Dev Notes 22 - Small Joys

Among the teasers for Steamscapes: Asia, I included a brief discussion about a specific historical easter egg in the book that I wanted to call to everyone's attention. Now that the book is out, I thought I would go through some of the other little things we've managed to get into the book that make me happy.

  1. Religious symbols and precepts - At the beginning of each of the six chapters, we have included a symbol and a precept or saying from a major world religion that originated in Asia. I enjoyed matching all of the chapters to these various sayings, but some of them fit especially well. The sixth chapter, for instance, is our chapter on running and playing the game, and that seemed the perfect place to include the quote from the Upanishads, "As one acts, so does one become." The second chapter is a collection of three stories of China, all of which closely portray the Taoist precept, "The only motion is returning." (In fact, I would be very interested in discussing with readers whether they feel the characters in those stories also demonstrate the second part of that precept, "...the only useful quality, weakness.") I was also quite satisfied with the match between the historical background of the fifth chapter and the Shinto precept, "The world is one great family."
  2. Role-playing advice - Speaking of religion, the sixth chapter includes a discussion about role-playing characters who have very different life experiences from ourselves, as well as a sidebar on including religion in your games. This is a continuation of the discussions I had in previous developer notes, distilled specifically for book form. I am happy to have included this role-playing advice partially because it is so important for this specific setting book and partially because it is not a discussion we often see in Savage Worlds books. This kind of conversation is showing up more and more in RPG products in general (even D&D 5E), so I do think it's right for this book and for the Savage Worlds community in general. I hope that GMs and players will find it helpful.
  3. Hopping zombies - Okay, not really...but sort of. Victoria Dixon, our writer for the Apothecary historical background, managed to insert the jiangshi into that timeline and therefore into the Steamscapes world. Of course, because Steamscapes is a realistic setting with no magical or supernatural elements, our jiangshi are not literal undead. You will have to read chapter three to see how she did it.
  4. Molybdenum alloys - The Steamscapes crew is not just nerdy about games and history, we're also nerdy about science! Jasmin Tomlins, my wife and art director, has both a chemistry degree and an extensive knowledge of Japanese history. She originally pointed me to the historical connection between molybdenum steel alloys and the legendary Masamune swords and suggested that it might be interesting if Japan could rediscover molybdenum alloys earlier in the Steamscapes timeline. Of course we jumped on that, and the result is the new oni ni kanabō racial template for Japanese war automatons. (Does this mean we'll also accelerate the timeline for tungsten alloys when we get to Steamscapes: Europe? Maaaaaybe...)

There are certainly more little additions to the book that make me happy, but for now I'll leave you with those. If you want to see these easter eggs and find even more, go buy Steamscapes: Asia right now!

-Fairman Rogers