Galvanic technology (Horrors of the Hyborean World)

Book: Horrors of the Hyborean World

Pg18: Yithian -galvanic (direct current) - technology

According to the book, the Yith are knowledge-hoarding scientists, albeit of a non-human race.

Can anyone give some homebrew ideas for Yithian tech and weapons? I picture big bulky cubes in their design scheme.

I was thinking of electric lanterns(?) and cable connecting them running along a cave tunnel and (just) thought of moving platforms.

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You may want to read the Shadow out of time ( for an insight on the Yithian society. They seem to master stonework, chemistry and electricity. There “were great globes of luminous crystal serving as lamps” and “titan airships [and] the huge boat-like atomic-engined vehicles”.
Remember that this is a race that mastered Earth for several million years, compared to the mere 30000 or so of Men. They are the most technologically advanced people we know of, more than mi-go, serpent folk and perhaps even elder things, so anything human technology can achieve, the Great Race has, thousandfold. They have not revealed everything to their “guests”, in fact a mere glimpse of it can awe the wisest scholar of both the Hyborian Age or the twentieth century. If the PCs stumble on ruins of one of their cities, most of what they will discover will be broken and impossible to repair or even begin to understand (it has been fifty million years since the Great Race fled their time on Earth), what is left to salvage could be electrical guns or lamps but also a nuclear-powered motor (a skilled craftsman could use it to power a vehicle or hoist, even without understanding how it works), a refrigerator, an audio recorder… Anything really, what matters is to what extent a tinkerer of the Hyborian Age can put it to use.


Personally I’d stay away from devices easily recognisable by a player, because that robs them of their mystery. What will humans invent a thousand years from now? Probably something incomprehensible to today’s people. A Yithian gun may not look like a human one at all, and may be triggered by a mental command that can only come from a Yithian. They should remain fundamentally incomprehensible in my opinion.


Based on your suggestion, what galvanic devices would you use as a campaign hook?

I wouldn’t make them galvanic devices necessarily or recognisable as such. At that point they’re already mundane to the players. They could find for example an object made of translucent crystal and shaped like a golf tee. When placed point-down it projects an image on to a nearby wall showing a succession of strange characters at regular intervals. After a number of them are shown, a bolt of lightning comes out of the blue sky, connecting with the tip of the object and throwing nearby onlookers to the ground with burns. If turned tip-down, it balances perfectly vertically until disturbed. The technology while galvanic in nature certainly isn’t commonplace and there are no wires, making it interesting and impressive to both the players and characters. Also they will be scratching their heads wondering what use was made of this strange object (add any other weird characteristics you like) instead of going, “oh it’s a gun…” or whatever. They’ll never figure it out for sure and you as the GM needn’t know either.

True but players should be able to eventually find a way to do something with it or some of its components, even if it is far from what its creators intended (for example if they found a modern pistol but had no way to produce ammunition, they could get metal coils and create something with them). If your alien device can’t be used at all by the PC, they will lose interest in it once they figured it out.

Yeah sure, ingenious players can find a use for weird stuff. If it’s interesting they’ll pocket it for later.