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Dungeon Punk

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Jumping from a helicopter to a train, Dungeon Punk-style. Note the Magitek robot.

The Magical Database is actually magical, and the Blue-Collar Warlock packs a wand of fireballs instead of a gun in his Badass Longcoat. The local organized crime syndicate is built on a thriving Black Market trafficking unicorn tears and bottled soul, and keeps its boys in line with a cadre of demonic enforcers. Mordor is a slum. The trial of the century: Commonwealth vs. Golem Liberation Movement.

Welcome to Dungeon Punk, a Punk Punk genre that applies the gritty tone of Cyberpunk and Steampunk to a Heroic Fantasy setting.

Usually, this takes the maxim "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" and turns it on its head. As we get more proficient with the use of magic, it takes on characteristics of technology. We have railroads, but instead of burning coal to work a steam engine, they have a bound demon or air elemental. We have radios, but instead of sending electromagnetic waves across space, they work by sympathetic magic. Instead of fighter pilots, air forces train Dragon Riders.

Done poorly it can come across as a mass Hand Wave for the Fantasy Kitchen Sink, but done well it creates a rich and gritty Schizo Tech Adventure-Friendly World where anything can plausibly happen because a Mad Scientist and A Wizard Did It as a joint project or because they had an argument over quantum theory.

Note, however, that not all Magitek falls under this trope; it requires a slide toward the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism as well.

This always involves Functional Magic of one kind or another. Often home to the Science Wizard. Depending on the dark tone of the piece, one may find things are Powered by a Forsaken Child.

Compare with the mystic Masquerades, where everything appears "normal" until you dig a little deeper...

See also Dark Fantasy, Fantastic Noir, Gaslamp Fantasy, Science Fantasy and Urban Fantasy. Contrast with Medieval Stasis.

Not to be confused with a '70s rocker who's into bondage.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dorohedoro is part this, part Urban Fantasy, due the fact that while not greatly advanced, fits the Cyberpunk aesthetic, and the magic part goes without saying.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne has mechas that are powered by dragon hearts.
  • Vampire Hunter D, not so prominently in the first movie, but full blown in Blood Lust. Also, pretty obvious in the books, with all the Schizo Tech, vampires and magical technology.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has many elements of Dungeon Punk, such as treating its magic system like a science, the mechanical limbs many characters have, and even some Bio Punk with the chimeras and other uses of alchemy on humans. And while it’s more idealistic than most examples, it still touches on some very dark subjects and generally leans towards World Half Full at most.
  • The manga UQ Holder! shows a picture of the world in which magic has become general knowledge. In fact, the unmasquing lead to some radical changes in the balance of power across the globe, and the development of "magic apps" (basically spells you can buy rather than learn to use yourself) lead to some extreme class differences. Half of Tokyo is now seemingly a gigantic slum, with its inhabitants seen as "vermin" who need to be cleared out... by hiring mercenaries to raid the place and blow everything up, uncaring about the casualties or even deaths that result.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Fiction 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami grows into this during the Voyage and Avatar Islands Arcs, once Ami starts creating proto-golems she calls 'reaperbots' that are piloted by her goblin minions, or giving her troll blacksmiths electromagnets and electric furnaces to work with, or using jem crucibles to fund her war effort and fuel her Dungeon Hearts... yeah, it's Dungeon Punk. To date, she's gotten all the way up to airships.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Hobbit, the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor has complex industrial machinery driven by gears, waterwheels, and what appears to be an automated production line powered by the heat of the gold forges. The Goblin town in the Misty Mountains is at a Bamboo Technology level.
  • Meanwhile, there's the 1940s magic-noir Earth in the 1991 TV movie Cast a Deadly Spell, where everybody in L.A. uses magic — except for private detective Harry Philip Lovecraft.
  • Bright is a Buddy Cop Film with a dungeon-punk setting: the world has Fantastic Racism where orcs are the equivalent of black/Inner City people, elves are rich and glamorous (and run everything), there's a black market based on the sale of magic.

  • Harry Turtledove's Darkness Series of novels are set in a world which, through the application of Functional Magic, has achieved a technological level roughly equivalent to 1940s Earth.
  • The novels of China Miéville's Bas-Lag Cycle including Perdido Street Station, where Magic, called Thaumaturgy, is studied in college and is considered one of the 3 fundamental branches of natural sciences next to biology and physics. The goal of the main character in Perdido Street Station is to discover a Grand Unified Theory that links the 3 branches.
  • Used in Robert A. Heinlein's 1940 novella Magic, Inc.. The story is an alternate reality where the 1940 U.S.A. is just like it really is, except that magic is real.
  • In Factory of the Gods The main character is building a factory on a fantasy world using a combination of engineering and magic, with many of the inventions explicitly magic powered or have magic as a major component.
  • Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series can be said to be an indirect precursor. While the setting contained all the necessary elements from the very beginning, and the major characters tended to technically be adventurers of some form, the plots of the books never quite hit what we'd call "standard fare" for the genre today until said genre was well established.
  • Kelly Mc Cullough's Ravirn series features classical Greek deities and demigods who travel through infinite parallel universes - organized as what amounts to a magical Internet - by casting spells in binary code, along with the help of magical familiars called webgoblins that can turn into laptops. Most of them are fond of black leather. This series seems particularly bent on confounding sci-fi and fantasy distinctions.
  • The Garrett, P.I. novels by Glen Cook are about a down-on-his-luck Hardboiled Detective in a city full of sorcerers, dwarfs, elves, and so on. Mr. Cook himself has said that Tun Faire isn't based on any particular city, but is influenced by his hometown of St. Louis. The combination of Private Eye Film Noir fiction with High Fantasy yet not set in an Urban Fantasy world. The series stradles this and Fantastic Noir. Tun Faire is a city full of corruption, crime syndicates, corrupt city watch, and noble families carrying dark secrets. Garrett has a distaste for all manner of authority and spends much of his time thumbing his nose at it, no matter whether its gods or kings.
  • The Iron Dragon's Daughter and The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick.
  • Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy books.
  • Dragaera, when Vlad's narrating, has a lot of this going on. Paarfi, however, is writing historical romances. Also, the latter narrator focuses on a period when both magic and technology were operating on a level that, while not precisely simpler, didn't scale up well or lend itself to semi-automation, so the difference is in setting as well as style and plot.
  • The Thraxas books by Martin Scott are classic noir and cyberpunk stories set in fantasy world.
  • Tad Williams's The War of the Flowers has a fairy kingdom which has developed this sort of society. According to a diary in the book, it used to be Steampunk, too.
  • Simon Hawke's Wizard series.
  • The Acts of Caine series by Matthew Stover. While the eponymous perspective character Caine is in fact from a comfortably Cyberpunk society, the characters native to the story's medieval setting are just as world-weary and cynical as anyone from Caine's Crapsack World.
  • Incarceron plays with this, combining the technologically-advanced titular prison with a future world that insists on living in a zero-tech Middle-Ages simulation in the wake of a world-breaking war so intense, the moon got half-destroyed. Emphasis on "simulation." The whole thing, by the end of Sapphique, is revealed to be an elaborate holographic illusion superimposed over a heavily damaged landscape.
    • The series as a whole seems to achieve this style by combining Cyberpunk and Clock Punk (embodied by the robotic miscreations found in Incarceron.) The cover art for both books (especially the first) combines imagery of metal gears with barcodes and digital-looking numbers to reinforce the effect.
  • Jess Gulbranson's Antipaladin Blues series, which takes all the ultraviolent basement D&D tropes and skewers them with a bunch of anachronistic Magitek and pop culture references.
  • The Nightside series plays with this in some of its alternate universes, although the Nightside itself is modern-day Urban Fantasy.
  • The Discworld is a Fantasy Kitchen Sink that occasionally falls into this, with machines that resemble modern-day appliances but are run by magic. For example, the iconograph is a camera with a tiny demon inside that can paint very fast, and Hex is quite a literal example of a Magical Computer.
  • The Sleeping Dragon by Jonny Nexus is set in a what was once a Standard Fantasy Setting "transformed by mass-produced magic", and stars a D&D-style adventuring party who don't quite fit into the society this has created.
  • Tellos, the world of Shadow of the Conqueror, is awash with Magitek, has a lot of elements from the sixteenth through mid-twentieth century, and is gritty enough to qualify as a Crapsack World.
  • In Worth the Candle, Aerb's nature as a Fantasy Kitchen Sink built from several RPG campaigns mashed together qualifies hard.
  • The Jackelian Series is about as Dungeon Punk as it gets, combining Mechanical Lifeforms and Zeppelins from Another World with Magitek and mysterious Precursors.
  • The Founders Trilogy could be described as cyberpunk meets epic fantasy where Functional Magic takes the place of tech. Tevanne is ruled by four Merchant Houses who use scriving designs (a form of magic that allows one to program an object's reality) to wage economic warfare on each other. They seek means both magical and mundane to exploit the people, and the heroes are a Caper Crew trying to keep dangerous artifacts away from the Houses and break their power base. Scrived humans are basically magical cyborgs, and Sancia can use her powers to "hack" scrivings. And the Greater-Scope Villain is a magical AI turned mad god through scriving.
  • The Craft Sequence takes place in a world with an early 21st century/late 20th century understanding of economics and technology, all achieved through Magitek. This comes complete with things like environmental damage from industrial runoff (which, when magic is involved, doesn't just kill animals but also brings them back) and predatory labor contracts (be sure to read the fine print before you sign your soul to a company, because they might just be allowed to keep it).
  • The Wraith Knight series by C.T. Phipps: The seemingly High Fantasy world rapidly shows itself to be full of Fantastic Racism, classicism, corrupt gods, religious fanatics, and no actual good guys. How twisted is the world? The best person in the setting may be the God of Evil and even he's someone with a Dark and Troubled Past.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Khazad-dûm has shades of this in contrast with the "in touch with the nature" Elvish kingdoms. the Dwarves have a more industrialized civilization, thriving in a terra-formed Underground City, where they have complex technologies driven by hydraulic power and gears like huge 19-century looking elevators, and even automatic doors made of stone.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons, not surprisingly, has a few examples of this, and is arguably the Trope Namer. The "punk aesthetic" became particularly common in 3rd edition, although it was subsequently dialed back on.
    • Planescape is a partial originator of the visual style, and is arguably the direct ancestor of Dungeon Punk in D&D. The core hub of the setting is a Victorian London-like city that is linked by portals to the entire D&D multiverse, and as such is a melting pot for every race, culture and concept you can imagine. It leans particularly hard on the Punk aspect; political factioneering straight out of the World of Darkness is one of the defining aspects of the setting, the tone is highly cynical, corruption and oppression abound, and the setting pulls no punches in trying to push its message that Both Order and Chaos are Dangerous.
    • 'Spelljammer is one part this and one part Space Opera, being that it's a Recycled IN SPACE! take on D&D where different races travel between worlds on "space ships" that are literally ordinary sailing ships magically enchanted to travel between planets, whilst World Shapes and Alien Landmasses proliferate. The whole thing is also filtered through a layer of Denser and Wackier, which contributed to its obscurity.
    • Eberron was literally built around this trope, and is the Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Maker. It takes place in a Standard Fantasy Setting that has undergone a magitek (of the "industrialized spellcasting" variety) Industrial Revolution and only recently emerged from the magical equivalent of World War One. One of its most iconic races are the Warforged — a species of magitek robots that were built to be expendable warrior-slaves in the war, and are now seeking a new purpose since they outlived the war that they were made for. The rest of the setting is built around Pulp and Noir themes, to the point it also counts as New Weird.
    • Nentir Vale: Downplayed; whilst it has been a Dungeon Punk world at points in its history — warforged exist here as well, having been constructed originally as a thought experiment just over a century ago — it's currently been through multiple apocalypses and is struggling to rebuild from the scattered remnants of civilization.
  • Exalted can easily fit here, with First Age magitech common, gods and prayers treated as a business deal, and your average military having an elite guard of giant magical mecha.
  • DragonMech features a Standard Fantasy Setting, fighting against an alien invasion in the midst of what might well be the end of the world, aided by the might of steam-powered Humongous Mecha.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The City Plane of Ravnica is a perfect example, and alongside Eberron may be one of the best examples to come from Wizards of the Coast. Ravnica depends on industrialized magic to survive, and most of its ten ruling Guilds do so in specific ways. Two of the Guilds are based on Mad Scientist archetypes — the Izzet League on mad physicists and engineers, and the Simic Combine on mad biologists — and their "technology" is all based on magic. The Izzet build complicated devices that harness or convert magical energy to do everything from manipulating time to spitting lightning to hurling fire, as well as creating the planes, trains and other vehicles that make getting around the city possible. The Simic tirelessly work to "perfect" nature; cloning, the magical equivalent of genetic engineering, organ-transplants, limb grafts, and Organic Technology are their stock in trade. The Selesnya Conclave uses magic to coax plants and animals into growing in ways that benefit the greater community, such as making literal tree houses (and have stock-in-trade in Mind Control magic to enforce their belief in The Evils of Free Will). The Boros Legion, Ravnica's police force and military, readily employs all manner of spells based on fire, light and emotional manipulation to assist in their role, and fight alongside angels. The Orzhov Syndicate is one part Mafia and one part Catholic church, enslaving the souls of deceased debtors to make them work off their debts as ghosts. Both the demon-worshipping Cult of Rakdos and the dark druids of the Golgari Swarm readily exploit zombies as cheap, disposable laborers. And then there's House Dimir, a political shadow council and spy ring run by vampires.
    • Dungeon Punk creeps into many of the game's other settings as well; in fact, the main setting, Dominaria, makes a clear progression from Medieval European Fantasy in the Dark and Ice Ages to verging on Dungeon Punk in the Weatherlight era to After the End in the wake of the Phyrexian Invasion.
  • Shadowrun mixes Dungeon Punk with more traditional cyberpunk, though it tends more towards the cyberpunk end. Also, the much earlier FASAgame Earthdawn where magic and Magitek are much more commonplace and play a more central role. Not coincidentally, Earthdawn is canonically the setting of Shadowrun thousands of years earlier.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Eldar have sometimes been described as a Post Cyber Punk styled take on Dungeon Punk. For an outsider their technology is inherently magical (and contains no metal with only minor exceptions) and is highly linked to their Psychic Powers. At the same time they are in a heavily cynical setting and always on the verge of destruction but can prevail due to their technology and magic. Plus they are majorly racist and supremacist.
  • Xcrawl plays with this by making a "modern day with fantasy add-ons" world wherein dungeon crawling has become a Reality Show. Those who survive long enough (and manage to entertain the audience while they're at it) will get pricy sponsorships and superstar status.
  • Cy_Borg, a cyberpunk reskin of Mork Borg, takes place in a dystopian futuristic city setting while also heavily featuring magical/pseudo-magical cults and organizations.

    Video Games 
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura is half Dungeon Punk, and half Steampunk. As an example, Orcs are discriminated against and work long hours in factories for low wages (Dungeon Punk analogs of racism and oppression of working class).
  • BlazBlue combines this with Post Cyber Punk. It's set in an alternate future Earth where most of the world was destroyed by a rampaging Eldritch Abomination, and what little remains of civilisation is limited to a few, scattered mountain-top cities run by a feudal and hugely dictatorial world government that maintains power by having a monopoly on Arsmagus, a sort of artificially engineered magic that's powered by toxic Eldritch Abomination fumes.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 being set in 2057 looks like modern day, with more technology, but the magic still exists, and it's implemented in a lot of places, mainly by the Brotherhood of Light and The Bioquimek Corporation.
  • DmC: Devil May Cry has the Virility Factory, Mundus corporation, and Vergil's base: "The Order". Since most of the dealings of angels and demons are behind the scenes, the game leans more toward Urban Fantasy and Gothic Punk, much like the original series. At least until the ending.
  • Divinity: Dragon Commander features a distinctly dungeon punk setting. The game is a Genre Buster combination made mostly of Role-Playing Game and Real-Time Strategy elements featuring airships, turret installations, and various war machines as units.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • VI: Most of the world uses steampunk technology, while the Empire uses Magitek and is now taking over the world. Speaking of Magitek, this game is the Trope Namer for it.
    • VII: The world is dominated by a Cyberpunk Mega-Corp, but Powers as Programs magic is mass-produced for soldiers and its main business is generating energy by exploiting the spiritual essence of the planet.
    • VIII: Military students leave the confines of their technologically advanced cities to petition spirits for their aid in force-multiplying their magic during wars. Global communications have been destroyed for decades, leaving vast swaths of land in control of various monsters. A Chronomancer travels back in time to take over a Fascist dictatorship, and a fourth the plot is trying to find a modern-day strategy to off her.
    • XII: A mid-fantasy world in the middle of a war occupation with corrupt power players fighting against even more corrupt power players.
    • XIII: Corrupt demigods in charge of advanced precursor Magitek persecute magically-enhanced soldiers and misfits to perform a convoluted version of ritual suicide.
    • XV: Kingdoms run like mafias while demon-hunting guilds trek the wilderness.
    • The Crystal Bearers: Magitek is pervasive, and the world is being disrupted by the eponymous crystal bearers, who can use magic on their own.
  • Guilty Gear: Being BlazBlue's predecessor, having magic born from science, fantasy creatures and what not, except, if anime tropes are concerned, BlazBlue is a Shonen, meanwhile Guilty Gear is Seinen. Magic here comes from an Eldritch Location that, in computer terms, serves as the world's "code". Mankind used magic to create creatures intended to be the next step in evolution (the titular "Gears"). Eventually the project shifted intentions and the gear ended up being used as weapons, one of these Gears rebelled and declared a century long war that formed the backstory of the series. Gears themselves are frequent victims of Fantastic Racism, and the co-existence of humans and Gears is part one of the central plots of the story.
  • Many of the later games in the Legend of Zelda franchise take this approach, with pretty varied views on how cynical it actually is. Where the first few games were strictly magic and swords, as time progressed, you now have steam boats, trains, weird spinner tops, hookshots, and various Magitek automatons such as Armos and Guardians. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild went so far as to introduce a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane computer system.
  • In Lost Odyssey, magic energy is literally just a fuel source (albeit one that can do all sorts of horrible and miraculous things) and the recent development of it has lead to many Magitek machines being created, such as odd-looking cars and street lamps that run off of arcane glowing stuff. For some reason, glowing pendulums of various sizes (the largest one seen is roughly the size of a skyscraper) either store or create this magic energy and when malfunctioning, can give local monsters an unintended power boost. Not to mention the fact that the greatest advancement in magic is a literal gigantic towering magic staff that can be flown around and used to cast continent-wide spells.
  • Mahou Daisakusen, where stone castles and fantasy creatures meet mechanized warfare.
  • Planescape: Torment, being set in the D&D Planescape setting mentioned above and adding a grim, cynical storyline, is prime Dungeon Punk.
  • The Shadowrun adaptations are this by definition.
  • In Ultima VII, the setting of the series, which was traditional Heroic Fantasy, takes a darker turn. Like Arcanum, it features an analogue of the Industrial Revolution and the Workers' Movement.
  • Paladins takes place in a Realm that was originally Heroic Fantasy until the discovery of Power Crystals led to a Magitek revolution that gave the common folk power that rivaled mages. However, horrible misuse of the crystals' power resulted in catastrophic tragedies. This prompted the ruling Magistrate to ban commoners from using crystals to prevent further tragedy and return peace to the Realm. Many commoners objected the Magistrate's ban and formed a Resistance to ensure that crystals are free for everyone. Now a brutal war has broken out between the two factions to determine the fate of the Realm.
  • World of Warcraft: Although at first WoW looks like classic medieval fantasy, airships, airplanes, helicopters, oil rigs, clockwork and electric machines all exist. Since magical materials exist, including the actual crystallized blood of Eldritch Abominations, the fusion of magic and technology is omnipresent. Most notably in the Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, Tailoring and Enchanting professions (which can all be chosen by players). Some of the classes also have this ability intrinsically: such as shamans being able to infuse their weapons with elemental powers, or paladins having all their attacks be infused with holy powers. For death knights, the use of the aforementioned Eldritch Abomination blood is one of the defining characteristic of their class: and all of their weaponry or armor is supposedly made of this material. This functions in a sense as the in-universe explanation for stats.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Tales of MU takes place in a Dungeon Punk setting which seems to be more or less based on D&D, complete with concepts like character classes seeping into the real world.
  • U Realms Live: Gnomish and Elven technology runs on this; from the Hypnorings and Hurricane Bracers that Gnomes create and use to the Magical Trains the Elves use. Even the extinct Beenu used magic-based technology, such as the elemental-infused robots known as Elemechs.

    Western Animation 
  • The Legend of Korra has elements of this with mostly Steampunk and few Diesel Punk elements like using lightning bending to generate electricity.
  • The Owl House is set in a variant of the Medieval European Fantasy in which culture is similar to the United States in roughly the Turn of the Millennium, alongside magical counterparts to every technological development made up to that point. One of the primary settings is a Wizarding School modeled more after the stereotypical American high school rather than old castles as popularized by Harry Potter. This being a show on The Disney Channel, however, the darker aspects are downplayed and typically Played for Laughs despite demons having the highest population of the various fantasy races.
  • Samurai Jack takes place in an alternative future where the earth is ruled by an ancient demon with an army of robots, mutants, other demons, spirits and aliens, fighting against the titular samurai from the past with various Schizo Tech.

Alternative Title(s): Magepunk