“What manner of steampunk pageantry is this?” I hear you ask. Allow me to explain.
At PAX East 2012, in the Tabletop Workshop room, we (“we” being myself, Caroline Willis of LARP Couture, and Jack Graham of Lonesome Robot) held a Steampunk Worldbuilding Workshop and Exhibition. The room as a whole was given a prompt concerning Victorian wormhole colonization of a new planet–a mere skeleton of a setting to hang elements upon–then each table of attendees was given an element to flesh out. Some were asked to tell us about the climate of the new world and how fashion would be affected. Others were asked to describe various factions, such as a group controlling a vital resource, or a group of villains, or a group of heroes. One table was tasked with detailing a piece of ubiquitous-yet-fantastic technology. You get the daguerreotype. And so geassed, each group set about summoning these details from the aether of the shared creative space and writing them down.
And then the magic happened. Tables of relative strangers transformed into workbenches ringed with crews of comrade worldsmiths. Messengers zipped to and fro, trading knowledge, swapping girders of fresh-milled fantasy with which to frame their floating cities, anarchist plots, and generational industrial conspiracies. In under an hour, our sprig of inspiration bloomed into their arbor of clockwork creativity.
We kept the notes. They’re up at http://steampunkexoplanet.blogspot.com/. It’s even Creative Common licensed in case anyone wants to take it and run with it. And we had a few people promise by show of hands to run games set in the world at Tabletop at PAX East 2013. Come check it out.