Tales from the Gazebo – Guns in Games: Steam Pow!

Guns in Games: Steam Pow!
By Cape Rust

Even with our break last week in the name of love, nothing can stop this series. Sure things can slow it down; but this train is still on the tracks and we have to move on. Steampunk has given authors, GMs and game designers the ability to greatly increase the things that guns can do in an alternate Victorian setting.

First, steampunk is so much more than adding some Goldbergesk stuff to things and slapping on some goggles. Half the fun of steampunk is about coming up with semi-plausible explanations as to how these cumbersome steam driven devices work. Luckily as a GM, this burden won’t normally fall onto you, but it is good to have some idea of how these things work to make them come alive for your players. Even if you decide not to go that deep at least think about how these things interact with the game.

I love that in a steampunk setting you can have man-portable machine guns, night vision scopes on those guns and even have weapons that fire underwater as well as they do above water. But with all of these nifty inventions that would be possible without steampunk technology, as a GM you must add some consequences. I mean, how much fun is an underwater gatling gun if it doesn’t jam every now and then?

As you can guess, this malfunction thing should be used sparingly and not always in a life or death situation, sometimes it should be a laugh and ROTFLMAO situation. As with much of the steampunk technology that I have seen, these guns, while powerful, should be complex, like a steam driven autoloader that loads one round at a time with a tiny steam driven arm actually shaped like an arm.

I mentioned goggles earlier; for some reason most people don’t think their steampunk outfit is complete without some goggles. Well, when guns are in play, why not connect those goggles to the steampunk special gun and make them function like the smart goggles in Shadowrun? Why not attach them to a power source and make them night vision goggles so that the operator can use that really cool steampunk modded gun in the dark of night?

Now lets deal with steampunk inspired ammo. You need ammo to make a gun work really well, right? Who is to say that steampunk technology couldn’t be used to increase the rage of a bullet, change the type of damage that bullet does or, if you are feeling really froggy, how about a smart bullet? The steam is the limit!

I always harp on fun and as a GM, if your players are in a steampunk environment, you have a duty to introduce at least a few really cool and innovative steampunk guns that do really cool stuff. You can maintain balance by making those really cool guns become more quirky as they become more powerful, but the key to success is using the steampunk to make the impossible, plausible. Who cares about bolt action rifles during the Victorian era, but add a steam powered grenade launcher to that bolt action rifle and things start to get interesting. This weeks installment is short, but don’t worry, I’m not running out of steam!

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment