RogerBW's Blog

GURPS Steampunk 2: Steam and Shellfire, Phil Masters 04 November 2018

This is the second of the new GURPS Steampunk supplements, updating and extending the old book; it is primarily a book of equipment.

Disclaimer: I was lead playtester for this book, and therefore did not pay for it.

Steampunk games often have stuff as a significant narrative component, but the level of thermodynamic implausibility varies substantially from one setting to another. How to have a broadly applicable book? The answer here is to stick to reality for the most part, with some notes on how more energetic settings can get away with improving their equipment.

Following the pattern of GURPS 4th edition -Tech books, the first chapter deals with the fundamentals: power generation and storage, calculating devices (including thinking machines and automata), and communications including distances and transmission rates.

The next chapter deals with clothing, divided broadly into the mundane (though perhaps highly fashionable, and equipped with hidden pockets and compartments) and the protective, the latter including armoured corsets, diving suits and powered armour. (I think these are the most interesting clothing rules I've seen in an RPG, going well beyond a mere "stylish clothes cost this much and give that bonus", and I'll definitely be considering them for use elsewhere.)

The third chapter is for weapons, with some relevant historical firearms from the High-Tech series as well as some more steampunk-ish specialised weapons: the very heavy revolver, the cinematic air rifle, the early Gauss pistol, and other non-gunpowder methods of propulsion. There are also various beams and ray guns.

The final chapter covers other personal equipment: for navigation, photography, repairing things, and so on. There are also extensive rules on concealed devices: how much space you need, and what you can get away with hiding in it. Final notes cover prosthetics, and weird chemistry.

Vehicles are not listed here; they were already dealt with in GURPS Vehicles: Steampunk Conveyances. Overall this book covers most of the things with which I'd want to equip a character; High-Tech would be highly useful to expand the inventory beyond the few pages available in this supplement, but isn't absolutely necessary. The overall ethos here is definitely one of a sense of wonder at mechanical complexity, even if a different design ethos might produce something marginally less capable but rather cheaper and more reliable; and if that's not quintessentially Steampunk, I'm not sure what is. GURPS Steampunk 2 is available from Warehouse 23.

See also:
GURPS Vehicles: Steampunk Conveyances


  1. Posted by Phil Masters at 12:28pm on 05 November 2018

    Thanks for the review!

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