Verdan Arcanis – Technology and Magic II. The Biological Sciences

To continue with the state of the sciences on Verdan…

On the biological side, the structure of the body is reasonably well understood, as are the nature of physically-based diseases (a few seem to be lux-based in nature). Even relatively modest spells can notably improve resistance to particular mundane diseases – making most of them quite survivable. Similarly, a skilled magician-surgeon can fix a great many things, right up to reattaching limbs – although such radical injuries may require weeks or months of exercise and careful healing-guiding spells to fully repair.

It’s even possible to revive corpses, or simply to alchemically pour lux-forces into a body until it wakes up on it’s own – but what you get generally isn’t what you wanted, and rarely seems to have much to do with the original owner of the corpse – or corpses for those going with a build-your-own approach. On Verdan, the various versions of the Frankenstein tale are more cautionary tale than horror-fantasy.

The germ theory of disease is well-established, as are various methods of keeping germs under control – knowledge which has led to a boom in preserved foods, canning, vaccination, better control in the production of cheeses and wines, and many other applications – where simple spells coupled with an understanding of what to do and how to apply them have yielded excellent results. Similarly, few synthetic medicines are known – but small spells allow the easy extraction and purification of a wide variety of natural compounds. A skilled herbalist can provide specific medications for hundreds of different conditions – and moderate their biological activities with more small spells or infusions of lux.

Contraceptive spells and talismans are trivially easy; conception is a delicate process in any case, and often fails all by itself. Thanks to this, and to the fact that most sexually-transmitted diseases can be fairly readily prevented or treated (and often cured) with magic and medicine, and that – unlike a club – magic is just as powerful and dangerous in the hands of a slender young woman as it is in the hands of a hulking brawler, women have a stronger-than-traditional role. A woman with children is expected to spend much of her time taking care of them (and an unwed mother who isn’t well-supported for her trouble is usually regarded as an idiot) – but women without children can go adventuring, take up professions, and even serve in the military (albeit in fewer roles than men) without any great social opposition. There’s even a small tradition of wives accompanying expeditions in search of their missing husbands or offspring.

Attempts to argue that it is a wives prerogative to break her husband out of jail have enjoyed a vogue after a rather lenient judge ruled in favor of Brunhild Einhere, dismissing criminal charges of jailbreak, flight, and smuggling a fugitive out of the country (albeit not the charges of punching out a policeman and destruction of property) resulting from her blowing up a prison wall and knocking out the first guard who came to investigate – thus buying time to get her husband aloft, and on his way out of England, aboard a smuggler’s balloon. Brunhild paid the fine and repair bill for damaging public property and served three months of a six-month sentence for the assault, but was released early on the grounds of being excessively embarrassing to keep around. She emigrated to Germany to join her husband and has since written a book that has been – at least in the eyes of England’s legal system – even more embarrassing.

Evolutionary theory has, however, lagged badly. In part that’s due to an inability to travel and to observe isolated biomes – but to a large part it’s also because Verdan’s flora and fauna is far more diverse than is at all reasonable, includes creatures which are only partially physical, and – on close investigation – shows a number of inexplicable jumps and some new species that seem to appear from nowhere. The fact that supernatural explanations are obviously potentially valid hasn’t helped. The study of inheritance is still bogged down in theories of blended, acquired, transmitted, and manipulated characteristics, complicated by the fact that not a few animals are capable of using small, innate, shapeshifting magics to adapt to changing environments – creating variants and “sub-species” that will vanish with the next generation, modest shift in climate, or migration.

At the moment, the chief challenge to the notion that humans are a special supernatural creation is coming from the common belief that only truly sapient beings can use a wide variety of spells – while recent observations and experiments which have confirmed that several other higher animals also do so – albeit not nearly as many different effects as humans use.

No Smoking Please!

On the agricultural side, the fact that the New World is only now being discovered means that Eurasia has not yet been introduced to Bell and Chili Peppers, Chicle (the basis for chewing gum), Chocolate, Cocaine, Cotton, Maize, Peanuts, Pineapples, Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes, Paprika, Pumpkins, Squash, Sunflowers, Tobacco, Tomatoes, Turkey, Vanilla, and many kinds of Beans – among other things. If a character wants to smoke something, he or she is just going to have to settle for hemp. On the plus side, Syphilis has not yet reached Eurasia.

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One Response

  1. […] Verdan Arcanis – Technology and Magic II – How Lux has impacted the biological and medical sciences […]

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