Author Topic: The Pneumatic Spires of Athens  (Read 5979 times)

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Offline Siren no Orakio

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The Pneumatic Spires of Athens
« on: December 16, 2014, 07:13:42 AM »
Bits and pieces to be fleshed out further. Input heartily desired. Capture chat log, with active listening techniques trimmed out. ;P

(05:08:14) Cheka_Man: what could have turned the Earth into a rl steampunk world I wonder?
(05:08:47) Chaosmark: Ridiculously high natural magnetic fields.
(05:09:08) Chaosmark: Kinda hard to get electrical components working when the environment itself causes electrical surges.
(05:09:16) Cheka_Man: which would fry tech
(05:09:40) Chaosmark: Yes.
(05:09:51) Cheka_Man: but steam, clockwork ect would be unharmed
(05:10:02) Siren_no_Orakio: The electrical isn't really the issue:
(05:10:41) Siren_no_Orakio: mechanically, you end up rolling over to internal combustion engines very quickly
(05:12:00) Siren_no_Orakio: What you really need is to murder the laws of thermodynamics. :p
(05:16:25) Siren_no_Orakio: And once you get to the kind of a magnetic field to the point where you can't build an electrical engine, it'd, uh, do things like automatically force railroad tracks to spin into alignment like a compass
(05:16:51) Siren_no_Orakio: ... Which would be a pretty awesome natural disaster to inflict on a steampunk world
(05:21:08) Siren_no_Orakio: The biggest factor is societal, imo
(05:21:29) Chaosmark: "Mmmyeah, we're just gonna put this magnetar right here...Have fun, guys!"
(05:21:53) Cheka_Man: lol lol
(05:22:26) Cheka_Man: a magnetar at the right place would make a steampunk world
(05:24:44) Siren_no_Orakio: What you need is a society that is inward turned, building arcologies around the concept of steam distribution: Steam technology works, and it works well, but you have to have
(05:25:21) Cheka_Man: yes
(05:25:26) Siren_no_Orakio: You have to have efficiency of scale and tightly controlled distribution networks
(05:26:20) Cheka_Man: so it would be a sort of communist world then?
(05:26:36) Chaosmark: So an extremely hostile world, one that forces tightly-knit enclaves?
(05:27:18) Siren_no_Orakio: It doesn't have to be either communist, or hostile, though a hostile world helps
(05:29:37) Chaosmark: I'd imagine it'd need to be somewhat hostile, simply because human nature is to spread out everywhere.
(05:30:55) Siren_no_Orakio: If i was going to What If the Earth into steam punk, I would start by averting the Great Plague of Athens, and interrupting the formation of the early Roman Empile
(05:31:01) Siren_no_Orakio: Well, Roman Republic
(05:33:46) Siren_no_Orakio: Give the Athenians at least two-three more centuries to develop early steam technology from the aelopile/Hero Engine.
(05:36:23) Siren_no_Orakio: Get trade of technology along with the Germanic tribes, let it spread out to India and China - one of India / China / Greece fires off the Industrial revolution aroud 750 AD, with the critical difference that the math for the Maxwell Equations isn't ready yet
(05:37:31) Siren_no_Orakio: Electricity is a known force, but by the time anyone can control or predict it, they already have the massive steam plants and arcologies starting to build around them
(05:43:52) Siren_no_Orakio: So now you have the great spires of the Greek city states, fending off the various northern tribes - at least until someone develops calculus
(05:45:24) Chaosmark: This sounds like an interesting alt. history.
(05:48:41) Siren_no_Orakio: It could be
(05:51:05) Siren_no_Orakio: Hero of Alexandria was -><- that far away from beating freaking James Watt to the steam engine by 1700 years
(05:51:54) Siren_no_Orakio: All someone had to do was put his stuff together in the right order
(05:52:43) Chaosmark: No kidding.
(05:52:57) Chaosmark: Hero was right up there with Archemedes in terms of ridiculously advanced inventions.
(05:53:35) Siren_no_Orakio: I need to hit the sack - Can you grab this and toss some of your thoughts on it into a forum post? Maybe we can turn it into something enjoyable.
(05:53:37) Chaosmark: I remember reading some summaries and going, "Man, I wish I could have a translation of the original. This is good stuff."

The basic idea here is to posit, somehow, that the formation of the early Roman Republic is disrupted, and that the inventions of Archimedes and Hero of Alexandria are built upon to generate an early steam-power revolution, igniting in the early second to third century. This will be a massive mess to work out. :D

Offline Siren no Orakio

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Re: The Pneumatic Spires of Athens
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2014, 06:31:55 PM »
(16:58:25) Siren_no_Orakio: So, I came up with this idea for a steampunk setting
(16:58:31) MysticMoon: Oh?
(16:58:34) Siren_no_Orakio: And all of a sudden i realized just how little history I know. :(
(16:58:39) MysticMoon: Ah
(16:58:51) MysticMoon: You mean, in order to make an alternate version?
(16:58:56) Siren_no_Orakio: Yeah
(16:59:50) MysticMoon: When I did most of my reading about history, I was never interested in those eras, so I never really studied it
(16:59:57) MysticMoon: So I'd have the same problem
(17:00:17) MysticMoon: In fact, that has occurred to me around my Refuge Beneath the Waves setting that I'd like to expand
(17:00:24) MysticMoon: So I get it
(17:00:34) Siren_no_Orakio: Actually
(17:00:44) Silveressa: deatils please on the steampunk setting
(17:00:48) Silveressa: *details
(17:00:53) MysticMoon: Yes, please
(17:01:15) Silveressa: and I truly do love your refuge beneath the waves series Mystic, it's one of those settings that makes me want to run a forum game just to use it
(17:01:49) Siren_no_Orakio: So, I'm actually working this one around Hero of Alexandria's engine
(17:02:17) MysticMoon: Some day it will be a proper setting book
(17:02:19) MysticMoon: Oh?
(17:02:24) Siren_no_Orakio: Yeh
(17:02:25) MysticMoon: I'm not familiar with that
(17:02:33) MysticMoon: Greek?
(17:02:39) Siren_no_Orakio: Yes.
(17:02:43) Siren_no_Orakio: Well, not really
(17:02:52) Siren_no_Orakio: Technically, Roman
(17:02:55) MysticMoon: Ah, ok
(17:03:10) MysticMoon: More interesting than industrial Europe
(17:03:38) Siren_no_Orakio: IRL, he built a simple steam rocket that didn't do anything more than spin on an axle
(17:04:03) Siren_no_Orakio: But.. spinning on an axle is the basic essence of an engine.
(17:04:23) MysticMoon: Steampunk Rome? Cool
(17:05:04) Siren_no_Orakio: But, he didn't get very far
(17:05:23) MysticMoon: But if he had... or if others expanded on it...
(17:05:34) MysticMoon: Pagan Rome?
(17:05:49) Siren_no_Orakio: He was culturally greek, but he lived AFTER the great library fire
(17:05:49) Silveressa: unique, I can see the appeal
(17:05:57) MysticMoon: Ah, ok
(17:07:08) Silveressa: the Roman culture is hedonistic and in the latter days rather corrupt and full of intrigue so a great playground to drop players into.
(17:07:13) MysticMoon: What if steam technology had made the world shrink back when Rome was in its strength?
(17:07:30) Silveressa: especially if they developed airships
(17:07:54) Silveressa: Rome would have had no limits on their expansion if they ruled the skies
(17:08:01) Siren_no_Orakio: I think the domino that I want to untrigger is Alexander the Great's death
(17:08:17) Siren_no_Orakio: And delete the Plague in athens
(17:08:32) MysticMoon: So Rome sticks around longer?
(17:08:39) Siren_no_Orakio: Not rome - Greece
(17:08:45) Siren_no_Orakio: Macedonia
(17:08:51) MysticMoon: Ah, gotcha
(17:09:06) MysticMoon: Greece becomes a power again?
(17:09:24) Siren_no_Orakio: They never wane in the 'east'
(17:09:55) Silveressa: Spartacus would be an excellent tv series to watch for inspiration adn info on the Roman culture http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/S​partacus/70136152?strkid=19900327​05_0_0&strackid=4b5255a228a127c3_​0_srl&trkid=222336
(17:10:29) MysticMoon: Ah, right, I remember that was a thing, but never watched it
(17:10:32) Siren_no_Orakio: They have an empire of city states that run from Greece proper through iran
(17:10:41) Silveressa: it focuses mostly on gladiators, but it's bloody, and in some places outright pornographic, but not in a cheap exhibitionist way.
(17:11:06) Siren_no_Orakio: Based on enormous city-spires that live on the steam that pumps through them
(17:11:07) MysticMoon: I figure it's similar to Rome, GoT, stuff like that
(17:11:10) Silveressa: it's arguably the best roman themed series out there
(17:11:23) MysticMoon: That sounds like a really cool setting, Siren
(17:11:32) Silveressa: aye, pretty similar to GOT but turn up the violence, nudity and such up several notches
(17:11:42) MysticMoon: Good to know
(17:12:10) Silveressa: aye the setting has lots of potential
(17:12:19) Silveressa: there was a steampunk quest here a few years back
(17:12:29) Silveressa: had some great entries you could add into the world
(17:12:43) Silveressa: Pieh's steam boots sounds like a perfect device
(17:13:20) MysticMoon: I read through an OGL Ancient World put out by Mongoose a month or so ago. There was some stuff in there that might be useful
(17:13:55) Silveressa: Pieh's boots: http://strolen.com/viewing/VIEEU​_Boots
(17:14:37) Siren_no_Orakio: Hah, he linked one of my quest subs out of it
(17:16:44) Silveressa: steam punk quest has lot sof stuff you could add in http://strolen.com/quest/21
(17:19:40) Siren_no_Orakio: I'm thinking that between ramming the ancient greek culture through an industrial revolution, the resulting industrial super-magnates, trouble with the Romans on the west, the Germans in the north, the Israeli tribes, and whatever the hell is going on in India, the divided city states have a chance for huge piles of conflict to adventure through
(17:20:30) Silveressa: aye, and lots of different types of adventure too
(17:20:34) MysticMoon: I would love to see how that plays out
(17:20:50) MysticMoon: Write a series of novels to set up the history :)
(17:21:00) Silveressa: especially if the players have an interest in involving themsevles in royal intriuge and politics.
(17:21:02) MysticMoon: Then a setting for where it ends up, and you're golden
(17:22:00) MysticMoon: Easier to say than do, of course
(17:23:12) Silveressa: aye
(17:23:26) Siren_no_Orakio: Hah 'series of novels'
(17:23:30) MysticMoon: :D
(17:23:32) Silveressa: writing novels can take months to years depending on ones schedule
(17:24:00) MysticMoon: You have nothing else planned for the next 5 years, right?

(17:55:07) Silveressa: So what gave you the inspiration behidn your roman steampunk idea?
(17:55:17) Siren_no_Orakio: Eh, as long as it's suffciently purified.
(17:56:31) Siren_no_Orakio: Cheka Man started to wonder what you'd actually have to do to the earth to make it 'steampunk
(17:57:12) Silveressa: prevent the invention of electricity?
(17:57:33) Siren_no_Orakio: Not so much, actually
(17:57:48) Siren_no_Orakio: You prevent the invention of -electronics-
(17:57:55) Silveressa: or mainly the use of internal combustion engines
(18:00:07) Siren_no_Orakio: ICEs and the circuit board are the killers
(18:00:25) Siren_no_Orakio: So I'm positing a world without calculus to prevent the second
(18:01:21) Siren_no_Orakio: Which means I needed to find a pre-Newton/Liebniz engine, and I rolled it back all the awy
(18:01:24) Silveressa: any ideas on preventign the first?
(18:01:41) Siren_no_Orakio: Societal inertia, mostly
(18:01:51) Silveressa: the best idea I can come up with is since you can prove on a blackboard an ICE will explode no one ever bothered to build one?
(18:02:20) Siren_no_Orakio: Our dominant culture has sunk massive resources into centralized steam generation
(18:02:21) MysticMoon: Tradition
(18:02:32) MysticMoon: Make the Steam Power Guild have lots of clout
(18:02:37) Silveressa: when all evidence points to it being an expensive makeshift bomb few people woudl bother tryign to disprove it
(18:02:50) MysticMoon: Every good up-and-coming engineer gets steeped in the traditions of steam
(18:03:08) Siren_no_Orakio: That, and you really need to have the ability to refine diesel / gasoline for an ICE to be worth while
(18:03:43) Silveressa: Take the monks of purity and simplicity and give them a hate on for anytying mroe advanced than steam http://strolen.com/viewing/The_M​onks_of_Purity_and_Simplicity
(18:04:15) Silveressa: perhaps having come to accept steam as inevitable but taking great pains to prevent things from progressing father
(18:04:18) Silveressa: *farther
(18:04:33) Siren_no_Orakio: Alternately
(18:04:42) Siren_no_Orakio: At the snapshot in time that we start with
(18:06:10) Siren_no_Orakio: materials technology just hasn't come far enough to exploit the Arabian wells
(18:06:30) Siren_no_Orakio: Nor North Africa
(18:06:55) MysticMoon: Or maybe not enough of a presence there to make it worth checking out?
(18:07:12) MysticMoon: No one thought to use it for more than other uses
(18:07:37) Siren_no_Orakio: It actually took some serious drilling to get those wells to open
(18:07:52) MysticMoon: Someone tried to make an engine that heated the steam by burning petroleum but it was disastrous
(18:08:43) Silveressa: aye, or since some petroleum caches are radioactive until purified the ones who attempted to harvest the black death died of readiation poisoning soon after and oil is sunned as toxic?
(18:08:56) Silveressa: *shunned
(18:09:00) Siren_no_Orakio: Just unbearably nasty compared to relatively clean coal
(18:09:08) MysticMoon: Heh
(18:09:13) MysticMoon: Also, fear of toxic shamans :)
(18:09:59) Siren_no_Orakio: The slavic tribes are probably hostile
(18:10:06) Silveressa: also it's a lot easir to store loads of coal in a bit where as crude oil has to be strained of impurities and then stored in a liquid holding container
(18:10:14) Silveressa: *in a bin
(18:10:37) Siren_no_Orakio: So that means none of the Russian oil/gas
(18:13:34) Siren_no_Orakio: It getting hard to mine the coal seam in to the north of Macedonia is probably driving trade with the British isles, maybe even china if they dig the suez canal
(18:14:44) MysticMoon: What happens with religion?
(18:15:06) Siren_no_Orakio: They're probably tinkering with trying to use the Archimedian Heat Ray to replace coal boilers, but 'It'll never work'
(18:15:10) Siren_no_Orakio: Religion is a -mess-
(18:16:03) Siren_no_Orakio: In our Steam-Greece, we probably have the remnants of the pagan pile, with Hephaestus probably ascendant
(18:16:31) MysticMoon: Makes sense
(18:17:08) Silveressa: also would there be a god/godess of steam?
(18:17:33) Silveressa: or do they attribute the wonders of steam to one of th etraditional Greek/Roman gods/goddesses?
(18:17:52) Siren_no_Orakio: Well - we have a god of metal and fire
(18:18:41) Siren_no_Orakio: Steam is probably his child & slave
(18:18:57) Silveressa: since oracles worship and sacrifice played a large part in the daily lives of Romans I can see the steam tech taking center stage in Hephaestus temples and follewers of Hephaestus being notable steam mechanics and the like
(18:19:20) Siren_no_Orakio: The Israeli tribes are probably constantly in a low state of rebellion
(18:19:25) MysticMoon: Probably all kinds of plays and other works relating to the technology
(18:19:47) Silveressa: steam tech woudl no doubt be popular in the gladiatorial arenas as well
(18:20:14) Silveressa: it's flashy, noisy and messy when it's directed against flesh & bone, definite crowd pleaser
(18:20:27) Siren_no_Orakio: A new warrior-messiah every fifteen-twenty years and no Christ figure to start that one up
(18:20:41) MysticMoon: There were a lot of messiahs
(18:20:50) Siren_no_Orakio: Yup
(18:23:51) Siren_no_Orakio: But without the Romans in the area, no Christianity. Where the Romans /are/
(18:24:56) Silveressa: aye much more conducive to a good rp experience
(18:25:13) Siren_no_Orakio: They probably have a promethean figure cetnralzed
(18:25:20) Siren_no_Orakio: Who stole the secret of steam
(18:27:26) MysticMoon: So, when are you writing the novels again...?
(18:27:29) Silveressa: that legend alone would make for an awesome submission
(18:27:34) MysticMoon: Because, I totally want to read about this