Saturday, December 5, 2015

Technology 18

This is the last in a series of posts intended to provide a technological framework for my world. The purpose of this framework is to create unique, regional settings for player interaction. A realistic simulation of the actual world is not a goal of this system and will not be given credence when approving comments.

Regions with a technology of 18 will have an average population density of 990,001 or more per 20-mile hex. This includes the following regions, shown on this table:

10 regions. This technology accounts for 1.0 hexes of my world, occupied by 2,546,345 humans.

Available Technologies

Scientific Method.  Strange to think of this being applied to the creation of magic, but that's how I choose to see it.  In Earth's history, it sparked off an invention craze, as the process empowered individuals to see the value in testing ideas methodically.  It isn't the name of the process that matters, but the fields in which it can be applied.  If magic existed, then surely the method would expand possibilities where the creation of magic items was concerned.

I don't want to give the impression that every magic item that exists in my world came from the above ten places.  At different points in history, there were different collections of persons, different opportunities for the necessary density to create the tech level necessary for the production of rings, wands, staves and so on.  For example, Balkh in northern Afghanistan, prior to its being completely destroyed by the Mongols.  Or Alexandria in Egypt, at the height of the Hellenic period, when the library was filled with thousands of scholars.  This sort of thing may explain the making of wonders throughout the world (I don't know yet exactly how to manage this sort of thing - I don't want to compromise the system I've been building so far).

At the exact time of my world, however, there would be some considerable advances made in the mastery of magic, I think, in the above places.

Economics.  Long before clarifications made by Adam Smith, developments in banking, trade and the open door policy of some regions towards money began to create a sense that money - more than legal writ or religious morality - made the world turn.

My world taking place in 1650 sits right at the dawn of this idea: Holland, that would rise to become the worlds first maritime economic power, was climbing out of 80 years of devastating war and political strife; Germany, likewise, had just experienced the 30 Years War.  France was still at war with Spain, which was broke.  Italy was in decline following the destruction of its Mediterranean trade by the Atlantic-Indian Ocean trade route.  England was in the midst of its own time of troubles as it sought to reunify the country during the English Civil Wars from 1642 to 1651.  In just 20 years, however, several of these regions would expand radically in trade and commerce, launching the colonization of Africa and Asia that would lead to the French and English wars of the 18th century.

So, with economics, we have a sort of edge technology.  I choose to think of it thusly:  that the embrace of all peoples associated with the 17th century is augmented by the free movement of money as well.  The above city states will all establish themselves as banking centers, with opportunities for free trade unprecedented in any other part of the world.  This is complimented by the development of:

Corporations, the method by which many rich persons with a similar view of the world gather together to combine their wealth towards a common goal - whether to promote trade or to rework the political landscape of Europe.  These are spectacularly wealthy persons, sitting atop a complex arrangement of trade houses and guilds, associates, bribed officials and sympathetic monarchs.  And because it's bound to be loads of fun, the substance of these corporations will be the same as those underground organizations discussed at tech 14.  My world can then possess groups like the Illuminati, the Freemasons or anything else I may choose to include (though I admit I have a strong sentiment towards a certain Steve Jackson Game).

Naturally, this justifies the presence of the literal Gnomes of Zurich, which I once referenced in the online campaign.  But where are those gnomes found?  Obviously not Harnia and obviously not Zurich.


So, in the end, the last technologies are sort of evil and malevolent.  Rich bastards taking over the world.  Still, I'm not shooting for a realistic simulation.  These are just foils for very high level parties who need more to worry about than a simple army or two.

I suppose some may be disappointed with the high level cultures described.  After all, on the surface, Frankfurt in Germany (above) won't seem that much different from Mantua in Italy (tech 15), though they're separated by three degrees of technology.  The only differences will be that the average citizen in Mantua won't have two weapon proficiencies, won't easily break morale, will be somewhat more prejudiced and disliking of strangers and ultimately not intimately linked to a group like the Semi-conscious Liberation Vanguard ('front' sounds too modern).  That's a nuance that could be easily lost on a lot of players.

It is that nuance, after all, that lets us overlook most backwardly technological cultures.  They still raise and love their children, they still struggle for food and they imagine themselves to be aware of the world - even if those people in Dirtsville do believe in God and that he gives a shit about them.

So, what comes next?

Not sure about that.  Applying the actual tech levels to the actual territories of the world seems in order, along with fixing limitations to available character classes and resource development.  For those people who feel that one tech will leak into another, that much is obvious - but how, exactly?  Our culture has leaked like crazy into the developing world but anyone can tell you that's been there that the result never quite changes the way people in those parts think.  Now imagine 'leaking' that's limited to information brought by horseback and wagon, without moving pictures or recorded sound, and without instantaneous discourse between regions (except, reasonably, between high-level spellcasters, who would have very little interaction with the lower orders).

This 'leaking' that people describe is greatly hampered by a culture that takes a month to travel 300 miles over rough country - or that can't afford to travel 30 miles at all, what with fees and threats to life and limb.  We vastly overestimate the interaction between cultures in times before our own.  We simply can't imagine that the people living over there in the next valley - or the next street - would have so little discourse with us that we could easily hate them and have them hate us for centuries.

Sharing is something we've only lately learned to appreciate.  It's what very intelligent people do.

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