A recent arrival to Aloria, steam power is a Dwarven invention that employs the use of steam to drive pistons, and in turn, mechanics. However, the technology is still in its very early infancy and has only been known to humans for a handful of years, due to Dwarves only recently surfacing with the technology after being driven out by the Dakkar. Some scholars and engineers, both Dwarven and Human, have found great interest in this new discovery and strive to bring the technology to its full potential. Though despite this, steam power at its current stage still has many limitations, drawbacks, and struggles to find practical uses. Due to this, steam power remains as something to be developed by Aloria’s great minds, but until then, it is used where it can be.
The invention of steam power is credited to a pioneering group of Elladorian Dwarven engineers, who uncovered the idea after a mishap with a lidded boiling pot. On its own this was little more than accepted physics, but determined for an invention to drive them to wealth, the Dwarves decided to try to harness the power. Their early designs were flawed and unsuccessful. One even catastrophically exploded, which injured several of the would-be inventors, but every failure only educated the group of persistent engineers, and by 282 AC, what would turn out to be the first functioning prototype was designed. After a long struggle to find anybody still willing to make the parts for one of these prototypes, eventually one was assembled, and successfully tested by the Dwarven inventors. Sluggish and inefficient as it was, it was the first functioning steam engine in Aloria.
Years later, in 298 AC, steam power inevitably fell into the hands of Humans as dwarves surfaced into the topside world. While initial rumors and stories of its existence proved uninteresting due to their apparent unreliability. Eventually functioning, albeit small, steam engines began to be sold to Regalian engineers and scholars. Most of those who purchased the devices were disappointed at how underwhelming steam engines performed. However, they were quickly reverse-engineered, and human-made prototypes were being designed the very same year.
Steam power in modern Aloria is still extremely limited in its uses, and the effectiveness of a steam piston differs from item to item. Dwarves have found more value for the devices over time, but Humans have yet to be largely impressed by the still rather weak engines, and they continue to disregard it outside of a few engineering specialists. An arguably understandable decision, because despite how steam engines have developed since their initial discovery, they remain weak and unreliable.
As Dwarves became capable of creating larger and more powerful steam engines, they began experimenting with the possible uses. Initial tests at powering ships proved unsuccessful, as the engines simply lacked the torque to power something through water. However, attaching propellers to the engines and using them to power airships was found to be far more successful. Steam airships remain somewhat unreliable, though this was considered an improvement over their old, sail-driven methods.
Transport was not the only use Dwarves found for steam engines; it was soon discovered that steam engines were far more suited for lighter tasks, such as grinding wheat, operating pumps, and automating certain blacksmith tools. While far less exciting than steam-powered airships, this automation allows for wealthier dwarves to make their lives less labor-intensive. As a result, the idea was relatively well-received among them, but this is about as close to success as the steam engine has come as of today.
Despite Human disinterest, some individuals have been known to purchase steam engines to automate certain simple tasks, though they are still disregarded as a serious invention due to this. While Human-made airships largely remain powered by sail, private builders are beginning to experiment with steam power, with limited success.
- Steam engines are nearly always made of brass due to its resistance to rust. Iron or steel has proven to be very unsuitable for the engines, as the moisture from the steam would quickly corrode them.
- Engineers who specialize in steam engines can often be spotted due to their likely possession of a pair of goggles. Steam is painful enough when it burns skin, but steam in one’s eye can cause blindness in some cases.
- Steam-powered airships have found limited success in piracy and are favored for their lack of dependence on the wind. However, if the balloon is pierced and not repaired immediately, the airship will slowly sink.