Technology And Culture In Kulhn


Kulhn operates at a level somewhere between the European post-medieval and Enlightenment periods. Some aspects of its industry are surprisingly advanced, while others are quite primitive.

Transportation

Shipping is driven by sail, and nautical technology is about equivalent to seventeenth century Spain. Cargo gets there, eventually. Ships are square-rigged but well built, and crewed by experienced sailors who know their craft. In an emergency air and water magic can be used to speed things up. But it costs more than most cargo is worth. In practice, only a royal decree can persuade one of the temples to put a priestess on a ship to assist with transportation.

Land transport is done via wagon and pack animal. Kulhn has an extensive network of roads, most of which are either mud or graveled. The only paved roads in the kingdom are the streets in and around the capital city of Kulhn, from which the kingdom derives its name. Carts, wagons, and carriages are well designed, and the enclosed carriages used by the highborn even have shock absorbing springs on the axles (shaped like bow staves).

Communication/Education

Printing presses exist, but they are rare and expensive. Only the throne, the major temples, and a few of the more powerful nobles can afford them. Movable type is still under development. Anyone who can afford a book is allowed to own one, and there are no restrictions on who is permitted to learn how to read and write. Affording a book is a bit challenging, however. Literacy is nearly universal among the nobility, the higher servants of the nobility, and civil employees. It is not universal, but not unusual, among the wealthy merchant classes. It's not completely unheard of even among the common people in the city. Country peasants almost never get the chance to learn how to read.

Priests and priestesses of the four elemental gods can read. Whether or not temple handmaidens are taught to read is a matter for speculation, since no one is ever allowed to speak to them. Rumor has it that the temples use a secret written language to communicate among themselves, but this is unproven.

Manufacturing

All human manufacturing is still done by craftsmen working individually, or in privately owned shops under the supervision of a master. Magic can be used to supplement crafting. For example, to toughen armor. However, the temples are reluctant to provide this type of service for various reasons. Witches can do the same thing, but few craftsmen would permit it.

One disadvantage is that iron and steel repel magic. This is the very factor that makes them effective defenses against the fay. But in order for a magical improvement to be made to armor or weapons, it is necessary to inlay silver, or attach silver studs, or otherwise integrate silver into the essence of the item. Which, of course, drastically increases the cost. As a practical matter, only the highborn could even consider having it done.

Medical Knowledge

Medical knowledge is a bit more advanced than the equivalent period in Europe, largely due to the fact that their civilization never went through a period where significant amounts of knowledge were lost and had to be re-learned. Knowledge of herbalism is extensive, and medical alchemy has advanced far beyond the level of medieval European knowledge. Most useful of all is the fact that magic can be used for healing.

Water and fire represent the two halves of life, body and spirit, while earth and air represent the world that holds life. So both water and fire can be used to heal wounds and accelerate recovery from illness - if the person using it knows what they are doing. Fire, being primarily associated with spirit, is less effective than water, but either one can save your life. For non-emergency healing however, most people depend on herbs and brewed medicines.