View Full Version : Brainstorming Steampunk Gadgetry

2008-09-03, 04:08 PM
I'm GMing a game of monster hunters set in Victorian London, and I'd like the Playground to help me brainstorm. The players are part of an investigation unit for the crown, called "Her Majesty's Investigative Society for Unnatural Occurances" (the proto-Torchwood, if you will :smalltongue:). With each mission, they are given a gadget by Inspector Sir Archibald Quincy, the game's "Q" stand-in--that's Q as in Bond, by the way, not Star Trek!

I'd like your help brainstorming fun, Victorian, steampunk-ish gadgets I can give them for each mission. I really want to stick with the Q idea, in that the item seems somewhat odd and useless, but it comes in unexpectedly handy at just the right moment. To that end, part of the design process is coming up with a weird, tense scene in which the object is useful.

Over the course of the campaign, they'll be fighting werewolves, vampires, giant steam-powered robots, Lovecraftian cultists, and a mad (MAD!) scientist who creates a horde of zombies. Although I don't really want these items to be helpful in a game-mechanics sense, we're using Victoriana 1st Edition as the rule set. The game is set in 1867, so the devices should reflect the sorts of things people thought were fantastic in 1867.

Possible ideas I've had so far include:
*A top hat with a button to bring down a blast shield.
*A wind-up, clockwork spider small enough to fit under a door, capable of taking daguerrotype photographs.
*A horse-drawn coach that can, at the pull of a lever, raise up on three spindly, 15-foot long metal legs and move about on its own. Also equipped with a make-shift gatling gun (this one's for combatting the steam-powered robots!).
*A modified shotgun for firing wooden stakes.
*A box with horn, resembling a phonograph, that detects the odors of decaying flesh. Operated by hand-crank.

Thoughts? What kinds of steampunk gadgets would you want to use if you were hunting monsters through the streets of London?

2008-09-03, 04:28 PM
One question: Does/can this HM ISUO organisation incorporate the supernatural into these gadgets?

If so, an obvious one would be a monocle/pair of specs that allow the invesigators to detect supernatural dooda's in some way (with green tinted glass of course)...clearly not achievable with 'normal' tech, but within the realm of possibility for supernatural stuff.

For more 'traditional' suggestions:

- Clockwork Self-Loading Crossbow
- Spring-Powered Super-Jump Leg Braces
- Exploding Pocket Watch
- Hidden-Wheeled Shoes
- Cane/Boot/Monocle set that combine to make a rifle

A couple stolen from Arcanum (a CRPG):

- Spring Loaded Lockpicks (don't ask why they're better than normal ones...I don't know, they just are)
- Chapeux of Magnetic Inversion (Top Hat that magnetically deflects incoming missiles)

2008-09-03, 05:08 PM
One question: Does/can this HM ISUO organisation incorporate the supernatural into these gadgets?

Not really. Two of the players are mystics, capable of doing some light magical stuff, but the organization itself is run by Good Christian Men who don't meddle in such rot.

- Spring-Powered Super-Jump Leg Braces
- Exploding Pocket Watch
- Hidden-Wheeled Shoes
- Cane/Boot/Monocle set that combine to make a rifle

LOVE these.

2008-09-03, 05:10 PM
Interesting setting.

Hmm.. Well. That carriage of yours needs a net-launcher.
Cuff-link bombs, smoke or odinary. (even better if filled with some distillation of garlic)
If it's steampunk you Will need some kind of exo-skeleton with a furnace on its back, or something that can be connected to said carriage and powered up from there.
Poisoned needles from here and there.
Silver bracelets...

That's what I can think of from the top of my head.

2008-09-03, 05:14 PM
Fog Generating Apparatus - if the fog of London isn't thick enough...
Un-Light Lenses - conversely, a pair of goggles to see through fog.
Voltaic Cane - run from a backpack, crank-recharged power supply
Eux de Garlique - the finest from the French, a glass perfume pistol that repels those annoying vampires
Magnetic Gloves - Stick to metal surfaces. Also great for a night at the opera.
Phlogiston Vial - Liquid heat.
Aether Torsion Generator - a complex lot of wires and glowing tubes. Interferes with pesky magic users.
Clockwork Horse - takes forever to wind, though.
Arachno-Strider - an eight-legged vehicle, holds two. Equipped with drill fangs for tunneling or dealing with irritances.
Elephant Gun - shoot elephants, of course.

2008-09-03, 05:22 PM
How about a mechanical horse, disguised as a normal one? With room for a person to hide inside.

Steam rockets: 2. Can be used as a jetpack (together) for a few seconds, or set them up individually and launched to explode on serious impact (like a wall, to get through it).

Or a monocle that can zoom in to view far away things without appearing to be anything other than a monocle. The reason it's not spectacles is because you don't even attract attention when you reach up to adjust a monocle frequently.

Lycan 01
2008-09-03, 05:25 PM
Have you played Bioshock? For that extra Steampunky touch, use the shotgun and revolver from Bioshock when they're in their fully upgraded form. If you haven't seen 'em, the shotty is basically a clockwork pump-action with small gas tanks (think CO2 airgun cartidges) attached to the side, and the handgun has a rotating belt fed magazine that holds 24 bullets.

As for original stuff... Hmmm...

A Holy Water grenade. (2 layered grenade. Inner layer is explody part, out layer is filled with Holy Water and bits of silver)
Clockwork chainsaw. (Wind it up and watch it go!)
Spring-loaded grenade launcher. (Slinky+tube=explody goodness!)
Collapsable Glider (Its a glider that unfolds/condenses via cranks and gears)

Yeah, I know. Sucky ideas... :P

2008-09-03, 06:59 PM
Teapot Gun- a teapot with a heating apparatus. Can be used to heat water or adjusted to fire presurised streams of scalding water or spray a cloud of steam.

Blast Watch- an exploding pockwatch that can be stuck onto a solid object, set to a timer, and then it blows a hole in the object. Best for locked doors or heavily armored robots.

Quake alarm- based on Teslas earthquake machine, a device that is attached to the support beams for a building and then it sets powerful vibrations through it to shake the building to bits.

Bulletproof corset- Victorian undergarments that can protect against weapons

Flying Bike- a pedal-powered aircraft that includes various clockwork mechanisms, hot-air balloons, and such to give it flight. "Roads? Where we're going we won't need roads!"

Ball Lightning Gun- A hand-cranked generator that creates orbs of electical charge, a magnetic field pushes it in the direction of enemies. The orbs disrupt electronics, cause disorientation to peoples brains at close range, and kill upon contact.

Combat Dress- A metal tank-like construct disguised as a wide rimmed dancing gown. If danger strikes, the lady can press a button and her gown transforms into a protective shell complete with weapons. Its either pedal-powered or uses a steam engine. In battle-mode, it has all the grace of movement as if she were dancing... sort of like a dalek (since daleks were inspired by watching ballet dancers moving about in those poofy dresses)

Solar Death ray- a dish-like array or mirrors that focus sunlight upon a single point, a secondary set of mirrors and lenses may turn it into a long-distance beam of destruction. Could be used as a BBEGs weapon of mass destruction (though it only works at noon).

Opera glass camera- An opera glass (those binocular things that are held up by one handle so people can see the stage from the balcony) with a camera built into one of the lenses. Good for taking long-distance pictures.

Spike cane- A cane with a spike or blade that sticks out of the bottom when a button is pressed. Useful for an imprmptu weapon or to pick stuff up (like stabbing a piece of paper). Or a metal claw at the top to use to grab things too dangerous to touch.

Hot air carriage: A carriage with an emergency hot-air balloon and heater buit into it. Flip a lever and it releases the horses and takes to the sky. Good for a quick getaway from pursuers.

dynamite cigar- A cigar with dynamite built into it, for blowing up things or killing people who smoke. Mainly a disguise to smuggle the bomb in.

cigar flare- a cigar with a flare or rocket built in, used as an emergency signal.

Brown note phonograph- a recording of a low-frequency noise that disrupts people body. Either that or a copy of the Spice Girls music from the future... to shock Victorian era people.

Fire thrower- Sprays lit lamp oil at people

Magnetic marbles- marbles that are attracted to metallic objects, like robot feet. This ensures that they move underneith the robots feet or may bet stuck in the mechanical workings.

2008-09-03, 07:21 PM
SPRING SHOES! That has got to be the best steampunk gadget. Actually I think there is a folklore about a creature that has such a mode of travel, so it could be a monster to (I do forget the details).

Here are a couple ideas of of the top of my head:
-Extra long pointer. A rod that has a smaller rod inside of it for stretching out at the push of a button. But then it keeps going and going...
-Wind up hammer. It can't be carried loaded and requires a large crank to wind up, but when you let it go, it wrecks some havoc.
-Ghost detectors. Really flukey and oversensitive compasses that measure magnetic fields, heat, slight movements. The kind of thing that generates a lot of false positives and than you freak out your players by suddenly telling them it jumps off the scale.
-Reverse zip line. Same idea as an ordinary zipline, except that it has a motor which carries you and a notch to hang on to. Of course, it still can't go that steep.
-Persistent light bulb. It's not brighter or intenser, it's more persistent. If you cover it up, you can still see the light shining through. Lightbulbs might be an anachronism, but if you present it as a new technology (and that all lightbulbs are like this) it will fit in an amusing manner.
-Super Swiss Army Knife. Somehow it packs in about two to three times as many tools in about the same area. Touch the wrong part and five things pop out, none of which is what you are looking for. Lets see: knife, scissors, bottle-opener, can-opener, corkscrew, files, tweezers, screwdriver (philllips and flat), reamer, wire stripper, toothpick, saw, hook, magnifying glass, quill, fish scaler, pliers, punch, spring, wire, metal etcher, wrench, weight, key, a lock, a watch, a compass (both types), a sextant, an astrolabe, a protractor, convex/concave mirror, a flat mirror, a chain, a fork, and a spoon.

Make sure you also include really technology. Trains, mills, guns, dynamite, gas-heating, the starts of electricity,

2008-09-03, 07:31 PM
If you've seen the recent Van Helsing movie (bad as it was), you could nick a few ideas, like the glowy ball of perfect sunlight, or my favorite, the spring powered hand-sized saw-blades (think circular saw, but with a hand grip that also is a spring, so you can spin them up and cut through stuff).

Sorry, can't think of much else (steampunk =/= my thing).


2008-09-03, 08:10 PM
SPRING SHOES! That has got to be the best steampunk gadget. Actually I think there is a folklore about a creature that has such a mode of travel, so it could be a monster to (I do forget the details).

The legendary Spring-Heeled Jack. Terroized London. Reportedly could leap walls, and breath fire. Appeared somewhat as a man in a suit.

Mushroom Ninja
2008-09-03, 08:44 PM
What exactly is steampunk? From the gadgets that you've described, it sounds exciting!

2008-09-03, 08:51 PM
Read this. (http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php) It should give you enough for awhile :smalltongue:

Also, if you can find a copy of the Ptolus Setting, they already have lots of rules for clockwork weapons and other wackiness.

2008-09-03, 08:57 PM
What exactly is steampunk? From the gadgets that you've described, it sounds exciting!

Wow. That's a hard question.

Lemme try this. It's if scientific advance had continued with the technology of the past (in steampunk's specific case, Victorian England) with a good dash of technobabble thrown in to explain away the impossible (And a lot of it is. As Yahtzee put it, "How can a steam powered turret distinguish friend and foe? I wasn't aware that boiled water could form allegiances.") Or to put it another way, sci-fi set in the past.

Some good examples are the Difference Engine, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (NOT the movie), the Time Machine, Girl Genius, and much, much more.

Some variants are clockpunk, stonepunk, dieselpunk, and castlepunk. Most variants are far less common than steampunk.

In recent years, it's become a popular design style as well - adding brass and gears to items. See Datamancer's and Jake von Slatt's creations for more on that.

For more on Steampunk, go here. (http://www.brassgoggles.co.uk/brassgoggles/)

2008-09-03, 09:07 PM
I'm doing a steampunk-oriented thingy (it's ill-defined d20) right now as well. My character is a german noble who worked his way into the house of nobles with money, planning, and ingenuity. He built a dirigible, is in the development stage of a motorcycle (think of the bat pod) and the planning stage of a submersible. A few nice gadgets from the campaign:

-Arachnoid legs, originating from the back.

-A steam powered eye-patch of...indeterminate properties. It's owner wanted it to be able to shoot lasers. You could do anything with this.

-A fanichute. Basically, it's a parachute you can drive, with a high powered fan as a means of propulsion.

-Indoor plumbing (trust me, it's good to have it before its time.

-Do whatever you can with mobile furniture. Even flying furniture.

-Flying lanterns. You can keep them stationary, or have them move around with you.

-The chemical thrower from Bioshock. You can do more than just napalm, liquid nitrogen and...electric gel. I like using sulfuric acid. The trick is making the gun resistant to it.

-Davinci-esque flying machines. He was the first steampunk artist.

-Do what you can with scissor-armed lamps, elevators, and such. They look kind of like this:

| / \ EDIT: this didn't look like I wanted it to.

-just an atmospheric tip: pair metal and glass as much as possible, from bottles (again, plasmid bottles from Bioshock), to windows, even walls.

-Self preparing food. Put it in an automatic pot, and a pre-programmed pair of robot arms within the pot will toss your salad, grind your beef, and stir your pasta. Give it legs and it will take your meal to you.

All I can think of for now. Oh yeah, put gears on all your weapons and give them an auto-reloading function.

Mushroom Ninja
2008-09-03, 09:15 PM
Read this. (http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php) It should give you enough for awhile :smalltongue:

Also, if you can find a copy of the Ptolus Setting, they already have lots of rules for clockwork weapons and other wackiness.

Oh, okay. I've read Girl Genius, but I didn't know it was steampunk. Thanks!

2008-09-03, 09:32 PM
You have to have something that involves Tesla Coils, just because they are cool. :smallbiggrin:

Some kind of lightning gun that is very powerful, but only has 1 shot and then can only be charged back up again in a thunderstorm. At great personal risk.

To steal an idea from the difference engine, and just as scenery, you might want the offices of the organization that the heroes are members of to have massive brass clockwork computers crunching numbers.

Portable telegraph (Very very long spool of ultra fine wire that can be spooled out and connected to existing telegraph lines.)

Clockwork helicopter. Can fly for about 5 or ten minutes carrying 1 or 2 people but then has to be rewound. By 4 men operating hand cranks. For a full hour. (Or possibly available in a backpack version that can carry a single person for a couple of minutes.)

Steam powered cannon.

Steam powered prostheses - maybe more in bad guys, but something like a massive backpack mounted steam boiler that powers cybernetic arm/legs.

Clockwork guard dogs, have to be rewound after they have attacked someone.

All I can think of at the moment, but maybe something more will come to me later.