City of Scoundrels
Technology and Alchemy
An Age of Progress
Mellanford’s long age of prosperity and political dominance we marked by stunning artwork, incredible architecture and moving symphonies. All across the city are examples of master sculptors, brilliant mosaics and vaulted halls roofed with beaten copper, all now stained with pigeon-shit and hung with drying washing. However whilst the arts prospered the sciences stagnated. Every individual craftsman kept their secrets and tools to themselves and no progress was needed that could not be bought with gold. Now the money has run out, and people are having to get clever.
From the Prince’s College of Surgeons, where men and women work desperately to fight plague, poison and disease throughout the unwashed masses, to the harbour warehouses now converted to chugging mills, people are adapting, discovering, inventing. Pigments once produced for paint now illustrate the properties of light, lenses that once counted the facets of a diamond now analyse the swarming bacteria of riverwater. The city is emerging from a long age of prosperous stagnation to one of desperate invention.
The past twenty years have seen the adaption of lenses for microscopes, the beginnings of germ theory, the slow growth of powered machinery in pumps, stamps and presses and steadily growing curiosity of every aspect of the world. The results are being felt in fledgling industries, bold new ideas, daring treatments for the diseased, and in the weapons of war. The Mellanford Guard, stretched to their limit to keep order inside the city and protect the tightening borders against foreign occupation, have taken to the new handheld black powder weapons eagerly. They might not have the range of a longbow or the accuracy of a crossbow, but a man can be trained to load and fire one in a day, and the smoke, flash and noise scare the life out of anyone within a mile radius. Anyone still walking after the almighty bang can be plugged with a bayonet or pike at leisure.
Some of the men and women most productive in the new fields are also the most maligned. The study of alchemy, long regarded as the ugly bastard of the Great Calling of Magic has benefited hugely from the new industries. Cheap glass, better tools, precision scales, microscopes, these are devices the street alchemist has craved for generations. Now men and women who would be lucky if their potions worked one time in five can produce remedies for the ill, entertainment for the bored, and tools for the dangerous. The streets of Mellanford are awash with miracle cures, powerful new drugs, hideous new poisons, flashbombs, noisebombs, bombs of every size, colour and flavour. As a result, the average alchemist is never sure whether the next knock on the door will result in a bag full of gold or a short drop and a sharp stop.