I found a copy of Age of Empire: A Role-Playing Game of Mad Victorian Fantasy at a local thrift shop. The store must have received a box from a collector or closed game store because the book (and several other RPG books which I also picked up) were in very good condition. When I first saw the book sitting on the shelf, I thought it was a book about the Microsoft video game, Age of Empires. Then when I realized it wasn’t connected to the video game, I wondered: “How did they get away with using a name so similar to the one used by Microsoft?” You don’t antagonize a big corporation with lot’s of lawyers. A quick google search later took me to RPGGeek.com where it mentioned that a settlement with MS had taken the game off of the market. No other details beyond that so (shrugs) who knows what happened in the legal wrangling that took place. However, since the likelihood of playing a campaign with this system is small, I decided to make it one of my entries into the Character Creation Challenge.
The game is definitely a Steampunk game, but is not limited to Victorian London. One of the many influences on the game was the Western Spy-Fi series, The Wild Wild West which had been a favorite of mine when I saw the re-runs on television. So I decided that I wanted to create a character that had the profession of Spy. In Age of Empire, you don’t have classes, you select the minimum requirements for a certain profession. American agent Walter Williams will have to have several things generated in order to be playable. His Statistics (Body, Mind & Spirit), Defining Traits, Skills and Finishing Touches.
For the Statistics, a player is given eight points that can be allocated between Body (the character’s strength and agility), Mind (intelligence and mental ability) and Spirit (social, faith and mystic power). No stat can be higher than 5 or lower than 1. Since a secret agent needs to be well rounded, I selected 3 for Body, 3 for Mind and 2 for Spirit.
In order to meet the minimum requirements for the Spy profession, one of the first Defining Traits I selected was “Jack-of-all-Trades”. You get one Defining Trait for each point you have in each of the three statistics. I selected a series of traits that I felt would be worthwhile to a spy in the field.
As with the Defining Traits, there were minimum requirements for skills. These were Analysis & Disguise (under Mind), Fencing, Firearms and Fisticuffs (under Body) with no required skills under Spirit. It took a second to find out how many skill points I had to spend (luckily there was an example of creating a character in the book and it explained some of the steps I had just read). I spent my skill points (15 each for Body and Mind skills, 10 for Spirit skills) that I felt was appropriate for an espionage agent.
As a spy, my character has a special ability of obtaining three (highest stat) gadgets per adventure. Those should come in handy. Rolling for starting funds was the first time I had to make a dice roll in the character creation process. The equipment list was rather small, so I selected what I could and considered the character created.
Walter Williams was born from an American Father and a British Mother. He learned at an early age that acting was a way to become popular. While he was raised in the United States, his mother taught him all about the British way. When Walter was starting out as a new actor, he was approached by a friend who served with the American government. They needed agents to gather intelligence around the world. Walter’s acting would allow him to pass of as both American and European. He was placed in a traveling stage performing group which gave him cover for being abroad as well as having certain items. “Oh, that’s just a prop pistol.” Walter is now on assignment while traveling across the globe. Here is the character sheets.
It appears that the system used for Age of Empire is pretty simple and easy. You use a D6 for each skill point and add your Stat score. The Author (Game Master) rolls an opposing roll and the highest score succeeds. There are also rules for magic and mysticism that I didn’t really get to read at this time. I wouldn’t mind trying out a gaming session or two to really get a feel for the game. And with the lack of companion publications for the game, it’s wide open for homebrew supplements. I wonder if they would actually get used if I wrote anything up for them. The creators of the game included statistics for historical figures such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Wyatt Earp as well as fictional characters like Count Dracula and Phileas Fogg. I thought that was a nice touch as I usually wonder what a character’s game statistics would be when I’m watching an entertaining show.
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Coming Up Next:
Far Trek, a fan made RPG based off of a popular Science Fiction franchise.