The last Emperor of Jianghu fell not to the hands of foreign conquerors or ruthless barbarians, but from the machinations of those within.
A conspiracy of seven wicked souls, generals and politicians and men of great wealth hatched a plan of disinformation and propaganda, painting the Emperor as corrupted and depraved. Under the guise of Freedom and Equality they waged war against the Empire with terrifying machines of steam and iron, crushing the armies of those loyal to the true Emperor. Victorious, they set themselves up to rule the Empire, establishing a new system of government of their own devising.
The Steel Dynasty. A system with no room for tradition and spirituality.
Nobles were hunted down and slaughtered in the streets, temples ran red with blood as monks and nuns were murdered by zealous peasants whose hearts and minds had been turned by clever words and idealistic maxims. Those brave few souls who fought back were executed in public displays as an example to those who would dare raise their fists in defiance of The Steel Dynasty.
Now Jianghu exists as a machine, where the Council of Seven Immortals rule with absolute authority. Under their rule, free thought is suppressed, art is strictly monitored and impassioned speech is a certain means of losing one’s head. Peasants toil under the yoke of a different sort of tyranny, one that they do not see, blinded as they are by the education of the State.
Yet all is not lost.
A clever blacksmith discovered a hidden secret: Brass was a conductor of Qi, the Breath of Life and hope was born anew. Whereas iron could only move under the function power of gross Steam, devices of Brass could be used to hone and channel the Qi of the Earth and Martial Artists alike, enabling them to perform superhuman feats through Qi manipulation alone. Armed with such secrets, the self-proclaimed Xia use their cunning, courage and peerless skill in martial arts to overthrow the influence of the Council and hope to win back the hearts and minds of the people.
Steampunk Wuxia, what could go wrong? I’ve always toyed with the idea that Steam was a gross equivalent to the more sublime Qi, and martial artists who knew how to channel Qi properly could use it to empower marvelous devices such as Brass clockwork armor and fight against the steampunk monstrosities of the Council of Seven Immortals.