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The Magical Industrial Revolution

The origin of golems is lost to prehistory. Even the oldest tombs, sealed long before the rise of the Atalan Empire, would sometimes include a construct made out of stone or metal that was still animate after many millenia. Uses for these constructs were either for warfare or personal defense, or for labor - but never for particularly complex labor, as their intelligence was extremely limited and they followed instructions single-mindedly, frequently to the detriment of those in their way.

And for most types of labor, using golems simply wasn't very cost-effective. Certainly, their strength was often greater than of any man or beast of burden. But the cost of their construction was such that it was often cheaper to hire hundreds of common workers, and their limited intelligence made them unable to replicate the work of more skilled artisans. Thus, they largely remained a status symbol or a tool for intimidation, and only few uses were found that required the application of strength on a scale beyond what human laborers could provide.

This started to change after the Liberation War when textile mills became more widespread in order to cope with the growing needs of the surging population of the Flannish Cities. Originally most of these mills were powered by water flowing through nearby streams, but eventually several owners hit on the idea of using golems instead to power their complex mechanisms - and thanks to early custom-built transmission systems, each golem was able to power multiple spinners and mechanical looms, day and night. A breakthrough occurred when a clever enchanter hit on the idea of custom-building golems as self-powered pistons instead of using the traditional humaniform golems which pulled cranks - such pistons had much better power transmission and could easily be removed and installed in new machinery. Further refinements allowed such pistons to be controlled by levers and switches instead of the traditional voice commands, which reduced (though not eliminated) accidents.

This made golems useful beyond mere status symbols, but their high cost remained a problem. As the pressure mounted to find cheaper replacements for the expensive materials needed for golem construction, the age-old concept of nexus towers was re-examined. It was well-known that nexus towers generated trace amounts of azoth - pure, liquefied magical energy - but now multiple cities experimented with improving nexus tower designs and eventually rebuilt entire city districts to increase the flow of azoth from a small trickle to a steady stream. This not only allowed the production of golems on a much larger scale but also made numerous other enchantments more affordable than ever before, and the magical industrial revolution began in earnest.

The final missing component was large amounts of high-grade steel, as the forges of the previous age proved insufficient for the increasingly numerous and complex golem-powered machinery - and the dwarves were unwilling to sell their steel in the amounts and at the prices the Flannish Cities wanted. As a result, numerous explorers delved into abandoned dwarfholds to discover the secrets of dwarven metalmaking (instead of merely looting them for dwarf coin and magic items, as their predecessors hat done) - and while the dwarves were furious about this theft, they could only watch as mines and enormous foundries sprang up all over the protectorates of the city. Perhaps the steel they produced was not quite as good as that of the dwarves, but it was good enough.

See Also

Adventure Ideas

Designer's Notes & Resources


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Urbis - A World of Cities © Jürgen Hubert. All material on this site excepting forum posts is owned by him.