Americana (DnD Campaign Setting)/Technology
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Americana is on the verge of a revolution. Though the Twenty Years' War threw a wrench into it, the great industrial nations have been riding an upward trend of technology since the end of the Great War. Now, magic and science are standing together on the edge of a great evolution in everything, from the way goods are made to the way war is waged.
(The technology level can be placed, with some standout exceptions like the Zeppelin, at roughly the early-to-mid 19th century.)
The sword's day as king is nearly ended--new technology, such as rifling of guns and the percussion-cap mechanism, has made the firearm more accurate and more reliable in all weather. As a result, all that prevents the final death of the battlefield of blades is the difficulty of making firearms en masse--and that may soon come to change.
Coal is king in Americana. It powers the short-range trains that connect the guts of the nations, turns the sidewheels and propellers of the steamships and paddlewheelers that haul goods along the oceans and rivers, and fires the DC generators that bring light to the biggest cities. It also turns motors in the sky as well as on the ground or water- with no rail or road lines to cross the mountains that bracket the continent, fleets of enormous zeppelins and airships float over the peaks and across the plains, carrying the cargoes too valuable to risk being lost to bandits and Natives. Not a day passes without some enterprising land pirate watching an airship float silently overhead and dreaming of a way to assail the behemoths, and though none have succeeded in their crazy plans yet, someone surely will if they keep at it.
Anyone who wants to have the might of science and magic working in tandem soundly proven, in recent years, needs only to go to a vastly broad space west of Chicago, which has been stripped down to the bare rock and leveled almost impossibly flat. If they arrive at the right time, they can stand on the edge of that pit and look down at their proof--or, perhaps, look up.
 Details and Data
The Poletiazhelyi Airship--commonly referred to as the zeppelin after the prototype--is a lighter-than-air craft, if that can be believed, which is built by the Chicago-based Poletiazhelyi Airship Company. It consists of a metal frame wrapped in an outer-coating of canvas and containing a number of separated cells filled with augusten, the superlight gas discovered by von Zeppelin. The number is usually fourteen, but can range anywhere from ten to thirty-two. The separated cells are a safety mechanism to help prevent crashes--a puncture in one or several does not necessarily mean a quickly impending crash, as it would if there was only one gas cell. The engines, crew compartment, and cargo compartment are all combined into a metal pod, which is attached to the bottom of the zeppelin's frame.
Though Poletiazhelyi's original zeppelin was kept aloft by nothing but its augusten gas and powered by only one engine, scientists from all of the Big Three have contributed into making great leaps in the design in only six years since it was first revealed--though the same basic principles still apply, the present-day zeppelin is a patchwork of magic as well as technology. Most seppelins are now much bigger than the original and are powered by anywhere from two to five engines driving as many propellers, which means, though they burn more coal, they move much faster and can carry much more. And to make sure that nothing goes wrong--or that nothing terrible happens if something does--the current zeppelin fleet has been reinforced with a variety of magical spells, two of which are widely known: Protection from Projectiles, to help keep anyone from bringing the big ships down, and Feather Fall, in case any of them do go down.
Of course, all of this is not cheap. The original August von Zeppelin was hardly a bargain itself--Poletiazhelyi only got the materials he needed thanks to his credentials and fractional down payments of all the money he had ever saved up, banking everything on the Queen and the City being interested in what he had to offer (for the record, he is now the fourth-richest man in Chicago). But with the added engines, crew, and the massive magical spells, zeppelins are, for the moment, completely out of the price range of everyone except for Nation-States and a very few companies--even if one had the money to purchase a zeppelin, the coal costs alone make it prohibitive to use for most circumstances. The current fleet, not counting the prototype, numbers thirty-seven; Chicago owns twelve of these, New York and Detroit six, Los Angeles and Atlanta three, Las Vegas two, and Dallas one. One of the remainder belongs to the Poletiazhelyi Airship Company, and is used to train new crews; the other three are owned by weapons manufacturers.
Augusten, the gas essential to zeppelin operation, is currently held under monopoly by the Poletiazhelyi Airship Company. They own the land where the original vent was located, and spent considerable sums of money purchasing the sites of two subsequent discoveries--one on the Cordillera Plain near Seattle, the other in the hills of northwest Atlanta.
 Firearms and Paraphernalia
 The Marconi Wire
Towards the end of the Age of Chaos, a New Yorki electrician and inventor by the name of Samuel Marconi found himself frustrated by the difficulty he was having communicating with his colleagues in Detroit. Messenger birds were slow and untrustworthy, magical communication was ungodly expensive, and ground-sent mail was not only slow but liable to be made unusable during one of the frequent diplomatic spats that the two nations were prone to.
Marconi had been experimenting with electricity for a considerable length of time now, and in his frustration began dreaming of using electricity to send messages between the nations. That dream stuck with him, and slowly over the next two years blossomed into a reality as he and several colleagues developed a system to send electric pulses of measured and varying length along a wire that could be translated into Common Tongue.
This system was first displayed to the world by Marconi in 75 A.G.. Dubbed the Marconi Wire, it allowed for near-instantaneous communication along a wire between two locations- as Marconi demonstrated by sending a message from New York while his assistant spoke in front of a crowd of Detroi machinists and investors intrigued by the design. The historic first message: "I bring you news of a New Age."
Suitably impressed, the Detroi funded a project to spread the new technology across the entire continent, and by the end of the Age of Chaos the Marconi Wire ran to every major city in every nation. The technology allowed for much smoother communication between nations, allowing diplomacy and large-scale trade to become feasible for the first time in history.
The Marconi Wire runs between every country, and a sending/receiving station can be found in essentially every town's post office. The Wire is operated by a private international trust- the Wire Corporation- which sees to maintaining and operating the service. Sending a "marconi" costs 5sp for every 50 words.