View Full Version : Mythology inspired Tech -- Not steampunk

2016-01-09, 10:41 AM
I've seen a lot of 'steampunk' make its way into rpg settings, and that can often be a point of contention for many players.

Unlike most of the lore and mythology that we see in D&D for example, steampunk machines don't have very much historical context and can seem very out of place (revolver wielding gunslingers).

However, technology and 'tinkering' is well established in mythology. The important aspect of this is that the technologies of gods and legend were inspired in their respective times, rather than incorporated in retrospect with modern science.

Examples in Greek mythology alone:

Icarus' wings

Hephaestus' automatons

Hephaestus had the power to produce motion (magical). This can permit devices of perpetual motion.

The Greek animist idea that statues were in some respect alive, for example Hephaestus crafted lions/dogs from gold and silver to attack intruders.



There are many examples from many, many other mythologies, I've just briefly touched on Greek mythology because I feel most are familiar with it.

Feel free to share any ideas that have their origins up to circa 1500. (Rapiers being introduced, crossbows fading out)

brian 333
2016-01-09, 12:40 PM
The Vimana of India comes to mind. In its oldest form this is a flying chariot pulled by a variety of beasts. Later texts describe it as a cloud, or even, more specifically, a temple of seven stories and three naves that moves at the will of its owner. Some are even said to be winged, or made in the form of a bird.

How about The Ark? It is a sail-less, rudderless barge that is steered by the will of God.

Gleipnir, the chains that bind Fenrir until Ragnarok comes. It is an ultra-fine, ultra-light chain that is impossible to break because it is made of seven impossible things.

The Aegis of Athena, later improved with the addition of the Gorgon's head, (Thanks, Perseus!) It was an animal skin, or pouch, or decorated shawl, or some damned thing, (it has many shapes, apparently,) worn across one shoulder, and it is said to strike fear into the hearts of any foe facing it.

These are all things fabricated by gods or by men under the direction of the gods, and even if we now know bird spittle is very good for making birds nest soup but very bad for forging chains, in the day this is what passed for science.

2016-01-09, 02:14 PM
Is it OT to consider non-magical Bronze and Iron Age techs that had huge social impacts?

Egyptian and Mesopotamian irrigation
Persian, Roman road systems making travel faster
Lighthouse and Library of Alexandria

In a magical world, I'd classify the PAx Romana as a tech--peace throughout the Mediterranean world, a degree of consistent law etc, focused through and powered by the Senate and Emperor of Rome.

Also, I'd nominate real-world wonders that, in a magical universe, should have some "crunch" effects
Egyptian Pyramids (also Mesoamerican, southeast Asian pyramids)
Great Wall of China
City Walls of Rome, fortified by the blood of Remus, who playfully jumped over the wall while it was under construction
Medieval Cathedrals, the Kaaba (if D&D arcane magic can be treated as technology, so should divine magic)

2016-01-09, 02:16 PM
Giant's Causeway, a geological formation in northern Ireland taht looks like cobblestones, in myth and legend was supposed to have been the remnants of a causeway between Ireland and Scotland, built and torn up by a giant. What with actual giants running around.....