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Basic Information

Clockpunk is a genre of fiction that applies cyberpunk-like themes to the pre-industrial era - generally the C17-18 - and refers to the use of clockwork as a technology for automata, "cybernetic" limbs and suchlike. Although sometimes prone to the grittier social aspects of the other "punk" genres, clockpunk is often an excuse to mix "robots" and wetware with Dumas style swashbucklers and "Golden Age" pirates. This being the age of Newton, it's also good for magic and alchemy without too much faux-technology to cover it up (that said, the clockwork automata are probably some kind of golem and the mechanical limbs more the product of artifice than engineering).

This is probably the earliest true "punk" genre that can be run as "like history but…" (and so excluding dungeonpunk which is strictly fantasy) and tends to lead (or indeed blend) chronologically into steampunk at its higher end.

See Also

  • Pierre Beaumarchais — started out as a maker of minituarized watches before he turned to writing political comedies


1. book: Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum — Introduces the character Tik-Tok, a clockwork man
2. movie: The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) — although set in the early 20th Century, many of Phibes' fiendish devices utilize clockwork technology.
3. John Jeroboam Hunter — GURPS write-up for a character with clockwork prothetics
4. comic: The 2000AD strip Defoe has regularly included clockwork enhanced characters, some of whom are even referred to as "clockpunks", running about in a zombie infested C17 Britain.

Game and Story Use

  • Like steampunk, this can be played gritty or heroic: your PCs can be musketeers or pirates with robot arms, or equally leveller fugitives pursued by Cromwell's New Metal Army.
    • Of course, this is also the era of brutal religious warfare (not least the Thirty Years War), the heyday of the slave trade (both in purchased Africans and in indentured or imprisoned Europeans), the first stirrings of republicanism and modern government (and the bloody reactions thereto) and plenty of other social issues that can easily be addressed.
  • Worth noting, however, that in the era, the word "punk" was often used to mean prostitute - or failing that, worthless or low grade material such as rope shakings, dust or rotten wood…
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