I’m trying to build a world with steampunk-level technology, but would like it if compasses didn’t work/exist (or, failing that, if they were prohibitively expensive or difficult to get hold of). The technology level of the world excludes the possibility of it being too advanced a device, so I’m wondering: why wouldn’t a compass work in this world?
There is magic in this world, but it’s more limited to the existence of mythological creatures, rather than completely reality-altering stuff, so a more realistic/scientific reason would be preferable if possible.
Other modes of navigation are possible (such as using the sun or stars), but I’m currently envisaging a character flying dragonback over open ocean with no landmarks, it’s nighttime, and the sky is cloudy/it’s stormy. I’d like to exclude the possibility of “oh, I’ll just get the compass from my pocket” as a solution to them getting lost.
I would also prefer it to be a constant thing for this world, rather than there being a convenient solar storm or something. I also know that magnetic fields are a bit changeable, so compass navigation wouldn’t be an exact science anyway, but getting rid of compasses entirely is what I’m aiming for.
If it’s not plausible to have compasses just not exist (idk why, maybe there’s some crazy multiple magnetic field thing going on that would make compasses pointless), why might they be really hard to get hold of? (I’m talking only the richest of the rich might own one.)