Wednesday, December 25, 2013

From the Netbook: Magitech of the World That Was

Over at the Comeback Inn forums, there has been some discussion of the magitech of Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor, throughout the settings’ various incarnations.
Artifacts from the City of the Gods can potentially make it into the hands of PCs through modules DA2 and 3: blasters, blaster rifles, glow wands, medkits, battle suits… Taken out of the Valley of the Ancients, or through the time portal in the Comeback Inn, these wondrous items have the potential to make the heroes into near godlike figures. It is noted in the various timelines of Mystara that developments gleaned from the tech of the City of the Gods are what made Blackmoor a force to be reckoned with, and promoted the kingdom’s rapid rise in power and influence.
Thorn’s World That Was takes a look at the Blackmoor of Mystara’s past. The Throne of Stars campaign is set when Blackmoor is at its height, a thousand years after Uther’s rule, the Great Rain of Fire looming an unspecified number of years over the horizon…
Blackmoor University, started by Uther’s dangerously inquisitive eldest daughter, has gathered the sharpest minds in the surrounding lands and set them to examining the hundreds of trinkets and items taken before the City of the Gods vanished, leaving nothing but the glass-sided shaft in the floor of the Valley of the Ancients.
With many of the devices’ power cells depleted, they were nothing more than fancy paper weights or wall decorations. Attempts to re-power the trinkets and treasures with lightning bolts met with — more often than not — disastrous results, and it was decided that rather than try to utilize the devices themselves, the technicians and wizards would study the workings of the remaining powered items and attempt to recreate them with the magical and technological means of the day.
Some of the conveniences of the Late Imperium, as seen in the Throne of Stars campaign, include the following:

    Readingglass: thin slabs of what look like red-tinged glass, measuring in size from a fingernail up to a window, these devices are actually sheets of red dragonstone. Just as their name suggests, these panes of dragonstone are used for reading: they can hold impressions of pages from books, including both text and drawings. A single, digest-sized pane of readingglass can hold an entire mage’s library of spellbooks. Parchment-thin wafers of readingglass, exposed to gnomish “knowlights” (see below) are imbued with the news and summaries of events of the day. Paired with a difference engine, readingglass allows the user to visualize the engine’s output.

    Knowlights: These are sticks of metal crafted to resemble traditional wax candles, and can be of any size or shape. All of them, however, are made of silvery metal, fitted with pebble-sized bits of red dragonstone, through which has been threaded a “wick” of fine wire. These devices act just like candles, or lamps, shedding a ruddy, reddish flame from the tip of the metal wick when the command word is spoken, or (if the command word is forgotten) lit from a conventional tinder or flamestick. What makes them special is that flames lit from another knowlight become linked. Holding an enscribed sheet of readingglass over a knowlight’s flame transmits that material to readingglass held over a daughter flame.

    Knowlights don’t appear to consume any sort of fuel, and the wicks never burn down. The flames, however, are susceptible to liquids and winds, just like natural flame. A knowlight needs to be rekindled from a mother-flame in order to enable the text-sharing function. Knowlights can also be ‘tuned’ to certain individuals if their full, true name is spoken before transmitting. If the person’s true name is not known, a drop of their blood applied to the readingglass can also individualize the transmission.

    The Blackmoor Magitech series continues here....

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