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Tabletop Game / GURPS Steampunk Setting: The Broken Clockwork World

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There are two worlds that once were entirely separate. One is ours (or very like it), and the other blends fantasy and steampunk elements. Now, they’ve come into dangerous contact.

The Broken Clockwork World is a short (10 page) setting book for GURPS by Phil Masters, published in 2020, originally as part of a Steve Jackson Games Kickstarter-based project involving the launch of a large number of short GURPS supplements. It depicts a dual-world setup; the "Unbroken World" is our own, or looks like it, except that recently, gates and portals began opening to the "Broken World", a steampunk fantasy setting of numerous city-states where reality itself is seemingly breaking down.

The book is sold in PDF form; the publishers have a Web page for it here.

Tropes Known in These Two Worlds:

  • After the End: The situation in the Broken World is distinctly post-apocalyptic.
  • Alien Sky: The most obvious sign that the Broken World is strange and alien is that the sky is full of phantom cogwheels and gears.
  • Cool Gate: Portals link the two worlds; some are stable, others are temporary or erratic. They’re more the result of damage to reality than deliberate creations.
  • Crapsack World: A borderline case. The Broken World may be on the brink of final collapse, with millions of people at risk of annihilation — for reasons that nobody really understands. However, it’s not impossible for people to be decent to one another, and some are working to fix things.
  • God Is Dead: The gods of the Broken World were once fairly definitely real and active. Now, well, if they're not actually dead, they're inaccessible.
  • Have You Seen My God?: It’s not clear what has happened to the gods of the Broken World; their priests can’t contact them any more (though some priestly powers still work), and there seems to be a consensus that they are either dead or as good as dead. However, it’s possible that they are just missing, and some people would doubtless clutch at that straw.
  • Land of One City: The Broken World used to be patchwork of city-states. Now, the patchwork has been torn up and rearranged at random.
  • The Men in Black: Played with; many governments in the Unbroken World know about the portals to the Broken World, and intelligence services are working to handle the situation, keeping it as secret as possible — but these men in black really aren't as all-powerful as they'd like to look, as they don't know much more than anyone else.
  • Patchwork Map: A rationalised trope here, in that the geography of the Broken World has been shattered, making what was once presumably a sensible sort of map into a patchwork.
  • Points of Light Setting: The Broken World used to be a reasonably orderly, peaceful world of city states. Then the Breaking happened. Many of the old cities still stand, for now, but the points of light are flickering.
  • Portal Fantasy: The set-up here is explicitly designed to support portal fantasy games, though the "other world" involved is flavored as much with steampunk as with conventional fantasy.
  • Steampunk: The Broken World runs on specifically steampunk-style tech.