Steampunk Society Rules

Version 6.0

Changes from the previous edition are in red.

Copyright 2018 Michael E. Brines


The object of the game is to seize total power of the country of Carpathia for your faction by either passing a law making you the game winner or else by taking military control of 25 regions including the capital.

Players have one or more characters, each of which may perform one action each turn. Characters have a name, influence, resistance, and may have followers, equipment and property. Influence represents a character's prestige and ability to persuade others to join their faction.

Characters not controlled by a player are non-player characters (NPCs) controlled by the Game Master (GM.) They can be negotiated with (through the GM) and may (or may not) assist you.

Players receive a text document, their player packet, from the Game Master (GM) as an e-mail each turn showing the locations of their characters, followers, and equipment. They add their income to it, change the locations of characters, equipment, and followers if they move to different locations, and then negotiate whatever deals they want to make, decide what to do with their actions, adjusting their packet and issuing any necessary orders, then e-mail their packet back to the GM by the weekly deadline. The GM adjudicates orders, resolves conflicts, adjusts player packets due to circumstances, changes the maps and society page, produces a newsletter with the turn results, and then sends players their newly revised packets for the next turn.

Money in the game takes the form of gold coins called crowns with an image of the ruling monarch.

The map shows the nation of Carpathia divided into 49 regions, each with a name, terrain type and the property owner’s initials. Ownership is shown on the Society Page. If one of your characters dies, you lose their property. Except for towns, each region can only have one owner. Ownership does not give you control.

Control of a region is indicated by a colored overlay. Political control does not affect property ownership. When taking military control, you may choose to also take control of the property, otherwise it reamins in control of the original owner. Blue lines indicate rivers. Red lines indicate railroads.

The game forum is a great place to learn of events in other parts of the game world and to communicate with all the other players. Be sure to join at Google Groups "Fantasy Nations" forum. Go to my membership” settings and choose for email delivery preference “notify me for every message.” Save your choice. If you don't select this, the default is no messages and you'll be in the dark. Please remain in character on the forum. (In this way other players are less likely to take your comments personally and become enraged.)

The Market

Players can buy from or sell to the Market by recording their sales/purchases in their orders and making the appropriate changes on the packets. The current market prices are listed on the Social Page and change from turn to turn based on supply and demand. Prices do not generally change by more than plus or minus 10% each turn. If you buy from or sell to the Market your transaction is instant, using the listed price. Be sure to list this as a buy or sell order including the quantity in your orders.

If there is no price for a resource or item, you can only buy/sell directly to characters, player or NPC. Even if there is a price you may always buy/sell directly to characters using a give order using whatever price you worked out in direct negotiations but you will only receive the goods/money in your next turn packet. <see Give orders>

The current price of labor is provided on the Society Page. You buy it like resources, but unlike resources, which you can accumulate and use later, labor only works for you that turn.

Playing the Game

Playing the game is as easy as 1-2-3: 1) Take Income 2) Move Stuff 3) Issue Action Orders

1-Take Income and produce

Businesses, opium dens, railroads, and shops have an income value representing the amount of money their owner makes each turn.

Coal mines produce 10 piles of coal for every 9 labor/horses* you provide.

Estates produce 10 piles of food for every 9 labor/horses* you provide, or a horse for every 10 labor/horses* up to the capacity of the estate.

Factories, and shipyards do not produce income directly but can be used to produce equipment by expending an amount of labor plus certain resources, depending on what it is you want to make. <see the Factories & Equipment rules>

Foundries produce 10 iron ingots for every 2 coal+2 labor+4 ore+1 stone provided.

Newspapers and magazines do not produce income. They have an influence rating, which any one character you control can use each turn.

Oil fields produce 10 barrels of oil for every 9 labor you provide.

Ore mines produce 10 piles of ore for every 9 labor/horses* you provide.

Quarries produce 10 piles of building materials (stone) for every 9 labor/horses* you provide.

Players with political control of regions can exchange 10 points of control for a follower. Just reduce the control level and add the followers in the same location but you must leave a control level of at least one. You can equip your followers and move them elsewhere in the next step of the turn.

*You can’t use more horses than labor.

2-Move stuff around

After you take your income, move your characters, equipment, and people around as you like to any location you own property or have control of. Just change their location on your packet. However, you can’t move through a region under military control of somebody else, including foreign countries, unless they permit it.

Followers, labor and equipment can be organized into armies to defend a region if it is attacked. Armies (which also include things like police and civilian night watchmen or security guards) require labor and/or followers and can have equipment as long as the crew required does not exceed the number of soldiers assigned. For example an army of thirty soldiers could be assigned no more than thirty muskets, less if they also have to operate a cannon. Armies can also be assigned supplies. Supplies could be food, coal, oil, and ammunition—as long as the army has soldiers or equipment that could use those supplies. For example, you couldn’t assign coal to an army consisting of only foot soldiers but an army with steam tanks could. If you organize an army, be sure to indicate the total labor, followers, equipment, and supplies assigned.

3- Issue Action Orders

Characters who are not imprisoned can each do one action per turn. Write these up on the appropriate section of your packet with all the details. Movement and defending a location are not actions, and do not require a character. Actions marked with an asterisk* are illegal and will brand your character with a criminal accusation. (Whether he’s ever charged or punished is another matter.) The orders you issue using your packet only have to do with things of which you are either unsure of the results (such as prospecting, exploring, hunting, attacks, robberies, and sneaky stuff) or things that involve changes to your prestige or the maps (such as construction.) For routine matters, such as production or moving resources around, you just make the changes on the packet yourself, deducting or adding resources as necessary or changing their location.

Be sure to deduct from your packet any money you spend. Ammunition and fuel will be deducted by the GM if you get into combat.

Assassination*. The character used to initiate this isn’t necessarily the assassin, but he will be accused of organizing the plot. The percentage chance of success is their influence divided by the target’s resistance.

Attacks* attempt to take military control of a region. Attacking forces have to be located either in that region or an adjacent one, although you could move them there in step two above. Followers and labor have fighting power of one each, plus the combat power of any horses and equipment. The defender’s power is tripled. Both sides then inflict 10% of their total as losses on the other side. Whichever side lost more is defeated and must retreat. Losses are taken in supplies (first) and then equipment and personnel. (The GM resolves this.) If the attacker succeeds, he gains military control of the region and may seize any/all properties therein, disposing of them as he wishes. If you attack, please indicate this in your orders. Unless the defender is a rebel, a foreign invading army Carpathia is at war with, or a criminal who seized somebody’s property that you are returning to the rightful owner, this action is illegal.

Campaign in any region not under military control in which you own property or that is adjacent to one you control. The influence, political control, followers, and money used by each player there is compared, the highest total subtracted from the second highest and the player with the highest total gets that much political control there.

Expeditions may be dispatched to Africa, the Arctic, or other locations for scientific purposes. An expedition’s chances are based on its objective and the influence, money, and equipment employed. Explorers might discover new territory, gain influence, make fantastic discoveries changing the game, or end up in a cannibal cook pot.

Fortify a region by using influence, followers, and/or labor. The amount assigned is exchanged for fortification factors (FF) and can be used the same turn to defend. FF can’t defend on their own but if there are other defenses, the FF add to their power. Any losses suffered destroy FF first and do not count when determining if that side must retreat.

Increase a character’s influence by using influence and/or money. Every ten used increases influence by one.

Recruit an NPC character using influence. Chance of success of the highest influence assigned to that this turn being successful is equal to that total minus the second highest total and then divided by the target’s resistance. Failure doesn’t carry over to subsequent attempts.

Riot/strike* uses influence to damage other player’s properties in a target location you have political control. If unopposed, every ten rioters (or strikers) reduce the target business income by $1. This action is illegal.

Sabotage* uses influence to destroy an equivalent value of enemy equipment in a location adjacent to one you control.

Smear another character by using influence and/or money. Every ten decreases their influence by one.

Steal* uses influence and/or followers to make off with ammunition, equipment, fuel, or horses owned by another player. The value stolen is equal to half the influence used.

Subvert uses influence to switch enemy conscripts or mercenaries (but not followers) to your followers including their equipment. Cost is two plus twice the value of the equipment. You can order them to do something in the same location the same turn.

There are also five “free” actions that don’t require a character’s action to do: construction, diplomacy, declaring revolt, giving, and voting.

Construction. Factories, foundries, and shipyards cost 500 labor and 500 stone. A shop’s income increases by $1 for every 5 labor and 5 stone used to create or expand it. (Opium dens and knocking shops increase by $2 but also increase crime.) You can increase a character’s influence by building them a fancy residence using labor and stone. Other things could be constructed including canals, railroads, bridges, airship hangars, etc. Get with the GM for details.

Diplomacy and negotiating with other players or NPCs is free and doesn’t use your player packet. Just contact them by e-mail and discuss what you like. To contact everyone, use the forum, just stay in character.

Rebellion. A player may declare revolt in his orders. He takes military control of every location he has political control of unless there are other forces there, in which case a battle results. A rebel player can’t be arrested or prosecuted but also does not participate in votes or elections and can only campaign in regions he already controls. Rebels only cease being rebels by surrender or if granted an amnesty by a vote. (Surrender forfeits all control and weapons.)

Give orders send stuff to other players. You can buy, sell, and trade fuel, horses, money, equipment, or even property with other players or NPCs at entirely negotiable prices. When you make a deal to your satisfaction, deduct the items from your packet and write up a give order: give followed by whoever is to receive it and whatever you’re giving. Anything you give (or are to receive) this turn can’t be used until the GM notifies the receiver in their next turn packet that it arrived. You never know. The sender may have forgotten to send it. It might have been hijacked, or maybe he’s holding out on you. Give orders are unconditional. You can’t specify what you’re going to get in return, so you could get cheated, but what comes around goes around, usually gaining speed along the way. You may take them to court, appealing to the Minister of Justice, who may as an action prosecute the offender.

Voting is a free action for members of the Moot. Just indicate the issue and how you vote in your orders.

Submitting Your Turn

At or before the turn deadline, write your orders divided into those three sections and send an e-mail message to the GM at For the subject put “<the name of your faction> <whichever game turn it is> orders.” You can cut and paste your orders into the body of the message or attach them as a text file and send.

If your orders change before the deadline, send a new e-mail message to the GM using subject “Revised <your faction's name here> orders” and send. The GM will carry out the orders from the most current "revised" packet.

Factories & Equipment

Factories make equipment by expending labor and resources depending on the items being made. The items below are “standard” equipment. More exotic steampunk technology must be developed by an inventor and can only be produced by a factory that has the plans.

Bicycles x3 cost 1 coal+2 iron+2 labor+1 rubber. Treat a bicycle as 2 household goods for sales purposes.

Bombs cost 2 coal+2 iron+6 labor each. These gunpowder-filled spherical iron casings with an external hissing fuse are beloved by anarchists.

Cannon, muzzle-loading 10 coal+20 iron+70 labor. Crew 5. Requires two horses to move like a wagon. 100cp

Coach and Four cost 60 labor. Crew 2+4 horses for a vehicle that can carry 6 passengers. Spend extra crowns and labor for a more fancy/elaborate coach. Of the two crew, one drives and the other acts as a guard or footman.

Household goods x10 cost 1 coal+2 iron+6 labor. These might be frying pans, inkwells, oil lamps, spoons, toys, spatulas, or any sort of item a householder might want or need. If it amuses you, specify what you’re making.

Rifled musket 2 coal+2 iron+6 labor. Adding a crew of 1 makes an armed guard, soldier, rebel, or militiaman. 10cp

Paddle-wheel sloop 400 building materials+400 labor in a shipyard, crew 10, 90 passengers/cargo. Can arm with cannons but you’ll need extra crew and that reduces passengers/cargo.

Revolver 1 coal+2 iron+4 labor. Crew ½, 7cp

Steam Engine 2 coal+2 iron+6 labor. When added to a mine, quarry, or factory, treat the amount of labor assigned as +1 for each steam engine. (Minimum of 1 labor)

Swords x2 cost 2 coal+2 iron+2 labor Crew ½, 2cp

The Government

Only the Head of State can propose a law, although players may suggest laws to him. Proposed laws can be pretty much anything that doesn’t change the game rules. The law should be proposed on the forum word for word as it will appear, and be discussed by lawmakers. If the consensus is that the majority aren’t in favor and it probably won’t pass, the head of state can modify the law and try to make it more palatable. If he is satisfied it has enough support, he should announce a vote on that law, repeating the exact word-for-word text in the announcement. Lawmakers will then vote on it using their player packets (not the forum) and the GM will determine if it passes when he processes the turn. If it does, it comes into immediate effect. The forum is not used for voting, only for discussions and debate.

Examples of Laws:

The Constitution of the Republic (or constitutional monarchy.) The Head of State is a Prime Minister, who can pardon prosecuted criminals and propose laws. The Moot is dissolved and replaced by a parliament. The representatives of the People in parliament are determined by an election every fourth turn or whenever government ministers resign or are fired. Each player gains seats in parliament (votes) equal to the number of regions of which he has political control. Metropolia, with greater population, counts as two regions.

Tax Reform. Each player (not just the nobles) pays 20% of their income to the Minister of Finance to be used for the police and army. Failure to do so is tax evasion.

Declaration of war. Being that the Sultan has provoked us in numerous ways, a state of war is declared between Carpathia and the Sultanate. The Minister of War is directed to undertake operations to bring the war to a successful conclusion.

Subsidizing transportation. Transportation being a national necessity, the Finance Minister is directed to pay the KEG company and the VKBA corporation $25 each to build railroads connecting the major towns and cities of the nation.

Nationalizing the railroads. Transportation being a national necessity, the Finance Minister takes ownership of all railroads in the national interest. Previous owners are compensated in the amount of $10 in cash or government bonds for every $1 of income the railroad was worth.

Government bonds may be issued by the Minister of Finance, gaining $20 for every bond sold. Bonds may be sold to players or just generally “to the international market.” During each subsequent take income step the minister must pay interest for each bond outstanding (At whatever the current rate is, usually $1 per bond) or redeem them for $20 each.

Land Reform. Farmland regions can now be broken up into family plots owned by individual peasants (P) with a large gain of influence for the Head of State. Whether the land is paid for or confiscated in the name of the “People” depends on how this is actually worded when voted on.

Current Law

The King is the Head of State. He proposes laws and may pardon criminals. He may fire a government minister at any time. He is assisted by the Moot, a gathering of the nobility, each of which has one vote.

In the event of his death, the King is succeeded in order by his sister, the princess, then his brother, the Archduke.

There are four ministries. If they become vacant, either because the occupant resigned or was fired by the King, a replacement will be voted on by the Moot. The King proposes a candidate on the forum, the members of the Moot discuss it. If the candidate is completely unacceptable the King should put another candidate forward. If on the forum he seems acceptable to the Moot, a vote is taken using the player packets and the results announced with the next turn. The same procedure is used for laws. If the candidate fails the vote, the position stays vacant for the next turn. A character can only hold one office at a time.

The Minister of Justice (Baron Craova) can as an action prosecute a character. If the character isn’t a criminal (hasn’t been accused of anything) this is a criminal act for the minister. The chance of conviction is equal to the minister’s influence, plus any influence assigned by supporting characters (requiring an action on their part,) divided by the target’s resistance. Conviction results in death or imprisonment, depending on the crime. Rather than face a trial, the accused may plead “guilty” and pay a negotiated fine.

The Minister of the Interior (Baron Rothschild) controls the police and can place policemen (either armed or unarmed) on guard at any property whether he owns the place, or not. Those police protect that property from attacks, riots, strikes, sabotage, and robbery that turn. He can also as an action use the police to attack a location. Typically this is used to return property to someone it was taken from, but if not, it’s illegal and results in the minister becoming a thief. (Or possibly a murderer if anyone is killed in the attack.) As an action he may arrest and imprison a character. If that character doesn’t have a criminal accusation, this is illegal.

The Minister of War (King Rudolf) controls the army and navy. He can move them as he sees fit. As an action he may make one attack led by himself. He may also appoint admirals and generals (other characters) to command other forces. Attacks made not against an official enemy are illegal acts resulting in criminal accusations against whoever ordered the attack.

The Minister of Finance (Nieman Schwartzkoph) handles all money received by the government including taxes and fines, and buys equipment, fuel, and horses from players who can supply them, as well as conscripts to supply the army and police. (Conscripts cost $1 each.) Can embezzle funds during the take income step by taking the embezzlement accusation.

Taxes are 10% of the potential income generation of all properties capable of generating income within the political borders of the kingdom of Carpathia, and on any properties capable of generating income owned by a subject of the kingdom outside the political borders of the kingdom of Carpathia.  Taxes should be paid in cash to the crown or government of Carpathia every turn.  Failure to do so is tax evasion, and a violation of the law punishable as a crime.  The crown and the government reserve the right to confiscate 1 property per $10 in back taxes owed for longer than 2 turns.