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Ten Thousand Years Ago Or So

Discussion in 'Roleplaying Forum' started by ytzk, Dec 15, 2015.

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  1. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    In the far east on the very edge of prehistory, there was a city of technologists who pretended to be wizards.

    They weren't all-knowing or all-powerful compared to nature, but they were able to convince people they were, even themselves.

    Anyway, towards the beginning of the end of the beginning of civilisation as we know it, a million or so people lived in a kind of stage magicians' fascist theotechnocracy, centred on a fortified city with electric lights and flushing toilets.

    It wasn't all hygiene and light bulbs, though, the city had a dark side. Eugenics, behavioural conditioning and experimenting on humans was also rife, and a part of their technology. Drug crazed assassins, "Typhoid Mary"s and charismatic zealots were among their many "tricks".

    By and large, though, the city was a paradise. Comfortable and civilised, it was an island of good manners and education in a world of axe wielding rape gangs.

    There are trading posts all over the world, and many people were offered scholarships and a place among the freemasonry of scientists. They were elitist fascists, but they weren't racist.

    [So, you can roleplay as any caste, with almost any skillset and steampunk level technology. You can also be a eugenically engineered freak with unusual abilities and/or a technology you believe to be magic or divine.]

    [EXAMPLE - opium addict viking brainwashed into believing he is cursed as a werewolf but really just goes berzerk when he hears certain trigger words OR a librarian who knows just about all of the magic 'tricks' but is a terrible performer ETC]
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
  2. Grossenschwamm

    Grossenschwamm Well-Known Member

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    Haddwin, Master of the Energetic Aether.
    Haddwin has created a device that projects streams of extremely hot, ionized gas a short distance.
    Not entirely versed in its operation when he first made it, he has a few horrible burn scars on his hands and body. This merely adds to his aura of mystery, as he would describe it; people generally believe things that are very hot have minds of their own, so he obviously had to gain its trust before he could use it the way he does.
    The Energetic Aether is projected from a wand that's connected to a copper wire and a hose made of leather, and threaded through his sleeve to the stage below. A hushed steam dynamo powers a large automated bellows under the stage. The sound from the bellows expanding is explained by Haddwin as "The gods graciously allowing me to tap into their might." Following the bellows reaching full capacity, Haddwin will shift his weight onto a pressure plate that wires dozens of dynamos together for three seconds of what can be simply described as "blinding." The bellows rapidly contracts, forcing air through the hose, and the small generators arc the sum of their power in the core of the wand, resulting in a roaring tornado of lightning. Haddwin will use this time to cut through thin rods of copper or iron, after which point he'll show the bisected metals to the audience...at least, those who can still see after he's finished tapping into the unlimited power of the Aether. Most members of the audiences he entertains leave with injuries common to welders without proper face masks. He himself wears a set of spectacles on stage that allow him a small horizontal slit of vision, which protects his eyes from much of the damage they'd otherwise face. He's still gradually losing his eyesight, but at a much slower rate than his repeat customers.

    Haddwin is unable to perform his feats without his power stage, though he does have access to a micro-dynamo he wears on his waist that powers a pair of shocking knuckle guards. He's not an amazing hand to hand combatant, but using these electrified gauntlets allows him to knock out an unsuspecting opponent, or allow him time to flee. His dream is to make the air flow and power source for the wand portable, but that would require far more engineering expertise than he currently possesses.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
  3. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now, in the City of Magicians, demonstrations of cutting-edge technological marvels were a popular street-art, attracting donations and admirers.

    In the lands neighbouring the city's empire, it was considered pure sorcery, and it served as a deterrent to bandits and invaders.

    In the towering citadel at the heart of the city, where the real science and realpolitik took place, they were considered grant applications, for the wealth of the city was carefully rationed according to the ruling council's notions of 'merit'.

    The energetic ether machine was highly regarded both for its demonstration of natural law as well as its theatrical value, and Haddwin was given a large grant to allow development of more effecient versions. Of course, he is also obliged to submit all his blueprints, as well as oversee the construction and installation of an energetic ether projector into the momumental brass dragon built over the city gates.

    The council of mages had a saying, "if it can scare a barbarian, good, if it can burn him to dust, even better." They didn't mind investing in over-kill, it was always good advertising.
     
  4. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now the city was rich because of its large and cooperative population, and they had achieved that mostly through medical science.

    Plague was a growing problem in agricultural settlements throughout the warming, tropical band, and disease had always been the witchdoctor's first responsibility. So as the 'priesthood' of the magicians had evolved into scientists, they had naturally focused their science first and foremost on these endemic, nation-killing 'curses'.

    Over many centuries, they imported medicinal plants and expertise from all over the world, both civilised and wild, studied and improved on it, and wrote it all down. They invented sewers and built the world's first dedicated hospital.

    So, as terrifying as lightning from heaven may be, people were more often worried about their children surviving cholera, and more impressed by effective medicine, at the end of the day, than by light shows. It is one thing for a wizard to threaten you with fire, it is quite another when he saves your life from a curse.

    The hospital was, therefore, as much about defense and public relations as the plasma breathing dragon, and its doctors and staff worked sincerely to bring little miracles to people every day.

    In the gardens bounding the hospital, many exotic and experimental plants are cultured for medicinal use. The gardens are overseen by an old woman named Doctor Kiata, originally an apprentice to a witch from the caspian sea, but immigrated on an exchange as a young woman. Though in her eighties she remains incredibly healthy, and she is still widely considered to be the greatest physician on earth.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
  5. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now far to the west, another evolution of the age-old farmer-priest dichotomy was occurring. Bandits had evolved into warlords and warrior-kings. City-states along the coasts and rivers were maintaining standing armies, and experimenting with empires. A warrior named Thon-gar called the Great, had recently toppled a city of fire priests, not too distant from the City of Magicians, and started expanding into an empire.

    He was aided by a mysterious sage, who was thought to be a rogue magician, and his steady rise in power on their border was making the council very nervous.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
  6. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Now of all of the inventions of the city, the most useful and spectacular was the trained elephant and, like most inventions, the engineering was much trickier than the theory.

    In the end, they had thrown orphans at orphaned elephants until one of the survivors had systematized the practice of showing a little respect, you bastards, and the cooperative elephant brigade was born.

    A very, very few elephants were trained for battle, which is a friendly way of saying "this one is a killer, don't piss him off". Among them was King Non (lit, baby), a monstrous old bull with a toothache and arthritis but an amazing amount of restraint. His "trainer" is the grandson of the original trainer, and King Non tolerates noone else.

    In exchange for extreme drudgery - like knee deep shovelling shit drudgery - and constant danger of crushing death, this boy was every now and then able to pilot the world's most badass bulldozer/war machine, and he thought it was totally worth it. He had a name but it rarely mattered, because of the giant elephant standing right there.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016

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