Two words about two letters etc.

Thu Jan 9 07:01:25 PST 2003

On Wed, 2003-01-08 at 13:01, Philip Hart wrote:
> On Wed, 8 Jan 2003, Andrew Lias wrote:

> > I would place modern Dragaeran society at a 20th century level of magical
> > technology, with certain variations.  The biggest thing that they lack is
> > anything analogous to computers but, by the same token, we don't have
> > anything like their teleportation technology or the ability to put large
> > permanent structures in the air (e.g., Castle Black).
> The Orb of course is a computer/router/...  Zerika I managed to create
> such a complex object from scratch but her empire was relying on exploding
> sticks millennia later - this puzzles me.

This doesn't puzzle me at all.  Working with computers, I often see
where you have one person who is brilliant and comes up with great code,
then everyone else who touches the code does completely horrible things
to it.  In our world people can get away with them as hopefully QA will
just catch any bugs they introduce.  In Dragaera, if you don't have the
skill and knowledge to do the advanced stuff, you just don't do it. 
That is, if you want to stay alive.

We also have the advantage of mass-production.  If someone invents a
spiffy new weapon, they design it in such a way that a combination of
machines and unskilled labor can put it together without really
understanding what they're doing.  You just can't do that with sorcerous
weapons.  You can't have a machine just put out 50 flash-stones in a
day.  You have to have actual people do it.  And what more, they have to
be trained socerers.  And we've already seen that the complicated spells
take longer to cast.  So, we have the highly trained sorcerers/wizards
who have their wands which are amazing weapons.  But for the foot
soldiers, all they get are simple artifacts that can be either created
by barely trained sorcerers, or that a lot of can be made quickly by one
trained sorcerer.   I imagine it would take a few decades of production
to equip a single army with a very powerful magical weapon that they
could all easily use.

Then there's just the practicality question, why bother with some
complicated spell when simply directing blasts of energy at people kills
them all the same.

> Anyway, it's hard for me to understand the lack of guns, electricity,
> what have you in the pre-modern era - esp. given that the empire trades
> with an island where sorcery doesn't work.

This island is quite small compared to the empire. And the empire has
their own sorcerous-based technology.  So even if our kind of technology
would work there, it'd be like expecting Japan to come up with their
modern level of technology without any outside influence.  It'd take an

As I see it, there are three main groups were're talking about (I'm
going to ignore the Serioli and cat-centaurs who don't have much outside
contact).  The Empire, the outer Islands, and the Easterners.  Assuming
that all of them are roughly the same population as our world, or even
just the northern hemisphere, you only have the easterners and islanders
who'd be interested in developing non-sorcerous technology.  These two
groups are seperated by the Empire and have essentially no contact with
each other.  So, we might as well assume they're alone.  As I already
said, the islands have such a low population, it's not likely for them
to come up with much in any kind of timeframe, especially as a lot of
our common projects require a large population just to support the
people doing the research, designing, building, and operation of things.

As for the Easterners, they're still several seperate nations.  Of
course they can communicate and trade information, and they most likely
do.  And I believe they are making some progress, however they still
have a much smaller population than the northern hemisphere of our
world, so it'll take them a lot longer.  On top of that, every once in a
while the Empire decides to go take over some land, so the Easterners
are spending quite a bit of time recouping from wars and waging wars,
which isn't giving them a lot of time to develop new technology.  And
they also can't steal much technology from their invaders as the
Easterners can't use sorcery.

So, there just aren't any good coniditions for our level of technology
to arise.