Cloudship Atlantis

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Cloudship Atlantis is a free steampunk RPG written by fellow RPG blogger Rob Lang as his entry to the 24h RPG Contest. Considering that this game has been designed and edited in just 24h, the result is quite astonishing. You not only get an original rules system, but also a complete campaign setting and an introductory adventure called “Escape from the Boiler Room of Atlantis”.
So, what is Cloudship Atlantis about. Let’s use Rob’s own words here:
Atlantis is a Victorian city floating above a black, barren wasteland of coal dunes, geysers steam vents called Terra Firma. Afloat atop gargantuan sacks of geyser gas and powered by an unfaltering supply of steam.

Atlantean society is split in two by The Bow, a horizontal line drawn from the tip of the prow to the stern. The Gentry of Atlantis live above The Bow, a privileged life of luxury and yet grave responsibility. Below the Bow live the Humbles, they who stoke the fire, service the boilers, mine the coal and inflate the sacks.

Atlantis is a Victorian city floating above a black, barren wasteland of coal dunes, geysers steam vents called Terra Firma. Afloat atop gargantuan sacks of geyser gas and powered by an unfaltering supply of steam.

Atlantean society is split in two by The Bow, a horizontal line drawn from the tip of the prow to the stern. The Gentry of Atlantis live above The Bow, a privileged life of luxury and yet grave responsibility. Below the Bow live the Humbles, they who stoke the fire, service the boilers, mine the coal and inflate the sacks.

Cloudship Atlantis

The first section of the book describes the world of Terra Firma in detail. Although there is not much to explain since the world is pretty much barren and humans only leave the safety of their cloudship to mine coal or get gas from geysers to keep their ship afloat. There are also skypirates who regularly attack Atlantis for food, resources and women.

The premise of the setting is that the players are Humbles (the working class) that have managed to escape the boiler room and hope for a better life. The introductory adventure is a good start if you plan to play this kind of campaign. I am also pretty sure that the creative GM may even come up with different scenarios like one where you play a band of skypirates or members of the Gentry. The possibilities are limitless. You could even come up with other Cloudcities that fly over the desolate barrens of Terra Firma.

The game uses a dice pool system using d20s. Whenever a character performs an action he may pick one die from the pool and rolls. In order to succeed the die result + the relevant skill and attribute must be equal or exceed a given target number.  The whole group has only one dice pool which contains two d20s for each player at the table. When your Attribute + Skill is high enough, you might not take a die from the pool in order to save dice for later use. When the dice pool is emptied you have to rely on Attribute + Skill alone.

Character creation is pretty simple, too. You distribute 15 points between the three attributes Alacrity, Cogitation and Fortitude. After that you change a trade (like a class or job) which grants you access to certain skills. The available trades are Stoker, Miner and Aerofabricator. There are no non-humble trades but I am pretty sure it’s easy to create trades for Gentry (like Copper, Doctor, etc.) or Skypirates pretty easy. After that you can assign the values 10, 6, 4, 2 and 1 to your skills. Then you have to chose one “humblism”, a tell tale sign that you are of Humble origin. The appendix of the game provides you with a list of Humblisms.

The included adventure gives a good introduction to the world and sounds fun to play. It’s great that Rob found the time to write this adventure since it makes “Cloudship Atlantis” a much more complete game than without it. The 19-page PDF document also includes an Appendix which features the skill list, a humblism list, a name list, a Gentry profession ladder, weapons and armor, a map of the cloudship Atlantis and a character sheet.

All in all Cloudship Atlantis is probably one of the best 24h RPGs I’ve ever seen. If you are a fan of steampunk, you should give it a try! You can preview and download the complete game at Scribd.com for free.

UPDATE: With Rob’s permission I mirror the PDF at my Stargazer’s RPG Stuff site. If you don’t want to sign up for an Scribd account, you can the PDF download there, too!

2 thoughts on “Cloudship Atlantis”

  1. Many thanks for the super review, for anyone who might think of playing it in the current form the difficult numbers haven't been tested!!! Please set the target numbers with care. 😉

    For anyone intrigued by this whol 24 hour RPG nonesense, check out the 24 Hour RPG Forum on 1KM1KT. Some of the other entries will knock your socks clean off!
    .-= Rob Lang´s last blog ..Fear the Roleplaying Game? Yes, you should because it's bigger than all of us. By Paul Jeffcoat =-.

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