Technology

The First Age is known as a time of unparalleled technology. Humans, Elves, Dwarves and their other mortal counterparts toiled in service to Dragons and Aberrations, as well as stronger, more powerful creatures like Devils, Demons, Daemons, Angels, and Azata. When the Shadow War began, humans had risen up and used the technology that had been crafted over the centuries against their masters, killing many of them and sending most into the Planes. Some races were completely eradicated on both sides of the conflict, leaving Humans and Orcs masters of the world due to sheer numbers, while the Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings had dwindled due to split loyalty.

Since the Orcs had reverted to a tribal state, and Humans saw all technological advancement as a reminder of their days in servitude, they cast aside much of it, destroying it altogether or otherwise forgetting the scientific achievement they had reached. The Dwarves were really the only race to continue the tradition of using technology – and even their understanding of it was very limited. The Nemeri, a race known for its technological prowess and innovation, had been completely wiped out in the struggle, even their underground cousins, the Svirfneblin.

In the two thousand years since the Shadow War, before the founding of the Holy Empire of Aritika, humans relied on relatively ancient methods for producing crops, caring for livestock, cooking, traveling, and fighting. Elves returned to their ancient ways, relying on their druids and wizards to nurture their food, create their homes, and otherwise take control of their society. Even today, the various Elven Chiefdoms that have been allowed to remain have a shaman of some sort at their head. Orcs continued their nomadic way of life, using cobbled-together instruments and tools to produce the strange and powerful weapons that they’re known to manufacture. Dwarves outside of human cities, living in the Redoubts of Visari, will still produce their alchemical weapons and armor, and have mastered weaponsmithing and siege weapons to a near art-form. They have also created different hydraulic methods of providing water through the dry and dusty mountains of northern Visari. Halfling innovation is non-existent, as they commonly follow the humans in whatever they do.

After the rise of the Holy Empire of Aritika, the world was changed by the discovery of saltpeter and the strange effects it produced when mixed with charcoal and sulfur. All of these things were incredibly easy to find in the vast, often mountainous deserts of Visari. The first alchemists to discover this invented a series of celebratory objects that would burst and explode into colors, often used in the various holidays of Se’harism. However, when this mixture (alternately called blackpowder, firedust, or smokegrain, depending on the region) was first put to military use, it changed the face of modern warfare in Aritika.

Non-Military Achievements

Outside of the realm of warfare, Aritikans have excelled in the realm of astronomical science, mapping and discovering the solar system surrounding Thirajin’s sun. They have contributed to the seasons and have accurately mapped out the expected seasons based on the orbit of Thirajin. They have also used high-powered telescopes to map out features of the moon. Their skill at turning a dead environment into a living one has also transformed much of the continent of Visari, turning some of the desert landscapes into food-bearing places through the use of irrigation techniques and some application of magic. Most notably are the inventions of the steam-belt and the printing press, both technologies have been spread throughout the world.

The steam-belt is a simple invention. It is a series of belts that are connected to gears that turn based on the elasticity of the belts. Hot steam and cold water are applied in an automated fashion through a pump system to rapidly cool and heat the rubber belts, causing them to turn a gear. The gear pulls the belt forward, preventing the belt from snapping in the places where the quick-acting heating and cooling is applied. The belts are further fixed by wizards on hand casting Mending spells. These belts allow for the quick production of goods, creating the first real “assembly lines.” This has also created a system wherein smaller versions of this technology can be used to propel carts at a slow speed, or used in conjunction with aranae silk rope to create elevators, allowing their cities to grow taller. The steam-belt has also created various farming implements, allowing wealthier farmers to forgo oxen and simply use a horse to pull a machine that tills the earth through mechanical blades that twist and turn based on the gears inside the machine. A water-based version of this is used for harvesting rice in very large quantities, allowing the Aritikans to produce massive quantities of wheat, quinoa, rice, and millet.

Perhaps the most startling invention of the last hundred years, the printing press has revolutionized the entire world — in some cases, literally. The Republic of Mistvale would not exist without the advent of the printing press. It’s a simple invention, designed to make books, scrolls, and maps incredibly easy to create. A series of characters are carved out of bone and set upon a collection of brass levers. There are three steps to creating a book; one is to arrange the characters and letters into the same copy as the book that one is attempting to replicate — sometimes this is done with large plate-blocks made out of gold or thin bronze; second, the plate or characters are dipped into ink; third, the inked characters or brass plate is pressed against a sheet of paper. Using this system, a series of newspapers has spread throughout all nations, and books have been made incredibly common, skyrocketing literacy rates. A good printer using an Aritikan letterpress can produce about 3,600 impressions on paper a day, or a little over ten copies of The Holy Testament of the First Maiden, the Se’hari holy book.

Printing press technology, using a screw-press, has accelerated other mechanical functions, such as the wine press in Valinos. Screw presses have also been used in the creation of indoor plumbing, by sluicing water through pipes built within homes by building up pressure in a largely automated and massive press set within the center of a city’s sewer system, increasing longevity rates for city-dwellers and ensuring cleanliness.

The Dwarves have used a rail system within their underground kingdom for centuries. What first began as hand-powered carts being moved over fixed rails became steam-powered engines powered by coal that travel upwards of forty miles per hour. In each of the Redoubts, there is a small station where Dwarves can enter and exit a train. A typical Dwarven train has eight cars and an engine with a storage caboose; there are three trains. This makes travel incredibly easy for Dwarves, and the tracks span thousands of miles all throughout Visari. There are tunnels that have been abandoned for years, on account of them leading to ancient ruins. Currently, the only trains that are in use are the ones that travel to the established Redoubts. Dwarves guard this technology jealously, and rarely – if ever – let an outsider or non-dwarf ride on their trains.

Military Achievements

As previously mentioned, the primary military achievement of the last few centuries was the invention of gunpowder. Aritikans, in their constant state of holy war, have further expanded on that discovery and created methods of rifling. The weapon that the Aritikan military is most well-known for is the Aritikan Scytheshot, a rifle weapon that has a breach action on the bottom of the barrel, allowing for a cartridge round to be placed into a slot behind the barrel. The hammer at the top of the weapon is drawn back and strikes the cartridge when the trigger is pulled, propelling a spinning led bullet and expelling the brass cartridge from a slot at the top of the weapon. Someone skilled in this weapon can fire ten times in a minute. Firearms technology, however, is nothing new. It’s said that it existed during the First Age, and also has been used by the Dwarves for centuries. Dwarven cannon is large enough that a cannonball fired can take down the sturdiest walls, and even dent walls made from adamantine — especially with the specially-prepared cannonballs for which the Dwarves are known.

Dwarven technology has been reverse-engineered by the Aritikan military scientist-alchemists and cannon are often employed on Aritikan naval vessels. On account of the spread of these weapons throughout the seas, almost every nation has a small arsenal of large-bore artillery. The most impressive Dwarven weapon that has yet to be reproduced is the crankgun. This weapon is a blackpowder weapon that includes about thirty rifled barrels connected to a chamber that uses a press to push lead balls, cloth packets of gunpowder and a striking plate into place. The barrels are placed by twos, and fan out in a fifteen-foot cone. The operator then turns a crank on the side of the weapon, which fires the muskets; if the crank is turned again, the weapon is loaded with lead balls; another turn applies the powder; a third applies the striking plate that allows the weapon to fire. With enough ammunition and blackpowder, this particular weapon could take down an entire legion in several minutes.

In the First Age, mortals had mastered the ability of flight without using spells. Magic did play a part, but was centered around crafted items that allowed a vessel to rise into the air. Most of these “airships” were destroyed, but some still exist. They are often used as mass-transit options for dignitaries from other countries, and are considered to be safer than traveling through the water. While not entirely a military invention, the Aritikan Empire has armed several of their airships with cannon, and have built makeshift bombing hatches for alchemists to drop their explosives onto targets from above. The arms race for these machines has begun, and while there hasn’t been an airship completed in almost four thousand years, the Valinosians are close to building the first modern airship.

Most airships are made out of a composite of darkwood and a metal called wolfram, with several slots in the “masts” that allow for large spheres. These spheres correspond to the elements of air and fire, which suffuse the ship with a magical energy allowing it to fly using thermal currents and wind. Wolfram has a very high melting point, allowing it to absorb a good deal of the heat without harming the darkwood. As most airships will land in the ocean or other water source, it also takes the brunt of the rapid cooling from the water. As wolfram (also known as tungsten) is an incredibly dense metal, it will usually not crack or break from the temperature change.

The Aritikans have created “barding” for their ships and airships made out of a mixture of mithril and Elysian bronze. This is usually draped over the bow and the stern, and often a coat of mithril will be placed alongside the vessel to ward off cannon or arrow fire. Valinos tends to employ wizards and sorcerers on their vessels, who spend a great deal of time casting spells to give greater resilience to their ships.

Magic plays a large part in warfare, as it always has. While not necessarily technological advancement, Valinos, Aritika, and Rhikari have created state-sponsored colleges that train wizards in Evocation magic, focusing on the direct application of destructive magics. Valinos also has a few other state-sponsored colleges of magic: one for Conjuration, and another for Abjuration. While most colleges of magic are small and privately-owned by wizards who have earned a fortune through adventuring or selling their abilities as mercenaries, these colleges allow anyone who seems to have a knack for magic — or is at least intelligent enough to understand how to cast higher-tier spells. Valinosian Abjurers turned the tide against a minor Aritikan invasion on the large island of Ivaris, where both countries hold colonies. By managing to dispel everything the Aritikan wizards had to throw at the Valinosian army, the Valinosian cavalry brought them into a rout and sent them back to the Aritikan colony of Colad.

On the opposite side of the world, the Ki-Taliqi have crafted a type of steel that is far superior to any other, even the fire-forged steel of Aritika and the frost-forged steel of Valinos. Taliqi steel is made by expert craftspeople, and can never go dull. It is extremely light, but extremely strong, able to withstand even the harshest punishment without breaking. The strange and exotic weapons of the Ki-Taliqi military are often made from Taliqi steel. While the Ki-Taliqi have not yet understood the rationale for firearms like the Aritikans, Valinosians, and (to a small extent) the Rhikarish, they hold their own through the fear brought about by their aptitude at combat and the fact that many of their soldiers don’t use weapons at all — and yet are still able to best even the strongest fighters on the enemy’s side. Martial arts have not yet spread to other countries, as the Ki-Taliqi monastic schools that teach them will rarely accept outsiders.

As the most long-lived species on Thirajin, the Elves have mastered the art of creating weapons and armor that focus on defense. An enraged and martially-skilled Elf will always be a terrifying sight, but it’s far more frightening to attempt to direct assault on an Elven-held territory. By utilizing the Elven gift of magic, along with the recent advancements in technology, Elves have created pneumatic traps that work based on pressure and pumps, often concealed in walls or underground. Even forests can end up being death traps with sections of earth suddenly becoming blood-slicked spear traps and hollows in trees splashing acid or boiling pitch on would-be invaders. Desert Elves have discovered a way of turning their caravans into weapons by creating scythed wheels and utilizing the strange lizard-like beasts that live in the deep desert as their cart-pullers instead of horses.

The Elven affinity for nature has always been the race’s most powerful asset, and this is not lost on the Druids that often lead and control their armies. When fighting against the Elves, it often seems like the landscape itself is at war with the opposing force. This has kept Aritikan forces from completely destroying the Elven race, and has also prevented colonization of their own lands on the continent of Velyria to the west of Visari.

Much like the Dwarves, the Elves have managed to create a siege weapon that outstrips much of what the humans have built. The boltsling is a large ballista-like weapon, with yard-long shafts of darkwood topped with chitin or crystal. Each boltsling contains six of these bolts, which are attached by several feet of cloth cord to keep them in place. The weapon is fired by turning a crank, which draws back a bowstring made from aranae silk. Then, the operator lowers the connected bolts down onto depressed notches on the top of the boltsling. The crank is then turned at the side of the weapon, drawing the bolts into place. With a third turn of the crank, the bolts are shot by the weapon all at once. A hooked blade protruding a foot from the weapon cuts the cable connecting all of the bolts together, sending them in a three yard cone. These bolts can punch through the strongest armor, and often are poisoned through the application of the venom of marsh and desert creatures. Boltslings are often kept high in trees, pointed down at the ground. In war, Elves use these to pin their enemies to the ground, allowing them to serve as a psychological tactic to frighten enemy troops as they come across their quickly-rotting former compatriots.

Finally, in Alaekor, while the followers of Araeism do not acknowledge war, they do acknowledge that they live in a terrible and often violent world. The Alaekish utilize their strange and powerful psionic abilities to their advantage. Thus far, no one has moved to fight them on account of fear, despite Alaekor not having a standing army. Instead, they have strong militias led by Human or Elan psions. Of all the strange disciplines that the Alaekish study, the ones dedicated towards violence are the most frightening. The Aegis, Soulknife and Psychic Warrior soldiers that will muster and defend their homeland have consistently pushed back any skirmishers with ease. No one has any real defense against their powers. This may change as Aritikan forces begin to push back at Mistvale once more in an attempt to re-establish dominance there. Since Mistvale’s primary ally is Alaekor, the Alaekish leaders are concerned that the Aritikans will figure out a way to counter their abilities. There are rumors that his has already been done.

Game Mechanics and New Weapons

The following is a list of new weapons and armors in the game, as well as new equipment.

Weapons

Light Melee Weapons Cost Dmg (S) Dmg (M) Critical Range Weight Type Special
Data Data Data Data Data Data Data Data Data
One-Handed Melee Weapons Cost Dmg (S) Dmg (M) Critical Range Weight Type Special
Data Data Data Data Data Data Data Data Data
Two-Handed Melee Weapons Cost Dmg (S) Dmg (M) Critical Range Weight Type Special
Data Data Data Data Data Data Data Data Data
Martial Ranged Weapons Cost Dmg (S) Dmg (M) Critical Range Weight Type Special
Data Data Data Data Data Data Data Data Data
Exotic Melee Weapons Cost Dmg (S) Dmg (M) Critical Range Weight Type Special
Scythe-Bayonet
Lightblade, Elven
Thinblade, Elven
Courtblade, Elven
Data
750 gp
50 gp
100 gp
150 gp
Data
1d6
1d4
1d6
1d8
Data
2d4
1d6
1d8
1d10
Data
20 / x3
18-20/x2
18-20/x2
18-20/x2
Data


-
-
Data
2 lbs.
1 lb.
3 lbs.
6 lbs.
Data
S
P
P
P/S
Data
fixed weapon
finesse
finesse
finesse, 2H
Data
Exotic Ranged Weapons Cost Dmg (S) Dmg (M) Critical Range Weight Type Special
Aritikan Scytheshot
Data
750 gp
Data
1d8
Data
1d10
Data
20 / x3
Data
40 ft.
Data
7 lbs.
Data
B&P
Data
see above, trip

Technology

Drifting Sands, Drifting Souls somasatori