I only had an evening to prep for this, so I cobbled together a rough idea for a setting using equal parts of Shadowrun, Deadlands, and Star Wars.
As background, the game was set in 1875. As in our world, in 1860, the American Civil War kicked off with South Carolina ceding from the Union.
In 1861, Wodziwob, a Paiute medicineman, began performing the Ghost Dance rituals. These culminated in early April with the explosive return of magic to the world (though there is some question of the correlation).
The setting also has a wild steampunk feel too, so there are steampunk droids (called pneumen), airships, gatling guns, etc…
With the help of the Second French Empire, under Napolean III, (and a cabal of powerful French magicians called the Brotherhood), the Confederacy handily won the Civil War in 1865.
Our heroes were agents for the remnants of the Union forces, who were based out of San Francisco, under the leadership of President Ulysses S. Grant.
The Union was able to survive on the West Coast, largely due to the face that the Central Western US was in the hands of First Nations groups (who now had the magical mojo to keep the Confederacy at bay).
One of our heroes was a member of the Order (an ancient rival of the nefarious Brotherhood) whose group was nearly eliminated by the Brotherhood after the return of magic (they waited in the shadows of history for magic to return).
The adventure was a train heist, where they were to use their steampunk Zeppelin, the Silver Shadow, to steal a shipment of orichalchum being shipped back East for use in experimental Confederate weaponry.
SPOILERS START HERE
The guys managed to shoot their way onto the train, where they faced a bunch of gun thugs, a Brotherhood mage, and a nasty slag dragon.
They managed to make off with the orichalcum, but when they were offloading the cargo to members of the Union resistance, they found the mark of the Order on one of the crates.
Inside the crate, they found a small pneuman who had a secret message left by Nellie Grant (daughter of President Grant) for the Order magus. Tell me if you recognize it:
Sir Vogel. Years ago you served my father in the Civil War. Now, he begs you to help him again in his struggle against the Confederacy. I regret that I am unable to convey message to you in person, but I fear my cover has been compromised, and I’m afraid my mission to sabotage the Confederacy advanced weapons program has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Union into the cylindrical memory systems of this pneumatic unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this pneuman safely delivered to him in San Francisco. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Dashiell Vogel. You’re my only hope.
The session ended with the guys flying to San Francisco in time to see a massive airship launch an orichalcum shell into the heart of the city, leaving behind a smoldering crater. The titanic Confederate airship flew out of that cloud towards our heroes’ ship and the session ended with Sir Vogel turning the pilot, screaming “Get us the hell out of here.”
I enjoyed the hell out of the session, but I think it lost a bit of steam near the end.
I had a bunch of other stuff planned for the session that we didn’t get to (I had a scene using Deadwood, in the Dakota Territory, as a kind of Mos Eisley “hive of scum and villainy,” and an assault on a Confederate hilltop fort that would have seen the guys dealing with Confederate griffon-riding cavalry), and I may like to revisit that sometime in the future, but I think my players may prefer to carry on with our regular Star Wars game for now, rather than this alt world version of it (the guys played Weird West versions of their existing Star Wars RPG characters).
If you are interested in seeing the session, you can see it here: https://youtu.be/GExE4Ri5NIU