|Steamgard Part II: Blood and Brass
Now we shall begin our exploration of the classes of Steamgard. As has been said, you won't be getting new classes, abilities or powers. What you will be getting is a new light shed on old favorites. We will examine class concepts and abilities in the context of Steamgard and also take a look at two very specific examples (called "Archetypes") of each class taken in a new or extreme direction.
A Note Regarding the Rules of Play: Where possible, specific references to abilities have been limited, allowing for use between the current rules set and the future version eight rules. I look forward to discussing omitted specifics on E-Sam with any interested parties.
A hero is defined by the challenges he overcomes, the opponents that he faces. The villain, however, is defined by his machinations, by an ambition that will not be denied. As a knight, the Anti-Paladin doesn't just have an intimate knowledge of ambition but also the experience to see those ambitions achieved.
The Anti-Paladin has already accomplished a great many things in their chosen arena and their standing in Steamgard should reflect that. Scions of ancient and noble families, captains of industry pulled up by their own bootstraps, inventors of cunning savvy or veterans of campaigns to the dark side of the moon are all possibilities. Their goals may be diverse: enforced order and control, the cultivation of resources in the hands of the deserving or simply a taste for destruction. The common denominator is power and the will to use it as a means to the ends.
Garb: Beyond the white belt and black phoenix, Anti-Paladins would dress to impress their earned achievements upon those around them with fine garb, gadgets of their own genius design or a military officer's uniform.
Armor, Shields & Weapons: As with their garb, the Anti-Paladin's equipment would showcase their own skill as a craftsman or their ability to acquire the finest items. Heraldry on a shield would not be limited to those of royal lineage but might also bear the company logo of a successful businessman.
Abilities & Traits: Anti-Paladin abilities are themed in death. While some may find mystical significance in that, most will take a more pragmatic view: people are fuel, no more than lumps of coal to feed the fires and power the great engine that is the Anti-Paladin's desires.
Dark Æther Knight: He has turned his intellect and fortune toward crafting weapons of perverted science and black magic (the abilities of the Dark Æther Knight are intended to represent a corrupted synthesis of magic and technology). Foul fumes emanate from his battle suit, polluting air and spirit alike and his weaponry is marked with images of death and evil. Dark Æther Knights are a fearsome and terrible presence in battle, and only the truly foolish would dare face one in single combat.
Armor is the key to this archetype. Mail decorated with gear designs would be the classic image, but leather could be augmented to similar effect. Incorporating a helmet and mask (eerily hissing breathing apparatus optional) would go a long way toward completing a frightening look.
Mastermind: She is the spider at the center of the web, the plotter of plots and schemer of schemes. Perhaps she is a well-known public figure, surrounded by hired muscle and above the law. Maybe she works in the shadows, a masked figure whose identity is kept carefully hidden.
Even if she operates in secret, she cannot help but dress to reflect her station: educated and moneyed. The Mastermind would arm herself as needed but would be more apt to put henchmen between herself and the nearest unfriendly blade. Her use of Anti-Paladin abilities could just as likely be seen as scientific as mystic or occult.
In Amtgard, the Barbarian is no stranger, no outsider looking in. From the moment he steps on the field to the moment he dies on his last life (ten seconds after even that, actually), he is in his element, that which he was born to do. In Steamgard however, the Barbarian is somewhat more of a fish out of water. Yet, while his heart may yearn for the traditional ways of a primitive people, the Barbarian is making his way among the strange and new - by wits when possible, by strength when necessary.
Garb: The furs and leathers used by Barbarians are still present, but are often found as accessories and accents to more "civilized" garb.
Armor, Shields & Weapons: Barbarian weapons should be as varied as always, but during construction they might enjoy designs that suggest the use of cast-off pieces of technology.
Exotic Native: As the blank spaces of the map start to fill in, many of peoples that might still be considered "barbarians" only become more exotic and some may even hail from beyond those maps altogether. Perhaps territorial wars with the merfolk have driven her from sunken Atlantis to the surface world. Perhaps an Imperial traveler has brought her from her lunar village down to Earth to visit the Royal Court. Or perhaps she is a wanderer from the wastes and ruins of the 29th Century come back through time with a grave warning. She may or may not understand "modern" technology, or she might simply consider such trinkets to be beneath her people's notice.
The animals she skins for her clothes should be as exotic as she is, allowing her to adorn herself in brightly-colored furs, hides or feathers not normally found in our familiar natural habitats. If she is a non-human, she might even have strangely colored hair and skin, bizarre tattoos or markings, small horns, fangs or even vestigial wings or tails. Her exotic nature may even prevent magic (however you define it) from functioning properly in her presence.
Ruffian: Even the most modern city has its rough neighborhoods and his was as dangerous as any untamed wilds. Having to fend for himself and scrape out a meager existence on the streets has hardened his body and his attitude. The Ruffian is a rowdy fighter or a mean-spirited youth or the hired muscle of a local syndicate and just the type of person called in to break bones and bust skulls.
His clothes may be a little old and frayed, but the Ruffian has long since learned that his rough-and-tumble lifestyle required sturdy clothes of hearty leather or thick wool. When "Berserk" (anyone who crosses him after he's had a few too many pints finds he just gets meaner and much harder to kill), he might wear the required red headband as a prominent hatband, instead.
Beacons of light and hope, Paladins take on an added significance in the often cynical steampunk settings. The burdens they bear are many but challenged though they may be, Paladins do not shirk their duties. They realize that while they must always fight to win, some of battles are simply meant to be fought.
While personages of accomplishment and power, Paladins use their positions carefully. Innovators, reformers, educators and champions of lost causes; they know their place is at the fore. Inspiration by example may be preferable, but Paladins also understand the need for command and clear leadership. In order to be the desperately needed light in the darkness, they forge ahead, confident and assured they know the way and others would do well to follow their lead.
Garb: The ability of the noble and powerful to inspire the masses simply by their presence is strong. Paladins understand this, and many will be sure to project the proper image. Yet some may wish to avoid ostentation and simply dress as "one of the people." The white belt and phoenix will, of course, always be evident whether dressed richly, simply or in uniform.
Armor, Shields & Weapons: In the role of a defender, the Paladin arms himself accordingly, willing to give everything to the protection of those in need. Paladins would also be likely to adorn shields in the iconography of whatever cause to which they may be pledged and become the very living symbol of what they fight for.
Abilities & Traits: Paladin abilities are themed in life-affirming purity. Even the most jaded takes the symbol of the phoenix seriously. They may see the world as dying or already in ashes and choked by imperial or industrial greed, but with that bleak image is the belief that the world can be reborn; that it can rise again.
Wealthy Reformer: She helps the helpless and stands up for those who have been forced to live on their knees. She is blessed with either a lofty position or great wealth (most likely both) and has vowed to use – even risk – it all in pursuit of justice.
She dresses well, knowing that the trappings of her station can have great symbolic meaning when attempting to inspire and stir the hearts and minds of others. The Wealthy Reformer is as much a symbol of hope for her cause as much as she is an actual leader.
Æther Knight: He is a traditional knight in modern technomagical armor. Built of metal, driven by steam and augmented by æther, he is a force of light and hope on the battlefield. He may be a publicly known and acclaimed law-enforcement official or a secretive hero whose identity remains hidden beneath his steam-powered armor.
Outside the protective shell, one should strive to impress as befits one’s station, either as a nobleman or officer of high rank. The armor of an Æther Knight is his defining apparel. It should be clean, well-kept and inspiring to others.
The concept of the fighting man is eternal. In one form or another, the dedicated combatant is omnipresent and Steamgard proves no exception. Conventional weapons are still widely used but technological augmentation is rapidly becoming the norm. Armor is where a Steamgard warrior can set himself apart. Mechanical adornments and technological flairs can elevate a simple suit of armor (leather or metal) into an advanced wonder of the battlefield. Garb: As always, the purple sash of the Warrior could find itself matched to a variety of garb styles. However, the Steamgard Warrior who wishes to make an impression might find a crisp, smartly-cut uniform to be just the thing.
Abilities & Traits: A Steamgard Warrior is just as likely to see his abilities as advanced gear, rather than superior skills. The enchantments given by Wizards other magical aid would be likely to be seen in the same way.
Armored Infantry: Either in clockwork armor or a steam-driven battle suit, she arrays herself in the most modern advances in military enhancements. Perhaps they are her own innovations, or perhaps Crown or Company has entrusted her with the latest technological accouterments.
Outside of her metallic shell, she would wear her military uniform or business attire, as appropriate, but, as the name suggests, armor is most important. Mail and plate decorated with gears and piping would be the classic image, but leather could be augmented to similar effect.
Soldier: He is a professional fighter in an organized military unit either an officer or enlisted man. His chief motivation may be his salary or his commitment may run deep and patriotic. He goes where he is commanded and fights whom he is told without question.
A recognizable military uniform sets the Soldier apart from his more rag tag counterparts and makes him a symbol of his Kingdom or Company’s military might. He would lean toward leather or quilted doublets, cut and decorated to match his uniform. If he prefers heavy armor, the Soldier is likely to be recruited into the Mechanized Armor Divisions (see “Armored Infantry”, above).
Next installment: "Silence and Thunder" wherein we will explore the more specialized and ranged classes of Steamgard.
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