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    Canonfire :: View topic - The Da Vinci Revolution?
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    The Da Vinci Revolution?
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 07, 2005 7:07 pm  
    The Da Vinci Revolution?

    As I've made clear many times, I am completely, utterly, totally, absolutely, positively, finally, fautlessly, fanatically, spiritually, in perpetuity and to the very last opposed to any sort of industrial revolution based on the internal combustion engine happening in Greyhawk. That means there will never be any guns, never be any cars, never be any trains, or any such things polluting our beloved Oerth. Man will always be wielding swords and spears in time of war, he will always be using fireballs, not firebombs, to wreak destruction on his enemies, and so forth.

    What's the internal justification for this? Well, it's quite simply that Oerth has more than enough iron and steel to supply the needs of the many races that inhabit it...but the supplies of coal and oil are very limited. Much of the oil supply is taken by giants, orcs, and other beings that have no interest in technological research and use the oil to burn firewood, trolls, and other things. Man needs oil for the same reasons-the stuff is too precious to keep swords and armor in good working condition, and to ensure that trolls stay dead, to waste on some screwloose gnome's ideas for a self-propelled wagon.

    However, not all technology can come from combustion. One need only think of the great Renaissance genius, Leonardo Da Vinci. He had all sorts of far-out ideas for inventions that didn't require combustion to work. Could enterprising gnomes come up with similar schemes, and thus advance Oerth's tech level in a way that won't precipitate heavy industry or mass production as we know it in our real world?

    Any thoughts?

    (P.S.: In case anyone wonders why I'm so obsessed with keeping Oerth at a medieval, magical-tech level, it's because of how angry I got when I saw how J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, and Michael Moorcock all got rid of the pseudo-medieval aspects of their own worlds, which were eliminated to make room for our dull, drab real world. Seeing three perfectly good fantasy worlds ruined by their own creators made me so mad that I swore I'd never do anything like that. It's also, for the record, why get so twitchy about the idea of Oerth's magic fading away, as it sets up the transition from Oerth to Earth.)
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    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 07, 2005 7:42 pm  

    Well first, why would you assume an industrial revolution had to be predicated on gunpowder and internal combustion?
    Every time I've brought it up, I've always meant it on the "Da Vinci", supra-mechanical/hydraulic level you suggest. That's why I always recommend Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel by the Gies'. It is a great source to give an overview of when certain technologies appeared, and the effects they produced. And from there, you can extrapolate on how to make that tech go further.
    Another good source for that is some old Traveller material, particularly MegaTraveller and the collapse, which offered suggestions on what very low tech worlds could do to maintain themselves on sometimes hostile worlds after losing the space- and star-faring tech they used to maintain themselves.

    Second, I think you are a bit off on your assessment of oil and its use. I don't think Greyhawk uses petroleum oil for those purposes, but rather various refined vegetable and animal oils. Indeed, the distillation and pumping requirements would make it near impossible to make such widespread use of oil above and beyond quasi-magical concoctions such as alchemist's fire. On that account, if "gasoline" were as expensive as a vial of alchemist's fire, then indeed nobody would ever try to develop an internal combustion engine. Instead you'd get a Stanley Steamer type vehicle, but that could lead to an equally unsatisfying "GreyPunk" setting, so there is no need to do more than list it and move on.

    As for "heavy industry" and "mass production", those are pretty relative terms. Compared to Roman times, the early Renaissance has massive "heavy industry" and widespread "mass production". It certainly wouldn't qualify as such today, but it sure as heck seemed impressive to them. The main areas this occurred in were metallurgy, with the development of more and better blast furnaces, and in cloth making, as larger, more mechanically sophisticated, looms were developed.
    Both of these were based primarily on advances in hydraulic technology - the waterwheel. It gave a 10-50 fold increase in the power available through animal labor (cows and horses), as they had given a 2-10 fold increase in the power available through human labor.

    So how advanced do you want your hydraulic power technology to be?
    From there, you can decide how advanced you want your metallurgy and automation of basic tasks.

    After that, how advanced do you want your precision tools and techniques to be? Lenses for telescopes and microscopes, as well as for eyeglasses, fine gears for city clocks and personal watches, precision tools for advanced gemcutting, and similar things. You won't get a steam-powered Da Vinci tank (if you wanted one) without those.
    And, in case it isn't obviously, you need quality printing presses to support all this, as you need the books to educate the researchers to develop it, and hand copying won't cut it.

    As for me, I was asking the other day in the chat just how far you could take the basic tech of a ballista, and could it ever be sufficient to generate full blown "ships of the line", with multiple decks of ultra-powerful ballistae, not dependent on magic to be reasonable. (As opposed to the super-magical ships of Mystara and the like.)
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    Sat Oct 08, 2005 7:20 am  

    Quote:
    in case it isn't obviously, you need quality printing presses to support all this, as you need the books to educate the researchers to develop it, and hand copying won't cut it.


    This may/or may not be on topic. The future of GH (per the 83 guide) as it is in 998CY has these facts:

    A)-Rel Mord still stands and is a center of learning by way of the Royal University of RM.
    B)-Illithids have or had lairs in Riftcanyon.
    C)-A copy of the Savant Sages' Catalogue is found in such a lair.
    D)-Pluffet Smedger, the Elder is a historian at Rel Mord and is impressed by the freshness and thoroughness of the out of date work.
    E)-Smedger spends several decades compiling the glossographies based on the Sage's work and filing in facts that are missed.
    F)-The finished product becomes a standard reference catalogue throughout the civilized areas of the Flanaess.
    G)-During Smedger's time magic was not a lost art but a fading one.

    My implications:

    A)-Nyrond in the very least remains a powerful state for good and education, what advances can be made in 400 years is still sketchy based on that.
    B)-Nyrond or the University still promotes searching ruins and places of mystery. The adventerous career sounds intact. It says an Illithid lair not a ruin, so the standard bad guys must be around.
    C)-How a copy of the Sage's work got from GHC to the Riftcanyon will never be known, but a Mindflayer wanting such information isn't surprising, yet since that COPY is the only surviving one, it does make one wonder what was so catastrophic that the others didn't last, especially with places like the Royal University or Greyhawk to store and care for such volumes.
    D)&E)-The fact that Smedger takes so long to recompile an already thorough masterpiece leads me to believe there is no great advance in scholarly research.
    F)-The final product that is widely distributed must be done by some printing tech by now, although the quality of it can still be in doubt. That is unless F is included in the time of E, which means Smedger took so long with a thorough manuscript because he was handwriting copies.
    G)-Magic isn't gone but clearly its not even in practical use (ala Eberron) or else Smedge would've had everything sorted out, rewritten and distributed days after the manuscripts were found.

    So if the rest of Oerth's advances are taken at the same pace, I'd say for the next 400 years at least Oerth will not change much, just superficially with less magic and different political borders. Since it says Smedger's glossographies are distributed throughout the Flanaess and not the whole world that also implies the Flanaess is still the isolated neighborhood we all know and love.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Oct 10, 2005 3:17 pm  

    Samwise wrote:
    Well first, why would you assume an industrial revolution had to be predicated on gunpowder and internal combustion?
    Every time I've brought it up, I've always meant it on the "Da Vinci", supra-mechanical/hydraulic level you suggest. That's why I always recommend Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel by the Gies'. It is a great source to give an overview of when certain technologies appeared, and the effects they produced. And from there, you can extrapolate on how to make that tech go further.
    Another good source for that is some old Traveller material, particularly MegaTraveller and the collapse, which offered suggestions on what very low tech worlds could do to maintain themselves on sometimes hostile worlds after losing the space- and star-faring tech they used to maintain themselves.

    Second, I think you are a bit off on your assessment of oil and its use. I don't think Greyhawk uses petroleum oil for those purposes, but rather various refined vegetable and animal oils. Indeed, the distillation and pumping requirements would make it near impossible to make such widespread use of oil above and beyond quasi-magical concoctions such as alchemist's fire. On that account, if "gasoline" were as expensive as a vial of alchemist's fire, then indeed nobody would ever try to develop an internal combustion engine. Instead you'd get a Stanley Steamer type vehicle, but that could lead to an equally unsatisfying "GreyPunk" setting, so there is no need to do more than list it and move on.


    My apologies for my previous replies. I thought that when you spoke up in favor of technological advancement, I thought you meant full-blown steampunk/combustion technology, with guns supplanting swords as the prime weapon of war. The things mentioned by GVDammerung in another thread, with Phaistos disks, Baghdad batteries, etc., are probably somewhat distasteful to me, but I can live with them.

    I suppose I should be blunt: I want to keep Greyhawk from transforming the way Moorcock's Young Kingdoms, Tolkien's Middle Earth, and Howard's Hyborian settings did: Sorcery giving way to science, the demihumans and other "fantastical" elements disappearing, leaving man all by his lonesome in an industrializing world that will eventually become our dull, drab real one. Of all the fantasy cliches, I find this one far and away the most abhorrent and reprehensible. Hence why I get so twitchy about the ideas of spaceships, Oerth's magical ether fading away and dying, or what have you.

    Oerth's magic isn't dying out-it's just that knowledge of the magical arts isn't as common as it used to be. There never were any spaceships, six-shooters, or any sort of that nonsense: it was all a really freaky hallucination caused by a bard who ingested one too many of those weird mushrooms growing on the side of the trees.

    As for Murlynd, he was a screwloose nutjob who would have been confined in an asylum if it weren't for his great powers-all that "Wild West" nonsense came from his eating about three-dozen magic mushrooms sprinkled with LSD and lotus dust, dipped in poppy juice, every morning for breakfast.
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Oct 10, 2005 3:23 pm  

    It struck me that there could be more than interpretation concerning point G. I do not have the text in front of me as I am at work, but weren't the statements made by an "editor" (forgot his name at the moment) who was looking back at Pluffet's time?

    In flowery terms "art" could be refering to skills as well. Magic being a "lost" art could mean that it is disfavored because you can accomplish the same task more simply, efficiently, etc. via a newer skill, technique, or process (such as, ulp! technology) other than magic. Old skills, techniques, or processes into disuse in favor of the more efficient.

    As real a life example, word processors and computers with document programs are more prevalent now than 25 years ago. I took typing classes in high school back in 1980 (yeah, Im 40 now), and then had a typewriter(manual). When I got my first computer with WordPerfect, I never used the typewriter anymore because I can edit my statements more easily with the new devices than the old. 10 years ago I tried to fix my typewriter and found there were only 3 Typewriter Repair places in the Chicago area to fix it for nostalgia sake. Just now, I looked at yellowpages.com and find that there only four listed as such in the entire state of Illinois. None are in Chicago. Similar companies exist in other categories, but Typewriter Repair (alone) is no longer appears to be a lucrative solo profession. Not a lost "art", but certainly a fading one.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Oct 10, 2005 4:21 pm  
    Re: The Da Vinci Revolution?

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    As I've made clear many times, I am completely, utterly, totally, absolutely, positively, finally, fautlessly, fanatically, spiritually, in perpetuity and to the very last opposed to any sort of industrial revolution based on the internal combustion engine happening in Greyhawk. That means there will never be any guns, never be any cars, never be any trains, or any such things polluting our beloved Oerth. . . .

    What's the internal justification for this? Well, it's quite simply that Oerth has more than enough iron and steel to supply the needs of the many races that inhabit it...but the supplies of coal and oil are very limited.


    Now, here I must politely disagree.

    Guns and gunpowder, like'em or hate'em are (pardon the pun) canon, after G Holian's article on the Paladins of Murlynd. What is more, the simple chemistry of gunpowder suggests it would be discovered eventually and would work according to natural law. Even if one allows for some sort of magical sanction, the Church of Murlynd has a "pass" that might make them the high priests of the gun, The Templars of gunpowder. An intriguing thought IMO that would allow gunpowder, yet keep it under fairly tight stricture.

    With respect to fossil fuels, from another Dragon article we know that there are fossil beds in the Abbor-Alz of dinosaurs that once inhabited the Flanaess that no longer do. It seems that the same processes that created fossil fuels on Oerth are also to be found on Oerth.

    I would thus take issue with both of your specific points.

    To your larger point about not wanting to see a "medieval" society give way to an industrial one, it does not have to be one or the other. Magic could well slow the rate of technological advancement by a factor of 3 or 5 or so and thus prolong the "medieval" time period. And when industrialization, which began in the "middle ages," does occur, because of magic and other sentients, it may take forms other than the classically Victorian or "steampunk."

    Rather than fight the rise of technology, and I do appreciate the sentiment, I prefer to imagine how technology might develop in a world where magic works. Your suggestion of a Da Vinci revolution is one way to go about this.
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    Mon Oct 10, 2005 4:24 pm  

    Another thought to keep Oerth "medieval" other than the deus ex machina of "because" is the catastrophe that sets civilization back - "dark ages" in which civilization regress, so to speak. But I think this may be an even more unpopular idea than gunpowder. Shocked
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    Mon Oct 10, 2005 4:28 pm  

    CSL: “Of all the fantasy cliches, I find this one far and away the most abhorrent and reprehensible.”

    I cannot say anything about Moorcock or Howard, but I know that Tolkien was trying to simulate mythology. There “the Decline,” as it is called by many for purposes of comparative religion, is not just a cliché, but an archetype. I do not know the details, but I think it has to do with being about relating religion to real life.

    But that is not fantasy gaming and neither is fantasy literature, even you have MERP and others. The Decline need not even be considered in gaming unless you are planning on running a very loooooooooong campaign. Of course it could be considered for fun or practical purposes. Fading lands?

    How about this, Eberron is GH 1,000,000 years in the future? Maybe it is cyclical. In the cartoon movie, Wizards, technology was followed by magic and the action takes place between proponents of the two. Magic wins.

    As for Murlynd, it is hard for me to think about using him for anything other than to point out GH has such things or for comedic relief, but I could see others using him well if that is what they wanted. I hated the idea when I first read it; now it is a nostalgic treasure that I would not want to show off … kind of like disco.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Oct 10, 2005 5:14 pm  

    Wolfsire wrote:
    As for Murlynd, it is hard for me to think about using him for anything other than to point out GH has such things or for comedic relief, but I could see others using him well if that is what they wanted. I hated the idea when I first read it; now it is a nostalgic treasure that I would not want to show off … kind of like disco.


    If you have not read it, G Holian's Paladins of Murlynd attempts to take EGG's "whoopie cushion" cowboy and turn him into something more immediately useable. I recommend the article.

    And disco wasn't all bad! Ami Stewart's rendition of "Knock on Wood" immediately comes to mind. Cool Shake you booty! Wink
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    Tue Oct 11, 2005 7:06 am  

    GVD: "Shake you booty! "

    You have blinded me with the disco ball! Laughing

    Yeah, there is a lot of disco I like now, but did not like back in the day.

    Where can I find G Holian's Paladins of Murlynd?
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    Wed Oct 12, 2005 2:59 pm  

    I'm surprised that no one has referenced the Discworld books. Not only is it a fantasy world in the throes of an industrial revolution, but it has its own Da Vinci (Leonard di Quirm). Over the course of the series they've most notably developed the printing press & a long-distance communications network.
    1) Gunpowder exists as fireworks. The Agatean Empire (Discworld's Orient) has hideously inaccurate cannons that are more dangerous to fire than to be a target of. The novel "Men At Arms" features the "gonne" (invented by Leonard) which is unique as too many parties (like the Assassins' Guild) would find it counterproductive to exist.
    2) The "clacks" are a long-distance communications system using medieval technology - they are extensions of semaphore flags and light signalling (like the signal fires in LOTR from Gondor to Rohan) in series of towers - almost like a medieval Internet that uses nothing more complicated than clockwork.
    3) The mages, clerics and Engravers Guild all oppose printing presses for a variety of reasons -- the only reason that they were eventually allowed (in "The Truth") was due to the fact that the latest printers were dwarves, who had become a significant and important minority in the main city of Ankh-Morpork.
    4) The Gods of Discworld seem actively perturbed by technology (but not magic). In "The Last Hero" Leonard creates an ingeneous fantasy rocketship (using creatures called swamp dragons) which torques off the deities mightly.

    In general, we have mages, priests, and powerful guilds all opposing technological advances. Boccob has noted a decline in magic use and I'd doubt that he'd approve of technology supplanting it.
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    Wed Oct 12, 2005 3:57 pm  

    blackmyron: " Boccob has noted a decline in magic use and I'd doubt that he'd approve of technology supplanting it."

    I don't know that Boccob, The Uncaring, Lord of All Magic, would care. Maybe. It makes for an interesting propositon, at least some cognitive dissonance. Maybe he would raise two eyebrows instead of one and then go back to studying his books.

    I never read Discworld.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Oct 12, 2005 10:42 pm  

    I find it interesting the quote is: " Boccob has noted a decline in magic use" NOT a decline in magic.

    Perhaps the number and quality of magic users has declined?

    Given the level of culture and the epic levels of spells cast by various states and individuals which can no longer be duplicated perhaps the premise of fading magic is simply a wrong interpretation and it is the skill of magic use that is fading when compared to the magical feats of the past.
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