Technology and the Arts
The Elven Kingdoms have just entered the Iron Age, which is an exciting time for soldiers and artisans alike! While bronze items are still readily available, metal crafts (tools, weapons, and art objects) have transitioned to iron for the most part.
- Yu benefits strongly from the transition. They never had much supply of tin, but in discovering rich iron riverbeds and surface mines in the southern badlands and mastering smelting techniques, they’ve got quite an industry set to boom over the next decade.
- By proximity, Song holds its nose and deals with Yu for iron – the Song artisans haven’t quite got the mastery of smelting down as well as Yu, but iron workers and shipwrights have demanded more access to the metal. Song’s industry has concentrated mostly on improving their ships, but have also created nautical works of art sought after by Hanxa.
- Hanxa has a decent supply of iron themselves, and fantastic smiths creating new and incredible improvements in armor and weaponry. While they have invested a good deal in iron works for their boats, they lack enough iron workers to keep up with demands across the Kingdom.
- Shen has just started taking on mining projects for iron and training smiths to work with the new metal. Queen Xi has seen to ambitious plans for great fortifications and engineering feats with the new metal.
- Zhao is stuck with a very limited supply of the new metal and experts to work with it, and is scrambling to address that lack. In the meantime, bronze is still well from being phased out.
- Fu Bei and Daoli are woefully lacking in mineral deposits and the ability to work the new metal – they depend on Song to import finished goods, and while Fu Bei can afford such expensive supplies, Daoli is finding themselves low in reserves to pay.
- Xingdu hasn’t considered the importing of iron to be a high priority, and mining within its borders is illegal.
- Finally, Wen has rich iron veins within its mountains, but only two mines have successfully started operations – fae have attacked other mining villages destroying equipment and killing skilled laborers.
For game purposes, weapons of masterwork quality are always iron (or other materials). Adamantine has not yet been discovered, and mithril is only available from the Gnome lands. The characters may start with iron weapons and/or armor without additional costs.
Summary of the arts which the variety of cultures are famous for.
- Pearl jewelry, from the dedicated pearl divers of Song’s eastern coast, is known far and wide for its beauty.
- Tubular bells, while not very practical, are Song’s native instrument – of waning popularity within the Kingdom. The human harp and short pear mandolin have become far more popular.
- Group drumming, or Yaisho, is incredibly popular at festivals both within the Kingdom and beyond. Several famous schools exist along the coastline, exclusively within small fishing villages.
- Laquerware is also famously from Hanxa, with very fine inlaid pieces taking years to make.
- Shadow silk, and the various forms it takes, is Shen’s most famous craft. Dyeing of the silks is a secret tradition, imbued with magics to make the colors come alive.
- Shen is not known for any particular form of music, but their dancing is very acrobatic and often used in their storytelling.
- Twin-singing (Gesheng) is a singing form practiced chiefly in Zhao, and some of the best voices in all the Kingdoms call Zhao their home.
- Goldsmithing is also a favored art form, particularly leafing of colorful hardwood boxes and furniture.
- Tapestries, while not native to Zhao, have become a recent industry.
- Fu Bei
- Poetry is Fu Bei’s greatest contribution to Elven culture, for which they claim to have invented and perfected over a dozen forms and countless styles.
- Calligraphy masters flock to to Fu Bei to practice their art and to attend the head school for scribes within the capital city.
- And, of course, anything brewed.
- Porcelain decorative objects are Daoli’s richest art form, with complex glazing techniques and fine brush paintings.
- The river flute, a two piped instrument, is a traditional instrument of the families living in Daoli – often accompanied by a leaf mandolin.
- Throat-singing has taken root in Wen, said to have developed while finding ways to placate the Fae within their borders. True masters can create haunting sounds that leave people shaken for days.
- Rare woodworking has become a recent artist tradition within Wen, mostly practical objects such as tables and doors.