Independent heroic fantasy author Will Hahn has a new book called Games of Chance (Judgement’s Tale I) coming out soon, and asked me to help with his blog tour. To that end, he was kind enough to provide a guest post on the technology of his Lands of Hope setting. It turns out the forces of Despair have superior tech. I’ll let Will explain.
Technology and Despair
A remarkable facet in the history of the Lands of Hope, one that its people are only slowly discovering, is that their ancient enemies- the legions of Despair who ruled the lands centuries ago and were long since removed- clearly controlled a superior technology to that of their revered heroes.
The continent, originally home to several indigenous peoples, was successively invaded, first by the Lieges of Despair who ruled for a millennium, and then by the Hopelords, who battled to eject their foes and succeeded in a crucial battle marking the start of the calendar, a bit over 2,000 years previously. So until the current era, the people had enjoyed unbroken peace and quiet, stable, customary ways. Now it’s the Age of Adventure, which most of the Lands’ inhabitants regard as a cursed day! Only a few stubborn, heretical outcasts insist on exploring the far corners and deep delves made by ancient enemies, as if trying to get into trouble. And they’re starting to find some.
These adventurers are learning several things about the days of Despair that almost no one else knows.
Most obviously, Despair built in metal, to a much greater degree than the children of Hope. Sometimes large doors and even walls were constructed entirely of metal or with strong iron and steel underpinnings. Their metalwork was also sometimes quite complex- using small parts that interlocked and required some form of pressure or other power to function. These “Makine” (mah-KEE-nay) are often huge war-engines, much larger and more destructive than the primarily-wooden trebuchets and catapults their enemies used. The very sight of a Makine used as a stage prop in Judgement’s Tale, though broken and long disused, causes gasps of fear in the audience. During the play’s intermission, Solemn Judgement who is new to the Lands discusses the three characteristics of Makine with his tutors, the sage Cedrith and Healer Guildmistress Natasha.
“Metallic workings and destructive, I see. And the third?”
Judgement’s friends both hesitated in distaste. At last Natasha said, “The third sign of a Makine… is that it is always working” dropping her voice to a kind of hiss. Then she sat back, shook her head and shivered.
Judgement either missed the point or was playing his sarcasm. “You mean, it is never broken?”
“No, friend,” said Cedrith, “though they were legendarily sturdy and difficult to destroy. What Natasha meant is that once they are, em, begun in operation, they can continue their actions indefinitely.”
He paused a moment to let that thought sink in. Judgement’s face changed with comprehension, “It would continue to- to destroy- without further guidance?”
“Just so, my friend. Whether designed to batter walls, or throw flame, or crush rock, it would never need reference to human intervention, never need to be guided, or corrected. It would slay the maker’s foe and friend indifferently, unless the magic of its operation were invoked. It would destroy until the end of time.”
Hope-ful beings recoil from the automatic function of such destructive weapons, as well as the thought of the mass-labor required to produce them (slavery was practiced widely among the nations of Despair in the elder days). There is also the wasteful impact on the environment to consider, as mentioned in recent accounts by the Elven explorer Krator Hohl, having spent years digging up ancient ruins of both the Despairing invaders and the rustic cultures they subdued.
Curiously, though Despair built heavily and hard, it does not appear they were particularly interested in permanence: the Hopelords knew more about preservation of items, through means both magical and mundane, than their enemies ever wielded. Despairing excavations universally show signs of wear, rot, rust and decay despite the sometimes ostentatious outlay, seen in such things as large metal doors, elaborate mechanisms to restrict passage or lock away quite small spaces, and more. In some cases there are reports of large heavy items completely replaced on a regular basis, and of barely-damaged replicas that appear to have been discarded. As always, it is difficult to generalize with accuracy, but if the signs noted in these few cases were to be the common rule, then the rate at which Despair plundered and wasted the natural resources must have been staggering indeed.
A Balanced Conflict
This attitude of casual, damaging waste, combined with Despair’s overbearing arrogance in the elder days, may have held the keys to their defeat by the less numerous, magically-powerful but clearly less technologically advanced armies of Hope. Still, it’s clear that the enemies of those past ages wielded tremendous power, knowing magic as well as what we would call science. The remnants of Despair, still sometimes rooted out to light by those meddling adventurers, have access to a vast arsenal accompanied by utter disregard for the consequences of their use.
About Games of Chance
For twenty centuries the Lands of Hope prospered from their Heroes’ peace, but suffer now from their absence as a curse thickens over the central kingdom known as the Percentalion. An immortal omniscient conspirator schemes to escape the extra-worldly prison restraining his tide of undeath, using a demonic ally in a plot to bring back hell on earth. Solemn Judgement steps onto these Lands both a stranger and an orphan, driven to complete the lore his father died to give him. In a world beset with increasing chaos, the bravest Children of Hope must take mortal risks. A young woodsman’s spear-cast, a desperate bid to save his comrades; the Healers Guildmistress’ cheery smile, hiding a grim secret and a heavy burden of guilt; the prince of Shilar’s speech in a foreign tongue, a gambit to avoid bloodshed or even war. As a new generation of heroes, scattered across the kingdoms, bets their lives and more, Solemn Judgement – soon to be known as The Man in Grey – must learn to play… Games of Chance: Part One of Judgement’s Tale.
Wm. L. Hahn Bio
Will Hahn has been in love with heroic tales since age four, when his father read him the Lays of Ancient Rome and the Tales of King Arthur. He taught Ancient-Medieval History for years, but the line between this world and others has always been thin; the far reaches of fantasy, like the distant past, still bring him face to face with people like us, who have choices to make. Will didn’t always make the right choices when he was young. Any stick or vaguely-sticklike object became a sword in his hands, to the great dismay of his five sisters. Everyone survived, in part by virtue of a rule forbidding him from handling umbrellas, ski poles, curtain rods and more. Will has written about the Lands of Hope since his college days (which by now are also part of ancient history). With the publication of Judgement’s Tale Part One, Games of Chance, he begins at last to tell the tale of the Land’s most unique hero, The Man in Grey.
Will Hahn is the chronicler of the Lands of Hope tales.
- The Plane of Dreams - See the trailer!
- The Ring and the Flag - Try the Audio Book at Scribl!
- Fencing Reputation
- Three Minutes to Midnight
- The Book of Tales
You can reach Will via the following: