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Calling All Engineers/Architects/Etc! Tech tree creation!

Discussion in 'General' started by lunasmeow, Oct 13, 2019.

  1. lunasmeow

    lunasmeow Verified Dragon Deity

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    So, I'm considering starting a Dungeon Core/Lord style quest, but the MC is going to have a decent background in needed things to try and out-science the local population.

    As such, what kind of designs do you think you could come up with to assist without going full modern day tech?

    Meaning, getting clean water for his dungeon without filters, nice repeating crossbows instead of guns, best way to make a smithy in a dungeon... hell, even a tank would be allowable if it is like the type in Assassin's Creed but actually feasible - some big monstrosity made of wood that could feasibly be invented and used without an engine.

    Basically, the challenge is to come up with as many modern replacements for tech using only old-world materials... but you have full modern world knowledge of science, engineering, mathematics and the like.

    Al for example, making clean water by channeling the water through semi-natural filters, an artificial sand filter or somesuch, then putting it into an aqueduct.

    Consider that the dungeon can expand - it might start as a typical cavern, but it can grow to encompass any area. Forests, towns, plains...

    The world is your oyster, you just can't have gunpowder, electricity, or engines of any sort, due to keeping fantasy vibes. Steampunk will probably be a big nono as well, though limited exceptions may be allowed. You're more likely to get away with it if you make it a magical enhancement instead - say eventually unlocking electricity with lightning magic instead of actual generators.

    Magi-tech is for the future though, late term stuff. For now we're starting with low-level tech. I'm trying to build tech trees and such.

    Any tech can be enhanced - the player will need to create farms for food, deal with animal husbandry, mining, forging, monster taming and breeding...

    Basically, all the tech you'd want to have if you got stuck in an isekai. Modern clothing tech just so you aren't always itching being one of many. Ways to keep the place cool or warm as well as bug and pest free being another.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
  2. Cybork

    Cybork Cybernettik Orkanizm

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    Not an engineer, but I've watches enough primitive technology stuff to chip in.

    Water can be filtered using a pot with a hole in the bottom. Place a thin piece of cloth over the hole and put crushed charcoal on top. Add a layer of sand for removing small sediment, then a layer of gravel for larger bits. Run some water through it a few times to wash out the microscopic dirt before using it. You'll still need to boil the water.

    An automatic crossbow is either going to be very heavy and awkward or so weak you might as well not bother. If you're in a dungeon or cave environment the static version would work well for shutting down access to a tunnel as anything coming down it gets a couple of crossbow bolts a second coming their way. You want several people running the crank keeping this running in order to have both lethal energy and decent rate of fire. Something like an oversized crankshaft with half a dozen guys turning it as fast as they can, maybe a backup team so they can take a break.

    The design might have something like two parallel chains between two pairs of cogs, each with a single tooth that draws back the string. Once it goes back far enough, the tooth is pulled down over the cog and the string is free to release the bolt. Have another pair of teeth halfway around the chain ready to meet the string just as it goes taught and start on the next shot. A slowly rotating cylinder can regulate the bolts being dropped. It has a hole cut down one side and is placed beneath a magazine that is directly overhead the trough the bolt goes in when firing. As it turns, it collects a bolt from the magazine when the hole it facing up, then drops it as the hole turns to face down, just in time for the string to release. You'd need a way to transfer power from the crankshaft to the cogs, but something like a bicycle chain might be rigid enough to avoid slipping. You can mount it on a wooden turtle-tank for mobility and protection. Maybe have the crankshaft turn its wheels when not operating the crossbow. Or have two crankshafts for redundancy when firing and one to turn each sides wheels when moving. All of these parts would have to be very heavy, bulky and over-engineered compared to modern stuff.

    This would all require good metallurgy. Crucible steel can get quite good once you get the hang of it. You need a high temperature crucible - something made of fireclay (clay typically found under coal seams can be a good source of this). Add ore, charcoal to remove oxygen, and flux for other impurities (you can use limestone, ash, glass, sand, etc). Exact ratios will vary. Place it under a chimney next to a furnace, then pump air over the furnace. Partially blocking the chimney can reduce the heat lost at the cost of a less intense fire, but that's a matter of experimentation. For springier steels you'll want a little more silicon in the end product, for harder steels, moderate amounts of carbon.

    The spinning wheel would be a huge improvement for fabric production and can be partially automated with waterwheels. You can find diagrams of how they work online easily enough. Same for mechanical looms.

    The four field system is a big part of population growth during the industrial revolution. Wheat > turnips > barley > clover. The turnips and clover reintroduce nitrogen into the soil after the previous cross depleted it. Turnips can feed both livestock and people easily enough. Clover is good for grazing.

    Really, creating a tech tree amounts to 'summary of the industrial revolution, minus steam and gunpowder', neither of which were completely necessary (though gunpowder made mining massively easier).
     
    lunasmeow likes this.
  3. lunasmeow

    lunasmeow Verified Dragon Deity

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    All true, but there are doubtlessly things we could invent now using basic materials that never got used, simply because by the time we had the knowledge, we had already gotten better materials.

    What kind of improvements might we give a town or castle wall, for example, if we had all our current knowledge and we still used them because planes, bombs, and missiles weren't a thing?
     
  4. Cybork

    Cybork Cybernettik Orkanizm

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    There's a limit to how far modern knowledge will help when technology is still limited. Medieval people weren't stupid and they generally made the most of what they had. For the available tech, a castle wall is about as good as it gets for defense. Portland cement is an improvement on lime mortar and that's from the early 19th century. Maybe the PC might remember to use pozzolan in place of sand for Roman cement. Crucible steel and the four field system are all doable relatively quickly for better materials and eventual manpower. Some basic farming tools like a cradle scythe can be done immediately. Other, more complex machines like a horse-drawn harvester will take time to build and test, but would reduce manpower requirements once introduced (and probably kick off a luddite-like movement). Semaphore towers might be doable depending on terrain and population density.

    Unless gunpowder is a thing or magitech becomes somewhat widespread, battles are still going to come down to columns of men hammering each other. Basic technologies will help with the equipment and logistics, but the nature of the game won't change much. Better steel means better armour and heavy crossbows can become more widespread, but are still heavy and so will have mobility issues. Better farming means more, larger men and horses. Better roads and canals means you keep all this supplied (until you hit enemy territory). Less manpower needed for farming might allow a standing army of professionals.

    The big technological ones would be the agricultural revolution (the four field system + some mechanisation) allowing population growth, the production line, improved communication and administration allowing changes to be rolled out rapidly and economy of scale to be implemented. This can be supplemented with farming machinery to free up more workers for factories, mines, armies, etc. Without explosives mining is going to be an issue. Without trains, canals will be the biggest help with logistics but are dependent on terrain.

    Social and economic reforms will help speed things along. Make capital easy to access for major projects. A reliable banking system so people trust it enough to allow the banks to invest their money. Social mobility that isn't dependent on the nobility (they might need to be destroyed, or merely quietly displaced by the new tradesman classes). Merchant 'lords' were already a thing in much of medieval Europe anyway.
     
  5. lunasmeow

    lunasmeow Verified Dragon Deity

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    Magi-tech is definitely a thing, it is the only way for me to allow true advancement over time while still keeping the fantasy feel.