Monday, April 9, 2012

Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part IV -- Cowboys and Victorians

So, here we are just about to hit the modern era of the Hero Universe. The past three installments can be found here...

Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part I -- Pre-Cataclysm
Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part II -- Post-Cataclysm to the Medieval Era
Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part III -- Musketeers, Pirates, and Revolutions

... and we still have quite a ways to go. No time to dawdle then! On to Leagues of Extraordinary Gentlepersons and Blazing Saddles!

Victorian Hero (1837 to 1910)
A page from Bernie Wrightson's awe-inspiring masterwork: Frankenstein.
His linework and visual interpretation of the novel goes a long way to
evoking the feel of the era and the story. The resoluteness of Frankenstein
and the power and savage strength of his monster are so vivid here.

A fine time for adventures, beginning with Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne and the invention of the cartridge. Encompasses great explorations, gold rushes, frontiers, the American Civil War, lost lands, darkest Africa, strange forbidden magics, Frankenstein, the Mummy, Dracula, Fu Manchu, Sherlock Holmes, Captain Nemo, and more. Hudson City is a hustling, bustling center of commerce and culture, second only to New York City in the Americas.

As yet, no “superheroes” exist, but there are “masked adventurers” from time to time, and many more who are not masked. Toward the end of this period some people begin to verge, albeit slightly, toward true “superpowers”; this is best seen in Hawley Griffith, the so-called “Invisible Man,” and Dr. Jekyll. The presence of “steampunk” weird science is also possible.

For influence and ideas, see the works of Haggard, Doyle, Verne, Stoker, and Wells.

Note: This era has blossomed into many different types of genre variants and pastiches for gaming. In addition to Steampunk and Faeriepunk (Castle Falkenstein, I'm looking at you), Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels really opened the eyes of many people to the wonders of adventuring in a world where elements of fiction set in the era are/were true. Of course, fans of the work of Jules Verne were sold on the idea long before.

Western Hero (1866 to 1890)

The Wild West, an era of gunfighters, Indians, lawmen, outlaws, gamblers, saloon gals, and trains. Some magical or strange elements — shamanic magic, steampunk science, vampires — could also exist.

I was never able to collect all the graphic novels of Lucky Luke, unlike my Tintin and Asterix collections.
But the man who shoots faster than his own shadow has a certain charm that I wish I'd been able to complete.

Note: well, heck. This is a genre that also has tons of source material for it in various media. My fascination for it on this blog has tackled Western RPGs, an ongoing weird west comic known as The Sixth Gun, and my strangely popular post on a seminal Filipino Western movie. Like many of the eras in the timeline, this era deserves a sourcebook on its own -- and this is the strength of the Hero Universe: the ability to provide a broad canvas for nearly of all the heroic eras in a single timeline.


  1. It is truly an extremely evocative era for a game setting. I think Sherlock Holmes combined with Cthulu would make a suitable pairing, but shift the super sleuth back towards the time of Jack the Ripper.

    Excellent post, very thought provoking indeed. 10/10 :)


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