Flintlocks & Fireballs
The biggest weakness of magic is that it is generally a personal thing; you can’t make a magic wand that someone else can use, it has to be you. The Empire’s most recent attempt to counter that is magitech, which allows magical effects to be produced by a machine instead.
All magitech devices incorporate into their design one or more brass canisters of Essence. Only the Imperial Magitech Facilities are capable of producing this; nobody else even knows what it is. When the canister is activated, a particular magical effect is caused; the nature of this depends on the machinery around the canister, but more or less anything can be done with enough time and effort.
Working magitech doesn’t play nice with its friends. Unless two devices have been specifically designed to work in parallel, they start to short each other out if they’re brought too closely together: arcs of magical force fly between them and bake whoever’s carrying them.
Magitech is still in its infacy; there are a very few common designs which have been refined and perfected, but even these are too expensive to be mass-produced right now. Still, some things that are known are:
Spellguns: Probably the very first invention of magitech, spellguns are large, chunky weapons that are pointed at an enemy and fired to replicate a particular offensive spell. Initial spellguns focussed on lightning and fireballs and didn’t really do much that a well-placed bullet couldn’t, but since then more sophisticated designs have emerged which concentrate on distraction or interference.
Portals: Journey by portal is far and away the quickest way to travel, and also the most expensive. Building a portal is a major undertaking — they cost about as much as a whole railway line — and it takes something like an hour to charge a portal up to the level where it can send a living person; anything bigger or heavier than that can take as much as a day. They thus tend to be reserved for the most important members of government, or for moving express mail from city to city.
Jump belts: Another obvious military application was adding mobility to troops. Jump-belts allow a warrior to teleport himself a short distance; it takes some time to get the hang of the disorientation, but a skilled jump-belt warrior can easily run rings around a larger force. Due to the cost and the high level of training, jumpbelts tend to be reserved for squads of special forces, or solo assassins.
Monkeysuits: Monkeysuits are full-body suits with the essence canister worn as a backpack. They vastly increase the user’s agility, allowing them to perform ape-like feats of acrobatics and stick to walls with their bare hands. Again, these tend to be reserved for elite guerilla-warfare troops rather than given as standard-issue.
Magicopters: ’Copters are still very much in the prototype phase, but they are catching on. They consist of a cab and chassis held aloft by four canisters running a levitation spell, piloted by one operative and with a number more on board, armed and ready to attack. ’Copters are mostly used to move troops around quickly; sticking any serious artillery in there as well would overbalance the chassis, and with four canisters keeping the ’copter aloft, any serious spellguns would start to short unless they were specially designed. Still, a few ’copters pack a simple icebolt spellgun underneath in case of emergency.