Friday, January 2, 2015

Aetherverse: A Steampunk Campaign Setting Blood & Treasure

The Aetherverse setting is to be a short series of blog posts dedicated to a space-going universe with a definite Steampunk feel to it. The setting is inspired by the Larklight Series by Philip Reeve, The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfield, as well as numerous Sword and Planet and Steampunk novels, short stories, comics and films. I will be borrowing heavily from Larklight, as it is a well thought out setting with a great deal of room for expansion. Note: This is a campaign setting designed to be used with the Blood and Treasure RPG by John Stater

THE BASICS
It is the 19th century, Queen Victoria sits upon the throne of Britain. Yes, the history of this setting took something of a detour from our own when Sir Isaac Newton discovered the secret of space travel. Thanks to him, the British Empire has expanded across the solar system, borne on flapping wooden ships powered by mysterious alchemical reactions. Space itself is also a bit different, what with vestigial amounts of atmosphere suffusing the near-void, fish taxonomically dubbed Aetheric Icythyomorphs that swim through the emptiness, and native populations on Venus, Mars and many of the moons of Jupiter.

THE BRITISH EMPIRE IN SPACE!
The Empire is every bit as dreadful in space as it was in our own world. Entire planets, some with eons-old civilizations on them, have been conquered by the British Empire. At present, the Empire has subjugated The Moon, Mars, Venus (though it is a wild frontier) and has more-or-less dominated the Jovian Moons through economic means. The cruelty instigated by White Mans Burden is expanded to include alien races. Player characters might consider this process as GOD intended, or they might be revolutionaries.
Needless to say that the British Empire is surrounded by enemies both on and off the planet. Even a nation as mighty and devious as Britain, cannot protect all of Her borders at the same time. Of course that is is where plucky adventurers come in!
Other Earth Nations: These are in the background, but still relevant. The American Revolution never happened due to the existence of British Airships. Other European powers exist, but are somewhat behind Britain in the building and manning of Aetherships. However various Empires have their own technologies and alchemy such as Tsarist Russia, The Chinese Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. More on these in later articles.


WEIRD PHYSICS
The physics of Aetherverse setting operates in nearly the same manner as that found in the classic setting of Spelljammer and my Voidjammer setting with only minor changes. Basically it follows the basic rules imagined in Aristotelian physics, particularly that concerning the Luminiferous Aether. For the most part, Gravity is either nonexistent, light or normal (Earth-like). Without a gravity pump, ships and space monsters have no gravity. Aetherverse uses the "Heliocentric Sphere" option found in Crystal Sphere Layout article AND the option found in Another Cosmology for the Aetherverse setting.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS 
Aether: This refers to both Wildspace and the Etheric Plane (see Another Cosmology).
British Standard Gravity (BSG): This refers to gravity similar to that on Earth, and to a lesser extent- Mars and Venus.
First Ones: A hostile race of giant spiders that dwell among the icy moons and rings of Saturn.
Georgium Sidus: Proper name for the Seventh Planet from the Sun. Vulgar people know it as Uranus.
Golden Roads, The: The Astral Plane (see Another Cosmology).
Goblin/Hobgoblin: Generic term for the denizens of the outer moons and asteroids near Jupiter.
Io: Major moon of Jupiter and home to the world-city of Farpoo and to the stocky, trustworthy Ionians.
Jupiter: Vast Gas Giant (Elemental Air) ruled by immensely powerful air elementals. Jupiter gives off enough light and heat to nurture life to its moons.
Jupiter System: The Moons and Planetoids that circle Jupiter, forming their own solar system.
Mars: Cold desert world and fourth planet from the Sun. Home to an ancient race of humanity or human-kin who are decidedly "Elfin" in appearance.
Mercury: First planet from the sun. A dry, desert world where many strange ruins can be found.
Venus: Second planet from the sun. A steamy jungle world dominated by dangerous plant creatures.

NEXT
Character Creation, Ships and Creatures!

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I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light
-- Henry Vaughan