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Showing posts from October, 2014

Halloween 2014: The King is Dead Collection

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I really wanted to produce some awesome Halloween content this year, but writing for Savage Insider, running a new The King is Dead campaign, promoting Steamscapes: Asia, and drinking my way through Texas Wine Month have kind of gotten in the way.In lieu of new material, I present the following annotated list from the Wine and Savages archives.
The King is Dead My longest-running project here is The King is Dead, a gonzo Gothic 18th century revolutionary setting where the aristocrats are vampires so you don’t have to feel guilty about slaughtering them all.As much as there is on the blog, there’s even more unpublished.It will – eventually – get published, but paying writing work is too tempting to resist right now.

The King is Dead The original post that started it all is a fictitious quote from another world’s Declaration of Independence.
The King is Dead: What does that mean?
An explanation of the setting concepts and themes.
The King is Dead: Revised Introduction A new version of the …

Halloween 2014: The Accursed Fan Five

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I really wanted to produce some awesome Halloween content this year, but writing for Savage Insider, running a new The King is Dead campaign, promoting Steamscapes: Asia, and drinking my way through Texas Wine Month have kind of gotten in the way.In lieu of new material, I present the following annotated list from the Wine and Savages archives.
Accursed Fan Five The guys at Melior Via were kind enough to reach out to Wine and Savages when they were promoting Accursed, their Savage Worlds action-horror setting.I was going through a period of experimenting with journalism and doing some interviews with them allowed me to scratch that itch.When I received the playtest package, I immediately noticed how closely most of the basic Accursed character “races” (or “Witchbreeds”) mapped onto the main Universal Monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and the Wolf-Man), so I was inspired to try to expand the available character types to cover the rest of those classic monsters.

Accursed Monste…

Halloween 2014: The Essential Regency/Gothic

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I really wanted to produce some awesome Halloween content this year, but writing for Savage Insider, running a new The King is Dead campaign, promoting Steamscapes: Asia, and drinking my way through Texas Wine Month have kind of gotten in the way.In lieu of new material, I present the following annotated list from the Wine and Savages archives.Note that this is not a list of all of the Regency/Gothic posts, only the ones worth re-reading.

Regency/Gothic One of my earliest projects on this blog was an attempt to write a supplement covering regency romances in the vein of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and innumerable paperback authors.I tried to Savage it up a bit by combining the Regency setting with the Gothic novels popular during the period.

Regency/Gothic 1: What is Regency Romance?* An introduction to the project and its themes.

Regency/Gothic 1d: Pride and Prejudice Character Stats My all-time most popular post (probably because of the pictures).Contains Savage Worlds stats for Eli…

Free Adventure with Every Order!

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Pledge even just $1 to the Steamscapes: Asia Kickstarter and you will get a free adventure! It will have eccentric inventors and beer-loving Scotsmen.It will have beautiful assassins and equally beautiful robot geisha.It will have rock ‘n’ roll cultists and shadowy spies.It will have ninjas.It will have m*****-f****** Saitō Hajime, the badass survivor of the Shinsengumi seen in Rurouni Kenshin, Peacemaker Kurogane, Kaze Hikaru, Hakuoki, and many other films and anime.You can count on delivery by no later than Thanksgiving. I promise you that because I’m writing it.Because I’m writing it, you can be guaranteed that it will be wild and wooly, that it will be gonzo, that it will be bonkers.It will show you just how “alternate” that “alternate history” can get.

And because it's going to be so stark raving mad, I'll even throw in conversion notes for Deadlands: Reloaded and any other steampunk setting you demand! Contributing even $1 gets you this adventure – but only if the Kicks…

Steamscapes: Asia -- The Eric Simon Interview

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We're in the home stretch for the Kickstarter to fund Steamscapes: Asia from Four-in-Hand Games -- for which I'm writing a significant section!
I readily admit that I'm not an impartial party, but I never would have signed on to write the Japanese section of Steamscapes: Asia if I didn't like the setting in the first place... And that's the result of the care and conscience Eric Simon (AKA Fairman Rogers) has put into the setting.  We chatted on Google+ today about the upcoming book and the Kickstarter.
Sean Bircher: Fairman Rogers is your steampunk alter ego, named after a historical figure perhaps most famed for being the subject of the painting "The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand."  What is a steampunk alter ego and why Fairman Rogers?
Eris Simon: So in the steampunk community, there is a common practice of developing a persona. This is true in club scenes, conventions, and even on forums.
Typically, that persona is going to be something fictional but distinc…

Steamscapes: Asia Development Log -- Karakuri (Rerun)

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Originally published April 4, 2014

The images above are of a karakuri ningyo: a doll-sized robot that walks when you place a cup of tea in its tray. These were used as an entertaining way of serving guests by the merchant class in Japan under the Tokugawa Shogunate. It is but one example of karakuri: mechanized puppets and wooden robots that were used in religious festivals, theatre, and as household entertainment during the Edo period.

When I first started working on Steamscapes: Asia, I did a Google search for the phrase "Edo Era Robots" and discovered multiple articles about this amazing extrapolation of the clockwork technology Western explorers and missionaries brought to Japan during the Sengoku Jidai. Since I have less time today than I'd like (but I want to keep building momentum), here's some links:

The First Japanese Robots: Karakuri Ningyo

Japan's First Robots Are Older Than You Think

Edo-period “robot” returns to life in Japan

And here's an awkw…

Steamscapes: Asia Development Log -- Flashman (Rerun)

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Originally posted April 2, 2014

Wait?! What?

What do the Flashman Papers -- that series of historical adventure novels about the cowardly, jingoistic, womanizing bully Sir Harry Flashman VC KCB KCIE by the curmudgeonly conservative George MacDonald Fraser -- possibly have to do with Steamscapes? Aren't the Flashman Papers' celebration of Playboy-style bed-hopping and Victorian empire-building contrary to the tone and intent of the social justice alternate history I'm supposed to be writing? Didn't I say I was going to write about Yojimbo next?

First, the Flashman Papers are a perfect example of the adage "history is stranger than fiction." While Flashman himself is fictional, the vast majority of people he meets and interacts with are not and reading these novels opened my eyes to just how colorful and bizarre the real world can be. Lola Montez?James Brooke?The Taiping Rebellion? I wouldn't know about any of them without Flashy. I'm sure many game…

Steamscapes: Asia Development Log -- Sakura Taisen (Rerun)

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Originally posted March 30th, 2014

Back on February 24th, I revealed that I’ve been contracted to write the Japan chapter for the upcoming Asian expansion of the Steamscapessetting from Four-in-Hand Games. Around that same time, I took on a new project at work that’s given me less time to write, and I’ve been trying to figure out the right way to balance my commitment to Steamscapes: Asia with development of The King is Dead. What I’ve concluded is that I’m going to have to alternate work on both settings, so April is going to be dedicated to Steamscapes. I’m winding down the latest playtest of The King is Dead anyway, so perhaps Robin and I will try our hand at exploring (a very tentative and completely unofficial version of) Steamscapes’ Japan and see what we discover. Posting will continue to be light, but maybe I can manage more brief posts rather than fewer long posts; I can’t share the material I’m writing for +Eric Simon, but I can share some of my musings on my research a…