High Tech vs. the Orb (some Issola spoilage)

Jon_Lincicum at stream.com Jon_Lincicum at stream.com
Wed Jan 18 08:47:55 PST 2006

Maximilian Wilson <wilson.max at gmail.com> 
Sent by: dragaera-bounces at dragaera.info
01/18/06 07:42 AM

SKZB List <dragaera at dragaera.info>

Re: High Tech vs. the Orb

>I'd actually argue that radio combined with modern technology is far
>superior to psionic communication. For one thing, psionic
>communication is only possible with those you know well; this results
>in big, centralized networks that less robust to point-failure.
>Secondly, radio can be processed by computers instead of human brains.
>Things like real-time-updated battle maps are only feasible with
>computer processing; I'm not a general so I don't know exactly how
>important this is, but it's certainly better than psi. ObSF: read
>David Drake's stories to get an old soldier's opinion of what a really
>good AI could do in battle. /Northworld/ is a good one.

Depends on a lot of factors. 

Security: Can radio signals be intercepted via sorcery? Can psionic 
communications be intercepted via technology? 

Reliability/Efficiency: As long as the Empress and the Orb remain 
unmolested, psionic communication through her is 100% reliable, and since 
all communication is channeled through one "server", it is centralized, 
and very efficient. If she goes down, however, all is lost. (I guess you'd 
call this "All your eggs in one basket" syndrome.) Technology wise, a 
distributed radio network system is more robust, but less efficient while 

Ease of use: One on one, psionics wins. In a broadcast-style communique, 
radio would appear to have the advantage.

>> What really leaps out at me in this discussion is that sorcery seems to
>> have no problems interacting with the physical world, but technology 
>> not been shown to have any influence on sorcerous abilities.
>"Jenoine." Of course you mentioned them, and Verra does call what they
>do "magic" of a sort, but in that case we haven't seen any examples of
>technology at all in the stories. Except that we know metal attracts
>sorcery--but to know the effect of a Faraday cage on sorcery you'd
>have to test it. I suspect that letting Faraday cages block sorcery
>would probably not be Cool.

The only reason Blackwand and Pathfinder didn't immediately dispatch the 
Jenoine in /Issola/ is because they had developed their own 
Orb-equivilent, and were therefore using sorcery to defend themselves, so 
this doesn't really count as "technology countering sorcery", it was 
sorcery countering sorcery. It was only at that point that the Jenoine's 
stun-gun technology became the deciding factor. 

>On the other hand, if sorcery can affect the physical world, and
>technology can affect the physical world, and both parties live in the
>physical world: you can destroy technology by destroying its physical
>platform, and the same goes for sorcery. The only difference is that
>technology is something you *have* and not something you *are* (as
>Bruce Schneier might put it), which means replacement ammunition is a
>lot easier to produce than replacement sorcerers. This is a plus for

To a point. Depends on how effective the technology is in taking out the 
people who are trained in sorcery.

Gatling gun vs Sethra Lavode, who wins?

And the "ammunition" on the side of sorcery in this case is really 
"amorphia" not "people". You have to have people to fire the weapons. It's 
just a lot easier to train someone to fire a gun than it is to teach them 
to use sorcery (apparently). *This* is really the advantage that 
technology has in this case. 

At the same time, the Orb itself is really the only "weapon" we're dealing 
with on the sorcery side. Again, if that were destroyed or lost, then the 
battle is over. All your eggs in one basket again.

>I'm not sure why the Jenoine want access to amorphia so badly, but
>they're obviously much more capable with it than Dragaerans are,
>judging from events in /Issola/. Taking on Jenoine with only
>technology would make me much more nervous than taking on a bunch of
>Teckla conscripts with a few Dzur mixed in.

Well, how many of the Dzur are sorcerers? ;-)