It was also the simplest rules that I had yet encountered. Characters were defined by a mere handful of broad traits and you only had to specify what differed from the heroic norm of the age. It was love at first sight and I immediately began adopting the system for defining NPCs for my Gurps games. I even used it to home-brew a "diesel-punk" game similar to Lady Blackbird years before I had ever seen another reference to the term "diesel punk". Castle Falkenstein was my roleplaying master-key in the interregnum before I discovered Risus.
Castle Falkenstein was unusual (at the time) in its presentation. The entire first half of the rule-book was presented as a diary of game designer Tom Olam's fabulous adventures after having been transported to an alternate history world where famous genre characters of the period actually existed. The conceit was that he developed the RPG to entertain his Victorian-era friends and he used his fictional exploits to illustrate setting details for the benefit of those of us living in this world.
The game resolution system was diceless, but not in the Amber way. It used playing cards as a "randomizer" because Victorian gentlemen don't play dice! While it looked good on paper, I found it was less than ideal in practice and I reluctantly ditched it when Steve Jackson Games released a Gurps version of the rules (though I did keep cards for the fabulous magic system).
- Comme Il Faut is simply the best resource for Victorian-era gaming that I've ever seen. It covers all aspects of daily life in the era and does it with style.
- Sixguns & Sorcery is a Western supplement that details Tom Olam' adventures as he tours a very different American continent (with many digressions into game rules). How can you beat Spellslingers and Emperor Norton?
- The Book of Sigils takes an already excellent magic system and makes it outstanding. An essential resource for any game that uses Falkenstein-style Sorcery.
While I am still in love with the Castle Falkenstein setting, I think I would run it with another rules set these days. Risus is an obvious choice and I have a conversion document that I hope to post soon (I was hoping to post it tonight). Other fine choices would be PDQ/PDQ# or Spirit of the Century. I think you could easily hack up the old WEG Star Wars (or Mini Six) and I often fantasize about a Falkenstein hack of Old School Hack.