D&D General Technology in D&D, the IRL Timeline, and Pausing It.

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
There would be way fewer whales.

Plausibly. OTOH, given the stuff that tends to live in the deep wide oceans in D&D setting worlds, whaling seems less likely to be as big a thing as in the real world.

Unless the world is as magic heavy as the core books imply but few DMs run, it would be a considerable necessity as peat bogs and forests evaporate in places where they aren't full of PC fodder. Societies need fuel, plain and simple.

Was whale oil mostly used for lighting and as a lubricant?

I think the biggest reason that technology doesn't advance the same in a fantasy world is that there are alternatives to solve many problems - Magic!
I wonder if ruby mining would become the big thing for continual flame (50gp and you get a forever lantern that you can pass down as an heirloom) -- or if there would be a market for apprentice mages to wander the town for a few hours every night casting a ton of light cantrips until the families went to bed.
 

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I think the biggest reason that technology doesn't advance the same in a fantasy world is that there are alternatives to solve many problems - Magic!

When magic can easily solve problems, why look for new ways to solve the problems that are no longer problems. D&D Setting is pretty high magic. Why would advance medical techniques be developed when you just need to take someone to the nearest church for a 1st level cleric to cure their wounds? Why experiment with guano to figure out you can make gunpowder with it when you can use guano to make fireballs?

Those scholars, that in our world figure out technological advancements, are more likely to be studying magical solutions to problems than tech fixes. Why study chemistry when potion making has much more dramatic effects?

Technological advancements are always build on what has come before, by standing on the shoulders of giants. But when the (possibly literal) giants used magic, the new advances will rely on what works, what gets the best results, which is of course magic.

It feels like that's where it comes down to how much magic you have. For Eberron it makes sense. For a world with a lot less magic, maybe the magic solutions are as common as the great artists or mathematicians with the few that are out their snapped up by royal families offering patronages.

For healing, how far do two cure light would spells go? And I wonder if they would develop a lot better disease tracking. Lesser restoration and the paladin ability would help a lot if you caught it early... but not so much when the infection is on the lose.

To me there is not need to suspend belief that technology has not developed the same in a world with magic. It take more suspension of disbelief to believe that the world developed as close to our world as it is portrayed. I think if cavepeople had magic to solve problems, we probably wouldn't have developed medieval level technology in the first place. Problems would be solved with magic rather then technology.

Which kills almost every fantasy book out there that takes anything vaguely real world as a jumping off point?


This is of course another thing to consider. Would any societies ever become institutionalized in a world where create or destroy water existed? History suggests probably not, or at least not in the same way. Though a possible alternative might be that such magic is the product of institutionalization. A technology developed by the wizards in their magical academies.

The easy way out there is to just play A5E-LevelUp. The water from create or destroy water isn't potable there. :-/
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Gunpowder is the big one. Even fossil fuels & electricity are only as big of an issue as you let them be because there are ample ways to make a flaming puddle already & it's difficult to pack a liquid in against a door or something. The trouble with gunpowder is that d&d type settings are not ones where shadowrun style hypermaterials capable of withstanding explosives are used regularly & players wind up with mountains of gold for various good reasons. Combine those two & bludgeoning the resulting explosives tend to wind up being just as stable (if not more so) as the advanced demolition/antipersonnel charges & such in shadowrun. Games like shadowrun have rules for restricted tech & societies setup in ways that make carrying it about rather difficult to accomplish casually while d&d has neither


One area that d&d type worlds would be leagues ahead of us is pasteurization simply because sousvide cooking in mason jars & similar would be trivial with precision cantrips like prestidigitation. Not only does sousvide cooking tend to involve cooking at temps well below what is generally considered to be the danger zone for bacterial growth, it also dramatically changes the taste & texture of many foods if you play around with the time & temp within safe limits. It's been around commercially for much longer (ie 80s maybe 90's) but reasonably inexpensive consumer sv gear like the anova has only been around about 10 years & has gone through tons of exploration as it moves towards being a mature cooking style.
 

Greggy C

Hero
I didn't realize it wasn't! Google says:

I'm not sure if I fully buy the explanation. Seems like a bit of a cop out. My understanding of a bastard sword is that it larger than a longsword, cannot be used one-handed. I was curious if "bastard" was a word they just didn't want to use in modern dnd books. And "hand-and-a-half" was just too much of a tongue twister.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Steel.

Altho steel has existed since the 1800s BCE during the Bronze Age, such as in north Turkey, the prized quality and mass production of wootz ingots comes from south India and Sri Lanka since the 500s BCE during the Classical Age. (The name wootz somehow derives from Tamil urukku.) Yet it mainly becomes accessible and famous in Europe during the Medieval Age, say, from about the 800s CE.

For most of the Medieval Age, swords of this high quality steel are effectively magic items.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I'm not sure if I fully buy the explanation. Seems like a bit of a cop out. My understanding of a bastard sword is that it larger than a longsword, cannot be used one-handed. I was curious if "bastard" was a word they just didn't want to use in modern dnd books. And "hand-and-a-half" was just too much of a tongue twister.
The term "hand-and-half" is a recent archeological term and describes the grip only. A "longsword" with a blade over three feet might be "two-handed, hand-and-half, or one-handed", depending on whatever grip its wielder prefers.

Note, it is possible to wield a longsword such as a claymore, one-handed.
 



prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Women's corsets from the non-oil part...

Wasn't it used for lubrication until pretty recently? (Until outlawed).
Yeah. Lighting, lubricant and soap. And whalebone was used for foundation garments, and at least sometimes decoration (scrimshaw). Also, with a little research, things like umbrella/parasol ribs, backscratchers, baskets, and buggy whips--and, I was surprised to see, bows.
 

MGibster

Legend
The step pyramids of Saqqara were built around 2630 BCE, probably on a Tuesday, and the first use of a firearm to around 1364. And in the 14th century we're talking crude and rudimentary firearms predating the matchlock. I know we're not talking about one contiguous civilization here, but there's about 4,000 years of history after the first pyramids were constructed that humans were still using bows, spears, and swords. It's absolutely believable that firearms might not be developed for even longer. But the real reason why I don't want firearms in my fantasy games is because it takes away from the fantasy aspect.

Was whale oil mostly used for lighting and as a lubricant?
Yes. The industrial revolution was not a good time to be a whale.
 

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