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Headscratchers / The Cinder Spires

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    Controlling Silkweavers 

  • The Enemy is capable of possessing silkweavers, creatures which are covered in magic-repelling armor. What kind of power must It have to overwhelm such defenses?
    • In the authors other series possessing a magic system part of the rules state "you cannot defend against yourself" in the Dresden Files Series this is meant that if you lent somebody your power you make yourself open and vulnerable to them. Since Wo G (aka Wo J) has hinted that possibility that all his stories are inside one multiverse the same rule may apply here and The Enemy has some magical connection/deal with the Silkweavers.
    • To support that, the Warriorborn who supports the Enemy's side is mentioned to be "spiderlike" and compared to the silkweavers at least once, unlike the other Warriorborn, who seem more like human-cat hybrids.
    • Maybe the Enemy is really some sort of planetary hivemind that involves ALL the surface creatures? It's mentioned that they all seem to have an irrational urge to attack humans (compared to real world animals who would rather avoid humans as any other large predator), not just the silkweavers.
    • While the Armor may repel magic, is there anything that say it covers every part of the silkweaver? Maybe it covers everything except joints (or something) and The Enemy just knows how to direct "his" thought control through the weak spots. Alternatively: Psychic Control doesn't count as magic in this setting.
    • Silkweaver chitin is resistant to the ether blasts generated by gauntlets. There's no evidence that they have a similar resistance to all forms of ether. Additionally, etheralist precognition can sense them just fine, so they seem to interact with more subtle forms of ether like other life forms.

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    Steam engine fuel 

  • Most of the technology uses etheric energy, but there are occasional mentions of steam engines as a backup or for small technology like rifles. We're told wood is extremely expensive, and coal mining operations seem unlikely since only madmen chance the surface. So what do the steam engines burn for heat?
    • At one point, Grimm uses power from the ship's power core to heat tea. They could easily use the ships power core to boil water to power steam turbines for locomotion.
    • But it's specifically mentioned that steam engines are used in situations when you can't use energy from a power core, such as in the little boat they use to get from one ship to another in mid-flight. Besides, they do get electricity from the power cores and have at least some electricity-based technology. If it was just a matter of extending the use of power cores without cables, batteries would make more sense. And the steam engines of the great battleships are there as backup in case of power core failure. It's probably a Rule of Cool thing - there must be steam engines, otherwise it's not steampunk.
    • The problem with that is that if the power core goes then there's nothing to power the lift crystal and the ship drops like a rock. Similarly the small boats must have a small lift crystal of their own and therefore a small power core to power their steam engine. I think it's more likely that the steam engines are indeed powered by electricity and are intended as an alternative to the ethersilk webbing that are the primary form of propulsion, not as a completely independent system. As a side note, there is a mention of buoys that are a small lift crystal with a flag, so presumably smaller crystals can be produced relatively inexpensively, it's just the crystals large enough for full airships that are in short supply.
    • I'd assume they get it from the same place they get all that metal they seem to use. Alternatively, they could use etheric energy back in the Spire to synthesize fuel (or maybe even inside the larger airships), but still allowing significant advantages over pure electric batteries. If nothing else, going with the steam punk aesthetics, batteries might as well be vats of sulfuric acid and lead bars.
    • Vat-grown algae producing hydrocarbons for fuel is becoming a thing in real life. With this Universe's predilection for growing stuff in vats, they may have perfected the technique.
    • Probably this.
    • I'd guess they run on electricity, and just have a very good energy storage system. Granted it's a bit Schizo Tech, but that's par for the course with this setting.
    • A city full of people generates certain... waste products. Dried, they burn quite hot.
    Where do they get the materials? 
  • So we can assume the trees are grown in the spire... But where do the copper and brass needed for everything (And the iron that they sometimes coat) come from, if the surface is uninhabitable? Are the habbles all conveniently full of mines?
    • They come from the surface or are recycled. Most of their stuff comes from the airships diving down to the surface, grabbing everything they can, and returning. And since it's a post-apocalyptic setting, they don't have to necessarily mine it, just scavenge it from ruins.
    • "Are the habbles all conveniently full of mines?" Joking aside, I don't think that's so improbable. Perhaps at the bottom of every spire is a mine where they dig for ore. The book does specifically mention work that goes on at the base of Spire Albion, maybe they mine stuff down there. Or maybe all the mines are located around one particular spire (Spire Olympia?) and metal is their primary export.
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