Mechanika : Empires of Blood and Steam
Mechanika : Empires of Blood and Steam
A new and innovative pen and paper RPG, set in an alternate timeline during the Victorian era, incorporating both steampunk and magic.
A new and innovative pen and paper RPG, set in an alternate timeline during the Victorian era, incorporating both steampunk and magic. Read more
What is this Mechanika?
Mechanika: Empires of Blood and Steam is the core rule book for the Mechanika system. We at Xaos Publications have been working hard trying to bring a true next-generation role playing game to the market.
We believe that Mechanika is the first game to truly encompass all the things that make a Steampunk game Steampunk, while at the same time incorporating Magical and Psychic elements, bringing them all together in a way that makes them feel genuine, and not just like numbers on a page.
What exactly do we mean by next generation?
There is a reason that video games still sell, and not just sell, but sell more copies to a wider customer base than any other gaming medium out there. The reason is that they have evolved. Long gone are the two dimensional 8-bit graphics and one dimensional stories. If video games had not, "kept up with the times," and adapted to their evolving market they would have died out long ago, or at least not be what they are today.
So why not table top games?
What we are doing is taking the tabletop RPG and saying, "Hey, maybe it's time for a change." Every game, it seems, since the inception of role-playing games, uses the same tired formula. Make a character. Roll some dice. Eventually, if the game lasts long enough, my guy will be cool.
There are a few other games that change this formula up, but only barely. They add a new system here or there, or they make the characters insanely powerful from the beginning. Sadly, though, it's still the same tired formula, except now you level till you're uber- uber-ridiculously powerful.
The way our system differs is our Pillared Game System. We have six pillars in Mechanika, the three Pillars of Game Play, and the three Pillars of our World.
The three Pillars of Game Play may seem simple, and to be honest they are. I challenge you however, to think back to any pen and paper RPG you have played and you'll see that most of them follow only one, or none, of these.
1. Your character should be what you want and be cool from creation.
Have you ever sat down to play a game and thought to yourself, "Well I'm going to build blankety-blank, and I'm building it because at level eight I get this ability, then at level 10 I'll cross class into this, and at level 16 I'll finally be what I want." We have.
This system has two big issues. Number one, if you have played in any role playing group, oftentimes the games don't last that long, and your dream character never gets anywhere near completion. Number two, this turns a lot of people off to table top RPG's because of the time sink involved. Who really wants to play a level 1 anything for that long?
So how do we do it differently? We have no levels at all, and right from the start you can make literally any character that you want! You want to play a swashbuckling Sky Pirate? Done. Crazy Pyromaniac Goblin? Done! Dhampyr Telekinetic? Done and done. You can alter your powers and skills, and you can change and advance your character, getting new and exciting powers, but your character is yours and fun from the get go!
2.The game should be cinematic, not flat and one sided.
Most of us have played that game where the GM reads from the adventure packet in a dry monotone, and you respond with "I use my level 1 spell slot to cast firebolt." How many video games, movies, or comics have you read or watched that work that way? It's tedious, it's boring, and it completely takes you out of the experience. As a GM, it can be boring to run and also exhausting to think of new places and creatures that the players then may not like or that they feel disconnected from.
We fix that in two ways. First, we have a system called scenes. This allows both the GM and the players to design NPCs, places, and even events that have an impact and can be easily kept track of. How many of us have been to the Dancing Pony Inn for the umpteenth time, only to be greeted by a different interior NPC bartender and villagers that have no clue who we are, when we've saved them nine dozen times? This also allows the GM and the players to become invested in the game and to share in the game play.
The second way we do this is our Fate system. Most games work on a very mathematical system. Kill monster, get points, level guy. This is okay, but it gets old quickly. Our system differs by having players pick a character Concept (who they are), a Lower Self (their bad side), and a Higher Self (their good side), and they advance their character by roleplaying these aspects.
For example: Mortimer Black. Concept, elitist Warlock; Lower Self, glutton for any vice; Higher self, promotes the good of Magick. What this means is that Mortimer collects Fate every time he role-plays any of these elements, and not merely from killing random monsters.
Unlike Experience Points, Fate Points can be spent to affect and make changes to the the world; from simple rerolls, to avoiding death, to creating a variant event in a scene. This allows players to have a say and affect the world and allows for the GM to be surprised in a scene as much as the player is. Fate Points can also be used to purchase Experience Points to buy new abilities and skills between game sessions.
3. Keep magic magical! Keep artifice amazing!.
In most games out there, Magic, or even Artifice (Steampunk), is just arbitrary numbers given to some clunky system. Spell slots? I can only cast once a day? These ideas are strange and foreign in any comic, anime, movie or novel. Our system allows a character that uses these powers the ability to do so whenever they want, however, harnessing these powers is often dangerous. Incantations can hurt a Magister, a Psychic trying to disarm a man with her mind could black out, or an Artificer's ray gun might malfunction and explode. These abilities are rare, and using them is dangerous and amazing each time you do so.
The three pillars of our game world are simple as well.
1. A world that players will know and will feel comfortable in.
Players and GMs alike get irritated at meta gaming, and irritated when the players do not know simple things that their characters would know. This happens because worlds, at least good ones, are elaborate and complex. GMs often read the 400 page rule books back to back a dozen times, but many players don't. Making countless knowledge checks to know what the capitol city is, or who a king is, makes the game drag and pulls people away.
Our world is an alternate timeline filled with historical and fictional characters from that time. Most people know Mark Twain, Mr. Hyde, Rasputin, George Washington, and Tesla, just to name a few. Yes, they are altered slightly and made to fit in our new world, but the basics are already there. People also know places like France, London, or America, so little explanation is needed besides an explanation on how they vary from our timeline.
2. Monsters, Magic, and Horror should be cold and alien, and not cute and quirky.
Many games show monsters as cute, or at least G-Rated; in this world monsters are evil and alien. Magic has hard rules, and science, and occult things, feel truly dark and foreboding. We use a mixture of real-world myth, weird horror and the works of H.P. Lovecraft to create a mature world which feels unique and uneasy.
3. Players have a place in the world.
Your players will create full characters, and as a group they will have bonds with each other and with places in the world. This means they will want to help each other out, not because the players know each other outside the world, but because their characters know each other already inside the world. It also perpetuates the desire to experience the world, because the character you have created has a place in it and has countless things to explore, beyond blank, random adventures.
Please join us on www.xaospub.com. Try our demo, and realize just what we are trying to do, and the world we are bringing to you and your friends.
From all of us here at Xaos Pub, thank you for helping us realize this dream.
- (45 days)