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Chapter 2: Tools / Building Worlds / Civilization

Societal Benchmarks

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 124
The following sections can help you establish certain truths about your world as a whole. From there, you can decide the details of specific cultural groups, including whether they deviate from these global standards.

Technology

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 124
Throughout history, a major driver of world culture has been the continuous advancement of technology in warfare, agriculture, and industry. The following categories roughly approximate real‑world technological levels, but progress might vary on your world. What heights of technology have been achieved? Have any groups fallen behind or leaped ahead?

Primeval: Weapons and tools in this early era are crafted primarily from bone, wood, or stone. Knowledge of stonecutting allows early civilizations to raise stone walls and buildings.

Ancient: Advancements in mining and metallurgy lead to weapons and tools made from bronze. Crop rotation and storage in granaries ensure greater survival in times of famine. Trade between river and coastal settlements is aided by oar‑ and sail‑powered galleys. Chariots come into strong use during warfare.

Classical: Superior military tactics and engineered roads allow for rapid deployment of infantry wielding iron weapons and aided by mounted cavalry. Advances in complex irrigation and construction of aqueducts lead to an abundance of harvest foods and dramatic improvements to sanitation.

Medieval: Warfare in this era is defined by iron armor, crossbows, and weapons forged of fine steel.

Enlightenment: The development of black powder and muzzle‑loaded, single‑shot firearms greatly changes warfare, making plate armor mostly obsolete. Larger ships permit ocean crossings and long‑range trade to distant shores. The printing press speeds literacy and the dissemination of new ideas.

Steam: Steam engines replace conveyances drawn by animal power or sail, leading to a significant shift from wood fuel to coal. Further advances in science lead to dirigible airships and observation balloons. Simple firearms are replaced by repeating revolvers and bolt action rifles.

Divine Involvement

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 124
What is the nature of the gods? Do they even exist? If so, are they omnipotent and omniscient? How does a follower request their divine favor? The answers to these questions will help you determine how strongly divine faith impacts the cultures of your world.

None: Deities do not exist in this world, or if they do, they are oblivious to or completely unconcerned with mortal affairs. If they exist, they don’t make their presence known, nor do they grant power to their worshippers.

Limited: Deities exist, though they remain aloof from the mortal world and make their divine presence known only to a chosen few.

Accepted: Divine influence is an accepted fact of everyday life. Their will is enacted through priests and organized religions. Divine avatars may appear in the world during extreme circumstances.

Ubiquitous: Deities live among mortals, exerting their divine will directly. Gods rule entire nations, commanding absolute obedience from their faithful followers.

Magic

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 124
Does magic exist? If so, which traditions are available? What are the sources of a spellcaster’s power, and how do they gain and channel that magic?

No Magic: Magic of any kind does not exist in this world. Spells and magic effects do not function. Consider the variants on page 196 to handle the lack of magic items.

Low Magic: Magic is mysterious and taboo. The few practitioners of the mystical arts are feared or shunned. Again, consider the variants on page 196 to handle the relative scarcity of magic items.

Common: Magic is an accepted fact of everyday life, though its mysteries are beyond the reach of most people. Magic portals and gates can whisk travelers “in the know” halfway across the world or to the other side of the multiverse.

High Magic: Magic and magical items are commonplace in society. It may be as easy to learn spellcasting as it is to learn a new language. Magical objects simulate various modern technologies.