Technology in Medieval Settings

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Azmor, Apr 26, 2018.

  1. Azmor

    Azmor Veteran Veteran

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    Hi,

    so there is an idea I had for a long time about a fantasy setting where trains, guns and even higher technology like space ships are common in a medieval era.

    What do you think of a fantasy setting where the technology is both high and primitive at the same time?
     
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  2. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    So, basically steampunk. That's not a terribly uncommon theme in RPGs...

    Never been the biggest fan of it, mainly due to the rather dull colour palettes it tends to come with.
     
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  3. XIIIthHarbinger

    XIIIthHarbinger Part Time Super Villain Veteran

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    Like many things, it would depend upon its implementation.

    For example, how you explain the disparity in development between high & low tech areas. What effect these disparities have upon society economically, politically, culturally, religiously, etcetera.

    Which groups within a society are most effected by the disparity. Which societies are most effected by the disparity.

    In my experience, these kinds of worlds have a tendency to be VERY poorly developed because little to no thought is given to the wider ramifications & consequences direct & indirect to the world, due to the existence of these disparities. & are in fact often treated as wholly insulated pockets of shiny nonsense. Which is something that makes a story's narrative collapse under the slightest scrutiny.
     
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  4. gstv87

    gstv87 Veteran Veteran

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    I mean, for the sake of color and visuals, it's great.
    nothing like a knight in plate armor shooting a gatling gun on a line of stormtroopers.

    But for the sake of storytelling (serious storytelling, the kind that makes some sense) it's mutually exclusive.
    you can't have technological development without rational thinking, and you can't have rational thinking in a setting where 1- the church and the monarchy have the final say, 2- there is no schools, 3- the life expectancy is 60 years.

    you could have, however, a futuristic monarchy, as depicted in V For Vendetta, Code Geass, Dune, etc...
    if you want to keep it medieval instead of dystopian, you can add a basic knowledge of electricity or heavy machinery, and that would give you engineers and scholars experts in this weird way of moving things, that sparks and jolts, and lights things on fire...
    you know, self-propelled ballistas, automated drawbridges, central heating with huge boilers, sparking altars of crystal-empowering radiation.... you name it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
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  5. shadefoundry

    shadefoundry Veteran Veteran

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    Something to keep in mind is that in the Medieval Era, they did have some technology. Things like primitive guns and the like were starting to see use.
    If you're interested in having a more fantastical game with magical and technological elements intermixing, you're looking at something along the lines of Science-Fantasy, which is basically a mixed genre encompassing everything from Warhammer 40k to Final Fantasy to Marvel and DC Comics.
    It can be done well, but as others have mentioned it's difficult since you have to explain why some places do and do not have technology, etc. Although I would think its easier to have some level of technology everywhere, with poorer parts of the world having less of it but that's just me.
    Personally I'm a huge fan of this setting, although I tend to skew closer to the fantasy side since the science half brings in a lot of tropes that I find difficult to work with.
     
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  6. ScientistWD

    ScientistWD Innocuous Veteran

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    My first thought is to zoom in on a specific piece of technology (or magic) that enabled advanced technology to explode in a medieval setting. For instance, some magical Blue Crystal that can be used to make lasers or charge batteries. The benefit to this is that you can explain sci-fi lasers and magnets as well as why there isn't stuff like antibiotics or combustion engines. Plus, the worldbuilding. Oh, the worldbuilding.

    That's my first instinct, anyway, to make a world like this a lot more believable.
     
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  7. AmazingKazuki

    AmazingKazuki Veteran Veteran

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    I have to push that a lot. It all depends on how you involve it and put it into your world. That is also my general opinion when mixing themes or changing things with what is a more "common" thing, like medieval times and technology as we already know of them. However, I think if you do it well that it'd end up a pretty cool thing.

    Somewhere in the game will need a decent explanation of how the technology evolved with the times. Hope to see more on this shortly! Good luck!
     
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  8. M.I.A.

    M.I.A. Goofball Extraordinaire Veteran

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    Have you heard of/played a game called Arcanum?

    It mixes technology and magic very well, in my opinion. It's an old one, but a good one. Available on Steam. Playable with some patching.
    Check it out. :)

    -MIA
     
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  9. GeraldTyler

    GeraldTyler Villager Member

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    So here's one possible justification for a disparity...any magic tech is controlled by the government, because it's their greatest military asset. As such, it's not available for civilian use, and all research and application is specifically for military application.

    So think of a Nuke. A nuke is extremelly powerful, which is why the government keeps that stuff away from the civilian population. You're not going to start a business selling nuclear arms you know?

    So this allows for awesome military tech in the form of say explosives, robots, transports, but then you still have the commoners living in relative poverty.
     
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  10. Wavelength

    Wavelength Mo Daylight, Mo Problems Veteran

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    I think it's fine to do something like that.

    Ideally, you want to think a little about how you develop the world, setting, and plot hooks in light of your technology - for example, if I'm using flying cars to get to a swamp, it would be ridiculous for me to have to find boots that will let me not sink in one small area of the swamp, FF3 style (I should just be able to fly over it). If high technology is being mass-produced all over the place, I don't want the rescue of a talented blacksmith to be considered an instrumental and mandatory step on the way to saving the world without a really solid explanation for it.

    With that said, don't scuttle really cool ideas just because there are one or two holes that can be poked in their logic, either. Sometimes the Rule of Cool reigns supreme - you can get away with anything that's absurd, impractical, or outright dishonest in fiction as long as it's cool enough.

    You might be able to find inspiration in our own world - some nations' people live modern lifestyles that are truly transformed from everything that human society used to be, while others live without having touched an electrical device in their lives. North Korea provides an especially interesting glimpse into this paradox, contrasting Pyongyang's essentially modern cityscape and amentities to the cloistered agrarian nightmare ten miles outside of it.
     
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  11. Muzzsjm

    Muzzsjm Villager Member

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    Phantasy Star defiantly. It's not really steampunk but kind of close to it.

    PSIII & PS4 have people living in wooden and stone buildings whilst having laser guns, spaceships and cloning technology. It's never really explained that well but it's down to the fact a higher power/computer power controls climate and to a certain extent what technology people have access to and use.

    I don't have a problem with it as long as it's explained well or not explained at all if that makes sense. It's normally the result or a higher authority or someone being selfish.

    The people in Phantasy Star III have been locked away in dome worlds for 1,000 years so have just accepted what they have is what they need. As for 4 its more a case of tech and wealth being spread by those who want or need it and have the ability to starve others or withhold.
     
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  12. Astel

    Astel The (grey) knight with that funny look Veteran

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    Going against the current... it's a really bad idea.

    How you define medieval? How can a low technology era have modern technology? Magic kind of works because you can make an artificial limit, not everyone can use magic, etc. Technology comes from building time and time again over the knowledge from previous generations, and it free for everyone to use (not everyone may cast a fireball, but anyone can pull a trigger).

    Yes, you can jump the shark to be cool, and have an armored knight firing a machine gun... which makes an armor plate and swords completely obsolete, which makes even the very concept of a "knight" absurd. I'm not a fan of making cool things just to look cool if they don't make sense...

    Just my opinion.
     
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  13. _Leviathan

    _Leviathan Envious Member

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    Only thanks to those who've gone against the current have we advanced as much as we have to this day.

    That said, it's not an easy path. First you would have to build a world in which it's history and government makes sense. What caused the 'steam revolution'? How has it affected the country's/world's population and cultures? You have to make your world feel alive, and not a simple fantasy in which everything just works out. Read up on real life history, politics and science. If you know how our world works, then you can start building a world all your own.

    I would also take into account the work you must put in your tilesets before making a decision though. I feel like creating a Steampunk tileset would be much more work, as well as a tad bit more difficult. Then again, I haven't tried yet.
     
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  14. MobileSuitSonic

    MobileSuitSonic Mod Magnet Veteran

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    I wanted to discuss this in a poll regarding my project, but the mods won't let me.

    All I wanted to know was whether or not to keep the medieval-style setting or go with an early-20th century look to it. But no...
     
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  15. EliteZeon

    EliteZeon Third-Rate Noob Veteran

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    This is pretty much the definition of Dungeon Punk,Dungeon and Dragon's Planescape and Eberron setting, the first Ultima game, and various Final Fantasy games. Hey, look at Thor 2: The Dark world...

    Heck in Final Fantasy 12, the very beginning of the game shows a world with high magical technology with high fantasy. You see airships shooting laser beams at each other, and dog fighting Star Wars styled whilst knights on the ground the Calvary charges with the support of assault mecha.

    Magic is advanced enough to allow technology similar to sci-fi/modern day, and fantasy elements allow for knights to be powerful enough to withstand against guns and explosives. A spaceship can be a flying boat enchanted by elemental magic which allows passengers to traverse the stars, and space itself isn't just a solar system, it is a grid of realities that connects the worlds such as Niflheim and Asgard. A capital city could have skyscrapers, with elevators made from air-magic. A train could be powered by steam in one region, whilst another nation uses mages with fire magic to produce locomotion. A group of soldiers that use camouflage cloaks could be instead using illusion magic to blend into their surroundings like the predator.

    The easiest way to think of these settings is, "What if Magic IS Science?" or "What if we have Physics but also with Magic?"

    [​IMG]
    D&D's Eberron setting: Dungeon Punk at its finest.

    Let's gets some ideas from this image! A fully mechanical knight is ready to rob a speeding train powered by elemental magic and has a whole crew of men on his airship. The town below was made after a great war, inside a massive bomb crater.

    [​IMG]
    D&D's Planescape setting: medieval-fantasy cities co-exist with spacefaring races, their space ships all equipped with magical death beams.

    An idea with this image: A villainous empire has already conquered half of the realms in the multiverse, surrender is not an option. The power hungry Spacefaring Emperor seeks godhood to prevent an even worse cataclysm foreseen in a prophecy, in which an alien power upsets the balance of the realms.


    Finally here is FF12's opening cinematic which shows a good mix of medieval-fantasy and high-fantasy technology.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2018 at 3:07 PM
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