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Game Rules

We had a few points in mind when we started building the SteamJazz rules: we wanted the rules to fit with the steampunk setting, giving a complete and fit-together gaming experience. We wanted the rules to be both fluent and precise in describing the world - a difficult task. Currently the rules look simple enough to allow fluent gameplay and complex enough to give the players enough freedom of choice with their options.

We didn’t want the rules to be overly realistic when it comes to injury and character death, but we didn’t want the rules to be too heroic either. We have tried to balance the damage and wounds to what we have called “spaghetti western realism”.

Character Creation

There is no random element in SteamJazz character creation. The player chooses his/hers character's race, nationality, background and career. These choices shape who the character is. There is naturally room for customization. The player receives a number of Character Points, a certain amount of which must be used on his career skills, and the rest can be used in any way the player sees fit for the character. The SteamJazz rules has advantages and disadvantages to represent acquired and innate abilities and traits that can’t be properly described by the attributes and skills.


SteamJazz rules has four attribute categories, each of which has two attributes, for a total of eight attributes. Each category has an active and a passive attribute. For example the Physical attributes are Strength and Constitution. Strength is the active attribute: when using Strength, the character is an active doer, raising heavy items or bending metal bars. Constitution is the passive attribute, used often when the character isn’t doing anything himself: to avoid catching flue, to see if he faints from pain and to see how much beating he can take. The other attribute categories and their respective attributes are Agility (Dexterity and Reflex), Mental (Intelligence and Wits) and Social (Charisma and Empathy).

Dice Mechanics

The SteamJazz rules use 3d6 for skill and attribute rolls. 3d6 gives balanced results in a bell curve, with 9-12 rolling around 50% of the time, whereas the very high or very low rolls (3-4 / 17-18) only roll around 2% of the time. SteamJazz has a special dice mechanic called “The Golden Die”. One of the three d6’s must be of different colour and it is named the Golden Die. If the Golden Die shows ‘6' and the roll is a success, it is a Golden Success. If, on the other hand, the Golden Die shows ‘1’ and the roll is a failure, it is a fumble.