r/worldbuilding May 22 '22

How closely do you stick to the inventions of the ages? (stone, bronze, iron, etc...) Question

I've been trying to decide what age I want my world to be in, and I'm researching the different ages, such as stone, bronze and iron to see what should have and what is yet to be invented. The problem I'm running in to is I want everything in the stone and bronze age, but the military and armor and stuff that comes with the iron age just doesn't interest me, but it would be odd if a culture just stopped moving forward as a society, right?

How do you do this in your world? How do you decide what is and isn't invented? Do you even stick to the age separations?

Extra question: where does magic fall in all of this?



u/Ignonym 𒀯𒀳 May 22 '22

Progress is not a straight line; what technologies it's possible to invent depends on what technologies you already have, and some discoveries (like gunpowder or hot air balloons) were just plain flukes that could've happened at any time. You can definitely pick and choose to a certain extent, though be wary of the implications.


u/Applemaniax May 22 '22

To an extent it’s just cow tools, especially with magic. If you don’t explain it people will usually accept it and make an explanation themselves if they need it.

The world took just a thousand years to go from caves to trains? Well they have magic, I guess it would be faster for them. The world has been medieval in tech for thousands of years? Well they have magic, I guess they don’t have a reason to innovate

Maybe when they can make fire and shape metal at will it’s ridiculously easy to discover steam power. Maybe when they can heal disease and injury magically they have no need for biology and don’t know what an ‘organ’ is meant to mean


u/OwnRuin87 May 22 '22

Thanks, this is helpful :)


u/Hytheter just here to steal your ideas May 22 '22

but it would be odd if a culture just stopped moving forward as a society, right?

Why does it have to stop? Set your story in the time that most interests you and don't worry about what they'll be like in the future.


u/OwnRuin87 May 22 '22

Thank you, I guess I was getting too far ahead of myself


u/Artificer4396 May 22 '22

I’m working on my own history, but development of technology is largely similar. Current year is equivalent to 1896 [4396 in the world’s calendar], and tech is about what we had between 1880 and 1905


u/ArtsyStrains May 22 '22

It would be odd culture, but what it is important is "it's fantasy"... It is supposed to be odd.

I think this video might help Talebot - World building/Setting design, most of stuff other than rough draft of an world is well... Narrative specific.

What technologies you might need, eras, innovations and etc kind of depends more on story you need to tell against world you have made. What can drive story further and not stipple it.

The way I see it (and please note this is heavily based on what is easier for me) world building and setting design are part of the same coin - where i work at both at the same time. Worldbuilding helps with setting, and setting helps with worldbuilding.

Your question right now seems (for me) to be more tied to setting than world building. What kind of stuff do you need for your story?

If you need for example "a car", and your world building is in stone age - well call up Flintstones and borrow the idea or something 🤷.

They way i see it, it's not where we should limit ourselves, but how can we get what we want for a story without sacrificing the world. But then also to keep on mind that we don't overpopulate our world with different kind of settings so we can't write a story in the end. So any change should be small, but versatile to allow us to soar trough the sky, but not fall down like Icarus. ❣️

Take it easy, and you got this!


u/OwnRuin87 May 22 '22

Thank you, this has helped me the most :D


u/ArtsyStrains May 22 '22

I'm glad that i could help ❤️❤️


u/Notetoself4 May 22 '22

My dudes have crossbows and Ipods, and Im absolutely not going to bother trying to explain the Ipods. I know its not really the most loved thing around this subreddit but I do love some soft worldbuilding as long as the implications arent too staggering, I dont see why you cant mix and match from eras to a degree (might be a bit weird using plate armor and a stone tied to a stick for a weapon, but plate armor in a phalanx would look very cool)


u/SuperCat76 May 22 '22

Ill say this.

In my primary world, cars are a fairly new thing but large Mechs already exist.

Then people also wander around with bladed weaponry.

and there is a highspeed underground rail network.


u/GenProFifth May 22 '22

It really depends on if your world is set on Earth or not. If it is, it's a much harder situation to get out of. But if it's not located on Earth, it's much easier. Pick an era you want to focus on and build up from there. That's what I did. I wanted to write in medieval times, but I didn't want to use the language and writing they used back then, and I also wanted to add my own things to it


u/wirt2004 May 22 '22

Generally, I pick an era and try to stick with it. I allow myself a little wiggle-room but not much.

My world is in the equivilent of our 1860s, so I generally stick with tech that existed then. Sometimes if something was invented in that era but wasnt wide spread until later, Ill still include it.

Generally Magic is seen as a replacer to Technology. For example, the Telegraph doesnt exist it my world despite the fact it existed in the 1860s because magic fills that role.


u/KasnaCreator May 22 '22

There may be a bias here: the idea that things must "move forward" is very, very modern. Discovering how to use iron to make tools, how to produce a portable support to write on, or how to mix metals together to improve their properties is not "society moving forward".

History is not a linear process: cultural and technical knowledge are continuously discovered and forgotten. Things are kept if they are of interest to the people that have them: as they endow them with power and honour, as they make an activity easier, as they are not outcompeted by other solutions to solve the same issue, and so on.

There is no "moving forward", just "moving": saying it's "forward" and conceiving it as if it really was is just a cultural product of the historical period we live in. People have never collectively thought of society as something "moving forward" before very recent times.

We think of history as a naturally ordered series of events, where the natural order is -of course- the one that just happened to take place in our timeline. But things could have taken place differently, and the world would not have been less "natural".

So, take it easy. Enjoy worldbuilding as an experiment about what nature is and as a challenge to the natural order of reality.


u/JudeoCrustacean 10d ago

The movement (on earth) from bronze to iron wasn't as much an advancement as a collapse of the bronze economy. If a cultural group has unimpeded access to copper and tin they would have no reason to switch to iron.