Other Notable Cultures in the Steam Empire Chronicles

Curious about the other cultures in the Steam Empire Chronicles? Read on to learn more about the Nortlanders in the first part of this mini-series!

[a man walks up to a podium and taps on the microphone. There is a slight squeal, then the audio levels out]

Greetings all, and welcome to my brief lecture on the other cultures and notable political entities in our world today. Before I begin, please take note of this map – as you can see, it has been heavily modified and shaded in by yours truly, but it should give a good indication of some of our… less friendly… neighbors.Rough Draft of Map

So as you can see, our exceptional empire is bordered by Nortland, the barbarian collective of raiders, miners, and other uncivilized tribes. It was believed that their forces were behind the invasion of Brittenburg and the assassination of the Primus Imperio in Rome.

As you can see, my map does not reflect the recent Roman invasion of Nortland, where our gallant forces crushed their Nortlander opponents. It is good that we have forced these barbarian savages into peace, for our other enemies have decided to take advantage of our northern focus to attack us from the east.

Yes, you heard me, the Mongols have unified once more and are pushing east from their bases in Bactria and Persia. The scattered rebellions of their Persian subjects that so aided us in our last war with them have been crushed. Whilst I have little love for our former neighbors, their sacrifice helped ensure our ability to hold the eastern half of the empire.

But before I broach that topic, let us turn back to the Nortlanders.
Savage and cruel, with a streak of cunning hiding beneath their gruff exteriors, the Nortlanders have secretly emulated us Romans for centuries. Consider their own mechanical creation, the Mechwolf. Quite obviously, they stole the idea from our own mechaniphant. But what good is a copy when faced with the real thing? I have heard that an unnamed chronicler was able to illustrate part of a battle between our own warmachines and those of the northerners, but you shall have to check out Copper Centurion in order to access those drawings.

In battle, the Nortlanders pride themselves on their hit and run tactics, preferring to strike and flee rather than face our brave soldiers in a stand up fight. Only when pushed back into a corner will they turn and strike, like a wounded bear. They are great lovers of the raid, and have, in times past, raided as far south as the lands of the Gauls and Britannia.

Their government is a hybrid of monarchy and tribalism, with Wardens serving as sub-kings over smaller tribes in the four cardinal directions, bowing to the overall king reigning in Midgard, or House of the Winter Gods, as the Nortlanders say. Of the Warden positions, those of the East and South are the most important and powerful, with the East Warden facing off against the Mongolian Khanates of Rus and the South Warden dealing with the Romans.

Technological wise, they are capable of adaptation and modifying stolen technology. Nortland culture does not have a ready place for scientists or engineers, and have imported or captured Roman or even Mongolian specialists for specific work. They have built and designed capable warships able to match our standard and imperial sized warships. However, they are very limited in their ability to maintain or service their fleet with the limited number of support staff. Thus, their ships are prone to breaking down, particularly in the harsh northern weather. Weapons wise, the Nortlanders favor stone over bolt throwers, and have minimal amounts of gunpowder weaponry. One piece of technology that they do have is the chain-axe, a mechanical saw attached to the standard war-axe form. When activated, the teeth of the chain axe allow it to tear through shields, armor, and flesh with relative ease. Chain Axes are even capable of damaging both our own Ostrichines and Mechaniphants. Rest assured that our own Roman engineers are looking at ways to modify the technology for our own use as we speak.

Tune in soon for our next chat on the Khanates of Rus and the East. Be sure to subscribe to the blog above, and follow me on facebook and twitter, so you can keep up to date on the latest news about the Steam Empire Chronicles!

The Realities of a Steampunk World

A quick look at making your story match the technology and things within it.

So I went to see the move John Carter yesterday. We shelled out the extra money to see it in IMAX, not because we really wanted to see it in IMAX, but because our local movie theater doesn’t like to show movies starting around 9 pm (It likes 8pm and 11 pm, but little in between) After being deafened and blinded in the previews, we were treated to a real spectacle of a movie. But I digress, this post isn’t a movie review, but rather how I saw a ton of amazing ideas that I COULD use in my novel, but will most likely choose not to.

The most challenging thing about a steampunk world is that you have to remain true to your specific subgenre. For example, Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books) includes undead, guns, airships, etc. But it stays true to roots without using ray guys, rocketpacks, or technology that is beyond what the locals *could* realistically have designed.

When I saw John Carter, the thing that stood out to me the most was this…

Yes, one of the coolest designed airships I’ve ever seen. And I would have loved to somehow make mine (in Brass Legionnaire) as cool as those. But I won’t for a few reasons.

1.) Believability – My Romans are still running around using steam power. Those are definitely not running off steam power.

2.) I don’t want to copy someone else’s idea. Could I take a few pointers from how they look and add descriptions to my story? Sure, but I don’t want to just blatantly take an idea and throw it into my story because it’s cool. That’s a bit too crude for me. Ideas and a story have to match.

3.) It would take my story in an entirely different direction than where I want it to go. I want my books to show technological process and advancement book by book. I don’t want it to be a ‘oh, look, in the last two months we developed this awesome airship that doesn’t rely on hydrogen, helium, or steam power and it works perfectly. By the way, we armed it with these artillery pieces.’

I guess the point of this post is simply to make sure that your technology matches your story. I’m not saying you can’t – or shouldn’t! – be outlandish, but I’m one of those people who get’s thrown out of the story when the main character pulls out a weapon that doesn’t match the rest of the world or story and just pulverizes the enemy.

It’s like the green skinned aliens in John carter who run around with spears, swords, and projectile guns, but aren’t lugging around the alien equivalent of the RPG – they aren’t up to that yet. If your steampunk story has guns, then give them guns, but they shouldn’t have an M16 while everyone else has a muzzle-loading rifle. Technological progress doesn’t move in that way. If one country or place has it, soon enough everyone else will beg/borrow/steal/take by force that technology.

A good book to read is Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies Great read on a topic of technology among cultures.


PS – book editing is halfway done, hopefully it will be ready to go by May!

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