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The Magic Railroad

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Orc Knight, Jul 20, 2020.

  1. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    Sorry, the School Bus will have to wait. Anywho, to drive the point home like the last spike on the transcontinental railroad, I got to thinking. Mostly due to some logistics thinking and just how much one can do in High Fantasy or anything with great amounts of magic. That is of course railroads.

    I've felt I do have to have something of the sort on the Trade Roads of Eld. With things like magical refrigeration and preservation, it makes getting food a bit more modern day, particularly at Eld's magical peak. Also things like Eberron's Lightning Rail come to mind. In lands with high magic and airships, why not some trains too? Sure, they may not look like any of the ones we have, but close.

    It was just one of those things that I kind of got on because I tend to have come to realize I do tend to move massive armies in the world with little thinking of the logistics. Then again, it is fantasy, don't want to read about feeding the army, so much as watching it kick ass. But, is rail important in your fantasy worlds? Or something similar to it?
     
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  2. cak85

    cak85 Dreamer

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    Is your question about how to supply and move large armies? If so, I would recommend you listen to Dan Carlin's podcast Hardcore History on WW1 or WW2 (I can't remember which one). He has a pretty large section dedicated to how to supply large armies.

    I personally don't really care about knowing about the super specifics of how an army is fed and moved. However, if it is a major part of your story, then I would really want to know how it works.

    I really like your idea of using magic trains to move armies. Its a creative idea that I can't say that I have seen used.
     
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  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Large armies can move without benefit of rail. Just ask Xerxes. Oh wait, he's dead. But you could read about him. ;-)

    I agree with cak85. If logistics play an important role, then I'd want to know about that. If not, then not.
     
  4. cak85

    cak85 Dreamer

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    Thats a really great point about Xerxes. Looking at military history would be a great place to start.

    Another interesting angle is to consider limitations of using magic trains. For example, I just finished Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. They use these magical teleportation structures called Oathgates to move armies and people. They can only be operated by a person with a special kind of sword (used like a key) and only to a location with another Oathgate.

    I think a good place to start is asking questions like:
    Who can operate these trains?
    How are they operated?
    Do they need special training?
    Do all nations have access to these magical trains?
    Are some nations better at making trains than others
     
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  5. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    railroads are a 'mid-future' thing in my primary world...and an incipient ongoing thing in a couple others.

    Primary world, the motivator was 'Equitant' a province more technologically advanced than the rest of the Solarian Empire. Until the Traag war, their inventions and innovations were suppressed by Church and State (with assorted exceptions). Afterwards, though...well their inventions were everywhere. (Horse drawn) Railways were something Equitant experimented with during the Traag War - one horse could do the work of several. Mechanical locomotives, (steam, fired by oil) came next. Fifty years after the Traag War, rail lines stretched across much of the heartland, linking the more crucial cities, and smaller lines were built elsewhere.

    On Aquas, railways were a goblin invention, at first strictly industrial, but then expanded to link key cities of the Dimmurian League, an alliance that governs a fair chunk of the western strand (the strand being the bizarre ribbon of land that girds the planet). It was seen as an efficient means of accessing fields and as an alternative to less than safe sea travel.

    On the 'eldritch world,' railways are the province of the city-gods of the clone cities, though that changes later.
     
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  6. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    In the RP I frequent one of the settings controlled by another player recently developed (non-magical) rail road. I regret missing my chance to do something with the economic impacts of that. Since the setting is a multiverse where different worlds have recently been connected I could have done some fun stuff with my characters buying influence through providing off world tech to a noble hurt by having his thriving trade hub obsoleted through trains.

    My own setting skipped past railroads for airships since wide spread monsters make both building and maintaining railways difficult.

    There's also an MMO style fast travel system and teleportation magic, but the combination of difficulty, price and limits to how magic can be transported at once ensures that bulk trade goods still generally fly by airship.
     
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  7. There's nothing in my fantasy worlds, since they're set earlier.

    having said that, I think the main thing to keep in mind with this sort of thing is that any kind of fast traveling system will have immense consequences on your world. Not just on the military side of it, but especially on the social side. It is huge to be able to travel anywhere at any kind of speed faster than walking. When the first trains appeared, people worried that going faster than 100 miles/h would kill you and it would scare cows and make their milk turn sour and all that sort of thing. If you have railroad, then it's fairly likely you'll have some kind of light rail as well, which can lead to bigger cities, you will need a way of powering the railroads, which leads to industry, you will get more and faster international trade and so on. So adding railroads to a world will have immense impact on that world. And the military side will be very minor in my opinion.
     
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  8. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    I may not have worded it quite so well, but yeah, it is also for the economic impact with use of it. I get wandery at times. But just the ability to use it to bring in crops and animals to the cities. Better overland trade and such. I'd imagine it being the simplest sort of magiteck one could create. Hells, not even have to be that magical. It was also a bit of a thought exercise of how much even it could change high fantasy.
     
  9. Sunny dewbae

    Sunny dewbae Dreamer

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    I picture magic trains belonging in a world that has a steampunk vibe but instead of steam the machines run of magic. it would be interesting to see the different kinds of jobs that this world would have. Storm light is a great example of this, with mages crafting food. I keep thinking of welders using fire magic.
     
  10. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    There are railways in The World. I don't know when they were first constructed, but do know their usage waned and died out during some of the past's catastrophic plague & war times. But moderns have rediscovered their use and are rebuilding the networks.


    Railways are either Oliphant, the standard eight foot gauge, or Ox, the narrow four foot gauge. The latter is found more commonly in cities where space is at a premium and the smaller waggons and trolleys can fit through narrower lanes. While there are indeed some ox or oliphant drawn trains, motive power is now almost universally accomplished by large wullmen, or golems. They are specially designed and crafted to push and pull on the long piston rods that turn the great drive wheels. All wullmen are directed by some sort of inscribed word, a kind of logothaumery that animates them and defines the parameters of their actions. Because they can not properly hear or even understand spoken language, wullmen are controlled by other means. Mostly, chimes. Wullmen are sort of programmed to understand certain melodic & chordal & rhythmic motifs which translate into actions, such as direction, velocity maintenance, acceleration & deceleration.

    [​IMG]
    The locomotives they call brontoredes, because they're large waggons that thunder along their trackways.
     
  11. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    For my "modern fantasy" concept, I also considered railroad as a possible way of getting around. It merges the ideas of a highway and train transit in a way that I think is simplistic, but elegant. The basic idea is this: The "Train" is made up a series of rounded pods (like a pearl necklace) that are linked together using glyphs of stone energy. Each pod can either be individually owned or part of the public transit system and "rented" for the duration of the trip. At each stop, pods are added/subtracted and can be "driven" to their ultimate destination. The special "track"; which is more like you'd see for a mag-lev uses a small amount of air magic to levitate the pods/train, and others (also air energy) to propel the vehicles forward. Enchanted crystals serve for internal/external lighting and special screens convert air coming in through a simple open/close valve system into a simple heating/air conditioning system.

    Though the dimensions of the pods are consistant width wise, they vary in length depending on what is needed, or what a family can afford. Whatever the case may be, they are customizable according to the needs of the person/people but often include a water font (magically creates water), a fresh box (to keep food/articles fresh) and a storage compartment for whatever they need to carry wih them. The more extravagant ones might be more like a "traditional" train car and have tables/chairs to play games on the trip, a bar to offer something more than water to drink, or even a hotstone (an enchanted smooth flat stone for grilling/cooking).

    One thing I forgot to mention was that the pods are "grown" from wood reinforced with stone magic for added strength and generally painted in simple tones on the outside, but can be painted whatever color/style the owner wants on the inside.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
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  12. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Troubadour

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    I'm presently doing research on the history of steam engines, including locomotives, for my own flintlock fantasy setting. While the 18th century is the primary basis I'm using for a lot of things, I'm trying to take some stuff from the 19th century as well, since flintlock weapons were still in use for a part of that. One of the things about Arcane Magic in my story setting is that I'm making it as "science-y" as possible. So, using magic to heat water in a boiler to power a locomotive? Yeah, that's not only a thing that can happen in my setting but is happening. Steam boats on rivers are actually increasingly common. The reason they're not used on the oceans is because the sounds of the paddle wheels attract sea monsters. Big ones. But, I've been thinking that steam locomotives would actually be a developing technology for my setting. Not only will it be used to travel across continents, it will also be used to travel across other Planes, such as the Plane of Earth, which is solid stone with tunnels and caverns stretching across it like passages and chambers in an ant colony. Gravity always pulls toward the walls on the Plane of Earth, not the center of mass so a train would never be traveling on an incline, at least as far as gravity is concerned, no matter how much a corridor curves and twists. It basically be like riding a train inside of an O'Neill cylinder or a Dyson shell.

    The logistics of things is probably going to be a pretty important factor in my story setting because one of the things I'm exploring is how ECONOMICS are being affected by a magical industrial revolution and how those things affect people of different races and on every level of society. The aristocracy (at least the parts of it that refuse to change with the times) is on the decline, the merchant class is ascending, and certain things that have held people back for centuries, like limitations on agriculture production, are being overcome. It's an age of magical and technological innovation, and I'm LOVING the stuff I'm coming up with for this project! Seriously, I have NEVER had so much fun worldbuilding before, and I've done some pretty intense worldbuilding in the past.
     
  13. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    your world appears to share common elements with mine.
     
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