Saturday, August 27, 2016

Crashed Space Ships and Tech Gods

Okay I'm bored today so let's bash out a good original post on Technology and Deities in Greyhawk.

Greyhawk is full of contradiction when it comes to the functionality of technology in the setting. For example, black powder isn't supposed to work unless you're a deity like Murlynd, or if you're a paladin of Murlynd then you get an exception too. But in general it's an unwritten rule (for DM's personal preference) that anachronistic technology isn't supposed to work on Oerth. Until it does.

Crashed spaceships in the Barrier Peaks yield ray guns and robots. A City of the Gods and frozen automatons lay at the fringes of the Land of Black Ice. Futuristic sailing ships are caught in a tropical sargasso. Ancient artifact level machines and mechas stay hidden until found by adventurers. Gates to alternate Earths can be found that work both ways. I'm sure if Greyhawk had enjoyed an unbroken line of development from the 80's to present we'd have even more instances by now. The point is a variety of genre-mixing technology is there if a DM knows where to find it or if they want to keep it out of their medieval fantasy then no one is the wiser.

What if we ignore the Epoch of Magic and apply all the above examples as overt changes to the setting? Put another way, what if tech and magic mingled freely in Greyhawk? Perhaps an Epoch of Magi-tech. Well we might end up with a world more like Eberron I'd assume. Automaton/Robot "warforged" would become a viable PC race. Larger magitech monsters and vehicles would become more common blurrign the line of science and necromancy. I'm imagining Final Fantasy type flying ships, larger golem-like machines leading sieges. Black powder weapons of course would lead to an explosion of crafting and alchemist class characters. None of these advances precludes magic users either, it only enhances them.

Deities would need a slight make over as well:
Murlynd would be the prototypical hero-god of magitech; the bar by which all adventurers are measured.
Boccob, Delleb and Zagyg certainly jump into the weird magic-tech mashup with even more futuristic arcane objects.
Hextor (and perhaps others like Heironeous) as god of war would lead in cutting edge machines of war both on land and at sea.
Moradin, Fotubo and their like would not be outdone in the crafting department though.
Gods like Xerbo, Zilchus and Bralm would encourage and profit off the tech's spread to common folk.
Stranger deities like Celestian, Tsolorandril and the entire Olman pantheon would also focus eyes to the stars way more than they do currently.
And I don't even want to think about Tharizdun paired with technology!

So yes, magic and tech in Greyhawk can make for an exciting fantasy world. It's all a matter of how far do you take it?


Armitage said...

As far as the Warforged are concerned, by making them more clockwork in nature, and much rarer, I use them as creations of ancient Baklunish magic, like the Apparatus of Kwalish. The secret of their creation was lost in the Invoked Devastation.
Instead of being newly created during a recent war, they were recently discovered in a magical storehouse, where they had been sitting in stasis since the Suel-Bakluni War.

Paul W said...

"Futuristic sailing ships are caught in a tropical sargasso." Huh, can you tell us the source for this one?

It interests me, because our teen-aged campaign in '80 ignored the 'gunpowder doesn't work' rule, and we had something of a tech arms race after a player took over the Barrier Peaks spaceship. One of my players, an elven thief, sailed his ship (the Sea Ghost from U10 through a gate into the American Revolution and returned with an 18th century frigate with which he harried the slavers of the Sea Princes until their fleets finally sunk it.

Armitage said...

The Glossography from the first World of Greyhawk boxed set.

The Jungle of Lost Ships
"There is a ship made of metal, with no mast or oars, and charts of unknown seas."