Transportation in the Errant World

For the Rules, Character Workshop, and other general discussion of the game.

Transportation in the Errant World

Postby Graybeard » February 19th, 2013, 12:43 pm

Here's another subject for discussion, one that I'm surprised hasn't come up explicitly in the past, but is going to become important as the Veracia/Southern Continent threads head (finally!) toward the Big Bad: the matter of how one gets around in the Errant World.

From what we've seen in Errant Story itself, the world seems to be composed of about equal parts magic/fantasy; conventional technology as in the real world circa 1850; and "steampunk" -- hey, where do you think all those airships came from? Which one dominates in a particular region obviously varies with the region, but they're all there. In Errant Story this has translated to means of transportation that include warp gates/travel platforms, airships (with magical enhancements), boats apparently running off some kind of engine power rather than sail, horse-drawn wagons, and of course, shank's mare. Have I forgotten anything? To this we have added submarines in Errant Road, which are a straightforward extension of power boats.

One thing curiously missing from this mix is railways. One would really think that they should be there; according to this Wikipedia article, the concept goes back to antiquity, and passenger and freight trains were already well established in much of the world by 1850. The technological level of the techie parts of the Errant World should be more than sufficient to cause them to exist, and that's laying aside the possibility (likelihood) that the dwarves had something similar. Yet we've never seen them in Errant Story, even when they would make sense -- certainly that would have been the normal way for Meji, Jon and Ian to get back and forth between Emerylon and Saus if it existed, and it would been reasonable for a line to run out toward Thranel from Port Lorrel as well.

Any thoughts on how to handle this mystifying absence? I've already "built" a dwarven underground rail system for use in the approach to the BBEG, and Rose has alluded to a rail system in Veracia that got decommissioned (that's the polite word) by an earlier, technophobic patriarch of the Veracian church. However, this isn't really satisfying. What assumptions regarding rail travel should we make? Are there any other means of conveyance consistent with the basic nature of the Errant World that I'm missing?
----
Image
Because old is wise, does good, and above all, kicks ass.
User avatar
Graybeard
The Heretical Admin
 
Posts: 6700
Joined: August 20th, 2007, 8:26 am
Location: Nuevo Mexico, Estados Unidos

Re: Transportation in the Errant World

Postby Alberich » February 19th, 2013, 1:07 pm

Well, in the comic it seems the Tsuirakuans and elves run warp gates, and I believe there's some kind of rail in Tsuiraku itself (wasn't there a scene of Meji's first day at school meeting Bani on a train)? The Tsuirakuan airships look like sleek, state-of-the-art magical conveyances with no sign of steam - not the sort of thing I saw in this, say.

Between Veracia and Farrel it's horse carts, walking, and sailing ships (isn't that what Jon takes when he returns to Farrel?), no sign of trains, steamships, or powered transportation of any kind. No signs of a steam revolution or industrial revolution either (unless you count Jon's guns, which are very advanced, though I suppose even these aren't being mass produced).

That pretty much fits what we've done in the game -- all the really "advanced" transportation is either Tsuirakuan-magical, elf-magical, or dwarven-artifact-whatever-that-is. (I'm assuming the one Veracian airship we've seen wasn't built by the Veracians themselves; otherwise they'd have a lot more of them, and more battlemages and other manifestations of power.) Even Tsuirakuans who travel there end up going around on foot. And since Veracia's the biggest and richest of the non-elf, non-Tsuirakuan countries, that suggests the rest of the world should be the same way. The "tree city rail" we're using in the current adventure is probably best explained as a Dwarven artifact than as something the locals know how to build, though they may have used their tree-shaping magic to take advantage of it when they want to get around.
Alberich
Noble Knight Protector
 
Posts: 1840
Joined: October 5th, 2008, 9:58 am

Re: Transportation in the Errant World

Postby Graybeard » February 19th, 2013, 1:39 pm

Alberich wrote:Well, in the comic it seems the Tsuirakuans and elves run warp gates, and I believe there's some kind of rail in Tsuiraku itself (wasn't there a scene of Meji's first day at school meeting Bani on a train)? The Tsuirakuan airships look like sleek, state-of-the-art magical conveyances with no sign of steam - not the sort of thing I saw in this, say.

Between Veracia and Farrel it's horse carts, walking, and sailing ships (isn't that what Jon takes when he returns to Farrel?), no sign of trains, steamships, or powered transportation of any kind. No signs of a steam revolution or industrial revolution either (unless you count Jon's guns, which are very advanced, though I suppose even these aren't being mass produced).

Well, not quite. The boat that took Meji and Jon away from Saus was definitely mechanically powered, not a sailboat; check the view of it here. Also, we have word from The Poe Himself that the Veracians had airships, presumably with much less magical capability than the Tsuirakuans but still militarily useful, as far back as the Mage/Priest War. He also said, way back in the old khym Forum but quoted in the wiki, that basic firearms are being produced in both Farrel and the Northern Confederacy, the former in sufficient numbers (if not necessarily "mass produced" in the real-world sense) that the Gewehr seriously considered getting out of the mercenary business and becoming arms dealers. There really does seem to be enough of an industrial base to support steam railroads; again in the real world, those followed rapidly after the invention of steam engines adequate to power boats like the one Jon and Meji were on. So I'm still mystified. Where was the scene with Bani and a train? I missed it if it was there.

Alberich wrote:That pretty much fits what we've done in the game -- all the really "advanced" transportation is either Tsuirakuan-magical, elf-magical, or dwarven-artifact-whatever-that-is. (I'm assuming the one Veracian airship we've seen wasn't built by the Veracians themselves; otherwise they'd have a lot more of them, and more battlemages and other manifestations of power.) Even Tsuirakuans who travel there end up going around on foot. And since Veracia's the biggest and richest of the non-elf, non-Tsuirakuan countries, that suggests the rest of the world should be the same way. The "tree city rail" we're using in the current adventure is probably best explained as a Dwarven artifact than as something the locals know how to build, though they may have used their tree-shaping magic to take advantage of it when they want to get around.

As noted above, the Veracians definitely have, or had, airships in Errant Story; they just never appeared in the actual depictions in the comic. Farrel has them too. It isn't a stretch of canon at all for the Veracians to have them in Errant Road. They're just not highly practical as point-to-point mass transportation, being large, unwieldy, and not well suited to stopping at wide spots in the road like Thranel.

As for the tree-city rail, let's just assume that that's dwarven technology and leave it at that ... for the moment. More is definitely coming.
----
Image
Because old is wise, does good, and above all, kicks ass.
User avatar
Graybeard
The Heretical Admin
 
Posts: 6700
Joined: August 20th, 2007, 8:26 am
Location: Nuevo Mexico, Estados Unidos

Re: Transportation in the Errant World

Postby Alberich » February 19th, 2013, 2:17 pm

Thought it was in her flashbacks to "Meji's arrival at school" but I haven't got time to search the comic for it, may not be remembering it right, and don't care that much one way or the other.

ES and ER, but especially ER, have a lot of "Cerebus culture bleed" -- medieval and 18th-19th-20th century touches all rubbing along together in ways that don't really cohere (though they're less common in the comic - the "gunslinger" getup Jon wears in the elf city is a little jarring, but doesn't really matter to the story), and that the readers don't worry about too much while the story is good. A rail network stretching through Veracia, the NC, or Farrel would be a transformation of the world to no particular purpose and I don't think we should add it without a really good reason.
Alberich
Noble Knight Protector
 
Posts: 1840
Joined: October 5th, 2008, 9:58 am

Re: Transportation in the Errant World

Postby Graybeard » February 21st, 2013, 10:38 am

I haven't seen anything in those flashbacks suggesting a train. Start here and page forward. The first page looks like it's happening in a locker room rather than in a train car, and nothing at all on the following pages looks train-like. Similarly, the views of Tsuirakushiti that we get from Toshi's window, Poe's commentary, etc., don't show anything in that vein. The closest I can find are what look to be raised trackways in the overview of Tsuirakushiti we get as the Tsuirakuans are dithering over sending a fleet to Praenubilus Astu. They definitely seem to be there; however, they could as easily be thaumatic moving sidewalks or other magical people-movers as train tracks.

This absence in Tsuirakushiti isn't surprising; it's a lot of people crammed into a very small area, and if you need to go somewhere non-magically, you just walk. (I indicated elsewhere in Errant Road that even horses are rare in Tsuirakushiti, except in parades, exhibitions, etc.) But Farrel and Veracia aren't that way. They have the kind of layout where there should be a rail network; it is clearly needed. at least to move freight if not necessarily people. Another informative image is here, where post-catastrophe Mejinilis is helping(?) reconstruct Emerylon. It's clear that at the minimum, steel girders are being used that imply some kind of manufacturing capacity. Those didn't just grow out of the ground in gardens in Emerylon, nor were they brought laboriously from iron mines in the boonies to foundries in the nearest city and then to Emerylon, all by hand or little horse-drawn cart. There has to be some kind of way of moving that stuff around.

I agree, there's danger of going in unwanted directions if we overly industrialize the Errant World. Your "Cerebus culture bleed" -- I couldn't find that term at TV Tropes despite expecting it, but it should be there, it's a good one -- is a real concern. But the Errant World is populated by people of normal intelligence, and people of normal intelligence who confront normal problems do normal things to deal with those problems. Slow, inefficient travel is one of those normal problems a culture faces, even a locked-down culture like Veracia's. Some improved method of getting around has to be going on somehow. But how?
----
Image
Because old is wise, does good, and above all, kicks ass.
User avatar
Graybeard
The Heretical Admin
 
Posts: 6700
Joined: August 20th, 2007, 8:26 am
Location: Nuevo Mexico, Estados Unidos

Re: Transportation in the Errant World

Postby Alberich » February 21st, 2013, 1:27 pm

They have the kind of layout where there should be a rail network; it is clearly needed. at least to move freight if not necessarily people.

Not necessarily; it depends on how much trade they're actually doing. If most of Veracia is self-sufficient agricultural communities with local craftsmen, then maybe they don't have that much surplus to move around. Why anarchic, warlord-dominated Farrel has such a high level of material culture (especially with the concentrated wealth we've added in the game) is one of those things that is not explained, and does not need to be explained, for any of these stories. If Meji's helping to rebuild Emerylon and we see only one piece of it, we don't know if that's 100% native construction or whether there's some Tsuirakuan involvement anyway.

But my big problem with this whole thread is that you're assuming that we have some kind of need to make the ES/ER world make logical sense all the way through. There isn't any. I don't think it's possible and I think it would be more trouble than it would be worth even if it were possible.

As an example, it doesn't make sense that in a world where poor, anarchic Farrel is producing post-American Civil War firearms, larger, richer Veracia is equipping its troops as much with spears as rifles (if those are rifles at all) -- their equipment looks more English Civil War to me, and they're still clunking around in armor that those later firearms should make obsolete, and no one's undertaken the simple expedient of fixing a bayonet to the rifles...it gets even sillier if you give them post-Industrial Revolution technology, wealth, and industrial base.

Yeah, with work you could concoct some kind of explanation, but what would be the point? Better to introduce what we need to tell the stories we want to tell, without transforming the world too far beyond recognition, and leave it at that.

(One of my buddies coined the term "Cerebus culture bleed" and I think it's a good one, but I don't think Cerebus itself has stood the test of time, so I doubt the term would catch on very well now. You can see the same thing in some episodes of Firefly, where the low-wealth, low-tech worlds don't mesh very well with the massive wealth and technology it would take to get people out there in the first place. I suppose there's a bit of it even in Middle-Earth, since the Shire seems to belong to a different era than Rohan or Gondor...but I wouldn't spend significant time trying to build an economic model to make any of it "work"; I just enjoyed the stories and left it at that.)
Alberich
Noble Knight Protector
 
Posts: 1840
Joined: October 5th, 2008, 9:58 am


Return to OOC Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron