[[quoteright:256:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/castle_falkenstein_cover_3303.jpg]]
''Castle Falkenstein'' is a quasi-historical tabletop RPG published in 1994 by R. Talsorian Games. A handful of supplements followed, and a TabletopGame/{{GURPS}} adaptation of the setting was published in 2000. Fat Goblin Games acquired the license to put out additional supplements in 2016.

The story is an alternate universe set during the Victorian era, mostly in Europe -- or as it's called in this universe, New Europa. Many fixtures of period fiction, high fantasy, and real history are all present, including high society intrigue, war between European powers, and the shadowy presence of magicians and faeries.

Rather than being a straight setting for the 19th century era like ''TabletopGame/{{Victoriana}}, Castle Falkenstein'' defines itself with the slogan of "the Victorian Era as it [[SlidingScaleLongName Should Have Been]]", in which gallant [[BigDamnHeroes men and women]] fight the forces of evil, [[SteamPunk steam-powered contraptions]] fill the skies and [[FantasyKitchenSink faeries]] are a regular sight in the cities of Europe. While calling itself a {{Steampunk}} setting, the books constantly imply and point that many of the technologies are thanks to subtle (and unconscious) manipulation of [[{{Magitek}} sorcery,]] making it a straight {{Gaslamp Fantasy}} with a heavy dose of TwoFistedTales and {{Dungeon Punk}} for good measure.

The corebook itself is a whimsical mix of illustrated novel, world book and game; most of it is glossy, coloured, illustrated and completely avoids mentioning any rules, while telling the story of Tom Olam, a [[AuthorAvatar game designer]] plucked magically from Earth to help in the ongoing fight against the [[BigBad Unseelie]] and their human collaborator, [[TheDragon Otto von Bismarck]]; occasional stops are made for more in-depth exposition about life in ''New Europa''.

The final chapter details the rules; true to form, they're designed to be played in the context of Victorian-era aristocratic life. Therefore, action resolution is through playing cards (Which are a wholesome pastime), not dice (Which are for [[ValuesDissonance uncouth knaves]]), while characters are detailed using diaries, because Xerox machines for character sheets weren't available in the 1870's (Charles Babbage, however, invented data forms in the 1830s...so some kind of data sheet wasn't entirely out of timeframe).

(Not to be confused with [[Film/WarGames Falken's Maze]].)

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!!Contains examples of:

* ActionDressRip
* ActionGirl: Marianne from the "novels". The gentlewoman, the Demimondaine and the sorceress for the actual game.
* AnachronismStew: In part because of the Faeries, who had traveled through several dimensions, some of them in the space age. Mostly because there are enough {{Mad Scientist}}s to give [[Webcomic/GirlGenius Agatha Heterodyne]] a run for her money.
* ArabianNightsDays: The ''Ottoman Empire'' sourcebook (published by Steve Jackson Games and dual-statted for the TabletopGame/{{GURPS}} conversion of the setting) looks, not surprisingly, at the Ottoman Empire in the Falkenstein world -- drawing on history, Arabian fantasy, and authentic Muslim folklore.
* AwakeningTheSleepingGiant: NO ONE, not even the Unseelie lords, wants to mess with Russia. It's pointed out that it has enough soldiers and weaponry to crush all the factions in New Europa. Thankfully, its mad emperor is too occupied using all its resources to screw its own people to care what the other nations (and races) are doing.
* BalanceOfPower: What is stopping World War I from starting early.
* BenevolentConspiracy: TheIlluminati, in contrast to their more malevolent rivals in the Golden Dawn.
* BigBad: The Adversary, leader of the Unseelie Court. He's usually at least peripherally involved in all evil doings in New Europa, and most of them in America, too.
* BigBrotherIsWatching: Russia, Prussia and England.
* BombThrowingAnarchist: The Marxist character type, and members of the World Crime League.
* CanonDiscontinuity: For Fat Goblin Games, the Steve Jackson books are discontinuity, in large part thanks to copyright issues.
* CloakAndDagger: If you want information, you better be ready to get your hands dirty.
* UsefulNotes/ColdWar
* CoolAirship: Robur the Conqueror's ''Albatross'' and the Bayernese aerowarships.
* CoolBoat: Captain Nemo's ''Nautilus'' steals the show, of course, but the governments of Britain and the U.S. also have some neat naval toys.
* CoolCar: Can we interest you in a steam-powered Mercedes? Or perhaps a Rolls Royce?
* CovertGroupWithMundaneFront: Tom pointed out that in his four very active years as a spy for Bayern, he had yet to find a secret organization that ''doesn't do this'' in some nation.
* CrapsackWorld: The books don't scruple to remind us how messed and screwed our world and our society is at every opportunity.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: Russia. France in a more harmless way.
* DeathRay: No self-respecting Mastermind would lack at least a plan for one.
* DiabolicalMastermind: All over the place. And referred to as such.
* DinosaursAreDragons: Dragons are part of the political scene and are known to be the descendants of [[GiantFlyer pterosaurs]] who survived the extinction of the dinosaurs by developing intelligence and magic.
* DividedStatesOfAmerica: There's the United States of America, which is ruled by the Freemasons and essentially stops at the Mississippi; the Republic of Texas, which also includes New Mexico and Arizona; the Free State of Orleans, a WretchedHive run by piracy and voodoo; the Twenty Nations Confederation, made up of Native Americans and covering everything between the Mississippi and Nevada; and the Bear Flag Empire, which encompasses California, Oregon, and Washington and is ruled by Emperor Norton I in partnership with Kit Carson and Mark Twain.
* DoubleReverseQuadrupleAgent: Russia, followed slightly behind by Prussia and England.
* DuelToTheDeath: Honor and Virtue are really that important in the 19th century.
* EmperorScientist: Lord Yoshikazu Tomino, one of the setting's most successful Masterminds, who rules the northern Japanese islands with the aid of his HumongousMecha.
* EvilGloating: A must for any dramatic persona of the Villain category.
* TheFairFolk: The Unseelie, who want nothing more than to wipe out/enslave all of humanity, because that's what they exist for. The Seelie are nicer overall to humans, but you still don't want to piss them off. [[spoiler:Although see KarmaHoudini below for a rather nasty reveal...]]
* FemmeFataleSpy: Quite active in the age and one of the ways to play the Demimondaine.
* FisherKing: New Europa seems to work, at least in some degree, like this. Compare the rulers from Bayern, France and the Bear Flag Empire with Prussia, Russia and the Ottoman Empire and see how their territories exist. Hell, technically speaking, the entire adventure to crown Ludwig was because of this trope.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: How most of New Europa see Bismarck and Prussia, especially since 20 years before the only true powers were France and England.
* GadgeteerGenius: It's ''the'' hobby for all the gentlemen and gentlewomen of good breeding in New Europa. And even more widespread in America.
* GadgetWatches: There are probably a couple of pieces of jewelry and gentlemen's accessories that aren't this.
* GenderRestrictedAbility: Played with. While sorcery is not truly gender restricted, women tend to be far stronger, dexterous and numerous than men in magick. This is one of the explanations why women's emancipation happened several centuries earlier in New Europa.
* GeometricMagic: Sorcery as science in a nutshell.
* GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff: In universe. The Great Game sweeps the drawing rooms and salons of Europa, from the must humble middle class to nobility and is greatly enjoyed (and endorsed) by Kings, Faerie Lords and otherworldly beings alike.
* GloveSlap: If you are not ready to die for your words, then be silent.
* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans and the unofficial Queen of the Free State of Orleans.
* TheGoodKing: King Ludwig and Emperor Norton. Queen Victoria means well, but she's an UnwittingPawn of the Steam Lords.
* GratuitousGerman
* HalfHumanHybrid: ''Curious Creatures''' Beast Folk encompass things like [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent cursed werewolves]], [[Literature/TheIslandOfDoctorMoreau Moreau-type creations]], and [[JekyllAndHyde people following in Dr. Jekyll's footsteps]].
* HollywoodVoodoo: Marie Laveau is immortal and one of the ''de facto'' rulers of Orleans, which is defended by her zombi army. One of her proteges is also a powerful crime boss in San Francisco.
* {{Humanshifting}}: [[{{Weredragon}} Dragons]] and True Unicorns can both take human form (or human-''like'' form, in the Dragons' case).
* HumongousMecha: Sort of inevitable in this setting, wasn't it? Lord Tomino is currently in the process of conquering Japan with his 100-foot-tall, [[GatlingGood Gatling-armed]] Giant Steam Automaton.
* HypnoRay: Dr. Lovelorn used one to take over Washington, D.C.
* TheIlluminati: A force of good and the nemesis of the Unseelie and the World Crime League.
* IstanbulNotConstantinople: Most of Europe - sorry, "Europa" - has the same names and borders as in our reality, but South America is Antillea, and the Atlantic Ocean is the Atlantean Ocean, among other things.
* JadeColoredGlasses: One of the first and most lasting cultural clashes of Tom with the citizens of New Europa. As far Tom is concerned, all technology will end in dystopia (a rabid dog as he put it) and destruction. He is a firm supporter of the Second Compact, whose purpose is to slow (and in some cases stop altogether) the advancement of technology for the sake of the world.
* KarmaHoudini: If the complementary book "Memoirs of Auberon of Faerie" is anywhere near correct, ''all'' the Fae, whether Seelie or Unseelie, are [[spoiler: unrepentant mass murderers, '''literally''' killing, raping, torturing and bringing two entire dimensions' worth of millions of humans to extinction... and so far they have shown no sense of remorse]]. It really gives you a new perspective on the witty, charming Fae you met in the ballroom, huh? That said, there are some, such as the Sphinxes, interested in delivering a measure of karma to the Fae... although they're not much better than their enemies.
* TheKingdom: Bayern. It is in fact constantly pointed out how "postcard Disney-like" Bayern actually is compared to the rest of Europa.
* LadyOfWar: The Adventuress archetype.
* LightningGun: The Lightning Hurler (more formally, the Focussed Electrical Discharge Cannon) in the ''Steam Age'' supplement. It fires a lightning bolt as far as the horizon that can burn its target to ashes, including destroying the walls of a fortress.
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis: The ''Castle Falkenstein'' books are allegedly sent from New Europa by Tom Olam, an acquaintance of game publisher Mike Pondsmith who mysteriously vanished during a vacation in Europe; Olam sends documents to Pondsmith claiming to have been abducted to a Steam Punk-plus-magic alternate world, in which he wrote the rules to the game using cards because the local nobility were scandalized at the thought of gaming with dice. Some of the books are written by Olam himself, while others are written by residents of New Europa.
** [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] In Universe, to say that characters and their authors each exist. For example, the author relates an incident in which while attending a lecture by Darwin, he notices [[Literature/SherlockHolmes A. C. Doyle and Dr. Watson]] having a discussion between themselves about the lecture.
* MadScientist: So abundant that there are periodic tabloids that post monthly news and journals for the new scientific overlord in the making.
* TheMagocracy: The United States is run by the Freemasons, which in this setting is a Sorcerous Order. It's actually written into the Constitution that the President ''must'' be a member.
* UsefulNotes/ManifestDestiny: The American Freemasons benefit from a magic ritual (cast by the Founding Fathers!) that causes them to grow in magical power as the United States expands. Hence, they are keenly interested in seeing Texas, Orleans, the Twenty Nations Confederation, and the Bear Flag Empire brought into the fold.
* MassiveMultiplayerCrossover: {{Franchise/Sherlock Holmes}} (and assorted sidekicks and nemeses), {{Literature/Dracula}}, [[{{Literature/Frankenstein}} Dr. Frankenstein]], [[Literature/TwentyThousandLeaguesUnderTheSea Captain Nemo]], [[Literature/AroundTheWorldInEightyDays Phileas Fogg]], Literature/JohnCarterOfMars, {{Literature/Flashman}}, and [[Literature/ThePrisonerOfZenda Rudolf Rassendyll]] all show up, to say nothing of the {{Lawyer Friendly Cameo}}s from Literature/FuManchu and [[Series/TheWildWildWest Dr. Loveless]]. And all of them mingle with just about every 19th century historical figure you can think of, from Queen Victoria and Chancellor von Bismarck to Mark Twain and Emperor Norton.
* {{Mayincatec}}: The blood mages.
* MegaCorp: The Steam Lords of Britain dream of establishing these...and are working with Bismarck and the Unseelie to make it happen.
* ModernMayincatecEmpire: The Mayans got magical advance notice of the coming of the Spanish, enabling them to preserve a fair degree of autonomy as a Spanish ally and protectorate. The Incas used powerful magic and alien supertechnology to annihilate would-be conquerors.
* NebulousEvilOrganization:
** The World Crime League, a cross between TheSyndicate and a WeirdTradeUnion for {{Diabolical Mastermind}}s.
** The Phantom Empire, founded by Alexander Hamilton to transform the United States into a monarchy. It's currently embroiled in an EnemyCivilWar between Boss Tweed's Tammany Hall and the DiabolicalMastermind Dr. Inigio Lovelorn.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Every sourcebook has a appendix with scores of real historical figures and how they live in this universe.
* OneGenderRace: Dwarves are exclusively male. They mate with the females of other Faerie-kind; male offspring are Dwarves, while female offspring are the same kind of Fae as their mother.
* OneWorldOrder: Bismarck's ultimate goal.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: Magical Dragons that survived the extinction of the dinosaurs many millions of years ago.
* OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame: Somewhat {{Averted}}; while dwarves have some of the miners/dwarfclan/short temper typical feel, they are completely immune to fire, need other races to reproduce, and you will hardly ever find a "Viking-type dwarf", they being consummate engineers/mad scientists. They are also rather indifferent about their beards - but don't you dare to mock [[BerserkButton their feet]]. Or their names.
* OurElvesAreDifferent: Sentient energy beings.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: The main vampires in the setting are a OneGenderRace (all female) of Unseelie Faeries. It wasn't until the ''Book of Sigils'' sourcebook that actual undead vampires (called "vampirs") were added. {{Literature/Dracula}} also exists in this setting, but he's actually not a vampire. He's an Unseelie Dark Lord.
* PoliceState: Russia could give university courses to Moriarty and the World Crime League about it.
* PraetorianGuard: Tom and Co. are part of this for the "Mad King" Ludwig.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: Prussia and France.
* ReadingTheEnemysMail: Half of the job of spies. The other half is fighting, hunting and not getting killed getting them.
* RenegadeSplinterFaction: The American lodge of the Freemasons, which is sinister and power-hungry in contrast to their benevolent European counterparts.
* RuleOfCool: This setting runs on it. How else to explain the existence of an actual country ruled by Emperor Norton?
* RussianGuySuffersMost: Russia is a straight-out {{Dystopia}}, ruled by a mad tsar and dominated by vicious nature spirits.
* SelfDeprecation: A non-humorous example. There is barely a introduction of a facet from New Europa that doesn't have or end with a cynical jab about how much our world sucks, to the point of almost making Tom a [[TheQuisling quisling]].
* ShadowDictator: Aaron Burr, the President for Life of Orleans, hasn't been seen in public in more than 25 years. Given that he's over a hundred years old at this point and his mistress is Marie Laveau, he's probably undead (if he's even still alive at all).
* ShoePhone: Spies (and quite a few other people) in the setting love their period-style concealed gadgets, and there are game rules to cover the topic.
* ShoutOut: A big chunk of ''Six-Guns & Sorcery'' is dedicated to describing the struggles of the U.S. Secret Service against waves of {{Diabolical Mastermind}}s, particularly the [[TheNapoleon diminutive lunatic]] Dr. Inigio Lovelorn. [[Series/TheWildWildWest Sound familiar?]]
* ShroudedInMyth: Phileas Fogg. He's rumored to be a Faerie Lord, a clockwork automaton, a master thief, and even an alien spy. (That last one is a ShoutOut to Creator/PhilipJoseFarmer's Wold Newton Universe.)
* SkyPirate: All over the place. Robur the Conqueror is the face of the profession in Europe, but they're especially numerous in the United States and the Caribbean, where they're usually FormerRegimePersonnel of the Confederacy who took their military airships rogue.
* {{Sourcebook}}: Originally 7 in total. The Core book, ''Comme Il Faut'', ''Steam Age'', ''Memoirs of Auberon'', ''Sixguns and Sorcery'', ''Book of Sigils'' and the ''Lost Notebooks of Leonardo''. Steve Jackson Games gave us ''Ottoman Empire'' and the Core book revised six years later. Fat Goblin Games has offered rules variants, adventures, and the bestiary ''Curious Creatures''.
* SpyFiction: Of the Martini Flavored to the point of intoxication. Justified because all the deals and power plays are done in salons, clubs and high class reunions. It's pointed out that for all their skulduggery, professionalism and double dealing, the spies can't be any less hammy than the society that spawns them.
* SubmarinePirates: Captain Nemo, of course. But there are so many of them that most governments with coastlines have their own submarines to defend their shipping from raids.
* SummonEverymanHero: The ''Castle Falkenstein'' backstory tells of Tom Olam, computer game designer, who is summoned into a world of Victorian Steampunk Fantasy by a mighty spell. Although he proves to be of some value, the real prize is the book he brought with him -- he picked it up at a used-book shop cheap, and it holds the secret to Saving The Day.
* TakeThat: In ''Comme Il Faut'', in a sidebar from Tom about how he had always thought of the Victorian obsession with "good taste" as a form hypocrisy, he notes that part of his increased sympathy for the Victorian way of doing things is that at least it's superior to people "showing up on sleazy talk shows flaunting their addictions, abuses and other failings as though they are virtues".
* TheseAreThingsManWasNotMeantToKnow: Explained word for word why Tom is so against the uncontrolled advancement of technology in new Europa.
* TookALevelInBadass: Several for Tom. From a normal American game designer to one of the best secret agents in New Europa and hero of Bayern. Bonus points for gaining these abilities faster than most Adventurers gain PC levels.
** In ''Curious Creatures'', Thomas Stubbins goes from having fallen into self-loathing mediocrity after he was left behind by Literature/DoctorDolittle to recruiting the Second Compact to help him recover the doctor's final manuscript to ultimately joining their ranks.
* TranslationConvention: The spell seems to have given Tom the ability to speak "all tongues" since he can understand old German, Russian, French, Polish from the get-go. That or everybody in New Europa or at least Bayern speaks fluent English with an accent.
* {{Unicorn}}: Covered in ''Curious Creatures'', coming in two types, the True and the False. True Unicorns are available as PC options; they resemble graceful, willowy goats with a single horn in the middle of their forehead, and are intelligent, capable of shifting into human form, [[LivingLieDetector able to detect lies and illusions]], able to speak to animals in both forms, able to [[{{Telepathy}} mindspeak]] in equine form, and incapable of lying. False Unicorns were created from wild horses by the Adversary in mockery of the legends surrounding True Unicorns, and more closely resemble the classic depiction, horses with a horn in the middle of their forehead which are drawn to women. In their case, however, they seek out women because they live in [[AndIMustScream constant agony]] that can only be eased when they hunt or kill human females.
* {{Utopia}}: The Kingdom of Bayern and the Bear Flag Empire are both presented this way.
* WildChild: A PC option in ''Curious Creatures'', available as both the real-world version and the literary RaisedByWolves version. The racial associations of these tropes and their relatives such as JunglePrincess also gets some discussion.
* TheWildHunt
* WoodenShipsAndIronMen: England in the past. In 1900 they have the greatest navy the world has ever seen and their sailors are second to none.
* WorldOfHam: EVERYTHING IS DONE WITH CLASS. If you can't put it in style, then it really isn't worth doing.
* WretchedHive: Orleans. Its government is virtually nonexistent, only those neighborhoods that pay the Maire get police protection, and piracy, gambling, and prostitution are all legal and licensed.
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