Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

Like, magick and stuff!

Arcanum, subtitled Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, released in 2001, was Troika Games' first RPG. A novel aspect of the game was its game world, which unlike the usual fantasy/scifi dichotomy, offered a mixture of the two, in a compelling mixture of high fantasy and steampunk.

Arcanum is the name of the continent on which the game takes place - a Tolkienesque realm of humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, gnomes, ogres and halflings, in the midst of an industrial revolution reminiscent of 19th century Europe. The technological revolution is led by humans and gnomes, while elves cling to the traditional ways of magick. The rivalry is deeper than mere traditionalism, though, as magick and technology are mutually exclusive. Powerful magicks cause a machinery to fail, while a novice mage will find their spells backfiring around powerful steam engines.

The story of the game begins on the maiden voyage of the IFS Zephyr, the first zeppelin in Arcanum, which is unexpectedly attacked by two figher planes piloted by ogres. Both attackers, seemingly unexperienced pilots, fail to keep their own craft airborne, but manage to damage the Zephyr enough to make it crash in the mountains near the town of Shrouded Hills. The only two survivors are the player and an older gnomish gentleman named Preston Radcliffe. Radcliffe is mortally wounded, but manages to issue a warning of someone's return and give his ring to the player, telling him to take it to 'the boy', who will know what to do.

During Character creation you first get to choose between three PC race groups: The Minute Races, The Gigantic Races and The Median Races. You also specify the character's gender (all but Median Races are male-only), name and an optional background. On the next screen you get to place 5 points in Stats, skills, HP, Fatigue, Spells or Technological Disciplines.

Arcanum Manual

Along with the game there was a manual. It can be found in digital form here: Arcanum Manual.



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