Frequently Asked Questions

What is Steampunk?

Steampunk is the general term for alternative history that focuses on the age of steam power, which was roughly from 1800 to 1900. There are certain tropes common to the genre, but there isn't a single book, movie or comic that encapsulates Steampunk. Wikipedia has a nice article here:

What is Steam Century?

Steam Century started in late 2007. We are a group of friends in the Madison, Wisconsin area who realized we were all Steampunk fans. The problem with Steampunk fandom was that you might be able to talk mechanics or get dressed up in beautiful clothes, but what happened next? Our group decided to create and host steampunk mysteries for players at several local conventions. In order to do this, we had to add some definition to the nebulous universe of Steampunk. This meant creating a specific alternate history, political situation and technology. Since then we have expanded the range of events we host and are looking at new directions to grow.


What kind of events do you host?


Our signature events are the steampunk mysteries that we host at various venues throughout the upper Midwest of the US. You can learn more about how to play in these events here. We are also branching into other types of events that help promote steampunk, which include fashion and music shows. We are constantly considering what to do next.


Is there a charge for you events? Why do you charge?


Steam Century is not a business but a community organization. We do charge a fee for a number of our events which goes toward our considerable costs of venue space, transportation, costumes, special events, sets, and props.


Can we book you at our event or venue?


You can contact us through the contact form to ask about booking. Because of the amount of work we invest in our shows and the time they take to plan, we book more than a year in advance, so please plan accordingly.


Does this come from a book?

No, this is all created by the members of Steam Century. Clearly we have too much free time.

Why does the map look like it does?

The challenge when we started the map was to make Wisconsin a very interesting place to be (we do like it as it is, but it is hardly a hotbed of international intrigue). Keeping that in mind, the political map is hinged by two important changes to historical fact:

1. Great Britain lost the Seven Years War (aka French and Indian War) and never gained Canada as a colony.

2. The colonists lost the American Revolution.

Aside from that, we just tried to make things both logical and complicated. Originally there was a single American Indian nation in the center of the country in an earlier draft. A friend who is well versed in American Indian history pointed out that A. That would never happen and B. We were losing out on hundreds of narrative options in the future by doing that. He suggested the three American Indian countries we now have and their very differing attitudes toward European technology and neighbors.