Part II - Technologies Absent on Calydorn
Many technologies in our world have never developed on Calydorn and there are specific reasons why that is the case and why most will never appear in the future either. Let’s look at some notable examples.
Gunpowder was a game-changer in the military history of our world, surpassed only by the stirrup and the atom bomb, so why hasn’t anyone accidentally stumbled upon the formula for gunpowder on Calydorn?
Firstly we need to realize that chemical elements on Calydorn are not the same as in our world; meaning the periodic table and the elements and chemical compounds along with their reactions are just not the same in the world of Godslayer. When we speak of water on Calydorn, we are not describing an element that has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom; we are instead talking about a substance which possesses basically the same properties as water does in our world, with similar texture, specific heat capacity, boiling point, tension, pressure etc. We call it water on Calydorn but it really isn’t water by strict definition. Instead, Calydorn’s water it is fundamentally a manifestation of the primary element of Ice, and contains trace amounts of Air, Earth and Shadow.
Many scholars of Calydorn referred to collectively as the Rationalists have come to believe that all the chemical elements of their world consist of a varying number of the five elements (earth, air, fire, ice & shadow), bonded together in distinct configurations by the 12 forces of the Keraunoi. In this way, reality is created by a combination of these two separate forces.
This might be true....or it might not be. No-one alive today has both the ability and the interest to examine reality at a molecular level. Sorcerers can see the forces of the Keraunoi, but they are blind to the elements, conversely, Mages can keenly sense the quantity of each element present, but cannot sense the twelve Keraunoi. Perhaps this is how the mythical Mother Goddess of the cosmos wished it to be. For if one mastered both forces, then that person would be immeasurably powerful. Even the Rune-masters cannot manipulate both forces; instead they convert them into a neutral third form of reality.
So water on Calydorn actually consists of the primary element of Ice, along with some parts Earth and Air, but with little or no Fire. These primary atoms are held together in a specific pattern by certain of the 12 Keraunoi forces. As water is subjected to Fire, it gains atoms of elemental Fire and its pattern of bonds changes. Once it boils, it changes state, gaining a greater number of primary atoms of Air. This is one theory among many discussed by the philosophers of the current age.
Iron on Calydorn is very much like Iron in our world, but it is chemically a totally different substance. Gunpowder (saltpeter and sulfur) react chemically in our world, but on Calydorn, there is no explosive combustion when these two substances are combined and subjected to heat. To be more accurate, there are substances similar to sulfur and saltpeter on Calydorn, but they are chemically not the same substances as in our world and do not combust.
The closest substance to gunpowder on Calydorn would be Naphtha. The Mortan Empire has developed weapons, using this sticky, combustible liquid distilled from tar. They sometimes mix it with distilled alcohol, oil, magnesium etc. to change its properties. This stuff is highly flammable and not at all safe to be around but not explosive. This makes it impractical for mass transportation and storage. However, it does have practical and psychological effects on the battlefield, so it is employed by the Mortan Empire’s Technostratum on a limited scale.
Coal, peat, charcoal and even wood can boil water in pressurized cans, so why are there no steam-trains on Calydorn?
Firstly because all races have access to magic, and gods really do exist which can be called upon, technological development has no established tradition upon Calydorn. We take for granted the technological race in our lives as normal, but in a world where there are forces far more powerful than technology, invention and development rarely flourish. When people sought better methods for healing, they usually developed better healing spells. With no tradition of science, there is no systematic approach to subjects like medicine, construction, mechanics or chemistry. There certainly has been some experimentation, and occasionally some philosopher, general, healer or alchemist advances their particular field through better understanding of anatomy, discovering new chemicals or improvising a new device, but most cultures have not survived more than a couple of thousand years, and as they die, they take their knowledge with them to the grave.
Steam-power does exist on Calydorn, but finely crafted metal is expensive and riveting is rather basic, making this oddity the plaything of the wealthy. These rich patricians, philosophers and merchants possess at the same time the greatest access to magic and divine power, as well as plentiful slaves. For this reason, steam-power has remained largely an interesting diversion with few practical applications. Why would a wealthy Mortan Patrician spend decades developing a steam paddle boat when he can buy 50 slaves today for a fraction of the cost? There is just no great need to be filled for the wealthy, and the poor lack the knowledge, resources and time to work on such a technology.
Most cultures are prejudiced in favor of their own gods and magic and are closed-minded about other systems, including technology. For example, a Dwarven farmer in Nordgaard and a Wyldfolk crofter in Annyrion would rather rely on their own muscle, magic and prayers than touch a steam-pump. Such a device would be an abominable device of evil.
Many of Calydorn’s cultures are pantheistic, worshipping groups of deities, and for the most part those gods are keen to keep their worshippers praying, since the energy of prayer sustains and empowers the deities. And so it is that in most pantheistic cultures such as the Halodynes, Wyldfolk, Nordgaard, and many others, the gods discourage technological advance. In the mythical days of the Halcyon Age, technology was one of the shiny baubles which drew millions of Mortals away from worship of the Asrae gods. The Asrae learned a hard lesson from this, and are not eager to re-experience the catastrophes which resulted from their decline in power.
Steam-power has its greatest proponents on Ghorn within the Mortan Empire, because the Empire is the main advocate for technological advance. A few large Manufactorum make use of steam power. Nevertheless, windmills and watermills are still far more common since they are cheaper and easier to construct using wood.
Electricity in our world is a property of electrons, and since electrons do not exist on Calydorn, there is no “electricity” as such. There are however some similar forces. Lightning is an energy created by the primary element of Air, and Wind-Mages know how to create or channel lightning with certain spells.
Conversely, magnetism is a property of the primary element of Earth, and is a force Earth-Mages can create or manipulate. Earth and Air are opposing elements and there are interactions between lightning and magnetism, but these interactions do not follow the same laws of electro-magnetism of our world.
Both lightning and magnetism have been harnessed for use with tools, defenses and weapons, but not on a large scale. Their manipulation is very rudimentary, employing massive rods of metal rather than electrical wire.
Steel & the Iron Age
Why do the majority of cultures on Calydorn employ bronze instead of the superior metal of steel; why has there been no sweeping iron-age?
There are cultures which work iron because it is more readily available in their vicinity, but in most locations bronze is far more common. Bronze also remains superior to iron because of iron's brittleness and greater weight. In terms of arms and armor, only the Trolloth work iron with regularity, and quite often they use alternating thin layers of lead and iron to make scales for their armor.
Copper and tin are the most commonly used metals in everyday life for many cultures – for pots and pans and tools etc. – but even these metals are a luxury in many cultures, with wood, bone and glazed ceramics taking their place.
The term “steel” describes two different materials on Calydorn. Firstly there is low-grade “Crude Steel” which is an alloy of iron and carbon and some other metals. Then there is “True Steel” which remains a secret only Earth-Worshipping cultures possess, for the creation of True Steel requires the use of elemental earth-magic to align the molecules into correct patterns. True Steel would be rather like steel in our world today, whereas low-grade steel employed by the Mortans is only 10-20% harder than bronze and 10-20% less brittle than iron.
Iron is not exactly a rare metal in Godslayer, but it is far less common than in our world, while tin and copper (used to make bronze) exist in plentiful locations all across Calydorn. Copper and tin deposits are common on the surface of Calydorn, while iron tends to be buried deep underground.
For these reasons, bronze remains the most commonly used metal for war, and is in fact culturally associated with violence. As in our world, bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, requiring lower temperatures for smelting and working than iron or steel, and are more commonly available. Because of this, bronze will always remain the primarily metal of weapons and war.
The vast majority of cultures on Calydorn employ bronze weapons and armor. On Ghorn that means the Wyldfolk and the Halodynes. So too all the conquered states now belonging to the Mortan Empire, the Karkhosian Bedouins (descendents of the Theocracy of the Sacred Flame), the White Horse Animists, and the Kassobari states (remnants of the Kassobari Khanate), as well as many others. The Banebrood and Gnolls have very limited skills and mostly scavenge any armor they possess. Only the Mortans and Nordgaard have access to steel, and only Nordgaard possess the secret of True Steel. Even in these two nations bronze remains the most common metal in use.