Several elements set the steampunk world of Steel Dragons apart from both historical feudal Japan and other steampunk settings. One of the most important of these elements is the inclusion of the substance known as “smart steel.”
Smart steel is a metal that can be “programmed” to take on any shape. In its natural form, it’s a liquid metal that looks and acts similar to mercury. Specially-trained masters of smart steel, commonly referred to as “steel-shapers,” use their minds to connect to the liquid metal and mold it into any form or pattern they know.
In the days of the Iron Lotus Empire, skilled engineers crafted smart steel from rare minerals. The smart steel was then shaped into wondrous steam-powered machines, including automatons with crude artificial intelligence. The most famous of these automatons were the royal steel dragons, which were created to protect the Emperor and the Imperial City.
When the Empire fell, the secrets of creating smart steel were lost. The surviving steel-shapers were forced to recycle what existing steel they could find into the shapes that they knew.
All that changed, however, when explorers discovered deposits of smart steel in the wastelands where the Empire once stood. This new steel seemed to occur naturally. While it wasn’t as stable as the Imperial steel, its discovery led to an influx of those looking to profit from the new resource.
Today, steel-shapers are in higher demand than ever. Not only are they essential to their traditional fields of engineering and manufacturing, but they make excellent adventurers as well. A steel-shaping explorer can form her own weapons, armor, and automatons at will. As long as her supply of steel holds up, she’s an armory, a factory, and a squad leader all in one – thanks to the power of smart steel!