The World of Steel Dragons – Part 2
Steel Dragons, as you may recall, is a digital adventure board game I’m designing for Quickcharge Games. The game is set in a steampunk version of feudal Japan, which I’ve already described a bit last week. This week, I’d like to take a closer look at the people who live, work, and seek adventure in this world that’s similar to our own, and yet so very different.
While those in the Outer Provinces may consider the Broken Lands an uninhabited wasteland, there are pockets of population throughout the region:
Survivors: These are peasant farmers, craftsmen, and merchants who have rebuilt a life for themselves in the aftermath of the cataclysm. They fear and hate the monsters and barbarians that threaten their lives, and may or may not have strong feelings regarding the newcomers to their land. Mostly, they just want to be left alone and try to get ahead in life. (While most survivors come from peasant stock, some are descendants of nobility or slaves, which may shape their outlook on life.)
Barbarians: When chaos tore the Empire apart, some embraced it, and turned to violence and savagery as a way of life. Today, these tribes of barbarians roam the wastelands, preying on the weak and vulnerable. They welcome new blood from the Outer Provinces, for newcomers are often fat with riches and unprepared for the dangers they’ll find. Barbarians are one of the biggest threats to resettling the land.
Settlers: With the discovery of smart-steel, a new wave of settlers has washed over the frontier of the Broken Lands. Many are here for the steel, but others look to harvest lotus pearls, dig for smokestone, or claim farmland for themselves. Still others come to establish colonies where they can be free from provincial authorities, and live their lives as they see fit (for good or ill). A few of these settlements are deep inside the Broken Lands, but most are on the frontier between the core and the Outer Provinces.
The heroes of the Steel Dragons adventure board game represent those explorers, warriors, and fortune-seekers broadly known as “adventurers.” Here are some of the most common adventurers of the Broken Lands:
Samurai: Honorable warriors sworn to serve, samurai are typically found in the Broken Lands enforcing their masters’ will or protecting their masters’ investments. Most serve a specific daimyo, but some are sworn to broader organizations, and others wander as masterless ronin, seeking new challenger to fight and new wrongs to right.
Steel Shapers: Smart-steel is s a metal that can be formed to any shape – including liquid – as guided by the minds of those called Steel Shapers. In the Outer Provinces, shapers use their gifts to craft new steam-powered devices. In the Broken Lands, shapers are more likely to use smart-steel as a weapon, converting it to sword, shield, or whatever tool they need to survive. Shapers are often drawn to the Broken Lands by the promise of cheap, plentiful smart-steel with which to practice their arts.
Gunslingers: Craftsmen have learned to use steam to power rifles and pistols. While these devices are often more effective than traditional bows, they are very expensive and hard to use. Such weapons typically remain in the same noble family for generations, and rarely fall into the hands of commoners. Those trained in the way of the gun are often elite soldiers, enforcers, or agents of important rulers. They may be in the Broken Lands on behalf of their masters, or on their own seeking fortune and glory.
Shinobi: Secretive clans of ninja sell their services to the rulers of both the Outer Provinces and the Broken Lands. Independent shinobi sometimes use their skills to hunt treasure or monsters in order to enrich themselves or their clan.
Warrior Monks: Inside the Broken Lands, monasteries are fortresses, and the monks who live there are sworn to protect the people who live nearby against barbarians, monsters, and other threats. In order to carry out their vows, the monks train in martial arts, tactics, and strategy. While they seek peace, they do not fear violence.
Wild Guides: Traveling through the wilderness of the Broken Lands is dangerous. Traveling with a wild guide can make it less so. Wild guides know the best routes from one place to another, and the best ways to deal with any dangers or challenges that arise along the way.
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