Machkin Technology in Tales of Veltrona | World Anvil

Machkin Technology (MAch-Keen)


Construct, artifice, machine–these words and more are names for the singular idea of devices built to fulfill purpose. Anything from a simple grindwheel to immense, self-moving golems fill the breadth of the world. Marvels both mundane and magical, combining deliberate design and intelligent science to create wonders. All, ostensibly, to the benefit of the people (or a certain group of people). Some peoples come to call this wide and disparate group 'technology', and it suffices. For times of a distinction between mundane or magical, 'magical technology' or 'magi-tech' are the names of choice.   The baarham, however, call such works machkin.   Correctly translated it means "the remade self with metal". More literally it's something along the lines of "metal kindred". The foundations of it associate created works with an idea of kinship–people are tied to their creations, like a family is bound through blood. There is a heavy association with responsibility and ownership for every baarham over their creations. All the moreso in the wake of the Dominion, and what happened with the chimaera.   They do not distinguish between magical or mundane technologies, because both can achieve equally fantastic results. If a mundane device is fashioned through magical means, is it mundane or magical? Does one determine what it is by what it costs to run? Or the components its made out of? Such classifications were frustrating, even for the litigation-happy baarham. In a rare show of simplification, they lumped it all up in their word of 'machkin'.   For Veltrona at large, however, the concept of machkin became very different thanks to Khaaestra zahd Machkin, the Grand Architect.    

The Iron Codex

Shortly after her first centennial birthday, Khaaestra went on a long trip abroad toward the lands of Immensio, then Nemma, then Temu. It ended with a visit to Sa-kemet, especially Atenkhet and its famed Black Pyramid. She infamously threw a fit the entire time, utterly appalled at the state of technologies outside of her home city. Only Atenkhet impressed her, enough she fell to her knees and wept, glad someone knew how to make something respectable.   Upon returning home, she spent ten years in furious study. What emerged was a vast tome, a book as thick as a skull and far heavier. With covers of stone and sheets of iron, she'd etched in perpetuity an astonishingly vast set of blueprints. The Iron Codex, as it came to be called, contained all kinds of machkin technologies. Khaaestra created it for one purpose: to let other people learn, and build their own machkin.   Everything within the codex aimed at handling life's myriad number of problems. From simple pots to complex, mana-powered cleaning devices, the codex could rightly create an entire civilization's foundation. Ideas like 'standard measurements' and 'unified design principles' revolutionized the creation of these otherwise complex things. As far as Khaaestra was concerned, an idiot with one arm could build anything from the codex if they had the resources. Nothing in the codex directly informed or told how to create weapons, mindfully.   Ordering 500 original copies be made, Khaaestra then scattered them across the world. She handed them to goddesses, messengers, and everything in between, bidding them to spread the work far. Over the years, these original copies did indeed reach all the far corners of Veltrona. Whether in Etzli Cuauhtla, Nerzin, Varnkof, Fauverngarz, or farther and farther, the Iron Codex could be found. Her instructions to these farflung peoples were simple, if translated properly: study the codex, and then do better.   In essence, she challenged the world's intellectuals to surpass the work she just slapped in their faces.   Some historians consider this act the pivotal moment her name grew to legendary heights. While the content of the Iron Codex was indeed quite useful, her audacity rankled endless amounts of people. Some chose to destroy or lock away their copies, while others furiously went about deciphering them. Whatever happened, the copies of the Iron Codex succeeded.    

Arising Technology

Khaaestra's true goal concerned the proliferation of technology, an increase in knowledge, and igniting the desire to create. These things could only be fed easily by a society whose needs had been met. Or, with some work, be met. The Iron Codex had been shaped around this idea, something its critics lambasted it for. Yet as some derided it, others studied. Although it'd been built for ease of use and accessibility, translation remained an issue. Khaaestra wrote it in her native tongue, after all, and not everyone knew baarham-centric language.   Bits and pieces were translated over time, sometimes correctly, more often not. Quite a lot of work ultimately failed to even come close to what Khaaestra had envisioned would happen. For one, capable people who did translate it objected at its very premise. A human contemporary over in Aerthen by the name of Jorana Waterspring made a scathing rebuke toward Khaaestra. The gist of it essentially came to a very nationalistic pride in Aerthen and its peoples' craftswomanship.   Quite a lot of the history around engineering for the time period ended up centralizing around how many engineers were actually angry about it. People have their pride, and even a helping hand can become insulting if done wrongly. Still, the Iron Codex's works proliferated, and shops had to compete against it. All sorts of infighting erupted between proud traditionalists and the new upstarts who owed their fortunes to the codex. Some didn't even invoke pride, instead feeling such a work inherently suspicious in the first place.   A more common issue became the universal nature of the Iron Codex. Some of its innovations, techniques, and methods simply didn't work in certain areas. Snow collecting basins meant nothing in a desert, and thin pipes were liable to burst in frozen areas. Similarly, wind mills had to be designed for wind in a local area. Heavy beams wouldn't turn under slow winds, and lighter beams would shatter in high winds. Farming implements meant for Lophern's terrain wouldn't translate well to areas with more stone than dirt.   Khaaestra herself expected those sorts of problems, but at the time lacked adequately predicting them. Instead leaving it to the locals to adapt her work, she simply included instructions on possible modifications. Quite a number of quirky innovations spawned from those, equal parts her teachings as much as local genius. After a certain point, their works became much more their own than anything Khaaestra had designed. In the end, the Iron Codex's true impact is hard to discern.   Historians, trying to find a more tangible thread to draw upon, could only earmark certain achievements. By studying dozens and dozens of different fields, their results boiled down into a 'noticeable increase in technology'. That is, by the late 2100s for a number of civilizations, they'd markedly increased in capability. Quite a lot are not willing to give credit to Khaaestra about it. Some, however, will argue her 'collective boot in the ass' spurred on an entire new era of engineering.    

Zahd Machkin

Khaaestra's Iron Codex, in the grand scheme of things, was a quaint tome of knowledge by baarham standards. Its proliferation across the world, however, drew incredible attention to the baarham. The otherwise reclusive species and its varied groups suddenly found a lot more interest being shone upon them. Vanzkah zahd Ghown, Queen Domina of Baarham herself had to draw official dictums on handling the unprecedented nature of it all.   Baarham engineers and mage-seers alike were receiving petitions for their wares, especially new machkin. For them, who long lived ostracized by the various peoples for their deeds in history, it was bewildering. Hilariously, it wasn't their secret magics or old Dominion-era technologies that people wanted. Robust and usable, quality-of-life enhancing innovations that Khaaestra had penned is what garnered the most attention.   The normally aloof baarham gained a clientele that wanted wares most of them weren't used to producing. Under Queen Vanzkah's dictums, special trade guilds were established to handle the influx of business. Such things do not help them in securing more power for themselves, after all.   As a reward for such an estimable deed, Queen Vanzkah awarded family-less Khaaestra the bloodline of 'machkin'. For, in baarham norms, the newfound opportunities that came by were her responsibility. That meant handling the merchant business and all the bureaucratic paperwork required for such things. To the outside eye, giving such prestige was an unfathomable thing to do. Those who knew better kept their tongues tied on the matter.   Khaaestra herself, absolutely livid at being forced to handle such boring work, furiously went about building hew new 'noble family'. All the literate and capable baarham underlings she could grab were sucked up in her rapidly expanding nightmare. Whereas Vanzkah intended to limit Khaaestra's eccentricities, she inadvertantly spurred on a strong foundation instead.   With a whole apparatus designed to serve her needs, Khaaestra's resources exploded in size. Not to mention the vast amount of officials willing and ready to cater to her needs. Earning noble favor would go far for them, especially from one hand-picked by the queen herself. All the rich opportunities meant to bog her down only led to the creation of a frightening power base.   Despite their blistering hostility toward each other, Queen Vanzkah and Khaaestra nonetheless keep a working relationship. It is a rivalry other peoples might call 'amiable camaraderie' after a fashion. For the baarham, there's a very real fear for any of them accidentally setting the two off.   On a broader note, the prevalence of 'machkin' as an identifier sort of bled into common vernacular for many cultures. Dragonkind absolutely despises their wares being called machkin, as it is very distinctly a 'baarham' word. Similarly, baarham hate their wares being identified as draconic goods. The two are insufferably prideful about the matter, so mislabeling them can cause a diplomatic incident pretty quickly.    

Machkin Examples

  • Ironcore Mills
  • While everyone has their own ideas on mill designs, the baarham mill features sturdier and simplistic mechanisms meant to capture more energy. A larger, more varied milling facility can be built off of it as a result. The modular nature of its design became the selling point, as the exact same parts were easily interchangeable between different mills across the land. Copying the modular idea was troublesome at first, but a number of companies eventually created their own competitors.  
  • Series-7 Crysium Boring Device
  • A heavy drilling apparatus, it's usually meant to be mounted to a cart of some variety. While it sacrifices fuel efficiency, its ability to consume almost any kind of crysium dramatically widens its fuel availability. The Series-7 variant became popular as it was small enough to be person-portable for those exceptionally strong enough. Not needing a cart system to support the device allowed quicker mining and prospecting. Special modifications could be made that allowed it to run off the wielder's own mana supply, but its costs can be lethally dangerous.  
  • Vornar Magic Alignment Inspector
  • A small but intricate ringed device meant to offer simplistic analysis of one's magical arts. By feeding it mana and attempting the magic, it judges the art by various measures used by the baarham. Cohesion and competency are among their highest desirable traits, and the inspector is very good at measuring these things. Regardless of one's actual power capacity, it accurately shows one's effectiveness at magic. This nature makes it highly desirable to schools, universities, and anywhere else dealing with magic-based education.  
  • Hemxea Warder Bubble
  • Built to offer emergency protection, the Hemxea Warder Bubble is a small, spherical device. When twisted to an 'active' state then thrown at a surface, its defensive magic activates. Powered by condensed crysium, it creates a solid barrier field that isolates the inhabitants from the dangers outside. Different warders have different barrier types, but generally for their purpose they're quite strong. While they could be used in fights against people, they're more intended for explorers, workers, and similar professions. They can provide hours of safety and vital time needed to get out of a dangerous scenario.  
  • Liquid Trash Crystallizer
  • Sewage is a problem everywhere, and baarham enjoy extracting the maximum value out of anything they can. The liquid trash crystallizer is a smaller, building sized machkin designed with that idea in mind. As sewage is pumped through, a series of mechanical filters processes it. Magical enchantments further along then extract ambient mana and any kind of magical residues left over. The left over sewage is then enriched, and the mana crystallizes it to rapidly create new manarium, then crysium.   While the process is highly efficient, it does take a while, and the end product is a very small percentage of the material that went into it. Baarham cities have entire underground complexes filled with these crystallizers, effectively solving most of their sewage problems. Exporting them is fairly difficult, as the crystallizer is rather complicated in design and behavior. Still, a lot of people are willing to pay a great premium for them.   Incidentally, although the crysium produced is entirely usable normally, most people avoid doing so. It usually ends up becoming the nameless fuel for other machkin or mana-consuming things, rather than what a person would use personally.  
  • Learning Loom
  • Designed to learn from the weaver as its used, the 'learning' loom remembers the articulation done as a weave is made. Once taught from start to finish, it can almost perfectly replicate what the weaver did automatically. All that remains is for the weaver, or some other kind of worker, to supply the mana needed for the loom and the weave itself. The speed at which it works means dozens to hundreds of works can be completed in a day. However, it has a finite limit to how many 'weaves' it can learn, and more complex weaves take up more space. Some truly complex designs take several learning looms in tandem to even finish one piece properly.   Most baarham believe handcrafted clothes are the best kind to own, but their demands are often sky-high. The learning loom came about as weavers needed more ability to cater to these ever-increasing demands. When other peoples discovered it, a wildfire ripped through their clothing industries that very same day. Of all machkin, the learning loom often ranks as the one with the highest requests associated to it.   While the baarham don't have trouble making them, the political reality around it is something else. Rachtoh merchant guilds, especially, hold the learning loom at sword-point. It presents great competition, especially where 'cheaper' or 'simpler' wares are concerned. Since the loom itself still created faults in a product, skilled mistresses weren't entirely out of a job yet. Many people, wanting to compete with the rachtoh's legendary skill, wanted the learning looms for just that reason. The baarham are happy to restrict the device's trade to better leverage its value.   It should be said as the idea of the learning loom is not wholly original, others do exist out there. The machkin version simply excels in its compact size, very cheap running costs, and general quality of use. A weaver using it has to do much less work, physical or magical, than competing models.


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