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    Default What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transport?

    Ok. Its a fantasy world! Bronze age...

    Then there are some changes. Two of them.

    One is a species of bird. Like a hummingbird. that is capable of repeating phrases like a parrot, up to 10 minutes, and teleporting. The teleportation is.. well, unlimited in distance. But it applies to only themselves. Training one up is like training a blacksmith. Not only do you need a specialised trainer, but you also need to train the birds themselves. The birds instinctively know who the person they need to seek is, and where is he. But if the person does not want to hear the message from the hummingbird, they instinctively would know, and would not teleport to him.

    Another one is basically a steam train. Some unknown magic means that it can easily work the same way as normal steam trains of 1920s. They only need one wooden guide rail, with specialized stones that are as common as quartz. They do need firewood, charcoal, or oil to burn to move, but no specialized machinery is needed. The steam engine itself is a black box, but can be made just as easily as, say, a wooden ocean-going ship.

    How does this change the world?

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Information and news travels quicker. Technology develops faster since people can share news to each other instantaneously, materials can travel faster from place to place.
    Empires and states control more territory as they can traverse terrain faster, as well as the military application of instantaneous, untraceable, bird based communication.
    That's what comes up off the top of my head. Without the agricultural revolution that preceded the real life industrial revolution, you wouldn't have the population boom required to populate large(r) cities, so you wouldn't get your industrial society. Essentially, you'd have the industrial communication and transport technology without enough people to construct such devices.
    You need to consider how such magic trains are constructed, the birds make sense on their own, as people have been training animals since before the industrial revolution.

    Since such good communications and transport is possible, military affairs change drastically. No longer will military commanders suffer the horrible issue of being unable to communicate with their forces. Birds boys provide instant, uninterceptible communications between a commander and his officers. This makes ambushes and movements far more coordinated and easy to plan. As well as the fast movement, reinforcements would arrive to a besieged city within hours or days rather than months of marching or never coming, as no messenger left to alert to the siege. As armour and weapons remain the same, you would still see swordsmen, bowmen, etc. Though I think it would be hilarious to see groups of bowmen shooting each other between magic rail cars.

    That's what I came up with quickly and without research. Inconsistencies abound, ladies and gentlemen.
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Eh, still thank you

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    Ok. Its a fantasy world! Bronze age...

    Then there are some changes. Two of them.

    One is a species of bird. Like a hummingbird. that is capable of repeating phrases like a parrot, up to 10 minutes, and teleporting. The teleportation is.. well, unlimited in distance. But it applies to only themselves. Training one up is like training a blacksmith. Not only do you need a specialised trainer, but you also need to train the birds themselves. The birds instinctively know who the person they need to seek is, and where is he. But if the person does not want to hear the message from the hummingbird, they instinctively would know, and would not teleport to him.

    Another one is basically a steam train. Some unknown magic means that it can easily work the same way as normal steam trains of 1920s. They only need one wooden guide rail, with specialized stones that are as common as quartz. They do need firewood, charcoal, or oil to burn to move, but no specialized machinery is needed. The steam engine itself is a black box, but can be made just as easily as, say, a wooden ocean-going ship.

    How does this change the world?
    The trains would be much more common then real trains, requiring no industry and only cheap materials. As farming revolutions hadn't occurred yet they would spread pandemic disease nearly as fast as food, it may even reduce the overall population.

    Warfare would be very different, as infantry could move to theaters very quickly but then quickly slow down on arrival. Cavalry would be used separately to tear up the rail lines and break infantry movements and supplies, but finding them would be much easier due to the parrots and so forces would need to be small and fast. I think the closest analogy would be Eighteenth Century warfare where pitched battles were rare and trying to cut each other off from supplies was common.
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    I have a feeling any Rome equivalents would be far more stable than their historical counterparts as they could respond much more rapidly to any sort of unrest. Also, I give it like, 50 years until someone figures out how to make the "trains" work without rails, and then it all goes crazy.
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Training the birds (and feeding, housing and otherwise caring for them) is likely to be expensive, though not massively more expensive than training carrier pigeons, so they would be used as a common tool of the elite, but not for everyday business. Note that ten minutes is a long time in terms of one way messages. Properly trained speakers could probably clearly enunciate 1000 words worth of material during that time, which would allow the distribution of entire official documents without regard to distance. This would drastically increase the ability of governments to centralize control and to acquire accurate, up-to-date information regarding their holdings.

    Control of the birds would almost certainly be very tightly regulated, since in a military conflict the side with this technology always beats the one without. This would further reinforce the power of strong states.

    The rail technology would probably be far more transformative, since it can be applied to functionally all aspects of life. Major empires would gradually connect every village to their rail network and maintain regular travel routes. Rails would almost always be favored over roads, since the technology is so comparably advanced and easy. Military forces would be much more centralized, since easy reinforcement via rail makes that organizational method easier, which would further strengthen overall territorial control.

    I think you'd end up with a world controlled by a small number of powerful, centralized, bureaucratic empires.
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    I think you'd end up with a world controlled by a small number of powerful, centralized, bureaucratic empires.
    Sound a lot like Europe in the late 19th century. What with instant telegraph communication, and trains.

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    Sound a lot like Europe in the late 19th century. What with instant telegraph communication, and trains.
    Yeah. Just with everything else being bronze age. Or at least, nearly.

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    Sound a lot like Europe in the late 19th century. What with instant telegraph communication, and trains.
    Sure, but instead of say, a modest sized continent representing about 10% of the global land area, it would take place across the entire world. So you'd have massive empires that controlled whole continents, or at least all the fertile areas in those continents. The only real barriers to an empire's expansion by rail would be massive mountain ranges and other empires. You can fairly easily lay rails across deserts, after all, and this would absolutely be deployed as a tool to crush the power of nomadic and pastoralist civilizations. For example, if you're China, dealing with the Xiongnu is much, much easier if you can build a rail line to transport your army along the northern border at 45 mph. You wouldn't need to make a giant wall.

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator
    Yeah. Just with everything else being bronze age. Or at least, nearly.
    Well, but that's a big change. Large empires were not a major feature of the Bronze Age, which was mostly comprised of city-states or groups of city-states. In fact, without the labor-saving aspects provided by iron tools (to facilitate farm work, among other critical tasks) your bronze age empires might have to get mean. Slave-raiding by the empires among the bird-less and train-less populations of the disconnected wilderness regions would likely be common in order to provide a labor force. In fact you might conceive of such empires as a linked network of cities (probably walled), with surrounding high-intensity arable land, that use rail links to shuffle soldiers and goods about while brutally oppressing a massive area of countryside with much more limited settlements that lives in terror of the 'train-lords.'
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Sure, but instead of say, a modest sized continent representing about 10% of the global land area, it would take place across the entire world. So you'd have massive empires that controlled whole continents, or at least all the fertile areas in those continents. The only real barriers to an empire's expansion by rail would be massive mountain ranges and other empires. You can fairly easily lay rails across deserts, after all, and this would absolutely be deployed as a tool to crush the power of nomadic and pastoralist civilizations. For example, if you're China, dealing with the Xiongnu is much, much easier if you can build a rail line to transport your army along the northern border at 45 mph. You wouldn't need to make a giant wall.



    Well, but that's a big change. Large empires were not a major feature of the Bronze Age, which was mostly comprised of city-states or groups of city-states. In fact, without the labor-saving aspects provided by iron tools (to facilitate farm work, among other critical tasks) your bronze age empires might have to get mean. Slave-raiding by the empires among the bird-less and train-less populations of the disconnected wilderness regions would likely be common in order to provide a labor force. In fact you might conceive of such empires as a linked network of cities (probably walled), with surrounding high-intensity arable land, that use rail links to shuffle soldiers and goods about while brutally oppressing a massive area of countryside with much more limited settlements that lives in terror of the 'train-lords.'
    .... Huh. The engine is a black box.

    There's nothing stopping you from hooking it up to a pump or a set of bellows.

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    .... Huh. The engine is a black box.

    There's nothing stopping you from hooking it up to a pump or a set of bellows.
    Well, that's different then. If you're just introducing a black box technology with the capability of a steam engine then you've created a magitech world centered around your engines where the capabilities of the magitech top out at steam power. A magitech world can be whatever you want it to be and you can introduce all sorts of incongruous technologies according to your desires.
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Well, but that's a big change. Large empires were not a major feature of the Bronze Age, which was mostly comprised of city-states or groups of city-states. In fact, without the labor-saving aspects provided by iron tools (to facilitate farm work, among other critical tasks) your bronze age empires might have to get mean. Slave-raiding by the empires among the bird-less and train-less populations of the disconnected wilderness regions would likely be common in order to provide a labor force. In fact you might conceive of such empires as a linked network of cities (probably walled), with surrounding high-intensity arable land, that use rail links to shuffle soldiers and goods about while brutally oppressing a massive area of countryside with much more limited settlements that lives in terror of the 'train-lords.'
    Think you're undersetimating Bronze Age Empires. Sure they weren't Rome or Ming China, but the Egyptians were quite large as were the Hittites and the Emprie that preceeded them before the Bronze age collapse (I can't recall the name of them off hand) There were several otehr ratehr respectably sized Empires during this time as well.

    Europe was a bunch of city states for the most part, but its a far more hilly and mountenous region, particulalrly when compared to the Middle East, so moving large armies is a pain.
    Quote Originally Posted by Guigarci View Post
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Actually, come to think of it, writing it so that making the steam engine is as hard to build as a boat means that you can have a boat that is powered by steam, coal, and is not beholden to wind and tides.

    I may have actually made the British Empire possible several thousand years earlier

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Lay track in a small circle, connect the engine to a shaft in the center, and you have a mill anywhere you want to build one, no need for a mill pond. Grind grain, power bellows, run triphammers, and lots more.
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Sure, but instead of say, a modest sized continent representing about 10% of the global land area, it would take place across the entire world. So you'd have massive empires that controlled whole continents, or at least all the fertile areas in those continents. The only real barriers to an empire's expansion by rail would be massive mountain ranges and other empires. You can fairly easily lay rails across deserts, after all, and this would absolutely be deployed as a tool to crush the power of nomadic and pastoralist civilizations. For example, if you're China, dealing with the Xiongnu is much, much easier if you can build a rail line to transport your army along the northern border at 45 mph. You wouldn't need to make a giant wall.
    Okay, how about the British Empire circa 1908 and the attendant Commonwealth Nations. I mean the British Empire effectively ruled a substantial part of the world until India gained independence in 1949. By the early 1900s huge areas of the world were connected by train, there's a reason Murder on the Orient Express is a thing after all.

    On the note of Egypt, you have to remember, the kingdom was ruled along the Nile, and as far as they could march and army without them dying to the east and west. What made Egypt a power ancient kingdom was a vast wealth of food, due to the Nile's yearly flooding. The area they controlled really only extended as far south as the convergence of the Blue and White Nile.

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    You've basically got the elements needed to begin the formation of a proto-nation state similar to the rise of such nations in the 1800s in Europe, it's easy to issue wide ranging policies and edicts with the birds to communicate to provincial governors with, the trains make it easy for people to travel and intermingle cultural and spiritual elements together.

    They just make it so much easier to centralise any realm and either meld the cultures present together or put one firmly in a dominant position.
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    I have heard that the size of empires can be limited by their communication ability so being able to communicate easily with the bird, even if it required a lot of training would definitely allow for larger sized empires and I'm sure the steam train and spread of materials with it would also allow for larger empires.

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by twistedraja View Post
    I have heard that the size of empires can be limited by their communication ability so being able to communicate easily with the bird, even if it required a lot of training would definitely allow for larger sized empires and I'm sure the steam train and spread of materials with it would also allow for larger empires.
    It's not communication ability per se that limits size, it's more a matter of overall crisis response time.

    An empire needs to be able to recognize a crisis, report the crisis to the central decision making authority (if it can be handled by the resources of a regional authority it's not a crisis), have that authority make a decision, and dispatch a response all within a viable timeframe. If they can't do that either the crisis itself (if your crisis is something like 'Mongols!'), or the dissatisfaction of the citizenry at the response to the crisis (if your crisis is something like 'Volcanoes!'), mean that you start losing control over pieces of the empire.

    The bird case would help, but the steam engine aspect would actually do a lot on that front too, since soldiers dispatched by rail are moving a lot faster than those on the march or transported by ship. The difference between 30 miles per day and 30 miles per hour of army speed is the difference between Roman Empire and Russian Empire.
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    The birds themselves would really change how governments are forced to operate, and how society would work. By its very nature, it is an method of communication that is relatively cheap and hard to regulate. It would not be hard to imagine kings being worried that the people are using these birds to spread treasonous information or plan revolutions. In the worst case scenario, the birds themselves can be enchanted with something like explosive runes and be used as terrorist attacks. This could lead to entire kingdoms attempting to ban these birds entirely, although this would inevitably fail as the birds are easy to hide and can be reared relatively easily. Eventually, nations to spend more time and effort appeasing their citizens or some form of propaganda to distract the population. It might even be that for a while popular opinion goes against the birds, even going so far as to demonize it and attribute nonsensical effects to it (ex. the birds sometimes whisper words from devils or that when they appear they can cause heart attacks). Depending on a nation's culture the situation might never happen or even be reversed., panic from the people about this new method of technology might force the government to create new laws. Eventually these fears will go away as generations pass and they grow more used to the idea of teleportating parrots. Although that isn't to say that those fears might resurface generations down the road.

    At some point it would not be unreasonable for the government to have a government sanctioned bird and bird trainer in every town, and possibly in every village. This would either allow a state more direct control over new going in and out of town, or the ability to monitor what bird goes where.

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Ok. Look. author fiat.

    You can't attach anything to the birds. No explosives. No bombs. The worst you can do is to send a threatening message.

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Well, I guess using birds as weapons is out.

    Even so, I think a good deal of nations would be wary of using these birds as communication. IRL, a lot of people mistrusted telegraphs after it was made mainstream. There was a huge moral panic proclaiming that such fast communication methods would distort the truth, harm the minds of the innocent, start wars, and erode the morals the youth. And these claims were made in a more modern and enlightened era. Going back centuries, coffee was banned repeatedly on pain of death because it rulers were worried that it would cause people to revolt simply because people would congregate in coffee houses and talk about the issues of the day. Heck, I am fairly certain that Vatican even weighed in on the coffee debate by claiming that drinking coffee was the Devil's drink.

    What I am trying to get at, is that even though the birds seem like a universally beneficial tool, people are paranoid and superstitious, even more so in the bronze age. All it really takes is a monarch to hear a rumor that these birds can be used as weapons to incite some sort of panic, even if it only lasts a short time. I mean, if a monarch gets in his head that these birds can be weaponized, how would you prove that they can't? A monarch could just say that most birds haven't been trained properly, so a bird trainer would have to spend a few years trying to train birds to carry things before the monarch would be satisfied, and by then his fear might have spread throughout the kingdom, and could take even longer to clear up.

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    I am... Skeptical. What if they see their rivals using these birds without fear, and prospering for it?

    Would this cause them to push aside their fears?

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    That is a fair point, eventually all civilizations that are in consistent contact with each other will realize the birds are safe and reliable after a certain amount of time passes. How much paranoia really depends on how long ago the birds were introduced as a communication method. Most likely a civilization will generally accept it after a generation or two, with pockets of dissent lasting for an indeterminate time longer. The Bronze age lasted a long time,in your setting everyone might have already gotten over their fears.

    At the end of the day, the birds are simply too useful not to use, and every civilization that doesn't use them will fall behind or get conquered. But there will always be people who mistrust new things and it often takes a lot to convince those people.
    Last edited by Hugh Mann; 2019-03-27 at 12:24 PM.

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
    That is a fair point, eventually all civilizations that are in consistent contact with each other will realize the birds are safe and reliable after a certain amount of time passes. How much paranoia really depends on how long ago the birds were introduced as a communication method. Most likely a civilization will generally accept it after a generation or two, with pockets of dissent lasting for an indeterminate time longer. The Bronze age lasted a long time,in your setting everyone might have already gotten over their fears.

    At the end of the day, the birds are simply too useful not to use, and every civilization that doesn't use them will fall behind or get conquered. But there will always be people who mistrust new things and it often takes a lot to convince those people.
    True. But although the bronze age was less.. advanced, I firmly believe that human intelligence has not changed. Besides, survival of the fittest. This is, like, portable, working, infinite range radio in an age where if you had a horse postal system you were considered to have the most advanced communication system. And not just for communication between cities. This works also for armies.

    Imagine being able to have instant communication with your scouts, or have someone be able to coordinate with you over the horizon. Anyone that uses these birds are going to steamroll over anyone who doesn't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    True. But although the bronze age was less.. advanced, I firmly believe that human intelligence has not changed. Besides, survival of the fittest. This is, like, portable, working, infinite range radio in an age where if you had a horse postal system you were considered to have the most advanced communication system. And not just for communication between cities. This works also for armies.

    Imagine being able to have instant communication with your scouts, or have someone be able to coordinate with you over the horizon. Anyone that uses these birds are going to steamroll over anyone who doesn't.
    Oh yeah, totally, any country without these birds are pretty much doomed. If nothing else, those countries would get conquered and the birds will be forced on them. No the real paranoia arises in a society that already has the birds in place.

    Any nation that is governed without the popular consent of the people has to worry about rebellion and other criminal activities. Various groups could easily use these birds as an untraceable method of planning attacks, assassinations, thefts, and other crimes, as well as simply spreading propaganda. IRL, you can jam radio signals, tap phone calls, censor newspapers, and read emails, but nothing can stop a bird. There is no way to trace a bird, nor any way to even find out where it came from. Many monarchs of the bronze age did not understand modern political science, and were under threat of political intrigue and rebellion, as such they would be terrified of the birds.

    Of course, after a certain point their societies would be reliant on these birds so monarchs can't simply get rid of the birds. This would logically lead to governments attempting to put strict regulations on who gets to use them and how.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
    Oh yeah, totally, any country without these birds are pretty much doomed. If nothing else, those countries would get conquered and the birds will be forced on them. No the real paranoia arises in a society that already has the birds in place.

    Any nation that is governed without the popular consent of the people has to worry about rebellion and other criminal activities. Various groups could easily use these birds as an untraceable method of planning attacks, assassinations, thefts, and other crimes, as well as simply spreading propaganda. IRL, you can jam radio signals, tap phone calls, censor newspapers, and read emails, but nothing can stop a bird. There is no way to trace a bird, nor any way to even find out where it came from. Many monarchs of the bronze age did not understand modern political science, and were under threat of political intrigue and rebellion, as such they would be terrified of the birds.

    Of course, after a certain point their societies would be reliant on these birds so monarchs can't simply get rid of the birds. This would logically lead to governments attempting to put strict regulations on who gets to use them and how.
    OK. Now about law and order. Would this mean that the constant decentralisation so endemic to previous times would be far less? I think there should be town criers, news brought on by messenger birds.

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Since the birds can't carry anything they would need a new way prove that the message was from the government, maybe the birds could be dyed a certain way or they could have a set of passwords to identify who said what. Or maybe they can carve the royal crest onto their beaks.

    As for the decentralization thing, yeah things would get more centralized, if nothing else it would allow the government to more quickly enact laws and act as an early warning system for military defense.

    What ultimately would decide how centralized things would be, and by proxy the effectiveness of town criers, is how difficult it is to maintain these birds. For instance, if the birds can only thrive in tropical locations or only mate in the presence of specific trees or only eat very specific foods, then any bird owner would have to maintain an exotic garden or a greenhouse. And if people want the birds to function in a desert or the dead of winter, they would need a lot of money and resources. It could be possible that the only people that can afford to do this is the government, and if that is the case then it is very easy to regulate as they would be the only bird owners. A nation would only need to own a single garden at the capital and the birds can teleport back and forth to other locations as needed. In this situation, it might not be that uncommon for monarchs to punish anyone that owns a bird except for officials and military personnel just so they can keep a tight grip of information and propaganda.

    If the birds are hardy enough to be owned by traveling merchants, then the town crier system would only be useful for announcing laws and very specific pieces of news. The merchants would know more people, and thus be able to send their birds to more locations and get more information. This could spread foreign influence and ideas, possibly undermining government control. Likely the merchants would form large international organizations to play the system and garner more wealth. As most governments of the bronze age lacked modern political theory, they would have a hard time dealing with what are effectively decentralized international monopolies. By its very nature it would decentralize the world to a degree as people would rely more on a nebulous international entity for information rather than local governments.
    If the the birds aren't able to be fully taken care of on the road, then the merchants can form a sort of subscription based maintenance service for the birds. Merchants could pay a annual fee, in exchange they can send over their birds to make sure they are properly rested and fed. All it takes is for someone to set up a greenhouse or something, with all the things the birds need, and sets it up along an established trade route. Then the merchants can just pay every time they pass by.
    In either of these cases, monarchs might try to prevent these merchants from bringing these birds into their nations, so they don't spread information and breed dissent. Although, not every nation would do this and it wouldn't work anyway as the birds can teleport. There really isn't much a nation could do to stop these merchants shy of attacking them, and even then it would just make a black market. Perhaps those nations would try to work with the merchants to get on their good side in the hopes that they can tap into the their large information network. It is also possible that the merchants could just become influential enough to take over a kingdom and forge a mercantile oligarchy.

    And if these birds can be found in the wild of almost any biome, to the point that a bird can be found in almost every household, then I can't even being to fathom what life would be like. I guess kingdoms would be overturned in favor republics, democracies, or whatever, as people would have so much information that they would want to act on it. But even in this case there would still be town criers as someone would have to tell people information somehow.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    cool Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Some general questions about the birds:
    • How expensive is it to train them? What education is needed for their handlers?
    • How smart are the birds? They seem fairly intelligent, but are they sapient? How independent?
    • How long do the birds live? (Hummingbirds live 3-5 years in the wild at most, but 14 in sheltered captivity; parrots can live to be over 80, but are much more sedate).
    • How social are they? Do they stick with one handler only? Or can they be trained to recognize other people?
    • I couldn't tell if they can take messages back, or if you need two birds for two-way communication.
    • What do they eat? That could limit their utility, or provide enemies a way to interfere with communication.
    • Must the birds observe their target directly, or can they lock on based on their sender's thoughts? If the second, is there a risk of error if the sender doesn't remember the recipient properly, or never met them at all?
    • Can the birds make mistakes in their recall? Can they refuse to cooperate or get distracted?


    Lifespan and sociability are crucial to proper domestication. For instance, using bees to detect drugs failed not on scent, as bees have a far more sensitive sense of smell than any mammal, but because it takes too much of the bee's lifespan (six weeks) to train them, and they cannot be trained to see humans as members of the same hive (so you have to stick a bee in a straw and use her like a wand). Dogs are very social, easily tricked into seeing humans as fellow pack mates (and yes, we do deceive them - there is no honest way to make that better), and live long enough to be practical. Your birds have to live long enough to justify the training and have to be social enough to interact with humans peacefully (An octopus is smart enough, but only lives 1-3 years, while a tiger can live 15 years, but barely has any exploitable social instincts).

    I also wonder how other forms of communication might be incorporated. Depending on how accessible these birds are, I could see a kind of telegraph service, where designated recipients transcribe or dictate messages and then those are delivered to the actual recipient by a human messenger. Even better, one could hide the birds and their training this way, keeping the secret of messenger birds from being stolen so easily.

    Otherwise, most of the above comments are still relevant. I would add that a message need not be threatening to have deadly consequences. How does the recipient know that the sender isn't lying, for example? If people can fake wifi signals, they can fake dyed feathers and carved beaks. Legitimate agents and criminals alike could use the birds to coordinate acts of espionage, sabotage, smuggling, or assassination. Unless there's a way to intercept or kill birds en route... I cannot see how, aside from controlling acquisition of the birds, how anyone could hope to regulate this mode of communication. Quite fascinating.

    As for the engines, I'd expect some changes, depending on the society. The Romans had steam engines and the Greeks had clockwork and automata, but neither did a whole lot with those. It's possible one culture might simply use it for religious ceremonies only (behold the Deus ex Machina!) while another would focus on combat applications and the third on agriculture, but overall I'd expect to see as many uses of engines as exist now, perhaps even flying machines or motorized ships, and certainly tanks. Depending on whether magic exists in this setting or not, I'd expect to see some investment in other fields to either maximize the impact of engines (motorized plow, armor for tanks, maybe even rails for trains) or fields to counter engines, especially in war (alchemy and its ilk, siege weapons, maybe a large engine-powered device that attacks by running over troops and smaller engines or bashing through walls). I doubt you'd see a bronze age civilization persist as such for long, but you might get some eclectic societies combining mechanized cavalry with longbowmen and catapults.
    Last edited by Paleomancer; 2019-03-28 at 11:31 PM.
    2B or not 2B, that is... a really inane question

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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    I feel like I have said all I can really think of about birds, so I guess I will talk about trains.

    I see a few limitations of steam power in this setting, although I donít really know enough to guess how it would impact things.

    1. Weak building materials- since this is the Bronze Age they would be working with bronze, wood, and stone, all of which are a whole lot less reliable than steel. If you hear a modern train using its speed breaks it makes a whole lot of noise as things grind together, I am not sure that Bronze Age materials can stand that kind of abuse. The Bronze Age trains would have to move slower or have less efficient breaks. Similar issues are raised for the axels and the rails.

    2. Lack of standardized parts- modern vehicles work because all the parts are completely standardized and things are measured very precisely. The Bronze Age didnít have that, they had skilled craftsmen and artisans who all worked slightly differently. But if some parts of a train are perfectly measured (ex. the width and spacing of the rails, the size of the wheels, the effectiveness of the brakes) it could easily cause the train to crash. Furthermore, a lack of standardized parts means that it is difficult to replace damaged parts.

    3. Design schematics would have to be hand drawn- this plays off of number 2 a bit. Since the Bronze Age came before the printing press that means that any attempts to make a true standardized vehicle would have to rely on copied and drawn schematics. Since people arenít perfect, the drawings would vary from copy to copy, causing the issues stated above to happen more often.

    It is possible that these problems might cause people to not use steam powered land vehicles until technology and engineering advances, or it might just mean that they will have to move slower making them not as popular as they would be otherwise. For all I know, the Bronze Age might have precedence for solving all these issues, ancient history isnít my strong suit. But I can say for certain that steam boats donít require standardization to run, nor do they need to slow down as fast, meaning that this would eventually become the standard for sea travel.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Default Re: What changes in a fantasy world would occur with good communications and transpor

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
    It is possible that these problems might cause people to not use steam powered land vehicles until technology and engineering advances, or it might just mean that they will have to move slower making them not as popular as they would be otherwise. For all I know, the Bronze Age might have precedence for solving all these issues, ancient history isnít my strong suit. But I can say for certain that steam boats donít require standardization to run, nor do they need to slow down as fast, meaning that this would eventually become the standard for sea travel.
    Standardization isn't a problem. You're thinking in specific measurements like microns, the ancients didn't do that. They thought in ratios. They picked a scale and then used ratios to bring that to the size they wanted. You have to remember the pyramids of Giza aren't wonders of engineering because they're big piles of rocks; no, they're big piles of nearly perfectly square and level rocks. Each side of the Great Pyramid is 440 cubits long, or really close within a ludicrously small margin of error. Each corner is a perfectly square (or was when it was built) and its nearly completely level.

    The Egyptians had standard measurements, they just weren't ones we're used to. Sure making stuff out of long lasting light material was beyond them, but if something is quasi-magical like the engine nothing says we can't assume enough to put it to use in some capacity, nothing says the train can't be most wood with the engine attached using the skills of boat builders.

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