Inspiring Diversity with Sample Characters - Steamscapes: Asia Teaser #1

It is time! We are close enough to at least the digital release of Steamscapes: Asia that we can begin to preview some of what we have been doing. This teaser coincides both with our preparation for Gen Con and with the arrival of several key art pieces by the wonderful and talented Cami Woodruff. These pieces are being used for some of the sample characters in the chapter on game resources, so I thought I would take a moment to talk about how art and character design can go together to inspire roleplaying of diverse, non-stereotypical characters. (Note - all our sample characters were created as Seasoned, so if they sound a little extra powerful that's because they are.)



Let's start with our Soldier. Of the sample characters, this one is probably the most straightforward. He knows a variety of useful skills, though of course he is best at Fighting, and he has a fairly traditional set of soldier's Hindrances: Code of Honor, Loyal, and Vow (Minor). In his Edges, he is also designed to show off our new martial arts system, as he is an advanced student of the art of gatka, the Sikh sword form. His uniform reflects that worn by modern practitioners of that art, which we hope will act as a strong visual cue for those who may be familiar with gatka (or those who are inspired to Google it). His inclusion as one of the sample characters also reflects the importance that the Sikh Empire plays in the alternate timeline of Steamscapes: Asia.

Next we have our Steamhand. Part of our goal with the sample characters in this book is to show not only the expanded possibilities that a new continent can offer, but also to show a range of character types when compared to the ones in our other books. Since our previous Steamhand was male, we wanted to show a female Steamhand in this book. Her clothing is obviously influenced by North American functionality, though accented with patterned scarves one would be unlikely to find in the Confederation of Texas or the Rocky Mountain Republic. More than that, though, the design we have created for this sample character shows the subtle ways you can add specificity that enriches diverse roleplaying.

Her Hindrances are very standard: Big Mouth, Habit, and Overconfident. This is a common trio, though perhaps less so for female characters. However, they do a wonderful job of very quickly evoking an attitude and a style of play that suggests working-class. More importantly, her Edges include an indication that she has also pursued the study of a martial art: silambam. Silambam is the Tamil form that revolves around the bamboo staff as its primary weapon. This means that our Steamhand is not just "generic Indian," but specifically Tamil. With this addition, we suggest an entire history for the character for any reader who is aware of how the Tamils were treated by the British East India Company and can then imagine how someone from such an oppressed group might respond to liberation and modernization in an independent India.

If you're not worried about such things, then she's just a cool character who can build steam engines and kick butt with a staff. But we believe adding these details can only improve the experience of the setting.

This fellow is our Saboteur. Again, showing the diversity of character types within the setting, we switched to a male Saboteur for this book, and since Vietnam still experiences French influence in the Steamscapes timeline, it made sense to have our Saboteur be Vietnamese. This time around, we wanted to emphasize the spy aspect of the profession, both with the art and the design. In addition, we wanted to remind GMs and players that it is absolutely possible to have more than one profession, so this Saboteur is also an Apothecary (albeit more of an explosives-focused one). And finally, we gave him Attractive as an Edge, because he clearly is, and also we need to see more male characters described that way.

This is it. This is Steamscapes: Asia in a nutshell. As much as I have enjoyed telling people about Bass Reeves ever since we worked on the Gunslinger's Guide, I think this is my new favorite Gunslinger. There is such a rich story just in the art that we absolutely had to design the character to be interesting as well. We did give her the Elderly Hindrance, largely because you so rarely see that Hindrance used for anyone, let alone combat-focused characters. On top of being a Gunslinger, though, we also gave her three Leadership Edges: Command, Command Presence, and Tactician. This is definitely a character we can imagine leading the party.


We hope you enjoyed this teaser. Keep an eye out for the next one in about two weeks. And if you happen to be at Gen Con you can see even more preview samples, especially if you catch me at the Savage Worlds Licensee Panel - Saturday at 4PM in Crown Plaza: Victoria Station A/B. Until next time!

- Fairman Rogers