A steampunk theme in a medieval setting?

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A friend of mine (TheVizier) and I are creating an epic campaign in which (4 or 5 PC's including myself and my co DM and his PC) embark on a lengthy two year quest to stop an ancient evil from returning to an already troubled world. Ill go into details in another post. However what we or "I" am trying to think of is an "excuse" of why in our campaign technology is somewhat "advanced" for a medieval setting. For example or campaign is centralized in a metropolis in which there are many large towers (no larger than 30 stories) and in our world that is yet to be named we have steam locomotives, zeppelins, and steam tanks. Similar to the "Empire" in Warhammer, if not "VERY" similar because we will be using citadel miniatures frequently.

The big question is that in reality, the industrial revolution fueled by the advent of steam engines played a MAJOR part in arms development and subsequently eliminated the mass production of hand-to-hand combat weapons and started the "mass production" of muzzle loaded black powder weapons such as cannons and rifles. Now the BIG question is, how can we make an "excuse" why in our campaign we have steam locomotives and zeppelins, yet the inhabitants of our world still require swords, axes etc.. etc.. for combat or even mass warfare, even though they already have the technology to create assault rifles, machine guns, and other modern armament? Please dont recommend "Tradition" or "Contraband" as an excuse cause it wont work well and its too simple.

On a lighter note, there are black powder weapons in our world but each is handcrafted and uses little or no machinery at all to produce, therefore making them rare.
Now the BIG question is, how can we make an "excuse" why in our campaign we have steam locomotives and zeppelins, yet the inhabitants of our world still require swords, axes etc.. etc.. for combat or even mass warfare, even though they already have the technology to create assault rifles, machine guns, and other modern armament? Please dont recommend "Tradition" or "Contraband" as an excuse cause it wont work well and its too simple.

D&D has something that the middle ages didn't: Hit Points. Okay, really there's a lot of things different. Your first mistake is thinking "middle ages" instead of "medieval-themed fantasy universe. Trust me, that small shift in thinking makes alot of D&D-based fantasy worlds make more sense. But I digress. Back to hit points.

First, I'm going to assume that your "modern armaments" are reasonably balanced against core weapons, and are no more powerful than what an exotic weapon proficiency feat should warrant.

If this assumption is true, people in your psuedo-steampunk world would still use swords and axes amidst guns and cannons for the same reason they use them against longbows, fireballs, and wands of disintergrate. D&D combat is not as deadly as it would be in real life because with have hitpoints, and all of the damage abstraction that comes with it. And hitpoints make people a hella-lot tougher than they would be in RL. In real life, if you shoot a guy in the face with pretty much any ranged weapon (bow, gun, sling stone), he's going to be dead. In D&D, if you shoot a guy in the face with pretty much any ranged weapon (bow, gun, sling stone), he's going to be ******. Then he's going to draw his greataxe and demonstrate what the Power Attack, Shock Trooper, and Leap Attack feats are for.

Now, if you made your modern weapons so powerful that they above is not true, then you have left standard D&D game balance. If this is the case, I suggest:

A) Use crossbow stats for guns. Simple, easy, quick, balanced. This is always my first suggestion in any thread that basically boils down to "How...guns...D&D?".
B) Rebalance your modern weapons against standard weapons to eliminate the power discrepancy, or use someone else's homebrewed modern weapons.
C) Rebalance the rest of the game to match your new weapons. I don't suggest this option to highly, as it requires lots of works.
D) Make swords, bows, and the like the standard weapons the "frontier". The frontier being those places where modern technology hasn't yet spread, and its therefore very hard to get your modern weapons resupplied. You can't buy bullets in the middle of the jungle.
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  • Technology/Culture has stalled. There has been no need to improve tactics, weapons, etc. from where it is currently they simply improve. As such medieval weapons are still viewed as proper-weapons because there has been no large-scale warfare to show their weakness in the face of the current technological warfare. It is likely too that because the focus is on improvement not new discoveries these old weapons have improved extremely.

  • Tactics of warfare/fighting is unique for the setting. For instance if cities are common, melee weapons and armour is viewed as viable since it is more likely to be engaged in close-combat rather then long-range warfare.

  • Tactics have merged. Instead of being replaced like we saw in our history; old and new tactics/weaponry have merged. Thus you have knights charging across the battlefield not with lances but with carbines and lobbing grenades behind them as they pierce the lines.

  • Treaties and agreements. Just like in modern times countries can make treaties that restrict the use of weapons in war. This could be similar in this campaign world, so to make up they use more traditional weapons to still have large armies.


Those are a couple ideas I could think of.
Well, for a real life example, look at the bayonette. Even into the early 1900's, these played a large role in infantry tactics. Until your weapons start having large magazines and rapidfire capabilities, sometimes a sword is just easier and more effective. Also quieter, if anybody is the sneaky sort. I say there's plenty of motivation there to carry melee weapons without having to contrive any world-fluff or restrictions at all. See also Fireclave's post.

If you did want a story reason, my natural instinct is to really play up the wonderous nature of these various items. Perhaps they were common, but for some reason the technologies or materials to recreate them have become limited or disappeared. You could take this as severe as letting people know how to maintain them and keep them working, but that's about it, or as simple as saying that black powder and steam machinery are just far to expensive for everybody to have them, so people make do with what they got.
thats the thing Fireclave, there are NO modern armaments in our campaign yet the technology to produce them is available, and what we're trying to figure out is an excuse why our inhabitants of our campaign do not produce "modern (real life) armament" if the technology is present.
One key element doesn't work the same: black powder. Perhaps in your world's chemistry, you need twice the powder under twice the pressure to generate explosive projectiles. This would effectively eliminate handheld black powder projectile weaponry, while still leaving room for canons, trains, zepplins, and all kinds of mad science.

By the way, I'd like to point you towards Privateer Press' Iron Kingdoms as one of my favorite Steampunk settings. Might be useful to mine for ideas. It's all 3.x material, but the fluff is fun IMO.
thats the thing Fireclave, there are NO modern armaments in our campaign yet the technology to produce them is available, and what we're trying to figure out is an excuse why our inhabitants of our campaign do not produce "modern (real life) armament" if the technology is present.

Apologies. And I had a long, detailed post, but my browser crashed. So excuse me if I sound overly brief.

Basically, if the technology exist, and if there are enterprising people exploring the use of the technology, eventually someone will find new and novel uses for it. And if those new uses fulfill a need or create a new one, they will eventually spread.

That said, here are a couple of solutions to your dilemma.

1) Don't fight it. If the technology is there, then let modern weapons appear in your setting. As I mentioned above, normal weapons and magic will stay viable and in common use as long as you keep the power any new modern weapons in line (think Final Fantasy, for example). However, if having modern weapons in your campaign setting just completely goes against the feel that you are trying to capture...

2) Remember that you are in complete control of the physical laws of your world. You could simply say that whatever your world's equivalent to black powder either does not work well enough to create weapons with, or does not work well enough to make them an obvious choice over conventional weapons. Perhaps the stuff is too unstable, too stable, too chemically (or magically) inefficient, or too expensive to process from its raw state.
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Youre right fireclave, I am in total control of my world and what I say goes. BUT let us not forget how exactly "modern firearms" came into the picture, around the 1860's the (Prussian Empire I think) started compressing black powder into small cyndrilical cartriges and topping them of with a pointed projectile (bullet) and at the same time developed a rifle that can be "breech loaded" by means of pulling a "bolt" up and back, feeding the bullet into the chamber, and simply by pulling the trigger, a "hammer" in the "bolt" will punch the back of the cartrige thus creating an explosion sending its projectile flying. The whole process takes about 10 seconds, heres a link to an article here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolt_action_rifle

As for my campaign, what I can say that is that Sulfur (a necessary compound of black powder) is difficult to come by so instead of using black powder, the inhabitants of my world can have "a liquid" that will not fuction efficiently if it is compressed into a metallic cartrige and works much better in muzzle loaded weapons such as cannons and hand rifles. By the way thanks heffronmc for the idea, same to you fireclave. (virtual handshake)
Historically there are examples of things that could have been invented, but just haven't been for any number of different reasons. With a modern education and viewpoint lots of things look obvious and simple, but without someone looking along the right lines it just doesn't happen.

Not everyone invented the wheel at the same point of development, the Chinese invented gunpowder long before it was known in Europe, but the invention of usable guns travelled the other way.

And just remember that because something is more technically advanced, doesn't mean it's better, I prefer analogue watches, a unit of archers is probably more portable, cheaper and won't jam/explode as much as an early multiple-barrelled repeating gun.
Aethergrey, your right about just because something is advanced dosent mean its better, getting back to guns for example, in "Reality" semi-auto rifles are much more complex than older bolt-action rifles, yet semi-auto rifles do poorly when it comes to "sniping" as opposed to using bolt-action rifles for precise targeting, that is why even today we still use bolt-action rifles for sniping and hunting even though they were the FIRST rifles that DO NOT require muzzle loading. Sure their designes have changed greatly since the 1860's but bolt-action rifles are STILL the premier precision targeting "equipment" for civillians and military organizations around the world.

As for archers and guns jamming etc. etc. Yes I am well aware that the chinese pioneered the use of black powder long before anyone else however bows arent necessarily "easy" to manufacture as well as we think. For starters they can only be made of premium wood, then even if the "artisan" finds the wood, he or she must spend countless hours shaping the bow precisely and make sure there are no imperfections and the wood will stand up to extreme pressure. Not to mention the artisan must thread their own string and secure it to make sure it can stand up to pressure as well. And lets not forget how maticulous it is to make the arrows too. Its a long and tough job making bows and arrows, so for them being "cheap" I dont know about that one buddy. You might wanna try and mine for Iron ore (which is very common), rather than spend hours looking for premium wood.
Forgot to say that in reality, a simple deer hunting rifle runs from about $600-$2,000. But a hand made bow from an experienced artisan can run for about $4,000-????. So you might wanna have your archer(s) (If you play as one) make a quick trip to the local gun store and pick himself up a "Mauser Karabiner 98k" and take on some quests so he can afford himself a good bow ;)
Wow...

Yeah sorry, Cornholio. I'd try posting something up to support you, but everyone else has made compelling arguments and details, and my mind is in no state right now to think of something.
Forgot to say that in reality, a simple deer hunting rifle runs from about $600-$2,000. But a hand made bow from an experienced artisan can run for about $4,000-????. So you might wanna have your archer(s) (If you play as one) make a quick trip to the local gun store and pick himself up a "Mauser Karabiner 98k" and take on some quests so he can afford himself a good bow ;)

But handmade products are generally more expense than the same or similar mass produced products. More so when selling in larger volumes helps to keep prices down (as people don't many as many bows n' arrows compared to guns now-a-days).


You've brought up interesting points about real-life guns in your last few posts. But I suggest not focusing so much how guns function and cost in reality, for this is the road to madness, not Sparta. Threads that start debating the reality of guns turn into long, drawn-out arguments about the history of guns, the effectiveness of guns, guns-vs-full plate, how many d6's shrapnel is worth, gun/bow accuracy and range increments, blah, blah, blah. Typically, these arguments take up pages of forum posts and do little to help actually help introduce functional, balanced gun mechanics into the abstract game that is D&D. Eventually, you are going to have to A) accept that guns in D&D will only superficially resemble their RL equivalents, like most everything else in the game, or B) attempt to change the rules to more accurately reflect reality. And in that case, I suggest you start first by explaining dragons and work your way down to guns.
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Yeah your right fireclave, once people start comparing things to other things long drawn out arguments can start up. I suppose its the complex physics of projectile weaponry. Aside from that I think that I got my answers as for what to do about my inhabitants and the "missing" advent of modern firearms. I suppose what I can say that their black powder "equivalent" cannot be compressed into cartriges because it will loose its luster and become useless, therefore muzzle loaded firearms is the only alternative. And or simply there "isint enough War" in my world, therefore further research on projectile weapons is not necessary and nobody is interested in enterprising in firearms, only local government programs that make "limited amounts" of "muzzle-loaded" firearms for their local military organizations.

By the way, the reason why I know about guns is because I am somewhat of a marksman, im trying to save up some serious dough so I can buy myself an M4 carbine (the semi-auto variant of course) and go hunt some wild boar out in Texas, I hear they are becomming a big problem there.

link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M4_Carbine
By the way, the reason why I know about guns is because I am somewhat of a marksman, im trying to save up some serious dough so I can buy myself an M4 carbine (the semi-auto variant of course) and go hunt some wild boar out in Texas, I hear they are becomming a big problem there.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M4_Carbine

Heh. That M4 will take it to those wild pig, for sure. I'm curious though, why are you opting for the carbine for hunting? As a marksman I'm sure you own (or could obtain for cheaper) a 30-06 hunting rifle, which is arguably more accurate. The higher caliber will definitely help against boar as well, I wouldn't want a ****** off boar charging me with the little NATO round if I could have bigger. And having semi-automatic doesn't help your hunting marksmanship much, where the first shot is the one that counts.

M4's are a hell of a lot of fun to shoot, though, have fun with it.
Good question SteelMirror, the reason I want an M4 is:

1: Theyre bad ass
2: you can buy lots O' goodies for the M4 such as night vision/infared equipment.
3: The 30-06 is actually more preferable to use because of the massive size of the projectile, however the M4 is much lighter to carry around all day as opposed to a big honkin' M1Garand.

anyway an M4 is more "Me" and it actually has high reviews for hunting boar, or so ive read. Dont forget the wild boar isint necessarily a large creature so 1 or 2 rounds will do one in nicely.
Good question SteelMirror, the reason I want an M4 is:

1: Theyre bad ass
2: you can buy lots O' goodies for the M4 such as night vision/infared equipment.
3: The 30-06 is actually more preferable to use because of the massive size of the projectile, however the M4 is much lighter to carry around all day as opposed to a big honkin' M1Garand.

anyway an M4 is more "Me" and it actually has high reviews for hunting boar, or so ive read. Dont forget the wild boar isint necessarily a large creature so 1 or 2 rounds will do one in nicely.

They are indeed bad ass. I'm not going to argue with you about anything, because I love the M4. My unsolicited advice for you:

Make sure you aim carefully at the boar, they are mid-sized animals but I've heard from hunting buddies of them taking a full-on (if poorly aimed) 30-06 and running miles before they fall, and absorbing 9mm's to the head like bb shots. Avoid shooting the skull (shots can glance off) and get the heart.

Practice fire discipline. Using a semi-auto rifle where you can squeeze off shots as rapidly as you pull the trigger leads some people to get over-excited. Never rely on 2 shots to accomplish what 1 could do.

The M4 will take care of you if you take care of it. Clean it thoroughly at the end of every day that you fire it, and make sure you load clean magazines.

If all of this is stuff you know (and you probably do, if you are a regular marksman) I apologize for the unnecessary advice. I'm just excited for you to get that rifle!
Actually steelmirror your advice is as welcome as Christmas day. When I said "somewhat of a marksman" that means that I am an amateur with some experience, I currently "borrow" a Mauser 98K rifle, the 1930's variant used in WWII, its a great rifle but it kicks like a horse with a toothache. Its a great rifle of course but I prefer carbines. In case youre wondering who I borrowed the rifle from its my grandfather, he lets me use it whenever I go on my "excursions". And of course I wont go to Texas without it too, only thing about it is the bolts "handle" is fixed upright thus disallowing scopes to be mounted on it, but I'm a good shot anyway so it wont be that much of a problem.
In the real world their was a time in Europe after black powder was introduced when little was done to progress guns nor were they extremely popular. Why? Gunpowder requires sulfur, sulfur was hard to come by in large quantities. This was solved by the emergence of new farming techniques that enriched the soil with the sulfur needed. All you need to say is that in your world they never figured out that farming technique and now gunpowder is scarce enough that its limited however you see fit.

In the campaign I'm working on there is an island that's slightly steampunkish, but guns haven't spread to other kingdoms because they don't share the knowledge of how to farm sulfur.
Thats exactly the same thing I was thinking duzzle, however since sulfur is difficult to come by in my world I can easily say that sulfur farming has yet to be introduced or my planets geology disallows sulfur farming. As for your steampunk island, you can easily say that there is a contraband on technologies produced there. Something like that wouldent work well for my campaign. As for my gunpowder equivalent, it is a liquid that cannot be put into cartriges so the only guns that are effective are muzzle loaded in which the "operator" pours the liquid down the barrel, shoves a small piece of tissue down the barrel following the projectile. EXACTLY like real world "muzzle-loaded" weapons.
This may or may not help, but in my setting, there are two nations that have developed a Vernian/Steampunk level of technology, but in different ways.

Just like RL tech didn't have to develop the way it did, the two nations basically followed two different forks I saw as possibilities for RL.

One nation developed steam power first and uses that to generate electricity.

The other discovered the internal combustion engine and fossil fuels.

Only one of these nations has traditional firearms, which, naturally are statted out like crossbows. (Have you seen what a crossbow will do to either flesh or armor? I'd say it's comparable to archaic firearms.)

In game terms, it lets my players have fun, the stats are balanced well enough, so I don't really care about the calculus :P

Not that I ever really do...
There's actually a similar issue in my current homebrew campaign. Basically, there are two major subcontinents. One is designed to culturally and politically resemble twelfth century Europe. The other is a sort of Humanist Steampunk Empire. Statistically and thematically, I treat the technology of the Empire as a sort of magic...here's how the distinction works out:

-Old Magic: Arcane and Divine power sources. Sets of rituals and chants, etc that produce supernatural effects, though people don't understand how, from a metaphysical point of view.

-High Magic: Technology. High Magic is the understanding of how the world works and its practical implementation.

The most accessible (low level) high magic is Renaissance-to-Victorian era explosives, firearms, and vehicles (trains, balloons, and zepplins) along with some minor fortune telling via astronomy. The most powerful high magic resembles future tech or alien tech. The true masters of the Empire rival the gods in power because of their advanced understanding of the world.

The reason that not everyone in the Empire is packing a 'God-Killing Hand-Cannon', or even a rudimentary musket, is that all pieces of technology are hand-crafted by artisans for use by artisans. When the party, made up entirely of people from the medieval region, encounters a gun-toting alchemist, that alchemist crafted his breach-loading pistol, brewed his various performance boosting intoxicants, forged his own shells and bullets, etc, etc.

The reason for this is a sort of guild/academy system. Members of a particular guild or traditional school of artisans jealously guard their secrets, so they tend not to sell goods, instead trading services. Example: the guild controlling knowledge of hydroponics trades food to the guild controlling knowledge of gunsmithing for protection. Within many of the guilds there are rival schools of craftsmanship. For example, in the guild that controls gunsmithing there might be a school that produces weopons that utilize air-pressure to fire, another that uses conventional black-powder, and yet another that uses magnetics.
In my campaign "magic" has its uses but none or little at all pertains to technology, in my campaign almost all countries have the same or similar levels of technology because there was once a world war some time before the campaign takes place, so a major "arms race" pretty much guarenteed to distribute technology equally throughout my world, not to mention after our world war there was more trade than anything therefore further distributing any technologies. I dont believe that two or multiple seperate countries can have different technologies or different levels of technology because "trade" is around to ensure that everyone is around to get a piece of the "big pie".

Back to magic, magic has little or NOTHING to do with technology in my world because all it is used for is mainly self defense or offense. Yes there are wizarding colleges but the only careers the colleges ensure are in defense ministries and local government military hierarchy. Yes many wizards or "magic users" go on to do great things in their apparently long lives but mostly it is in battle or was in battle. Little have anything to do with science because science is provable FACT that is used for everyone to input questions and recieve answers to their problems from figuring out equations, to building steam locomotives. And magic is altering ones environment or assimilating the environment or environmental effects to use at ones defense, similar to the "Jedi".

As for guilds in my campaign, they are corrupt and my PC's are trying to do away with them for good because they actually provoked a world war and my PC's are trying to prove it.

As for my countries and local governments, none are secular to one race, in my campaign every race is equally distributed across the globe and everyone gets equal treatment. With the exeption of small scattered villages and tribes that may be a unique home to a single race, thats how my PC's get cool weapons.
Only one of these nations has traditional firearms, which, naturally are statted out like crossbows. (Have you seen what a crossbow will do to either flesh or armor? I'd say it's comparable to archaic firearms.)

Have you counted how long it takes to reload a crossbow as opposed to inserting a fresh clip into an AK-47;)? Or have you seen what an AK-47 can do to a cinderblock wall?
Dwarves with AK-47s... Why is that so pleasing?
I think that the "military magic" argument solves most of the problem...As long as you can enchant armor, armor will be in use. As lond as armor is in use, Melee will (IMO) be more popular than ranged combat because of the DEX penalties of wearing heavy armor. Also, If you're are using the all the 4e classes, no government (again IMO) will go through the expense and trouble to equip its armies with anything with a longer load time than a cross bow when the speed and penetrating power of modern firearms already exists in magic bows and warlocks. I may be off base here, but the need that bolt action, relvolver, and semi/fully automatic firearms fill in the real world is already filled in D&D by magic users/items.

This view does not conflict with the rest of your steam-punk. The cost of a teleportation circle, or even a monstrous mount make developing mass transit like rail and zepplins practical. And any one with a taste for the exotic will consider a hand crafted flint-lock, even if the +1 vicious longbow is faster and does more dmg. maybe for dueling? Who knows?

The point is that I think the game mechanics of 4e explain the trends in tech in your world already.
How well developed are the politics in this setting, Cornholio89? Since in all honesty I think government control, national/international overseeing, treaties, etc. are a very interesting and logical means of going about doing this.

Perhaps this war you talk about Cornholio89 could have led to such a horrible war that after there was a movement to ban such weaponry.

As such international treaties were signed banning such modern weapons, thus we get a state of universal growth in technology in everything but modern weaponry.

This could even lead to a plot-point where one nation is secretly developing firearms and avoiding the oversight committees watchful eyes. Hell! The PCs could be a strike/investigation team for the oversight committee and their job is to hunt down illegal uses for technology.
Thats actually a very good idea there sigil beguiler but all I know is that there is only ONE world war in my campaign and thats the war that lead to the development of my versions of "muzzle-loaded weapons" the fact is that they are pretty much brand new because of the "arms-race" I might have to get back to you because I need all this stuff finalized by my co-DM and he may not even want a "world war" to have taken place before the campaign setting. Plus I pretty much made it clear that magic is mainly used for defense or offense and nothing to do with technology because its similar to comparing science to religion in reality. They are two different things USED for two different things. Magic of course can be used to calm the inner spirit or enhance ones inner spirit to accomplish great feats similar to a type of religion, shaolin monks anyone? Where science is used to develop practical or necessary technologies for everyone to use. Just like in real life.

Going back to Mrparadigm, again magic is my campaign is used for combat and defense, teleportation spells can only take one so far as opposed to a rail system that can link entire nations and because of the development of mass transit in my campaign, there is no need for mounts or beasts of burden for lengthy traveling because trains have fulfilled that role better than anything else, look at it this way: Horse, carries about 200lbs and goes about 20-30mph. Where as a Steam locomotive goes about 50-60mph and has about 3,000 horse power and can carry pretty much anything. Sorry guy but its just a matter of practicality. And in case you ask why there are no beasts (other than horses, oxes, and mules) that are or can be a beast of burden in my campaign because rail travel developed how it is and it quickly became a necessity for international trade. Please stop me anyone if I am going around in circles.

Forgot to mention politics for you sigil beguiler, Pretty much during the first year of my campaign politics are very shaky and leaning towards another world war because corruption is spreading across my world like the bubonic plague, mainly because of the guilds. I'll have to get back to you on that one because like I said earlier my co-DM needs to agree with me on everything.
One nation developed steam power first and uses that to generate electricity.

The other discovered the internal combustion engine and fossil fuels.

This seems to imply that the first nation doesn't have/use fossil fuels. If that is the case, what do they use to generate the heat needed to create steam?

Little have anything to do with science because science is provable FACT...

[nitpick]If your world's magic works under consistent rules and laws, then the study of those laws is science, and consistently observed magical phenomenon would qualify as scientific fact.[/nitpick]

...that is used for everyone to input questions and recieve answers to their problems from figuring out equations, to building steam locomotives.

[/nitpick]The practical application of science is engineering.[/nitpick] Here's a fairly recent thread related to the magic-technology distinction. Okay, I'm done nitpicking.

The reason that not everyone in the Empire is packing a 'God-Killing Hand-Cannon', or even a rudimentary musket, is that all pieces of technology are hand-crafted by artisans for use by artisans. When the party, made up entirely of people from the medieval region, encounters a gun-toting alchemist, that alchemist crafted his breach-loading pistol, brewed his various performance boosting intoxicants, forged his own shells and bullets, etc, etc.

The reason for this is a sort of guild/academy system. Members of a particular guild or traditional school of artisans jealously guard their secrets, so they tend not to sell goods, instead trading services. Example: the guild controlling knowledge of hydroponics trades food to the guild controlling knowledge of gunsmithing for protection. Within many of the guilds there are rival schools of craftsmanship. For example, in the guild that controls gunsmithing there might be a school that produces weopons that utilize air-pressure to fire, another that uses conventional black-powder, and yet another that uses magnetics.

I like both the secretive guild idea and the by-artisans-for-artisans ideas. Though I'm equally impressed that your world has hydroponics and railguns. I always loved the idea of magnetic-powered guns.
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*Nods* I understand, looking forward to when you talk to him.

Umm... There is one book you may find interesting, it is called: The Peshawar Lancers. It is a steampunk, post-apocalyptic novel. Where a comet crash caused a ice-age during the 19th century and led to a mass exodus of the Northern Hemisphere.

As such the British Empire has since ruled in India and is now called the Raj Empire. The year by the date of the novel is 2025. The interesting aspect of it, is because of the lack of resources and the lack of innovation that came from America and Europe (specifically the United States and Germany) technology has remained at a 19th, early 20th century level. But! The technology has gotten better and better and better over the years. For instance, they still use the rifle that was used during the late-19th century whoever it has improved to the point that there is almost zero-jamming and is extremely accurate.

So while it doesn't work perfectly, ie: still got plenty of firearms, it could help in simply being a brainstorming source. Plus it is a wonderful novel in general.
Fireclave I see your points when you nitpick, yes magic is a present phenomenon in my campaign but it has its limitations, for example in my world magic is mainly researched not by science and reading many books that may have been portrayed by quint-essential wizards, sorcerors, and alchemists in fantasy and science fiction literature, but magic is used and studied by faith and faith alone, yes there are many tomes that explain magics uses but it is mainly combat or calming the inner spirit like I said earlier and science in my world generally stays away or does not challenge magic because many scientists have tried to study magic but they all have gone insane or died in the process because in my world magic is all faith. However in my world the only people who can use magic are the "gifted ones" and they are the only ones who can understand magic because it is pure faith.

Ill explain everything about my campaign in another post after I get back with my co-DM cause he makes up the rules too and I require his input. Believe me when I have his input on the situation, everyone who has gained interest in this article (I thank thee) will have their questions answered.

ONE MORE THING, sigil beguiler, that book you mentioned sounds badass therefore I must pick up a copy, by the way you might be thinking of "bolt action rifles" here's a link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolt_action

Im pretty sure thats what your talking about because in case you haven't read, we still use these types of rifles to this day!
Just as reference material, privateer press put out alot of 3.5e rpg stuff known as the Iron Kingdoms. It "may" provide you with an interesting backdrop and/or creation material for your campaign.
Well the comet hit in 1878 so just prior to the bolt-action rifle being really mass-produced, ie: prior to Lee-Enfield, Mauser and Mosin-Nagant methods.

If I was to take a gander at it, probably be the Martini-Henry it was the rifle in service at the time.

If I get back home and find the book, shall post what it actually is.
Originally Posted by FrznFury
One nation developed steam power first and uses that to generate electricity.

The other discovered the internal combustion engine and fossil fuels.

Originally Posted by Fireclave
This seems to imply that the first nation doesn't have/use fossil fuels. If that is the case, what do they use to generate the heat needed to create steam?


...Magic :P

Actually I was kind of headed for a sort of naturally-occurring fissionable materials, sort of like a primitive fuel cell.

Or they could just go the other way, using electricity to generate heat/steam... (I think that's the way to go, really), since you only need a few commonly-occurring chemicals to create a voltage difference.

Oh, excuse the obvious... Handcrank. Duh.

:D
Or they could burn wood ;) .

An oldie but a goodie!
But wood is a fossil fuel... a really, really young fossil fuel :P

I was attempting to prove the point without the combustion of organic material.

Besides, can you imagine the hilarity that would ensue once the PC's found out that at the heart of all the technological marvels of Venucci lies a potbellied wood stove?
Besides, can you imagine the hilarity that would ensue once the PC's found out that at the heart of all the technological marvels of Venucci lies a potbellied wood stove?

"It is a secret passed down through generations of expert artisans, a secret that many would kill for. It is the foundation of all our technology, the lifeblood of our empire. With the knowledge of this ancient art you become a caretaker of our future and member of a select and powerful brotherhood.

Dude, you guys are just lighting trees on fire!"
:D
Ah yes wood, the foundation of human society, it has well over 1000 if not a 1,000,000 uses.
I have read this much of the thread

A friend of mine (TheVizier) and I are creating an epic campaign in which (4 or 5 PC's including myself and my co DM and his PC) embark on a lengthy two year quest to stop an ancient evil from returning to an already troubled world. Ill go into details in another post. However what we or "I" am trying to think of is an "excuse" of why in our campaign technology is somewhat "advanced" for a medieval setting. For example or campaign is centralized in a metropolis in which there are many large towers (no larger than 30 stories) and in our world that is yet to be named we have steam locomotives, zeppelins, and steam tanks. Similar to the "Empire" in Warhammer, if not "VERY" similar because we will be using citadel miniatures frequently.

The big question is that in reality, the industrial revolution fueled by the advent of steam engines played a MAJOR part in arms development and subsequently eliminated the mass production of hand-to-hand combat weapons and started the "mass production" of muzzle loaded black powder weapons such as cannons and rifles. Now the BIG question is, how can we make an "excuse" why in our campaign we have steam locomotives and zeppelins, yet the inhabitants of our world still require swords, axes etc.. etc.. for combat or even mass warfare, even though they already have the technology to create assault rifles, machine guns, and other modern armament? Please dont recommend "Tradition" or "Contraband" as an excuse cause it wont work well and its too simple.

On a lighter note, there are black powder weapons in our world but each is handcrafted and uses little or no machinery at all to produce, therefore making them rare.



Whats happening here is not uncommon - its oversight. Steam power was a part of the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution was part of the progress that makes our real world just that. Real.

Most campaign settings are far more fantastic and far less progressive than the real world. Here on Earth we have gone from sun dried bricks to aeroplanes in roughly 6 thousand years. But thats because all we have to work with is the human race.

On Oerth .... Elves have ruled for thousands of years, and Dwarves for centuries. Magic works. People can buy flying carpets, swords that sing and all manner of other things. In a world of dragons and arch magi a firearm is at best an alchemical item. Furthermore with such concepts as "Arcane Archer" what is the benefit of a gun vs a bow? I would say that the benefit is in that the equipment is usable and manufacturerable by anyone. No eldritch secrets, divine intervention, or spell preparation required. And the real thing .... what is a benefit to some .... could be seen as a negative to others. (power/control). ;)

Me? I have a steampunky thing in the world that I am posting here, but its not "steam" its magic. It just looks like tech. The devices are powered by magic crystals ... think "magicite" from Final Fantasy. To create or even operate the devices you have to have class levels of the proper type. "Use Technometric Device" is a feat or class ability, and without it ... stuff goes boom or zorch when you try to use it.
...Magic :P

Actually I was kind of headed for a sort of naturally-occurring fissionable materials, sort of like a primitive fuel cell.

You can't go wrong with power crystals.

Or they could just go the other way, using electricity to generate heat/steam... (I think that's the way to go, really), since you only need a few commonly-occurring chemicals to create a voltage difference.

I doubt any commonly-occurring chemicals could produce enough electricity to power an entire civilization, else we would be using those chemicals to solve our current energy crisis. Unless you were referring to be common in your world, of course.

Me? I have a steampunky thing in the world that I am posting here, but its not "steam" its magic. It just looks like tech. The devices are powered by magic crystals ... think "magicite" from Final Fantasy. To create or even operate the devices you have to have class levels of the proper type. "Use Technometric Device" is a feat or class ability, and without it ... stuff goes boom or zorch when you try to use it.

Then what you have is magitek, and your world likely falls under dungeon punk.



Also, it surprises me that steampunk-grade technology isn't more prevalent in D&D settings considering that making a powerful heat source that's clean, infinite, and inextinguishable is not only fairly simple and straight forward, but core as well.
Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.
The reason why I am putting so much emphasis on "steam power" in my campaign is because in case you havent read any other of my posts, I love steam engines and steam locomotives, in reality I am currently working on a real live steam engine that is rideable, here are the blueprints here, they need to be updated for a design change unfortunatley. But the concept is still there. heres a link:

locomotive: http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c97/p3x789/008.jpg

Tender: http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c97/p3x789/003.jpg

the locomotive itself is about 6ft long, and in case your wondering, I drew up the plans ;) and this one will NOT be used in my campaign however......

As for my campaign I am going to build a static model of what "I think" a steam locomotive would look like if it was built on another world and it will be used as a dungeon, the PC's will travel up and down passenger cars warding off zeppelin pirates for that scenario. Ill post up some drawings of my steam locomotive that will be used in my campaign once I get back from working on my second house in Yosemite Lakes Park. I should be back Sunday evening Pacific time. When I come back I hope there will be plenty of posts supporting steampunk. NO ARGUING LIKE SCHOOLGIRLS!

By the way book5, no offense but your whole crystal idea is preposterous and goes against all laws of thermodynamics, UNLESS if your magic crystals are radioactive OR on their native planet the average temperature isint cold enough to cool them down completely so you can toss them into a boiler firebox therefore they can be used to produce steam! Thats the only way I can see something like that working, sorry I dont mean to nitpick its just I am a man of science if not "a self proclaimed scientist" and I dont follow magic for being useful other than turning your enemies into ice cubes or piles of ash. Im sure what I said in my last couple sentences people will try to post replies stating that magic can be used for many other things in D&D but dont fret ya'll. In MY CAMPAIGN thats all magic is good for and thats all that matters to me.