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The word arcanepunk refers to a fantasy world where both magic and science exist. It applies to a genre or a design.

The magic and science are advanced enough that most people have access. Not everyone is a scientist or wizard, but most people know how to use technologic and magic items. Scientific knowledge is comparable to the late 19th century or more advanced. This genre is often old fashioned, either by borrowing in fantasy or steampunk.

In most cases, magic and science have evolved in parallel. People use technomagic devices based on magic and science. Coal, oil and electricity are often replaced by crystals, mana or glyphs.

The most popular creature of the genre is the wargolem, something between golem and robot. It appears in 1998 in Battle Chasers comic books. It is known as warforged in the Eberron campaign setting.

Three kind of universe aren't arcanepunk:

  • Universes where both magic and science exist, but are exclusive to one another or can't work together, as in Torg RPG or Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura video game
  • Universes where science is insufficiently advanced, as in heroic fantasy or folk tales


The word arcanepunk, or arcane punk, appears on the net around 2007.[1] It comes from cyberpunk and steampunk.

Arcane cames from arcane magic (2000), which means non divine magic of the gods in the Dungeons & Dragons RPG.


Too Many Magicians (1966) is an arcanepunk detective story. This alternate history featuring two characters inspired by Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, the detective Lord Darcy and his faithful magician Sean O'Lochlainn. The world and the characters will be taken up in several stories and novels.

The Discworld series of books (1983) takes place in a fantasy world. The series uses more and more arcanepunk.

The Darksword trilogy (1987) takes place in an alternate history. Magic exists and people disdain science.

Metropolitan (1995) and City on Fire (1997) take place in an alternate history. The Earth is enclosed in a mystic barrier, the Shield, and the inhabitants live in large cities powered by a magical energy, the plasma.

The Bartimaeus trilogy (2003) proposes a uchronia based primarily on the existence of magic.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1983) introduces firearms in fantasy.

Shadowrun (1989) is the first arcanepunk RPG. It takes place in an alternate history in 2060. Both magic and science exist. Magic appears on Earth in 2011 and it changes our world. New supernatural races appear and wizards too.

Castle Falkenstein (1994) takes place in 1870 in an alternate history.

Deadlands (1996) takes place in an American Old West alternate history. Ghost rock, a kind of magic coal, is used to create technomagic devices.

The Eberron campaign setting (2002), created for Dungeons & Dragons, is arcanepunk.

The Iron Kingdoms campaign setting (2004), created for Dungeons & Dragons, is arcanepunk.

Video games[]

World of Warcraft (2005) is the most popular arcanepunk video game. It comes from the Warcraft: Orcs & Humans video game (1994) and uses more and more arcanepunk.

Fable 2 (2008) and Fable 3 (2010) introduce arcanepunk in the world of Fable.

Torchlight (2009) is also arcanepunk.

League of Legends (2009) is another example.

The Elder Scrolls contain an arcanepunk element in shape of the dwemer automatons, powered by soulgems, magic, clockwork and steam, still working after hundreds of thousands of years of neglect. It is stated in-universe that their creators, the Dwemer, were a whole race of arcanepunk elves.

Comic books[]

The Battle Chasers comic series (1998–2001) is the first comic arcanepunk. It takes place in a fantasy world. She stops at #9 and remains unfinished.

The Arrowsmith comic series (2003) takes place during the First World War in an alternate history. The magic seems to have always existed and it seems as advanced as science in the early 20th century. The series ended at #6 and remains unfinished.