Oct 02

Reading Around: Low-tech Magazine


The Reading Around posts are my attempt to help you follow Ken Hite’s advice and cross-pollinate your game with some clever ideas from history, science and elsewhere.

A Low-Tech World

Today I have another magazine-style website for you, with the usual email subscription option. Low-tech Magazine

talks about the potential of past and often forgotten knowledge and technologies when it comes to designing a sustainable society.

The articles on Low-tech Magazine are less frequent, and much longer than those on Wonders & Marvels. However, it is the focus of Low-tech Magazine which makes it worth following. While the angle of Low-tech is towards sustainability, the technology discussed is typically suited to fantasy games.

Discarded Technologies

Some of the articles are superb inspiration for a steampunk campaign. The series on the Mechanical Transmission of Power offer some excellent technologies to use in a steampunk game. The Jerker Line Systems would create some very interesting locations, with moving parts and cables strewn across the landscape. Such a technology could be every bit as disfiguring to the environment as many modern industrial practices.

Medieval Agribusiness

The latest article discusses Irish and British Lime Kilns. Their introduction would justify yet another set of lonely “towers” to spread across a fantasy landscape. These kilns were associated with mining, as the limestone was quarried, burnt and the lime was scattered on the land to increase crop production.

For a fantasy campaign, this brings mining into agricultural areas, and thus increases contact with any subterranean cultures. This industry has an inherent conflict between the needs of the surface and the underground. For example, how would a dwarven community react to humans quarrying their precious stone, just to burn it?

Likewise, abandoned kilns make perfect small encounters, as other races take up residence in the structure. As the kilns were built into the side of hills, then they can easily be expanded to contain underground chambers, or simply lead down into the Underdark itself.


Historic Pick-and-Mix

These magazine sites are always an eclectic mix, but careful reading of a wide range of articles can make fresh connections for you and inspire you to move beyond the standard tropes of your setting.

So, have a look at Low-Tech Magazine and see what old technologies you can resurrect for your setting.

Happy Gaming

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