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Cabbages & Kings: The Steampunk Renaisance


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Cabbages and Kings is synthesis of the works of Lewis Carroll, the steam-punk genre, and the Dungeons and Dragons campaign. This campaign has a unique perspective on each core class and redefines their role in an emerging industrial civilization. The strict English culture of the Victorian era that “Alice in Wonderland” is based upon affects race, labor, arcane science, religious, and family interactions. The juxtaposition of magic and industrialization in economics, philosophy, and government is the basis of the campaign. New forms of transportation like the steam locomotive, paddlewheel, and the zeppelin are revolutionizing trade and travel. New ideas and inventions surface, mutate, and spread worldwide by telegraph lines and printing presses. Wondrous innovations draw many to city luxuries and city jobs. The employment of craftsmen and day laborers is challenged by metal constructs that can perform the work faster and cheaper than any mortal creature..

In this new age anything seems possible. The phase “Only in Wonderland” becomes a ubiquitous slogan and catchphrase. Many look at the growth of knowledge and raw power of the industrialization emerging and regard this as a golden age for mankind. Others look at the labor exploitation, the pollution of coal driven factories, and the rapidly forming economic monopolies and see the end of innocence. Statecraft now turns to the motivation of the city workers. Economics the investment of capital in future innovations. Patriotism becomes the building of an infrastructure to support the birth of an industrialized nation. War is forever changed by the introduction of the cannon and musket than can tear down the greatest castles and kill the noblest knight. Science now contests with magic in the production of miracles and many explore the blending of both.

In “Cabbages and Kings”, The world of Wonderland shaped like a coin. The topside of Wonderland is composed of a multitude of continents and islands afloat in a briny sea. The four largest continents are Cardonia, Brillig, Margrave, and Chessex. Topsiders live in the air, in the sea, on land, and even underground. The underside of Wonderland is dank and dreary. In everyway it is the opposite of the topside. Instead of seas it has endless bogs. Instead of sunny days and starlit nights it is always shrouded in eternal fogs. Topside mountains are Underland canyons, grasslands are desserts, and forests are composed of petrified wood. Additionally, Underland is plagued by the undead. Spartan survival is all that can be achieved by living creatures in Underland.

The populous of Wonderland comes from four Great Clans, each named after a suit of playing cards. The Hearts are Elves and Half Elves. The Spades are the Dwarven races. The Diamonds are the brilliant Gnomes and nomadic Halfling races. Finally, the Clubs include all Goblinoids, Orcs, and Half Orcs. Some believe humans are the forefathers of the Great Suites while others believe they are the result of “mongrelization” between the Suites.

Each Clan is split apart by the politics of the Color Parties. The White Party is the crown loyalists that support the rights of the aristocracy. The Red Party wants a free hand to capitalize on the new industries and economic opportunities of this new age of industry. The leaders of the Red Party value wealth and social status. The Black Party is sick and tired of being the stepping stones of nobility and promotes radical political change. Their goal is to abolish the aristocracy, and create a “Meritocracy”. Black Party supporters are often the unwashed laborers in city factories and sweatshops as well as impoverished tenant farmers. Their leaders are selected by their might or cleverness rather than wealth or birth. Each party struggles for more power in the House of Lords, the House of Commons, and in the Judicial Court. Beneath the contempt of all three parties are the Wilds that reject modernization, caste society, and the state religion of the Church of the Patron.

Party color divides every Clan into four branches: White, Red, Black, and Green (Wilds). Each branch has developed its own unique skills and abilities that differentiate it from each other. Children with a mixed heritage can develop lesser abilities known as “Heritage Feats” that replicate a minor ability common to their father’s clan. Examples would include a broad shouldered Heart with a stone cunning (Elf/Dwarf), a green skinned Diamond with unusually quiet footfalls (Gnome/Goblin), or a beardless half sized Spade (Dwarf/Halfling).

New forms of magic are also emerging in this new world. Arcane Specialists are creating new schools of magic. Mesmirrorism is based on the dynamics of reflective glass. Chronometromancy is based on clockwork mechanics and the manipulation of time. The new wondrous devices called steam engines have revolutionized secular and religious thought. Alchemy has evolved into an industrial process involving the mass production of hundreds of gallons of alchemical fluids daily. A way has been found to tap into the elemental power of the storm to create electrical devices like the Lightning Wire (telegraph), the Storm Blade (an electrified sword), and the Dynamo (a steam driven magnetic field). The Black Hearts have found ways to tap into the power of elemental shadow which has made them a force both respected and feared.

Wonderland is a world of contrariness. It is darkness and light, sorcery and science, poverty and wealth, politics and idealism, enlightenment and superstition, and childhood fantasy paired with grim realities.


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