Buildings in Victorian Cities
Any Genteel Magistrate preparing his or her chronicle of Victorious has many preconceived notions regarding Victorian era people, places, and things. Whether it’s from historical study, novels, movies, or the Steampunk movement most people already have an idea of how things “were” or “should be.” This is fine, and I’m certainly the last person to tell people how to run their RPGs!
Yet there are certain assumptions we make today that were not the case in the nineteenth century. For example germ theory, the idea that tiny one-celled organisms caused disease, was partially accepted in Europe but many doctors in the United States argued against the idea right into the early twentieth century. Another was the prevalent idea that poverty equaled laziness and a weakness of character. Though it may apply to some, obviously not to all.
This article emphasizes one major fact which often gets forgotten when running games of Victorious—the haphazard quality of construction of buildings, both for business and residential use. The most important thing to keep in mind is that there were few building codes in London. One of the very few was that non-governmental buildings couldn’t be taller than three stories tall (ground floor and the first and second story for those in the United Kingdom.) New York and most other US cities had no building codes at all! New York was particularly bad, with telegraph and later electrical lines crisscrossing from building to building instead of poles, creating a network of wires with no concept of the circuit breaker. As you can imagine, fires were very common.
So, why should a GM care? This is critical for those battles between SuperMankind in the streets of your major city. Especially when people are knocked into buildings or decide to smash their way into walls to get at the arch-fiend hiding inside. No building codes means that the construction quality of a given structure varies wildly, with most commercial buildings being of slipshod construction that might very well collapse when Shadowstar plows into a brick wall in order to save the people inside. In fact, by doing so she might very well condemn those inside to being buried by falling rubble from a building built so cheaply that insufficient supports were put into the structure.
Obviously this sort of rule doesn’t apply to Grand adventures, but are certainly a possibility in the Gilded sort of chronicle…and quite typical of the Grim settings of Victorious. Of course, any Genteel Magistrate can just ignore the issue. I’ve found though that it creates complications for player characters that are fun to watch them resolve. Yes, break into the building…but careful how you do it! Don’t fire your blasts too freely in the lobby, or else the next floor (and its residents) might fall on your head! Below is a simple method of resolving building damage.
First, any building taking damage must make a saving throw based on the below Constitution score with no levels added in. Residences should be treated as non-Primes (base 18) unless owned by someone who likes lots of marble or granite. Businesses or governmental buildings should be counted as Primes (base 12). If the roll succeeds, then the building is intact and a hole is punched through the wall/door/window/whatever. If it fails, roll on the table below for results.
|Building Type||Constitution Score||Modifier|
|Old, poorly maintained||5||-2|
|New, or old but well maintained||10||0|
|Wealthy home or new business||15||+1|
|Fortress, jail, or bank||20||+4|
|12-sided die||Result of Damage|
The vibrations cause the entire building to collapse in a heap of rubble. Everyone inside must make a Constitution saving throw (CL 5) or be trapped in the wreckage as if a Strength based Entrapment at rank 2.
|2||Roof immediately above falls in, causing anyone standing on the roof to make a Strength saving throw (CL 4) or take 2d10 hit points of damage. Those who succeed in their save take no damage.|
|3||Nearby wall collapses, but struts hold firm the rest of the building.|
|4||More than one wall falls in (1d4 to determine number), causing all within a 20 foot radius to make a Dexterity saving throw (CL 3) or take 2d8 hit points of damage per wall. Those who succeed on their save take ½ damage.|
|5||Building shifts on its foundation. While there is no major collapse, everything is now at a 70 degree angle. Everyone inside must make a Dexterity saving throw (CL 6) or lose footing for 1d4 rounds (Knockback Invulnerability reduces this).|
|6||The building’s gas lines have been ruptured. Every round the GM must roll a six sided die, and on a “1” the gas explodes, causing 3d12 damage to everyone inside the building and 3d6 to anyone within 10 feet of the exterior of the building. Those outside the building can make a Dexterity saving throw to attempt to suffer only ½ damage.|
|7||Wall falls in, attacking random person in area as if a Level 3 attacker.|
|8||Floor immediately above falls in, attacking random person in area as if a level 5 attacker.|
|9||Wall falls down, causing all within a 20 foot radius to make a Dexterity saving throw (CL 3) or take 2d8 hit points of damage. Those who succeed on their save take no damage.|
|10||Floor immediately above falls in, causing all in room to make a Strength saving throw (CL 4) or take 2d10 hit points of damage. Those who succeed in their save takes no damage.|
|11||Entire floor above the hero falls in, causing all in room to make a Strength saving throw (CL 5) or take 2d12 hit points of damage. Those who succeed in their save takes ½ damage.|
|12||The floor beneath the heroes falls in, requiring everyone in the room to make a Wisdom saving throw (CL 3) to avoid falling damage of 1d6 for every 10 feet fallen. Those who make the saving throw take no damage, grab something and are holding on above the missing floor.|
If the heroes are not inside a building but are fighting around (or above) it, use the table above but roll a 1d6 instead of the stated 12 sided die for results.
Though this may be too much detail for a Genteel Magistrate’s chronicle, it is hoped that it will at least stir the imagination and provide ideas for the next time a Strongarm smashes through a wall or a Contraptionist uses their Pummel Ray™ pistol to smash down a locked door!