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Q&A: Dieselpunk RPG 'Age of Steel'

We chatted with Rob Leigh, writer and creator of the tabletop RPG Age of Steel. More information on the game can be found at

Geeksagogo: Could you describe the production history of the game?

Leigh: Age of Steel started as a game I ran for my friends about 8 years ago. About 3 years ago I decided (as a New Year’s resolution) to see if I could turn the rough notes I had into a finished, self-contained game that I could publish. I then spent 2 years turning the notes into a coherent document, play-testing it, making revisions, and commissioning artwork. I published Age of Steel via DriveThruRPG at the beginning of 2018.

Geeksagogo: What sources influenced its creation?

Leigh: Age of Steel is inspired by a number of sources such as Indiana Jones, Hellboy, the Mummy (the 1999 version), the Uncharted video game series, and a number of written works. It is very heavily influenced by the Dieselpunk genre of speculative fiction.

Geeksagogo: How do the game mechanics function?

Leigh: Each character has 3 stats that define their physical, mental and social abilities. To see if you are successful at a particular skill you roll a number of 6-sided dice equal to the relevant stat, and count the number of dice that result in a 5 or 6. To be successful you need to get a total number of dice equal to or greater than a number set by the Gamemaster. Being trained in a skill means you count dice that result in lower numbers as successes.

Geeksagogo: What is the premise?

Leigh: Age of Steel is set in a world not unlike our own in 1920s and 30s. It has just emerged from its own version of the First World War, and is now in a Cold War period in which the various nations plot against each other. Technology in this world took a slightly different route to our world; diesel powered mecha are commonplace, as are sci-fi gadgets such as cybernetics, jet packs, ray guns and clockwork robots. The game is an homage to action-adventure movies and stories, in which the players take on the roles of adventurers who are thrown into various intrigues and plots between the nations, as well as getting into good old-fashioned escapades such as exploring jungles and robbing tombs.

Geeksagogo: What is the difference between Diesel Punk and Pulp adventure?

Leigh: To me the biggest difference is Dieselpunk embraces elements more commonly found in science fiction. Pulp stories are typically more grounded in history, and feature down-to-earth plot lines about adventure and exploration. Dieselpunk mixes sci-fi elements with vintage technology to create things such as robots, huge airships and ray guns that simultaneously advanced and retro. Dieselpunk can also feature supernatural elements, such as magic, monsters and creatures from other dimensions.

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