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Victoriana 3rd Edition
 
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Victoriana 3rd Edition
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/13/2016 08:19:32

While Victoriana 1st edition first caught my attention and 2nd edition became a favorite, it is 3rd edition that might be the best version of the Victoriana game. My deepest apologies to all the people that worked on the first two editions, some who I now consider friends.

Full Disclosure: I bought my own hardcover and pdf copies of these books. While I consider many of the fine folks at C7 to be friends, they did not solicit or expect a review.

Victoriana 3rd Edition uses the same system that powered Victoriana 2nd edition, but cleans up the game and gives it some new life. Led by Walt Ciechanowski, Victoriana 3 became something a little different than before, but uniquely more "itself". You can use all the supplements, adventures and characters in 3rd edition that you did with 2nd edition with now issues. Vic 2nd edition has a conversion guide to 1st in case you need that. There are sidebars to let you know where the major differences are between 3rd and 2nd edition. There are even a couple of places where specific 2nd Edition books are mentioned.

Now set in 1856 (ten years earlier) we get a different feel for the age. The world of Victoriana 3 is a little darker, a little more dangerous and a lot bigger. So if you are using any of the supplements, such as the India one, you will need to adjust some events and tone, but not mechanics. There are also sidebars that mention the differences between Victoriana world and the real world. For example the Bolshivik revolution is getting started earlier here and Charales Darwin is now a "Dr." (he "only" had a Master's degree in real life).

This version of Victoriana puts more emphasis on technology. It is fantasy tech and steampunk tech, but there is more of it. Not to say magic has taken a backseat here, but it is not as prevalent in the writing as it was before. Also, the gothic horror elements have been turned up a bit in this as well. Magic, when it is there, is scary.

Victoriana (any version, but especially this one) is the game where you can take anything from any other Victorian-era game, use it here and it works. Eldritch horrors from Cthulhu by Gaslight? yup. Investigations from Baker Street? of course. Superhumanity from Victorious? Sure, why not! In fact, this kitchen sink mentality works really well in Victoriana.

The system is the same. You get a dice pool of s6s. Roll them, explode the "6"s, count the successes. If you have enough great. The rules in this version read better. I mentioned in my review of 2nd edition that the only way to truly review a game is not just to read it but to play it. I have played Victoriana now for almost 10 years. Despite that, and even more years of World of Darkness and ShadowRun, I am not a fan of dice-pool games. I have tried play Victoriana using the Ghosts of Albion system. It worked, and it was fun. But it wasn't Victoriana anymore. The Heresy game system is very much a part of what makes this game what it is. Much like the Basic Roleplaying System works for Call of Cthulhu and d20 for D&D, this system imparts a feel to Victoriana. The black dice, the exploding 6s, all of it is part and parcel of the game experience.

Character creation is a bit easier, or at least a bit more guided in this version. Emphasis is not placed more on social class than whether or not you are an orc, Eldren or human. By the way, the Eldren (Elves) in this version get really strange. You can be an elf, but be prepared to have some weird quirks or even some mental illness. Personally, I loved this idea and would like to try it in other games where I have elves/Eldren. Really, it is that cool. There are some changes to gnomes and Huldufolk (halflings) that make them more different than each other and more interesting. Nocturnal academics vs. rustics with a keen interest in one area. Note: This would be a great template on how to bring Castles & Crusades elves, gnomes, and halflings into a Victorious game.

The book is huge at 320 pages. Again the cover is color and interior is black and white. And again this is how it should be. The hardcover is sturdy and looks great. The PDF is bookmarked. While I loved the mix of art in 2nd edition, the art in 3rd edition is more consistent. The character sheet from 3rd edition is one of my favorites. It just looks so cool. A color option though would have also been nice for those special characters.

The rules include a great collection of items from the age and various forms of entertainment. There are also clarified rules on various chases (coach, boat, airships) and the effects of drinking and drugs.

Victoriana is one of the games with a quiet, but steady and dedicated following. The fact that the games are always sold out in minutes at Gen Con is a testament. For me, I will say this. If there is anything you have ever wanted to do in a Victorian-era game then Victoriana has a way for you to do it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Victoriana 3rd Edition
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/30/2015 16:21:16

The following review was originally posted on Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=46093.

Victoriana is a fantasy steampunk game set in the Victorian era, primarily centered on England. It is very much a historical fantasy setting as time has proceeded much as expected, but events during that time are slightly altered to coincide with Victoriana’s basic canon. The first major change is that all religions within Victoriana have unique names, but draw on equivalent historical religions. The second major change is that humans aren’t the only sapient inhabitants of Earth; there are also Eldren (which are essentially elves), dwarves, gnomes, huldufolk (which are essentially halflings), ogres, orc, and beastfolk (which are essentially anthropomorphic humanoids of various animal design).

I’ve always been curious about Victoriana and how the Heresy Engine is designed for it. When it came up on the Bundle of Holding, I jumped at the opportunity to get the whole set. What came in that set was the 3rd edition of the Victoriana core rulebook. Having never seen the 1st or 2nd editions, this review looks at only the 3rd edition and not how it compares to previous core rulebooks.

For starters, Victoriana is truly a unique setting experience. Not only is it a fantasy steampunk setting, with more leanings toward technology than magic in the Victorian era, it draws upon its own historical fantasy tropes instead of completely rehashing existing ones. While some are the same or at least similar, these tropes are more tied to the implied history of the setting prior to the Victorian era than they are to any implied “typical” use in a fantasy setting. This experience is only made the more interesting with Victoriana’s class-breeding-function system. However, class doesn’t mean character class, it means social class – Upper, Middle, and Lower. These interrelated functions of the setting help drive character creation along with defining the type of experiences the character has had before choosing the path of adventuring (or whatever it is they decide to do). Overall this is done in an interesting backward method whereas Vocation is defined first, then Social Class, then Breeding (i.e. homosapien subspecies), and finally Attributes and Skills. Granted, the first three provide some definition for the latter two, but there are still additional creation points to provide the freedom of assigning final stats to the character.

Thanks to Airship Pirates, I was already familiar with the Heresy Engine before purchasing Victoriana. Needless to say, I like the Heresy Engine dice pool mechanics. Not only for their simplicity, but also because the dice pool has a clean difficulty mechanic. Successes are counted on one colored dice, difficulty is counted on another colored dice. Each success on the difficulty dice negates a success on the regular dice. Simple enough! The one thing I don’t particularly care about the Heresy Engine is the high quantity of skills it employs, but this is more of a personal preference than a fault of the mechanics. I prefer skills that can be easily grouped, but sometimes for setting flavor, it’s preferable to go the other route and break those skills out into their individual uses. Being that skills are grouped into a basic, advanced, and magic category, managing them on a character sheet is not that difficult.

Victoriana also employs a very interesting game mechanic that balances chaos and order. There is apparently this eternal power struggle going on whereas chaos and order are being continuously shifted throughout the world to see who can win. However, the true winner is when the world is properly balanced between chaos and order as too much of either one is a bad thing. This is represented on a cog, which really plays to the steampunk aesthetic. I really like this mechanic in terms of balancing magic and technology (on different ends of the power struggle) and ultimately is incorporated into the base mechanics through various bonuses and penalties. I won’t get into those, but you’ll have to take my word that they integrate nicely and make for an interesting mechanical representation of the fantasy steampunk theme.

Going into Victoriana, I already knew the setting was historical fantasy based in the Victorian era. Combined with this was steampunk technology that previously wasn’t as prominent as it has now become. Thus I classify the setting as historical fantasy steampunk. During one of my trips to Gen Con, right before 3rd edition came out, I spoke to the crew at Cubicle 7 to find out what was different with the upcoming new edition. One of the comments was that people were confused on whether or not the setting was historical fantasy, steampunk, fantasy steampunk, or gothic horror, which is often common to the Victorian era. The answer I got was that it’s all of them and whichever one you want at the same time. The result is that all of those elements have been incorporated into the setting, but not always in a particularly smooth fashion. In fact, the supposed gothic horror aspects of the setting do not come out clearly at all until they’re smacked into your face in a section that claims “Victoriana is a horrific setting”, or something like that. It didn’t seem horrific at all to me until that statement was made, but that ultimately doesn’t matter to me as they do provide text and bestiary that supports that, albeit not as much as it supports the other elements of the setting. A better way of describing the setting is that you have elements of history, fantasy, steampunk, action and adventure, and gothic horror all rolled into one package. GMs can then pick and choose which elements they want to incorporate without breaking the setting.

Overall, I really like Victoriana and I think it’s a well-built system with an interesting setting. The horror aspects don’t seem as ingrained in the setting as the historical fantasy and steampunk aspects do, but it’s easy enough to add those in. You’re not really going to get that gothic horror experience like you might think; the setting may be ominous, but fear isn’t an integral part of it. It’s more like necromantic or occult fantasy than gothic horror; the aesthetics of such are much more present than actual gothic horror ones. However, if you’re looking for that Victorian fantasy steampunk style, there’s really no need to look any further!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Victoriana 3rd Edition
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/18/2014 21:43:47

Ring Side Report-Victoriana 3rd Edition

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product- Victoriana 3rd Edition System- Victoriana Producer- Cubical Seven Entertainment Price- ~$25 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/116730/Victoriana-3rd-Edition?term=victoriana+3rd TL; DR- You can't go wrong with Steampunk, Lovecraft, Penny-Dreadful Shadowrun! 93%

Basics-Ever want to mix steampunk with Victorian sensibilities and add a ton of Middle Earth to the equation? That is the mix for Victoriana-an RPG set in 1856 where magic is semi-common place, steam power is beginning to conquer the world, and "heroes" are called from all walks of life. This is a whole RPG in one book, so let's break this down into its important parts and numbers.

Mechanics or Crunch- At this games core, it's a simple d6 pool game. Let's see how that plays out on each level:

Base Mechanic- Victoriana is a d6 dice pool game. Each task you do will be a combination of an attribute and an associated skill. Shoot a gun? Dexterity and firearms. Ride a Wyvern? Presence and Animal Handling. A few small things make this game amazingly fun and different from other dice pool games. One is the numbers you want. You are looking for 1's and 6's. Even better, 6's explode and you roll them again counting 1's and 6's. AND THE 6's KEEP EXPLOIDING! I love the dynamic addition of exploding dice in any game!

Task Difficulty-Most tasks you perform require two successes with some task allowing partial successes. That is a quick and easy mechanic for deciding failure and success. The system builds on this simplicity by adding "black" dice. Want to mix dangerous chemicals on a bumpy train ride? Well you roll your normal Attribute and Skill, but you also roll 3 BLACK dice. These black dice work just like normal dice, but they take AWAY successes. AND, they explode like normal dice! AND, THE PLAYERS ROLL THEM! This puts some of the pressure on the player and it's just pure fun as a GM. If you have negative successes at the end of a roll, then you have a foul failure. These situations are where the GM gets to absolutely play with the player. Guns break. Mechanical arms are ruined. Spells summon crazy monsters. It's the whole nine yards of bad things for a player. Some tasks have opposed rolls like attacking and dodging, but black dice can still be added to both sides of a combat. If you're shooting in the dark, and my bad guy is dodging while on a slippery floor, both sides get to add black dice to their rolls. Whoever has more successes wins.

Combat-You could have an RPG without combat, but why!? Each round players can choose to do one action (move, attack, cast a spell, etc) at no penalty. However, a player can do up to his/her dexterity in actions per round. Each action the player performs divides the dice pool for that action. Run and shoot? Divide your pool by two. Run, shoot, and mix a bomb? Divide your pool by 3 for EACH action. Your black dice are NOT changed as your divide your pools! You can do anything you want, but the more you do, the worse you can fail! Damage also is dependent on d6's. Each weapon has a damage value. If you score more successes than your target, you get to roll a number of d6's equal to the damage value for your weapon counting the 1's and 6's as before WITH EXPLODING DICE! After you count your successes, you add your initial number of successes to your count and the opponent subtracts his/her armor and takes the difference as damage.

Character Generation-Character generation in this system is divided into two broad categories: completely homemade or guided. If you make your own character from the soles of your feet up, have fun! If you want a little more guided approach, then you can build your character by selecting your background, breeding (social standing and race), build package (where you fit in the breeding and background), spend attribute and skill points, and earn and assign extra build points via drawbacks and other abilities. It's pretty simple, but flexible allowing all kinds of different characters to populate the world. As a word of caution, this system has the kind of flexible that a few example characters could help to keep players from killing themselves during character generation.

Magic and Machines-It wouldn't be magic and steampunk without magic and machines. Magic is divided into a few different categories. Basically, each mage has training in one of these areas of magic and makes still tests as previously discussed. It's simple and quick. The different types of magic all feel different as hermetic wizards throw around all kinds of elemental magic, while people of faith have much more religion based magic like healing and exorcism. All magic uses another metric called quintessence. Quintessence is spent to cast spells and is recovered over time and rest. Also, if you don't have quintessence, you can just take damage. I LOVE cast till you pass out systems! This is only the tip of the iceberg, but magic does feel like magic and not just another skill roll. Machines on the other hand are built once and then never have to be paid for again. They may require fuel like steam or gas to run, but the different machines fell like they have different functions. Most of these functions have different actions than magic, but part of the theme is how magic is beginning overtaken by the age of steam. Some of these devices even require magic to be built! Whatever steampunk idea you have in your head, based on the marvels here, you can build your favorite toy! Order and Chaos- Victoriana's spiritual fight isn't between good and evil. Don't get me wrong, good and evil are here, but the major fight is between the forces of entropy and order. The RPG spends some time outlying that order isn't necessarily good as a crazed priest of order can easily be as evil as a demonologist of chaos. Players can decide to side with one or the other, and when they do an action that advances their side, they can get dice depending how advanced they are on the cogs of their faction. Order provides a straight bonus to an action, while chaos provides many more dice than order, but you have to roll these dice to see if you succeed. It's a fun addition to the game, but one that your players and you will have to choose to get deep into. Summary-I love what is here. It's simple in a good way, quick, and flexible. It's got a fun feel with action and puts some of the dirty, hard choices in the players hands themselves with black dice. I love when I make the players be the bad guys for a change! 5/5

Theme or Fluff-Victoriana is an "almost Earth" setting. Even with elves, magic, and steam powered robots, people are not all that different. So, this book assumes that history will pretty much follow the same path to 1856. And, you know what? It works really well! I liked the world this book built. Also, if you remove all the "wizard/steam robot did it" references in the setting back story, the first half of the book is a well done summary of European history till 1856. Honestly, a world with different races (really different races not just Spanish compared to English, but Ogre compared to hog-faced beastmen soon to be German Chancellor) explains the wars in Europe better than the petty motivations that have occurred through all of our real history. The story of this world drew me in, and I sat and read the intro fiction as well as the world guide. It's a well done world with lots of depth to help you understand the world and live in it as you game. 5/5

A note on history, truth, and the "isms"- Victoriana is set in a time when it was amazingly awesome to be a white, European, rich male. For every difference from that standard, things got steadily worse. This RPG introduces the realities of that life, but doesn't dwell on them. It leaves how much of that you want to throw into your game up to you. That's important since some players might not be too comfortable roleplaying in a time when a husband could not technically rape his wife. And, if you wanted to, things could get worse from there. Sexism, racism, and specisim are alive and well here, but the book walks that line well and wholly lets the GM and players decide how much of the more horrible parts of history and alternative history they want to explore. I feel it's important to note that there are some possible adult themes, but they are handled well. If you just want some pulp steampunk with orcs and magic, then you can easily get that from the system too.

Execution-I liked this book, but the problems I have with this book are not getting enough book. What's here in this book is great, but could use a bit of help to distinguish information from background text. The book is black and white. That's not a bad thing, but some of the information isn't as highlighted as well as it should be. My next major complaint is the lack of examples. Combat and character generation could both really benefit from an example of creating a character and how to systematically tear another character to bits via combat. I liked the layout in general. The pictures did a great job explaining the world and people and keeping me engaged. Even with this complaint, my comments are positive. 4/5

Summary-If you want some steampunk, some magic, and some Victorian history; you can't go wrong with this system. Character generation is easy, actions have the players doing more thinking then just roll one die, and combat is quick. This RPG runs like a good watch-it looks like lots of too complicated moving parts, but when you really get down to it, you see its got a simple, elegant design. Magic and machines are there, but the subsystems that make them run are not overly complicated. A new player could easily play with either of those systems with no trouble. My only complaint is I feel more examples of combat, encounter generation, and characters in general would have really helped players get into the system easier. It's not a game breaker, but it's something to note. Overall, I love this system. If you're looking for your steampunk Shadowrun fix, you cannot go wrong with this one! 93%

Full disclosure: I was provided a reviewer copy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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