Dwarves were a key component to the defeat of the Dark Lord, being the main source of ores and high quality weapons, having entered their own Industrial Revolution in the aftermath. The question I want to know is, could a major war spark an Industrial Revolution much earlier than in our world, and if not what could?

NOTE: magic does not exist my story

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    $\begingroup$ What is a Medieval Industrial Revolution and how is it different from an Early Modern Industrial Revolution? What do you think will happen to the medieval society when the economy accelerates to a sufficient degree to support an industrial revolution? (Hint: it won't remain medieval.) Why would anybody believe that a world where there are dwarves and a Dark Lord would duplicate the unique features of the western European medieval society (or of the Chinese medieval society, or of the Persian medieval society etc.)? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ what is mean by a "Medieval Industrial Revolution" is how could a Medieval society quickly enter an Industrial Revolution skipping all the century's in between. $\endgroup$
    – icewar1908
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ Aha. Extemporaneous quiz in world history: How many centuries separate the medieval Japanese society from the industrial Japanese society? What stage of development had the Russian or Chinese societies reached when they entered the industrial age? How and why did the Japanese society made the leap from sluggish feudalism to a modern world power in less than half a century? Why did the industrial revolution begin in western Europe of all places -- what was specifically different about Britain, Holland and France? Hint: no dwarves or dark lords were involved. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ Read the Safehold series by David Weber. Very long and in depth, but will probably give you some good ideas. Basic premise is actually scifi. Humanity hunted to extinction and has to start over on another planet. 1000 years later an android wakes up in a cave to human society at roughly the dawn of the renaissance. The next 10 books basic go through a 20 year world war that (with the android's help) catapults the world into about 500 years of technological advancements (roughly comparable to technology around WW1 by the end). $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ First you need to know what caused the actual industrial revolution $\endgroup$
    – user71781
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


Step 1: High Cost of Labor and Money

The Greeks had invented a primitive steam engine over two thousand years ago, but absolutely nothing came of it. Why? Because they had slaves. Slaves are really cheap labor and they can get enough work done that you can sit back and enjoy philosophy and pederasty all day without ever having to actually create new solutions to get work done. This continued well past the Fall of (Western) Rome, in which feudal lords had serfs, who were again cheap labor that lent plenty of time to enjoy theology and jousting. But this changed as feudalism fell apart in Western Europe, and soon you had a much more monetary economy. With mercantilism and eventually capitalism workers were actually being paid in money, and there was a greater demand for materials (I’ll get to that next) and labor was again more expensive so labor saving inventions were heavily sought after and got financial backing. For example, the steam engine was invented to pump water out of coal mines because coal was a valuable commodity and it cost money to get workers to otherwise remove the water. So your Dwarves could get this part done earlier by having labor be more expensive. This could be accomplished via an earlier monetary economy that lacks large scale coerced labor which isn’t terribly hard to conceive of given the existence of merchant republics in the Middle Ages.

Step 1.5: Copy Someone Else/Haul Ass

In 1860 Japan was a literal feudal nation, with samurai and all up until Commodore Perry showed up and demanded that Japan play ball with America. But within a hundred years they were bombing American ships. This is because Emperor Meji did not fuck around. The Emperor sent out Agents all over the world to learn about industrial sciences and they caught up extremely quickly. Stalin and Mao likewise overhauled their countries to become extremely industrialized through forcible collectivization and labor campaigns. Granted, these things are not so much an industrial revolution (ie invention of such technology) but the rapid industrialization of the country (ie the implementation of these technologies)

Step 2: Enough Food.

The Industrial Revolution was preceded by the Second Agricultural Revolution. The British developed or adapted several breakthrough techniques and technology that allowed agricultural production to skyrocket to levels never seen before, with everything from advanced crop rotation to seed drills, to the repealing of the corn laws, to potatoes. Speaking of potatoes, they lead to a veritable population boom in Europe. If you are able to produce an excess of food, that means more people can move to the city to seek other jobs, and this gives more opportunities for people to either invent something that saves labor or they can work 13 hours a day on it once it’s made. So have a Dwarven equivalent of a potato.

Step 3: Motivation

The Spinning Jenny wasn’t invented for fun, it was invented to spin cotton so you could sell more of it faster and cheaper. Likewise industrialization efforts in Japan and Russia were done with the explicit goal of catching up to nations that had already industrialized. So you’re dwarves need to be motivated to innovate, which you’ve provided.

So to recap, your dwarves need an economy that doesn’t have a bunch of slaves and serfs, has a powerful ruler that gets shit done, has enough food not to starve, and motive.

How I could see it play out: The Dwarves are a reclusive kingdom that is very centralized compared to its feudal neighbors, with an absolute monarch more evocative of an early modern period king, or perhaps a Roman Emperor. The Dwarves primarily export iron and coal from the mines in the rugged mountains, and they need to burn a lot of coal and wood. To save time and effort they use the fast flowing rivers to power sawmills and stampmills to cut lumber and pound iron respectively. The dwarves are master blacksmiths, but hammering is exhausting, so water hammers make life easier, which was a niche and expensive tool before the Great War, but soon they needed to produce hundreds of blades monthly, so they built more, and they also needed more coal, but their good coal mines were exhausted, and now they had to get it from these awful ones prone to flooding...


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