"Tarralein statues mandate that any shop selling items of a thaumaturgical or alchymical nature be equipped with a minimum of one functional aetherometer, madam. Three guardsmen all agree that you did not possess such an item at the time of their inspection. I am afraid you have no choice by to pay the fine of five crowns, surrender goods equal in value to this amount, or be sent to jail."
-Magistrate Luchen, notorious racketeer, after sending his guards to break aetherometers
Full Item Description
Although the specifics vary from maker to maker, the rough details of an aetherometer are fairly simple; a mounting of some sort, typically a fancifully decorated tripod of brass with small runes worked into the metal, holds aloft a sphere of polished cobalt glass or other deep blue crystal, around which are wound wires of precious metals, binding it to the mounting and completing the thaumaturgic circuit. Unlike many devices of this sort, it has no thaumic battery to power it, drawing instead directly on the surrounding energy fields.
When active, the cobalt sphere generally glows, the brightness indicating the overall strength of the surrounding thaumaturgic fields.
"We can't rightly afford Aetheric Goggles for all our engineers, but these things are a sight cheaper and warn us when something's gone wrong. Then we can call in some of the lads what has the goggles to see what's wrong."
-Factory Manager Dubrille
Aetherometers actually predate Aetheric Goggles by a few centuries; prior to the rise of thaumatechnology, however, they were created and owned almost exclusively by mages who needed to know about the ambient energy in an area. Since the rise of steam technology, however, they have become a much more common sight, and in many cities are required by law in any shops which sell the products of thaumatechnology. Factory owners, in particular, have come to appreciate them, as they're a great deal cheaper over extended time periods than aetheric goggles, as they need no power source to function.
"It was a sight, I tell you. We walked into this alchymical shop to see if we could sell of some of the weird plants we found in the ruins we'd been exploring, when all of a sudden the store's aetherometer just explodes. Bits of glass in everything, a right mess.
Turns out the rusty old key our scout and locksmith found and decided to keep for luck was a relic of one of the Lost Gods. Apparently the bloke's an Immortal now, some minor god of locks or something."
-Glithri Quillhand, adventurer
Aetherometers are measures of the surrounding levels of energy; they absorb a tiny fraction of the ambient energy, converting it into light within the cobalt sphere atop the device. More complex models can display different colors or varying levels of light in different quadrants to measure specific fields, but the common model lumps all the energy into a single composite glow.
Most of the time, the spheres glow no brighter than a well-made candle. However, in shops or active factories, they can flare as brightly as a gas lamp; secondhand accounts also relate that in a 'dead' area, the blue glass turns black, and that the presence of a thaumavore such as a Whisp can cause the glass to frost over. In addition, particularly high concentrations of energy - such as the midst of a patch of thaumaturgic pollution - will cause the sphere to glow nearly white and often emit a low humming sound as it strains to contain the energy it is converting.
Inspired by comments by Ouroborus and Chaosmark on the Aetheric Goggles.
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? Responses (15)
Very useful little things. 5/5
Not quite as useful as the goggles, and you should really, really hope that no gods decide to drop in on you.
This is a great item, necessity and pragmaticism bonded together to create a device that detects the presence of magic with a minimal investment to keep it running. A magical smoke detector... of sorts.
Something like a cross between a smoke detector and a barometer, really.
Decent item, adaptable even without a Steampunk setting. Solid.
Glad you think so.
The initial idea actually came from a conversation with a friend I only half-jokingly call my muse; it got more refined from the comments Chaosmark and Ouroborus left on the Goggles.
This is a thing that is bound to exist in any setting featuring thaumatech as well as advanced sorcery. It can take any shape, but basically, you NEED a Geiger counter. A solid 4 from me.
Yes. And with the way that magical energy is of divine source in Kuramen, Siren and I had an amusing bit of conversation; if you overload it, the contraption starts to hum, and if a really potent energy source shows up - like, say, a Small God - it'll just explode.
It resulted in Siren's comment: "I'm now picturing some madman trying to make a religious experience out of an exploding Geiger counter, thanks."
Smoke detector, barometer, Geiger counter... Whatever you want to liken it to, it's one of those ubiquitous items that just make sense, and seem like they have to show up in some form eventually. If you can't measure the energy, you can't try to figure out what level of it is unsafe to be near.
Once again: standard thaumatech (or even sorcery) gear. The small items like this are truly what makes a world real.
There should be more things like this, for any setting. I'm currently drawing a blank on possible further bits for steampunk, but Pieh's ESI seems like a good basis for that sort of thing.
I liked Cheka's idea of one of these on the C-47, as an early-warning device for potential misfires. Maybe you could use them as bombs if the enemy relies really heavily on magic, enough to make them explode.
You could make one of these with Mirichromite :)
Yes, it definitely could. You might even use it to make miniature versions of it that can be worn as rings, or mix the two together and have the Mirichromite be something of an early-warning portion, if it's more sensitive than the rest of the aetherometer.
Very nice work. The bits of story in there really brought it life. I really loved the off hand remark by Quillhand about how the scout was now a God.
"Eh, wha? Oh yeah, dudes a God now. Not really a big deal; he just glows or something, I don't rightly recall."
I love it
As Chaosmark said, a good, necessary bit of equipment for a thaumatech or sorcery lab. Well done.