RogerBW's Blog

GURPS Vehicles: Steampunk Conveyances 17 August 2017

Vehicles aren't the defining image of steampunk, but they're certainly one of the important aspects of it, whether it's personal carriages or massive airships. This book lists a number of historical, speculative and fantastic vehicle designs, with stats for use in GURPS.

Disclaimer: I received playtest credit in this book and therefore did not pay for it.

The bulk of the book is quite simply a list of vehicles, each with multiple paragraphs of description, divided roughly into land, water (and below it), and air and space. Land vehicles are further broken down into the historical (Stephenson's Rocket, the de Dion-Bouton steam tricycle, etc.) and the fantastic (iron horses and Land Ironclads), with notes on how long it takes to get a steam engine working from cold and why the pedrail wheel never took off.

Watercraft cover steam launches and yachts, the torpedo ram (clearly the ultimate naval weapon), and pre-dreadnought battleships. Submersibles are both real (Fulton's Nautilus of 1801 and the British B-class submarine) and fantastical (Verne's better-known Nautilus). Side notes include rules for torpedoes.

Aircraft start with unpowered balloons (I know Phil has read Richard Holmes's Falling Upwards, because he recommended it to me), and progress to early powered balloons, Zeppelins, and an aerial battleship. Gliders, and historical and fantastic heavier-than-air craft, lead into spacecraft and a solar-powered steam rocket.

A final short chapter lists weapons for these vehicles, mostly guns with some consideration of bombs and torpedoes.

Some of these vehicles are the same as those that appeared in GURPS Steampunk, though of course with current stats, and the descriptions have been rewritten. I know from the playtest that there's been a fair bit of effort put into getting the numbers right for the historical vehicles; it's surprisingly hard to get good information on the performance of e.g. a steam lorry of the 1930s. I'm particularly pleased to see an emphasis on the sort of small vehicle that carries a PC party (steam carriages and such), as well as the big flashy stuff; more generally, the descriptions emphasise the interesting historical quirks that make these vehicles more complex and interesting than just a car with some clouds of white stuff coming out of it. GURPS Vehicles: Steampunk Conveyances is available from Warehouse 23.

See also:
Falling Upwards, Richard Holmes

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