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A Northeast Pacific Silkpunk campaign

"Yŏnghéng zìyóu."  ("Always free.")
— Motto of the Free City of Victoria

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Welcome to Silkpunk Victoria

Image - Silkpunk Yin Yang

Original illustration by Bethany Jordan[*]

Silkpunk Victoria is a science fantasy role-playing game campaign set in an alternate history at the close-of-the-19th Century.  It is a steampunk setting which nevertheless eschews the traditional privileging of Victorian Britain — or the American frontier — in favour of a re-imagined, Pacific-inspired ethos — and æsthetic — that is more eclectically cosmopolitan.

The Northeast Pacific

The campaign is based at the Free City of Victoria on the northeastern shore of the Pacific Ocean — the northwestern coast of North America — at the southern tip of Vancouver Island.  To the north, beyond the holdings of the re-chartered Vancouver Island Company, lies the Russian territory of Russkaya Alyáska.  To the east, on the mainland, is the Canadian territory of New Caledonia.  To the southeast is the independent Oregon Republic.  Inland is the Plateau Confederacy of Indigenous Peoples in the inland regions of the Fraser and Columbia River basins.

Image - Map of Victoria

Map of Victoria
(Image served by Invaluable, LLC[*])

Further south is the independent California Republic.  Even further south along the coast is the Qīng territory of Qīng Jiāzhōu.  Inland are the Great Basin Confederacy of Indigenous Peoples in the northern region of the Great Basin, and the Great Range Confederacy of Indigenous Peoples in the northern region of southwestern North America.

Far to the southwest is the Hawai'i Protectorate, a Japanese territory established in the Hawai'ian Islands, with capital at Honolulu.

Clockwork, Steam Power and Thaumaturgy

Image - Tectoria Innovation Station

Techtoria laboratory by Russell Papp[*]

The Silkpunk Victoria setting is characterized by the "clockwork and steam" technology of steampunk but adds a fantastical aspect: thaumaturgy, an emerging applied science employed to accomplish practical goals using scientific principles and natural phenomenon which are not yet well understood.  The most apparent aspect of thaumaturgy is ætheron, a recently-discovered noble gas used as the thaumaturgical lifting agent in airships, as the thaumaturgical power source for pulse-energy "Rousseau guns" and as the thaumaturgical propellant in the æolipile engines used in airships, submarines and auto-mobiles.

Free-Form Role-Playing

Image - Sniper by Dmitry Grebenkov

"Sniper" by Dmitry Grebenkov[*]

Silkpunk Victoria adopts an explicitly "free-form" approach to role-playing which was used previously in the "Space Viking's Daughter" game, an online science-fiction role-playing game campaign set in H. Beam Piper's Sword-Worlds.  As in Space Viking's Daughter, the emphasis of Silkpunk Victoria role-play gaming is upon character, setting development and adventure plotting.  Here, for example, were the "character generation" instructions provided to players in the Space Viking's Daughter campaign:

". . . send [the referee] your character write-up (a prose description of appearance, history, experience, and personality, not a list of statistics from some RPG rules system). . . .  Your character should be the sort that one might encounter aboard a Space Viking ship (interpreted broadly — Space Vikings can have some interesting visitors at times) but should not be an actual character from Beam's novel.  (A not-too-close relative or acquaintance of a character from the novel will be acceptable but is not encouraged.)  [The referee] will review your character description (possibly suggesting some modifications) [and] we [will] begin play [once] we have agreed on your character description. . . ."

This approach which favors "narrative" over "rules-crunching" will be apparent throughout all aspects of the Silkpunk Victoria campaign.  Descriptions of player characters (and non-player characters) won't typically include statistics for characteristics or skill levels.  There will be no detailed statistics for craft and vehicle capabilities, for firearms and equipment, for encountered creatures.

Nevertheless, some elements of the Silkpunk Victoria campaign will, from time to time, be informed by rules and concepts from the Space: 1889 steampunk role-playing game, from the Classic Traveller science-fiction role-playing game, and from "Old-School Revival" / "Open Source Rules" (OSR) role-playing game systems inspired by Traveller, such as Cepheus Engine and Cepheus Deluxe.

[*] No endorsement of Silkpunk Victoria has been made or is implied.

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