After surveying our playtesters for what they'd like to see talked about on the blog again, and wading through the humorous bog of suggestions like "when do we allow the meathead player to punch everything" and "you could feature all our failures in an eighties-style montage", we also got a suggestion to talk about how HJ handles mythology and technology, and the weird liminal plane where the two meet. It can be weird to figure out how technology should interact with a game where so much is based on myths and legends that, by definition, predate that technology - so what does that look like?
HJ is set in a modern world mostly like our own, except that Heroes are about to explode onto the scene and start getting magic chocolate into its technological peanut butter. That means there are plenty of technology issues that a game could involve or address: characters may have cell phones and GPS trackers, enemies could be using highly advanced technological weapons, the internet is invisibly everywhere, the government is probably developing all kinds of secret genetic engineering and machine-based tech, and so on and so forth. This is all pretty intuitive for us because, well, we live in it; but how does the story of the Heroes representing the ancient powers of wind and storm and sorcery get in there without dissonance?
This isn't a new idea; science fiction, realistic fantasy, and magic realism are genres that way predate any of us, and you could probably throw a rock in any given month and hit a new movie or book that does this. HJ takes the approach that technology is and always has been part of mythology anyway, and there's no need for the two to be unharmonious unless a story specifically wants them to be.
Technology is all over mythology and folklore, which is no surprise; as Clarke told us at the beginning of this post, there really isn't that hard a line between it and magic anyway, especially for people who don't have intimate knowledge of a technology. For example, your Sage may know perfectly well how the inside of a cell phone is put together and works, but for the Warrior using it who doesn't have that knowledge, it might as well be a magic box that casts distance-scrying spells, since it works pretty much identically. Even if the Warrior knows, intellectually, that there's some kind of complicated mechanical thing going on in there, they still have no idea what it is and pretty much expect it to work on blind faith, and if it broke, they would be just as helpless to do anything about it as they would be to grab a bowl of water and magically call Asgard on it.
This isn't new stuff. Technologies of the past include things like discovering how to reliably create fire, metal-working and stone-cutting, creating simple machines like levers and pulleys, the wheel, animal husbandry, sewing and textile crafts, figuring out aqueducts and irrigation systems, and so on. These were all the newest technology available at one point, and because they were new and people who hadn't done them didn't know how they worked, they were often considered sort of semi-magical, or described in mythic terms for those who didn't know the technical jargon. If you have no idea how an irrigation system works, well, it's pretty much just as magical when the fields are watered and grow as it is now for us to put raw food in a microwave and thirty seconds later have a ready-to-eat pizza.
Usually, in myth, technology is under the control of the Creator and Sage Aspects; they're the ones who make the stuff, or who at least understand the stuff enough to use it efficiently. These are usually really, really obviously Technology Wizards, too; you have figures like Hephaestos in Greece, who is directly in charge of inventing new WMDs and mechanical traps that no one else has any idea how to operate, or like Thoth in Egypt, whose invention of theoretical concepts like mathematics and time cycles allowed the development of agriculture. Often, if a technology becomes widespread or especially important to a culture, the people are directly "granted" it by such a figure - for example, Ogun in Nigeria, who invents the technology to create and refine iron and gives it to his people so that they can become metalworkers themselves. At a lower level away from actual deities, trickster and magician figures are frequently creators and users of technology, again because it looks pretty much like wizardry to the untrained eye.
So what we're saying here is that technology is part of mythology, and so the two should hopefully play nice most of the time.
In HJ, you have two sets of sources for "powers" out of the ordinary - the Aspects, which are concerned with human ideas and concepts and the Hero's embodiment of them, and the Domains, which are more about big fat universal concepts that may or may not care about human beings very much. Understandably, because technology is all about human advancement, discovery, and creation, you'll see most things having to do with technology in the Aspects, especially in Creator, Sage, and Trickster (although you can usually find a smattering of things elsewhere, too). Creators can and do invent new technologies, or at least build or repair things using existing technology, if they need to, while Tricksters, as the premier Doers of Stuff in Human Civilization, are masters of manipulating technology that exists now to suit their own goals. Sages don't necessarily always do technology (especially if they lean more toward the Mysticism side of things), but they have a much better chance of understanding it if it's unfamiliar than most others, so they usually end up in charge of identifying weird new tech on the fly, or figuring out how to parse a computer code or complex encryption.
The Domains, well, they're a little weirder. You'll find considerably less to do with technology in the Domains - at least directly, but indirectly, the natural forces of the universe are at the bottom of many technologies, so things like Thunder's control over electricity or Fire's control over its namesake may still be directly or indirectly useful to your technological shenanigans.
In the world of HJ itself, you, as a Hero really get to choose how much or little you want to go into technology. Maybe it helps comfort you to know that you can make super-tech or duplicate the effects of some super-tech, because it means magic isn't that weird or scary. Maybe you follow in the footsteps of inventors like Maui or Daedalus and start adding to the world's shared technologies yourself, contributing to the active pace of technological development. Maybe you feel like you don't need technology anymore, because who needs planes when you can fly? All are valid approaches. In the world around you, some folks will think the only real religion involves ceremonies away from all this modern nonsense, some will be avid followers of the local Norse Religion Radio Station whenever they have a second to listen to it, and some will be actively working on the ability to create holographic projections of the core stories of Hinduism so that they can share their stories in a whole new way.
As far as belief in religions versus belief in technology goes, there are certainly some people in HJ's world - as in ours - who can't reconcile the two, but there are also plenty of folks who use both together to do some very neat things, and no one should feel limited one way or the other.