Hello all! So I am currently playing around with an idea for a novel and I could use some guidance. I am currently working on a fantasy epic (fantasy being my preferred genre to both read and write), however epic books take a long time to piece together and aren't necessarily good for first time publication. Essentially I have been playing around with ideas for a shorter novel series that I can complete in the meantime and hopefully push forward as my first published work. As a fantasy writer I find that the magic system is often the component that I like to scratch out first as I feel getting an interesting magic system together can often then lead to an interesting book in quite a natural and fluent way. So in that spirit I have come up with a magical system for this new book that differs from my epics. Here is the reason I specifically want the input of any Steampunk fans (I know there are plenty of sub-genres but please bear with me). I have been thinking about a fantasy setting outside of the middle-ages/ancient periods which is where I tend to automatically go as it feels like the most natural fit. I have specifically been thinking about something set around the colonial era (so swords, early black-powder/flintlock weaponry etc.). Now unfortunately the new magic system I have come up with doesn't lend itself to being used as a power source and I would like to keep away from electricity as much as I can. That said there are aspects that I wish to include that do require some sort of power source. Now it seems to me that the power source which fits into this setting in the most natural way would be steam power and it also seems to me that heavy use of steam power can often be associated with the overarching genre of Steampunk (please do correct me if I am wrong in this assumption). I don't know if I would classify what I am putting together as any form of Steampunk as it seems to lack the general characteristics of the genre (i.e. fashion, styling, setting etc.). Now to finally get to the point. I'm not a reader of Steampunk and so I guess I was wondering if anybody could help me with the identity of Steampunk so that I can clarify whether or not what I am working on is in fact something that could be categorized as Steampunk. I am enjoying coming up with all sorts of interesting technologies which I am trying to make as viable as possible. So another question for the Steampunk fans, just how realistic do you usually need these wacky and wonderful inventions to be/how realistic are the usually? I am basing mine off of real world technology however I just don't think that the inventions would work in the real world although I do try to make them logical. For example I have worked on designing exoskeletons that have a steam engine mounted upon their back which forces the pressurized steam into pneumatic gas cylinders (mounted around the elbow and knee joints) instead of a piston like in a steam engine, the idea being that the steam would replace the pressurized air that is usually pushed into the cylinders in the real world. Does this sound plausible enough to you guys or do you find that things such as that break the overall sense of reality? I have done research into both steam power and pneumatic technologies, however will I need to know steam power inside and out in order to write a Steampunk novel? (Which I currently do not) Also for all of the non-Steampunk fans here, how important is having an easily identifiable genre? If my book is not something that would be generally classified as Steampunk then should I work to make it a Steampunk novel or is it perfectly fine to have a story that doesn't necessarily conform to the popular genres? Thank you all for your time.