Review: Cakebread & Walton – Ruined Empires (Airship Pirates)

Ruined Empires
Ruined Empire is a neo-victorian steampunk adventure for Airship Pirates (powered by the Heresy Engine) written by Ken Walton and Peter Cakebread and published by Cakebread & Walton.
By Aaron T. Huss

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Ruined Empires is a mission-style adventure for Airship Pirates. The player characters are given a specific task to retrieve something and can keep whatever is left. The adventure is fairly direct with a bit of a twist in the end. Not entirely a railroad-styled adventure, it has a general direction to follow for the player characters to achieve success and end back where they began.


The Introduction covers a narrative piece that introduces the storyline along with the general Game Master summary to introduce the adventure.

Part I: Buried Treasure kicks off the adventure by giving the player characters their assignment and sending them along their way.

Part II: Ruins and Rivals is the meat of the mission where the player characters perform the task they are assigned to complete.

Part III: Trials and Tribulations has the player characters completing their mission and returning to where they started, with a bit of a twist involved.


The Airship Pirates setting is quite expansive when you look at the core setting guide and Ruined Empires really only touches base on a portion of the setting. However, it covers a fairly dominant part of the setting and that is the player characters performing missions to get paid as airship pirates. With the twist at the end, you also get a sense of the social environment, which you’ll have to play to understand. This is a great introductory adventure and one that serves as a great way to bring players into the setting.


Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Ruined Empires is a great looking book and follows the same layout and formatting of the core setting guide. I would like to have seen a little more artwork thrown in, and maybe a different selection of what was there. However, the artwork that was available looked great and matched the theme appropriately. More importantly, though, Ruined Empires includes applicable maps to better visualize the encounters.

Storyline: 9 out of 10
Ruined Empires has a good storyline that does a good job of building up to the twist at the end. It is fairly direct and doesn’t leave too much room for alterations, but then it is a specific mission with a purposeful result. However, the twist at the end adds a nice amount of excitement to what could possibly happen after the adventure ends.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
The most important part of Ruined Empires is that it does an excellent job of introducing players and GMs to the Airship Pirates setting and the Heresy Engine mechanics and how they are married. Although it can be used for more than an introductory adventure, Ruined Empires really captures a lot of the themes present in Airship Pirates. It also is a great way to learn the ins and outs of being an airship pirate.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Ruined Empires is a good adventure module for Airship Pirates, especially for beginners and the harried GM. It serves as a solid launching point for a pirate’s career and can lay the foundation for some interesting things down the road in a campaign.

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