Advanced Technology in Shadow World

For those that want to utilize it, ancient advanced technology is a narrative aspect to the Shadow World setting. Advanced technology was not just achieved by the Althan/Ka’ta’viir civilization in the 1st Era, but also utilized by several other notable cultures during the Interregnum: Taranian, Jinteni & Worim.

When we think of technology in fantasy role playing we often visualize laser pistols, laser swords, shield devices, power armor—objects that are just more powerful version of standard fantasy weapons (crowsbows, swords, armor etc). I posted up an older file on using technology in SW here, but the convenient fact is that although it’s tech, it can be handled easily within the RM fantasy magic rules. Laser Guns cast “Firebolts”; Lightsabers inflict Electricity, Fire or Plasma Crits; Anti-grav belts cast “Levitation”, etc.

While there have been numerous ancient high-tech civilizations and contemporary cultures that use “science” (Krylites), none of them reached the advancements of the Althans or Ka’Ta’viir.(Tech Level 13+). Truly advanced technology can transcend common form factors and seem inscrutable to normal understanding. In other words, they will seem magical.

Here are a few advanced technologies that might be a good fit in your Shadow World game:

Post Physical Entities: This is a term often used to describe an “upload society” where consciousness can be transferred to a computer network, object or virtual emulator. Shadow World modules already features stored Ka’ta’viir intelligences (Cloudlords) and the Thalan are a good example of a post-physical entities (PPE’s). From a game standpoint, introducing an ancient Althan/Ka’ta’viir consciousness could be interesting. The entity would probably have their own agenda, limit information flow and perhaps “guide” the players to their own purpose. This could provide a useful guide for the GM to direct the PC’s through the adventure or tie multiple adventures into a greater campaign. Mechanically, PPE’s should be treated as an NPC, only limited by the ability to interact with the physical world. Additionally the PC’s may not even realize the “entity” is an uploaded consciousness or ancient being.

A.I.: Similar to Post Physical entities, A.I.’s are already featured in SW. Two prominent ones are the A.I. in Andraax’s tomb and Morik in Eidolan. Unlike PPE’s, A.I.’s are a technical/software artifact and may be limited by their learning ability, programming and information resources. Like PPE’s, A.I.’s should be treated as NPC’s.

Time Control: Ka’Ta’viir use a “Chronagenic” process to hibernate. Not to be confused with a cryogenic process; rather than freezing or preserving a person through physical or biological means the capsule seals the entity into a time singularity. It’s not clear whether the Althans had additional control over time (barring localized events). Jinteni also had some time dilation abilities (Emer III and Inn of the Green Gryphon). Time travel and control have always been tricky in RPG’s: a GM needs to decide the long term effects of causality and impact on the game narrative. There are three basic mechanisms for time manipulation: devices (machines & portals), spells (I’ve uploaded a Time Mastery spell list on the RM Forums  ) or Essaence effects (Essaence Storms and Foci). Time Travel introduces an introducing plot device to allow PC’s to explore other parts of the immense SW timeline. In fact, you could probably roll randomly for page, paragraph and line or 1-100,000 years to pick a date in the timeline to send the players. At the least, they could be spectators to interesting historical events and experience some of the intriguing past of Kulthea!

Matter/Energy Conversion: A truly advanced society will have mastered matter – energy conversion. This is more than simple fusion, it’s a two way process to generate power from any matter OR the ability to produce objects or material from energy. This probably has less game-world impact than other technologies but it does allow for devices to be powered indefinitely (by harvesting small amounts of matter for energy), self-repair of devices and vehicles or for generating objects “out of thin air” like a Wish spell.

Molecular Assembly: Before they have the ability of creating matter from energy, a post scarcity society will have obtained the ability to create any object from scratch using “feedstock” raw material. These Replicators or “Cornucopia Machines” are just highly advanced 3D printers. In Sci-fi and economic theory, such a machine would be a major societal disruptor allowing for the easy creation and accessibility of wealth. This technology was the basis for the post-scarcity society presented in Star Trek. In your SW game, this technology could be useful but not unbalancing on a limited basis—perhaps program/design access is prohibited except to authorized users (i.e. weapon mfg)

Mal-Metal: Malleable, changeable or programmable materials would be common in an advanced society. This allows for amorphous forms—wings that can change shape, weapons that can morph into others with a thought, adjustable cloaks, armor that can distribute impacts or force etc. This type of technology would be very useful to a PC and would be indistinguishable from common magic item tropes. Obvious examples would be morphing weapons (retain weight/mass but changes shape), fluid bracers that cover the arms as greaves at a thought etc. In SW, “Malloys” (malleable alloys) could combine advanced tech with materials like Keron, Eog or Ithloss.

Bionomics: A step past cyborg implants, Bionomics are organic based technological capabilities built into a person at the molecular and cellular level. These could be energy projections (disruptors, beams), shields (force fields or environmental shields), wetware computing power for advanced mental and calculative abilities. Unless they were born from a very specific parentage, installation of Bionomics would require substantial surgical procedures and DNA manipulation.  Bionomic abilities could be treated as innate spell abilities powered by a reservoir of cell energy (use CO. stat?).  In our campaign, Bionomic technology was a significant part of the Xiosian heritage.

Von Neumann Self Replicators: These machines combine the technologies of molecular assembly and matter/energy conversion to build copies of themselves. This is a powerful concept but might not have too much relevance in a gaming environment. However these could also work on a nano scale—“Nannite” clouds that replicate and perform programmed tasks (healing, buffs, metamorphis etc). Examples of “Nannites” might be found in upcoming SW material!

Solid State Technology: When we think of machines we often conflate it to devices with moving parts and collections of components. An advanced society will utilize microtization, exotic meta-materials and atomic level functionality to produce devices that work as machines but won’t have moving parts. To PC’s this will give machine or software functionality to solid objects–just like magic items.

Neural Control/Interface: The Ka’ta’viir were not only advanced technologically, they were able to utilize the Essaence AND access Psionic/Mind powers. At the height of their powers (Late Imperial Era) many devices were controlled through mere thought. In the game, neural interfaces should be treated as quasi-mentalism or accessed via “Attunement” skill (treat as Absurd or -150 due to the complexity of this technology or allow a PC to have some Althan heritage and reduce the penalty).

While primarily a fantasy setting, Shadow World also has elements of a post-apocalypse setting and a sci-fi setting. Maybe the PC’s will initially be unaware they are encountering technology and not magic but these elements could add flavor to your campaign!

9 Replies to “Advanced Technology in Shadow World”

  1. Since you said in the forum you wanted uses of technology…

    We’re playing using the Emer III sourcebook, and one of the characters has decided he wants to study Jinteni artifacts, or at least as much as he can. So far he has collected a dispelling belt, a steampunk leather armor that reduces criticals if some buttons are pressed, and is always keeping track of the different battery types.

    In the last adventure they found a whole set of technological add-ons for their Kuvys (the Kuluku throwing star). The machine that offered the different attachments included holographic previews for each effect, and the party got some hilarious moments trying to understand what was happening, but they learned a lot about it. imagine a room full of illusions, elemental effects and levitating objects on display, but all detection spells gave no impression of any magic at work.

    Then they encountered an interface that took possession of someone standing over it to replicate different personalities in a typical Jinteni weapons shop. They convinced the “merchant” to give them some tips on some of their artifacts.

    And also, in a previous adventure, they got their hands on a K’Ta’Viiri “chair” that plugged information directly into their brains (+2 ranks in 2 lore skills of their choice) in exchange for information in their brains that was not known to the local AI.

    1. – Jinteni Belt of No-Magic: requires 1 type I battery, equivalent to Dispel Sphere (all realms), 10’R, full charge lasts 1 minute, cannot be turned off before charge is depleted without forcefully removing the battery.

      – Jinteni Scrambler Belt: creates a 10’R sphere around wearer that displaces everything inside the sphere with respect to that outside the sphere. Melee attacks through the barrier are at -100, missile and spell effects passing trough are penalized as if traveling 100′ feet to cross the barrier. Lasts 6 rounds, requires 6 type I batteries, all are expended at once.

      – Steampunk Leather Armor: Jinteni design, found in an abandoned K’Ta’Viiri outpost in the Spine of Emer on northwestern Quon. Has 6 buttons on the front, which are decorative but can be pressed independently. They reduce Slash/Puncture/Krush/Unbalance/Impact/Grapple (one for each button) criticals by 1 degree for 1 minute after pressing. The battery system is part in the button and part inside the weaving of the leather, so they can’t be recharged by changing the batteries like the other artifacts.

      – Jinteni Radar of Curses: Will beep when passed near an object that is cursed. Looks like a Dragon Ball radar. Battery seems to be included and lasts a lot, has never run out so far.

      – Jinteni Energy Burner Belt (Worn by Shrek): Sends a pulse that overloads all Jinteni batteries and devices in a small radius (20′?). Batteries affected seem to be permanently blackened.

      – Bane of the Unworthy: Jinteni +20 Holy Weapon, found in the shape of several green crystal daggers that kept an undead Jinteni sorcerer from raising from its grave. Can change form to any weapon that the attuned user knows (at least 1 rank). Enough mass to create 1 polearm, 2 war-hammers, 4 shortswords, 8 daggers, etc.

      — Kuvys accessories —
      * Metallic net: wraps one side of the kuvys star, and allows up to 5 small spheres to be added to the points (1 for each of the star).
      * Bracelet add-ons: width is one third of a kuvys bracelet, so up to three can be installed at once. The design seems to follow the artistic lines in the base bracelet. Each add-on has 3 knobs that can be rotated to different positions, but requires the right sphere to be installed in the user’s kuvys star. Each add-on has its own set of three type I batteries.
      Three types are known: red, green and yellow.
      * Star add-ons: small green laen spheres with an inner crystal that is either red, green or yellow. The sphere is slightly magnetic, and with the aid of the metallic net can be attached to a kuvys star without risk of falling and without affecting the weight distribution when throwing.

      There are 5 spheres for each “power”, and most of them increase effect depending on the number of spheres installed in the kuvys star. But they could be combined for a more practical use with less punch. There are 3 powers of each color (red, green, yellow) and that is why there are 3 knobs on each bracelet add-on (in case you are combining spheres and need to activate different powers). Some knobs allow more than 1 effect, this requires some training as there are subtle stopping points when turning the knobs.

      Yellow sphere powers:
      a) Light. 10’R, lasts 10 minutes. Each additional sphere allows 10 more minutes and +5’R. It can be set to deliver a sudden light effect on hit, or forced at any point during flight with the right knob use.
      b) Electricity. Delivers an Electricity critical of the same severity on hit (maximum A for 1 sphere, B for 2, etc.). Can also be used to deliver a shock bolt at any point during flight (uses user’s Kuvys OB, 5’R with 1 sphere, +5 OB and +1’R for each additional sphere). Any of these uses automatically consumes all the charge for this power.
      c) Pushing. Delivers an Unbalance critical of the same severity on hit (maximum A for 1 sphere, B for 2, etc.). It can be activated mid-flight instead, to push away everything on a 1’R/sphere installed. Any of these uses automatically consumes all the charge for this power.

      Green sphere powers:
      a) Sonar. Will draw a green 3D wireframe above the kuvys bracelet showing the room in which the kuvys star resides, indicating the exact position with a bright green dot. Only walls are drawn, so it is useful to spot hidden locations. Room size can be up to 50′ (+10′ per additional sphere after the first), which might allow to draw contiguous rooms as well. It can track the kuvys star up to 100′ away (+50′ per additional sphere after the first). Charge is enough for 10 minutes of monitoring per sphere installed.
      b) Time-Shift. Speed up the kuvys star so that it can’t be parried, and adds +10 additional OB per sphere after the first. It can alternatively be used to discharge a Slow effect on hit (1 round/sphere). Any of these uses automatically consumes all the charge for this power.
      c) Gravity-Shift. The kuvys star will float in place for up to 10 minutes per sphere installed. It can alternatively be used to stay very firmly floating in place, as if it weighed 200 kg (440 lbs), in which case it lasts for 1 minute per sphere.

      Red sphere powers:
      a) Temperature. Can record and then give an idea of the temperature experienced by the kuvys star in the last 10 minutes per sphere installed. It can alternatively be used to deliver a Heat critical (severity A with 1 or 2 spheres, B with 3 or more). It can also be used to heat up during flight to burn anything touched (around 70º C/160º F). Charge is enough for about 5 uses, maybe more if a lower temperature is selected.
      b) Sound. Can record and then reproduce sounds of up to 1 minute per sphere installed. It can also reproduce the last recording up to 1 time per sphere installed. If this power is fully charged, it can be instead used to deliver a Sudden Sound effect with a radius of 5′ (+1′ per additional sphere), but this consumes all the charge.
      c) Video. Can record and then reproduce images for up to 10 minutes per sphere installed. Video is seen as a small holographic projection emanating from the kuvys star center. It can be controlled remotely, so it could be left hidden to record and the reproduce, or a video can be recorded and then played remotely using the bracelet. Area recorded is 5’R per sphere installed. Content can only be played up to 1 time per sphere installed, then must be recharged.

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