Technology is defined on Golarion in one of three ways:
- In the most specific sense, technology is any non-magical device created through scientific study that approaches or exceeds items created through magic.1 The alien technological devices found in the nation of Numeria1 and Irriseni Stasian technology2 fall under this category.
- More generally, technology is any mundane device used to assist in a task. This second definition covers items as simple as a lever to mundane mechanisms as complex as a printing press.
- The term also describes items and systems created using both magic and scientific ingenuity, such as complex clockworks.3
History of technological innovation
The history of technological advancement on Golarion is a complex one. More than once, destructive, world-spanning events have wiped out hundreds or thousands of years of innovation and progress. The most famous example of this was Earthfall, which destroyed the advanced Azlanti and Thassilonian civilizations, and ushered in the Age of Darkness that kept the major races back for thousands of years. Even once humanity began to reemerge during the Age of Destiny, technological advancement was checked by the availability of magic. After all, why invent a mechanical answer to a problem, when one can simply wish it into being by appealing to a deity or relying on arcane magic? Technology, therefore, flourished best where magic was absent, such as in the Mana Wastes of Garund. It was here, in the city of Alkenstar, that one of the greatest non-magical achievements of the past few hundred years was born: firearms.3
Another recent technological innovation is the printing press, which allows for the fast and inexpensive reproduction of pamphlets, letters, and books. Although printing presses are very expensive (especially movable type printing presses that allow the printer to rearrange letters and images, and thereby greatly speed-up the printing process), their cultural and political impact has been substantial. They have allowed for the quick dissemination of information, and have led to the democratization of ideas.3
The technological understanding to build non-magical clockwork devices was first developed over 10,000 years ago in Azlant, and later perfected in Thassilon. Even though Earthfall destroyed most examples of their work, a few constructs survived the apocalypse4 and the resurfacing of New Thassilon revived some of its ancient techniques,2 leading to the rediscovery of the art thousands of years later.
Because clockworks are so much more time-consuming to develop and create than more standard magical constructs, they remain somewhat of a curiosity of the rich.4
Most technology in Numeria is alien in origin, and either comes directly from the Androffan spaceship Destiny that crashed in Numeria thousands of years ago during the Rain of Stars,1 or has since been developed based on these items. The technology within them is so advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic to the common person. It is also quite dangerous and is prone to backfiring or even exploding, giving these items a well-deserved sinister reputation. Nearly all such items were under the strict control of the Technic League of Numeria, who hoarded these items for their own profit and power3 until its collapse in 4716 AR.5
Stasian technology, introduced to Golarion in Irrisen, harnesses electricity without requiring magic, distinguishing it from technologies such as the Shory aeromantic infadibulum that relied on magic. Like Androffan technology, it originates from another alien world where magic was less common. It is the rarest type of technology on Golarion and appears outside of Irrisen only in Ustalav, where smuggled Stasian coils have spurred intense academic study and technological interest.2
Steam-powered technology is powered by the transition of liquid water to gaseous steam through heat. While less rare than Androffan or Stasian technology, it remains less common on Golarion than clockwork technology. Many steam-powered mechanisms rely on magical sources of heat, though a few new and unproven inventions use mundane furnaces.2
Other forms of technology
The development of black powder in Tian Xia led to the innovation of firearms in Dongun Hold and Alkenstar.7 Arcadian inventors developed similar devices in parallel that rely only on magic or compressed air.8
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Technology in the World” in Technology Guide, 4–5. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “2: Gears Equipment” in Guns & Gears, 60–61. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 256–257. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 256. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Broken Lands” in World Guide, 30. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Chapter 5: The World” in Campaign Setting, 236. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “4: Guns Equipment” in Guns & Gears, 147–148. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “4: Guns Equipment” in Guns & Gears, 166. Paizo Inc., 2021 .