Dear Rolling Boxcars: Recommendations for Clockwork Mages & Demonic Forces

Dear Dana A.,

Thank you for sending in a question with regards to wanting a suggestion about what game system would work for your particular situation.

The question with setup info: “Thinking of creating rpg campaign that has clockwork mages [energy, techno, machine, radiation, metal / plastic & enchantment colleges] fighting off invading demonic forces that have corrupted the other colleges of magic.

The war is fought and now clockwork magery is in its ascendancy with the others pushed out into the hinterland or banned due to demonic taint. The remaining cities are firmly protected by clockwork [and steam] automatons, trade has returned, and security has been re-established for citizens albeit some former rights have been “curtailed”.

The former nobility is threatening to return, disenfranchised mages are looking to return to power [through possible demonic bargains], even the clockworkers are vying with each other for power.

The players represent the return of former magical knowledge, resisters to further demonic incursions and overreach of their clockwork masters, recoverers of lost lore and wisdom of the ruined cities, and seekers of a new world.

What game answers this without an oversupply of silly named demons as “cardboard target of the week” for pcs, offers some originality, avoids or doesn’t defer to obvious Christian cosmology, able to handle both “theatre of the mind” and some “simulationist” tabletop combat? Perhaps treats demons as non-corporeal spirits with non-human agendas? Maybe some pre-christian babylonian or sumerian demonic entities?”

Answer: After smashing our collective heads together for a couple of weeks, we are still scratching our heads. You are asking for some very specific things that do not seem to be, in our collective knowledge, compiled into a particular tabletop roleplaying game that will meet your needs. However, a few might be worth having a look at to see if portions of them meet your needs.

The first that comes to mind is Mythras. It is a D100 skill-based system that is easy to learn for many—if you need a system. Better yet, there is a sourcebook for this game entitled Mythic Babylon, which allows you to take a Mythras game back to the 18th century BC. Or data mine the book for information for your purposes. This Mythras product line includes Mythic Rome and Mythic Britain source books that are also reported to be very good.

The next book series we suggest you look at is Shadows of Esteren. Collectively, it has some of what you want. It has some steam/clockpunk elements backed in, it has demon-like creatures lurking at the edges of society, and it has magic. It also supports intrigue-heavy games. The free quickstart will give a decent sense of the game and its setting, entitled Shadows of Esteren – Book 0 Prologue.

Given the plethora of game systems and sourcebooks, there is no end to what you may eventually find; those are our best suggestions. We think using Shadows of Esteren as the game engine and setting itself may offer you the best options for what you want to accomplish. We hope you find these recommendations helpful, and please keep our readers updated on what you decide to do in the end.

If you’d like “The Boxcars” to answer your gaming-related question, please submit your questions through our Ask The Boxcars submission form.

~ The RB Team

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