East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Hussars & Hackers – return to Drachenstahl


Back in… oh, it was probably 1984, I first tried my hand at a series of short stories set in a post-catastrophic future, in which micronations (but they were not called micronations back then) were the last surviving bastion of order in a world in which environmental and economic disaster had created billions of refugees.
I had just read a book about the coming ice age (it looked legit), so I threw that idea in.
ruritania_zenda_1938_by_mbhdesign-d8zcnf3I had been reading The Prisoner of Zenda for the first time, too, and I sort of wanted to mix the small operetta nation/state of the book with a sort of futuristic and cyberpunkoid stories.
Hussars and Hackers, if you will.
So I imagined this small Alpine nation, called Drachenstahl (which means something like “stolen from the dragon”), served by airships and with a solar/geothermal energy economy, in which a small unit of “technology cops” operated – people charged with keeping an eye on the diffusion of new technologies and the abuse of those technologies.

I wanted this to be serious SF, and so I had jotted down a certain amount of background. The Victorian feel of the Duchy of Drachenstahl had been chosed by its founders because the Victorian mindset included the ideological elements they wanted their nation to be based on. And the Drachenstahl authorities had head-hunters going through the refugee camps down in the lower valleys, looking for people with the right skills to keep the nation going, and beneath the colorful veneer of the Duchy, was an authoritarian, rapacious corporation-state whose wealthy aristocracy that had no qualms about using and throwing away individuals.


I wrote two stories about Drachenstahl, using my mother’s Lettera 35 Olivetti typewriter, and I really don’t know what happened to them.
Lost and forgotten.
I am sure they were pretty horrid.


steampunk-blimp-pictures-4In writing nothing ever gets lost, and so when I started collecting stuff for Hope & Glory, I slipped Drachenstahl, its evil Duke and its Alpine valley into the setting – just a one-paragraph throwaway reference nobody – but really nobody – will ever catch.
And now I am putting together the Drachenstahl write-up, a short “mini-setting” intended to be included in the 2018 Adventure Almanac that is a traditional publication for the Italian Savage Worlds fans.
Hope & Glory – Drachenstahl will be playable as a stand-alone steampunk mini-setting, and it will include a one-sheet adventure and a brief selection of adventure hooks.
Once it’s out in Italian, we’ll see what to do with the English version.
And I might even go back to the setting and write a story or two. After all, it’s been only thirty-odd years, and the whole concept was not that bad, if I do say so myself.

I’ll keep you posted.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Hussars & Hackers – return to Drachenstahl

  1. Wow, seems like a great setting! I’ve never read the prisoner of Zenda (but I think I’m going to fix this one asap :D), but Drachenstal’s steampunk adventures seem very funny.


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