10Jun/13Off

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Victoriana Third Edition is a hefty book.  The hardcover will weigh in at 320 pages.  One of the cunning features devised by art director Jon Hodgson and his partner in crime c7 graphic designer Paul Bourne are the chapter icons:

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Each of the "books" within the corebook is represented by one of these icons.  So here we see the opening page to the section entitled "One's Full Measure", with the wonderful "Victruvian (Wo)Man" by Andy Hepworth:
Onesfullmeasure

You can see the icon for this section at the bottom of the page.  Each page within that section bears the icon at its edge, which aids the reader in quickly finding that section as they flip or scroll through the book. This has the added benefit of assisting the reader in remembering where things are for later reference.

Here you can see the icon in situ at the top right of a typical page:
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Victoriana Third Edition is currently in final layout proofing and will be available in PDF and print preorder soon!

Links
View all the Victoriana Third Edition previews

29May/13Off

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The cover to Victoriana 3rd Edition

The cover to Victoriana 3rd Edition

In our continuing series of previews of Victoriana 3rd Edtion C7 art director Jon Hodgson talks about the production of the cover art for the game:

"With a new edition comes a new cover.  Victoriana is a favourite game at C7, it’s been a solid line for a long time.  This brings a certain amount of pressure when time comes to make a new cover.

23May/13Off

Victoriana Third Edition is almost complete!  Layout is finishing up, and we have a couple of rounds of proofing just to make sure everything is shipshape and Bristol fashion and then it will be unleashed on the world!

We graciously allowed Victoriana Line Developer Walt Ciechanowski a week away from our questions but now we're back to take a look at the final chapter of Victoriana Third Edition - Trials and Tribulations!

So Trials and Tribulations - the title is of course a clue, but tell us, what is this chapter all about?

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Simply put, this is the Gamesmaster’s section. The rest of the book gives you information about the world, making adventurers, and how to resolve conflicts; this section is geared towards helping a GM create penny dreadfuls, or adventures, for those adventurers to play through!

This chapter seems crammed full of GMing advice. The scripting advice in particular seems really solid.  How did you go about putting that together, and what kind of things can GM’s look forward to?

I always enjoy a good GM advice section in a rulebook because it gives me an idea of the kind of penny dreadfuls that the creators had in mind when making the game. The previous editions of Victoriana did this by identifying themes, but I wanted to go a step further and offer some advice on putting a penny dreadful together as well.

The chapter starts with how to craft penny dreadfuls around associations, followed by a section on adding atmospheric touches, such as the social divide, gothic fantasy, industry, history, and the celestial engine.

Art by Andrew Hepworth

Art by Andrew Hepworth

We follow that by offering advice on scripting penny dreadfuls, from setting a goal, to creating challenges, and putting together a supporting cast. It’s basically a window into how I put together penny dreadfuls, so hopefully the advice I give in here is noticeable in our official releases!

Victoriana is a rich background in which to set games - The advice on types of antagonists seemed really good too for ensuring the player’s opponents just all wind up being monocled, mustachioed cliches (much as we love those too!)  Can you give us the run down on some of the advice and some of the options?

In this section we note that the key to many villains is that they don’t see themselves as villains at all. Some of them actually believe they are the misunderstood good guys; others are simply victims of their own curiosity. We also touch on how a villain’s perception of the adventurers can colour her response to them, and how henchmen often have their own motivations for joining the villain.

We also talk about the Rival, a special type of character that, while perhaps not a villain per se, often makes things difficult for the adventurers. As an example, adventurers working for the British East India Company may find their negotiations with Indonesian leaders complicated by ambassadors from the Dutch East India Company. The members of both companies may be civil and actually friendly towards each other, but both are working to further their company’s interest, often to the detriment of the other.


This part of the book also has some guidance on writing subplots and shilling shockers. How do subplots interact with a typical penny dreadful? And what the heck is a shilling shocker?

I always enjoy subplots because they are usually personal to the adventures and the campaign as a whole. It’s very difficult to build subplots into our official releases because we don’t know the make-up of any particular group that is playing through them. It’s the GM’s job, with input from the players, to work interesting subplots into each penny dreadful. We hope that this section gets the GM thinking on how to weave them in.

As for the shilling shocker – historically it’s simply inflation, but for Victoriana we decided that we’d use the term for linked penny dreadfuls, or ‘story arcs’ if you will.  These are overarching plots and subplots that take several penny dreadfuls to resolve.


The section detailing Locations for fights is also really exciting stuff - can you tell us a bit about that?

This is one of the sections that has been a part of each edition and with good reason; it offers GMs advice on how to spice up particular scenes based on the environment. To take one example, if you’re fighting ruffians aboard a locomotive train then you’ll find information on props and cover, common dice modifiers for bouncing cars or high winds, and complications such as slipping off the roof, low bridges, or even other passengers getting in the way.

Art by Scott Purdy

Art by Scott Purdy

Supporting cast - Again this is a very rich section providing loads of options for GMs. How is designing the supporting cast different from building adventurers and are there changes for the third edition?

Personally, one of the biggest headaches for me as a Gamesmaster is ‘statblocking,’ or designing supporting characters. Both of the earlier editions addressed this by using physical and mental competencies instead of separate attributes and skills, with modifiers for ‘signature’ skills. For third edition, we went a step further and added ‘social competence’ while eliminating all of the competency modifiers. All supporting characters now have exactly three dice pools; no more adding up signature skills and related traits (which sometimes lead to outrageously high dice pools). Hopefully, this should make glancing at a stat block easier and take up less ‘real estate’ on the page.

 

Of course it wouldn’t be right to let this section go by without talking monsters.  So here we find the Victoriana Bestiary.  What’s your favourite Vic beastie, and can we expect many changes from 2nd Edition?

For the most part we’re using the same bestiary that was included in the earlier editions, but we’ve also added a few new ones from other books, such as the automaton and clockwork zombie. These monsters get the same streamlined treatment as the supporting cast.

Clockwork Zombie by Scott Purdy

Clockwork Zombie by Scott Purdy

 

As for a favourite? I have to go with the clockwork zombie. Zombies are frightening enough as-is, but merging them with metal and steam just brings ‘soulless machine’ to a whole new level!


So that's it for our book-by-book look at Victoriana 3rd Edition. Many thanks to Walt Cienchanowski for taking the time to speak with us about his work on the game.

There'll be more previews to see in the final run up to release.  Stay tuned!

Part Five: Sorcery and Steam


Part Four: Cogs and Wheels

Part Three: One's Full Measure

Part Two: Encyclopaedia Victoriana

Part One: Introductions
9May/13Off

The Third Edition of Victoriana continues to progress through layout, ushered into the light by the safe hands of Paul Bourne. A favourite with gamers and Cubicle 7 staffers alike we're really enjoying putting together this new edition. Once again we've dragged Victoriana Line Developer Walt Ciechanowski away from his keyboard to answer some more questions.

 

Hi Walt!

Yo!


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So we’re into the section of Third Edition called “Sorcery and Steam”.  One of Victoriana’s key features is that it includes fantastical magic, as well as fantastical technology.  Following on from our previous chats, how does this affect the background?

From aerostats and submersibles to clockwork limbs and goggles, Victoriana has always had fantastical technology in the background, but it was underrepresented in both core books. If you wanted to play an engineer or gadgeteer you were pretty much on your own beyond the loosest of guidelines. Faulkner’s Millinery & Miscellanea provided some technological support, but the setting didn’t get a full showing of its steam side until Marvels of Science and Steampunk.

Art by Andy "Danger" Hepworth

Art by Andy "Danger" Hepworth


With Third Edition we wanted to bring the steam to the core and make Technologist adventurers as an attractive option as magicians. We’ve given better guidelines on crafting new marvels (although the full treatment is still left to
Marvels) and we now have a list of ready-to-play marvels so that a technologist adventurer, like a magician, can begin play with cool stuff!

So this section opens with some words of advice to owners of the previous editions of Victoriana.  Looks like you’ve changed the magic system!  So what’s new?

Actually, it’s more of a case of ‘what’s old is new again!’ I’d mentioned this before; one of the biggest opportunities in our feedback was the difficulty of the Second Edition magic system. Getting off spells was difficult, time consuming, and costly. I actually had an adventurer in one campaign that was well versed in thaumaturgy, necromancy, and demonology take to carrying a pistol around because it was much easier to use and did more damage than the average magic spell!

What we did was put the First Edition and Second Edition magic rules side by side, compare them, and craft a simpler system that incorporated the best of both. Gone are the action costs and variable spell costs (although the latter is cool and I’d like to slip a variant rule into the upcoming Liber Magica). We’ve kept spell costs and difficulties but they’re more manageable – no more blowing a third of your points on a single aetheric bolt!
So can you still use Second Edition Rules if you’d prefer? That seems to be a recurring theme.  Third Edition is backwards compatible?

Definitely; if you prefer the Second Edition magic system then all you have to do is swap out the appropriate talents and then use the Second Edition magic system whole cloth. We did a lot of mix-and-matching during Third Edition playtesting and in all cases the compatibility held.

Art by Scott Purdy

Art by Scott Purdy

Can you tell us a bit more about each of the kinds of magic in Victoriana Third Edition?

When flipping through the magic system probably the most striking change between the editions is the change in magical terminology. When we decided to go with a more historically-grounded Victoriana we felt that using Victorian (or pseudo-Victorian) terminology would enhance the flavour of the setting. So all of the old magic is there; it’s just under new naming conventions.

First we have the magnetists (previously mediums) that have a connection to the aether. Clairvoyants see the future, Spiritualists commune with ghosts, and Goeticists pray for miracles.

Second are the (petty) conjurers, rustic cunning and wise folk that mix natural ingredients and infuse them with quintessence (previously mana). The resulting enchantments can be used by anyone.

Third is sigil magic, which expands second edition rune magic to cover all sorts of magical alphabets. It’s primarily luck magic, as it makes things more or less likely to happen.

Fourth, we come to thaumaturgy, practiced by the hermeticists. This is gentlemen’s (and ladies!) magic) which utilise spells that don’t require anything more than words and gestures. Hermeticists are fully licenced and look down on petty conjuring.

Finally, we get to the Maleficium, or Dark Arts. The two flavours in the core rulebook remain demonology and necromancy and as before each contains the potential for corruption.
Any plans to expand this in future supplements?

Of course! Sharp-eyed readers will note that I’ve already mentioned the Liber Magica, which collects and revises some of the magic systems from Second Edition supplements and offers entirely new ones. I don’t want to get into the details now, but we’re very excited about it!

Art by Scott Purdy

Art by Scott Purdy

Steam! So this is where things get all steampunk!  Victoriana has flirted with steampunk on and off through its history.  With Marvels of Science and Steampunk for Second Edition a solid link was established between Victoriana and steampunk. Does that continue into Third Edition?  How much is Victoriana Third Edition a steampunk game?

There’s definitely more steam in Third Edition, but admittedly that wasn’t a high bar to hurdle. Marvels are primarily the playthings of the middle class, much as magic is to the aristocracy. On the downside, country farms lay fallow as workers migrate to the cities, cramming into rookeries and working in factories. 

In terms of your average session, I think you’ll see a few more clockwork limbs and other marvels, but nothing more than you’ve already seen if you’ve been playing Second Edition with Faulkner’s and Marvels.


Thanks as ever for taking time out of your hectic schedule to let us know a little more about the new edition!

We'll be back again soon with another look at the Third Edition of Victoriana.



Part Four: Cogs and Wheels
Part Three: One's Full Measure
Part Two: Encyclopaedia Victoriana
Part One: Introductions
30Apr/13Off

The Third Edition of Victoriana continues to progress through layout, ushered into the light by the safe hands of Paul Bourne. A favourite with gamers and Cubicle 7 staffers alike we're really enjoying putting together this new edition. Once again we've dragged Victoriana Line Developer Walt Ciechanowski away from his keyboard to answer some more questions.

Hello again Walt!

Hi! Is it that time again already? 

V3cogs

So what can we find in the Cogs and Wheels section?

This Book is all about the engines that drive a session, from the basic mechanics to combat situations to other dramatic systems and, of utmost importance to players, how to spend those experience points that their adventurers have accumulated!

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Art by Andy Hepworth

Tell us about the core mechanic in Victoriana, the Heresy System? Has this changed from Second Edition?

The core mechanic is the same. Most tasks involve rolling a number of 6-sided dice equal to your adventurer’s Attribute + Skill ratings and trying to get 2 successes, which is a 1 or 6. Each 6 enables you to roll another die. Difficulties are represented by black dice, which are rolled against you. Each black die success eliminates one of yours. If all of your successes are eliminated and at least one black die success remains, you get a Foul Failure. Fortunately, 6’s don’t explode on black dice.

One area of the core mechanic that we’ve streamlined is that we eliminated negative pool modifiers. All difficulties above Average are rated in black dice, no matter what the source. It keeps things simple and makes it easier for Gamesmasters to adjudicate difficulties on the fly.
Combat is covered in this section, right? How would you describe it?

Combat is fast, furious, and potentially deadly. We gave the rules a shakedown and incorporated changes based on feedback we’ve gotten over the last 5 years. One of the trickier situations was group combats, especially when some combatants brought pepperboxes into the knife fights. We wanted to make everything flow as smoothly as possible.
Can you give us a run down on a typical combat in Victoriana 3rd Edition?

Sure! Let’s say Lady Edwina Talbot walks into an alley while tracking a were-rat. Two ruffians, Peter and Thomas, see an opportunity and confront her with their knives. The Gamesmaster rules that Lady Edwina isn’t surprised, as she is already on alert for things jumping out of shadows.

All three roll their initiative dice. Peter rolls especially well and gets 4 successes. Lady Edwina gets 3 successes, and Thomas gets 0 successes. Peter goes first and decides to attack Lady Edwina with his knife. Lady Edwina, a Guild Hermeticist of some repute, counters with an aetheric bolt. Peter changes his mind and decides to dodge instead. Thomas elects to attack with his knife as well, so Lady Edwina decides to take a second action countering him with a kick.

Peter has Dexterity 2 and Dodge 2, giving him a dice pool of 4. Since he beat Lady Edwina in initiative, he adds 2 extra dice for a dice pool of 6. He rolls and gets 2 successes. Lady Edwina casts her aetheric bolt, using her Resolve 4 and Thaumaturgy 4 for a dice pool of 8. She gets 5 successes, but because she took an extra action she gets 3 black dice rolled against her. There is one black die success, which reduces her successes to 4. She subtracts Peter’s 2, which leaves her with 2 successes. As she hit him, Lady Edwina rolls her aetheric bolt damage dice (8) and gets 4 successes, adding 2 additional successes from her attack roll. Peter takes 6 pips of damage and is very hurt.

Thomas goes forward with his attack. He has Dexterity 2 and Swordplay 1, giving him a dice pool of 3. He rolls 1 success. Lady Edwina kicks him; her Dexterity 3 and Fisticuffs 2 gives her a dice pool of 5, but this is increased to 7 because she beat Thomas in initiative. She rolls 2 successes and this time the 3 black dice against her don’t make any successes. Lady Edwina kicks Thomas with one success. A kick normally does 2 damage and Lady Edwina has Strength 1, so she rolls 3 dice and gets 1 success, or 2 successes after adding her 1 success from hitting him.

At the end of this round we have two ruffians who have discovered that Lady Edwina is not quite the easy mark they took her for!

"Diving for Cover" by Pat Loboyko

"Diving for Cover" by Pat Loboyko

I also see we have a section called “Dramatic Systems” That sounds encouraging! What’s that all about?

This is all the extra stuff outside of combat! We’ve got rules for drinking, getting poisoned, and using drugs. We also have rules for fires, drowning,  falling, lifting things, and recovering from wounds. All of this is familiar to those that own the second edition. 

We’ve retooled Reputation and Fate Dice as well as added the Celestial Engine, which tracks an adventurer’s dedication to Entropy or Order. Finally, we have guidelines for awarding and spending experience points.

The Celestial Engine - this is a new mechanical concept for Victoriana 3rd Edition, right?

Absolutely. The basic idea behind the Celestial Engine (Entropy vs Order) has been with the game since its first edition, but we thought we’d qualify it a bit more. We’ve already defined where the archons (angels, demons, old gods, etc) fit along the spectrum, now you can move your adventurers along it as well. The various subspecies start at a given point on the line and can move back and forth by spending Scripting Dice.

If you have cogs in Entropy, then you get benefits when acting in the cause of Entropy. Ditto for Order. There are ‘intangibles’ as well; an adventurer that moves too far along the cogs of Order may find all of her prayers answered by the mechanical Ophanim (rigid angels of order), while someone sliding too far towards Entropy risks getting the attention of Aluminat hunters.
Tell us about the Fate Pool and Scripting Dice? What are they?

Fate Points and Scripting Dice haven’t really changed from Second Edition. Fate Points give you extra benefits during play, while Scripting Dice (equivalent to 6 Fate Points) give you some control over the game. 

For example, normally a task roll requires 2 successes. If you only get one, you can spend a Fate Point to give you another. A Fate point can also instantly heal a pip of damage. A Scripting Die may allow you to reroll a bad task roll or make an adjustment to the adventure. Did you fall out of an aerostat? It was very lucky that a rope happened to be dangling beneath the promenade and within reach!

What has changed is how Fate Points are acquired. Since we got rid of Character Ranks, adventurers gain Fate Points as adventure rewards as well as whenever a Complication hinders them in some way during the adventure.


Reputation seems important in the world of Victoriana.  How does that work?

We approached Reputation a little differently this time around. We’ve split it into Propriety and Notoriety. The two work against each other; sometimes your good reputation precedes you, sometimes your bad. If your propriety wins out you get bonus dice on social rolls for a scene; if notoriety wins out you get black dice on social rolls for a scene. 

You can temporarily boost or diminish Reputation through Puffery and Slander. These represent an adventurer spreading rumours about another during a social scene. Unfortunately, there are consequences for taking advantage of a false reputation!

Once again it's all sounding very exciting! Thanks Walt!

We'll be back again soon with another look at the Third Edition of Victoriana.



Part Three: One's Full Measure
Part Two: Encyclopaedia Victoriana
Part One: Introductions
23Apr/13Off

We're still hard at work on the Third Edition of Victoriana, (now well into layout) a favourite with gamers and Cubicle 7 staffers alike.  We've again dragged Victoriana Line Developer Walt Ciechanowski away from his keyboard to answer some more questions.

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Oh this is the good stuff! Character creation!

Yes, it’s definitely the most important part of the game for players! For third edition, we’ve retired ‘gutter runner’ in favour of the more broadly applicable ‘adventurer,’ as the game now casts a wider net. 

This part contains all of the rules necessary to create Victorian adventurers, from factory worker revolutionaries to aerostat pilots to magic-using hermeticists.

Art by Andy Hepworth

Art by Andy Hepworth

And who are adventurers likely to be? It’d be fun to talk about some examples!  There are more than just humans in play, right?

Just to be coy I’ll say ‘yes and no.’ Third edition keeps the classic spread of races, but they are more firmly defined as subspecies within the overall species of humanity. We’ve also upgraded the orc (which suffered from unfortunate implications in first edition) to a core subspecies. 

As with the previous editions, adventurers are people that have decided to make a difference, whether that is to overthrow an unfair social order, explore the blank areas of the map, protect the Empire from outside threats, or hunt supernatural monsters in the city sewers. 

One of the biggest changes is that we’ve brought technologists to the core, so adventurers can start play with ‘steampunk’ gadgetry, including mechanical limbs. 

One of the big challenges open world games like Victoriana can face is why are the party together? Why do these people know each other?  How does Victoriana answer these questions?

For Third Edition we decided to employ ‘backwards design.’ We start with an Association, which represents the type of campaign that the players and GM have decided to play. This association suggests appropriate skills, privileges, and assets that the adventurers should take.

From there, the player works backwards through Background and Breeding. For example, if the association is ‘the Cobblestone Club,’ then the adventurer is part of a revolutionary group. The player then determines her Background (vocation and childhood experience). Revolutionary is an obvious choice for vocation, but maybe she’s a socialite that is tired of the inequities she sees. This vocation is upper class, so when she decides what her Childhood Experience was she sticks with upper class ones and comes up with personal tutor (who may have been the person to spark her revolutionary spirit). Finally, she determines her Breeding (social class and subspecies). By this point, social class is usually obvious, in her case upper. She determines her species to be Eldren (or elf, in more common parlance) as they tend to be upper class.

So we now have a very well-defined adventurer and we haven’t even gotten to the mechanics yet! This is intentional; we want players to decide who their adventurers are before they start picking attributes, skills, and other traits. It’s a much more organic process. Perhaps more importantly, the adventurer is already attached to the other adventurers through the association. 

Whilst Association is clearly going to drive characters to some degree, what else do characters do in Victoriana?

By and large that’s up to the GM. Traditionally Victoriana penny dreadfuls have skewed towards the investigative adventure, where the adventurers take a case and try to solve it, but we’ve also thrown open the doors to other types of campaigns as well, such as monster hunting, world exploration, espionage, intrigue, and war. 

So mechanically speaking how is a character measured in Victoriana?  Looking through the book there seems to be an enormous amount of choice in how you layer things up?

Let’s pick up the mechanical side. Our tutor-educated, socialite Eldren revolutionary gets a few points to spread amongst her attributes (Strength, Wits, etc) which is modified by her subspecies. She then gets a number of skill points to spend on the skills offered by her Association, Vocation, and Childhood Experience. She then picks traits, which are talents (beautiful, thaumaturgist), privileges (like knighthood!), and assets (country villas, clockwork limb). If she needs more points then she can select complications, which are hindrances during the game. Sometimes complications are suggested by other choices; an adventurer with a clockwork eye and leg likely has the Distinctive Features complication.

Art by Brandon Leach

Art by Brandon Leach

In the character section we also get all the lists of possessions, equipment and weapons.  Something that people have asked about is firearms. With the setting being dialed back to the 1850s how do firearms shape up?

Interestingly enough, the First Edition firearms list, which Second Edition largely kept, is more appropriate for the 1850s than the 1860s (offering yet another reason for setting the Third Edition more firmly in the 1850s). One of the visuals I loved about first edition was the proliferation of pepperboxes, which actually fired faster than revolvers until the double-action revolver came along. With the mechanics slightly favouring pepperboxes, they are much more prevalent in Third Edition. 

Faulkner’s Milliner and Miscellanea and Marvels of Science and Steampunk introduce 1860s firearms, but these can easily be introduced as the work of technologists or ‘hot from the factory’ models, should a Gamesmaster decide to include them. In the end, it’s all a matter of style.

There’s a lot in this section of the book.  Did we miss anything that you’d like to highlight?

One of the new tweaks in Third Edition is the inclusion of Build Packages. These are completely optional pre-builds that make most of your Talents, Privileges, Assets, and Complications for you. We put this in to make adventurer generation quicker and to help a player make suitable choices for her adventurer concept. To build on the above example, our Eldren revolutionary might choose the Dilettante build package, which leaves the player with only attribute and skill points to allocate. As these Build Packages are tools, a player can tweak or ignore them as desired.

I’d also like to point out that Third Edition is just as open as the previous editions. If you want to disregard Associations and Backgrounds and just let the players choose Breeding and then launch into the mechanics then you can certainly do so! We made the changes we made to enhance Victoriana’s unique flavour, not to straightjacket the players into certain roles.

 

Thanks again, Walt!  We'll be back with more questions, and a look at what we can expect to see in the next section of Victoriana in the very near future!



Part Two: Encyclopaedia Victoriana
Part One: Introductions
17Apr/13Off


We're still hard at work on the Third Edition of Victoriana, a favourite with gamers and Cubicle 7 staffers alike.  We've again dragged Victoriana Line Developer Walt Ciechanowski away from his keyboard to answer some more questions.

Hi Again Walt!

Howdy!

So in Victoriana 3rd Edition each section is referred to as a book. We’re going to take a look at the first of these “books” from The Victoriana corebook: The Encyclopaedia Victoriana.
What can we find within The Encyclopaedia Victoriana?

This book is an overview of the Victoriana world. It’s written from the point of view of a denizen of that world, the Countess Lyonnesse, who has compiled various articles and notes about the world. Included are articles on technology and magic (and their relationship to each other), encyclopaedia entries on the major religions (and demons!), and society. We’ve also included a pocket gazetteer of the world circa 1856, which has several divergences from our own.

Art by Andrew Hepworth

So it’s a kind of gazetteer to the Victoriana world? Interesting decision to put that right at the front of the book?

Exactly. As with previous editions of Victoriana, we wanted to tell prospective Gamesmasters and players right up front what the world is about, so that by the time you get to the mechanics of the game you have a good grounding of the unique elements of Victoriana’s world. There are no secrets embedded, we’d hope that all players at a gaming table can get familiar enough with the world to decide what type of campaign they wish to play (and choose an appropriate Association).

We assumed that the Gamesmaster is familiar with real Victorian history (or can easily surf that up) so we’ve highlighted the things that make Victoriana unique. With the third edition, we took a holistic view; we broke down all of the bits and pieces of Victoriana and made sure they worked well together. We’ve tweaked the cosmology and highlighted how magic and science interact as well as their relationship to the social classes. 

Whilst Victoriana is based in something close to our world, and our history what are some of the key differences?

This time around we took the conceit that the various ‘fantastical’ elements of Victoriana tended to cancel each other out so that history basically follows the course we know (so that Gamesmasters can do research more easily) but there are some changes. In our world, the Crimean War was wrapped up in the early months of 1856. In Victoriana, the war has been going in Russia’s favour and shows no sign of ending. Across the Pond America is more divided, with the Republic of Texas never joining the United States and a powerful Comancheria roaming the Great Plains. In the East Indies the British and Dutch East India Companies are far more powerful and in the midst of an unofficial corporate war with each other.

There’s a lot more; we hope that Gamesmasters reading the gazetteer get lots of inspiration for adventures!

Tell us about religion in the world of Victoriana - how does it differ to our world?

Religion can be a touchy subject, especially in a world where angels physically answer prayers and old gods still walk the earth. Victoriana has always used fictional religions that better fit its cosmology, but the analogues are familiar enough that they seamlessly replace real world religions. Ultimately, Victoriana is a world that struggles between Entropy and Order (the former supported by magic and the latter by science) and its religions reflect that.

The Aluminat by David Michael Wright

 

So we know Victorian society was highly divided by class.  Is that reflected in Victoriana, and how does that feed into gaming opportunities?

Victoriana’s struggle between Entropy and Order filters neatly into the social classes. The aristocracy, bound by tradition that is remembered by the long-living Eldren, thrives on magical convenience while the upstart bourgeoisie, the middle class, is enamoured with the steam-driven marvels that they believe puts them on a more equal footing with their betters. The lower class, unfortunately, merely traded servitude on farms for the aristocracy to long hard hours in dirty factories for the bourgeoisie. In Victoriana, one should have little trouble determining a stranger’s social class even from across the street.

While previous editions highlighted the tension between classes, Third Edition goes a couple steps further. Reputation is further developed and class-dependent, while Associations guide the adventurers to particular social classes. We’ve also shifted around the adventurer creation steps so that a player’s decisions regarding her decisions about her adventurer’s background determine her social class rather than the other way around.

Thanks again for this insight into the new edition of Victoriana!

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak about it a bit more! We’re really looking forward to its release!

We'll be back with more questions, and a more in-depth look at what we can expect to see in the new edition in the very near future!



Part One: Introductions
Part Three: One's Full Measure
11Apr/13Off


We've been hard at work on the Third Edition of Victoriana, a favourite with gamers and Cubicle 7 staffers alike.  As we approach release (the game is in layout right now) we thought it was about time we drew back the curtain a little and let you glimpse the wonders that await inside this new version.  With that in mind we've dragged Victoriana Line Developer Walt Ciechanowski away from his steaming keyboard to answer some questions.

Hi Walt, thanks for taking the time to chat with us about Victoriana 3rd Edition.

Thanks for having me! I’m thrilled to be speaking about Victoriana!

So Victoriana has been a long running and successful game for Cubicle 7, and we have plenty to talk about for the fans of the game.  Right now however let's assume our readers have no knowledge of Victoriana.  What's the elevator pitch?

At its core, Victoriana is a game of high adventure in an alternate 19th century coloured by fantasy and steampunk tropes. In broad strokes, history largely remains intact, although many of the details are different. Most notable is the inclusion of fantasy races, magic, and fanciful steam-driven technology.
What do players and characters do in the game, and has this changed over the Editions?

The beauty of Victoriana is that it can accommodate a wide variety of adventures. You could investigate supernatural murderers in the back alleys of Whitechapel, ferret out anarchist threats to the Empire, protect British interests along the Indian frontier, or explore uncharted regions in a steam-driven marvel. We created an Association mechanic to help GMs and their players focus on the types of adventures they want to play by highlighting key skills and traits most useful to adventures in a particular campaign.

 

And before we dive into the deeper details, tell us a bit about you - what gaming related material have you worked on?

It all started with an article in Mongoose Publishing’s Signs & Portents magazine back in 2003 followed by a ton of work for Adamant Entertainment. Since then I’ve worked on projects for Doctor Who, DC Adventures, Dragon Age, Mutants & Masterminds, Witch Hunter, and, of course, Victoriana.

 

So a third edition? Why now?

The first edition was published in 2003 and Victoriana has continually evolved over the course of the decade. We’ve also gotten a lot of feedback from fans over what the strengths and concerns of the game. When it came time for a new print run, we decided that we wanted to incorporate a lot of what we’ve learned and combine the best bits of the earlier editions into a cohesive and streamlined whole.

Victoriana 3rd Edition art by Andy Hepworth

Give us the system basics for Victoriana, and tell us how you've updated thing in 3rd Edition?

At its core, the mechanics are simple. Most actions are resolved by rolling a number of 6-sided dice equal to the adventurer’s appropriate Attribute and Skill. Each ‘1’ and ‘6’ is a success, with 6’s exploding into extra die rolls. The GM rolls a number of black dice for the difficulty and each success takes away one of the adventurer’s successes. If the adventurer has at least 2 successes remaining, she succeeds.

I’d say the biggest changes are the inclusion of ‘steampunk’ into the core and the timeline – Victoriana is now set in a more realistically alternate 1856 than the nebulous ‘1867-ish’ of the previous editions. We’ve also included Associations in order to better shape adventurers and campaigns as well as a mechanic for the Celestial Engine (adventurers can lean towards Entropy or Order).

We’ve also taken a hard look at the magic system and streamlined it. One of the biggest concerns from players was how difficult it was to use magic in the second edition; we’d already been modifying it for convention play, so it made sense to incorporate those changes into the new edition.

Finally, we got rid of the Ranks system for experience. It was telling that other RPGs using our engine (Airship Pirates, Dark Harvest) dumped it, and we felt that the Third Edition could do without it as well. Of course, if Second Edition fans liked the Ranks system, they can still use it with Third Edition with minimal fuss.

 

So will existing fans need to re-buy a lot of Victoriana material?

No, not at all. As perhaps the best example, our first supplement for third edition is Streets of Shadow, is entirely playable using only the Second Edition rules.

As for the timeline change, we decided to ground Victoriana more strongly to a single year in order to enable GMs to more easily apply real historical research. We also wanted to pick a year that had little impact on what we’ve done before. One of our dirty little secrets from previous editions is that much of Victoriana’s world better fit the 1850s than the 1860s (an on-going Crimean War, pre-Mutiny British India, antebellum America) and most of our material was written that way. Our biggest second edition supplements, Jewel of the Empire and The Smoke, can be used as-is for third edition’s1856.

 

What has it been like, working on such a well-loved game?  Sleepless nights?

Sleep? I get to sleep? Actually, it’s a lot of fun. As a GM I love fantastic historical settings and I’ve been a fan of Victoriana ever since I plucked a copy of the first edition off the shelf of my FLGS way back in 2003. It was a thrill for me to be taken on as a freelance writer, and a dream come true to become its line developer. It’s been very challenging at times, especially during the shepherding of third edition, but always rewarding.

It’s also been intimidating at times. As you say, it’s a well-loved game, and I had to take great care with the changes we’d made. We had lots of discussions and re-discussions over the various changes, and for every one that made it in three or four were kept out, sometimes after already being incorporated.

In the end it’s a labour of love and I hope that shines when fans and new players read through the Third Edition.

 

Once the core book is out what else is in the pipeline for Victoriana 3rd Edition?

First up is Streets of Shadow, a full-length campaign that incorporates three adventures, The Dragon in the Smoke, The Hound of Hate, and The Rise of the Red God, from first edition. We also have The Concert in Flames, a mini-campaign and Continent sourcebook, coming soon, as well as the long-awaited book on Mars, a book on expanded magic options, and other regional sourcebooks. We’ll also be re-launching our pdf line.

Thanks Walt! We'll be back with more questions, and a more in-depth look at what we can expect to see in the new edition in the very near future!

Part Two: Encyclopaedia Victoriana

Part Three: One's Full Measure