Monday, March 12, 2012

Draft from the Past

Today I decided to flip through the old drafts laying about my blogger account.  This one, entitled "Secrets of Cinder, part 4" dates back to '07 or '08.  My old World of Cinder campaign setting was more overtly gonzo than Wessex and this is piece is a pretty good example of that fact.  What it isn't is original in anyway, which is probably why I didn't post it all those moons ago.  Still, I kinda like it.

Sufficiently advanced magic
Although you might not be able to tell it, Cinder is a post-apocalyptic world. Settled during an age of prodigious wonders, the planet suffered much during a galactic cataclysm. Much was forgotten and now the Cinderians ignorantly look upon the ashes and dust of that bygone age and think they still see greatness. Who among them remembers that all the various Interfertile Races were all once a single thin thread of humanity? Even the long-lived elves have forgotten this genetic diaspora, though they retain much secret knowledge. Their legends tell of the Clock at the Center of the World, which is doubtless a muddled memory of the planetary computer that guided Cinder’s welfare before the galactic tachyon network fell. The tachyon net fell once and remained down forever and the results were disastrous. The planetary computers had never known isolation, having always existed in the communion of saints that was the galactic metamind of shared computing power. Many went insane, some committing suicide. Others found themselves trapped in distributed processing functions, unable to break free of the chains of calculating pi to the final decimal place.

Cinder faired better than most, allowing for several centuries of technological luxury before lack of software maintenance started to take its toll. It was a long silver twilight following an interstellar golden age. But eventually the machine became unreliable, errors compounded upon errors, and eventually the computer stopped responding to inquiries at all. The air trains fell from the skies, the autoweather failed, the robo-farms stopped planting, and Cinderian society was 404’ed back to the stone age. But the computer never failed completely. Even today, it still responds to some user commands, but access to the system remains limited to the few who know the secrets.

Today these Cinderian computer nerds are called warlocks, wizards, etc. None of them understand that they are accessing an invisible, planet-wide computer, that the phrases they mutter are in a machine command language or that the gestures they make are manipulating a virtual GUI environment projected upon an airborne nanotech medium. No wizard today knows that guardian daemons are security programs made flesh. They mumble the mumbo jumbo and make the signs and passes and the fireball incinerates their foes. Many wizards are much too busy cackling in glee and incinerating foes to question the why’s and how’s of this arrangement, and those that do have come up with many different theories, few of which talk about computers. In the Age of Clerics no human has ever heard of a computer, whereas in the Age of Robodroids computers are multi-ton blocks of metal with cathode-ray viewscreens and mechanical keyboards.