I have been toying with mechanics for the last few days. There are two a couple things that I have been having problems with, lately at least, is the way in which Mechanics can or must change in order to fit the flavor of the campaign setting.
Steam Power - I am looking at you.
I really like 4e Game Mechanics. I think it has been a pretty big improvement over 3x and I really want to maintain these mechanics as much as possible. The game is great. I don't want to break it.
But, at the same time, it is difficult when working with something like Steam and where to put it into the mechanical (in terms of rules) world. Will Steam go into the class powers? Will it get its own class? Will it get its own race? What about Items? How far can steam powered items be taken? If you create steam powered items, how far are they going to go? How will Steam Powered items interact or replace Magic Items?
Here is the way that I see Steam power, especially when you apply it to adventurers.
Although Steam power in the real world was always more tied to manufacturing and industrialization (in addition to transportation to some extent), the way Steam gets tied into fantasy is really on a personal level. You see images of people wielding Steam Swords, or Steam Gatling Guns, or Steam Axes, etc. The imagery for Steam Punk is really inspiring to me when it comes to finding the fit for Steam in the world of Mad Lands.
Steam in the Mad Lands is not a complete replacement for Magic. It may be trying to do that, but it hasn't gotten there yet. Magic is the old way and still has a huge presence in the world. So, I don't see Steam replacing magic items outright. In fact, I feel like Steam Power and Magic can work together to some extent. Not necessarily being the Techno-Magic that you see in Eberron, but more of like Magic Weapons that are outfitted with Steam power-ups.
You will see what I mean by power-ups in some of the posts coming up on my blog. I think you will enjoy them.