Monday, August 4, 2014

The Center Cannot Hold: Magic and Technology 1

"In a prior age, just a pistol would be a wonder.  But the things these artifice and machines can do- ah.  So much more awaits us."
Professor of Artifice, Tyana Goldmane

Gunpowder and Firearms

Gunpowder is one of the inventions devised by the Gear-Priests- many other innovations they've created have radically changed the way lives throughout Crux and the world work.  Gunpowder allowed even common folk the means to topple tyrants.  But gunpowder isn't the only wonder to grace the world of late.  Printing presses and new kinds of engines have kick started some new kind of revolution throughout Ith and Ainesia.  When combined with magic and other concepts, even the poorest person has access to learning and knowledge once relegated only to private collections.  Many things have had their prices drop as more new means of production reduce the costs to create them.

These new means created new jobs.  When Ith and Othebea banned serfdom, countless people flocked to cities, creating labor forces that earned more coin than before.   Something new emerged- a middle class.  Various items in Crux are far cheaper than they had been before.  Food and metalwork are cheaper than in prior eras.  Typically this means items in a city tend to be at 50% or 60% of their cost listed.

Artifice and Magic Items

Artifice refers to any semi-magical device created by artificers.   Although only a feat and no class is the domain of Artificers, most tend to accept the benefits of such work regardless.  Artifice uses basic magic principles to create quasi-magical effects, but don't require any magical talent to create.  Some use alchemical compounds, while others use principles of transmutation and evocation to perform their functions.  Unlike magical items, Artifice requires occasional maintenance, or it falls apart.

Artifice includes things like the Iceplate, which can create constant chill and cold temperatures in a enclosed space, or the Synchronized Bell, where one bell rings should its partner bell be rung, as long as they are within a mile of one another.  Very cheap, and first thought of as toys, modern Artifice creates devices that help improve life for everyone.

The basis of creating established artifice lies with Schema.  Schema contain blueprints and designs for creating artifice, and any artificer can create any artifice so long as he has the schema for it.  Artificers have also created schema for a variety of magic devices, including most known wondrous and magic weapons.

Spell Patents

Othebea, and later Ith, established the concept of spell patenting.  Any particular spell recently invented requires a licence to be purchase before any version of it can be learned by those other than the spell's creator.  Typically spells have a patent life of twenty years.  Most common spells are public domain, but other, more modern spells are patented.  Schema can be patented too.

Because the creator originated the spell, casters of the spell have to be able to prove they have the proper licensing for that spell.  Of course, this only matters to those who can identify the spell, and care enough to enforce that law.  In Ith and Crux, the Office of Magical Patents is the closest thing to a actual enforcement agency for such patents.  That said, illegal piracy of patented spells is still a crime in Ith and Crux, albeit one that isn't heavily policed.

Illegal Spells 

Ithic and Othebean law have also listed some spells as illegal, outside of self defense.  Most of these spells are destructive.  Any spell that could trigger a fire or cause serious damage to a city are restricted in their use.  Spells like Fireball or Wall of Force are regarded as dangerous weapons, and their misuse is sometimes in the same category as guns or any other dangerous power outside the direct control of the state.  Typically this is punished through a fine, but if any damage caused by the spell leads to a death, it is tried as murder.

There is a divine magic loophole to be noted.  Called the Priest's Right, Ithic law carries it over from the same Othebean law it is based on.  The Priest's Right allows for divine spellcasters to be exempt from the prohibitions on illegal spells.  Of course, provided the accused can enact it.  If they don't, the exemption doesn't apply.  But it is a means through which some Church operatives manage to evade the law.

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