What makes an item technological?

Discussion in 'Arcanum Discussion' started by lonecourier, Mar 4, 2013.

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  1. lonecourier

    lonecourier New Member

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    Dec 4, 2012
    As I read through Muro's Neutral, Magick, Tech and...? thread, I got to wondering: What makes an item inherently tech or neutral? Mechanical-discipline items are most certainly technological in many aspects, as are all the tech disciplines, though the one that got me the most confused is the Smithy discipline. Sure, many items in this discipline make sense to be technological, like the Mechanized Hammer, but what of the neutral and magical weaponry? Surely they must have been smithed at some point. You could easily explain Magickal items - they're enchanted, but what about neutral items? If it's about complexity, then why is unsmithed Steel technological? Surely it could be explained by it being refined by technology, but what about Iron ore? It is still in a completely natural state at the time, so why would the all-natural ores be defined as technological while a simple sword or dagger could be defined as neutral (Especially while the steel used to make them would be defined as technological, no less.)

    What are your opinions on this matter?
  2. Ruda

    Ruda Active Member

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    Feb 6, 2013
    I've thought on this too and it is my belief that Troika simply were a bit inconsistent. Steel and Iron ore are probably marked as technological because they are used primarily by tech characters. The same goes for the Kadura stem, Ginka root and most other herbs which are also marked as technological even though they are clearly not of technological nature. Other tech items (such as the Small metal tube) aren't marked as tech (instead they use the Arcanum logo, the one quest items use) even though they are used in technological ways (broken flintlock+small metal tube=some sort of gun, no?).

    As I said, it's simply a matter of sloppiness and inconsistency.
  3. werozzi

    werozzi Member

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    Apr 16, 2012
    It is not that the materials as steel are, per se, technological, but that their uses are greater for tech users, per example, a magi can make use of a certain potion to harm others, but a piece of steel is just that for them, thus the piece of steel being cataloged as a tech item, because of it being of little to no use for a magi. Then we have the iron ore example, being an unaltered natural thing it would not be cataloged, but being metalsmithing a certain type of tech, then it is an item used for a technical task, thus converting it in a tech item.
    Then, about the three types of items, my guess is that a sword is never forged as either tech or magical, all items might be forged as neutral items and then either enchanted to become magical or tinkered to be tech, and at last, neutral items with an advantage might be of an exceptional craftsmanship, giving them their special effects.
  4. Drog Alt

    Drog Alt Member

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    Jun 30, 2010

    Magi is just plural for magus. How about you stop trying to look cool using the words you don't understand.
  5. Gillsing

    Gillsing New Member

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    Jul 25, 2007
    Since physical properties seem to give little guidance, I'm going to assume that the difference between a neutral sword and a technological sword is a mental/ideological one. A neutral sword has been forged with traditional methods, passed down from master to apprentice, improved by trial and error. A technological sword however, has been forged using scientific methods and calculations based on radical new research rather than traditional knowledge. Kind of how traditional breeding for desired genes in plants and animals is usually considered uncontroversial, while direct genetic modification is often seen as unnatural.

    Herbology is another technological discipline that seem like it should be highly natural. But only when it's a crone in the woods mixing plants according to old traditions. As soon as it's a technologist mixing 'active ingredients' it becomes technological and unnatural. Or not, since herbologists don't seem to have any trouble with 100 MA mages walking into their shops, and mages don't seem unable to benefit from Herbology potions. But putting points into the discipline still gives the character technological aptitude.
  6. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    May 29, 2011
    It could be that they have an equal mix of magick and technology in them (as a character does when they pick and equal number of spells and technological disciplines). This could be why they are weaker in some regards, as they are not tuned in either direction.
  7. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    Sep 30, 2010
    I agree with Gillsing.

    If an object is created with the intention of following the laws of nature, then it is technological.

    If it is created with the intention of bending these laws, then it is magickal.

    I see there being two perspectives on this phenomenon: 1) that technology is a kind of magick, where many minds continue to expect certain outcomes to certain situations, thus manifesting this behaviour in reality, or; 2) magick is a kind of technology, where individual trained minds manifest unusual outcomes according to their willpower, perceiving the hell out of the quantum foam until it submits.

    Whatever the theory, it's clear that, in Arcanum, reality does change according to the mind perceiving it and that this has a cumulative effect over time. Thus, even mages are limited to certain, established spells invented in the distant past and practised over the ages.

    Also, this clearly appears in a field effect around the matter involved, inanimate or animate, as well as pervading throughout the whole world.

    Living systems are shown to be bastions of magick in technological eras, and underground caverns are shown to be enclaves of technology in times of higher magickal potential.

    Since magick can be described as 'changeable natural law' and technology as 'unchangeable natural law' the distinction become one of relative speed of reaction to consciousness rather than qualitative differences.

    So, high elves enjoy a thriving ecosystem because its parts are in constant flux, while techno dwarves prefer deep, sterile caverns, because its unchanging nature reflects and reinforces the unchanging facet of the laws of nature, regardless of the minds involved.

    So, although herbology uses living components, it does so within a field or standing wave of predictable, unchanging causality, making it technological.

    Similarly, a magick sword, although it uses minerals, is made within a field of causality more sensitive to the flux of consciousness.

    There is probably some kind of quantum going on, or a four dimensional interference pattern of relative standing waves of consciousness versus unconsciousness. Dontchaknow?

    Clearly, more hexperiments need to be designed to test these theories.
  8. Dark Elf

    Dark Elf Administrator Staff Member

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    Feb 6, 2002
    Pre-industrial: neutral.
    Industrial: technological.

    And that's pretty much it.

    I mean, a rapier is a neutral item whereas a balanced sword is technological? Doesn't make any real sense whatsoever, all the talk about "metallurgical advances" and so on is just fluff.

    The only thing that matters here is our perception of historical eras. A trebuchet from the Middle Ages could well be more technologically intricate than some basic gadget, but since we perceive it as being more crude and belonging to an earlier age, it would be deemed neutral in Arcanum.
  9. manillungol

    manillungol New Member

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    Aug 7, 2010
    The weirdest thing is in most other high fantasy dwarfs are always using tools and weapons made out of ores that are said to have been magical in nature, I guess that is the beauty of arcanum though and yes Dark Elf on that note a clockwork toy is more technologically intricate than a lot of battery powered toys using motors yet we equate the latter as the more modern one.
  10. NamelessOne

    NamelessOne New Member

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    Mar 22, 2013
    Mostly yeah and that's why it fails. It doesn't apply to armor though. Platemail and chainmail are counted as technologically complex items despite being from an older age. I think there are few other things like that too. Magic versus technology dichotomy was good idea by Troika and it's generally well explained by magick being supernatural and thus interfering with laws of physics. A gun misfiring, steam engine failing or electric lights flickering (sadly doesn't happen though) when magickal energies are near them makes perfect sense as they actually have moving parts and/or are powered by natural energy, but what intricate designs on armor (that is just metal plates or series of linked chains) are causing magick to fail and how come it is more technological than a sword? Ironically enough magickal chain and platemails exist too. I'm not going to even mention stuff like balanced sword and feather weight axe, since that is generally already well discussed here.

    ytzk's theory is a sound one though.

    Actually, even dwarves of Arcanum use sort of magical ore. Mithril I mean, but it isn't straight-forward magical ore AFAIK, more like it absorbs magick to itself and thus even may act as a nullifier ironically. Still they make magick armor of it too and it makes perfect sense (since it can store magickal energy), but how come it doesn't absorb magick from the caster is a mystery. :roll:
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