Savage Worlds: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
Magikal and Technological Aptitude
Introduction to Technology
Technology in Arcanum plays the antagonist to the ways of magick. Because technology utilizes the laws of nature, and does not bend them, it lends itself to common use and widespread popularity. There is no mystery in the spark between two pieces of flint, and even advanced technology is just an extension of these basic principles, from a simple Skeleton Key to the complex Tesla Rod or the Mechanized Arachnid. Consequently, technology has become quite popular to the shorter-lived species of Arcanum, such as humans and orcs, who lack the longevity and patience to practice the magickal arts for decades on end. The level of technology in Arcanum is what you would find at the turn of the 19th century. Steam engines, revolvers and muskets are common in the world of Arcanum.
Introduction to Magic
Magic and technology do not mix, at the most basic level. Magic works by bending physical law, allowing an effect to occur that would otherwise be impossible. For example, when a spellcaster produces a lightning bolt, he is causing (through an act of will) electrons to flow from one spot to another, despite the fact that the electric potential of the destination may be equal or higher than the source. This is in clear violation of physical law, but the caster has temporarily suppressed that law in their local environment. Thus, magic is a way to tell the universe “Do what I want!” It is very powerful but very personal.
Technology is the exact opposite. Technology relies on physical law to operate, and the use of a technological item or skill serves to reinforce the physical law on which it operates. When a technologist shoots a gun, he is relying on the chemical properties of the gunpowder to create a controlled explosion in the gun’s chamber and propel the bullet forward. By using this gun repeatedly, he is actually strengthening those chemical properties, making them harder to subvert through magic.
Therefore, magic and technology oppose each other. Magic is constantly bending or suppressing physical law, while technology is reinforcing those same laws. Obviously, both cannot succeed when directed at the same physical law. Hence, there is conflict.