Technology Codes

The Darkrealm strives to take a more historical, perhaps even over-cynical, approach to the lifestyles and technology of Allornus. Drawing heavily on historical medieval context over that of fiction, it works from a historical foundation, with wild deviations made apparent in individual settings. Players should not expect to find crossbows in great supply outside Haedrasia, or anyone capable of smithing full plate armour outside Ralstaa, where the craft is only a few generations old. They should expect homes to constitute a single shared family space, sewerage to be almost unknown, cleanliness to be a luxury indulged (and often over-indulged) by the upper classes. Low literacy makes books valuable, and where each text is reproduced by hand, doubly so. Medicine is a fledgeling practice, and little specific apparatus serves it, and houses with glass in the windows and locks on the doors belong to the wealthiest. Inns are likely to be large rooms where drinks are served, and patrons bed down on the straw-laden floors at night. These are deviations from the standard fantasy tropes, and so players and directors should acquaint themselves with what life is like in the world before they embark upon stories in it.

For this reason Technology Codes are used to make general statements about a generalized progression of cultural advancement (in the form of skills) and technology (with equipment). A number, ranging from zero, representing no civilization, upward is used to project an imaginary, average society of this level of advancement. Of course, no society in Allornus exactly adheres to these codes, but the ways in which they deviate (such as Ralstaa's advanced military technology, or Ghana's backward, archaic social order) will be made apparent where the setting is detailed, and to a lesser extent in previous chapters.

Ages of Technology

Technology Codes are used to imply the level of technological and social advancement that a group or society has achieved. Usually the code will be provided for all regions, and for all major settlements within that region, and the generalizations here (because that is all they are) should serve as the assumed status quo unless stated otherwise. Unlike the real world, Allornus has not suffered a debilitating dark age as Europe did around the 10th century AD, and so the tech codes are more progressive, and while some of the earlier periods might not entirely relate to their real world equivalents, thanks to the idea that there has been no major loss of technology or social development, this is done to maintaintech code 5, the default position, as a farely direct parallel to 10th and 11th century Europe. As such before making assumptions about what tech codes imply the Director should consult the descriptions below.

0 - Savage

Savage lands remain untamed wilderness completely untouched by civilization. No technology can be found in these lands, and the only law in effect is survival of the fittest. Even Batlewaite is not truly a savage land - and so a savage society generally implies that it is populated by animals.

1 - Stone Age

Stone Age lands are the most primitive that can still claim to possess any technology or culture. Stone Age life is dictated by the daily demands of survival. Societies usually exist as small, semi-nomadic tribes, usually able to support no more than a score of people. These tribes hunt game or gather edible plants for food, though some may possess domesticated animals or limited agricultural skills. The ability to make fire is considered invaluable. Stone Age settlements usually take the form of natural caves or collections of hide tents. Lush lands may boast small villages built from adobe bricks. Stone Age communities trade exclusively through barter; with currency meaning little and goods like herd animals and tools being of greatest value. Stone Age peoples have not yet learned to work metal; weapons and tools are crafted from wood, bone, or stone, such as flint and obsidian. Daggers, clubs, slings, and spears are the most common weapons, with the short bow representing the most advanced military technology. Stone Age peoples tan hides to create clothing and can create rudimentary hide armour. While members of a Stone Age society may possess metal tools these are usually found or stolen, or very occasionally traded for.

2 - Bronze Age

With advances in agriculture, Bronze Age lands support large, permanent communities, in turn allowing true civilization to take root. Bronze Age societies are defined by the discovery of metalworking, though only with soft, easily mined metals. Bronze Age societies often possess pictographic written languages and keep important records on clay tablets or scrolls made of crude parchment or inscribe them in stone, though literacy is a rare and exclusive skill. Growing seasons are recorded each year, leading to the creation of early calendars, or at the very least the concept of the year. Other new discoveries include fixed measurements and the foundations of a sophisticated knowledge of mathematics, architecture, astronomy, and herbal medicine. New inventions include the potter's wheel, pulleys, levers, and the plow and may include the wheel. Art begins to become prized as a symbol of wealth and power, but most trade still relies on barter, and currency is still unknown. Organized religion often dominates society. Bronze Age rulers are generally either endorsed specifically by Divhi, or serve them directly as the direct emissaries. Bronze weapons and tools begin to replace their crude stone or wood equivalents. Studded leather becomes the most advanced armour available. As people learn to weave cloth, including cotton and silk, padded armour also appears. Bronze Age peoples build stone structures, with difficulty and time, for their cities and temples. The size of these structures often seems to be limited only by the available workforce, and large communities may construct massive monuments capable of outlasting their builders by centuries. Bronze Age societies have not however invented the lock and key or glazing.

3 - Iron Age

As society continues to advance, metalworkers eventually learn to forge iron, a metal more durable than bronze and capable of holding a finer edge. Written language has been refined from complex hieroglyphics to an intelligible alphabet, spreading literacy to most of the upper classes, and allowing for leaps in intellectual debate, and advancing communication between distant lands. In especially large settlements libraries are built, and priests begin to transcribe religious myths and histories or debate philosophical truths. Artisans develop glassmaking, but only in place of clay vessels. Medicine becomes standardized, often based on what is learned from the bodies left on battlefields, with natural remedies used with the intent of regulating health. The sundial and the hourglass allow for more accurate measurement of time. Iron Age communities are noteworthy for their ability to reshape the surrounding terrain to meet their needs. Iron Age science can create water screws and canals to irrigate fields, and windmills are built to draw power from the sky itself. Military technology is largely unchanged, except that weapons once forged from bronze are now more durable and keep a keener edge.

4 - Classical Age

Classical societies represent an apex in early civilization; most classical landsmen societies are guided directly by a Divhi, while Myr are focused on bringing together several different races with different skills and technology to create a powerful, advanced center. Classical lands are primarily marked by advances in scientific knowledge, philosophy, and theology all catered to by an increasing dependence on technology rather than manpower in major industries. Scholars refine geometry, simple navigation and alchemy. With the invention of paper, durable bound books start to replace scrolls, though these books must still be scribed by hand, and literacy is still the province of upper class intellectuals. High-quality roads promote increased travel, and the invention of the stirrup and trousers aids horsemen, creating the first true cavalry. Aqueducts allow fields to be created in dryer lands, and mean that settlements are not isolated to areas with a ready water supply, and settlements generally move geographically closer to one another. Armed with more reliable materials, Classical Age lands create new armaments, including the breastplate, the tower shield, and siege engines such as the catapult to counter the emergence of larger and more sophisticated stone fortifications. Their armies now employ advanced military tactics. With the Classical Age, early civilization comes into full bloom. Government has started to distinguish itself from the mandates of the Divhi, but relies on them for legitimacy and ratification. Laws are codified, and societies may even experiment with new forms of rule. Ships begin to emerge, able to travel along the coast as well as up and down rivers and over lakes. Metal coins make their first appearance, as do simple locks, but barter remains dominant.

5 - Early Middle Ages

Most common to the Allornus, the continent never had a Dark Age per-se, and so Early Middle Ages societies represent something of a plateau following the emergence of Classical Culture, but are embodied by an increased focus on religious development, often in the wake of the distancing of the Divh in favour of their worldly agents. Roughly equivalent to the sixth century AD in historical terms, a growing density of populations also means that bodies, rather than just individuals within societies vie for control. Meanwhile religious orders often focus on monastic orders of exclusive initiates, dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, and the cultivation of magical lore that will allow the perpetuation of supernatural authority in the physical absence of a Divhi. Arcane skills like spellcasting, navigation and divination are generally guarded jealously by the agents of the church. Large farms, kept fertile through crop rotation, can now supply grain to mechanical mills, sustaining large populations. In these communities artisans jealously guard the secret of creating porcelain, and alchemy begins to create potions with medicinal properties. Divination becomes central to many societies as a way of practising religion, and structured religious ceremony begins to unify amongst increasingly literate sects. Warfare also advances, most notably with the invention of the longbow and sturdy new forms of armor, including scale mail.

6 - High Middle Ages

The High Middle Ages society is the height of Allornus' advancement, thanks in large part to the influence of the Haedrasian Empire, save for a few pockets of emerging change. It equates to perhaps the ninth century AD in historic terms. High middle age architecture is marked by the appearance of the pointed Gothic arch, an improvement over the curved arches in use since the late Iron Age. High middle age lands are marked by the construction of masonry motte-and-bailey castles, fortified towers, and large cathedrals decorated with masterful stained-glass windows. The Early medieval period is truly one of architecture and construction. The first merchant guilds appear in larger communities, to vie for power with state and religious institutions; a few may even go so far as to offer notes of credit that can act as a form of guaranteed currency to large powerful groups of individuals. Healers begin to explore surgical techniques of treatment as well as welcoming arts like alchemy and divination into healing. Water clocks keep accurate track of time, and are in common use rather than being arcane apparatus, and warriors use chain mail and the lance. Magical knowledge begins to leak away from religious groups, either by being stolen or when learned acolytes leave, leading to many monastic orders keeping their monks and scribes illiterate so as to guard their secrets against the emergence of sorcerers. Magical experimentation with only fragmentary knowledge leads to catastrophic events, often leading to societies ostracising unaffiliated intellectuals.

7 - Late Middle Ages

The Late Middle Ages are almost unknown save for a few bastions of culture and learning in Allornus, and are equivalent to perhaps the twelfth century AD in the real world. Notable for the appearance of ornate Gothic cathedrals and castles, as the ambitious structures of the high middle ages come to fruition after generations of construction. Construction techniques also advance, with pulleys and cranes as well as wheels and counterweights lending speed and efficiency to further construction. The crossbow begins to dominate warfare, and alchemical cannons begin to emerge in particularly scientifically advanced nations, though these are usually restricted to large, crude bombards. These are matched by mounted knights protected by half-plate armour and heavy barding. Healers establish medical schools, often under the direction of religious groups, and surgeons dissect bodies to further their knowledge, though generally the practice is considered distasteful. Block printing can free scribes from the chore of copying every book by hand, but engraving the wooden blocks for printing remains a laborious process and only holy books and other texts sanctioned by wealthy bodies such as church or state are mass produced in this manner. Advances in glassblowing and the study of optics create mirrors and put glass panes in the windows of every manor. The invention of the spinning wheel sparks new textile industries.

8 - Early Renaissance

There are no early renaissance cultures in Allornus, but for a sense of completion the next step in culture will be briefly outlined here. Healers now understand medicine well enough to order quarantines to control plagues, while governments start to keep careful records of births, marriages, and deaths within their dominions. Limited travel on the open sea begins to become possible, as ships become more sturdy and seaworthy, but ocean travel remains the exclusive province of the Mhulak and Kardes. Magic begins to be refined from a cluster of jealously hoarded lore and half-truths, dangerous in the hands of the uninformed to a more secure and reliable, if limited skill. It is no longer the work of madmen and megalomaniacs, but rather like minded groups form within and outside of religions to define what spells and alchemical formula are stable and reliable enough to allow to circulate amongst the upper classes.