The Steampunk User’s Manual by myself and Desirina Boskovich is the just-released follow-up to The Steampunk Bible. As a special perk for readers, as noted in the Storytelling chapter of the user’s manual, we’re proud to present a character-driven card game for your enjoyment, courtesy of Will Hindmarch.
Hindmarch is a freelance writer and designer whose credits include the ENnie Award-winning Eternal Lies for Pelgrane Press and design work on the online storytelling game, Storium. In the gaming industry, he has worked for White Wolf Game Studio, serving as the developer of the flagship World of Darkness Storytelling Game, Vampire: The Requiem, and he has written or designed works for Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Flight Games, and Atlas Games. He also co-produces the live-lit storytelling show, Story Club South Side. Hindmarch serves as the Assistant Director of Shared Worlds, a teen SF/F writing camp.
A game of steampunk contraptions designed and exhibited, for 2–4 players.
Version 1.9.12—2014 by Will Hindmarch
The year is 1899. The World’s Design & Invention Fair draws near. Across the globe, inventors and artists lead design houses in the crafting of new technologies to exhibit at the fair. Soon, you shall debut your contraption, hoping it operates correctly on the fair’s dais, and see which invention elicits the most marvelous reception from peers and public alike. A grant from Queen Victoria and the adoration of the audience await the invention deemed most astonishing!
Each player controls one of four inventors in charge of a fabrication workshop somewhere on the Earth at the end of the nineteenth century. By drawing, trading, and playing numbered cards, each player shall construct a prototype steampunk contraption for exhibition at the World’s Design & Invention Fair in London.
This is a cutthroat affair. The different workshops squabble and scheme in pursuit of the final prize: a commission from Queen Victoria to produce a final, fully functional version of the winning prototype.
Depending on the contraption’s quality of construction — and a bit of luck — the device may have a good showing at the fair … or it may malfunction on stage. It may earn acclaim … or it may fail spark the audience’s imagination.
The more the audience marvels — and the more people that are astonished! — the more Acclaim players earn. The inventor with the most Acclaim wins.
You need a few game components to play Astonishing!:
- A deck of regular playing cards (including Jokers)
- Three regular, six-sided dice
- A different Inventor sheet for each player
NOTE: Play sheets also available via the attached PDF: SUM-play-sheets-9-23-14
Each Inventor sheet represents the vision, guidance, and workshop of a different Inventor. A different playing-card suit — Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades — represents each Inventor’s unique purview:
Lady Calibrette Merchant (Clubs)
Born to a family of weapon-smiths and military officers of some repute in the British Raj, Lady Calibrette has proven herself the true heir to the genius of her father, a Knight Commander of the Indian Empire (KCIE), and the spirit of leadership possessed by her mother, a headmistress from Bombay. After surviving the Bombay plague outbreak of 1896, Lady Merchant took over unofficial management of her family’s munitions factory, where some of her designs are now entering production.
Abimbola Kayin (Diamonds)
This inventor and entrepreneur made his fortune facilitating telephonic operations in the vicinity of Lagos Island and helping to design railway stations and mechanized farm implements for the government. Since solidifying his reputation as an inventor, Mr. Kayin has turned his attention toward beautiful designs with practical applications to “push mundane life beyond Mundanity.” He often promotes a sometimes unpopular movement towards miniaturization and “incorporeal technologies” that would “take Song and Story beyond the Page.”
Marisol Chang (Hearts)
Marisol Chang first made a name for herself among the poets and literati of Lima before expanding her art into performance and installation works in Mexico City, Chicago, and Paris. Now she is known world-wide as a storyteller, singer, and designer of what Harper’s Bazaar called “impossible art.” Her vision brings provocative, multicultural tales to life via music and technology in public plazas and city squares. “All art speaks in a voice inherited,” Chang said, “and thus the old forms flow into the new.”
Albert “Albie” Smithering (Spades)
“Albie” Smithering is the adventurous youngest son of the Smitherings of Wellington, New Zealand — known explorers and pioneers. Albie himself has something of a notorious past, having been arrested for trespassing and grave-robbing in his youth. He later developed a reputation as a racing aficionado, having won races by sail and cycle as far away as Lake Michigan and France. His self-described “fondness for velocity” has led him to pursue efforts to fund and design the next generation of vehicular inventions.