At the suggestion of Runeslinger over at Casting Shadows, who knows my fondness for the Victorian period, I got myself a copy of Triple Ace‘s Leagues of Adventure RPG (in pdf…I cannot speak to any printed version in this review.)

The book is well laid out, with mostly greyscale art, but a few color plates here and there by Chris Kuhlmann. the art quality is decent in comparison to most small game houses, and light years better than most of the old school art from the 1980s, but was a bit cartoony to my eye. The pages are double column with good font sizing and an ornate outer page bit of art.

The book is 246 pages, and uses the Ubitquity engine from Exile Games (the same as Hollow Earth Expedition.) the character archetypes, skills and traits, etc. have been updated for the Victorian speculative fiction of the setting. This isn’t the Shadowrun-in-Victorian-times of Victoriana or fantasy/”steampunk” (hate hate HATE term!) of Castle Falkenstein — Leagues of Adventure‘s pedigree is from Space: 1889. The basic rules mechanics are the same as HEX, the invention rules for Victorian superscience ripped from Secrets of the Surface World. If you knew enough about the period and had a copy of the original Space: 1889 book, you could have cobbled together something similar with a bit of work.

That said, this is a solid corebook for those who don’t know the other Victorian sci-fi games and want a rules set that is easy to learn, run, and does not veer too far from the actual history of the world of the 1800s. Bolting Space: 1889 or Victoriana or Falkenstein setting material onto LoA would be easy enough.

The writing is by Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Williams and is clear, well edited, and captures the flavor of the period. (I do wish gamers who dive into game production would steer clear of the gamer handle in their author attribution, but that’s me.) The equipment is period specific, well-done, and I suspect was the inestimable Colin Chapman, who has done sterling work with equipment write-ups and period factoids for the Hollow Earth Expedition bulletin boards. Daniel Potter — who has done layout work and editing for fan work we did on the Decipher Star Trek RPG is also involved in the production of the book.

For more information and review on the system mechanics, search the site for the Hollow Earth Expedition reviews. (The Ubiquity system was one I’d considered for my next Victorian period game, so a lot of the heavy lifting for the conversion from the 1930s to 1890s is done for me.)

Overall, the book is beautifully produced and the pdf has the appropriate chapter heading bookmarks to allow quick acquisition of rules, etc. (Although after the amazing job Margaret Weiss did with hyperlinking throughout the Marvel Heroic RPG, I find this admittedly good bookmarking lacking. But that’s me.) The writing is solid, the art good, and the editing near flawless. I think the world gazetteer for the book is on part with Hollow Earth Expedition and the addition of enemy and heroic “leagues” that you could join or fight helps set the stage for adventuring in the late 1800s.

Style: 4 out of 5. Substance 4 out of 5. It’s a better buy than the Savage Worlds Space: 1889 RPG, and I like it better than Victoriana (which I’ve written extensively for.)