|Adventure Gaming in a Kinder, Gentler Time: Victorian Science Fiction
HUMOR: YOU THOUGHT I MADE THIS STUFF UP?
It's HERE! The Le Grand Cirque WEBPAGE is up
|For those that are into 'might have been/SHOULD have been' history in
a whimsical vein, the Victorian Era presents just the right amount of
humor interlaced with just enough historical potential to make a great era
to game in. There's something about the juxtaposition between
the very, very serious Britisher riding a giant clunky FICTIONAL
conveyance, all rivets and steam, that makes for very humorous games.
This strange intersection between Colonial Era and Science Fiction Gaming is called VICTORIAN SCIENCE FICTION (or VSF). You may have heard other terms associated with it, such as STEAMPUNK GAMING, etc. VSF takes as its antecedents such works of fiction as H.G. Wells' THE WAR IN THE AIR and WAR OF THE WORLDS; Jules Vernes' 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS; John Buchan's THE 39 STEPS and GREENMANTLE; and anything by Arthur Machen, Lovecraft (to some extent), H. Rider Haggard, or any other Victorian-to-Edwardian author who touched on the fantastic or macabre. Victoriana , for want of a more definitive term, represents a "magical reality" world view; a time of great potential and peril, a juxtaposition of the cosmic and the mundane, and an intersection between magic and "normal" universes. Surprisingly, I find there is a LOT of material out there on what I considered a small niche of science fiction; this series of pages will attempt, as best I can manage to coalesce some of the threads blowing around out there. What will be covered? Well, anything that merges on the fanciful, set roughly in our time period. Foundry's Darkest Africa, for instance, contains many interesting and fantastic elements, so it will be included. A Battle Report about Ombdurman will not. The Wild West (straight-up) is not really Victoriana, but the Great Rail Wars (and, ahem! Scary Monsters of the Golden West) is.
For one of the best, well-researched and thorough investigations into the subject matter of VSF, take a minute to browse FANTASTIC VICTORIANA. Come back after the requisite hour or so has passed-- because a minute won't be enough, I guarantee it!
VSF seems to have had something of a Renaissance of late; with many major manufacturers (Eureka, Foundry, Reverisco, and Scheltrum) having made miniature figures for the genre. The first dedicated rulebook of skirmish rules for VSF, GASLIGHT, was published in early 2001 to general popularity-- and the long out of print SPACE: 1889 game (GDW) has been reprinted by the publishers of the Heliograph.
Building Terrain Boards out of Insulating Panels
My terrain project for LA GRAND CIRQUE: ONCE AROUND THE WABASH, OLD CHAP! (HISTORICON 2001) (waiting on pictures)
Tim "Gisby" Peterson instructs on HOW TO MAKE DOORS, HOW TO MAKE TREES, and VARIOUS and SUNDRY ITEMS
Nifty Indoor Fantasy or SF terrain made out of paper
NEW!! Victoriana Period Vehicle Sources Page
Le Grand Cirque Conveyance Race Conveyance Design Tips
Landcruiser:1889 (soon to be retitled to THE IRON FRONTIER) is a work in progress from a nift-o wargaming club located in Fredericksburg, VA. The focus of these rules are landship to landship combat, and are fairly simple, funny and surprisingly comprehensive considering their brevity.
The Great Rail Wars (links below) by Pinnacle Entertainment, is definitely in period, although it does take place in a much transformed version of the American West (for the most part). GRW is a miniatures battle game that is sold as a starter set with many, many add-on packs of miniatures that are suitable for either the battle game or the associated RPG, DEADLANDS. A very unusual and intriguing environment for VSF.
Westwind Productions, a British Company (links below in RESOURCES), has come up with a skirmish rules set called GOTHIC HORROR. I have not played this one yet, nor do I own the rules, so I'm somewhat in the dark about them. However, I have enthusiastically purchased their miniatures line, which is replete with several kinds of vampire, werewolf, mummies, killers, maniacs, polizei, vampire hunters, evil cossacks, and gypsies. There's enough material in this miniatures line to keep a guy like me busy for about five years!!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
More Material Soon
|REPLAYS | [top]
NEW! Playtest of PRUSSIA NEEDS WOMEN! The outrage of Buzzard's Gulch...
NEW! Unsolicited Mystey Cirque Pictures arrive in my mailbox! Check out THE DARK SWEATY HEART OF THE CIRQUE page.
Valley of Bones (Darkest Africa/Matrix Game)
G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. "Raid on Key West"-- First Battle in the Texas-Prussian War!
"Nelson's Bluff" REPLAY page (Landcruiser: 1889 rules, the Game Parlor, Chantilly VA)
Le Grand Cirque du Cow Town REPLAY (Cold Wars 01,
Le Grand Cirque du Wabash REPLAY (HISTORICON 2001) (NEW PICTURES!)
Seize the Bridge (Soldier's Companion Website on Geocities)
Battle on Venus (Rob Beattie's Excellent THE STEAM AND THE FLAME VSF game)
Exploring Kifaru (Darkest Africa Game at Historicon 00)
Naval Landing Game for THE STEAM AND THE FLAME
GASLIGHT Main Page
Brigade Games, a major supplier of Gaslight Rules and suitable figures
GASLIGHT Q&A Site
GASLIGHT Yahoo Group
GASLIGHT Games at HISTORICON 2001
Tales of Zimdar (Ongoing Campaign)
Great Rail Wars Site Miniatures Battle Game (Pinnacle Entertainment)
Deadlands (RPG for this universe)
Greywolf's incredible DEADLANDS FAN PAGE (lots of pictures, minis, etc.)
Westwind's Main Page
Old Glory (U.S. Distributor)
Wessex Games Home Page
AERONEF Home Page
Warlords of the Skies
Rhys Batchelor Aeronef Site
Luke Ueda-Sarson's Aeronef Page
Dave Ashton's Aeronef Page
Eugene George's Aeronef Page
Voyages Extrordinaires Home Page
North American Distributor
Major Trevor Rederring's page (extensive VSF Material - GREAT PAGE)
Great Ideas that Never Made it (VSF Technology Resource... great pictures)
SAVAGE AND SOLDIER back issues on the web (not VSF but nice source material)
Colonial Wars Yahoo Group
WARFLAG (extensive database of FREE! printable flags)
The Adventures of the Red Shadow (semi-historical, semi-fictional FFL campagin)
kwaAndy (nice set of downloadable rules useful for colonial/VSF gaming)
Aortistan Campaign (well-documented fictional campaign setting)
Paleogothica's STEAMPUNK page (very nice site, lots of general interest material)
Gisby's VICTORIAN ADVENTURE GAMING page
CLOUDSHIPS OF IRON (Balin DeLoach's flying ship game, unpublished)
LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN Info Site
A FISTFUL OF TRIPODS (minis rules for War of the Worlds)
TRIPODS AND HUSSARS (more of the same, different scale)
Boilerplate: The Mechanical Marvel of the Age (recommended)
And these related pages by the same guy: Chronopolis, The Automatic Man,
The Steam Man, and The Electric Man (lovely, kooky Victoriana here)
PERIODICALS & OTHER STUFF
Would that it Were - the Online VSF Magazine
Word of Mouth- SPECULATIVE FICTION reviews
By Jingo! (Web Periodical mostly focusing on Colonial Wargaming. Nice selection of VSF stuff, though)
The Miniatures Page (Web Periodical on Miniatures Wargaming in general. THE most useful site in the hobby).
Panthan Press Great site for Burroughs style space fantasy, portal to such diverse webzines as The Barsoomian Blade, Tales from the Dum-Dum, and ERBWorld
Xenite.Org's Pulp Authors Discussion Board
Brigade Games VICTORIAN SCIENCE FICTION CATALOGUE (PDF)
DISCUSSION GROUP RESOURCES ON THE WEB
Panzerschiffe, the Game of Steam
Powered Contraption Battles (Yahoo)
Colonial Wars (Yahoo)
Victorian and Colonial Gaming (Older Style Yahoo Club)
GASLIGHT RULES - Supports GASLIGHT (Yahoo)
Victorian Adventure (Yahoo)
Victorian Gothic - Supports Wessex Games (Yahoo)
Voyages - Supports Wessex Games "Voyages Extrordinaires" (Yahoo)
Space 1889 - Support for S1889 game (Yahoo)
Steampunk - system independent VSF gaming (Yahoo)
All copyrights and trademarks held by their respective authors. This page copyright 2001 Walter O'Hara