Champions of Pulp
Science and technology in the campaign world
As big a literary staple in the Pulp world as magic and horror, there is super science, technological breakthroughs that can either sound like they are on the cusp of being discovered in the real world, or are outright science fiction. But every time these elements show up in stories for one reason or another they have little long range impact on the Pulp world in which they appear. Like magic and horror elements, scientific advancements fade soon after they are introduced, or endure in such a inconsequential manner that they usually only have an impact on the hero and those immediately around them. But why is this? Or why is it the case in terms of the campaign world?
Technology is expensive. Think about how much VCRs cost when they first came out, or even calculators. They cost a lot of money in part to cover the tremendous investment setting up the infrastructure cost the companies that made them, the time and effort engineers spent designing them in such a manner that they were suitable for consumer use. And not all inventions catch on; history is littered with failed technologies that, even if they worked well, fell flat (Betamax, anyone?). So yes, a technological advancement might appear on the scene, but it might be so expensive to produce it is unlikely it would be seen again.
The technology requires something special. Think about what it takes for some of your favorite gadgets to work, like a satellite network, cell towers, rare earth magnets. Perhaps Doctor Sphinx’s death ray requires that special something to work, and without that critical component it’s so much junk?
The technology baffles even the most advanced mind. Hey, your character might have a half dozen degrees in different scientific fields, he might be an experienced inventor in his own right. But that doesn’t mean your character might understand all the intricacies of the item in question. The mad scientist’s though processes might be so alien no sane engineer could hope to follow them. Soon the device is inoperable because it was not properly maintained.