I am calling Steam Lords of Venus a “steam opera”. What exactly does steam opera mean though? Visually Steam Lords is a mixture of ancient Roman and Asian architectures and styling, while civilization is focused around a number of autonomous cities, collectively known as the Free Cities. Steam opera is a mashup of the steampunk and space opera genres, pulling elements from each to create something slightly different but drawing heavily from each.
The “steam” elements of the game come in through an invention called the steamcore. They come in varying sizes and are fueled by calorium, which heats water to boiling through a chemical reaction. This has allowed mechanists, a combination of mad scientist and inventors, to create many steam-powered devices, the most famous of which is knight’s armor, which is essentially steam-powered armor to give venusians a fighting chance against demon and dinosaur alike. Other common steamcore-powered inventions are the riverboats, similar to the paddlewheel boats of the 1800’s, and the steambolter, a rapid-firing and automatically realoading crossbow.
Space opera comes in from the size of the world. The setting takes place on a Pangea-like supercontinent. Travel was often done by river and even when they were all dominated by the demon-summoning Cytherean Empire, distance left them mostly autonomous. As the cities gained their freedom, they have spread their influence, but still located mostly by region, and only coming into conflict where they overlap for important resources. Lightningships take the place of spaceships in a steam opera, traveling through the dangerous skies of Venus, with each city and its region often being like another world.
The Wilds of Venus are the untamed lands far from the cities, with wonders to be discovered, ancient mysteries unraveled, and fame and fortune to be gained. Each of the cities also provides different types of intrigue, adventures, and complications of its own. At the center of all this is the one city that everyone wants to control: Athrak, the original city, which sits between the Cytherean Empire and the Free Cities and controls the largest fields of calorium – fuel for steamcores or summoning demons.