Crimson Steam: Rubicante

3 06 2010

Crimson Steam is basically my homebrew world of Egoroth, with a steampunk twist.  When i was  deciding what technology would be available, and what would not, I also had to consider how it would all work.  The warcraft tabletop setting had a magical gas known as phlogiston, which is totally based on a real world alchemical substance from ancient Greece.  I liked the idea, and the mechanics behind it.  It created a system where magic was still important, necessary in fact, and would not be overshadowed by technology.  Egoroth is a world where crystals and minerals play a big part, so naturally I wanted the “key” ingredient for engineering to be some sort of crystal.  Eventually I settled on rubicante, which in Iron Hack, was a crystalline ore useful in making swords and armor with fire or flame properties.

Rubicante is a pretty awesome name.  It was originally from Dante’s Inferno, but I first encountered in playing Final Fantasy 2 on the Snes. (he was my favorite boss).  In any case, the name lends itself well to a fiery crystal substance.

Rubicante:

Rubicante is a rare crystalline ore, found in many of the hottest and more remote parts of the world.  Long ago master crystalsmiths were able to create a sturdy iron alloy using the crystals.  This rubicante alloy was a cloudy translucent marbled red color which imbued weapons and armor with properties related to fire and flame.  As such it was, and to a certain extent still is, considered a holy element by the kingdom of Kole and the followers of Pyral, dragon goddess of flame and conquest.  Despite all of this, its rarity and the difficult techniques needed to work with it kept most of the world interested in the other, more plentiful, mystic elements instead.

About 8 to 10 years ago, historians are still uncertain, a group of mages specializing in mystic element studies, hit upon a discovery that is very rapidly changing the entire world.  When combined with certain mundane elements, the right combination of heat and humidity, and an electric spark rubicante ore creates a powerful and astounding substance called “Crimson Steam.”   Crimson Steam contains a high concentration of magical energy.  This energy works in many different ways depending on how it is harnessed.  It can be used to levitate objects, gives life and sentience to constructs and other clockwork creations, provides light, illumination, and heat. The gas can be condensated into a liquid which then grants limited power over time and has allowed the creation of clocks, as well as incredibly accurate measuring devices. When this liquid form is dried into a powder it can then be used as an explosive, powering a new type of weapon the “Fire-arms.”

The Imperial Dragon Empire, having lost a centuries long battle to suppress and destroy magic, now faces an even dire threat.  The unification of arcane magics and rubicante alchemy is putting more and more power into the hands of those operating well outside of the church and the government’s grasp.  As such the practice or rubicante alchemy has been branded anathema, and is punishable by death.  Therefore, settlements existing far from the Empire’s influence, such as the frontier city of Rook’s Vigil, called the “City of Steam” or “The Red City” in certain circles, have become hot spots for technological discovery and advancement.  With the advent of the Steam Serpent,  a simple monorail system used to quickly link trade routes, even the Imperial Dragon Empire is starting to shift their very narrow-minded stance on Rubicante Alchemy.

Currently rubicante is the most valuable substance on Egoroth.  It’s rarity combined with the abundance of uses have created a gold rush mentality in the populace.  Murder, claim jumping, sabotage, and conspiracies are only scratching the surface of the social strife caused by this increased interest in the mystic element.  The largest and richest rubicante deposit are rumored to be in locals nearly impossible to reach, the hearts of active volcanoes, the lairs of demons, and caverns deep below the surface of the world.  The Guild has already set up numerous mining outposts and has dedicated an entire wing of their headquarters to engineering and alchemical studies.  Meanwhile the Followers of Pyral continue to kill and persecute anyone they find desecrating their holiest of elements.  Rumors abound that the faith of Pyral holds many of the largest rubicante mines, though these locations are a secret only the highest ranking members of the faith would be aware of.  Naturally, this has inspired many of the world’s greatest heroes and mercenaries to pick up sword and spell, and stake claim to these incalculable riches before anyone else.

To sum it up, Rubicante is:

  • rare elemental crystal with properties similar to both crystal and metal
  • can be combined with mundane elements and lightning to create gas, liquid, and powdered forms
  • is the key ingredient in steam technology, and thus engineering and alchemy
  • powers airships and other flying transports
  • powers clocks and measuring devices, possibly can control time
  • creates the explosive powder used to make bombs and fire-arms
  • gives life and sentience to constructs and machines
  • creates enough energy to light cities, heat homes, power large machines such as drilling machines, boats and trains
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One response

4 06 2010
The Co-DM

I like the naming for Crimson Steam, along with its properties. I am glad to see some of the mythology from Iron Hack making it’s way over to the steampunk setting. I think some of the background, especially the deity and class systems, would add a beneficial storytelling twist to the campaign.

It’s amusing that you found my character profile in the 4E book..but I agree with the analysis. I think as co-DM, I will help add some of the “flavor text” to the story, since that is what I, and I know at least 2 of the other players, are interested in, even more than the tactical battling. That said, one of our players is so excited about tactical fighting he’s been bouncing off the walls all week.

I have some ideas to bounce off you later. Remind me?

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