Ingenuity, a will to progress (or to make a buck), and the discovery / invention of new tools and resources. All of these contribute to an ever expanding list of technologies and technological advancements. In most fantasy stories and game settings all three of the above exist somewhere within the world; however, it would seem that some (if not most) of the time one resource (which should seem to be included into these criterion by simple nature of progress) is neglected.
I am, of course, talking about magic.
If magic were a resource within our world, why would our technologies not include at the very least a magical influence? It could easily be explained within a fantasy setting: magic is wild and untamed. Only a select few possess the fortitude required to manifest such raw powers; as a consequence it is too costly to invest into a widespread development and distribution of such exotic technologies.
..But what if such were not the case? I find this paradigm of the real versus the unreal (within realistic reason) to be too tried and tried again within the fantasy worlds I oft like to escape to. What if magic were for whatever reason more common within a setting, and, as progress (defined by human nature at least) should dictate, what if magic were a major influence of technological advancement?
... I guess what I'm trying to ask is: What if the traditional world of magic equals exotic was broken down, and in its place is built a world where magic is closer to a norm. Technology would inevitably be influenced by magic, so what would those technologies be like?
One Man Enchanted Glide Assisted Aircraft
A small device, not much larger than one full grown man. It is built in a way that the top half of a pilot is completely enclosed, with their body from the lower back down resting on the platform extending out the back. The pilot is lying on their stomach as they pilot. The devices are commonly referred to as sparrows due to its silhouette.
The device itself features basic aerodynamics, but the thrust is provided by the removable crystal matrix attached to the underside. This device gets charged by having magic funneled into it via spells. The arcane energy powers not only the thrust, but the internal guidance system and various other devices withing the cockpit. The usual configuration consists of an altimeter, frontal and real viewing crystals, pitch readings, a gauge displaying the status of the crystal matrix and finally the actual controls.
This unit has a decent number of both pros and cons. Some of the pros include very high speed, respectable turning radius, and a small profile. Cons include the maximum charge capacity being 10 minutes of use, poor protection for the pilot, crashes resulting from moving at very high speed with only human reaction times and a penchant for exploding if the crystal matrix becomes halfway damaged.
Each one is made individually, and many owners have customized their individual sparrows to have additional features. Some include a smoke canister, to leave a trail, additional armoring of the crystal core, and in some cases the addition of a second core all together. In this last case, the second core can perform as either a secondary battery, doubling the max charge capacity, an energy source for spell-based weapons the user may have chosen to mount or simply as a very expensive but very powerful little bomb.
There is a growing culture around these devices, at least among those who can afford them. A number of young nobles have died racing each other through large cities, and despite attempts to restrict the sale of them the market is booming. Lords use them to run messages and spy, armies are using them as a fast aerial assault.
How will you put the Omegaa to use?
One of my favorite inventions from an old DnD game.
Replacing the wheels of a standard wheel barrel with a magically enchanted ring allows workers to move tons of material at a time without any extra effort than simply walking. The ring is crafted mostly from ferromagnetic metals and contains veins of magically conductive crystals, which create a proxy magnetic field beneath it to repel the ring and whatever load it is bearing from the ground. Arcanists theorize that if a similar such mechanism could be replicated on a larger scale, then entire boats may be able to float above the clouds. Recent applications have enabled ships up to the size of galleons to glide effortlessly above the grass; however, galleons themselves seem to have difficulty maneuvering across anything but flat grounds. Extensive research is being done to create other means to lift heavier objects.
In my now four years deceased fantasy game, the castle at Yllian had hot and cold running water and central heating, as well as a large forge that were all heated by the DragonGut Furnace. Located beneath even the dungeons, the Furnace was a large thick vessel with a few entry ports that were usually closed and all sorts of ducting, flues, and pipes leading in an out of it. The vessel was surrounded by water tanks that it kept warm, which in turn kept the vessel from overheating. This produced the hot water for the plumbing. The water was drawn up to the various places it was used by impeller pumps, like are used to tap 55 gallon drums. The forge was directly above the furnace and recieved the lion's share of heat, which was used for metal working. The rest of the vents and piping lead to floor and wall grates aound the castle, pumping out hot air. Thus, the castle was well heated in the cold and wet Yllian winters.
The heart of the furnace was a portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire, and altering the size of the portal altered the amount of heat it put out. The flues and vents are adjustable, so in winter, the portal could be opened wide and the vents all opened to heat the castle. In summer, the vents would be closed, and the portal would be very very small, as maintaining an open portal is easier than opening a new one.
In Case of Emergency
Two emergencies can occur with the Furnace, overheating, and unwanted guests. In case of overheating, the portal can be easily closed, and a master valve can be opened that would drain the cisterns in the castle down into the furnace room. While the vessel itself would be untouched by water (steam bomb anyone) the works would be cooled while the portal was closed. This did happen on several dramatic occasions. The second is that portals are two way, and sometimes things can scuttle in from the plane of fire. These creatures are generally held captive by the eight foor thick, ceramic line walls of the furnace. Most nasties leave finding the vessel to tight to escape. Those that start a fuss are isolated by cutting the portal down to the minimal size and letting the vessel cool. a restricted flame creature will usually flee back through the portal when it is opened, for that express purpose. Troublesome guests are delt with by the resident Magus of the Castle.
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? Responses (9)-9
I know I'm in the minority here at Strolen's, but I actually quite enjoy high magic settings.
I dig it. It opens a market for high class consumers. Kind of like a combination of sailing and taking your personal helicopter across town for a bite to eat, only more fun in both respects. Especially on your way back from eating all of that exotic food.
-banks a hard left as the wind suddenly pulls him towards the wizarding academy tower..-
... I knew I shouldn't have eaten all of those snails.
A friend has made a good point, and I feel that I should make a distinction. He was finding it difficult to create technologies out of magic while following the line of thought that, "if magic can do anything, then why create a device which reiterates this ability to do anything." I should first say that magic could be capable of doing anything, but in most cases it cannot do everything. That is to say, it can't do it all at once. Similarly, technologies are created as a method of accomplishing tasks not normally within the means of their application. They are used to increase the capability, or allow the capability where there is none, to accomplish a set of tasks. An example would be electricity. We cannot directly control electricity. So we create devices to do it for us, allowing for innumerable results. Like the monitor you are looking at right now.
I like this idea.
Okay, starting to get my head about this one. I think I have some ideas to toss in here.
I'm paradoxically a fan of both gritty low magic or folk magic settings and high magic 'magepunk' settings. They both have a lot to offer, with low magics strength lying in an understanding of history and high magic's in an avoidance of triteness. Little magic scooters or magic cellphones are dumb, as is any straight analogue to modern technology or anything that has the explanation of 'it's MAGIC! Duh!' Stuff like detailed magic-assissted (a term that I now love) glider-planes or elemental fueled furnaces in baroque castles are COOL.
The user added subs is what made me actually enjoy this. I was having a hard time reading this and thinking it a full sub until I read the few submissions that were put up. I like it. I have read a few books similar in thought to this. I actually based my magic system of my game off of the Four Types of Magic, technology being the fourth magic. This just brings it all together.