Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Setting for Steam Lords

Steam Lords is the working title for a roleplaying campaign world that myself and some friends are currently getting ready to play in. To facilitate discussion and to anticipate gaming posting being a vital part of what will make Steam Lords kick some major ass (or gas?) I'm putting up this low-budget blog.

Here's the initial setting, as written by the Geomancer:

Based on history up to 19th century and diverged at that point.

Charles Babbage was sponsored by British Empire to construct and perfect his steam powered analytical engine.

By replacing some mechanical linkages with steam based pneumatic linkages, the analytical engine was adapted to solve many harmonic type equations. (This created, among other advances, steam techno music.) This actually produced analytical engines capable of calculations impossible to digital technology of our benighted modern era.

The analytical engine solved Maxwell’s equations, resulting in early discovery of high velocity solutions (special relativity: E=Mc2 etc), black body radiation (quantum mechanics) and accelerated solutions (general relativity: black holes etc.). Out of this, steam driven mechanickal anti-gravity devices were developed. (Flying super dreadnaughts, space travel etc.) Simultaneous solutions for general relativity and quantum mechanics were calculated, resulting in perfection of quantum string theory, and practical harnessing of zero point energy. (Mechanickal generators both tiny and huge, with virtually unlimited power—limitations only that the device had to be large enough not to be melted or vapourized by its high power output.) Zero point generators in the middle of boilers yield both tiny and huge steam driven machines of unlimited power. Zero point generators in the middle of furnace brick yield heaters, while inside of high temperature ceramics yield light sources, no electricity required thank-you.

Detectors of brain waves were developed and analyzed, again by use of analytical engines. It turns out brain waves are so analogous to zero point energy waves that by proper biofeedback training, meditative techniques could harness zero point energy. The difficulty is avoiding frying your brain with the energy. (This is “magick”.) Analytical engines also analyzed life auras based on Yin-Yang models of eastern origin, calculating DNA sequences, and were used to sequence plants to grow health or death dealing herbal remedies. Multiple brain systems were calculated. Queen Victoria herself took great interest in these calculations, which modeled yielded a governance under her Monarchy so clearly superior, that many countries adopted her as their Monarch, greatly increasing the scope of the British Empire. Calculations based on Malthus’ results demonstrated the need to conserve, so no new technology was developed if old technology worked. Personal transportation was outlawed, and rail and water based (oceans and canals) mass transit only was used. The onset on an ice age was calculated, so coal and petroleum reserves were tapped and burned just enough to increase the greenhouse gasses enough to stabilize world climate. The Empire faces threats, however, like monopolistic empire straddling railroad and shipping corporations seek to usurp Her Majesty’s power , end of the world fanaticism (zero point energy, unlimited in power, makes this a dire threat) and several international and interplanetary rivals.

Curious feed back loops in analytical engines were always present, indicating that opposites always occur together. Political stability must always be accompanied by instability. Thus the global telegraphic net which united the Empire always attracts hackers who periodically bring it down, thereby invigorating it (steam-punks especially!) The only way to deal with end of the world fanatics (an inevitable consequence of harnessing zero point energy is that some people become these fanatics) is through rivalry and limited conflict (steam cold war) with other states. Society must be both utopian and dystopian. Privilege and under privilege must accompany each other. Social equality must always come in an unequal society. Techs and anti-techs go together. Nobility and street punks coexist.

Strangely, certain calculations always break an analytical engine. Calculating the existence or attributes of God, for example. Humans trained in zero point control (magick) can perform these, but if they begin as atheists, the calculation maddens them, and if they begin religious, they remain religious. Nobody outside of their religion will trust their calculations.

Occupations include: noble, steam punk, fanatic, scientific dabbler, mechanickal artificer, mechanickal operator, magick user, military person, spy, analytical engine operator (like programmer), telegrapher (all communications, and input and output of analytical engines are by telegraph), engineer (two kinds—civil and steam engine operator), cleric, rail-road/shipping baron, detective (schooled in the Sherlock Holmes detective agency), herbalist, medicinist, surgeon, military person (various ranks), navigator (sail the oceans, or skies or space), captain, scrap recycler.


Gotthammer said...

So this was originally sent via email to Blu and Gotthammer, who, conspiring with the Geomancer, have been working on a possible Steampunk scenario, to begin monthly gaming in September of the year of our Lord 2007. To Blu and myself, the job remains to post our replies to Geo's initial idea, and then continue the discussion here at the blog. Rusty Angel has carte blanche to edit the site so that it runs smoother or looks better (although posted pictures will remain...ahem).

The esteemed Baron Esposito will hopefully also be joining us, but as he is not a big fan of the difference engine, we'll wait and see if he wants to post. The rest of you...welcome.

Gotthammer said...

And now for my actual comment.


I really like that as a good basis. Makes for a starting point. Really enjoyed the "religious people" part of making the equations for the existence of God.

I like the idea of Jules Verne as a technical designer as well as fiction writer - designing real Nautiluses, etc.

This could be very stimulating - finding out bits of real world history to augment the alternate history we'll be playing in.

I'd like the overall threat to have a Lovecraftian bent - I want some Elder Gods to be the source of bad things in our world.

And I haven't decided what I think about non-human races just yet. I don't think elves and dwarves and orcs fit here though. Just my two cents.

Gotthammer said...

And I think the steam punks should ride small gliders instead of skateboards. Sort of like base jumpers.

And Sky Rangers should own zeppelins. Blu needs to post on Sky Rangers so this actually makes sense...

rustyangel said...

I LOVE steampunk. More to come after I actually read all this...