Author Topic: What natural laws need to be be broken to prevent tech from advancing?  (Read 505 times)

Offline Nytemare3701

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I'm trying to nail down a new natural law that prevents the Digital revolution from catching on in an Eberron-style world. Industrialized magic is fine, but I want to prevent tech itself from ever being significantly advanced in this world, while also giving my players free reign to invent anything they want.

Electromagnetic Variance: Nicknamed the Hogwarts Effect, the presence of magic causes fluctuations in electrical resistance on larger scales. A microprocessor could never function outside of a dead magic zone, a quartz watch would gain and lose time at random, but a traditional spring watch would be functional.

I'm not well versed enough in physics to know how intrinsically the fundamental forces are tied to electrical resistance. Can you introduce something like this without breaking the fundamental forces as well?

Maybe I'm overthinking this. Is there a particular point in the "tech tree" of human advancement between the industrial revolution and the digital age where we can just...make that particular thing not function?
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Offline Solo

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Ambient magical energy functions like radiation, overloading electronics.
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Offline nijineko

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I suggest Klatuu's method. You may also want to prevent the reactions of heavy elements like plutonium and uranium, as well as explosives such as gunpowder and nitro, not to mention other high explosives.

You could have magical theory and magical physics supplant certain chemical and atomic interactions within the area in which mana is dominant.

I recall reading a story of an intragalactic civilization where it had been discovered that the laws of the universe were variable, depending on where one was. This necessitated having multiple types of ship drives mana-based, psi-based, tech-based, and a few more odd ones for those pockets of the galaxy where really different laws worked (such as renting and harnessing space-whales to the starship in a region where only biological entities could move through space). As they traveled through the galaxy, they had to switch from drive system to drive system based on the local laws of physics.
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Offline awaken_D_M_golem

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Real Life, atomic theory may have been discussed by the ancient Greeks, but exclusively in Philosophical and Theological terms.


Otherwise there really isn't any "lightning" per se.  Rather there's an intersection of Air + Positive, which creates Lightning in the same way Fire + Water annihilate each other.  Eberron's planes are violating the law(s) of gravity already multiple times over. 

So let's say the smallest Lightning anything would be a shock from socks on carpet, meaning a telegraph would be big thick badly refined copper wire, powered by captured lightning elements, who aren't happy with the situation, call Elder grampa to hurry over and wipe everything out. 

Constructing something like this ---> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC
... is some special form of impossible, like the Machine Of Lum The Mad artifact, even gawds can't do it no more.
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Offline FireInTheSky

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Electromagnetic Variance: Nicknamed the Hogwarts Effect

Shouldn't it be called the "Dresden Effect"?

Offline SorO_Lost

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Electromagnetic Variance: Nicknamed the Hogwarts Effect
Shouldn't it be called the "Dresden Effect"?
idk, didn't Shadowrun come out eleven years, well since you probably only know about desden through reruns of it's show let's make that 21 or more years, before that and claim magic/cybertic have mutually exclusive properties due to essence?

We get it, you "vape" nerd style. But no one cares and Harry Potter was written three years before Desden's books anyway.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2017, 04:06:19 PM by SorO_Lost »
What would happen if you were to climb to what you think my ego is and jump to what your post says your IQ is?
Neutrality is harder than you think.

Offline FireInTheSky

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Wow, that was needlessly agressive. But that's your M.O., so I don't know why I'm so surprised.

For the record, never saw the Dresden TV show - read all the books, though (and heard that the TV show was terrible). Also read all the Harry Potter books (though admittedly not as recently as the Dresden Files stuff). I don't specifically remember the HP books talking about magic interfering with technology (which was what OP was talking about), though if I'm wrong I'm sure you'll be happy to cite examples while shouting from the rooftops. On the other hand, it's mentioned multiple times in every DF book.

Also for the record, don't know Shadowrun (mostly just D&D on the tabletop side, and didn't ever really play video games). And I don't vape. And if you meant something else by using the scare quotes, it's also probably not true. But feel free to assume away - you know that that makes you.

Offline SorO_Lost

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(and heard that the TV show was terrible).
I assume so, I didn't make it past the first few episodes.

Also for the record, don't know Shadowrun (mostly just D&D on the tabletop side, and didn't ever really play video games).
Eh Shadowrun probably isn't even the oldest example I know given the incredibly massive range of media that uses Walking Techbane and the others that simply blend into the Magic Versus Science trope. It just happens to have a tabletop game that predates 3rd Edition and highly relevant while we're on a tangent that is fundamentally about correcting someone else's nickname to something they posted.

And I don't vape.
Technically irrelevant. "Vaping" is the current "Vegen", ie some choice or trait someone likes and has to let everyone know even through no one actually cares. Likewise "Desden" is the new "Firefly" even through those who pubescence when it came out can already vote, and for some reason it must be plugged into everything. I simply combined the two and called it nerd vaping in the previous post.

You can sit back and watching the trends simply take on new names but they remain the same.
Including the apathetic responses they draw.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2017, 07:42:15 PM by SorO_Lost »
What would happen if you were to climb to what you think my ego is and jump to what your post says your IQ is?
Neutrality is harder than you think.

Offline FireInTheSky

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 :lol

I give up. You're right. I'm wrong. I clearly don't know as much as you about F/SF. Happy?


Edit: p.s. Sorry your thread got hijacked Nytemare. I don't know if SorO ever apologizes, but at least I will.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2017, 08:24:06 PM by FireInTheSky »

Offline awaken_D_M_golem

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Smallest thing is D&D ---> http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=7931.0


SirP mentions Elementite Swarm.
Swadowknight12 provides a pic post #48.
Maat Mons links to Miasma and Humorism on post #11.
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Offline Agita

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My first question would be, why do you need such a natural law? This isn't a rethoric question. Do your setting and game require a specific, hard reason why a digital revolution will and can never happen? Note that this is distinct from a reason for why it hasn't happened yet. Most settings don't need such a specific rule because it's unlikely to ever be relevant. If yours does, nailing down exactly why is the first step to figuring out what the hypothetical rule actually has to accomplish.

I'm not well versed enough in physics to know how intrinsically the fundamental forces are tied to electrical resistance.
Very. Not that it has to matter. You are dealing with magic.
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Offline Eldritch_Lord

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Real Life, atomic theory may have been discussed by the ancient Greeks, but exclusively in Philosophical and Theological terms.

Otherwise there really isn't any "lightning" per se.  Rather there's an intersection of Air + Positive, which creates Lightning in the same way Fire + Water annihilate each other.  Eberron's planes are violating the law(s) of gravity already multiple times over.

This is how I generally handle this in my games, as well--not specifically to defeat electronics, just to give things a more esoteric feel.  Elemental theory is real, there's no such thing as an electron, and you can't make a transistor because if you introduce lots of electricity (contained lightning, so Positive-Energy-infused elemental Air) to high amounts of silicon (compressed sand, so Negative-Energy-infused elemental Earth) it's a coin flip as to whether the Positive+Negative interaction or Air+Earth interaction will make the whole thing explode first.

Here's a pretty good take on the whole idea if you need some inspiration.

Offline awaken_D_M_golem

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You said it way better than I could/did say it.


Curve ball though :  5e Uneartherd Arcana has the "techno" Wizard, so
there are some electronic devices working somewhere in the d&d(-ish) multiverse.

That's got to be connected to the apocalypse the Illithids ~don't talk about and escaped from.
Maybe it's Far Realms.
Maybe it needs a Precipitate Planar Breach to get there.
Maybe ... my kitty avatar's Tail  starts thinking full bore about this one.
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Offline Eldritch_Lord

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Certainly, things resembling modern to futuristic technology showing up in D&D is possible--and has happened many times, from antimatter rifles in the 3e DMGs going all the way back to 1e's Expedition to the Barrier Peaks--but that doesn't mean they function the same way as in real life.

Perhaps the "circuit board" you see when you crack open a Faerunian Apple Watch is actually a complicated series of runic diagrams that generate the device's effects, or perhaps there's no circuitry inside at all and the device is actually just one big crystal infused with lots of minor psionic powers--psionics does temporal manipulation much better than magic, after all, and "Siri" is as good a name as any for a Sage psicrystal personality. ;)

Offline Nytemare3701

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My first question would be, why do you need such a natural law? This isn't a rethoric question. Do your setting and game require a specific, hard reason why a digital revolution will and can never happen? Note that this is distinct from a reason for why it hasn't happened yet. Most settings don't need such a specific rule because it's unlikely to ever be relevant. If yours does, nailing down exactly why is the first step to figuring out what the hypothetical rule actually has to accomplish.

I'm not well versed enough in physics to know how intrinsically the fundamental forces are tied to electrical resistance.
Very. Not that it has to matter. You are dealing with magic.

Because both I and my players like having a set groundwork to make decisions based on. Invention and creativity are stifled a bit when you have to ask the DM during every downtime "Is lead still 0.41lbs per cubic inch?". I want to prevent a technological revolution, but at the same time I want the players to participate in the Eberron Magitek revolution.
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Offline Agita

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My first question would be, why do you need such a natural law? This isn't a rethoric question. Do your setting and game require a specific, hard reason why a digital revolution will and can never happen? Note that this is distinct from a reason for why it hasn't happened yet. Most settings don't need such a specific rule because it's unlikely to ever be relevant. If yours does, nailing down exactly why is the first step to figuring out what the hypothetical rule actually has to accomplish.

I'm not well versed enough in physics to know how intrinsically the fundamental forces are tied to electrical resistance.
Very. Not that it has to matter. You are dealing with magic.

Because both I and my players like having a set groundwork to make decisions based on. Invention and creativity are stifled a bit when you have to ask the DM during every downtime "Is lead still 0.41lbs per cubic inch?". I want to prevent a technological revolution, but at the same time I want the players to participate in the Eberron Magitek revolution.

Then my honest advice is to not think too hard about it, say that electronics won't work, and leave the reason vague. Perhaps, recalling that (as other posters have noted) the classical elements are absolutely real things in Eberron, you can decide that the elemental power of electricity just doesn't scale down well enough to enable fine circuitry, but still works fine for things like the levitating lightning rail.

This is my advice because I think if you try to nail down a hard scientific explanation, you are liable to outsmart yourself and end up causing exactly what you're trying to avoid. No such explanation will ultimately hold up under serious scrutiny, and additionally it will be subject to players trying to get around it as real world engineers and scientists try to get around physical limitations all the time.

So, I'd say you're better off not worrying too much about atoms, quantum effects, and all the other small details. Instead, assume there's an underlying set of laws that work out to "as the real world, except where specified otherwise" on the macroscopic scale. The instances where it's specified otherwise are the existence of magic and the impossibility of an electronic revolution. You do probably still want a rough idea of why, such as the example above where elemental lightning just doesn't scale like that, because it tells you something about how your world breaks from the real one and provides a hook, but broad strokes like that will be far more useful than worrying about the details.

Since you want this as an excuse to engage with the magitech revolution without having electronics sitting in the background, my estimate is you weren't that tonally interested in including a lot of quantum-scale technobabble in your game anyway. Perhaps I'm wrong.
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