An additional innovation for Skerple's Magical Industrial Revolution. The innovations are broken down into six steps, each ramping up progress towards an world ending event. Will your players help or hinder the apocalypse?
Art by Heinrich Kley
1. Initial InnovationA particular wizard has formulated a miraculous repurposing of the printing press. A printing press that produces matter not words. Rather than printing plates engraved with script these plates are being inscribed with a variety of magical symbols. These sigils, when etched in particular configurations interface with some foreign dimension (named the Fruitful Void) and can usher forth matter in predefined shapes and forms from that inaccessible world. The first few items produced by these printing presses are almost two-dimensional rectangles of hard grey matter, almost laughable really, but I’m sure with a little more experimentation more complex forms can be printed.
2. Public IntroductionInitially these presses produce only a hard-grey material that people use to produce cheap cutlery, crude trinkets and jewellery no one particularly wants to buy. Rather than repurposing traditional printing presses bespoke universal presses are beginning to be produced in factories. Many aspiring sigilists see potential and begin to experiment, producing different materials or more complex shapes. The presses are slow in producing things to start with but gain speed with each passing week. Savvy manufacturers begin to get nervous.
3. Widespread AdoptionEarly experimentation proves fruitful. The printing plates are becoming more complex and widespread. Other materials are beginning to be produced; stringy liquids, chalky powders, sponges. Direct replicas of things are currently out of the printing presses scope but progress continues unabated. People are producing nutritious jellies in artisanal shapes. The majority of people prefer to buy real food but for the destitute a ready source of cheap food is very welcome. Soon workhouses are serving nutritious printed slimes rather than gruel – it’s cheaper. Cold houses are made warm by the smouldering of strange bricks of burnable matter. The military takes an interest but lacks the creativity to print more than canned rations.
4. Scope AlterationAn unnerving breakthrough. If you use forbidden, chaotic runes the presses work much better - your desired produce is given more readily by the Fruitful Void. No one pays this much mind; they want more stuff. More familiar materials of many types may be printed in theoretically any combination. If you can think of it, it is being produced, furniture, clothing, food. Traditional manufacturers become increasingly anxious and panicky as their wares are replicated perfectly at little cost to the printer. Still more and more complicated printing plates are being produced and with greater ease. What possibilities are yet to be printed?
5. Height of AmbitionEven complex printing plates have become laughable to produce and can be done at home by amateurs. People can produce whatever they please almost instantly. Coinage is obsolete – why bother when you can print gold? The economy has collapsed but who actually cares? You can produce as much free stuff as you could want! Poverty, starvation, work? These are concepts of the past! The streets are lined with one long, riotous carnival. Every man owns a press; every man is as an emperor. Milk and honey stream through the streets (which by chance are literally paved with gold). To keep out the rest of the yearning world cyclopean brickwork is printed and great walls are constructed at lighting speed. The press still has some limitations. It can’t print magical items or substances. Also, while the press has been able to print life it is limited to simple organisms like algae. In other news, the black market is increasingly open and completely unpoliceable. Producing pure black-lotus extract is child’s play. Narcotics flow freely.
6. Terminal EventsThe terror of desires met. What can a man want for if his every material need is met? His every desire is provided for? Power, authority. Power over other men is one of the few commodities the presses cannot print. At least not directly. While the universal presses may not be able to print authority, they can print a cannon.
It begins with people printing box-fed repeating rifles and ammunition. Criminals at first. There are shootings in the street. Then coups. The rule of law fades quickly. Migrants longing for the material excess of the universal press are handed a rifle by a street-warlord and expected to fight for it. The arms race escalates. If you can materialise a bullet you can materialise a bomb. If you can materialise a bomb then why not materialise a particularly vicious bomb? A bomb that burns or chokes? It won’t be long before someone prints some plague…
The constant and rampant unchecked use of satanic printing presses which tap into an unknowable dark dimension will undoubtedly have some apocalyptic consequences. However, home printed pathogens will probably wipe out a large percentage of the world’s population before that ever happens.