In this world, when gunpowder was weaponized for the first time in the form of cannons and muskets, an event took place (I haven't really thought of it much yet) that halted most of scientific progress, especially warfare progress. For instance, gunpowder simply won't combust when used on cannons and rifles, lamps won't light up when entering contact with eletricity, machines simply won't work, etc... Some things not belonging to the middle ages can still be used though, like primitive turbines (that's because I plan to build a large world and I don't wish to have sails taking too long)(it's also worth noting that the turbine is powered by a somewhat magical material so it's not exactly steam age technology). But after the event, what would happen to society, would it simply stop progressing too? After all much of our world's social advances were powered by technological advances.
closed as too broad by apaul, sphennings, Shalvenay, L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica♦, Hohmannfan Jun 2 '17 at 5:53
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While many social changes were empowered and produced by technological advances, that doesn't mean all of them were. You can expect things to be distinctly different, but more in the way of being of a different path rather than nothing at all. When it comes to alternate history such as this, the possibilities are virtually endless, but I'll try and give you a few sticks to make the fire, so to say.
For instance, communication would be much harder without any sort of tele[fill-in-here] device. You can expect governments to be less democratic, relying more on representatives and the elite. You can see this from the reason why the United States of America has the Electoral College; one of the reasons it was put into place was because they couldn't just have everyone send a letter for every election. They had to have someone who stayed in the capital who could speak for the citizens. Remember that this was an age when the best way of communication was giving some horseman a letter and hoping he didn't die on the way to the destination. This governmental matter would likely create a population that is more apathetic to the matters of state. Going along with this, you would see more differences between the different areas of a country. National identity would likely be less important, shoved aside by an identity of the village or county.
As for matters such as gender equality, that would likely be affected by the lack of mass production. As far as I've seen, a large factor in how women are perceived is medicine. Because there isn't much medicine at hand, women would have to have more children and tend to them so that at least some survive. The tending role could be done by men, but that is unlikely in a world with common warfare. In this case, the perception of women would likely stay the same as medieval times or progress much more slowly.
As for what could have caused this, I have two ideas. I know that's not what you asked, but I'm a generous guy.
- Perhaps the planet is kept under constant or at least common EMP. I'm fairly certain solar flares can cause those, so that could be a good choice.
- I read a book called The Memory of Earth by Orson Scott Card. This book is set in the far future, after humans destroyed their own world and moved on to a different planet. Once at this new planet, the humans manufactured tons of satellites and a very powerful, self-learning AI. They also added a sort of microchip in gene form that the AI could manipulate. This AI was tasked with keeping humanity alive by preventing humans from obtaining technology that could be dangerous to them. The AI does this by basically using the gene to make them forget all about something if it lead to dangerous tech. You could use this, and it allows you to be a little selective about the available tech, thus allowing greater customization.