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Castle Falkenstein is a 1994 Historical table-top RPG set during the Victorian era. As such, many fixtures of Period Fiction and Historical Accounts are a common Fixture of game-play, including High Society Intrigue, War between European Powers and the Shadowy Presence of Magicians and Faerie.

Well, not really. Rather, Castle Falkenstein is about the Victorian Era as it Should Have Been, in which gallant men and women fight the forces of evil, steam-powered contraptions fill the skies and faeries are a regular sight in the cities of Europe.

The book itself is a whimsical mix of illustrated novel, world book and game; most of it is glossy, coloured, illustrated and completely avoids mentioning any rules, while the book tells the story of Tom Olan, a game designer plucked magically from Earth to help in the ongoing fight against the Unseelie and their human collaborator, Otto von Bismarck; occasional stops are made for more in-depth exposition about life in New Europa.

The final chapter details the rules; true to form, they're designed to be played in the context of Victorian-era aristocratic life. Therefore, action resolution is through playing cards (Which are a wholesome pastime), not dice (Which are for uncouth knaves), while characters are detailed using diaries, because Xerox machines for character sheets weren't available in the 1870's (Charles Babbage, however, invented data forms in the 1830s...so some kind of data sheet wasn't entirely out of timeframe).

(Not to be confused with Falken's Maze.)


Tropes used in Castle Falkenstein include:
  • Action Dress Rip
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Dragons are part of the political scene and are known to be the descendants of pterosaurs who survived the extinction of the dinosaurs by developing intelligence and magic.
  • Divided States of America
  • Fair Folk
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In universe. The Great Game sweep the drawing rooms and saloons of Europa, from the must humble middle man to nobility and is greatly enjoyed (and endorsed) by Kings, Lord Faes and otherworldy beings alike.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople) : Most of Europe - sorry, "Europa" - has the same names and borders as in our reality, but South America is Antillea, and the Atlantic Ocean is the Atlantean Ocean, among other things.
  • Karma Houdini: If the complementary book "Memoirs of Auberon of Faerie" is anywhere near correct, all the Fae, whether Seele or Unseele are unrepented mass murderess, literally killing, raping, torturing and bringing two entire dimensions worht of Millions of Humans to extinction... and so far they had shown no sense of remorse. It really gave you a new perspective of the witty, charming Fae you met in the Ballroom, isn't?.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: The Castle Falkenstein books are allegedly written by Tom Olam, an acquaintance of game publisher Mike Pondsmith who mysterously vanished during a vacation in Europe; Olam sends documents to Pondsmith claiming to have been abducted to a Steam Punk-plus-magic alternate world, in which he wrote the rules to the game using cards because the local nobility were scandalized at the thought of gaming with dice.
    • Invoked In-Universe, to say that characters and their authors each exist. For example, describing this the author relates an incident in which while attending a lecture by Darwin, he notices A.C.Doyle and Dr. Watson having a discussion between themselves about the lecture.
  • Mayincatec: The blood mages
  • One-Gender Race: Dwarves are exclusively male. They mate with the females of other Faerie-kind; male offspring are Dwarves, while female offspring are the same kind of Fae as their mother.
  • Our Dragons Are Different
  • Our Elves Are Different
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Somewhat Averted, while dwarf had some of the miners/dwarfclan/short temper typical feel, they are completely inmune to fire, need other races to reproduce and you will hardly find a "Viking type dwarf", they being consumate engineers/mad scientists. They are also rather indifferent about their beards but don't you dare to mock their feet.
  • Summon Everyman Hero: The Castle Falkenstein backstory tells of Tom Olam, computer game designer, who is summoned into a world of Victorian Steampunk Fantasy by a mighty spell. Although he proves to be of some value, the real prize is the book he brought with him - he picked it up at a used book shop cheap, and it holds the secret to Saving The Day.
  • Values Dissonance: In universe. "Dice are the devil’s work. Cards are OK. Culture. Go figure."
  • The Wild Hunt
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