Technical/ Mechanical
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December 10, 2005, 2:04 pm

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Steamery - A type of magic


Steamery is a type of learning, like Magery and Lettery (Magic of Written words, Scholarly works), akin to Alchemy which combined elements of the two. It is considered a type of magic, the use of the four basic elements to produce “magical” power.

Steamery is a type of learning, like Magery and Lettery (Magic of Written words, Scholarly works), akin to Alchemy which combined elements of the two. It is considered a type of magic, the use of the four basic elements to produce “magical” power.

This was invented by a Dorius of Alchantar, a mage of little skill for conventional magery. That was his strength, as he created a type of magic unknown before this time.

Steamery is akin to Alchemy, as it takes material objects in special proportions, following mystic rules, to create effects. It utilizes one primary alchemical rule (Fire folded into Water, anchored by Earth/Metal, to produce Air). By changing elements of the equasion, often time how it is anchored by Earth/Metal, new effects can be produced.

The production of Air from Water (the base element in Steamery) can be utilized to produce material energies, most notably conversion of destructive fire (fire type fire) to motion (air type fire). It is utilized to make a variety of steamery items. Note it is a magic, as items tend to be idiosyncratic, with many uncontroled but intuitively accepted elements. (The early days of steam were so like this… sometimes it explodes, sometime it does not…) So each Steam Coven works together to produce works, and jelously protects its steamery from other Steam Covens. Eventually this will all change, but given its magery and alchemical roots of individual study and jelous protection of secret… it will not be soon.

So there are a number of items..

Steam Blasters: Compressed Steam used as a castle defense.

Steam Cannon: Compressed steam to catapult stones against castle walls

Steam Ram: The ram itself, containing steam flies forward. Sometimes used as a ram, but other times two of them are launched in approximate tandem to carry nets, chains, and lines across fields. Some of the rams have wings to increase their flight time and the quality of their flight. There are talks of manned Steam Rams
Steam Arm: Compressed air to throw bolts a longer distance than any crossbow.

Steam Bellows: Steam moves a bellows, cools the smoke of a forge, and helps one create a better product.

Steam Looms: Steam empowered looms, allowing for faster and easier prodution.

SteamBrewer: A unique item. While it only minimally utilizes steam, it accesses the alchemical formula of steamery to make better draught/ beer. Newer versions are creating new drinks (distillation). There are TeaBrewers that utilize steam to push incredibly hot water through tea leaves to produce a supposedly better brew.

Steam Wagon: Steam moves a wagon. While not yet practical for commercial use, it is useful for military production when a catch grill or harvesting attachment. (It will become a farm tool eventually).

Steam Wheel: A full scale one has yet to be created, but it would be a spinning paddle/ turbine arrangement to move a ship over water. So far, the engines are too heavy to be supported by boats.

Steam Pump: Utilized in mines to suck out water, allowing better access to the coal or grimrock used to power most steamery.  Other mining tools utilizing steam are being developed. The Dwarventi are very interested in this new turn of steamery.

Steam Caravan: (Train): Steam Wagons are notably difficult to control. The use of a special roadway using either raised rails or lowered stone grooves relieves the driver of any special need.  The Steam Caravan is a Steam Wagon which pulls a tender (fuel and water car) and a number of carriages for goods and people.  While the first one created was a noble’s toy to travel to and from their castle, new ones moving goods across distances are being built.

Steamery has expanded a little, utilizing other alchemical rules in the same general family of alchemical rules.  (Clockworks are begining to be developed. This is in line, as the uniformity of parts needed by steam workers pushed for more precision in production… helped in the development/ expansion of clockworks).

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Comments ( 8 )
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December 10, 2005, 14:06
I am still unsure on how much "magic" is involved in this. It could just be careful construction of things along magical lines (producing, to our earth minds, "odd, but effective" designs).

It could be 100% steam tech, yet what fun would that be. They might use a little mystical or alchemical static magic to make it work.
December 10, 2005, 14:06
I liked the idea until I saw it in action. It goes from harnessing steam to some pretty complex contol and pressurized things with amazing accuracy. Before I can run with it, I need to justify it.

Many of the uses mentioned will need very complex. They aren't just stills catching the steam in a complex aerobics of piping. These are complex machines that are harnessing the power of steam in uses that require a fairly accurate control of the steams pressure and release. This will require pressure guages, release valves, check valves and any number of other complex mechanisms as well as perfect seals for all of them. Once you get this technical with what is going, and the creators would have to, then the mystery and magical aura of it loses most of its merit.

So, while I like idea overall, I think that the actual uses should be dumbed down a bit or at least show a timeline of inventions...many of which will probably still be in some kind of use somewhere....if they were useful or fun.

- Started as a cork launching contest in a village. Steam Mages from all around would come with their contraption with a single outlet stopped by a cork. Heating their 'magic' would then eventually launch the cork with the one lauching it the farthests declared the winner.

- Lucifer modifieed the cork thrower and extended the opening. he created a wooden notched cork of perfect size and designed a way to place it down this extended barrel. Was able to place an arrow in the notch and launch an arrow. Horrible innacurate but it started a new contest.

- Homer created an immense magic steam cauldron that was intended to throw a large rock. Through all his attempts he could not build up enough pressure, strike that - call it magic, to actually launch the stone, it mostly just dislodged it.

For the record I don't like technology in games so I am biased to begin with. My suspension of belief is severly tasked when you add technology without a thorough and adequate explanation on why or how it is there. The magical explanation is good and I like the way it is described, but it isn't enough for me to justify this level of technology. I have also never played any system that used it so I present yet another of my skewed perspectives.
December 10, 2005, 14:06
Actually this is all first and a half generation stream tech. All of this is DaVinci plus steam, with very little daVinci. The early "trains" were just woden wagons on mine tracks. That is all these are. They are not interesting tech yet, as clockwork has yet to be really impliemented.

There really is no difference between "science" and "magic", both exploit physical/ universal laws to generate desired effects. We in the West seem to make this distinction between the two, just as we make the distinction between nature and society. In Japan the seperate word for nature is only 100 years old, and only came into existance because of Western Scholars. They see nature and mankind's world as one. There is no distinction between the world and humankind's society for them. Humankind is an embedded part of nature/ the world.

We are also used to Scientists working together and following strict rules. That has only been a relatively modern invention, first occuring in the 1700s and only being codified in the 1900s. In most cultures through history, scientists... natural philosphers.. work alone, using their own theories, and seldom sharing anything with others (who could replace them), and only sharing bits and pieces with their apprentices.

In Early West/ North Africa, all smiths who work in iron are considered magic users. They can create a new substance, using some non metals, to create a superior metal (steel). Each practioner had their own forumla for steel (both in compound and in their quenching water), so depending on how strong their magic is, determines how strong their steel is. They also use special chants over their steel (the song actually timing how long it sits in heat or tempering in the water). Some visualize certain colors, trying to achieve that color in their metal before quenching.

Long ago in this same area of the world, quenching a hot blade in the body of someone, made sure it was stronger (blood being a perfect carbon mix). Thus nobody wanted to visit the smith, just on the off chance they were making a blade.

In short, these cultures takes what we would call a science, and makes it an art (and an arcane one).

These people have serious arcane roots, where the apprentice master line of transmission is the most important, that secrecy is key to maintaining one's position in (occult) society, as those secrets give you power others do not have.

and one other thing. It is easy for most people to say, "Oh it is magic" and assume that nobody developed it, it just occured. Occult history has as tortured and complicated history as that of technolgy... made more complicated by various purges, secrecy, lost works and so on.

You should be asking where those spells came from. Who generated them? And How? The same questions you are asking for technology. Somebody discovered this magic. They are the root source of all the masters who are teaching its use.

Magic is just another form of cultural technology.
See Clarke's 3rd law:
Any sufficiently advanced technology (Technology (Gr. te÷íïëïãéa
December 10, 2005, 14:07
I am not disagreeing with the overall principle. I do like the way that steam is magically described. Most of the examples you gave above are low tech when compared to the knowledge involved with steam. My main point is that there needs to be a natural progression to this, whether it be magic or steam.

I agree 100% about magic needing to be explained as well. I very much dislike undefined magic system and very much dislike the "magic is magic" solution. Magic, by its nature, is mystic so it doesn't have to go as far as something as plainly technological. If you used slime instead of steam for instance then I could suspend my disbelief much easier then using something based on our physics.

Even though all the technologies you mentioned were considered magic, they were all based on science even though they were ignorant of it. The sword things and other of the lower tech types are fairly easy to roll with because they are low tech and there isn't much need to suspend disbelief.

Now, steam is getting more advanced so, to me, it requires more explanation to make it plausible because it is based on something we know and use.

I am not arguing the "in game" aspect of it you understand. My character can call it magic, be ignorant and that is fine. I am arguing that for me OOC to enjoy the game it must be explained why it works and why it has a place in the game. If I can't get over that aspect of it then I will be rolling my eyes whenever two steam guns perfectly shoot at the same time to throw a net and I won't have fun.
December 10, 2005, 14:07
I have to agree completely with MoonHunter on this. The explaination of magic as an unknown physical effect, the inherent uncertainty, and convoluted development of magic could have been taken right out of my "development bible" for Midian.

Not only can low-tech have a mystical feel for what is now known as simple science, but the higher levels of technology can have a similar effect. For example, a code from an unknown programming language can be just as mysterious as any spell scroll. Understanding exactly how a television image goes from the soundstage to the idiot box is something that few people really know to any true extent. And which long distance company really saves you more money? I think the introduction to Spelljammer put it best. "The simple answer is 'it's magic.' The more involved answer is, 'it's magic and it knows its magic.'"

I also like the magical treatise on vaporemancy. And the SteamBrewer is a nice touch. It makes the rest work better conceptually if the art of steam is used for common & practical applications.

I agree with Strolen that anything to "magic it up" would be beneficial. The timing chants can be used here, as can mystic symbolism for the gauges. Creation issues aside, the use of a specific steam item can be a separate skill/spell, and this can be varied according to the tradition/Coven that created it. That is, two different Steam Looms will have its own chant, symbol set, etc. Likewise, this can be a design control element. Knowing how to create a regulator can be a specific "spell" rated up to a certain amount of "magic" pressure. Instead of creating a checklist similar to the one for Gnomish inventions in Dragonlance, allow players to utilise combos of their "spells" for the item design & creation.

Superflous elements can be added that are unique to a given Coven. For example, one decorates its creations with metallic feathers patterned after a specific rare bird (heat sinks). Another Coven believes that the creation of steam is a magical effect of the breath from a spiritual body. As such, they sacrifice something as part of the construction.

Much of enhancing the feeling of mystical lies in the terms used, as well as the rituals that accompany. For example, calling something a "vorpal sword" implies magic; calling it a "vibroblade" is much less so; using the term "chainsaw" completely removes the feeling of the mystical from what was always the same exact item.

Nothing destroys mysticism quicker than the commonplace.
Voted KendraHeart
December 15, 2005, 1:21
This is the oddest form of "magic" I have ever seen. It isn't magic at all, at least not in most gamer's terms. However, by treating each piece of technology as a "magic item" and their being secrecy about how these things work, you get the mystique of magic... even though it is just steam tech.
Voted Dozus
December 6, 2012, 7:42
I like the discussion in here as much as the sub.
Voted valadaar
April 26, 2013, 23:00
Indeed, the discussion is the best part here.

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

Which way is he going?

       By: Murometz

Molk Peruda is encountered by the PCs on the second day of their journey west from the salt-choked port of Quyn, as they prepare to explore the jungle.

He appears a gaunt, wolfish man, with matted, dark hair that sprouts from his head in dreadlocks, contrasting with his well-oiled, blue-black, conical beard. His eyes are hidden ebon shards beneath thick arching brows, his nose, crooked, long, and reminiscent of a snout. His mouth is a thin, dark line, his teeth unseen even when he parts his lips to speak.

His skin is the color of tallow, surprising perhaps for a renowned jungle guide, yet his natural helm of dreads and the jungle's canopy keeps the sun from bronzing his originally pale flesh. On his back are tattooed three women from the waist up, side-by-side, each resembling the other but of different ages. This is a tattoo of Molk's mother, sister, and daughter. His wife (don't bring her up to him!) was killed by marauding Qullan years ago, and appears as her own tattoo on his broad but sunken chest.

His feet shockingly are turned around 180 degrees at the ankle, facing towards his back! A curse from a pernicious shaman. Molk walks feet backwards (he's used to it) and walks backwards, forwards. This can be very disconcerting and outright creepy to the PCs as he guides them through the rainforest.

Slung from his back is an archer's quarrel of treated wood carved to resemble a stalking leopard, in his hand a re-curved composite bow of horn and sinew, with a pair of vivid, red eyes, each one painted on the opposite side of the hand-grip. In a leather sheath at his belt, hangs a falchion, its pommel adorned with a curved bird's head and beak.

Encounter  ( Forest/ Jungle ) | January 15, 2014 | View | UpVote 8xp

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