Castle Falkenstein

A Collection of Heroes

A Collection of Heroes

Hello and welcome to another Falkenstein Friday!

Last month, I had the extreme pleasure of running a session of Castle Falkenstein. I ran our Babbage's Engine Adventure-Entertainment, written by the amazing Grandmaster of gaming, Mister Steve Kenson and it went swimmingly. For fun, I based the pregenerated Dramatic Characters on a group of Victorian adventurers created by the ever amazing Fandible podcast crew for their Unhallowed Metropolis campaign. If you haven't listened to Fandible, it is simply the most marvelous of "actual play" podcasts available and I recommend it without hesitation or regret.

Of course, since these Dramatic Characters originated in the minds of others, we will never publish a product containing them. However, I do feel I can share these Falkensteinized collection of tragic heroes with Friends of Falkenstein everywhere via this post. 

As you read these Dramatic Characters, please be aware that they were created using the Specialization Variation as published in our Ability Variations book (which I, of course, highly recommend picking up). Moira was created well as the alternative rules for Faerie characters in The Memoirs of Auberon of Faerie while Marcus was created using the rules for setting up beastfolk from Curious Creatures.

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Lord Byron Clayton

Born the second son of a minor noble in Britain, Byron lived a life of privilege and debauchery. He spent more time in brothels and opium dens than he did learning the business of the Clayton estates. Why should he bother? After all, his brother Horatio was the family’s true heir and had been running the family since their father’s death!

Then Horatio Clayton died, murdered in an anarchist bombing. Now Byron was the head of the family. Unprepared for such matters, Byron fled across the channel. At first he was content to tour the various pleasure dens of the continent but a series of adventures involving a doctor, an artificial man, a rather macabre sorceress, and his dead brother’s Faerie widow have slowly moved the needle of his moral compass towards responsibility.

A few tips on playing Byron Clayton: Truth be told, in your heart you hold little regard for your own worth. Still, you are attempting to be a better person and worthy of the responsibility which the death of your brother has thrust upon your shoulders. The one area in which you truly excel is speaking. Years of falling in and out of trouble have taught you one thing: if you speak fast enough and with enough conviction you can get away with almost any lie or half-truth.

Abilities

Charisma (♥)[GR/8] ● when bluffing [EXC/10]

Education (♦) [AV/4] ● for languages [GD/6]

Exchequer (♠) [GR/8]

Marksmanship (♣) [GD/6]

Outdoorsmanship (♦) [PR/2]

Perception (♦) [GD/6] ● when reading others [GR/8]

Social Graces (♠) [GD/6]

Tinkering (♦) [PR/2]

Health: 5

Notable Possessions: .32 Pocket Revolver [Range 40 | Load 5 | Conceal P | Wounds 3 (P) / 4 (F) 5 (H)], bank book, passport, signet ring

Languages Understood: English, French, German, and Latin.

Notes: Byron is attempting to break his opium addiction. In any situation where others look to him for guidance he must attempt a Courage Feat against a Requirement of 10 or suffer a one Rank penalty to all Feats he performs in the remainder of the scene.

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Mrs. Moira Clayton

One of the Faeries, Moira was content to drift upon the tides of fate and explore the depths of human tragedy. As one of the Banshee, she was drawn to suffering the way an alcoholic is drawn to the bottle. Yet, despite it all, she fell in love with a mortal. Horatio Clayton, a British noble of a minor house, shocked the world when he married a Banshee but they were, for a time, happy together. Fate, however, had other plans. Moira felt the portent mere moments before an anarchist bomb destroyed her husband, her happiness, and her life. Wailing, she cut loose her ties and began to wander the world once more. Yet, Fate had another twist of the thread waiting for Moira Clayton. On the continent she found her husband’s brother, Byron, in dire need of assistance. Unable to turn away her beloved’s kin, she has taken to traveling with Byron and acting as his bodyguard.

A few tips on playing Moira Clayton: You are one of the Banshee and fascinated by the tragedies which mortality brings. Unlike others of your kind, however, you know the bitter sting of loss personally. You have become somewhat terse in your interactions, preferring to observe instead of speak. Your words, when you use them, are important and as much a weapon as your silver blade.

Abilities

Athletics (♣) [PR/4]

Courage (♥) [GR/8] ● when frightening another [EXC/10]

Etherealness (♣) [GD/6]

Fencing (♣) [GR/8] ● when wielding a Faerie silver blade [EXC/10]

Fisticuffs (♣) [PR/4]

Glamour (♥) [PR/4]

Perception (♦) [GD/6] ● when noticing danger [GR/8]

Portend Danger (♦) [GD/6]

Shapeshift (♣) [PR/4]

Stealth (♣) [EXC/10]

Health: 7

Notable Possessions: Faerie Silver Blade [Wounds 4 (P) / 5 (F) / 6 (H)]

Languages Understood: English, Gaelic

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Doctor Charles Israel

Charles Israel was content with becoming an ordinary doctor until he found out the truth about his heritage. He was, in fact, a descendent of the infamous Victor Frankenstein. Since this mind boggling revelation, he has become obsessed with discovering the basic properties of life and how to create it. A year ago, he traveled to Ireland to ferret out rumors of creatures who seemed to be more animal than man and found himself opposing a mastermind known as Moreau. After liberating one of Moreau’s experiments, and upsetting the madman’s allies, Doctor Israel escaped to the continent where he has continued his studies. Recently, he has gained the patronage of Byron Clayton. Technically, he is following Byron in his travels as the man’s personal physician but, in truth, Doctor Israel has learned Byron has a habit of stumbling into unusual discoveries which might very well further the cause of science!

 A few tips on playing Doctor Charles Israel: SCIENCE! All capital letters! That’s what matters. You won’t say there are no boundaries when it comes to science but cultural norms mean little compared to the advancement of knowledge. You do have some ethics and you have grown fond of your companions. Still, just because they are people you care for doesn’t mean they aren’t also potential sources of experimental material!

Abilities

Charisma (♥) [PR/2] ● when speaking to fellow scientists [AV/4]

Courage (♥) [GD/6]

Education (♦) [GR/8] ● for the natural sciences [EXC/10]

Marksmanship (♣) [GD/6]

Mesmerism (♥) [GR/8]

Physician (♦) [GR/8] ● when performing strange experiments [EXC/10]

Social Graces (♠) [PR/2]

Stealth (♣) [PR/2]

Tinkering (♦) [GD/6]

Health: 6

Notable Possessions: .22 Derringer [Range 10 | Load 2 | Conceal P | Wounds 1 (P) / 2 (F) / 3 (H)], doctor’s bag, 4 vials full of interesting chemical substances.

Languages Understood: English, French, German, Greek, Latin, Russian.

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Mister Marcus O'Carroll

Marcus has only flashes of memory of his life before Moreau woke him. From that day forward he was both experiment and servant, helping Moreau during the day by fetching this or carrying that and, in the evening, being poked and prodded and injected with all manner of strange substances before being chained up for the evening. His life changed when a man named Doctor Charles Israel came to visit Moreau. The two scientists had a falling out and the good Doctor liberated Marcus. Grateful for the rescue, Marcus has become Doctor Israel’s lab assistant during his travels around the world.

A few tips on playing Marcus O’Carroll: You remember your name is O’Carroll. You remember you are Irish and you are Catholic. You remember little beyond that so you cling to those things. You are fiercely loyal to the Doctor and have come to respect the others to some degree. Your own seemingly inhumanity disturbs you but you try to put that out of your mind as you make your way through the world.

Abilities

Athletics (♣) [GD/6] ● when leaping or jumping [GR/8]

Courage (♥) [GD/6]

Education (♦) [PR/2]

Fencing (♣) [GD/6]

Fisticuffs (♣) [GR/8] ● when wielding a walking stick [EXC/10]

Physique (♣) [GR/8] ● for acts of brute strength [EXT/12]

Sorcery (♦) [PR/2]

Health: 10

Notable Possessions: Walking Stick [Blows 2 (P) / 3 (F) / 4 (H)], rosary beads, crucifix

Languages Understood: English (spoken only)

Notes: Marcus has somehow been enhanced due to the experiments of Moreau. His Health is higher than that of a human and he can lift a maximum of 800 pounds and bend steel bars with intense effort.

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Mistress Penny Black

Not all the witches of the world died during the Inquisition and the hunts. Some went underground, hiding their true nature. They married and hid and played nice with society but passed along their knowledge from mother to daughter, generation to generation, across the centuries.

Miss Penny Black is such a witch. Her mother raised her alone, teaching her the secret arts gleaned from their ancient goddess. Unlike her ancestors, however, Penny Black did not marry and become a good little woman in society. Instead, using her Magick and her wits, she traveled the world and wrote of her adventures. Her stories have been published in the pages of several magazines around the world and she is making a name for herself. In Vienna she stumbled into an adventure involving a clockwork maiden and fell in with Byron Clayton and his entourage.

A few tips on playing Penny Black: You are a witch and your power is as ancient and vast as that of any of the modern Sorcerous Orders. Strictly speaking, you do not need to hide your Magick but you tend to do so anyway. Old habits, learned over centuries, die hard. You have a keen mind, a wicked tongue, and an independent spirit.

Abilities

Athletics (♣) [PR/2]

Craftsmanship (♦) [GR/8] ● when writing stories [EXC/10]

Courage (♥) [GR/8]

Education (♦) [GD/6]

Fencing (♣) [GD/6]

Perception (♦) [EXC/10]

Performance (♥) [PR/2]

Physician (♦) [PR/2]

Sorcery (♦) [GD/6] ● when anchoring spells [GR/8]

Tinkering (♥) [PR/2] ● when picking locks [AV/4]

Health: 7

Notable Possessions: Hatpin [Wounds 1 (P) / 2 (F) / 3 (H)], Abercrombie’s Automatic Recorder, 3 Spell Anchors.

Languages Understood: English, French, German, Latin.

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And, with that final entry, I bid you a good weekend!

Your humble servant,

J Gray

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Listen to Castle Falkenstein!

Listen to Castle Falkenstein!

Greetings friends of Falkenstein! Welcome to another Falkenstein Friday!

As the world-spanning phenomenon of connected Analytical Engines which is the Internet has grown in recent years, "Actual Plays" have become quite popular. These Actual Plays, in which gamers record their adventures in tabletop gaming, are a delight to listen to but often focus on surprisingly non-Falkensteinian games!

No more, though! This week, the amazing performers of the Perilous Pretenders, led by Ally of the Second Compact, Kristy Cutsforth, have undertaken an effort to play, record, and share with the world an Adventure Entertainment of Castle Falkenstein

This particular Adventure Entertainment, entitled the LaLaurie Mansion, takes place in the Free State of Orleans and in it members of the newly organized Orleans chapter of the Theosophical Society are hired to deal with a menace from beyond the grave in an infamous Orleans home. 

The Perilous Pretenders make use of a number of Variations from Fat Goblin Games. This includes The Second Tarot Variation, parts of The Ability Variations, and even a few unpublished variations from two upcoming supplements: The Feat Variations and The Six-Sided Variation. So, if you wish to see an advanced preview of those two Variations, I recommend listening!

I do add this caveat. The Perilous Pretenders are a young podcasting troupe and still have room to grow in their technical skills. The first segment of the podcast introduces Castle Falkenstein, the Free State of Orleans, the Theosophical Society, and the characters. If you wish to dive right into the action, skip ahead to the 13 minute mark. Also, be aware the last 10 minutes or so are blank air due to an editing error. The podcast fades out at that point and I am assured by Mistress Cutsforth that it will pick up in that spot at the start of the part two!

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes by searching for Perilous Pretenders or by following this link.

Your humble servant,

J Gray

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Ronnie Bradley's Castle Falkenstein

Ronnie Bradley's Castle Falkenstein

Greetings, friends of Falkenstein! 

Looking at my calendar, I realize that Fat Goblin Games released our first product in the Castle Falkenstein revival, Curious Creatures, roughly one year ago. 

What a whirlwind year it has been! Thank you, each and every one of you, for helping make the revival a success. Without each of you purchasing the books and telling others about them, Castle Falkenstein might still be dormant. 

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

Of course, between the release of the GURPS Castle Falkenstein books from Steve Jackson Games and the current revival, there were others keeping the flame of Falkenstein alive and shining.

Among them, few have been more vocal and prolific than Ronnie Bradley. A prolific vidcaster, Ronnie has produced a number of videos on YouTube which explain the systems and world of Castle Falkenstein. His videos are a delight to watch. He speaks with both passion for the subject matter and a wonderful, soothing tone which reminds me of nothing so much as a UK Edward R. Murrow.

The first of Mister Bradley's videos presents an overview of Castle Falkenstein.

 

The second video takes a look at the game's Magick system.

A third video explores the dueling rules!

There are other videos as well, discussing a Christmas scenario. Ronnie has also made videos about Blue Rose and many other fantastic systems! I highly recommend checking out his channel.

Your humble servant,

J Gray

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Live Action Falkenstein

Live Action Falkenstein

Greetings, Friends of Falkenstein! I have returned from that magnificent extravaganza known as GenCon. I had a chance to spend time with the R. Talsorian team and participate in any number of different events.

Among them? A live action session of Castle Falkenstein!

The LARP in question, entitled Paris in the Spring VI, was organized and refereed by the capable David Robbins. As the title suggests, this is the sixth such LARP he has run at GenCon. This was both my first Castle Falkenstein LARP and my first LARP in general so I was not sure what to expect when I walked through the door and into the ballroom.

First, I was assigned a character and given a dossier to study. I would be playing the role of Valtin Tessmer, Prussian ambassador to Sweden. Inside the envelope was a character folio explaining my name, social status, occupation, marital status, and age along with a background and my various Abilities. Also listed were my goals. A separate sheet of paper explained the background of the event and a third described, in concise sentences, what Valtin Tessmer knew about the other characters. I also found two smaller envelopes inside. One contained a number of cards which represented favors and resources I could trade to other players. The second was marked DO NOT OPEN UNTIL INSTRUCTED. Also, I had a nametag I could wear that told the other players who I was.

At Mister Robbins' signal, the LARP began. I admit, it began a bit awkwardly for me. Veteran LARPers were able to glide about the room, looking at name tags and briefly examining their dossiers. I had a harder time, unsure of myself, though after roughly fifteen minutes I found myself getting into the swing of things.

The setting was an after party for the first Nobel Prize ceremony. Among the guests I interacted with were:

* Tom Olam, the Man From Beyond the Faerie Veil himself.

* Jules Verne, journalist and minister of science.

* The King of Sweden.

* A charming French demimondaine.

* A Faerie agent of Auberon.

* The "King of the Trolls", a rather loud individual with both wisdom and comedic timing.

* A Swedish woman who owned an overly productive steel mine.

* A woman seeking Norwegian separation from Sweden.

The first part of the LARP was spent conversing as alliances were formed, waters were tested, and secrets were probed. I was in the middle of a conversation with the demimondaine, whose player was kind enough not to remark on my horrible German accent, when a woman screamed and vanished in a portal of swirling colors! A mystery!

At that point, we were instructed to open the sealed envelope in our dossier. I did so and learned I had a briefcase in the king's vault which needed to be immediately removed. I sought out the king and he was kind enough to open the vault... only for me to discover my briefcase was open and secret papers had been stolen!

The remainder of the LARP was spent with split purpose. I still attempted to purchase steel for Prussia, make alliances, and ferret out political secrets but I also attempted to solve the mystery of what happened to the missing woman. Some small part of my character's conscious nagged at him. He had heard rumors of Bismark's alliance with the Unseelie but was this proof? Most disturbing!

In the end, I secured a number of favors. I engaged the demimondaine as a spy, promising to buy any non-French secrets which might fall into her ear. I promised the King of Sweden martial assistance should the Norwegians openly rebel in exchange for information on Prussia's enemies which came his way as king of a neutral nation. I purchased fake British fleet movements from a con woman posing as a journalist. All in all, amazing fun!

David Robbins has run six Castle Falkenstein LARPs at GenCon and there's no reason to believe he won't run a seventh next year. I cannot recommend, highly enough, participating if you have the chance!

Your humble servant,

J Gray

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Christmas in July!

Christmas in July!

What's that you say? You've wanted to buy Castle Falkenstein and the various supplements and adventures for it but you've been waiting for a sale?

Your wait is over! DriveThruRPG is hosting the Christmas in July sale! Which means all of the Castle Falkenstein products from both R. Talsorian and Fat Goblin Games are on sale for 25% off!

Here is the breakdown on sale prices in US dollars. The sale is on PDF products, not physical ones, though this will reduce the price of PDF/print combo sets.

From T. Talsorian

From Fat Goblin Games

Please remember, if you buy a Castle Falkenstein book, a review is appreciated. Reviews help customers who are on the fence decide if a book is worth buying.

Happy Christmas!

Your humble servant,

J Gray

 

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