Enhanced Archaic Weapons: Lots of them, thanks to a plentiful supply of enthusiastic hobbyists more than willing to apply the latest technologies to their personal obsessions, all the way down to blades hand-knapped from Isimír trench ice with micro-manipulators. For the most part, these qualify as Awesome, But Impractical, if fun, fascinating, and artistic, but there are occasional gems, such as mollyblades and other swords and daggers manufactured from modern nanocomposites, and the use of technologically enhanced crossbows, clockbows, and even longbows with sluggun-ammunition-type arrows as stealthy covert operations weapons.
What exactly is the difference between a crossbow and a clockbow? Was there a a bigger gap between the development of the crossbow and the discovery of gunpowder than we had that clockbows dropped into?
Functionally, it’s a refinement of crossbow technology using clockwork automaton technology (made possible by a more advanced level of basic metallurgy) to eliminate the crossbow’s disadvantages of cocking time and further increase the power and decrease the size required. (Pocket clockbows were quite possible, as were ones that could be prewound for many shots by a donkey engine in the armory.)
They were a product of the Era of Steel and Steam:
~720 – ~1400
Defining technologies: steam power, advanced metallurgy, Stannic cogitator.
The transition to the Era of Steel and Steam is dated at approximately 720, a compromise date between various competing inventors of different types of steam engine, and also notable for the recent publication of Ianthe Claves-ith-Claves Elinaeth’s Technepraxic, beginning a still influential philosophical movement espousing technology as an integral tool of sophont aspiration.
Electricity was known through much of the later part of this era, but received only intermittent attention; the Empire at the time was in the throes of the Middle Consolidation, and between this and industrial megaprojects such as the World Shafts, development concentrated on refining existing steam technology to its peak.
…to give them their historical context. Their main period of use thus did overlap substantially with gunpowder, but since they were a match for early gunpowder firearms without many of their disadvantages, gunpowder firearms didn’t take over until rather later, especially for all applications – in the historically latest cases, for those applications where quiet, non-smoky operation was valuable.