Inside View: Fantasy Technology

Bargain has been released (have you picked up your copy yet?) and so we're going to talk a little about it on the blog.

Fair warning - spoilers may be abound. Read at your own risk.

The suggested subtitle for this blog post was "We Aren't Just Bangin' Rocks Together Here," and while I couldn't make that fit, it was too good to just throw out. (PS: Past!Riley is hilarious.)

So what are we talking about today? Well, we're talking about technology in fantasy, of course! Specifically the technology levels in Neuges!

A constant source of mystery among fantasy settings is the technology level.

It can range wildly from archaic to quasi-futuristic. Some fantasy settings try and stick to historically accurate technology for a specific time period, or even ignore factual historical advancements when they feel too modern. Others let their imagination run wild, with crazy inventors creating anachronisms left and right, and populate the world with magical versions of modern technology.

So where does Heroes By Necessity fall on the spectrum?

An important distinction to make with Heroes By Necessity is the difference between Earth and Neuges. Neuges has a different history, and therefore a different level of technology. A few months ago, we talked about how the existence of wizards as a workforce accelerated the existence of modern concepts of work days and weekends, and in the same way, the use of magic created more opportunities for technological advancements in other areas. All technological advancements are the product of the people and events that preceded them. Without an equivalent disaster to the burning of the Library of Alexandria, there is not an equivalent loss of knowledge that sets back technological advancements. And if the Neuges-equivalent to inventor Paul Heroult existed a thousand years earlier, cheap and easily-produced aluminum becomes available.

Another factor is the inclusion of magic, and the focus on its study. Obviously, social forces have a major effect on the distribution of effort and funding, and the early discovery of alchemical processes produced a lot of financial incentive to research magic instead of other technologies. The result is that when there was something that could be done with either magical alchemy or natural chemistry, the alchemical route was better understood and often cheaper.

This is a major reason why there are no firearms in the Heroes by Necessity series. Gunpowder is not a terribly complicated chemical creation, but the fact is that an explosive potion is easier and cheaper to make.

While the principles behind firearms in the real world are understood by Neuges’ physicists, the substitution of magical explosives for chemical ones means that anyone who could easily make the equivalent to a gun should be perfectly capable of shooting explosive energies from their fingertips if they want. Perhaps someday the Neuges equivalent to Richard Gatling or Samuel Colt will revolutionize the way people try to kill each other, but it hasn’t happened yet.

There is also the matter of the melding of magic and technology. In Bargain, you will meet Anton, an inventor who primarily works with a combination of gadgetry and potions. He creates things like flashbangs and grenades through experimentation with alchemical formulae and the construction of mechanisms to manipulate the potions attached to them.

Neuges is full of such technological crossovers.

In times of antiquity, visionary inventors worked with the Gods to discover ways to channel the kinetic energy into powerful spells like the ones that were imprisoning the dragons, empowering them and keeping them active for centuries. More modern inventors explore the potential of using magical flames to create energy to power turbines, converting a person’s magical potential into a power source. In the Wizard’s Tower in Khule, the concept of an electrical capacitor has opened the eyes of researchers to the idea of a magical capacitor, where raw energy could be built up, stored, and discharged in larger volumes than could be created by a single mage, unaided.

Some people have problems with anachronistic technology. When it comes to historical fiction, that’s a fair problem to have. But this is fantasy! Research didn’t happen at the same pace as on Earth, wasn’t performed by the same sequence of people, and proceeded alongside and in competition with other forces that didn’t exist in the medieval era.

The important thing isn’t to focus on what is and isn’t accurate to the real world, and instead focus on what is and isn’t sensible within the world of Neuges.

With that, Heroes, we end the eighth edition of Inside View! Check by on the 15th of every month for new posts that give a glance into the hows, whys, and whats of whys of Riley's Heroes by Necessity series!

Until next month!



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© 2017 by Riley S. Keene