Good friend and fellow Philippine GM the Armchair Gamer recently gave me his old copy of the R. Talsorian classic RPG Castle Falkenstein. I’ve had only the barest experience with this game from being a player in a few one-shots back in college. While I don’t remember much about the system except that it involved the use of playing cards instead of dice as a randomizer, I was very happy to get the book.
That said, I’ve managed to look over the book a bit and check out a few reviews and I have to admit that Castle Falkenstein is one of those games that immediately works with my GMing paradigm. It’s a game that pretty much places itself far into the Storytelling sort with light rules and plenty of handwavium. While it is a lightweight with regards to the rules, the book spares no expense in going into great detail into the world of New Europa, an alternate Victorian Era earth with Fantasy Races, steampunk technology and magic.
What I like about it is the fact that the game takes the whole Victorian vibe and cranks it up to 11, with little tricks like using cards instead of dice and the fact that players don’t have character sheets, but instead maintain a character diary to record their statistics, as well as to jot down notes.
In many ways, Castle Falkenstein joins Legend of the Five Rings and Fading Suns in the category of RPGs who put a remarkable amount of focus and detail to present a compelling setting with it’s own social restrictions and enforces them through the writing and tone. I am particularly fascinated by games like these as they are very fun to read, and present many interesting social situations for player characters to get into without having to need guns and bombs.
Castle Falkenstein is a classic, and is a game I would highly recommend to anyone who likes the storytelling paradigm. What’s more, the PDFs of the entire line are available in DriveThruRPG for very reasonable prices, including:
- The Castle Falkenstein corebook, that goes for only $16.00 or roughly Php 704.00
- Comme Il Faut, the highly recommended guide to Steam Age culture is available for $8.50 or about Php 374.00
- Six-Guns & Sorcery details the Falkenstein take on the Wild West and is going for $10.00 or Php 440.00
Considering that the only thing you need to play is some paper, a pen and a deck of cards is a definite plus for the Philippine Gamer as finding a deck of playing cards is a whole lot easier than finding a set of Polyhedral Dice.