Steampunk Society

This entry is part of the PBM List.

Costs: free
Frequency: one per week
Email: [ok]
Type: Steampunk RPG
Last-Update: 2018Apr28
Keywords: free, open-ended, email, human, historical, wargame, economic, rpg


Build railroads, steamships, airships, and fantastical steampunk vehicles. Produce iron, coal, oil and gizmos. Build and operate shops to sell them. Operate a cartel, insidious cult, or opium den. Make a fortune. Explore Africa in search of King Solomon's mines and lost cities. Be a noble, royal, capitalist, mad scientist, vampire, reformer, or revolutionary in Carpathia, a fictional 19th century Eastern European nation in a steampunk world where anything is possible.

This is not a computer moderated game, so there's no set program to follow. Anything is possible. If you want to try something that's not in the rules, get with the Game Master (GM). Much of the game centers around player interactions, both economic transactions but also politicking, backroom deals and sneaky underhanded tactics. Any characters not belonging to a player are non-player characters (NPCs) and are tun by the Game Master.

Each turn various events occur that affect society--the arrival of foreign ships in the harbor, news, threats or opportunities from foreign nations, natural disasters. Players must cooperate against common threats (such as a foreign invasion) while accomplishing their own goals.

Players receive a text document from the Game Master (GM) as an e-mail each turn showing their possessions and properties. They negotiate whatever deals they want to make, decide what to do with their resources, adjusting their packet and issuing any necessary orders, then e-mail their packet back to the GM by the weekly deadline. The GM adjudicates orders, adjusts the player packets due to circumstances, changes the maps, produces a newsletter with the turn results, and then sends players their newly revised packets for the next turn. The "government" consists of the king and possibly other players who defend the nation from external invasion and internal disorder. Players can support the king or work to undermine him. Each player has their own agenda and special abilities. Prestige is a character's fame and popularity. Each turn you receive influence equal to one tenth your character's prestige, which can be used to influence NPCs. Influence can't be accumulated and doesn't carry over from turn to turn. When negotiating with NPCs (The GM) be sure to indicate how much influence you use to influence the NPC.

Resources include crowns (gold coins with an image of the ruling monarch), labor, ore, iron, coal, oil, food, stone, timber, consumer goods, cocoa, opium, soiled doves, and rubber. Resources are used to "buy" other things. Resources other than labor and crowns start at the location they are produced but can be moved freely along rivers and railroads (only) to other locations. Labor and crowns, being more portable, can move freely. Wagons, motorcars, ships and other vehicles can also be used to move a number of resources up to the vehicle's cargo capacity to or from any place, not just those located along a river or railroad. For small items like muskets, tools, bicycles, etc. ten count as one capacity. Resources other than labor must be stored someplace, either a building, fenced yard, or aboard a vehicle up to its capacity. Labor is good for one task. Once labor is assigned they're used up. You can use them to operate a shop, fuel yard, petrol station, work in sawmills, mines, factories, and shipyards, in construction, to guard a property, as policemen, soldiers, or other things. You don't write this up as orders, you just deduct the labor used and add whatever the benefit is to your packet.

Equipment includes things like revolvers, muskets, motorcars, ships, steam tractors, and such. Most equipment requires a crew to use. The crew consists of an amount of "labor." Equipment moved as cargo requires no crew but doesn't perform any other function. You can ship a load of muskets from the factory to a warehouse but if you want to arm troops along the border, you need labor as soldiers to "crew" them. There is no equipment list with set prices. If you want something, you either need to produce it yourself <see Equipment> or find someone who has it and make a deal with them. Then the two of you use give orders to make the exchange.

There are two types of maps, the national map and the capital city, each divided into properties. Properties have a name, terrain type and may be a source of resources. Ownership is shown by a colored symbol. Blue lines indicate rivers. Red lines indicate railroads.

Players may build on properties by expending resources. <See Construction> Players may buy and sell property. If you own a building you can operate a business there or "rent" it to other players. <see Making Money> Players can prospect for minerals, explore, hunt, rob or seize property and more. You're only limited by your imagination.


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Greg Lindahl