1. Infel

    Infel Contributing Member

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    Technology in Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Infel, Jan 9, 2017.

    Hey there cool kids.

    Fantasy is great and I love writing it. I'm in the process fantasy-ing right now. But I've hit a wall and I come seeking advice.

    In story, things are standard medieval fantasy. People fight with swords and shields, build castles with slave labor, and whip peasants who don't farm fast enough--like ya do.

    Then all of the sudden, fantasy_race.jpeg enters the fray and introduces humans to magic. The two races have a good ole' fashioned tussle and it ends with both being on okay terms.

    But humans are like "*@&! those guys, yeah? Ass holes tried to enslave us".

    So all the human nations of the world pool their allowance money and build a secret cool-kids-club whose purpose is to build weapons and advance magic, science, and technology as fast as they possibly can. They do this so that if fantasy_race.jpeg tries any more bullshit, humans can wipe their smug faces off the smug face of their smug earth.

    All the greatest philosophers, scientists, and wizards in the world are sent to this organization. My goal is to end up with a very small group of people who are years ahead of the world in terms of advancements.

    So what kind of advancements could a fantasy science lab with unlimited resources develop over 50 years? What would they build, what would they try? Transportation, weapons, natural phenomena... what would human beings attempt if they had the resources to try anything they could imagine? How fast could a small society reasonably develop in a span of 50 years given that they devote 90% of their time to making things they already have better?

    Thanks for any help and insight you've got!
     
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  2. PilotMobius

    PilotMobius Active Member

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    I'm not sure what the magical limitations of your universe are so I'm just going to base these on the common tropes of the fantasy genre.

    Magic firearms - if magic wands are a thing, that means magic energy can be focused using a physical medium. Make this focusing technology more efficient, mount it on the pistol grip, and attach a set of sights.

    Pneumatic weapons - air magic can be used to compress air into a container. This compressed air could be used for air guns.

    Elemental manufacturing technology - fire magic will greatly expedite metallurgy and the manufacturing of alloys. Water magic can manifest high-pressure water jets for cutting sheets of metal. Earth magic will make mining extremely fast and efficient.

    Crystal ball heads-up display - the same magic technology used in crystal balls can be adapted for the military in the form of heads-up displays. The HUD uses a psychic radar for detecting nearby lifeforms and telepathically links to other crystal devices.

    Golem exoskeleton armor and load-bearing system - mages are able to create elemental golems out of inanimate matter. These golems are controlled by the user's mind to be worn like a powered suit of armor, greatly augmenting strength, stamina, and endurance. This increase in strength allows the user to carry large amounts of armor and equipment. The golem can also be manifested in a quadrupedal form for the sole purpose of load-bearing.

    Magic medicine - commercially distributed healing magic.
     
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  3. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Unworthy in the eyes of the LORD Contributor

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    Think about how magic limits technology, and how technology limits magic. I read a modern urban/low fantasy novel a couple decades ago which had a group of Elves who were motorsports fanatics, and on the cutting edge of technology, no less. Their fatal aversion to "cold iron" was canon, so they were building F1 cars entirely out of aluminum, carbon fiber, exotic alloys and such, and racing the hell out of the international motorsports circuits.
     
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  4. PilotMobius

    PilotMobius Active Member

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    I'd think of more magitech concepts, but I know nothing about fantasy and its tropes beyond "fire, earth, water, air, and magnets."
     
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  5. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    So humans are "introduced" to magic? In which case they don't have magic? Then they would be limited to technological advancements wouldn't they.

    Best guess would be to look at your medieval world technology, and then to look at the ideas / inventions of someone like Leonardo. See what he dreamed up, and see if your experts can take the technology of the time and produce something like it. I mean for example the helicopter would never work. But his glider might.

    Also you might want to put a Chinese spin on things and introduce gunpowder, basic rockets and bombs.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  6. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem with using Leonardo is that most of his tech didn't work...but try using George Cayley - his glider actually flew, and his ideas are the basis of ALL modern airplanes. He even invented an internal combustion engine...

    The problem with your notion of hothousing the "greatest talents of the day" is that, in an agrarian society, most of those are undiscovered, labouring in a field or a pig-sty, and/or dying young (how long would Stephen Hawking have survived in those days?).

    But, with enough will, you can achieve almost anything. Two Royal Navy battleships of the 1920s were equipped with 24 inch torpedoes. A visiting Japanese navy party were told about them. The Japanese went home and worked on their torpedoes, which were legend come WWII. The Royal Navy never got them to work...If you believe it can be done...
     
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  7. Infel

    Infel Contributing Member

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    Thats some good stuff right there.

    Thanks for the responses, gents. Really appreciate it.
     
  8. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member Contributor

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    50 years is not a lot of time, but you'd have to better define your world and the physics of it.

    Science requires experiments, these take time to build, even with unlimited resources. Leonardo was what most of us would consider pre-scientific, so while they had some idea of science, they lacked the formalization and math to do it quickly. Advanced science requires advanced maths, the first thing they would likely have to invent is calculus. Most scientists consider the birth of the modern scientific age to be 1728, the year Issac Newton showed us the laws of motion, universal gravity, and calculus.
     
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  9. watermark

    watermark Member

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    I think the mindset of facing a new fantasy race is very similar to that of humans who survived an alien invasion. To stop the new race/alien from winning a second cataclysmic war, I think the cool kids club will try a few things:

    MUTE THE MAGIC: Since you say the new race's most powerful weapon is magic, somebody must be thinking of ways to nullify its effects, anything from anti-magic amulets, temporary magic disruption bombs (aka magic emps), to creation of denial-of-magic zones. Some may even try to eliminate magic from the world altogether.

    MAGITEK: Humans are good with technology and the other race is probably better with magic. Therefore it makes sense for humans to combine the two for a result that will be superior to just magic. Some of the cool stuff mentioned in the previous posts fit into this category.

    COLD WAR, MAGIC STYLE: You say humans are now on "okay terms" with this race who just had a big fight with them and could possibly start another one. This sounds a lot like USA and USSR back then. In other words, no open warfare but lots of secret skirmishes. In this case, magic and technology that focus on espionage, illusion, divination, mind linking, and any other information gathering related magic would be a major focus. The war may be mainly fought with magical agents, ninjas, or assassins.

    Just some ideas. Hope it helps.
     
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  10. halisme

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    The answer is it depends. Technology is almost always developed either by random chance or by purposefully serving to solve a problem. If it's the latter, then they might end up with something that solves it, however, it also depends on their initial level of technology as the rate of improvement is exponential.
     
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  11. G.A. Kainne

    G.A. Kainne Member

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    To solve this problem you may want to think of inventing a new version of magic or technology. Possibly combining the uses that science or engineering could provide, with alchemy or another form of magic. I did this in my story. You may want do something similar. Another way they might be able to gain the upper hand is the possibility of using disease or plague much like we do today with biological/chemical warfare. The amount of knowledge passed down from said unknown "race" about magic would be important to know as well. Perhaps the source of magic would be a good thing to figure out. Here are a few questions that may help you if you answer them. What gives them the abilities of magic and how do they tap into them? Why can humans use magic as well? What are the weaknesses of magic in your world? Are there people or races immune to it?
     
  12. Mikmaxs

    Mikmaxs Active Member

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    I think it partially depends on how the rules of your magic system works. Is it a set phenomena with predictable effects? How do you use it?
    If it's something like the magic in Harry Potter, then harnessing it for technology might be rather difficult - Pretty much every component of every given machine would just be running off of some spell, so it wouldn't so much be amplifying the magic as it would be just using it normally. However, if it's a more down-to-earth style of magic with rules and cause/effect correlations (Like that found in the Stormlight Archives or Eragon,) then it could very easily be incorporated into machines.

    For one example, the biggest problem with creating a working mechanical vehicle was creating a power source that could turn the wheels efficiently. This is a really hard thing to do, because most sources of power that existed at the time were big and clunky, or not very strong - The most common form of fuel (coal) is heavy, has about half the energy density of gas, and steam engines just weren't going to cut it for small-scale transportation. It took a more efficient, malleable fuel source in order to make personal vehicles workable.

    Now, let's say that, instead of gasoline, the world has magic instead. This magic has to be controlled by some ritual or spell, but is an effective source of energy, and takes up zero space - Suddenly, you've got all of the things you need to build yourself a car. Without an internal combustion engine, you also don't need fuel tanks, mufflers, a transmission, or really any of the mechanical parts of a car - You need a chassis and seats, you need four wheels, you need a basic frame. That's it.


    Taking away energy limitations makes pretty much all technology work more effectively, quickly, and easily. Even computers are mostly restrained by how much power we can pump through them before they can overheat, which is why a lot of high-end PCs are liquid cooled so that they can run more efficiently.
     
  13. Freddy van Zandt

    Freddy van Zandt Member

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    OP, have you read the Pillars if Reality series? That had an interesting way of putting higher-than-average tech into a largely lyrics medieval setting, and it had the same dichotomy of magic users vs. tech developers. The social war each wages on the validity, effectiveness, or even existence of the other can be the best way if countering the other's ability to act as they please.

    *edit* I do not suggest the Pillars of Reality series for the overall quality of its content, as I put it down half-way through the second book, but if you can pick up and read the first installment, Dragons of Dorcastle, that'll give you the idea of what I'm talking about
     
  14. stampman

    stampman Member

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    Not sure if you're familiar with Akame Ga Kill, it's a manga/anime where the setting is very much fantasy but there are quite a few technological innovations (mostly in the way of guns and these things called Imperial Arms). That may be something that you're going for, or even something like Dwarven constructs in *insert fantasy here*. Or, something a bit more specific to the threat like AoT, where its very medieval but they've devoted resources to constructing equipment to combat a very specific threat.
     
  15. TheDankTank

    TheDankTank Member

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    I am by no means an expert in the field, but here are my thoughts on the subject. Depending on the magical ability and intelligence of the people involved, and of course the way that magic works in this world, the possibilities are pretty much unlimited. Some form of advanced projectile weaponry and heavy, perhaps mechanized suits of armor that use magic for energy are a few examples.
     
  16. Friederich Kugelschreiber

    Friederich Kugelschreiber Contributing Member

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    Weapons of mass destruction, biological/chemical weapons, flying machines, firearms, vehicles, tanks, artillery. I think even they could figure out how to split the atom, using magic. Probably enough to wipe the fantasy race off the face of earth, with enough left over to turn on their own race and wipe them off the face of the earth as well. Enough to cause a lot of death :)
     

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