Into The Coils: A Teslapunk Western

So, I’m a pretty new Burning Wheel GM/player and my group and I have come up with an idea for a world/setting we would love to play in.
Here’s what it’s like:
-Humans live in a Wild West-esque setting, with cowboys and stuff. They use 1850s tech, mostly.
-Dwarves and Elves live together under a large, extremely technologically advanced empire that wants to conquer the human lands. They use electricity(tesla)-based technology (Teslapunk).
-Orcs live nomadically in the plains in tribes. They have no technology, but they are deeply attached to nature.
-Orcs also have an esoteric ability to command lightning (electricity) with their thoughts.
-Elves value science over all else, and Elvish artists are exiled from society.
-Dwarvish society is separated into Houses, with every Dwarf (sans outcasts) belonging to a certain House
-The campaign takes place at a point where the Dwarvish/Elvish empire has begun to send colonists to the Human lands.

I also came up with some ideas for Dwarvish/Elvish weaponry:
-Coil Pistol: An electrically charged pistol that shoots electrified bullets.
-Surge Pistol: A battery-powered pistol that shoots surges of electricity.
-Surgegun: A battery-powered shotgun that fires large surges of electricity at short ranges.
-Tesla Rifle: A coil-powered rifle that fires electrified bullets.
-Lightning Rifle: A coil-powered rifle that fires pure electrical energy in lighting form.
-Tesla Cannon: A cannon that fires charges packs, which explode in a wave of electrical energy.
-Coil Repeater: A mounted, coil-powered gun that fires electrical energy at a continuous rate.

However, I don’t know what stats I should use for these. I don’t want them to be super overpowered, but too balanced wouldn’t make sense.

Now, for the actual players and their adventure, the party is a group of treasure hunters (known as “Sweepers” in this world) who are searching for “The Dievulo”, a mythical treasure that only appears in ancient legends and children’s stories. Each player has their own belief as to what the treasure is and/or does and why they want it.

This is the concepts that my players have come up with for their characters so far:
-A Human ex-rancher who became a lone ranger after losing his ranch and family to an Orcish tribe. He decided to hunt for this treasure in hopes that he can rebuild his ranch and live his life in peace.
-A greedy Dwarvish House Master who, after founding a colony, decided to begin treasure hunting merely for more money and power. He chose to hunt for this treasure under the belief that it will bring his House to full power over all the other Houses.
-A Human Mercenary who was hired by the party.

Obviously the last one needs some work, and two of my other players haven’t come up with anything.

So, I would love some feedback. :slight_smile:
Ideas? Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Complaints?

BW isn’t impossible to hack but it is pretty tied to its medieval paradigm.

That said, if you feel like writing your own lifepaths, go for it.

Also, and this is a big also, I’m sick to death of orcs as Native Americans.

The Orcs weren’t going to be like Native Americans, actually. I was thinking more along the lines of the indigenous Australian tribes.

That just isn’t any better. Characterizing orcs as real people is problematic.

I’m not really characterizing them as real people, I’m merely basing their culture off of a real culture. But it’s not just the Aboriginal culture that my Orcish culture is based on. Their culture has elements of Voodoo and African Tribal culture as well. Very primitive and mystical.

Those are all real people.

I find aboriginal savage (noble or not) orcs offensive. One of the things I like about BW is how the orcs are handled, with an alien brutal culture all its own, fighting to overcome its own hatred not characterizing people of color as something not human.

Once again, I’m not characterizing people of color as non-human.
Hell, I’m black, dude.

I’m just using elements of their culture into my own world. Jeez.

It’s a big hack, Afro. It sounds like an interesting world to live in, but you’re going to have to put in a lot of work. You’ll have to…
make orcs not a degraded race fueled by hatred and war (it’s written into their skills and stats)
make elves not an emo race fueled by grief and art
make dwarves… nah, dwarves are okay
mod the rules to allow for reliable semi-automatic weapons (here I can help)
write up a sick load of new lifepaths (I can help with the human culture, perhaps)

I’m running a Burning Deadlands game right now, and it’s going pretty well, so don’t despair. BW can handle some tech changes without too much trouble. But I’ve turned the Mad Science down a few notches because I don’t feel like trying to mod it to accept power armor and vehicles.

Keep us posted on your progress.

Oh, BTW, the orcs might be a great culture to be invading and conquering everything with mad electric-tech. I can definitely see great black factories all across the orc lands where goblins are forced to crawl deep into the machines when they jam, and are often mangled horribly as a result.

!!! That’s a great idea! Hm… that could potentially make the world a lot more interesting. Instead of the Dwarves and Elves being the technologically superior ones, the Orcs could be the industrial race. They could be trying to destroy the world with technology…
Elves would stay the same and would hate the Orcs for disgracing nature…
Dwarves could stay the same and hate Orcs because… well… Dwarves hate Orcs. And Orcs are trying to kill off the Dwarves.
And the world could be a battlefield of technology vs nature.

I’ll have to talk to my players about this. I think they’ll like it more than what we originally came up with :3

Edit: Hmm… I’d have to see how to fit the Western part into that. One of my players really wants to play a Western.

The natural answer might be to advance the dwarves and humans to 19th century tech level and leave the elves behind, relying on their spellsongs and iron-age tech. That helps explain why the elves are afflicted with grief, too - they hate what “civilization” is doing to the land they’ve known personally for centuries.

Maybe the dwarves, in their greedy hearts, want the orc tech. They want to capture it, refine it, etc.

Yes!!! That’s awesome! It’s a perfect breeding ground for conflict. :smiley:

I’ll fade out of the thread. You asked for critique so I offered some.

Sorry if I was too defensive. I see your concern.

Good news, though, is that I’m gonna be changing the Orcs completely. They will be the most advanced race now.

I’m writing up descriptions and characteristics of the races right now, and I’ll post them in a second.

•Have discovered electrical technology, and have learned to manufacture it
•Are a very industrial race
•Great Orcs run large factories set up across the Orcish lands, and Lesser Orcs are forced to work in terrible conditions
•When factory machines jam, the small Goblins are forced to go into them and fix them, often causing disfigurement.
•Wish to conquer all of the world
•Hate the Orcs, and wish to destroy them and take their technology
•See the Elves as primitive and lesser than they
•See Humans as liars and thieves
•Use steam/clockwork-based technology
•Reject all forms of technology
•Resent civilization for adopting technology and destroying nature for technology
•Old West culture
•19th century technology
•Want to spread their society to all corners of the world

I want to flesh out the Humans and Elves a bit more, but I think that will all happen in play.

Interesting. Is there magic? What struck me is that these orcs are like Saruman’s orcs, then I wondered… is there a Saruman?

There will be Magic, but it will be low-level and very rarely used. Except for Elves. Elves will still have their Spell Songs.

About a Saruman… hmm… that would be interesting. I’ll have to see what I can come up with for that.

Yeah, sound like Middle Earth meets the Old West. Could be fun. And if you go the “orcs are the industrialists” route, much less needed to mod.

My friends and I discussed it more, and we are definitely going the orcs-as-industrialists route.

Here’s what we have:

In the beginning of the world, there was only a singular race, the Old Ones. The Old Ones lived as the only sapient species for thousands and thousands of years. Eventually, they spread out across the world and began adapting to different environments. Dwarves, Elves, and Orcs eventually evolved out of Old Ones (Humans underwent normal evolution from primates). However, a plague killed off 99.9% of the original Old Ones. Very few still exist. Those that survived usually live in quiet isolation. However, there is one Old One who lives within others’ eyes. Loki, the Orc King. Loki helped the Orcs discover the power of Electricity, and is using them as soldiers in an effort to reclaim what was his ancestors’ lands.

Orcs live in a barren, cold, mountainous region, fraught with iron, zinc, and copper mines. This is where they get the resources for their industry.
Dwarves live in an Appalachian Mountains-sort-of setting. Heavy forests and large, smokey mountains rife with precious metals.
Humans live in the Frontier. Large plains, deserts, plateaus, and cacti.
Elves live in the Swamps. Marsh, bayous, and Cyprus trees.

Dwarves hate the Orcs for being more advanced than they, and they are driven by their greed to destroy the Orcs and take their technology.
Humans hate the Orcs for killing their people in an attempt to take their lands.
Elves hate the Orcs for desecrating nature with their technology.

Dwarves generally see Humans as untrustworthy and unreliable.
Elves see Humans as indulgent and immoral.

Humans see Dwarves as greedy (obviously) and hubristic.
Elves see Dwarves as greedy (obviously) and disrespectful.

Humans see Elves as uncivilized and simple-minded.
Dwarves see Elves as soft and naive.

Orcs hate everyone.

Orcs use Teslapunk technology.
Dwarves use Steampunk technology.
Humans use 1850’s technology.
Elves use iron-age technology.

We haven’t decided what the players will be striving for yet, but I figured that a good world is always a great start.

This vaguely reminds me of some Russian guy’s novel published online, set in Middle Earth, from an Orc’s perspective. Essentailly the Orcs are pro-technology and the elves are all into mysticism and the repression of the Orc people. I still have to read that one.

Reminds me a bit of Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magic Obscura