Tech 101

Technology 101

The Progress of Technology

Technology has always been motivated by two things: Money, and warfare. While technology has brought benefits to the common folk, there are two sides to that coin. In many regions, these benefits are wholly unavailable. The chaos of the Middle Kingdoms has made distribution or production difficult in some areas, while the apathy of the Holy Pyrean Church has made acquisition difficult in its own lands; while it does not openly frown upon technological progress, neither has it shown any particular enthusiasm towards it, except in the case where it can further medical knowledge.

Only in Ostia are such things consistently available. Ostians can make use of electric lighting, railroads, telegraphs, mass-produced goods, and other things produced solely through the use of machinery and technology. Some of these can be replicated through magical means, but are generally more expensive.

Terranite – The Wonder Substance

There are several reasons for Ostia’s embrace of technology. Its philosophies are much more progressive than the other world powers, and it also controls a vitally important resource in the realm of manufacture and production: Terranite.

This wondrous material was once thought to be nothing more than an extremely fragile form of crystal. By accident or by testing, it was discovered to have extremely volatile and explosive properties when exposed to heat and pressure. Eventually, some ingenious individual thought to use terranite’s combustible capabilities to construct the first cannon. The rest, as they say, is history. Since its discovery, processed terranite in powdered form has been the choice explosive for most non-magical detonations, replacing gunpowder for those that can afford it.

Advancements in the study of terranite still occur. Recently, terrante has been discovered to burn ferociously when dissolved in alcohol and treated with key elements. The process multiplies the amount of energy that can be extracted from the material, and the creation of this “liquid terranite” has made it into a premier fuel source in Ostia. It guards its reserves and its production process for the purest of liquid terranite jealously.

The rest of the world generally has to make do with coal, such as in the operation of small-scale railways or vehicles in the Middle Kingdoms, but it isn’t unheard of for individuals to look for a magical solution, or attempt to refine liquid terranite themselves. (Most of these attempts end badly.)

Rumors circulate of this wonder-material having other properties, like the ability to “grow” and be harvested like a plant. Others claim it floats when subjected to electric current. The more far-fetched a rumor, though, the further it flies, or so it’s said.

Ever-Changing War

Firearms and cannons were initially dismissed as the toys of the rich and the royalty, and their use was assumed psychological warfare more than practical efficiency. The earliest hand cannons were inaccurate, and artillery could have ruined by a single mage igniting its ammunition. Strategic strikes with cavalry and magic, backed by formations of foot soldiers, were how battles were fought and won. During the rise of the Ostian Empire, however, there came a reevaluation of such “modern” strategies and tactics.

During the bloody ascension, Ostian forces were drawn from commoners. Cavalry was a luxury the commoner couldn’t afford. What they did possess, once upon a time, was the most revolutionary gunsmith to walk the land: Jonathan Orrin. He had perfected a self-contained metal cartridge, as well as a remarkably efficient breech-loading rifle. Simpler, easier to use, quicker to reload, and by far more destructive, Orrin’s designs were superior in every way. His design, the Orrin Single Shot, was nicknamed the “Knight Killer,” for the bullets of Ostian soldiers were able to penetrate all but the heaviest of full plate armor.

Since the war it was founded in, Ostia has not been involved in any major conflicts. However, its current forces are based wholly on the use of cannon and firearms, making it unorthodox by comparison to any of its contemporaries. It remains to be seen how they might fare in the course of a great war, however.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, firearms and cannon have also gained precedence because of Ostia’s actions. However, terranite, even unprocessed into its liquid form, is extremely expensive, and so, a good number of nations make do with a lesser material known as gunpowder. While much cheaper and effective in firearms and artillery, gunpowder does not have the wide range of uses terranite does. In addition, gunpowder varies in quality and, ounce for ounce, is simply not as powerful as powdered terranite.

Transportation & Infrastructure

With the advent of liquid terranite, motorized vehicles and mechanized ships have become ubiquitous in Ostia. Though rare, there are also lords in the Middle Kingdom who pride themselves on their comparatively advanced railway networks and gas lighting. In most kingdoms, abodes lack modern conveniences, the roads are paved in cobblestones, and horses are the primary form of transportation.

The Pyrean Church has found uses for the horseless carriages favored by Ostia, and imports liquid terranite for their fleet to transport the sick and injured in relative speed and safety. In some member states of the Confederation, the general opinion on vehicles is not favorable; noisy and uncouth at best, and banned at worst. Others embrace them as the expensive tools they are.

Tech 101

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