Victorian Gamer archive – January 2000

Victorian Gamer archive – January 2000

https://web.archive.org/web/20101105052328/http://home.netcom.com/~jskipper/victoria/200001/VGIndex.html

Updated January 19, 2000

Welcome to the Victorian Gamer


Ezine for Role-playing in the Victorian Era


The first phase of the Victorian Gamer Bookstore (in association with Amazon.com) has been put up. I will continue to add to it. As much as possible, I will list books that I have read and reviewed, but there will be some that I have not. I hope you find it a helpful way to continue your research into the Victorian era.


Current Issue

Articles

Victorian Technology
Lady Adventurers

Features

Biography: Thomas Alva Edison
Victorian Technology: Electric Cars
Game Ideas: Electropia
Recipe of the Month
Game Review

BOOKSTORE
TIMELINE


PURPOSE

Victorian Gamer is a free e-zine devoted to the Victorian Era. Its purpose is to provide a variety of information on the culture, history, politics and technology of the Nineteenth Century. It is also intended to provide information to specific to the needs of Role-Playing Gamers and recreationists.


CONTENT

It is my intent to present accurate historical information about the Nineteenth Century. This information is based on a wide variety of presumably reliable resources. Game-related articles that present fictional inventions, alternative history and other works of fiction will be clearly labeled as such.

Although, to date, I have researched and written all the material presented, I welcome contributions from others. Those who do not have there own websites who would like to share the results of their research or imagination can donate material to be presented here. Send email to me.

Victorian Technology

It has been said that Victorians invented the idea of invention, the concept that one could create a new device that would improve life. The Victorian period was a great time of science and discovery. Some of these inventions changed history, whereas others were simply odd gadgets, footnotes of a period of creativity and imagination.

When one looks at everything that was invented in the Nineteenth Century, as well as all the scientific concepts that had their origin in the Victorian mind, it seems that there is little that we in the Twentieth Century can call our own. As we enter the last year of the century, it gives us pause to reflect on how much we owe to those who invented modernity.

Many today are declaring this the end of the century as well as the end of the millennium, as if we count from 0 to 9 to make 10. This problem is not unique to the unenlightened masses of the twentieth century; the same hubbub arose in 1899. On a related note, the Y2K Bug, sometimes called the Millennium Bug, really has nothing to do with the Millennium. It is more accurately called the Century Bug. Had computers been built in the nineteenth century and used only two digits for the year, come 1900, those computers would have the same problem distinguishing dates. For those running Steampunk campaigns, or others in which computers exist in the Victorian era, a Century Bug might add some drama to your campaign.

Just as many are using the advent of 2000 to look back at the developments of the “century,” so did people in 1899. It is easy to produce a large list of inventions of the 1800’s (see the Timeline): steam-powered ships, cars and industrial machinery, electric lights, cars, power plants, batteries, flashlights, gas-powered automobiles, the telegraph, the telephone, photography, the zeppelin, anesthetics, aspirin, the hypodermic needle, repeating pistols, the Gatling gun, dynamite, the refrigerator, typewriter, dishwasher, fax machine, phonograph, motion pictures…the list goes on and on. Although it was never built, Charles Babbage worked out all the elements of modern computing. There are other devices that were conceived in the nineteenth century that did not come into fruition until the twentieth.

But an important insight is revealed by considering what the New York Times in 1899 listed as the number one invention of the century: the friction match. The ability to carry around a small packet of sticks that enable you to produce fire on demand safely was a significant advantage. These days, that need is pretty much limited to smokers, or for recreational purposes such as cookouts. In the nineteenth century, the ability to make a fire was a necessity.

I originally titled this article Everything was Invented in the Nineteenth century. Hyperbole, to be sure, but to what degree?

Lady Adventurers

 

A commonly held view of the Nineteenth Century is that women were second-class citizens with few rights and little influence. This is only partially true. The power and influence of women was often tied to wealth and power. Women of Society in England could wield considerable power through their orchestration of social events. Other women influenced society through social reform movements, women like Florence Nightengale and Josephine Butler. Other women, however, were able to strike out on their own and make a name for themselves.

The January 2000 issue of Gourmet includes an article by Jan Morris called Women Who Wandered. In this article, she briefly describes several lady adventures, who were freed from the normal social constraints that bound women and made names for themselves. These are women who can inspire female players who want to develop realistic Victorian women who can adventure with the best of characters.

Women were slowly creeping into a variety of professions, despite the normal barriers imposed by a typically patriarchal society. Mary Kingsley was an explorer who became one of the leading experts on West Africa. Florence Baker accompanied her husband, Sir Samuel Baker, on his explorations of the Nile in the 1860’s. Marianne North was a naturalist and painter who undertook to paint all the flora of the world, traveling to the depths of Brazil, Borneo, Ceylon and India. Isabella Bird was a travel writer who came to support medical missions in undeveloped parts of the world.

At the same time, these women are described as being feminine. They dressed in accordance with Victorian decorum, as befitted women. Ms. Bird was offended when a journalist wrote of her that she wore man’s garb when riding, when in fact she wore skirts as was proper for a woman. Female characters can be adventurers without being unladylike, and without waiting behind to watch the house while the men go exploring.

Biography

Thomas Alva Edison (1847 – 1931)
A Victorian Bill Gates?

Young Edison Thomas Alva Edison is considered by most to be one of the greatest inventors of all times. He received patents for over 1000 inventions, most involving electric light and power, batteries, the phonograph and the telegraph. Many if not most of Edison’s inventions were little more than improvements on existing ideas or technology. The key to Edison’s success is embodied in perhaps his most famous quote: “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

Thomas Edison was born February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio. As a young boy, Thomas suffered hearing problems and did not do well in school as a result. At the age of ten, his mother pulled him out of public school and began educating him at home. Edison became interested in chemistry and set up a lab in the basement.

He got job as a trainboy at the Grand Trunk Railway when he was twelve. He was allowed to set up a laboratory in an empty railcar and also learned telegraphy during this time. He became a skillful telegrapher and began working on improvements to the telegraph, such as the automatic telegraph and duplex telegraph. He also developed a message printer and stock ticker.

Edison set up a lab in Newark, New Jersey and became a full-time inventor in 1870.

Although Edison is famous for inventing electric light, it was not an original idea. The idea of electric bulbs had been around for quite some time. This was an invention where Edisons’s “99 percent perspiration” paid off. He and the workers in his lab tried some 6000 different filament materials before hitting on one that would provide a reasonable life span. Edison then went on to develop a power plant system that would operate his lights.

A man named Leon Scott had patented what he called a “Phonautograph” in 1857. It did not playback sound, but recorded sound waves on a rotating cylinder. Beginning it 1859, it was sold as a device for analyzing sound. Thomas Edison worked with this concept and developed his phonograph using a cardboard cylinder wrapped in tinfoil. He received a patent for it in 1878, but did little to further develop it. Alexander Graham Bell begin working on a phonograph using wax cylinders, but could not achieve better sound quality than Edison. Edison, however, resumed work on the phonograph using solid wax cylinders. By the 1890’s, musicians were using Edison phonographs to record their music. Coin-operated phonographs began appearing in arcades and stores. Edison continued to improve on the phonograph and would later declare it his favorite invention.


Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope
In 1879, British photographer, Eadweard Muybridge, invented the Zoopraxiscope, a device that projected a series of photographic images placed on disks. His classic work involved a series of images of a trotting horse, shot with 700 cameras.

in 1888, Edison met with Muybridge to discuss combining the Zoopraxiscope device with a phonograph to combine sound and vision. Muybridge was not interested so Edison resolved to develop his own moving picture device. The original Kinetograph involved a cylinder covered with light-sensitive material, much like the phonograph. Most of the work on this project was done by a lab assistant names William Dickson.

About that same time, George Eastman developed celluloid film. Edison quickly incorporated this in the Kinetograph and set up a motion picture studio in West Orange. Kinetescopes became features in arcades and stores as the phonographs had become. For a nickel, patrons could watch a few seconds of film.

Unfortunately, Edison did not patent his kinetoscope overseas and Robert Paul of England began selling reproductions throughout Europe and Africa. Edison tried to limit their use by refusing to sell films to locations where he new his company had not sold Kinetoscopes, however, this only spurred to develop their own cameras. Later inventors built on the technology to produce film projectors, such as the Panopticon, the “Bioskop” and the Lumiere Brother’s Cinematograph, which debuted in Paris in 1895.

Older Edison Edison’s success relied not only on his creativeness, but also on the fact that he was a savvy businessman. He set up numerous companies develop and market his products. The success of the light bulb was largely due to his ability to produce and market it. Edison developed and controlled the electrical plants that would power his inventions. Edison fought to defeat his competitors. In the electrical realm, Edison worked hard to discredit Nicola Tesla who had developed the alternating current system, whereas Edison used direct current. Ironically, AC is the system used today. Edison was known to be jealous of talented employees and often took credit for others’ work. Nonetheless, Edison and his assistants developed much of the technology that has shaped the modern world.

Thomas Edison died On Oct. 18th, 1931 in New Jersey at age 84. Two years later, a patent was granted for a device to hold items for electroplating, Edison’s last patent.

Highlights of Thomas Edison’s Life
1868 First patent on October 11th, Edison Vote Recorder.
1870 First sale of an invention, the stock ticker to Gold and Stock Telegraphy Company for $40,000.
1871 Helped Christopher Sholes make the first successful working typewriter for commercial use.
1872 Automatic telegraph
Galvanic Storage battery
1876 Patent for the “Electric Pen”, used to develop the mimeograph.
1877 Patent applied for the carbon-button telephone transmitter which improved the design by Alexander Graham Bell.
1878 Patent for the phonograph or speaking machine on February 19th.
1879 Invented the first incandescent electric lamp.
1880 Patent for the incandescent lamp on January 27th and began commercial manufacture at the Edison Lamp Works in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
1883 Completed the first three wire central power station in Sunbury, PA.
1885 Patent for the wireless induction telegraph.
1889 First showing of his experimental motion picture “The Sneeze” on October 6th, which included sound by synchronizing a phonograph recording with the film.
1891 Patent on motion picture camera using film developed by George Eastman.
1896 Developed the fluoroscope. Edison left it in the public domain for the benefit of medicine.
1900 Began developing nickel-iron-alkaline storage battery.
1901 Construction of the Edison Portland Cement factory in New Jersey.
1913 Demonstrated the Kinetophone for talking motion pictures.

Edison Links

Edison’s Birthplace
Edison’s Patents

Victorian Technology

Electric Cars


Wood’s Electric Phaeton – 1902
Although electric cars are still struggling to be recognized in the modern world, electric cars were a respected part of the Victorian automotive scene.

The steps that led to electric cars began prior to the nineteenth century. The first battery was made by Volta in 1799, the Voltaic pile, but it was not until 1859 that the first rechargeable battery appeared. Electric motors were first produced in the 1830’s. The first electric land vehicles developed where locomotives, running on rails and using non-rechargeable cells. In 1847, Pittsburgh acquired a locomotive powered through an electrified rail from a central station.

Electric cars really took off in the late 1880’s. Ratcliffe Ward of London began operating an electric omnibus. Other inventors began producing a variety of electric vehicles. Andrew Riker and Philip Pratt each invented electric tricycles. In 1890, William Morrison of Iowa built the first truly successful electric carriage.

William Morrison’s carriage was a standard horseless carriage, built with high, spoked wheels to negotiate the rutted roads of still largely rural America. It featured rack-and-pinion steering and was capable of running for 13 hours at 14 miles per hour after a 10 hour charge.

In 1893 at the Colombia Exposition in Chicago, a variety of electric cars were exhibited. A fleet of electric tricycles had been ordered to provide transportation for visitors, but the manufacturer could only build two, thus electric vehicles remained only a novelty rather than a significant contribution.

IN 1894, Henry Morris and Pedro Salom invented the Electrobat, a heavy car, but with a range of 50 to 100 miles at 15 mph. Their next try was lighter and more stylish capable of speeds up to 20 mph, but with more limited range. However, Morris and Salom felt that the cars were to delicate for the average user, so instead went into business to establish power stations to recharge vehicles. They established their first station in New York City where electric taxi cabs were taking hold. By 1897, an extensive fleet of electric cabs was operating there.


Electric Car – 1915
Electric cars held the land speed record from 1898 to 1902, finally beaten by a steamer. Electric vehicle outsold all other types of automobiles in America during that same time period. Electric vehicle production continued well into the 1920’s, but well before then, the gasoline-powered automobile was established as the predominate form of transportation.

So what happened?

Electric vehicles had several advantages over their competition. Steam vehicles took a long time to start, since the fire had to be started and steam pressure had to build up, a process that could take up to 45 minutes. This problem was solved in 1885 when James Bullard invented the flash boiler. Steamers had a range of 10 to 15 miles before they needed to take on more water and stop for fuel every 40 to 60 miles.

Gas automobiles had much longer range, fuel-wise, but needed to stop frequently to add water for cooling. The development of the radiator helped, but vehicles at this time were still delicate and often required stops for repairs. Gas cars were noisy and emitted noxious fumes, compared to the clean quiet operation of electrics. Two other factors that made gas cars difficult to operate were crank starting and gear changing. Electric cars required neither. The introduction of the electric starter in 1913 is often credited with the demise of the electric car, but electrics were already on the decline for other reasons.

Gasoline was a waste product of the petroleum industry and therefore was cheap. It was easy for shopkeepers and inns to keep tanks of gas on hand to sell. Electricity was another matter. Although Edison was working to establish power stations in major cities, electricity was not readily available. Electric cars were heavy, requiring numerous batteries. Ideal for city driving and on surfaced roads, electrics were not suited to the country roads that ran through America and England and had difficulty climbing hills. The batteries contained corrosive acids that often leaked, damaging the car and emitting fumes as dangerous as gas engines.

When Henry Ford began mass producing inexpensive gasoline-powered cars, the electrics could no longer compete. A basic electric car could be had for $1000, but most were more expensive, up to three times as much because they were outfitted with the tastes of their upper class buyers in mind. Ford’s cars were in the $500 and above range. Gasoline cars generated more and more sales and electrics faded away.

The Electrobat II

Game Ideas

Electropia: An Alternate History


Palace of Electricity
Universal Exposition, Paris, 1900

Speculating about what might have been is a pastime enjoyed by gamers and civilians alike. SteamPunk is an alternative history that emphasizes the role of steam power in the nineteenth, making steam cars and steam airships common and adding some devices, such as steam-powered computers patterned after Charles Babbages Analytical Engine.

Electropia (“Electric Utopia”) is an alternate history that follows another energy source that was just coming into its own at the end of the Victorian Era.

In Electropia, like SteamPunk, Inventions that already exisited are given a little boost, made a little more common, even ubiquitous, as we speculate about things that might have been. It does not take much to make an exciting world to play in.

Transportation

There is a story that Henry Ford consulted with Thomas Edison as he was preparing to revolutionize that automotive world. As a result of the conversation, Ford decided to pursue the development of gasoline-powered vehicles. What might Edison have said? Edison spent much of his career working with electricity. Edison had already established companies to develop electrical power stations and grids. In Electropia, Edison might have made an agreement with Ford to develop a light-weight, more powerful battery and establish a national network of electric service stations to power mass-produced electrical cars built by Ford. Another idea might be that Ford wanted a second opinion and consulted with Nicolai Tesla.

Another push for electrical vehicle comes in the form of legislation prohibiting gas cars in city limits. Britain had already passed the Red Flag Law that required cars in the city to not exceed 2 mph and be proceeded by a man waving a red flag. Gasoline-powered vehicles were (and are) notoriously loud and produced noxious fumes. They became popular despite this because they were better than horses, whose more tangible emissions were a major health hazard. However, a more foresightful government might rule that all transportation within the city limits must be electrically-powered, leaving horses and gassers to the countryside. Clean and efficient electric cabs and omnibuses provide transportation to the city’s residents. Electric tricycles, like the Keller-Dagenhart models designed for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, fill the role of horses hauling smaller carts.

Light and Power

By the end of the nineteenth century, electricity was well-established in most of the major cities. Street lights were electrified fairly quickly, reducing costs by eliminating the need for lamp lighters to travel throughout the city at dusk. Moving electricity into private homes was a slower process and often limited to the wealthy. Still, electric lighting made the city brighter and, in some ways, safer. The use of gas for heating was never enirely eliminated, many homes use gas for heating and cooking even today.

Other Inventions

In Electropia, like in SteamPunk worlds, Charles Babbage successfully builds his Analytical Engine in the middle of the century (perhaps premiering it at the Crystal Palace in 1851). Linked by telegraph lines, the AE’s increase the pace of business and technology, and give the government better ability to monitor its citizenry. What might Edison have done with an Analytical Engine. First, he might have electrified it. Next, he might have figured out a way to replace Babbages mechanical cams with something more efficient and electrical. With some modification, Edison’s light bulbs could be transformed into vacuum tubes.

The cathode ray tube was developed by Ferdinand Braun in 1897 and first used to display a television image in 1907. However, with the presence of Edison Electrical Computing Engines demanding a better interface and the power of these “computers” to aid in development, Edison can apply his powers to more rapidly develop the tube for use with the Engines.

The amazing thing about the Victorian Era is that so many of the inventions we used today were first created prior to the twentieth century. We have simply improved on good ideas. In making Electropia more fantastic, the game master need merely take inventions that already existed and make them more common. Other inventions can perhaps be invented sooner than historically due to the influence of Analytical Engines.

Campaign Styles

What makes Victorian and Victorian Alternative History role-playing interesting is not the inventions, the locals or the what-ifs, but rather it is playing characters steeped in the Vicotrian mindset that make it challenging. Historically, the Victorian culture was a result of a stable, tradional society trying to cope with the rapid changes imposed by the Industrial Revolution and the onset of the Modern Age. The Luddites were one symptom of the struggle. In SteamPunk campaigns and campaigns like Electropia, the pressure of technology change puts an even greater strain on society. The Luddites opposed the mechanization of labor that put humans out of work. Imagine the protest if Analytical Engines had been able to take over much of the work done by the human computers it was intended to replace. Marx had taken an interest in Babbage’s work and was concerned about the power that such a device would give the capitalists to oppress not only the working class, but also the intelligent middle class. A new age of more influential, more educated Luddites could make things difficult for the advancement of science at the expense of human uniqueness.

Electropia can be played with two distinct styles. The first, as alluded to above is a dark, cyberpunk world. Although cities are safe and clean, light by electric lights and free of the by-products of horses and gas cars, with electric public transportation, not all is right with the world. The government and plutocrats control the Information Network of the new Edison Computers. Citizens are issued identification cards and numbers that allow them to be tracked by the police. Luddite uprisings lead to police crackdowns, curfews and other restrictions that make life difficult for the law-abiding citizenry. Information is power and the aristocrats and industrialists will pay dearly for individuals who can collect “hard-to-get” information. This sort of campaign can be run like a Cyberpunk campaign, but with the style and grace of Victorian manners.

A second style is brighter and more upbeat. In this version of Electropia, all is right with the world. The benefits of electricity have made everything better. The Information Network, run by Edison Computers, is freely available, giving everyone equal opportunities to learn and advance. This sort of campaign would feature adventures of Victorian characters learning to use new technology as they explore the world.

Victorian Recipe

Christmas Pudding

When most Americans think of pudding, they think of creamy dessert made from powder and milk, pitched on television by a well-known comedian. But the puddings of England are hearty fare, built around bread and suet (fat from around the kidneys of deer or cows). For more about American desserts that originated in the Victorian era, visit the Jell-O History site.

Ingredients

3 cups raisins
3/4 cups currants
2/3 cups mixed candied fruit peel
4 cups brown bread crumbs
6 eggs
1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon brandy

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. Beat the eggs in with the brandy then add into the dry ingredients, mixing well. Victorian Christmas puddings were boiled in a cloth so that they were spherical when finished. Place the mixture on a cloth and tie it. Put the cloth into a deep pan of boiling water, cover and boil for four hours. Remove the pudding and hang it to drain and cool. When ready, ladle on the tablespoon of brandy and light it as you present it to your guests for an exciting holiday treat.

It is also traditional to serve pudding with a sauce. 1 stick of butter
1 1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons extra fine sugar
1/2 cup brandy

Melt the butter and add the flour and water. Cook it for a few minutes, then add the sugar and brandy. Bring the sauce to a boil, then remove it from the heat and serve immediately.

 

Game Review

Masque of the Red Death And Other Tales: Terror in the 1890’s by William W. Connors. TSR #1103.

  • A Guide to Gothic Earth: A 128-page rulebook by William W. Connors
  • Red Tide: A 32-page adventure by Shane Hensley
  • Red Jack
  • : A 32-page adventure by Colin McComb

  • Red Death: A 32-page adventure by D.J. Heinrich
  • A full-color, poster-sized map of Gothic Earth
  • A full-color poster of the cover painting by Robh Ruppel
  • A 3-panel DM screen

The Gothic Earth Gazetteer by William W. Connors. TSR #9498. A reference book including information on world events in the 1890’s, a “Who’s Who” section, qabals, forbidden lore, a poster-sized calendar of the decade, and a reference of world leaders and appropriate monsters for Masque campaigns.

In searching for Victorian era games, I managed to get ahold of a boxed set of The Masque of the Red Death, ordered online from Cyberdungeon. It is a gothic horror game, part of the Ravenloft series, set in the 1890’s.

Like most gamers who have been around awhile, Dungeons and Dragons was my first introduction to role-playing games. For me it was about 1980, I think. I was in high school, in government class, when I noticed Marty Acuna doing some character sketches in his notebook. I was a chronic sketcher as well, but the things he was drawing were different. I asked him about it and he told about D&D. I went out and bought the old blue D&D booklet, then Marty introduced my to Gary Hernandez and his group of gamers. I was hooked. I have a distinct memory of being in a game store and finding a boxed set of the original three half-sized D&D books. I looked at them, but decided I needed to save my money for the newer stuff, rather than waste it on an old version. Oh how I wish I had that set.

The Rules

Everyone has their opinion on the AD&D rules, so I will not discuss their merits or faults here, but will simply say that Masque of the Red Death uses a very modified version of the standard D&D rules, so modified that some might wonder why they did not just create a new set of rules. While it uses AD&D rules, it also refers to modifications made in the Ravenloft Campaign Set and then it makes further modifications. Overall, you need to be familiar with all of them. That is the trend in games today. You have to go out and buy tons of books to play one game. I think it driven more by profit than necessity. I think we need to go back to the one book days of my old blue D&D book.

Masque has four character classes, Soldiers, Adepts, Mystics and Tradesmen which correspond to Fighters, Magic-users, Clerics and Thieves, sort of. Soldiers are the most unchanged of the classes. Adepts and Mystics are much like their AD&D counterparts, except with tremendous limitations on spells. Many spells simply do not exist, casting times are longer and effects are more subtle. Tradesmen is not a real class but a generic category for everyone else. Trademen characters are built up by selecting individual proficiencies (skills). The classes still maintain most of the characteristics of their originals – that is, soldiers have higher hit points and better weapons abilities. On the other hand, adepts and mystics are allowed to use weapons. Additionally, there is a set of character kits (like archetypes or templates) that define a variety of character types that can be customized. There are kits for each of the four classes, providing soldiers and sailors, detectives, physicians, spiritualists, qabalists and a variety of other occupations. The Tradesmen class and the use of proficiencies makes Masque so much like other skill-based games, it is a wonder why they bothered to retain classes. I guess it would not be AD&D then.

The Background

The Masque of the Red Death adventure game is not drawn from Edgar Allen Poe’s story of the same name, although the included adventure module, The Red Death is based on it. In the world, the Red Death is a malevolent, supernatural entity that slipped into our world during the construction of the first pyramid. When I first read the introduction, I immediately thought of the premise of Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned, but as I read on, it turned out to be a quite different scenario. This force slowly warped history, changing events here and there. Connors briefly runs through history discussing some of the events that were changed, or had a different, hidden meaning from that we know of history. The history could have been done better. There are plenty of events that could have been reinterpreted or only slightly modified that would at once be recognizable to most readers and create a more colorful build up to the resulting Gothic Earth, but there are only so many pages to use (it being a standard 128 page game book) and, of course, most of the space needs to be devoted to the more immediate background and rules. Gothic Earth of the 1890’s is much like our own, more recognizable than Castle Falkenstein’s world. Magic is available, but it is weak. Magic-users run the risk of drawing the attention of the Red Death and his evil minions. Humans are the only player race, although there are a variety of evil creatures available. In fact, many figures described in the Who’s Who of the Gazetteer are recognizable people redefined in AD&D monster terms. As an example, Professor Moriarty is said to be a rakshasa. The information provided on Victorian history is limited and there is no discussion of Victorian culture, a weakness of most Victorian era games I have seen. Still with the main book and the Gazetteer (and of course, my web site) there is plenty of useful information to develop a good campaign.

A Guide to Gothic Earth, the book that comes with the set, describes a variety of locations, giving a brief history of each, then adds Forbidden Lore, game information about each location as it has been influenced by the Red Death. This book also describes a variety of villains that can be used.

The Gothic Earth Gazetteer contains a nice timeline of the 1890’s, then describes some events in more detail, adding a Forbidden Lore section to fit it into the Masque world. It includes a list of interesting persons of the Victorian era, both real and fictional, with a brief bio and Forbidden Lore for some of them.

The Adventures

The adventures that are included with the set are actually quite good. Even if you don’t care much for the rule system, if you are looking for ideas for Victorian horror, these three modules are worth having. Like other Ravenloft adventures I have played, there is a strong emphasis on clue collecting and problem-solving rather than action, but they can be tailored to meet the style of any group. There are three adventures included in the box set. Each is described briefly below without spoiling the elements of the adventure. Red Death is an adventure based on Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death. Players familiar with the story may have an advantage, but not enough to spoil the game. The adventure includes an excellent map of a Victorian manor house that can be used over and over, since only a small portion of the house is used for this adventure. This is an adventure that is well-suited for Live Action Role Playing, something I am going to attempt. The module is set in Bucharest, but can actually be placed anywhere.

Red Jack is a very interesting translation of the Jack the Ripper mystery, relocated to Boston. Done right, the players stay one step behind an elusive killer, piecing together the clues that let them solve the mystery and put Jack to rest once and for all.

Red Tide is set is San Francisco, and pits the players against one of the most infamous horrors of the Victorian world. The players assist an insurance firm investigating a mysterious fire. As they investigate, they uncover a major plot that threatens humanity.

Summary

Overall, I would say that if you are interested in Victorian Horror or want to spice up a non-horror Victorian campaign, Masque of the Red Death is an excellent resource. If you like AD&D and like Ravenloft, then this is a must.

 

The Victorian Gamer Bookstore


Welcome to the Victorian Gamer bookstore!

As much I appreciate the wonders of the World Wide Web, there is nothing as satisfying as reading a good old book. This bookstore is intended to provide VG readers with links to the books I read, review and research. Every book you purchase through my site pays a small dividend that helps me maintain this site and continue my research. I hope you will take advantage of this resource and help me continue the good work.

This bookstore will continue to grow. I will also provide reviews of as many of these books as I can, providing links so you can see what I thought of them.


Contents

Fiction

Steampunk
Detectives and Mystery
Horror and the Supernatural
Jules Verne
H. G. Wells
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Rudyard Kipling

Biography

 

History


Fiction

Steampunk

 

The Difference Engine
by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
Victorian Gamer Review
Of Tangible Ghosts
and
Ghost of the Revelator
by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Victorian Gamer Review

Detectives and Mystery

Detection by Gaslight
Victorian Gamer Review

Horror and the Supernatural

Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley
Victorian Gamer Review<>

Bram Stoker

Victorian Gamer Biography


Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Video)
Hardcover Dracula

Jules Verne

 

Journey to the Center of the Earth
20000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Mysterious Island
From Earth to Moon
Around the World in 80 Days
Paris in the Twentieth Century
The Floating City
The Chase of the Golden Meteor
Dropped from the Clouds
Michael Strogoff
The Rat Family

H. G. Wells

The Time machine
The Island of Dr. Moreau
Science-Fiction Classics of H.G. Wells (Dover Thrift Editions)
Although I have not seen this one, Dover Thrift Editions are usually very economical printings of some hard to get stories.
. Best Science Fiction Stories of H. G. Wells : Including the Invisible Man the Crystal Egg the Man Who Could Work Miracles and 15 Other Stories

Sir Arther Conan Doyle

The Complete Sherlock Holmes : All 4 Novels and 56 Short Stories
The Complete Brigadier Gerard (Canongate Classics,57)
The White Company
.
.
.
.
The Annotated Lost World
The Best Supernatural Tales of Arthur Conan Doyle
The Best Horror Stories of Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Nigel

Rudyard Kipling


Biography

Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace

Victorian Gamer Biography

Charles Babbage and the Engines of Perfection (Oxford Portraits in Science)
by Bruce Collier, James H. MacLachlan, Owen Gingerich (Editor)
Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers : A Selection from the Letters of Lord Byron’s Daughter and Her Description of the First Computer
by Betty A. Toole (Editor), Ada King Lovelace

Nellie Bly

Victorian Gamer Biography
Around the World in 72 Days
Nellie Bly’s Book : Around the World in 72 Days [ABRIDGED]

Thomas Edison

Victorian Gamer Biography

Edison: A Life of Invention Thomas A. Edison : A Streak of Luck by Robert Conot
Thomas A. Edison and His Kinetographic Motion Pictures by Charles Musser
Thomas A. Edison and the Modernization of America by Martin V. Melosi
Thomas Alva Edison : Inventing the Electric Age (Oxford Portraits in Science) by Gene Adair
Thomas Alva Edison : Inventor (Historical American Biographies) by Ellen M. Dolan
Thomas Alva Edison : The Man Who Illuminated the World – A Pictorial Biography by Lawrence A. Frost

 

 

The Electrobat II, built in 1895, is a good archetype for an electric car. This model had rear-wheel steering and was powered by two 1 1/2 horsepower electric motors driving the front axle. It could reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour and had a range of 25 miles. It weighed in at 1650 pounds and had pneumatic tires.

In November 1895, the Chicago Times-Herald sponsored a race featuring six cars, two electric and four gas-powered. The other electric car was one of William Morrisons, specially outfitted with extra batteries, bringing it up to 3535 pounds. Morris and Salom had planned on having spare batteries waiting at intervals along the 54-mile course, but a snowstorm the night before had prevented the wagons carrying the batteries to get through. The little Electrobat was forced to quit after only a short run, but it was award a medal for all the features that made electric cars popular; safety, lack of noise and fumes and design.

 


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