shops, hansom cabs clattering down cobbled streets, and the sharply dressed lads from Scotland Yard keeping her Majesty the Queen’s Imperial peace.

But on the outskirts of London, in the slums and dockyards or the smoke filled mill-towns it’s another story. The poor labor in great churning factories for pennies on the dollar, crime breeds and thrives in the shadows, and technology must march ever on no matter who gets trampled ‘neath Progress’s heel. Britain is the one place that truly earns the label of “steampunk”.


Bogeyman of New Europa. Second only to Britain in sheer industrial might (though they try harder) and second to none in nationalistic chest thumping and war mongering. In Prussia the military is everything: You are only as important your rank, it’s considered a shame to get out of College without at least one good dueling scar, and every city and public building looks more like a Brutalist fortress than anything else.

Prussians are in themselves not evil though, and Prussia is quite a nice country to live in. People are well educated, laws are not onerous or tyrannical, and the worst thing likely to happen is to be challenged to a duel by a drunken Collegiate looking to impress his equally drunken friends.

Still, a nation which has the Adversaries hands as deep in it as Prussia is not exactly a wonderful vacation spot.

The Russian Empire

Don’t go to Russia. Sure, Petersburg is a very lovely city! But don’t go to Russia. In the semi-civilized west, around cities like Moscov, Kiev, and Petersburg you have brutal imperial opression. The Tsar is paranoid and mad, and keeps his head on his shoulders with the help of the largest secret police force in the world. These guys are basically the Steampunk KGB, and are not to be fucked with. Further out in the semi-rural areas are good old Feudalism. Local barons and petty lords crush poor peasant farmers ‘neath their heels, and it’s borderline lawless, what with the petty lords, crushing poverty, and y’know. Cossacks running around Cossacking it up.

Then you get to the back country, where it’s still, y’know, Feudal-y, but you’ve pretty much forgotten that you were ever in an Empire now. Dark spooky castles, villages made of crappy huts full of scared villagers huddling against the night, and monsters galore. Vampires, werewolves, ghasts, ghouls, and wicked Faeries are everywhere, held back by nothing more than light, prayer, and a wreath of garlic or a horseshoe over the door.

Then you get to the parts where people don’t dare go, the deepest darkest woods, or the high steppes. This is the domain of the Leshye, wild Faerie kings of the wilderness. The Leshya ruled the wilderness before man ever came there, and they are quite unwilling to share. Travel into the far reaches is a death-sentence, if you’re lucky.

Other Nations of the World

Miscellaneous Historical Trivia that Doesn’t Fit Elsewhere in this Update

A Brief History of the World

Next Time: A Walk in New Europa: A View from the Steam Age, or, a lot of much smaller posts cause holy dip this book is dense!

A View from the Steam Age: An Overview of Life in New Europa

posted by Wapole Languray Original SA post

A View from the Steam Age: An Overview of Life in New Europa

I’m going to start posting a lot of smaller updates more often instead of the huge ones once an eon now, so first is a short bit that quickly describes the general setting of New Europa, broken down into topic:

Steam Power is everywhere! Ships, factories, automotives, war machines, trams, elevators, and anything else they can fit a boiler and stack to. Electricity is seen as dangerous, hard to use, and rather impractical, relegating it to the domain of eccentrics and scientists. Anything to small to be steam-powered use clockworks, which are much more advanced than the equivalent in our own 1800s.

Medicine still sucks. They’ve got things like carbolic sprayers and alcohol for antiseptic purposes, and morphine and opium for anaesthetic, but that’s pretty much it. Doctors still operate in their street clothes, antibiotics haven’t been discovered yet, and the rule of thumb is “When in doubt, get the bonesaw”. A bigger problem is that there’s no shortage of snake-oil salesmen looking to revolutionize the medical field. Potions and elixirs of every sort, rubs and ointments and miracle pills and powders, and those will just poison you! The worst is the new fad of “Galvanic Therapy”, which is a fancy way of saying they shock the hell out of you for health.

Warfare is both less and more advanced that the real world. While there are primitive submarines, the Prussian Landfortress steamtanks, and turbine powered ironclad destroyers for vehicles, guns are more primitive than in our world. Most guns are breechloaders, and the sword is still an important tool of war. This is likely a concession to make Fencing actually useful in a real fight compared to guns.

Police , at least in the modern sense, don’t exist. London has the famous Scotland Yard, but most towns rely on a local constable or militia. Think a combination of Wild West sheriff and Medieval Town Guard. Generally chosen by the local lord, mayor, or other figure of authority. Forensics and criminology are unheard of, there’s a reason Sherlock Holmes becomes world famous, and most detectives and constables rely on a network of informants, a lot of footwork, and the occasional bribery and beating to get evidence. There are “real” criminal investigation organizations, such as the french Surete, or United States Secret Service, but these organizations are more focused on international crime or espionage. And don’t even think about the Secret Police of countries like Russia and Prussia, seriously, they can tell when you do and they don’t like it.

Punishment isn’t any more advanced, Your guild and sentence are both generally up to the local judge, with a Trial by Jury being generally unknown outside of Britain, and the French at least have a tribunal to decide. The general rule is that assault is a minor offence (Unless you assault a noble or rich man), with things like theft getting the harshest penalties. In actuality though, it just depends on what the Judge feels like today. Traditional punishments include: Hanging, Guillotining, exile, getting sent to Australia or Devil’s Isle, or brutal labor-imprisonment ala Les Miserables.

Communications rely on horse-based postal services, telegraphs, or magic. The phone isn’t invented yet, though Bell is working on it. Postal services have pick ups once a day, or up to ten times in a city, and shipped via carriage or fast horse to their destinations. Sorcerers have an advantage, as they can instantly transport a letter to the target or use magic to send the message, but good ones are rare and their time is not cheap. Telegraphs are the main method of sending information nowadays, and connect all of New Europa together, and recently even stretch across the Atlantean (not Atlantic) Ocean to America.

Media is all about the paper. Because of the cheapness of printing and an explosion of literacy thanks to higher education across the world newspapers, magazines, and books are the preferred method of information and entertainment dissemination. Popular newspapers are the Daily Telegraph and Times (London), Le Moniteur and Le Figaro (Paris), Suddeutsche Press (Bayern), and the Neue Freie Presse (Vienna). Popular magazines are Vanity Fair (Gossip and Current Events), Popular Invention (Science and Technology), and The Strand Mystery Magazine (Mystery Stories).

Travel is all about the horse, at least for most people. Hansom, carriage, or horseback is the standard method of travel for short distances or within cities and towns. For longer trips, trains are the norm, with a variety of ships for water travel, such as small steamships for rivers and seas, and steam liners and vane-clippers for crossing Oceans. Aircraft are almost unheard of, though Count Zeppelin is hard at work on his airships.

Magick is less common than you’d think. First of all, real magickal talent is fairly rare, and most people go there whole lives without seeing a mage. Secondly, mages are traditionally members of various secret Lodges and Orders and therefore are rather private individuals who keep quiet about their affairs. Think high-level scientists: There aren’t many of them, you’ll never see one if you don’t hang about the right sort of place, and they only occasionally make the news.

Next Time: Selected Personages of the Steam Age

Selected Personages of the Steam Age

posted by Wapole Languray Original SA post

Selected Personages of the Steam Age

This is in essence a list of notable and important people who you may add to your game as NPCs, or even use as player characters if you want to. This section also establishes an important aspect of the Falkenstein setting: Fantasy is Reality. Every fictional, imaginary, or otherwise pretend person ever written of in the Victorian era, heck even set in the Victorian era, exist. THis also means all stories have likewise happened or WILL happen. Note, that just because they talk about novels in the past tense, that’s no reason the PCs couldn’t get involved! You don’t have to set the game in 1870 after all. For example: Invaders from space piloting giant tripods really did invade Britain from a landing site in Essex. The rest you’ll see as we go!

Next time: Secret Agents and Secret Societies