Reichstag of Solace
In the timeline of this world during and immediately preceding the Victorian Era technological development was greatly accelerated, matching and even exceeding in some areas a steampunk genre campaign. However, over the past half century technological development has slowed to a snail’s pace. There are several factors that have contributed to this:
- The parameters of this universe do not permit technology far outside the bounds of what has been naturally developed within it to enter without altering it down to local levels of performance. Previously, agents of the Rahnian Sphere had been seeking out genius level natives and “slipping” them technological innovation “under the table.” That is they arranged for them to see glimpses of advanced technology, enough to show them what was possible and inspire them to begin recreating it, or by directly supplying them with a bit of technical information on which they themselves could drastically expand allowing them to develop whole new branches of inventions. This was done to alter the level of tech the universe would accept, thus bringing it closer to the point where they could bring in their full technological capabilities into this world. However, The Baroness and the Customs Agency put a stop to this a full century ago.
- Most of the individuals behind the supper-tech of the previous century, such as the Infamous Robber, The Genius of Prussia, Dr. Gaetan Moliére, etc… were NOT interested in sharing their advances, and as a result, they took their technological secrets to their graves. Only small samples of what they were capable off were left behind to be reverse engineered. In many cases, especially advanced weapons technology, The Baroness made certain of this in order to thwart the ambitions of the Rahnian Sphere.
- Humanity needed time to absorb the new technologies. In many cases, the supper-tech was so advanced over the comprehension of mainstream society that ONLY genius level individuals could comprehend it enough to produce or modify it. The scientific principles behind it were not fully developed, but rather intuitively understood by the supper-intelligent inventors. Also, these advances were almost always in specialized areas, rather than in the fundamental tech base. It took time for the basic understanding of the rest of the scientific community to quantify the full principles and implications that supported the supper-tech, and then it took time for the world to catch up in general to that level.
- The Great Depression brought economic development of this world to a virtual standstill for a decade. With a more developed and integrated industrial economy than the base earth timeline, the effects of the Great Depression actually spread faster and hit harder in this realm. The effects were psychological, not just monetary. Not only was there not any capitol to pursue serious R&D, but people were to focused on their own survival to care about the next big idea. The best theoretical physicists were too busy digging ditches for minimum wage fourteen hours a day to feed themselves and their families to come up with new scientific principles or technological innovations.
This all being said, the technology base for this world is notably higher than it was in the base timeline. The tech level at the start of WW II was roughly equivalent to what it was at the end of WW II in the base timeline.
Some Relevant Current Levels of Basic Tech in this Campaign
- Computer technology is still in the experimental stage, roughly equivalent to the normal timeline, but just a little bit ahead. The ENIAC has just come online two years earlier than in the base timeline, and will still be used for its original purpose, to compute artillery firing charts and solutions. It is currently the only known computer in the world.
- Although still dependant on vacuum tubes, electronic technology is significantly more advanced in this world than in the standard timeline. For example, color TV’s are the norm in America at this time, as are the use of UHF and FM channels for TV and radio broadcasting.
- Radar is more or less on track. It was originally seen as more of a novelty than a really useful technology by everyone except the UK, where it was instrumental in surviving The Battle of Brittan. The Nazi’s, secure in their own technological superiority, didn’t figure it out until far too late, the Japanese still haven’t, and the Americans took little note of it until their failure to utilize it properly at Pearl Harbor woke them up.
- Single person hand held automatic weapons are a reality. The standard issue US military M1 rifle functions more like an original timeline M16. Oddly enough, the Tommy Gun is still the most formidable fully automatic rifle in the world, and aside from a more powerful version of its 45 caliber cartridge, is pretty much unchanged.
- Aircraft technology is also very close to its original timeline in development. This is due primarily to the more advanced airship (dirigible/blimp) technology of this world’s Victorian Era. Held aloft by helium, and with much more powerful & efficient steam engines than available under the original timeline, airships were regarded as far superior to fixed wing powered gliders. Although faster, airplanes were gas-guzzlers and had a range of only a hundred miles or so before needing refueling. Airships, while slower, could carry enough fuel and provisions to cross the Atlantic in luxury. Their larger size also allowed them to mount heavier ordinance, such as the heavy artillery of the Prussian airships, or the laser cannons of the British airships. These heavy battle craft made huge impressions (figuratively and literally) on the battlefields of WW I. That is, until American biplanes entered the war and flew rings around them. Too fast and maneuverable for the large airship guns to track in on them effectively, the smaller nimbler planes could buzz about them with impunity. Despite their mass size which would normally have rendered their machineguns as ineffective as popguns, their dependence on gas buoyancy doomed them. Small as they were compared to the armament of the airship, they were sufficient to puncture their gas reservoirs, and that was enough to take them down. The airships simply couldn’t carry enough armor to stop that and still be buoyant enough to fly. Overnight, airships were replaced on the battlefield, and relegated to transatlantic luxury liners. The US has been experimenting with airship aircraft carriers, but so far forward land bases have proved faster and easier to construct, and can hold far more support. For sea-based operations, the new aircraft carrier ships are proving far more efficient. The end result of this, however, is that aircraft development was not significantly perused until the latter stages of WW I, just as on the original timeline.
There is some lingering supper-tech left over from the accelerated tech period of the Victorian Era. One such notable example are the Winholz-Teche laser weapons. However, although these weapons have enormous destructive power, they are far too delicate for battlefield use by the normal soldier as they require special training and equipment to maintain. Furthermore, the lenses involved must be kept clean and scratch free, something that is nearly impossible in the chaotic realm of a large scale combat engagement with artillery barges, and forced marches through gritty terrain. Powering the things is also problematic. The original power source, a magnesium flare, is much too volatile & erratic for battlefield use. Electrical power is an option, but battery packs are bulky and weigh a soldier down considerably. The bottom line is that for hand held use the reliability and greater accessibility of traditional firearms outweighs the marginally greater destructive power of the lasers. As far as field weaponry goes, since they are direct fire weapons limited by line of site, traditional artillery capable of using the ballistic arch for indirect fire to shoot OVER obstacles is much more useful, and easier to maintain.
While Winholz-Teche lasers are not the only example of lingering supper-tech that is to be encountered, they serve as a representative example. All of these applications have unique problems in their deployment and use on the battlefield, relegating them to specialty use. However, when employed properly under specific conditions favorable to them, these technologies are truly formidable, so be warned and be wary.