Thursday 11 August 2016

[STUFF] The Technological Table

The Dark Eye
Since Blair and others have shown an interest, here is my technological instruments section from Swords & Magic: Monsters & Treasure. This list contains a description of futuristic weaponry, as well as a number of other devices. It is not a particularly broad selection, and I was never entirely satisfied with it, but the items try to aim for more than offering simple technological analogies to fireball wands and rings of protection, or – which I detest – elevating our modern Coca-Cola bottles and magnet fridges into post-apocalyptic junk. TSR’s vision of Gamma World has always felt banal and too easy with its mutant hamsters and abandoned McDonalds restaurants, an all too comfortable post-apocalypse (although I owe much to Geoffrey’s reinterpretation, where he has raised these concerns).

Futuristic items should be futuristic! They should carry an air of mystery, and an ambitious, unsettling vision of what humanity could be capable of. Many of the items here are positively sinister; the techno-Hellenic utopias of Fomalhaut have always been viewed through a distinctly 30s lens infused with a hint of Cold War paranoia; ideal societies built upon eugenics, the garden city concept, the theory of ruin value, tampering with human nature, and the construction of elaborate, massive doomsday devices. They are not Giger’s biomechanical creations, but a vision of civilisation hurtling towards self-destruction. On Fomalhaut, the downfall of starfaring super-civilisations has yielded not simply a descent into barbarism, but a world essentially governed by human concerns and ambitions – against the backdrop of a technologically superior past that is for all intents and purposes foreign, inscrutable, and somehow inhuman.

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