What is Steamscapes?
Steamscapes is a licensed game setting for Savage Worlds. It is a realistic alternative historical approach to steampunk. As such, it contains many of the things you would expect in a steampunk setting - airships, automatons, electricity gone wild - but places them in a real-world context. The world of Steamscapes is recognizable but changed. You will find many familiar faces and places, but their roles are not always what you expect.
If you would like to read more, please check out the various articles, teasers, and developer notes at our website, steamscapes.com.
What's new in Steamscapes: Asia?
As with the North America continent book, Steamscapes: Asia will include an extensive alternative historical background covering the last 100 years leading up to 1872. There will be several longer sections covering a few key regions, and also a shorter section covering additional countries.
The three largest sections will focus on China, Japan, and the Indian subcontinent. (For a variety of reasons that will be explained in this book, India does not actually unify in the Steamscapes world but remains a loose coalition made up of diverse kingdoms.) In addition, there will be shorter sections discussing other smaller but important nations such as Korea, Siam, Burma, and Malaysia.
Rules expansions for this volume include the new Apothecary profession, (which branches into either medicine or explosives), the new Oni racial template (a uniquely Japanese approach to automatons), and an extensive and realistic examination of a variety of martial arts across the continent. Steamscapes: Asia will also contain rules and background for elephant cavalry, rocket artillery, and Chinese "dragon" airships, the first effective aerial gunships in the Steamscapes world.
How is this setting different from other steampunk settings?
The Steamscapes world contains no magic, horror, mysticism, or unexplained energy sources of any kind. It occurs on an Earth with a history identical to ours right up until 1770. From there, we take a very detailed alternative historical approach to creating our world, with a focus on realistic causality. While there are always suspensions of disbelief in such a setting, we strive to make them plausible in terms of technology, politics, and the individual personalities of the historical figures involved.
All of this makes us unique in the steampunk community. There are occasional stories and (more rarely) novels that focus on historical realism, but most steampunk settings for books and almost all other game settings incorporate some amount of fantastical elements. We do not. As fans of the genre, we respect and enjoy the many steampunk games, books, and stories that are out there, but we wanted to do something different.
How is this book different from other "Asian" themed settings?
First of all, we believe we are taking a more complete view of Asia as a continent. The few game settings that do consider Asia for locations or source material rarely look beyond China and Japan and occasionally Korea. But we are telling the story of a stronger Asia, one that has thrown off the yoke of colonialism earlier and more effectively, which also demands an examination of India, Siam, and Malaysia. In a very direct sense, a more successful 1857 Indian Rebellion leads to a stronger China and a stronger Siam, which in turn lead to different relationships between England and Japan, England and Malaysia, and France and Vietnam. These stories are intertwined, so we must tell them all.
Second, as writers of alternate history we recognize the importance of the imperialistic impulse that dominated European policies throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. However, we choose to place obstacles in the way, to put our finger on the side of the balance that favors local governments and indigenous populations. Given these obstacles, we know that European countries will still act in accordance with their interests, but we want to see what happens when they are less successful.
Because of these approaches, the Steamscapes version of Asia is more traditional in many respects and less Western, but each nation still sees a need to modernize. We are therefore examining what an Asian industrial age looks like when it is driven more from within.
A quick introduction to some of our altered history:
Why are we Kickstarting so early in the process?
More than anything, this is a community-building Kickstarter. All of the books we are funding through this project are books we hope to release eventually even if it fails to fund. However, that release schedule can be greatly accelerated depending on how our goals are met.
We also want to use this as an opportunity to both build our fan base and also invite that fan base to participate in the decision-making process. We want to know what priorities YOU have as far as releases go. No matter what your reward level, participation in this Kickstarter project enables you to vote for the supplements you want to see and the order in which they are released.
Finally, we want to make a product that you can be excited about. The more we fund here, the more writing and art we can buy. We are still a fairly small publisher, so the money we raise goes directly into those investments.
We only have a few addons, but I wanted to list them clearly. Following the Kickstarter, a survey will be sent to each backer to make sure we are sending the right addons.
- $5 - Gunslinger's Guide Add $5 to any level and get a PDF copy of the Gunslinger's Guide as soon as the Kickstarter wraps up.
- $10 - North America Add $10 to any level and get a PDF copy of Steamscapes: North America as soon as the Kickstarter wraps up.
- $20 - Dragon Airship Print Add $20 to any level and get a 10x14" color print of James Ng's Dragon Airship art as soon as the Kickstarter wraps up.
- $5000 or 80 Backers - More art! Our basic funding goal covers enough to make the book look good, but if we stretch it we can make it look even better.
- $5500 or 90 Backers - Next Profession Guide! Work will immediately commence on a new Guide similar to the Gunslinger's Guide. Backers at all levels get to vote on which Profession comes first. Backers at the Huo Long level and above will receive the PDF as soon as it is completed.
- $6000 or 100 Backers - Another Profession Guide! And we will do our best to release both within the timeframe of the Steamscapes: Asia release date. Backers at the Huo Long level and above will receive the PDFs as soon as they are completed.
- $7000 or 120 Backers - Extra continent! Work will commence on a smaller continent book, either South America or Australia (determined by backer vote). May not be released in 2015, but the PDF will be delivered to backers at the Huo Long level and above when it is completed.
- $8000 or 150 Backers - All the Profession Guides! Order to be determined by backer vote. Only the first two will be targeted for 2015 release, but all PDFs will be delivered to backers at the Huo Long level and above as they are completed.
Who else is involved?
Sean Bircher - writer of the Wine and Savages blog and creator of the King is Dead historical savage setting - will be developing the historical background of Japan, and possibly one or two other things.
We are once again bringing in art from Kelsey Morse-Brown and Cami Woodruff. In addition, we will be working with many new artists such as Beth Zyglowicz, who (among other things) designed the crane-and-gears border image used in this Kickstarter. We are also thrilled to announce the inclusion of steampunk icon James Ng! We will have updates soon that include samples of the work he is doing for us.
Risks and challenges
We are intentionally coming to our first Kickstarter with a couple of books already under our belt. We know how to make a project happen, we have established print and release support, and we have shown that we care about getting our work finished and out there.
That said, this book will certainly be bigger and involve more people than our previous work. The timeline risks come largely from the unknowns involved in having the writing go through more hands. Any delays will be communicated to backers first, and we will try to offset that as much as possible with backer-exclusive previews of the material in progress.
If the project is not funded, Steamscapes: Asia will still be released! It may go more slowly and it might not have as much art as we would like, but we are committed to moving the Steamscapes line forward. However, lack of funding would necessarily limit our focus with regard to secondary projects. Funding this project is a way not only to speed up this volume but also to encourage more of our planned supplemental materials, like the various profession guides and the smaller continent books.
Ultimately, this is why we are Kickstarting early in the process rather than when the book is mostly complete. We want to offer our supporters and the community at large the opportunity to guide not only the scope and scale of this project but also the priorities of the line as a whole.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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