THE SCIENTIFIC ROMANCE ROLE PLAYING GAME
RULES - SOME OTHER GAME SYSTEMS
By Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 2005, portions Copyright © 1993-2002
Back to game index - Back to main index
Back to Sources
This document is copyright, but you are encouraged to make copies and print-outs as needed. You may make modifications for your own use, but modified versions MUST NOT be distributed. If you find any of these files useful you are asked to register.
The first release of these rules was originally converted to HTML by Stefan Matthias Aust, to whom many thanks.
This copy of the rules has been split into several separate files. A version consisting of a single large file is also provided. These documents should be accompanied by several files including larger versions of the game tables and a short summary of the main rules for the use of players.
Unusually paranoid legal note
Legal cases have made it clear that it is not advisable to include suggestions on conversion between these rules and other game systems without the express permission of their publishers. Nevertheless, it IS possible to use the background material from this collection with ANY RPG, given enough ingenuity. The following are suggested as particularly suitable, but it should be made clear that this collection is not an approved playing aid for any of these games.
- Call of Cthulhu (Chaosium Inc.) is designed for horror campaigns, but is readily usable for any 19th or 20th century genre. It has all the skills needed for a scientific romance setting, and a huge body of published adventures and source material. It is relatively easy to learn and play.
- The Adventures of Luther Arkwright (23rd Parallel Games) was based on a well-known comics series, and part of the original story was set in a world whose technology is very like that of Kipling's A.B.C. stories and Griffith's Angel of the Revolution. The rules include psionics and travel between dimensions, as part of an ongoing struggle between rival groups who want to save or destroy all universes. It is now out of print and very rare. No additional material seems likely to appear.
- Space 1889 (GDW then Heliograph Inc.) is a scientific romance game. Set in an alternate universe where the "Luminiferous Ether" exists and Edison invented a space drive, it features forgotten civilisations on Mars, the Moon, and Venus, flying ships, and some useful rules on weird science and inventions. Several supplements and associated war games and board games were available, but GDW ceased trading in February 1996. A promised film never appeared, but a radio series was recently announced. All of the books for the system (but not the board games) are still in print from Heliograph Inc., who will also publish the upcoming Zeppelin Age RPG.
- Wessex games publish a series of Victorian wargames beginning with Aeronef, a game of aerial battles based in part on FF II
- GURPS (Generic Universal Role Playing System: Steve Jackson Games) is a multi-genre game intended for use with any campaign setting. Regrettably the long-promised source pack set in the world of The Difference Engine will not now appear, but the excellent GURPS Steampunk covers much the same ground. GURPS can be expensive, since it's sometimes necessary to buy three or four books to get everything needed for a campaign, but it is by far the most wide-ranging RPG in print, with a huge range of supplements and adventures.
- The Amazing Engine (TSR Inc) was a generic role playing system for SF and fantasy adventures, published with a series of world books for these genres. One of the first was For Faery, Queen, And Country, a Victorian fantasy campaign. Rules are reasonably simple, and additional material (mostly in the form of more game worlds) was published. Despite a few oddities, such as decimalised British currency in the mid-nineteenth century, this worldbook may be useful for variant campaigns, but is out of print and difficult to find.
- TSR also published Masque Of The Red Death, a Victorian horror supplement for AD&D, which contains a lot of useful information on period characters and locations. While much is biased towards the concerns of the horror genre, the presentation is good, and it covers a generalised Victorian background in great detail. It's possible that the successor publisher of AD&D, Wizards of the Coast, may eventually reprint it or put it on line.
- Castle Falkenstein (R. Talsorian Games) is another Victorian fantasy game, whose background has many similarities to "For Faery, Queen, and Country", but emphasises weird science, the "technology" of magic, and magic/science hybrids, with a swashbuckling approach to adventures. The system is exceptionally well designed and presented, using playing cards to resolve combat and the use of skills, and is well-supported by its publisher. A GURPS version of the setting is also available.
- Victoriana (Heresy Gaming) is yet another Victorian fantasy setting, this time taking a more historical approach to the setting but mixing in various fantasy races and weird science. Unlike many of the games mentioned here it's comparatively recent (2003) and is still in print, with several supplements and adventures available.
- H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds roleplaying game (Deep7) is a recent small quirky RPG published as a PDF in the USA, where Wells is out of copyright. It's limited in scope but cheap and has some interesting ideas on adventures during the invasion.
- Finally, TWERPS (The Worlds Easiest Role Playing System: Gamescience) may be useful for anyone who thinks that Forgotten Futures is much too complex; its rules fit on a small piece of paper!
These games are, or were, available from most specialist shops.
Historical note: With the exception of various cowboy RPGs, such as TSR's Boot Hill, the first commercial RPG to cover the 19th century in any detail was probably Victorian Adventure by Stephen Smith, published by SKS Distribution. It was intended as a purely historical game, and appeared in Britain around 1982-3, with at least two editions. It was not a success, possibly because readers were put off by unusual typography and layout, possibly because there wasn't much of a market for a purely historical game. Many thanks to Patrick Brady for these details.
Continue to About the Author
Revised and converted to HTML 23/4/98, Revised and updated 1/2005 - If you have any queries or comments on these rules please contact the author.