Forgotten Futures

Infobox RPG
title= Forgotten Futures

caption= Image by Stanley Wood often used in "Forgotten Futures" advertising
designer= Marcus L. Rowland
publisher= Heliograph Inc. (in print), author (CD-ROM and web site)
date= "1993", revised "1998","2005"
genre= Victorian / Edwardian science fiction and fantasy
system= Custom

"Forgotten Futures" is a role-playing game created by Marcus Rowland to allow people to play in settings inspired by Victorian and Edwardian science fiction and fantasy. Most of its releases begin with these stories then add background material to explain the settings (often as alternate worlds whose history diverges from our own), adventures, and other game material.

Game System

The base system uses three characteristics (Body, Mind, and Soul) and a range of skills; points are used to purchase characteristics and skills based on one or more of the characteristics. Skills and characteristics are used by opposing them to a target (such as a difficulty number, an opponent's skill or characteristics, etc.) using a 2D6 dice roll. Subsequent revisions to the rules add options including a Magic characteristic, melodramatic character traits, and other complications, but the core system remains unchanged.

Rowland is believed to have pioneered the concept of shareware tabletop role-playing games with this system:Fact|date=August 2007 although there were earlier shareware computer games with role-playing elements. Users can download the rules from his web site, buy a subscription that entitles them to Forgotten Futures CDs, or buy a copy of the published version of this game. The CDs are also good sources for science fiction books and other period material whose copyright has expired. A proportion of his income from the game is donated to cancer research charities.

Currently several versions of the rules are on line (complete and summary versions in HTML and PDF, and a German translation in PDF), along with a sample adventure set in a Victorian Channel Tunnel, plus nine game collections (source material plus background worldbook, adventures, etc.), with an expanding collection of additional resources on line and on the CD-ROM. The rules and sample adventure have twice been published in print; in brief form as a booklet given away with Arcane Magazine in 1997, and at full length by Heliograph Inc. in 1999.


; "Forgotten Futures I: The A.B.C. Files": Set in Kipling's 21st century airship utopia. Contains the text of "With The Night Mail" and "As Easy As A.B.C.", a worldbook, an adventure, a spreadsheet of airship data, and numerous illustrations. This was the first and by far the smallest of these collections, since at that time the game was distributed on 720k disks; subsequent releases were on 1.44mb disks then CD-ROM.; "Forgotten Futures II: The Log of the Astronef": A comprehensive guide to the exploration of the Solar System in 1900 AD. Based on George Griffith's "Stories Of Other Worlds", it contains six stories, the illustrations from their original publication, a worldbook taking the story forward to 1920, a spaceship design spreadsheet, five adventures, plus the novelisation "A Honeymoon In Space". The fiction and worldbook were briefly available in print from Heliograph Inc.; "Forgotten Futures III: George E. Challenger's Mysterious World": Adventures with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's scientific hero, including the full text of "The Lost World", "The Poison Belt", "When The World Screamed", "The Land Of Mist", "The Horror Of The Heights", and "The Disintegration Machine", a worldbook, four adventures, and a wargames scenario.; "Forgotten Futures IV: The Carnacki Cylinders": Horror and the supernatural in Edwardian England, including the original text and illustrations for William Hope Hodgson's "Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder", a worldbook with rules for magic and the Ab-natural, three adventures and two long outlines, a story-telling card game, etc.; "Forgotten Futures V: Goodbye Piccadilly…": The destruction of London, as seen by a variety of authors around the end of the 19th century. Contents include two long adventures, numerous adventure outlines ten stories and articles, etc. ; "Forgotten Futures VI: Victorian Villainy": A source collection for melodramatic adventures, including three plays, the novel "A Bid For Fortune" by Guy Boothby, some of E.W. Hornung's "Raffles" stories, and more.; "Forgotten Futures VII: Tsar Wars": Based on the late 19th century novels of George Griffith, "Tsar Wars" is a setting for the struggle between the anarchist Terror and the forces of oppression in the early 20th Century, and the return of the Tsar's heir to the utopia of 2030 AD. The novels were briefly in print from Heliograph Inc.; "Forgotten Futures VIII: Fables and Frolics": Based on the fantasies of E. Nesbit, FF8 is a role-playing game set in a world of childhood magical adventures. Includes three novels, 23 short stories and some autobiographical articles by Nesbit, also rules for magic, life as a Victorian/Edwardian child, adventures, etc.; "Forgotten Futures IX: It's My Own Invention": Adventures in the worlds of weird science and engineering. Includes two novels by George Griffith, articles and stories by several authors, and game worlds based on flight (and a war on the supernatural), automata and calculating engines, space travel, and time travel.; "Forgotten Futures X: The Tooth and Claw Role Playing Game": Announced as sent to registered users 2008.07.29, with an on-line release at the end of August 2008; a licensed RPG based on the novel "Tooth and Claw" by Jo Walton, set in a world with Victorian-equivalent technology which has a separate dragon nation. Player characters are dragons. The game is published in PDF and HTML versions, and is illustrated by Sue Mason and the author. It includes background material, revised rules catering for dragon characters, two adventures, and adventure outlines.; "In Preparation: Forgotten Futures XI: Planets of Peril": Announced in Forgotten Futures X as the next Forgotten Futures project, a 1930s pulp SF setting based on the stories of Stanley Weinbaum.; "The Original Flatland Role Playing Game": Originally published in 1998 as an 'extra' on the Forgotten Futures CD-ROM, and relaunched as a stand-alone PDF with additional material in 2006, this game uses a streamlined version of the Forgotten Futures rules adapted to the setting of Edwin A. Abbott's "Flatland". Characters are living 2D shapes such as triangles and hexagons. The game includes rules, three adventures and four adventure outlines, a wargame by Matthew Hartley, a long section on the 'science' of Flatland which attempts to explain aspects of the world and its natives, and the original book. It is sold as a charity project in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

See also

*"Space 1889"

External links

* [ Author's website]
* [ Official website]
* [ Heliograph Inc.]
* [ "The Original Flatland Role Playing Game"]
* [ Interview with Marcus Rowland on Victorian Adeventure Enthusiast]

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