Infernal gear


 

An autonomous cannon, and a French Harlequin Mercenary

An autonomous cannon, and a French Harlequin Mercenary

The most grotesque gun available in Europe, the Autonomous Sentinel Cannon (or Infernal Sentinel) is actually a semi-intelligent construct, consisting (in crude terms) of a gun built into a thinking, perceptory demon construct on stilt-like legs. The gun cannot move much under its own volition, but is capable of swivelling and stepping in place to aim at targets. In the picture here the Gun is seen in the foreground, with a mercenary wielding an Infernal Cannon to the rear. The gun can see, and has limited target selection abilities (though it is easily confused). It can be stunned by Confustor Field Rods. The most alarming aspect of the Infernal Sentinel, however, is its fuel source – regardless of who builds them, Infernal Sentinels are always powered by human blood, usually a quart per 50 shots. Their handlers are also called corpse grinders for their habit of draining the blood of their victims to fuel their gun.

 

So called because of its bizarre resemblance to an enormous thumb, the Battle Thumb is the Chimaeric creation which elevated York Constructs, Inc. to greatness. Bought in bulk by the armies of several nations, the Battle Thumb is much respected for its endurance, great strength and reliability. Though not easy to armour, its hide is naturally thick and it has some resilience against extremes of temperature. It is not agile but is highly mobile, requiring little space to turn and capable of reversing as well as walking forward. It is not capable of high speeds but its cunning physiognomy makes it a stable combat platform in any situation – mounted archers can fire from its back even when it is at full sprint. It is also capable of carrying quite heavy weights, though it is not efficient given its overall size and its speed and mobility decline rapidly as the weights increase.  It is, however, an excellent scouting and light combat mount, especially useful for archers, scouts and skirmishers, and useful for adventurers who need to move over rough or mountainous terrain. It has one other admirable trait which makes it much desired by military planners – it can eat anything. This beast is rather uncharitably referred to as “the Duke of Yorks Cock” by many soldiers.

Chimaere are artificial life forms, built in a laboratory by magicians and quickened with magical and Demonic forces. They could be built in almost any form, and were used in circumstances where a conveyance more specialised than the simple horse was required. They are correspondingly more expensive, and are mostly the province of large companies, the military and wealthy landowners. Although common varieties are described here, many companies and landowners have their own specially developed “signature” chimaerae, which can take on almost any form available in the imagination of a mage. 

Some companies specialise in the creation of Chimaerics, and many run bespoke departments which can build chimaerics upon request. Chimaerae are not usually under the scrutiny of the government, so people requesting a specially designed creature need not have much fear of their plans being interfered with by the security apparatus. However, construction of specialised chimaerae is a very expensive and time-consuming task.

The Royal Mail Swift Delivery Raptor, commonly known as the Postal Falcon, was used exclusively by the Royal Mail service to deliver urgent or important documents to distant locations. About 5’ in length and 11’ from wingtip to wingtip, the Postal Falcon was characterised by a ferocious temperament, fast flight and great endurance. It was designed with claws, wing redundancy, sharp teeth and a venomous tail to make it a difficult target for thieves and wild animals, endowments which also made it rather troublesome to keep. Special handlers called peregriners had to look after these birds, and they were an expensive investment for the Royal Mail indeed. A Postal Falcon can deliver a maximum of 11 lbs of weight over a range of 250 miles, at an average speed of 40 miles per hour. The creature is quite intelligent and can be trained to fly between a maximum of 4 different locations (usually Royal Mail stations). All have inbuilt passive detection systems, so those which fail to reach their destination can be tracked and retrieved. The Postal Falcon  became less useful as a delivery animal, and more useful to the military, as the railway lines expanded in the late 19th century, and was slowly phased out of normal service. It was one of the first Chimaerae to be built and used extensively, entering service first in the late 18th century. 

(Note: obviously the idea of chimaerae owes something to China Mieville, who wrote about them in Perdido Street Station. My Victorian Infernal world owes a lot to China Mieville, which fact will be mentioned again in future).

The equipment and weapons of the Victorian Era were either simplistic mechanical constructions or complicated magical devices. By this time the peoples of the Old World had become so enamoured of magical and Infernal technology that investigation of the natural sciences was seen as a second-rate hobby, interesting in its own right for those with enough time and money to devote to it but of limited use when compared to the great achievements of the magical arts. 

 

Scientific discovery ended with the discovery of the gas lamp and the steam engine, and since then Architecture and mathematics were the only fields to continue to develop, both being intricately connected with the Infernal and magical arts respectively. Even medicine ceased to be a viable field of study with the development of the Healing Arts and the return of Witchcraft to rural communities. Europe entered the Victorian Era without electricity or medicine, and with no chance of developing them.  

 

The Europeans also found little use for Gunpowder. Muskets had fallen out of favour with the military after the development of Demon Weapons, and although cannon retained some usefulness in fortifications, especially as magical and infernal arts made them bigger and more powerful, it was generally believed that any weapon devised using gunpowder could be made more portable, more ferocious and more reliable using magic. So the military returned to the Demon Bow, with elite units using rarer and more powerful weapons and officers carrying old pistols only for show and duelling. Some few gunpowder weapons were developed to a better standard but they always remained cumbersome, inconvenient and ineffective. The Victorians also distrusted gunpowder as an Oriental invention, which the Chinese especially seemed to be far better at turning into a weapon than the Europeans. 

 

Posts on this topic describe some of the common mundane and magical weapons and equipment of the Essential Compromise Victorian era. The era was full of innovation and individualism in the Infernal Sciences, and so there are many other items than these available in the larger cities of England and Europe; but these posts should suffice to display the common themes in adventuring goods of the time. 

The chief means of getting about Europe remained the Steam Train, the Horse and Carriage, and the Steamer. By 1875 England was well-served by an extensive network of railways; prior to this more extensive use needed to be made of the horse and Carriage. International trade and travel was made possible by the Steamer and (until the very late 19th Century) the Tall Ship. Various magical and Infernal improvements on these standard designs will also be described in the posts to follow.

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