What is this Mechanika?
Mechanika: Empires of Blood & Steam Core Rulebook is the first core rule book for the Xaos system. We at Xaos Publishing have been working hard trying to bring a new system and a new gaming opportunity to the market.
Mechanika was designed to truly embrace the Steampunk Horror (Cthulhu Mythos) genre, while at the same time incorporating Magical elements. Bringing them all together in a way that makes them feel genuine, and fully realized. Mechanika (indeed all the Xaos games), is also designed to deliver a rapid fire cinematic tabletop experience. We call this genre of tabletop gaming: Cinematic Roleplaying.
We accomplish this in a few different ways.
First, the system is designed to be easy to learn, with fewer types of dice in mind. Fewer types of dice means fewer types of rolls, fewer types of rolls means faster gameplay. All you need to play is a pair of percentile dice, and a set of FUDGE dice. This dice combination is simple, yet allows for a high level of customizability. It gives the game a system for varying degrees of success or failure. We have found that this ensures combat (whether social, mental, or physical), is quick, brutal, and rewarding.
Second, we give you all the tools to play what you want, how you want, from the very beginning. We have no classes or level system, resulting in an open ended free form development process, while still offering rich opportunities for character advancement. Character creation is deep and satisfying, with perks, flaws, bonds, back stories, and more customizability than you can shake a gas powered stick at. We want the characters you make to feel like they are the true stars of the game.
Thirdly, magic is magical and machina is amazing! In Mechanika you have access to terrible and incredible powers through a force we call flux. We want it to be a truly spectacular thing to cast an incantation, or use a piece of artifice. But everything in Mechanika has a price, and the price can be dire indeed. Manipulation of flux can draw the attention of sinister beings and dark forces better left unmentioned, and unimagined. For this reason overusing these terrible powers can cause insanity, death, or worse. This gives your decisions weight and consequence; and makes success that much sweeter.
Finally, we want the characters to feel like they are more than just players in a story. We want the characters to help create that story. For that reason we have implemented a destiny system. Allowing player the ability to earn points for roleplaying the aspects of their characters that make them unique. These points can then be used to make live in-game changes. Anything from rerolling dice to completely altering the scene in a measurable way. This keeps the GM on his toes and makes the whole experience more engaging for everyone, and therefore, more fun!
Mechanika is about Steampunk and Steampunk is about building anything and everything. We want to emphasize that creation process in every aspect. From magic, to machina, to monsters, we give you the tools to build practically anything you can imagine.
Take magic for instance. We give you 12 primary schools of incantation, With many specific abilities in each school. You can then mix and match spell effects, allowing you to create elaborate chained catastrophic effects on the fly as the situation dictates. Do you want to set an undead soldier on fire, teleport him into a group of his buddies and watch him explode? Yeah. You can do that.
Or take machina, our version of Steampunk gadgets. We give you a system of templates and effects to work with and you do the rest! Want to build a Steampunk set of ironman armor? How about a bunch of exploding clockwork spiders? Done and done.
Finally even our monsters are fully customizable. We give you a rich menagerie of terrible and dark creatures to choose from, and a full system of templates and conditions that can be quickly and easily hot swapped to allow for unpredictable and innovative encounters. All of this customization and cinematic experience would mean nothing if it didn't have a rich and interesting environment to live in. The world of Mechanika is that environment.
The game is set on an anachronistic Earth, following an alternate timeline filled with historical and fictional characters from throughout history. Mark Twain, Mr. Hyde, Rasputin, Queen Victoria, Vlad the Impaler, and Nikola Tesla. Just to name a few. Altered and augmented in dark and exciting ways, and given new roles in our new world.
We have reimagined Earth's cultures and countries in a myriad of interesting ways, injecting them with a heavy dose of Lovecraft inspired cosmic horror and exciting high adventure, and we can't wait to show you our vision and give you the opportunity to be a part of the story.