Sunday, August 15, 2010

Technology of Teleleli

The traveller who ranges far may encounter any kind of technology and culture. However in Teleleli and the islands around the prevailing level of civilisation is comparable to that of the Dark Ages, with some noteable exceptions:
  • Due to the presence of underwater civilisations and treasures, diving suits have been developed to a high standard.
  • Map-making is almost unknown. Places do not always keep their relative positions as they do in our world, although I do not know whether this be cause or effect. The stars are somewhat more reliable, but less so than in our world. Nor do compasses work.
  • Robotics has been developed to a more advanced stage than in our world. However, as with much of the sciences, it is generally secret knowledge held by individual wizards or craftspeople, or lost to the ages, rather than a shared art. Robots are often made of unusual material such as wood; a necessity due to a scarcity of metals, and a possibility due to magic. For example the grandma scientist Agnes Goodwife knits robots from wool. Her arch-enemy Madame Zed is an evil grandma scientist, who sews raggedy androids. It is possible that some of these creations may have made their way to our own world. My thoughts are drawn to the chess-playing Mechanical Turk of the 17th century, and of the strange case of Doctor Joseph Bell, that 'tireless', 'cold', 'machine-like' individual who provided the inspiration for the fictional Sherlock Holmes.
  • The catapult has been developed to a fine precision unknown in our world. However, since the obscure mathematics necessary to use them is the monopoly of the gnomes, it is used for transport rather than war (nets being set up at destination points to catch travellers). The exception is a giant catapult in the centre of the city, which is used for executions. This is reserved for the worst criminals, since many religions hold that an evil-doer must atone by spilling their own blood, and this method of execution draws no blood.
  • In matters of hygiene the Telelelenes are more advanced than the Dark Ages. Most houses are connected to the sewerage system. There is a built system of water supply, however it delivers water to wells rather than directly to homes.
The most advanced weapon is the crossbow, and the reader should hope never to see such a thing, since it will be wielded by the chief guard of some wealthy noble, or the assassin sent to kill them.

The best weapon to which the traveller is likely to have access is the "you-me", or longbow.

One wonders at times whether more modern devices have not found their way here, or been invented by some insane wizard or secretive dwarf, and been treated as items of magic, or wonders of the Great Race, which in the minds of most is the same thing. For example, was the legendary Staff of Burrowing Doom some kind of rifle? If we could examine the remains of one of the Three Princes on the Mountain, the victims of the fabled Wand of Maggots (or Wand Which Brings Forth Rot), which caused deadly parasites to blossom within the body like maggots in meat, would we find not maggots but bullets?

Because of the scarcity of metal many swords in Teleleli are made of forms of glass or ceramic, much harder than those known in our world. Some 'swords' are really wooden clubs, with teeth set in them to make them sharper; often those of sharks or crocodiles. It is said that the fiercer the beast was in life, the better the sword. It is also said that the one who kills the animal to make the sword should never use it, since the spirit of the beast will take revenge. A sword is said to be helpless against the species its teeth come from, unless the animal was unusually evil and vicious. Thus warriors will carry two swords, with teeth from separate species. Rumour speaks of magic swords which use the teeth of vampires, dragons or the like. Other rumours speak of a doom which is on the world; that one day all the animals will rise and kill, and no sword of teeth will allow itself to be lifted in defence.

I could find no-one who admitted to making or owning a sword made with teeth from more than one animal. The idea of doing so has a strong, but ill-defined, feeling of ill-omen about it.

Another reason to avoid metal swords, for those who would travel to the underworld or other magical lands, is that such weapons tend to be effected by the presence of magic, eventually developing a will of their own.

Armour is often constructed of bamboo, or the same glass and ceramic used for swords, although the tropical climate does much to render armour of any kind impractical. For further information the traveller should visit You've Got Mail, or another armoury.

This lack of precious metals might be explained by the belief of the ancient Germanic tribes that dragons harden their otherwise soft underbellies by sitting on piles of gold, absorbing its royal essence (and thereby gradually turning the gold to silver, and finally copper). It could be that some wise king of the Great Race saw the connection, and banished gold using some unknown power.

And indeed some say that Zam-Zammah, the great green-bronze dragon from out of space, declared Teleleli too poor to conquer and, on being told that it was the greatest and richest city in the world, moved on to parts unknown. But others say that Zam-Zammah was not an animal, but a machine of war come to life. And still others say that dragons are liars.


  1. I particularly like execution by catapult. I guess the part about metal weapons explains the intelligent swords of D&D?

  2. Thanks!

    Yes, it does. Some say that it also explains dungeons: they are the means by which magic swords reproduce.


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