The Dirge Mace, hallmark weapon of the Traghax Knights of the Locastrian Dragon Guard, is a prime example of a sophisticated thaumatechnological weapon, a fusion of innovative magic and complex mechanisms.
The Locastrian Guards, three regiments of Traghax Knights sponsored by various factions within the Brotherhood Locastus´s powerful Assembly of Mages are commonly seen as the quintessential, well-funded elite force: pure-blooded Acitans and with superior training, breeding and troop morale.
The close relationship between the Guards (Dragon, Heron and Eagle, respectively) and their Magus sponsors has also meant that their equipment and weaponry is something out of the ordinary and the Dirge Mace (along with its cousin; the Shocklance) is, perhaps, the most famous of these.
Its construction is an attempt to counter the inability of Traghax Riders to achieve powerful swings with a weapon without snagging it in the pumping, lightning-fast legs of their mount. With a Dirge Mace, even a weak (but more controlled) swing will exert enough power in the target to incapacitate or destroy it outright.
In its inactive state, the Dirge Mace resembles an ordinary cavalry mace, oddly long-handled and with a bizarrely flanged, cylindrical head. The head and handle is forged from black iron, with a melted finish, like it has been exposed to great heat, proof of the powerful arcane energies that has gone into its construction.
Inactive, the weapon is extraordinarily heavy, as if made from lead and from the fat handle trails an armored conduit, like a flexible axle, to a leather-cased clockwork contraption worn on the user´s belt. The weapon is activated by pressing a ridged stud set into the handle.
Hidden beneath the nondescript exterior is a series of complex thaumatechnological systems. A clockwork-powered effluence generator feeds thaumaturgical energy into an arcane battery array set into the weapon´s fat handle. Upon activation, the accumulator begins injecting its stored charge into a puissance-converter unit set into the Mace´s baroquely flanged head.
Activated, belt-carried generator unit will begin to purr and a lurid, amethyst nimbus begins to build up on and around the head, trailing and dripping from the weapon like ethereal smoke. As the arcane charge builds up, the Mace will gradually become lighter, almost to the point of weightlessness, making it immensely easier to handle. The weapon will also emit a low hum, like a half-heard chorus, hence its name.
Upon impact with a target, the weapon releases an amethyst flash, and seems to do damage wholly out of proportion with the power with which it is wielded - it is not uncommon for enemy soldiers to fly like leaves through the air when hit by only a lazy swing. A harder hit can rip stone walls to pieces and shatter steel doors.
The efficiency of the Dirge Mace was demonstrated in the year 181, in the case of the infamous renegade Knight Ingath Torm. Armed with only his Dirge Mace Torm - a Mace instructor and Red Honey addict - wrecked several heavily armoured steam-tanks (and killed some 55 Adjudicators and Constables) before he could be overwhelmed, and then only after a powerful magic-dampening field-spell could be established over his hide-out.
The thaumatechnological enchantments of a Dirge Mace are only active for as long as the clockwork generator feeding it keeps spinning. Its arcane abilities are twofold: firstly, through a localized suspension of the laws of physical existence, a momentary bending of the Newtonian laws, the puissance generator injects the kinetic energy inherent in the swung weapon with a boost, converting arcane effluence into physical mass for a fraction of a second and enabling it to impact harder than the swing alone can account for.
Various secondary enchantments dampen the torque effect of this sudden increase in weight, to keep it from tearing from the wielder´s hands.
Secondly, when activated, the weapon decreases in inertial sensitivity, making it seem lighter, while losing none of its inherent mass.
The major drawback with this, seemingly ultimate, weapon is the loose coil tension of the generator spring, giving it a very limited activation time. The clockwork can only support approximatively two minutes of sustained activation before needing a recharge, making the user husband the few seconds he has carefully and thumbing the weapon off at every lull in the battle.
Another thought experiment, I´m afraid. What would weaponry look like if we had magic as well as technology in a steam-punk setting?
Sometimes I get all worked up over detailed technical solutions - I blame my education!
There´s no real science here, just speculation over what would be possible if we had a tool to manipulate the laws of physics.
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? Responses (18)
An Electro-Mace, a super-tazer. Well done.
Well done Ouroboros! I do like this item!
I don't read it as electrical Cheka, just a weapon of nearly pure inertia. I could see such weapons designed to deliver their impact at less then 30G in order to launch the target without smashing it.
So here it is. The lightning wreathed lance that put me off in your introduction of the Traghax post:)I will have to read this once more before I can vote though.
Nah, this is the cousin of that weapon... I´m still not sure if I want to do a thunderbolt-shootig lance submission.. That has been done before, but this is more original, I think..
Magi-tech for the win! One of my greatest loves is when I'm reading the description of how something works, especially in a sci-fi novel, or even in fantasy. This sort of steam-punk amalgam is beautiful, and while the description of how it works might be a bit over the top for most people, I think it just adds to the overall work itself, and makes it more enjoyable to read than just a description of, "a magical mace that becomes light as a feather when activated, but is heavy when deactivated and lasts only for a short while before needing to recharge."
Excellent idea here, and it has inspired me to explore the world of steam-punk and magical technology a bit.
I realized upon further thought that my initial vote truly didn't express how good I think this is. I consider this to fully be a 5/5 submission, and encourage others to try to make something this interesting and thought-out.
I wholeheartedly agree. One of the mainstays of this site, and what attracted me here in the first place, isn't just the "what it does", it's the "why does it do it"? I love the explanations, and this one is done well.
As all Ouroboros' submissions are, this is very well presented! I particularly liked the nice, chewy pseudotechnical gobbledigook: It gives plenty of ideas for extrapolating from the original idea. I also enjoyed the mace's clockwork magic.
One of these days I'll use these...
I'm not sure what I can add that hasnt been stated already, i like the chewy thaumotechnology, and the presentation is top notch. I heartily approve sir.
Steampunk mace! (Well, more complicated than that, but that's the image I get) I love it! Imaginative, well-written, well explained, great imagery. Overall an excellent job.
The image that strikes me the most is the clockwork on the belt; shades of the Probable Sword from The Scar, but wholly redone and quite well-made. I am solidly impressed with this gadget and think it fits well into just about any steampunk setting. Quite well-done, sir!
Yup, this is inspired by Uther Dohl´s Possible sword... China Miéville is a genius at giving fantasy clichés a spin, and Dohl and his sword (and the concept of possibility mining) is one of his best, genius, pure and simple.
For those of you that have no idea of what Im talking about, go and read The Scar by Miéville. Really, it should be required reading for anyone aspiring to write fantasy. Read Perdido Street Station and Iron Council while you´re at it! I even liked his UnLunDun, even though its more of a children´s book..
More Locastus stuff will materialize shortly!
Thank you all for your kind comments,
I might have to track down Iron Council at some point; I've read the other two, although I admit some components of his writing put me off a bit. I keep looking at Kuramen, and feeling that there's still too much of a classical fantasy influence to it, while Locastus has, to me, a much purer steampunk vibe to it.
Maybe I should compare notes with you at some point...
What a pity that this was not done for the Steampunk competition that will soon take place.
Guess I have myself to blame for suggesting it...:-) I dare say I might be able to trot something out for our new quest.
Happy hallowen, everyone!!
I, for one, would be sorely disappointed if you weren't able to produce something. In my opinion, of all of us here, you most perfectly capture the essence of the steampunk genre in your submissions.
Why is the writing so tiny??
Excellent. When it comes to this genre I think technical descriptions are a must. What is the point of such different technology/physics without them?