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Basic Information

Dieselpunk - also known as Punk punk1 is, broadly, cyberpunk without the cyber. The genre picks up where steampunk leaves off in the early C20 and, sidestepping the shiny tech of rocketpunk rolls on into the grimmer forms of sci-fi. Noir literature may have a claim to the parentage of this genre as well. You get to keep the themes of social breakdown, failed states, economic stratification and endemic violence but lose the cybernetic upgrades and virtual reality. With magic added, this can transform into urban fantasy instead. This is where we all thought we were going in the 70s and 80s, but with fewer toys.

If your dystopia occurs twenty minutes into the future and isn't cyberpunk, there's a good chance that it's this instead.

This can overlap with various alternate history settings, especially those featuring a Nazi victory in WW2.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Not well represented in most games genres, but the ttRPG Millennium's End took a decent stab at it. For (probably) obvious reasons, the game didn't age well, but is still entirely playable with a few tweaks.
  • Fates Worse than Death also does dieselpunk.
  • For those who prefer some fantasy elements Dark Conspiracy and the World of Darkness RPGs also work … although WoD can also be run without supernatural elements.
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