Given that steam is the greatest energy source on Earth in this alternate history, the search for better and more efficient ways of using steam occupies the great thinkers of every nation. Some schools of magic utilize the four basic elements of Creation - earth, water, fire and air...but generally most users of the Art can only manipulate one of these elements. The discovery that four mages working in tandem could produce intense amounts of steam energy resulted in athe major powers recruiting mages to produce energy. While this is seen as the worst form of mercenary values by the Sorcerous schools, the riches and power given to such practitioners outweighed allegiances to the Schools. This has resulted in the Schools attempting to assassinate such defectors.
Recently it has come to light that there are rare individuals, who can use all four elements. These rare individuals are highly prized in the growing energy rivalries between nations, and sought out at astronomical prices. These individuals are known as the Steam Lords, and are guarded closely by their benefactors.