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Now, my world is old. Very old. And, unfortunately, the story locked me in a paradox. Namely, the colonization of the lush caves featured in another of my questions, which also have a name now (Harat Caverns). You see, a small group of intelligent dragons colonized this place 3.5 million years ago. They were in the renaissance age. How can I prevent them from progressing beyond the early industrial point? And, as a side note, why would they prefer medieval weaponry and customs? Do note that magic does exist.

Edit: Welp, apparently due to bad writing on my part, everyone thinks I'm just talking about the dragon civilization. I'm talking about the entire world. Also, if it helps, the setting is a large archipelago in a mostly temperate zone. I also still want the use of fossil fuels. And there are humans, as well as 8 other races. And the dragons. Sorry about the misunderstanding. Have upvotes as a compensation.

Edit 2: I had an idea. I decided to come up with a special deific monster called a Watcher, or numina. While they've been around for a while, I only just realized how I can apply them to this. You see, numina used to only stalk roads at night, killing travelers, but I realized that perhaps they can prohibit other things as well. Do with this as you will.

Edit 3: New developments! Now, iron is extremely rare, only found in trace amounts in copper ore, and tin is almost nonexistent. Meanwhile, zinc is a bit more common. As a result, brass is used for almost all the things bronze, iron, and steel would be used for. While this may have unforeseen consequences, I do wonder if it would help. Also, I have accepted numina warping, and have decided platinum is immune to it. Also, in response to RobbieGoodwin, who had asked several good questions, what I mean by Numina being "deific" is that they are godlike, but not exactly gods. They are unkillable, but their powers are quite limited, only allowing for a limited, chaotic control over their environment. The temperate archipelago thing was included because I felt that while I may not see any connections, someone else will. Same with other races. And finally for fossil fuels, coal and oil exist, but natural gas does not. And, another thing: this world is completely unaware of air pollution, so that would not be a viable answer.

BTW, here's a link to my chatroom if you're interested in the world.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you want this civilization suspended in early industrial era, or it's Ok if it would be repeatedly plunging into the "dark ages"? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Mar 30 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Alexander, this probably points towards value systems more than materials availability or intellectual capacity. $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Mar 30 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander Really, what I'm looking for is a suspended renaissance for the duration of history, then, a short time before the present, it enters the early industrial stage. $\endgroup$ – The Sophomore Mar 30 at 23:45
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    $\begingroup$ most industry in the renaissance was very unsustainable so keeping it going for too long is all but impossible. Also it is basically impossible to build a renaissance supply chain in something as small as a single cave. $\endgroup$ – John Mar 31 at 2:53

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I am surprized nobody mentioned lack of materials. Lack of coal or metals would prevent most machinery from being made.

In addition, use of any fossil fuel in a closed environment of a cave will quickly deplete oxygent. Maybe somebody tried it early on, and since then, fires are no longer allowed.

Dragon's fire breath is not a fossil fuel, it uses methane that dragon produces from their food, so basically similar to exhaled CO2 or burps or farts. Unfortunately, dragon's breath is not hot enough to engage in any advanced metallurgy.

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    $\begingroup$ The question asks for a long stagnation at the level of western European Renaissance, followed by moving into the early industrial stage a short time before the story begins. These requirements are incompatible with a lack of metals, or with lack of metallurgical knowledge. (And in real history, the industrial revolution began with hydropower; steampower and age of coal came about a century after the beginning of the industrial revolution. Lack of fossil fuels would simply shift industrial development from steampower to electric power produced in hydroelectric power plants.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 31 at 4:57
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP Lack of fossil fuels would completely derrail mass production of steel and other metals (such as copper wire). You still can melt small quantities of ores, but you can't build anything large. Hydropower with large turbines is one thing. With a dynamo the size you could have in a byke, not so much. I can see electricity being used in either chemical or rechargeable batteries to make lightbulbs work, but little else. Even if some visionary had the idea of large generators to provide significant amounts of power, you still can't manufacture the pieces. $\endgroup$ – Rekesoft Mar 31 at 9:52
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    $\begingroup$ I like this answer because it can, compatible with @AlexP's point about hydro power, stick them at the beginning of the industrial revolution, with machines driven by water mills, limited by total water flow through the cave network, starved of the fuel needed to progress from water to steam-driven machinery. Supply them with a fuel source in chapter 1, and watch their industrial revolution take off and go. $\endgroup$ – Frosty840 Mar 31 at 11:15
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    $\begingroup$ They have very energy dense vegetation. They don't need fossil fuels because their wood would burn slightly hotter than coal. As for ventilation, that won't stop a Renaissance level society for very long. Renaissance people understood both ventilation and large scale tunneling projects. It would slow tech down a bit to have to dig chimneys up to the surface, but by no means prevent their progress. and definitely not cause the level of stagnation that lasts for millions of years. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Mar 31 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ @DarrelHoffman: Unless their planet is made of exotic materials, silicon is the one thing they surely have an abundance of. On Earth, various silicates are what most rocks are made of. (All rocks which are not of biological origin are made of silicates.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 31 at 17:26
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These dragons are the original ones who colonized the cave.

Yes: they are 3.5 million years old. Actually 3.85, 3.97, 4.12 and Gramps at 5.193 million years old. Dragons are not very creative because they don't need to be and your cave dwellers are especially uncreative because their quiet cave environment offers no impetus to try new things. Moving into the cave was their one burst of creativity and actually that was all Gramps' idea; the others came along with him. Cut off from the movers and shakers of dragon society as a whole (if there still exists dragon society topside) and with only the 4 of them down in the cave, they continue as they always have. It has worked out ok. There have been some long naps.

There are no new dragons because as it happens these four dragons are all dudes. They thought some ladies would be along shortly. Maybe they still will.

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  • $\begingroup$ I put a link in to the original question, which unfortunately has a lot to do with the adaptation of the dragons through multiple generations of breeding. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Mar 31 at 2:07
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Your race is very conservative and nature-loving

Intelligent dragons are not like people. They prefer solitary life, see trade as nothing more than a necessary evil, and, above all, protect the state of their natural habitat. Defacing their land is one of the most heinous crimes to them, so, building a factory or a railroad is nearly as bad as killing everyone in a village. Unlike dragons of human legends, those dragons are not drawn to riches. Having enough space, food, and time for thinking is more than enough for their happiness - and they are indeed happy in their caves.

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Dragons are mentally incapable of grasping how to read/write

This could maybe be explained by severe dyslexia, blindness, or possibly even the inability to mentally comprehend language itself.

The big turning point for mankind coming out of the stone age was literacy. For over a million years, man kind's ancestors survived by learning what they could from oral tradition alone. Without writing, it is just as easy to lose knowledge from one generation to the next as it is to gain knowledge. So, you could be the greatest inventor in the world, but with no way to write it down, your inventions can never see wide-spread adoption, and most of them would be forgotten within a few generations.

That said, there is one way out of the stone age without writing which is apprenticeship. Here, each dragon can pass on a specialized set of knowledge to the next generation either through spoken instructions or by simply performing tasks to be seen and learned. Each generation will forget a bit and innovate a bit. Unlike a society that has a formal education system, apprenticeship will eventually find an equilibrium where new ideas become so complex that they can no longer be taught without a written record because they require the collection of too many unrelated concepts to orally aggregate in one place. Chemistry for example is the culmination of the works of many great minds spanning several nations over several centuries to be able to come to the kind of system we have today. In an oral society, those men would have never heard of each-other's work; so, instead of building up on previous discoveries, each person's work would be independently lost to the ages.

Without literacy, I doubt you could actually achieve Renaissance levels of technology, but you could probably get somewhere in the classical-to-medieval tech level just fine, and then stagnate... only it won't be true stagnation. Knowledge will just be in a constant state of ebb and flow. Some centuries a village might peak at Renaissance levels, then next century it regresses to ancient level tech all because some master blacksmith had a heart attack and died before he could fully train the next generation. Technology will also tend to form and only ever exist in pockets instead of spreading to the whole population.

You see this pattern a lot in the history of steel making where various techniques of tempering, quenching, and carbonizing are discovered remain local to an area for a few generations and then fall out of use.

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  • $\begingroup$ What is the lifespan of dragons though? $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Mar 31 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @DKNguyen The related question says "sexual maturity is 22 years, and the loss of fertility is at 174 years"; so, they live longer than humans which is part of why I think they could exceed stone age without literacy, but they don't seem to live so long that they could each become a 1 dragon encyclopedia of an entire advanced civilization's collective knowledge $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Mar 31 at 21:51
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The UNDO program.

In a decent magic novel whose name escapes me, the protagonist was a programmer with small magical talent who built up magic spells like programs from small parts. To ensure nothing would go wrong, he designed his magic UNDO program first.

The dragons did something similar. They progressed for a few years or a few months, until a magic effect went wrong, and then they used the UNDO spell to go back to how things were before that. They've been doing that at regular intervals ... ever since.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like Rick Cook, first book was Wizard’s Bane, available at: baen.com/Chapters/201602FT1/201602FT1.htm $\endgroup$ – jmoreno Mar 31 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ This could delay progress but not prevent it over millions of years. Having a technological undo button is fine, but everytime they undo things, they would generally be inclined to try something else next time. In all likelihood, this means that after a few re-starts they will have a very clean and well balanced technological foundation established and not have a reason to undo past advancements. Eventually, they will have a very desirable outcome and not want to undo it. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Mar 31 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ That said, I guess there could be a forced Undo sort of thing. John Ringo had a book like that in his Looking Glass series where every time this alien civilization developed electricity, it would awaken an army of dragon like creatures that would come and destroy everything they had. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Mar 31 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki: I'll admit I was a little cryptic. The dragons tried making an Undo feature like in Rick Cook's book. But it actually undoes everything in the area, so that they go back and do the exact same thing all over again. Maybe their actions change a little as plate tectonics alters the surrounding landscape, but they still get to some point in their magical construction activities for the colony that leads them to attempt another Undo. And every time ... it's right back to the boot screen for their civilization. $\endgroup$ – Mike Serfas Mar 31 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeSerfas Ah... so something like Battlestar Galactica where humanity kept inventing Cylons over and over again to almost wipe us out because it is in our nature to invent Cylons. "This has all happened before and it will all happen again" $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Mar 31 at 21:43
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Religion/tradition/principles/evolution

Technological stagnation has happened before. Although there obviously was scientific progress in some areas, during the European medieval period much groundbreaking work was suppressed by the church, often discouraging or even killing the researchers. But in many other countries, you see slow or stagnant progress. Many African countries had little progress over the years. This can come from too much hardship, little resources, little time/reason to research or tradition, as well as Religion.

Your dragons can have a religious reason. Their tradition might dictate their preferences. They might not have the resources or simply see little advantage to continue research as they suppose their life won't be enriched. If you look at western countries depression is very high due to high wealth.

But there might be another factor at play. Humans are still very much evolving. There's evidence that our brains get more and more plastic even in the next generation. We're better able to understand the problems and build upon them. While at first mathematics was hard for learned people, now it's the standard curriculum for most of the population. Part of our scientific progress might be because of our still-evolving brains.

Dragons might not be so lucky. Where humans have doubled down on intelligence, dragons might just have it as a side effect. They are dragons. They don't need intelligence to survive, so evolving it further is unlikely.

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  • $\begingroup$ "during the European medieval period much groundbreaking work was done by the church" FTFY; the study of Natural Philosophy (understanding how the world works; what we now call Science) was seen as an act of Worship or Devotion. Most of the claims that the church "suppressed progress" were 17th & 18th century propaganda by anti-church philosophers, and now largely discredited. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Apr 2 at 12:38
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Degeneration:

Your dragons aren't as smart as their ancestors were. Why, after all, should they be? They've been living in a totally stable environment for millions of years. There is no great drive to have tech, and no advantage to having tech. There isn't even an advantage to being intelligent, except agriculture.

The time spent learning science and technology is time spent NOT seeking out mates or eating/growing food. The time spent making things is time that could have been spent intimidating your rivals for food and females. It's time you could have spent raising your young (once they get past the grim deterministic youth stage) to be successful breeders and maters. Even calories devoted to growing large brains are calories that could have been spent on a bitch'n set of horns for a mating display. Telling the ladies they should learn how to read is not going to get you mates.

Still, the founders wanted everyone to know stuff, and remember tech, and be able to make things. So they imposed their values on their offspring, who grudgingly learned it even though it seemed worthless to them.

Now, all this time later, with no drive to make things or know tech, they are like a tribe of natives on an idyllic island with food abundant. Once you get past the grim, deterministic childhood (which the adults seem fine with) life is pretty cushy. knowledge passed on has disappeared like a giant game of telephone. In a very real sense, they live in the land of Idiocracy.

Of course they prefer ancient ways - they're simpler. Of course they prefer old-style weapons. They understand them. That smart, scrawny smart-alex who made that arquebus got everyone mad at him and they made an example out of him. Those things are really loud in a giant cave anyway. Now the cleverest thing anyone makes are basic tools, cool-looking swords (mostly to show off for the mates) and the occasional crossbow for hunting whatever it is they hunt.

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You need divine intervention

It can't be emphasised enough that 3.5 million years is, in historical terms, an insane amount of time. If you want your world's Renaissance Era to last more than 1,000 times longer than the entirety of Earth's human civilisation (even at its most expansively defined), then no amount of conservative social customs are going to last long enough to matter. It is in the nature of all societies to change; consider that China is possibly the world's most stable and long-lasting civilisation, yet in the space of barely 3,000 years it has revolutionised its religious, social, political, and economic make-up multiple times. Certain resource scarcities might work better, but the natural resources necessary to sustain Renaissance-level development for countless generations are not that radically dissimilar from those needed for an industrial revolution. Even if it would take a freakish, million-to-one coincidence or leap of genius for a society to escape the technological bottleneck, over that span of time a colossally improbable event approaches inevitability. Your best bet is therefore probably a magical being or force of effectively god-like power relative to the world's other inhabitants (perhaps the spirits you mention would fit the bill, or maybe something else) which for some reason refuses to countenance railways and mechanical looms but never gets tired of caravels and ruffs. It's pretty handwave-y, but less so than the alternatives.

As a side note, you'd still need to consider the implications of a society that's been at a Renaissance level of development for longer than it took modern humans to evolve from apes. What will it be like to have a literary corpus and cultural memory stretching back to when the continents were markedly different shapes? How will people relate to a history which can be measured in geological time? Such a world may have some enforced similarities to our Early Modernity, but culturally and psychologically, it will be a very different place to live in. You'll also have to figure out what happened to recently remove the divine anti-modernity umpire in the first place...

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For some reason, it is very difficult to create durable stores of information in your world. The paper rots, the stone crumbles so easily that carving text into it is impossible, clay tablets don't work because the humidity erodes them over time, and so on.

That means if you want to build industrial machinery, you can't just go to the library to find out how an internal combustion engine works, you have to find someone who actually knows how to build one. Hopefully, you learn enough to teach someone else, but more likely you don't really get all of the nuances. That doesn't make it impossible, but your civilization will need to keep an oral history of their technology, which limits the size and the complexity of your technical options. A seaworthy ship is not going to be a problem, but a car probably isn't going to happen (how many people today know how to build a car from scratch?).

This opens up two issues/opportunities for story telling:

  1. It is much easier to lose technological progress - the only guy who knows how to cure seal skin dies at sea, and the knowledge is lost

  2. Longer lived races will be more technically advanced simply because they have more overlapping generations and a wider knowledge base

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  • $\begingroup$ Longer lived races are more likely to be less technologically advanced since they will have fewer new talents and traditions will be maintained more strictly. The authority of elders will, probably, be enforced more as well. Science progresses one funeral at a time: wikiwand.com/en/Planck%27s_principle $\endgroup$ – Otkin Mar 31 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin "...because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it..." <- Planck's Principle assumes no knowledge is ever lost just because someone dies because it's all written down for the next generation to be able to be familiar with. Without writing, your young can't just read about all the ideas held by every previous generation like we humans do. So, instead of an overload of knowledge that they must filter down to a manageable breadth, these dragons have a scarcity of knowledge that they must live long enough to gather and share before they die. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Mar 31 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki You are talking about maintenance of knowledge, not advancement. In longer living species older generations can suppress new ideas for much longer and they can spend more time instilling their own ideas in new generations. It is also questionable there will be more overlapping generations since longer living species may have the same fertility rates as species with shorter lifespans. Please also consider that high levels of literacy are a relatively new phenomenon. An enormous amount of pre-industrial and early industrial technologies was passed down via apprenticeship. $\endgroup$ – Otkin Mar 31 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ Honestly, this can be applied to the numina that I came up with. Perhaps numina wander libraries at night, erasing information. Of course, if you are able to drive off numina, you could keep information safe. Maybe a recent innovation occurred that revealed a way to deter numina, and that caused the discovery of the steam engine and other industrial technology. $\endgroup$ – The Sophomore Mar 31 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin Knowledge can not be advanced if you don't also maintain it. Time periods of mass illiteracy are often accompanied by far greater losses in technology than new innovations. The Renaissance happened because despite centuries of scarce literacy, many old writings were still maintained allowing civilization to quickly catch back up to the Classical Era in the ways they had fallen behind. The ability to read can ebb and flow while you still make progress, but without writing there can be no Renaissance because lost information is lost forever. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Apr 1 at 18:10
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A lack of sufficiently energy-dense power sources. The industrial revolution required a huge amount of readily available power. No coal, no oil = no revolution. Because these were readily available in our world, thousands upon thousands of people were working simultaneously to solve problems. In an energy-poor word, maybe 10 are, and they have to be cautious about how they spend it.

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Lack of metals would stymie an industrial revolution. If the iron costs as much as the blacksmith then mass production doesn't happen, screws continue being made individually by hand etc.

Take a look at the Roman empire; they had lots of very sophisticated stuff, but never got around to industrialisation.

Consider the role of printing and cheap paper for spreading knowledge. If knowledge is handed down from master to apprentice rather than published and taught in schools then innovation is much harder.

Social systems matter. There is no point in innovating and making lots of money if some guy in a suit of armour can come along and take it all off you.

Go and watch "Connections" by James Burke; its full of this stuff. You can find the full series on YouTube.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is by far the most relevant answer. Roman empire spent maybe 400 years in "early industrial" state without going anywhere further. $\endgroup$ – alamar Apr 2 at 9:37
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Imprecision

The numina warp things in their vicinity, everything somewhat differently and unpredictably. (Or maybe it's not the numina but some other agent.)
I.e. two yardsticks that had the same length today will vary by, say, 1 millimeter tomorrow.
The beams of a scale will have slightly different length tomorrow.
Your weights be 0.1% heavier or lighter tomorrow.
That kind of stuff.

Everything medieval still works - houses (wood moves anyway), weapons, armor, carts - none of this requires millimeter precision.
Cogwheels? They will work but never be efficient.
Waterwheels? That's wet wood, it will work. You can have a lot of low-precision machinery like hammer mills (leather is pretty useful for transmitting power as it is slightly elastic, steel bands won't work so well anymore).
Mass production is possible - sort of, anything that requires precision requires human labor. Weaving machines are never going to be precise enough except for pretty crude fabric, and even then it may not be worth it. Taylorism will work (that's how "manufactories" were set up, these tended to have multiple waterwheels in a nearby river, power transmitted into the working halls via leather bands).
Quantitative chemistry? Impossible: the beam length will vary so your measurements will not repeat on the next day, i.e. it will be very hard to be sure about anything. (Read up on what made Lavoisier the founder of modern chemistry.)

The inhabitants may not even be aware of the situation. The only thing that they observe will be "complicated mechanisms tend to jam on the next day".

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  • $\begingroup$ Very creative idea. I'd like to develop a bit on it... people would notice that things get warped, and if warping happens at the passing of some creature, people would easily suspect it. It would start like a kind of legend, but people would be quick to believe it. People realized carefully crafted manufacts for millenia, but only when they became more widespread, someone would realise that you can trace the path of such creatures from the 'imprecisions' they cause. If these creatures are not invisible, and physically impossible to stop, people would find a way to impede them fast. $\endgroup$ – carlo Apr 1 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ The possibility for these creatures to pass unnoticed can also depend on their number and the timing of the warping. One funny thing is that art would still exist, and its deformations would be actually seen as a natural reflection of a deforming world, not as an imperfection. Also big engineeristic results would exist (like Brunelleschi's dome) but without standardized rivets, Eiffel tower wouldn't. $\endgroup$ – carlo Apr 1 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ Perfect! And recent innovations would've began with discovering the weakness of the numina. $\endgroup$ – The Sophomore Apr 1 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ @carlo Detectability of the warp depends on the order of magnitude (so: writer's freedom here). One part in thousand is going to be unnoticeable directly. If you lay down two yardsticks side-by-side, you may see that the length has changed overnight - but it does so for wood anyway and nobody really cared for millenia; only when we noticed that metal does not change we started to investigate why wood is less precide. In a numina world, metal just has the same property... shrug... $\endgroup$ – toolforger Apr 2 at 7:58
  • $\begingroup$ Now if you start littering the landscape with yardstick pairs, you may notice that the effect is stronger along paths, and that would be reason for closer investigation (no idea whether the numina would or could react to such an experiment, that's plot construction). $\endgroup$ – toolforger Apr 2 at 7:59
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You got some really great answers, but if you're curious of our-world examples, read about China under the Qin dynasty or Japan in the Edo period. Both were an example of the central authority heavily discouraging change so as to preserve the status-quo and out of ideological disinterest with anything beyond their borders.

Also, as outlined in many answers, technological progress is not a given, but rather the exception. Previously in history empires would collapse and completely wipe out any progress we made, best example of that is the Late Bronze Age collapse, Classic Maya Collapse and decline of the Khmer Empire. Indeed, it is speculated that many of the Greek myths about heroes and titans were inspired by the living memory of the power of those past empires.

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Maybe there is some magical time-loop present, so whenever someone attempts to invent a specific technology, it resets to a certain time farther back.

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Chaos Magic:

The very existence of sapient, intelligent dragons shows us that the world is rich in Magic.

This magic alters stuff, on a microscopic level. It gives creatures new abilities beyond the mere physical, but it also scrambles purely physical constructs on the fine level.
This causes all precision devices to ever to subtly change over time. Or possibly depending on the level of magical saturation in the location, the sages argue about the cause.

Now a sword will not mind at all if it becomes 1/100 of an inch shorter one day, and then longer again the next day.
Nor, mostly, will a simple axle for a wagon. Or a wooden waterwheel.

But make that same axle out of steel, and fabricate it to hairfine precision that way any real machine needs to be, and it will sometimes rattle and other days bind in its bearings.
And goodness but you are looking for trouble if you try to machine something as precise as a high-pressure steam engine, or the workings of a firearm more complex than a basic muzzle-loading flintlock, or a truly accurate clock.

They can theoretically build more modern machinery, but it will simply not be reliable. And the more complex and precise the construct, the sooner it will fail.

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Another possible solution could be "political"; in a way:

You mentioned magic exists - which implies, that magic users exist as well. While I don't know the details of your setting, it's likely that powerful mages would rise to political power as well. It could be in their interest to restrict technological advance, either to avoid loss of power or for other reasons that would weaken their position in the long-term.

As an example: The game Arcanum gives a setting where magic and technology cannot co-exist and disturb each other. This would be an ideal world where established magic users clearly wouldn't want too much technological advance and may pull some strings to keep it in check.

Generally speaking (and depending on how far your magical abilities go), it could make sense for some type of magic courts or groups to either outright prohibit certain technology, or go with anti-tech propaganda. "Machines are evil", "Automation is bad", basically. Perhaps that mentality is ingrained into most cultures by now, after centuries of propaganda.

Even easier, since you mentioned this "Watcher": Magicians could claim that machines, factories and the like attract the beast to begin with - even if it wasn't true. Perhaps, they know of a way to attract or provoke it themselves, giving them a scapegoat to target places that refuse to play along - just to prove a point. Come to think of it, that's kind of what happens in Final Fantasy X with Sin.

Obviously, this wouldn't be an easy solution for your problem, since it raises many more issues.

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  • $\begingroup$ It is a step in the right direction. And, whats funny is, in the world I'm creating, technology interferes with the "area magic." This means that magic is less effective and magic creatures lose their abilities, and in some cases, they may even die due to relying upon magic for bodily functions. $\endgroup$ – The Sophomore Apr 16 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ @TheSophomore well if that's the case, then there's certainly a motivation there to keep technology at bay. Magic usually comes first, while technology has to develop step by step - so it would be easy to see how certain powerful mages would plan ahead and subtly hamper development to not weaken their positions. $\endgroup$ – Katai Apr 19 at 8:09
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    $\begingroup$ I forgot to mention, while most other species follow other political systems (Staglings use matriarchy, Drakons use plutocracy, etc.) humans use a magocracy. This makes it so that this theory can apply especially for humans, but other races may have other opinions. I may have to think on this. $\endgroup$ – The Sophomore Apr 19 at 18:59
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Basically, lack of imagination or lack of resources to realise that imagination… lack of imagination, here, covering whatever strange theory might inspire politicians to try to hold things back as the Roman Catholic Church did during the real Renaissance.

What else would be needed, or work?

When there was a "paradox" please explain it. No lost caves, caverns or dragons are “paradoxes.”

Against a background of millions of years, it hardly matters that the industrial revolution began so long after the renaissance ended, and lasted for less than half the time.

How much older than the dragon colonization is your world, and what difference could that make to the Question… except if nothing much happened in the last 3.5 million years, why might anything to worry about crop up now?

Don’t you think your denizens might prefer medieval weaponry and customs because that’s what they’ve been used to for millions of years? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Do explain what difference magic might make.

Do explain what are your main drugs of choice in that world.

If the setting being a large archipelago in a mostly temperate zone matters, please say how.

If you want fossil fuels, please say whether that’s plain-old coal, semi-industrial unrefined oil or sophisticated derivatives such as petrol or diesel, and why.

When there are humans and other races, please say what difference that might make.

When you came up with a special monster, please specify to what extent the Watcher, or Numina was “deific” and what difference that made. How god-like does “deific” mean here?

While your Numina have been around for a while please instead of baldly stating that you’ve realized how you can apply them to this, explain how!

You see, do as you will, that Numina used only to stalk roads at night, killing travellers, but perhaps they can prohibit (other) things as well might be relevant, but only after you’d explained how.

Can you re-phrase the whole thing so it's internally consistent, anyway?

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Constant Aurora prevent electricity from being harnessed in any meaningful way. The moon of this planet is extremely geologically active. Volcanos erupt weekly and spew their dust into space where it gets swept up by the Earth's magnetic field (stronger than normal) and forms a flux tube. Like Io and Jupiter this causes constant Aurorae whose charged particles cause electrical surges and destroy any would-be inventors devices.

Alternatively, it orbits an unstable red dwarf that has CMEs monthly. This achieves the same effect.

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