It’s time in the Sun seems to have passed, but I still have friends who are fond of steampunk. Out of the many steampunk RPGs that have been made, are there any that you have played and would recommend?

Prince Infidel

Hey Prince Infidel, great to hear from you again! 

I also retain a soft spot for steampunk, be it in video games, TTRPGs, or prose stories. Unfortunately, while there are plenty of great steampunk video games, the other two categories are a bit lackluster. While there are a lot of systems out there like Iron Kingdoms and Full Light, Full Steam, most of them are very bad! Fortunately, I can still give you at least a few recommendations. 

Rising Tide: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the steampunk game that I actually made, for sale on Mythcreants dot com! It’s heavily inspired by Sunless Sea and is all about creepy adventures on the high seas. 

  • Pros: 
    • Has a pretty good resource management system. 
    • I’ve been told it’s quite creepy. 
    • Players have a lot of options to customize their ships. 
  • Cons: 
    • It’s an expansion for Torchbearer, so you need that game to play it. 
    • It’s specifically designed for ocean adventures, so it doesn’t work so well if your party isn’t on a ship. 
    • I never did get the extended conflict system working the way I wanted. 

Blades In the Dark: A dark and gritty game that borrows heavily from Dishonored and the Gentlemen Bastards. Does your group like stealing things in a haunted port city? This game might be for them! 

  • Pros: 
    • A superb system for managing the city’s various factions. 
    • A really cool rest system for healing PCs after a mission. 
    • Easy character creation that doesn’t take a whole session. 
  • Cons: 
    • A truly bizarre core die mechanic that risks turning every roll into an argument. 
    • Character creation is vulnerable to min-maxing. 
    • By default, the PCs are street criminals doing pretty dark stuff, which can be an issue in RPGs. 

Unfortunately, those two are the only explicitly steampunk games I can recommend, but there are a few others that would work pretty well for a steampunk campaign. You’d just need to reskin parts of them.

Anima Prime: Admittedly, I recommend Anima Prime for a lot of campaigns. It’s a setting agnostic system that emphasizes your characters’ cool powers, whether that be magic, tech, or both. 

  • Pros
    • Easily the best combat system I have ever seen in a TTRPG.
    • The main mechanic is moving dice from one pool to another and it is viscerally satisfying. 
    • Character creation is fast and easy.
  • Cons
    • The game assumes you use combat for everything, which can be a pain. 
    • Character advancement is basic to non-existent. 
    • I couldn’t think of a third drawback. 

7th Sea 1st Edition: A swashbuckling age-of-sail game that could be turned into a swashbuckling steampunk game without too much trouble. There’s a second edition, but I don’t know much about it. 

  • Pros
    • The hitpoint rules do a great job making you characters feel like swashbuckling heroes. 
    • A surprisingly fun combat system once you figure it out. 
    • Lots of customization options. 
  • Cons
    • Basically zero game balance. 
    • Character creation is really complicated. 
    • The magic waffles between totally useless and really overpowered. 

Hope that helps, and good luck with your campaign!

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