SteamCraft - Shadows Over Newport by Jamie Hardy and Angela Hardy is a steampunk role playing game supplement for the SteamCraft game published by Perilous Journeys Publishing. This book expands the Uncharted Territories setting of the core rulebook, covering the city of Newport and the surrounding region, which is part of the Commonwealth of New Arcadia, the main civilised area that players will be adventuring in. It is not just a citybook, though, as it also includes details on the surrounding area, including several neighbouring towns, as well as new items, spells and monsters and some new rules.
This supplement is available as a 120 page PDF with a regular price of $9.95 on RPGNow but it was bought at the discounted offer price of only $2. One page of the book is the cover, one page the front matter, one page the Table of Contents and there are two pages of weapons damage tables. With the exception of the full colour cover, all the illustrations in the book are in black and white and the majority of the pages have a decorative steampunk-themed border.
The supplement, although it does not have numbered chapters, is a bit more clearly divided into sections than the main sourcebook is.
Credit: Tom McGrath/Perilous Journeys Publishing/eGDC LtdHistory covers the history of the town, both prehistory and modern - modern being a rather short period crammed with different events, from 1817 to 1879 on the setting's calendar. This actually seems like too short a period for everything that happens in it; it looks like several centuries of history have happened in less than one.
Geographical Areas covers the major areas surrounding the city, including the fauna and flora.
Newport Overview covers how to get to the city, the government of both Newport and the surrounding region, military, emergency services, transport within the city - it has an extensive trolley network - laws and the types of business that can be found there, the last covering business types in general rather than any in specific.
Newport Neighbourhoods covers the six neighbourhoods of the city, one of which is actually located some distance away, describing major points of interest, how the neighbourhood is laid out and relates to the others and some specific business, where relevant.
Neighbouring Towns gives an overview of each of the four major towns in the region of Newport.
Society covers health, including diseases, some major festivals, for which Newport is known, and how households are set up.
Guilds & Associations describes some major organisations that could be encountered by players, some of which have already appeared in the SteamCraft book.
Corporations is similar to Guilds & Associations, but covers several major companies.
Contacts has a number of non-player characters who might be encountered, and who could become Contacts - a Contact is described in the SteamCraft main book as an NPC who could give help or information to a player.
Credit: Perilous Journeys Publishing/eGDC LtdNew Items has several new items suitable for a steampunk campaign.
New Spells has a few new spells for four of the areas of magic from the main book.
New Monsters has several new monsters.
Weapon Creation expands on the item creation rules from the Core Rules, focussing on weapon creation.
Optional Rules is the 3d10 System, which adds a critical success or failure option to skill rolls of any type, and makes combat more dangerous if used in it.
SteamCraft - Shadows Over Newport in Review
The PDF originally lacked bookmarks, but was later updated to include them. The page numbers in the Table of Contents are clickable, making navigation comparatively easy, and the later addition of bookmarks greatly improved the ease of navigation. There are several large black and white illustrations, including some that are full page in size, and it would look like in this supplement many, maybe all, of the illustrations have been specifically designed for it, as they are relevant to the nearby text, rather than being stock art of some description. Throughout the book are again various newspaper clippings from local papers, just like in the main SteamCraft supplement, which describe events and include articles on various subjects. These are a nice touch and add a bit of colour. The font size in this supplement would appear to be larger than in the Core Rules, meaning that there is less content than might be thought if just the page count is taken into consideration.
The supplement would appear to be based on New Orleans - there are similarities between Newport and that city, which makes it feel rather different from the overview of the rest of the Commonwealth of New Arcadia - and it is described as "A Neo-Victorian Gothic Horror Supplement" although it is not that clear why; it's certainly neo-Victorian but it doesn't really seem to be Gothic Horror or, indeed, any type of horror.
One fairly big problem is that there is no map of the city, nor of the surrounding region, even though the various locations are described in detail, including where they are in relation to each other, so it would certainly have been possible to make maps for the city and area. Having no maps for a city supplement is rather unusual - even Vornheim has a general map of the city, and that is one of the most untypical city supplements around.
The new spells are a welcome addition to the rather limited number provided in the Core Rules, although more would have been appreciated, especially for those areas that seemed a bit hard done by - some magical disciplines definitely seemed to have a greater selection than others in the Core Rules. Other than that, there are no real major additions to the rules, only Weapon Creation and the optional 3d10 System.
SteamCraft - Shadows Over Newport is a decent enough expansion to the SteamCraft world setting, with a major city, the surrounding area, and some new elements introduced, but it gives the feeling that it could have been better; for example, it could have been improved upon with the addition of city and region maps and a bit more in the way of actual adventure hooks or ideas, and the timeline in the history really doesn't feel believable.