So, what time period is your fantasy world set in? Do you have plate mail armor? full plate armor? Are they using high grade or low grade steel? Most people assume that their worlds are in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. This usually works with the level of weapon and armor crafting available. Now, how long has it been there? Think about it. Have you set wars in your world that occurred 500 years ago? 1500 years ago? 4000? Most of our fantasy worlds have been stuck in the fantasy genre for a long time. Compare that to Earth where the days of metal armor were at best 1,000 years. (This assumes that from 500-1500 they wore metal armor, but this is likely inaccurate, and only used to be conservative.) What’s the point? The point is that something is keeping your fantasy world from becoming a modern world.
On Fletnern, that something is the titans. 4,000 years ago, the titans had a civil war, where the mages and the mentalists (who valued learning and self induced power) fought the enchanters (who crafted and made wondrous items that anyone could use). An enchanter weapon exploded taking the enemy army, their army and the entire continent with it. Yep, the entire continent. That continent is now known as the Great Archipelago. Anyways, some of the titans survived. The enchanters were banished from the planet, and the mages and mentalists moved to another continent.
While the remaining titans might be in “retreat”, they are not completely cut off from the world. They went back through their histories and decided that it was gunpowder and steam power that allowed the enchanters to accomplish what they did. The remaining titans have dedicated their lives to stamping out every gunpowder (or gunpowder-like) experiment and every steam engine (even those cute ones that spin around). By doing this, they have managed to hold the entire world at a technology level of steel armor and steel weapons for 4,000 years.
But! and it’s a big “but”! They don’t care about other things. Weaving has moved forward. Animal husbandry has moved forward. Smelting has moved forward. OK, not a lot, but forward. The titans are also not going to let electricity come into its own, so there are no telegraphs, etc.
So what? So Fletnern is in many ways a mixture of the High Middle Ages, the Late Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Colonial Period, and even the Wild West/Frontier Days. Why did I just waste my time typing all of this? Two reasons: 1) If you read Grain Into Gold, it helps to give you a perspective as to why I use examples that really pertain to the early 1800s to justify fantasy era industry. 2) I think game masters need to think about why their worlds are “stuck” in a fantasy era. If the elves have been battling the dwarves using basically the same tools for over 2,000 years, and no one bothered to invent a machine gun or even a laser rifle, something must be holding them back. It might be the gods, the titans, the Mages’ Guild. Maybe the physics behind saltpeter work differently in your game world.
So does this make any sense? Hopefully. Remember that when the Europeans “discovered” the Americas, the natives were basically at the “stone age”. This is important as not every culture needs to be at the same level of technology. For all you Civ players out there, this makes perfect sense. But this mixture doesn’t actually pertain to the original issue. Does it make sense to have a knight in shining armor return home to his grandfather clock and green house? In Fletnern it does. Maybe it should in your world too.