Friday, September 6, 2013

Technological Advancements

So I was talking with my friend Jeremy the other day and he asked if I'd ever run something with d20 Modern set in a futuristic Hekinoe. I said no, but that'd be neat and stuff. It did get me thinking though. What will The Known World look like in a hundred years? We've established already the the tech level is kind of like middle/late Wild West era stuff in 10003 DK, plus all the "steampunk." It's taken ten thousand years since the fall of Kaleshmar to get here, but we're there.

So what would it look like a hundred or so years from now? I've always said that reason The Known World is sluggish to develop technology is because monsters and magic and stuff. The brains are working on magicky stuff and technological stuff instead of just technological stuff, and the monsters are distracting everyone. However, as new technology develops, it tends to develop quicker and quicker. Looking at Wikipedia, the Stone Age last roughly 3.4 million years, the Bronze Age lasted like 2100 years, and Iron Age lasted like 1800 years and then we move into the Middle Ages, which lasted roughly 1100 years, then to the Early Modern Age, which lasted 400 years, and finally move into the Modern Age, which has been going on for like less than 200 years. Those aren't hard and fast and written in stone measures, as it gets kind of hazy during the transition years, and these ages aren't a precise measure of technological advancement, but you get the gist. To me it looks like the more technology we amass, the faster things move along in technological advancement. Which makes sense to me.

So along what lines would the technology of The Known World advance? What new nonsense would come along? How is it changing in the now?

One of the main focuses of advancement will be zeppelins. Now, in our world, we have zeppelins. But they kind of fell by the wayside after the development of airplanes. One of the big things in our world that they were used for was bombing platforms. They'd just float over cities and bomb the fuck out of them. If I remember correctly, Germany used them to bomb London and run reconnaissance missions. In a future The Known World, I'd keep zeppelins around, have them carry better armor and armaments and such, but with so much war in The Known World, most of the nations will be interested in short distance flight, rather than crossing oceans for bombing missions, so the zeppelin would be suited to that sort of thing. I'd also have a gyrocopter develop, which would essentially be a helicopter with a funny name.

With the nations of The Known World constantly being prone to skirmishes amongst themselves, the main focus of technological advancement is going to be based on war. Weapons are going to get more and more advanced, revolvers will develop into machine pistols and such. Deadlier and deadlier "steampunk" weaponry will develop, the lightning gun will develop into a laser (something likely called an optithermal ray discharger). Steam lorries and such will start heading into tank territory (no skytanks, Jason). Explosives are going to get more and more powerful, we're going to end up with rockets and short range missiles, along with grenade launchers and such. The Blackcoats are going to piddle in their excitement. As a huge fan of Warhammer 40k, you can bet your ass I'm going to include something along the lines of gyrojet/bolter technology. Gyrojet firearms are a real world technology that basically used rocket propelled bullets. Bolters are a Warhammer 40k weapon used most frequently by the Space Marine chapters. They're basically .50 caliber rocket propelled explosive rounds.

As weaponry advances, the already disused metal armors are going to go extinct as they have in our world. I've already got the early forms of "bulletproof" armor in my world, thick plates of metal or tightly woven fibers. As time moves on, this will develop into more modern forms like more tightly woven fibers and more durable ceramic plates that attempt to balance weight with bullet resistance and eventually we will get to something like Dragon Skin, which in my world will likely have actual dragon scales incorporated into it. Because magic. As armor technology increase, and given that we already have "steampunk" power armor, I think we're going to see elite units like the Brasscoats develop truly awesome powered armor suits. Stuff invulnerable to small arms fire and resistant to explosive detonations.

Right now, The Known World is electrified via steam power and turbines and such. Kusseth primarily does this by mining and burning coal and converting a percentage of lumber from their lumber farms to charcoal to burn to heat boilers and such. This trend will continue. It may not be efficient, but it works. With The Known World being mostly flat open spaces exposed to the sun, I can see wind power or solar power coming into use. Though I imagine Kusseth is going to start eyeballing the silver trees of Vyanthnem as a readily available source of neat colored charcoal before those two technologies develop. I don't know much of anything about oil or fuel production or anything like that (other than that in Minecraft you pump oil out of a well and pipe it to a refinery and it outputs fuel which generates the most heat in a liquid fueled boiler and the most power output in a combustion engine of the various types of energy generation sources), but I imagine oil and the various technologies based on putting a well over it and refining it will come around eventually. I like to imagine future The Known World as a continent constantly resounding with the rumble of diesel engines and having a skyline choked with belching smokestacks.

So how will magic advance as time passes? It's not going to get any more reliable, I can assure you of that. But, people are people, so attempts will be made. These attempts will either fail, or have mixed results just as they always have. Beltanizine and Meroteth obsidian have always show a certain ability to absorb/stabilize magic, but it's never 100% and nothing I can conceive of will ever make it so. How will magic and technology advance together? I have always resisted coming with extensive magitech nonsense. Magic is too unreliable to reliably be combined with technology. The applications are there. Who needs coal or charcoal when you can plop a flaming sphere beneath a boiler and call it good?  The Bel'lore arms company of The Fell Peaks already experiments with their cinderswitch line of firearms, that use a rod of Meroteth obsidian to channel a wielder's sorcery through as ammunition for the firearms. But there's always the risk of misfire. I can see something being developed like storing sorcerous unreliability in a casing like a grenade and that leading to some interesting grenades for the more sorcerous nations of The Known World. It isn't terribly different than storing a spell in a wand or scroll to cast. Beyond that, I have no further intention of widespread magitech. There will certainly be instances of this happening, magic steam tanks and magic propelled zeppelins and so on and so forth and such. But again, I don't want this to be widespread. Magic is too unreliable for that. 

What would campaigns look like in this modern The Known World? Honestly, pretty fucking similar to what they look like now, the window dressing stuff is just going to be altered a bit. Mostly, it's just going to be about one faction trying to gain an edge over the other with PCs as mercenary types trying to scrape together cash taking care of business for someone. There will be rebellions and fanatics that need to be taken down or have coin taken from them, there will be big nasty critters to slay, and so on and so forth. The guys would just be using SMGs and fully automatic assault rifles instead of revolvers and blades.

Technology is constantly evolving, and one of the ways in which it is evolving right now in The Known World is attempting to get a faster rate of fire out of firearms and larger capacity. So we're moving towards semi-automatic pistols and magazines, rather than revolvers and increasing cylinder size. One of Kusseth's big drives right now is setting up a railway system. They've got a handful of tracks and trains currently, but one track just kind of dead ends near the border of Serethnem. Eventually, Kusseth is planning on crisscrossing its territory with tracks for rapid transport and moving its zeppelins towards strictly military operations, rather than recon and troop/materiel transport.

So there's a few thoughts about technology and some vague thoughts on the direction it will take in the future of The Known World. 

1 comment:

  1. Mother Fucking Skytanks (TM), get the name right!

    I forget how permanent psionic crafting is in the known world, how much of that will end up being incorporated into technology? If it is stable while magic is not it stands to reason that it will end up advancing with and be further incorporated into technology as it advances.