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Semaphore lines are a chain of signalling stations, using elaborate codes to pass on timely information.
News can travel along a semaphore system far faster than any postal system. Chains of towers are built across the countryside, so that each is visible to its neighbours. Operators use telescopes to watch their neighbouring towers, and messages are passed by setting the position of the tower’s arms or large moveable boards. Each combination of positions carries a meaning; once copied from a tower, the semaphore operator can repeat the message, sending it further down the line. In this fashion, news, even from distant frontiers, can be sent across a country in a matter of moments. The effect is to increase the line of sight around the borders of a nation’s territory.
The bonfire or beacon is, possibly, the simplest of message systems. It can carry one pre-arranged message when fired, usually something along the lines of “The enemy are coming!” By having a system that can send multiple messages, semaphore lines reduce the response time in any situation. Napoleon saw the worth of a semaphore system for keeping in touch; the British Admiralty invested much time and effort in constructing a system between all its major operational ports.
Unlike most other civil technologies, Semaphore lines has no affect on diplomatic relations, wealth, or region happiness. Instead, it substantially increases line of sight range for armies. This aids in scouting hostile territory, and helps armies avoid being intercepted. However, it does nothing to uncover hostile armies lying in ambush.
The benefits of Semaphore Lines are circumstantial, but potentially powerful. However, most other civil technologies offer more tangible and consistent benefits.