"Calidor, the City of Dreams gone bad. The city once dreamt big, a metropolitan sprawl filled with ambitions and hope. Those that dared to dream came here to make them reality. But mortal nature corrupts avarice; lust and hunger for power were the downfall of the elves, and the city'll end up following in their footsteps before too long if things don't change. Crime and corruption have taken over, with politicians and cops on the take of the Bad Crowd, averting the eyes of justice where they are needed most. The laughter of children have been pushed aside by the crescendos of false orgasms by the hookers that prowl the street. Corpses piling on high and the screaming of bloody murder; a horrible duet done by men breathing their last and women crying out for justice. All of it done in vain, each sound of chaos and calamity drowning out the next until soon enough it'll all sink six feet under its own collective weight of sin, and all that will be left of it as a testament of good things gone bad is a city of nightmares."
The city of Calidor has a lot to explore, secrets to find, and dangers to run from.
Use the pages below for a glimpse into the smoggy and steam-ridden world that the campaign takes place in.
General Lore Questions
Beyond the glimpse, the staff have been willing to answer questions regarding specific facets of the lore. Read below for the questions that have been answered. Questions are in italics.
If you have any further questions not covered here, feel free to ask them in the forum thread.
Calidor & Everyday Life
What sort of drugs/narcotics exist within the setting and what are their street names?
Too many to name that exist in the setting, but the majority of them are opiates, depressants and hallucinogens. No real stimulants (if you don't count coffee). Morphine and opium are both big in Calidor as is "angel", a new type of hallucinogen drug that is both highly addictive and can be highly lethal when frequently used.
What are the daily living expenses/incomes for general brackets of wealth in the city?
Poor workers make $50 a week? Have to spend $40 on food and shelter if not more?
I can't answer to anyone's satisfaction this (not least my own) until we balance out the economy issues. But for now that seems a good guideline. I will say that 100$ is nothing to scoff at (for now), and anything nearing 1000$ and exceeding is a small fortune (again, for now).
Love to see some more lore on the city of Calidor itself, I've not made it that far due to beach fun and limited play time.
Calidor has a marine west coast climate.
If I went to see the top 5 sports in Calidor, what would I see?
Bloodsport (arena), boxing, horse racing, prostitution.
Alright, I suppose this question doesn't exactly fall under lore, but is there an equivalent to the Miranda Rights in Calidor? If so, what are they, and what are these rights called? Asking because I've used them when arresting someone, and figured I may as well ask if what I quoted to them would've had other CCPD officials quirking a brow and asking "The hell are you doing?" or not.
There are none, and there are no habeas corpus laws, either. The rights of the criminal are entirely determined by the arresting copper and their precinct/mood/what day of the week of is.
Considering the issue of labor and working conditions, what is the status of workplace standards between cities? Are unions a thing, even if small? Does unpaid labour/servitude still exist in some capacity?
There are unions yes, and while in the past they've been relatively powerful and managed to bring up some clout against employers, in recent years Xiu Xi has bled out a massive amount of gnomish expats. Gnomes will work harder for less, meaning that companies would rather prefer to hire on gnomes for their manual labor, leaving dwarves/elves to bite the dust. This was one of the primary reasons for the dwarven riots that happened not too long ago.
Orphanages in Calidor? Are they a thing or would that be just something more handled by the church?
Orphanages are very much a thing, with some of them being founded/run by various religious groups, yes. In Calidor there are five major places an orphan would end up:
- St Leah's Orphanage in the Wards, obviously run by the Cathedral.
- The Temple of Hera in the Docks.
- The circus in the Wards.
- Beggar's Cross.
- The gutter. (See #4 or the Warren in the Wards)
In other places there's a lot of variation.
When it comes to music are there references to real world artists/songs and if so what era?
No song references. It's 1763, and although Calidor is ahead in some areas (science, engineering) it's behind in others (culture, development of a moral zeitgeist).
What's the opinion on homosexuality in Calidor and in general?
Homosexuality: In general you can assume it exists in a similar proportion to the real world and that Calidor society matches up with 1700s-1800s London/NYC in terms of public opinion. No laws or crusades to worry about, though.
Actually, are there clinics and hospitals in Calidor, and if so, where are they?
There is a hospital to the south of the university in downtown where doctors and students work. There are also various (not represented by fixed areas yet) clinics in the other districts.
Is Sweet Things in the docks supposed to be a bakery, or does it have another purpose?
Sweet Things appears to be an Apiary.
What is the general state and rates of taxation for individuals, businesses, or goods, and is there any difference in the taxation status between Citizens and the 'everyone else' who makes up the larger population?
Generally speaking, in Calidor they operate very heavily on sales and property tax. Barring extenuating circumstances (being born into it or accomplishing a worthy achievement for the city), all citizens are landowners (but not necessarily vice versa) and thus they pay a property tax based on the size and location of their holdings, as well as its function (shops and inns pay more than residences, for example). Non-citizen landowners have a higher rate on this property tax.
The rest of Calidor's money comes from 3 sources:
- Tariffs on imports (huge chunk of income)
- Sales tax on goods sold within its territory
- Levies on the surrounding allied lands (generally paid in a combination of food stuffs/export goods and money)
2 is really the only one the vast majority of PCs would encounter and it can be assumed to be baked into the prices of stuff you buy from merchants. In the case of crafted stuff, it can be assumed that that fee you pay on the creation of an item also includes the tax you'd have to pay as a merchant, along with material fees and whatnot. Presumably as a crafter you are then factoring in this item cost into your sale price, and thus taxes can be assumed to be paid.
For #3 the levy is an assumed cost by surrounding farmers/ranchers/villages for the protection afforded by the CDF and even though they pay a levy in export goods or cash, they also receive incentives and discounts on the sales of their goods within Calidoran lands which are much lower than the import tariffs they'd have to pay if they were outsiders.
Switching topic slightly, what would be the average travel times to the various areas currently accessible on the server? Is it just an afternoon's flight to the Emerald Isles, and a week on the waves to Newport?
Calidor to Newport is a few days. Calidor to Plencken via airship would also be around 4-5 days in the air, airships are not nearly as fast as IRL planes.
Sailing to the Isles from Calidor takes a little over a week each way by boat, airship is roughly 3 days.
Traveling within Gineas on horseback takes 5-7 days to either of the other cities from Calidor. By train it takes less than a day.
Saderia is only accessible by horse or ship in the summer, from almost any of its borders to the capital takes almost a week with good weather. A ship inland from Hexxen would take about 4 days to get up the river, half that to return.
Train from Ur to Calidor takes about 3 days with a stop in Hexxen.
Boat to Newport from Calidor takes almost 2 full days.
Train north from Calidor to Dvergerhove takes 2 days. It's 1 day to Wardenclyffe. Airship can do the same trip in about 12 hours.
Airship to Lan Cheng is about 5 days each way. By boat is variable depending on whether and the war.
Airship to Sedis takes about 16 hours. Train takes 2 days since you have to travel to Hexxen first, then South. Riding from Newport would take 5-6 days through desert.
Solateum can only be reached via horse and airship. By horse it takes literal weeks to ride from Sedis. Riding from Newport would be longer if it wasn't exceedingly stupid since it takes you through Daughters' territory. Airship from Sedis takes 2 days.
Sailing to Astrum from Sinecliff takes a week. It's another week around the southern bend of Eremus through extremely choppy and dangerous waters to get to Aia.
Is there any regulation on wild animals within city limits, or are they somehow classifies as a weapon under the relatively recent open-carry laws?
Beyond the obvious threat of face-mauling reputation of wolves, badgers, bears, and tigers, is there any legal or social repercussion or fallout?
What are considered modern domestic pets are okay within the city.
Of the "wild" animals, wolves would be okay, assuming they were leashed.
Black bears, badgers, etc would also need leashes and also muzzles.
Anything larger than those, and large cats or other creatures (especially insects/arachnids) would not be allowed within the city, and could be assumed to be kenneled outside the East gate.
Other than dogs, pets aren't allowed indoors and I most establishments other than inns, even dogs aren't allowed.
Creatures falling off the accepted guidelines above could be put down or captured by the Coppers if they are deemed a threat to safety. Some parts of the city are obviously more heavily weighted when it comes to how the Coppers will respond.
So yeah, if you bring your polar bear downtown, don't be surprised when a police sniper blows its brains out. This could result in the deletion of your pet, since it's dead.
What is the state of stocks and the market in general, especially commodities? Are there any corporations that are widely traded or tightly controlled, etc?
Calidor has a stock market and a commodity futures exchange. Corporation stock can be traded for most large corporations but accounting requirements aren't what they could be and it's quite common for big companies to do low float offerings to raise money.
In either case you need to own a seat or represent someone who does to participate directly. Brokers exist for everyone else but we haven't represented them in the server game world.
To expand on this, only citizens of Calidor can officially own stocks, and only Corporations based out of Calidor proper can be traded. Calidor has the only stock market in the world, currently, and the stringent requirements are part of why, for example, the Dwarven Mining Coalition and Manfred Heavy Industries (both Dwarven corporations) are very actively trying to either set up locations in Calidor proper or have the laws changed so that they can get in on the cash flow. The third large non-Ginean corporation, Kenmare Railways Ltd, is not actively trying to cultivate this bond to Calidor since they, generally speaking, have a monopoly on all civilian rail travel and also own most of the railroad lines that travel east. Instead, they are trying to single-handedly cultivate Hexxen into a commercial hub to stand up to Calidor, bridging the Aia-Three Cities-Urian trade axis and the lands of the West.
There are three statuses for the big corporations: Publicly trade (as described above), Privately traded (only one Corp is like this), and Privately owned.
Publicly traded Calidoran Corporations:
- Ansec Incorporated
- Crowe Chemicals
- Godwyn Textiles
- Foxton Pharmaceuticals
- The Walker Corporation
- Bank of Calidor Trust Company
- Del Mazzi Enterprises
- Selvarion & Sons
- Wolve Shipping Corporation
Not represented on the market at all, and therefore ostensibly privately owned:
- Dwarven Mining Coalition
- Kenmare Railways, Ltd
- Manfred Heavy Industries
There are more companies and smaller corporations in the game world, but this is the full list of corporations that could feasibly come up/are important enough to have names the PCs would readily know. Bank of Calidor is a specifically tricksy entity in that it DOES have multiple shareholders however ALL (except one) shareholders are actually other corporations, with Selvarion, Godwyn, Crowe, and Kenmare actually owning the lion's share of stock, which is why they are still relevant in the face of giants like Ansec and Walker. (those are the four oldest corporations)
There are large elven companies, but nothing coming close to the levels of those listed above. There are also Sedisian corporations, but again, none are big enough to warrant mention. Many of the traded corporations didn't necessarily start in Calidor (Godwyn, notably, was originally founded in Neermore), but they've all moved to Calidor to be able to participate in the stock market.
Most of this information is just world building and won't have any direct impact on players, mind you, but the machinations of corporate entities and their economic battles COULD somehow end up trickling down to cause a ruckus...
Regarding Lan Cheng: We know that any non-gnomes outside of the city is against the rules, but how are other races treated inside the Azure City?
Also, what sort of education and public infrastructure do they have? Is it more or less noir than the rest of the setting so far?
Outsiders are welcomed at arm's length in Azure City. They are shown a very nice and filtered version of the city which is exactly what the gnomes want them to see, and are always given the utmost respect. If they cause trouble, they're booted out pretty rapidly and put on the first ship out to the Emerald Isles. The gnomes are less friendly to the Islanders, but that's because of their natural rivalry and the fact that at some point(s) in their past they've fought wars against each other.
All gnomes seem to know how to read to the outsider. They're all pretty well educated, the city is very clean, and everyone is very happy due to the enlightened rule of Glorious Leader.
Actually, here's a few questions: What are the names of some of the cities in the Emerald Isles, and what are the ranks in the Isle's navy? While we're on that, how long would be their standard term of service?
Plencken is their capital, and everything happens there. It's a conurbation, and it's the only noteworthy place in the Isles.
4 years of naval service is standard if you choose to enlist. There's a book called "On the Sea Superiority of the Empire of the Emerald Isles", which is 100% in-game. Ask a DM for it.
While we're on a tangent regarding the Emerald Isles, what are the average living conditions of both permanent and non-permanent denizens (in the event that declaring permanent residency comes with a catch)? People above the poverty line? Under?
Plencken's average is definitely above the poverty line; lots of jobs available, and socioeconomic room for entrepreneurs and aspiring businessmen.
What's Solatium's military like? I'd imagine it's a lot of light scouts that comb the desert for potential threats... though I'm sorta drawing a blank between the roman legion's and something more ancient arabic.
Or, is the martial strength of the city more in the hands of individual noble houses, ala feudalism, and they'd band together in times of crisis and stuff. (Previous talks with YMD indicated that the noble houses are the prominent powers in Solatium.)
Solatium's aesthetics tend more towards real-life Roman-occupied Egypt. Military uses mostly light armor (light mail shirt) and tends towards cavalry (horse) units favoring mobility, using spears, javelins, and long range rifles. This is mostly because of the region's characteristics - the civilized military has very little reason to actually venture into the deep desert, so their activities are mostly confined to the "oasis corridor" that follows the river and its floodplains. This is a long and narrow area, so the military has to move fast and light to respond to threats effectively.
Also, the nomad tribes that wander the desert are terrifyingly effective at fighting in the deep sands, but Solatium's military, not really.
The nomad tribes use a lot of natural camouflage and traps, favoring stealthy guerilla tactics with crossbows and lighter weapons. They use special blasting grenades that are basically just shaped concussion grenades that, when thrown on sand, will kick it up in the air and not only provide a smoke-styled cover, but also blind and irritate the eyes of anyone who is not protected. They make heavy use of poisons derived from the many strange creatures of the desert, and they have a particular neurotoxin whose recipe is closely guarded (though most tribes seem to know it, or variations thereof) that will paralyze a humanoid for a particularly long time.
One of the more mythical tribes, the Mortangui, is said to have been a group of cannibals, choosing to eat other humanoids than what the desert provided. They notoriously used this sort of poison to capture victims alive, as a living body lasts a lot longer in the desert. Legends say they were wiped out by a disease carried in the blood of someone they ate. In modern times, no player would ever have been a member of this tribe, and their very existence is more of a desert horror story, meant to scare little children and stop them from venturing off into the desert alone. Still, the stories are popular, and even in Solateum they're often spoken of as desert boogeymen, even though they don't actually exist.
What's crime and punishment like in the world? Could we assume there's penal colonies, prisons, capital punishment and the like? If so, which ones are prevalent in certain societies etc etc.
Prison is a thing, there have been 3 prisons in Calidor's history. The first was Greystoke Prison just north of the Wards, the inmates worked in the mines. This became too crowded and there was a large prison escape roughly 75 years ago, at which point land was bought from the Wyler family and Blackmoor Penitentiary was erected on the island. All prisoners were moved there. Fifteen or so years ago, some sort of calamity struck Wyler's, and the lunatics overran the Asylum and opened the prison gates. The CDF cordoned off the island and declared it a Militarized Zone with no trespassing, because the situation was contained and a rescue operation was deemed too dangerous. At this point Calidor, Sinecliff, Neermore, and Dvergerhove + several other southern Domes had started joint construction of Wardenclyffe, an extremely large prison complex far to the north of Calidor, nestled in the Dvergerhove Mountains atop a steep cliff, only accessible via a single rail line and a large freight elevator inside the mountain. The prison is separated into 4 blocks, with the Dwarven Domes having two, Neermore and Sinecliff sharing another, and Calidor having its own. Only the worst criminals are sent to Wardenclyffe, and at least for Calidor the sentence is never less than 5 years for someone, "getting sent up track." There are many horror stories about torture and cruel and unusual punishments for problematic inmates, including tales of prisoners left to hang by their arms from long shackles over the side of the cliff, however many of these are assumed to be horror stories to scare people.
Other stuff, broken down by region:
- Other than prison, Calidor does have the death penalty. Executions (beheading) are carried out in The Block in Trades, in front of the CCPD Station. A recent development is an "electric chair" that is thought to be more humane, however it has yet to be used. The chair is inside the CCPD station.
- Any criminal can request a trial by combat or to serve their sentence in the Arena, in which case they are jailed under the Arena and must fight to the death in special execution events. This practice has mostly fallen on the wayside, and no one has chosen the trial by combat in decades.
- No death penalty, the harshest punishment is life in Wardenclyffe without parole.
- Death Penalty, execution by either hanging or firing squad.
- Prison is a thing.
- A Dwarf specific sentence in many domes is to have your Dome lineage stripped and to be exiled, banished to Svidgard.
- The Northern domes of Sma Stjern and Hvithavn both practice execution as they do not have rail lines to easily access Wardenclyffe. Hvithavn generally carries out execution at sea, including leaving prisoners on rafts in the ocean without any paddle and a single loaf of bread and a single skin of water.
- The Tower of Sader is the primary prison for the nation. Torture is common, including absolutely medieval punishments like drawing and quartering and the iron maiden. The Tower is consequently the root of the term "sadism" due to its long and bloody history of torture and corporal punishment.
- Executions are almost exclusively beheadings, and the heads of the executed are displayed on the walls of the capital city. Sometimes the prisoner is first crucified for 3x3 days, then beheaded. During the nine days they are fed only salted water, lemons, and stale, moldy bread, to ensure they survive the ordeal to be alive when their head is removed.
- There are no prisons, only slavery.
- Slavery ranges from indentured servitude to a lifetime of work in the mines. Slavery is NOT hereditary and once a slave has served their prescribed sentence, they are freed. The type of servitude is dictated by the crime, only the harshest of criminals receive life in the mines. Slaves are fed and clothed, and their masters are prohibited from beating them (excluding those working the mines) because they are considered the property of the Holy City while serving their sentence, not the direct property of their master. Masters who abuse their slaves often get harsher punishments and longer terms than the slaves themselves. Slaves retain the bulk of their personal wealth and property in trust to either the city or their next of kin while they are serving their slave term.
CASSIAN WETLANDS REPUBLIC (Non-Aian):
- Darkmeer Prison lays in the swamps far to the southeast of Hexxen, a lone castle in a festering bog. Prisoners are kept there for various lengths of times, with nobility retaining the right to hire out prisoners as cheap labor.
- Execution is not allowed, though those deserving of such a punishment are brought to Darkmeer and sent out into the mire with only a roughshod burlap shirt and pants, and a wooden spoon. Nothing else. No one has ever survived the trek out of the swamp, or so they say.
- Naval punishments, including flogging and manual labor.
- Execution is almost exclusively walking the plank or, for the truly depraved, keelhauling.
- Corporal punishment is common, specifically caning.
- Chosen form of execution is to be burned at the stake.
- The Priory maintains a secret prison complex in the desert whose location is unknown. Criminals sent there are either never heard from again or return as staunch members of the Priory and considered redeemed and enlightened.
- Banishment is a common form of "light" death penalty.
- Being buried alive with only your head exposed and left to die in the sun is a common execution method for non-Elves.
- Prisoners are otherwise held in multiple small jails around the city and expected to till the fields or perform forced labor around the city.
- No death penalty, only exile to the desert.
- There is a small prison off the coast which houses the rest of their criminals. The prisoners are made to mix tar and chop wood for the shipping industry.
- Foreigners are banished and instructed to never return on pain of "permanent incarceration."
- Gnomish criminals are sent inland, past the Imperial Wall to a prison facility that only the gnomes must know about.
- Corporal punishment is commonplace, including severing hands/fingers of thieves and flogging.
- There are still a few old prisons on some of the Isles, however they have no established penal system. The vast majority of criminals are forced into military service in the Navy.
- Those who refuse or are too dangerous for Naval service or banished from the Archipelago to a pair of rather desolate islands to the south, deep in the Southern Chimney known only as "The Spires." It is generally established that the islands are a deathtrap and the criminals have free run of the place, murdering and killing each other in an endless cycle of greed.
THE THREE FREE:
- Exile to the Waste is a common "final punishment."
- Each city has its own prison system which they maintain.
Xin Xiwang has been compared to both Imperial Japan and Imperial China. Has the nation responded to industrialization in a manner similar to real world Japan, with conflicts like that created by the Meiji Restoration? Is there a caste of samurai presently, or was there in the past? Are nerds like those in the gnome dungeon just main lander gnomes trying to cling to their distant culture, an offshoot of some criminal faction from Lan Cheng or something else?
More of the latter. They're similar to a Triad that may have been driven out and has now found a home in Calidor, or maybe they're a new satellite group that wants to expand their territory in Altum (continent that Calidor is on), who knows. As far as resistance to technology, there was none in Xin Xiwang and the gnomes actually rapidly embraced new technology and not unlike modern China they are quick to take something they see and adapt/reverse engineer it to their own purposes. Also like modern China, their goods aren't quite as high quality and may not be as finely tooled as their Dwarven counterparts, or maybe that's all just propaganda that the DMC feeds people so that they'll keep buying Dwarven.
Regardless, "samurai" in the real world sense never existed on Engines, though there is a Gnomish Warrior caste with their own sense of honor that would be kind of analogous to samurai as far as popular culture in the real world goes... the vast majority of them serve as the Honor Guard of the Emperor and are extremely skilled warriors, and they do actually wear that style of Samurai armor, though it's accentuated with modern day armaments, particularly in terms of their armor. They still don't use guns, however autocrossbows or grenade launchers in their gloves wouldn't be impossible.
Culture & Religion
Do multiple languages exist, or does the world have only one universal language? How about dead languages, and would anyone today know them?
As for multiple languages: no, there's one universal language with variation depending on location etc. The world of Engines is actually rather small compared to Earth, maybe a fourth of Earth's size, and much of it is still unexplored/unmapped. There are old dead languages however; aeld elven (ancient elvish) and old dwarven, but they require years of study to master and are not easily learned.
Alright, I've got a question: What are the different genres of music in this setting? Given that there's a jukebox in the Sink Hole, is there in fact a music industry, or at least musical groups that are widely known, even if they're only known in certain areas, like a roving band only really known in the Emerald Isles?
Most music would still be classical, but acoustic jazz and lounge music would be a thing at this point. The electric guitar isn't a thing.
In terms of groups and singers and such, we figured players would just make up that sort of stuff to pad things out as necessary, since it's a minor detail.
I would love some more lore on the Cassian Republic to be honest; mannerisms of the people, cultural points of importance, festivals, how nobility used to happen, how effective is it now? I imagine it's something like a cross between italian merchant families and a bit of welsh independence.
Pretty much on the money. I wrote a book and put it in-game called "On the Lands of Cassia and its Peoples" which has a bit more information surrounding the Cassian Republic. Ask a DM in game.
What would be a decent equivalent in terms of day to day culture to Solatium? Food, fashion, recreation, etc. For some reason I keep imagining it as Istanbul, mainly because of the Antiquan names and the desert location.
I based Solatium primarily off of ancient Babylon, and a bit off of Alexandria (exchanging the sea of water for a sea of sand). Elves of old were a mixture between Romans and Pre-Islamic Arabians.
Dwarven views on Religion? Dwarven Religion?
Same as everyone else. Most dwarves follow the Triumvirate, with probably a some Herists. You wouldn't see many Priory dwarves, though, I think.
Do Gnomes follow one of the three explained religions, or is their emperor a Mandate-From-Heaven type god-figure?
The three are the three dominate throughout the world with all races and regions. There are small, cult like, religions but none worth noting. Believe the only one actually mentioned is in the elf lore area where some practice ancestral worship. The gnomes are the youngest of all races and generally more forward thinking.
The way it breaks down, if you wanna look at the majority of each race, listing the most popular religions, in order:
Humans - Triumvism, Herism
Dwarves - Triumvism, Herism
Elves - Herism, Priory, Ancestor Worship
Gnomes - Emperor Worship, Herism
There is a symbol for medical aid? Like our world Red Cross? A Nurse or a doctor studio could put such a symbol on his or her workplace a bit as to indicate "Sanatorium" ? Or wear it to indicate is a practitioner of the medical arts?
Not an established one.
I had some questions, though, since I want to draw as much inspiration as I can from the romanticized imagery of the Romani, but I don't want to break setting lore.
- What, if any, gypsy-style caravans are there in the world? I had placed [character's] family on Aia. Is this a problem lore-wise?
- Am I allowed to use the word 'Romani?' If not, is there an appropriate in-setting name for wanderers like this? [Character] wouldn't really call herself a 'gypsy,' I don't think, since it's kind of a slur, but she has been saying things like "I am what you may call a gypsy" because I don't want to break setting.
- [Character's] been selling herbal medicine and salves, but I have yet to break out the tarot. Is tarot a thing? Perhaps thought of as a psychological exercise to show someone more than one perspective on an issue, rather than the genuine divination it's treated as in more fantasy-style settings? I'm fine with [character] being a charlatan, of course.
Aians are gypsies; Romani -> Aian. Tarot is fine, this isn't Forgotten Realms where everything needs to have a silly-sounding name. The more charlatans the better.
Does the Triadic faith have a symbol which represents it? Not unlike the Cross or Crescent?
The cross used to be the main icon for Triumvism, but it has fallen out of use ever since Lazaar got stricken. Now it's a triangle.
So we could safely assume the customary symbol of the Templar Order would look like one of these, since its a relic of days gone by?
Yes except it'd be a Presbyterian cross with all arms equal length.
There's also the archaic thing of cutting off a pinky, since the hand used to also represent The Faith with God as the thumb, Mat, Eospeth, and Leah as Index, Middle, and Ring fingers, respectively, and Lazaar as the pinky. Once Lazaar was cast out, particularly religious monastic sects and just really religious people would cut off the pinky of their non-dominant (they're religious, not completely stupid) hand as a symbolic gesture of their faith. Many Templar did it too, and in the modern times of the server it'd be a little rare, but when you see it on a religious type it's something to be praised (or feared).
Helen is missing her left pinky.
How long ago was the Book of Lazaar stricken from the Triumverant texts? How hard would finding a copy of it be?
A long time ago, details are muddy. Some claim around the year 500 AE, others even earlier. Impossible through ordinary means.
So this would be analogous to trying to find the Biblical books which were stricken out by the Council of Nicea?
What is the contemporary view on mental illness, neurological disorders, and the people with them? Does it differ from culture to culture? Are the Wyler asylum and similar institutions what one could expect regarding where mentally ill people could/should end up?
Pretty much, yes.
As stated earlier, socially the mindset of the setting is essentially 1830s New York City or London, so that's a good reference when in doubt.
Would a doctor traveling between tribes in the Nefarian desert be something that's commonplace? Would they be seen as a respective figure, or seen a swindler just trying to sell miracle cures? What caused the rapid advancement in firearms? I've come to understand that the general level of technology is about the 1840s, but we have semi-automatic pistols and Sub-machine guns - World War II technology.
Desert tribe doctors: A non-elf would probably get murdered at some point. An elf would need to come from one of the tribes and have some measure of influence to be accepted by others. Outsider elves can expect hospitality but it's unlikely they'd be trusted with medical issues.
Guns: It's steampunk. Gadgetry and mechanical engineering is a fair ways ahead of a real world equivalent, while infrastructure and material/chemical extraction and processing aren't. Magazines and SMGs just require detailed metalwork, making something like an internal combustion engine (which doesn't exist in Engines) is useless without some sort of liquid fuel. Maybe dinosaurs never existed and there isn't any oil to drill for.
A few questions for the elven folk!
1. What would be some defining characteristics of elves living in the Nefarian desert? I've based my character's fictional clan off of the Tuareg people of the Saharan Desert, albeit with some minor changes. Is this accurate?
2. I know there was some mention of aeld elven back on page 1. Would remnants of the language exist in modern elven cultural or religious aspects, sort of the way Latin is used in Catholicism? What would the elven be based off of, in terms of real language (such as modern day Arabic, or perhaps Tolkien based)?
3. Do the tribes (if that's the case) have any unifying features, such as religious holidays or rituals beyond those specific to certain tribes?
A lot of the Elven tribes wear masks or cover their faces and wouldn't show them to outsiders, men and women both. Some tribes only cover their eyes with goggles or eye masks, while others only cover their mouths or cover their heads, but generally is a universal thing that some part of your head is always covered, depending on your tribe.
Old Elven wouldn't be spoken at all anymore, but in the same way romance languages stem from Latin, there would be tribal dialects and languages that would be a weird butchering of old Elven. Universally there is no written form of any of these languages, and almost all tribal elves are illiterate because they use oral histories... An outsider would have had to teach a tribal elf to read. That includes the elves from Solateum or Astrum, they would be considered outsiders, too.
In terms of characteristics, they generally cover up most of their body, simply because they live in the desert. They consider their bodies sacred and never have tattoos, and actually facial scars are a great mark of shame for them and a method of making criminals or betrayers (which also ties into the mask thing). They generally don't use guns and are mistrustful of technology. Because of their nomadic desert lifestyle, they almost all exclusively practice air burial or cremation, which is another reason the body must remain pure to be offered up so that you can join the ancestors. The tribes that do air burial are preoccupied with aerial imagery and will paint their masks to resemble birds, or will have names that reference birds.
Cuisine! In case it ever comes up, what kind of foods are common in Calidor, and on the server in general? Is it typically fairly modern stuff, ie: Sandwiches may be common, or fairly medieval stuff, ie: pretty much only variants of stew, or is it somewhere directly in between?
It's a mix of foods from all over the world, though obviously Ginean cuisine (salted meats, cabbage, porridge, bread, stews, etc) are more common. The Three Free have pastas and lots of pork dishes, Emerald Isles are all about seafood and lamb. Dwarves eat lots of meat and beers/ales, but also have a pretty elaborate diet of burrowing insect delicacies. Elven food is a little weird since they're in the desert... also features lots of insects, but also snake and lizard meats, and lots of poultry. Their main diet is still a hard bread, though, and they use lots and lots of spices on everything.
After the fall of the Elven Empire, the Dwarves had a raiding culture, perhaps similar to norse vikings, correct? If that's the case, were they more land or sea based in this raiding, or was it more of a mix?
The dwarf culture after the fall was more of a nomadic/land-based one, see here.
The dwarves were very much like Vikings initially, yes. The first real sail ships were (re)developed by the dwarves thousands of years ago and they used to raid the south for food and livestock using superior weaponry, however they peaked in comparison to the Orcs. As the humans adapted and expanded they began to instead barter with the dwarves for precious metals and gems in exchange for food stuffs, and thus the dwarves pretty readily allied with them when the great war started.
Speaking of sea raiders, it's mentioned in both the Aian and Emerald Isles information that those areas deal with a bit of piracy. How big of an issue is it, and are those simply the most noteworthy areas for it? And while we're at it, are there any pirate legends in the world that would be akin to the irl Blackbeard or the Dread Pirate Roberts?
Pirates in the Isles are a much bigger deal for foreigners and people trying to ship goods than they are for locals or travelers. Not aware of any big pirate legends in the lore but there's some on-server material about one called Salty Jack.
Piracy is a huge issue across the world still, as the great navies are all generally embroiled in wars and there are lots of places to hide. The Isles have a sizeable pirate presence with many of the pirate groups often allying with the Islander Navy in raiding gnomish ships. Aia, on the other hand, is specifically known as being the birthplace of countless pirates, with a strong naval culture. There is a large Cassian port in Aia, however the swamps give way to a long archipelago of islands not unlike the Florida Keys, so there are plenty of havens for pirates there and despite the Cassian Navy's best efforts piracy remains an ongoing problem. There are a handful of historically well known pirates, the most prominent modern one being Tiberius Quintus, and his ship, 'The Sea Tiger'.
It may have been covered before, but what are the heraldry and colours of the major national and international politica?
Calidor: Navy blue field with a silver eagle on it
Gineas (defunct, but some still fly it): Sky Blue and Silver, the emblem was a lion with a shield crest
Ur: Black with gold accents, the Urian flag is a stylized open palm
Saderia: A black two headed eagle on a crimson field. The flag itself is hung as a chevron banner, not a rectangular flag like we normally see
Cassian Wetlands: Hunter green field with a white stag on it
Neermore: Turquoise field with a golden bear
Sinecliff: Sky Blue field with two seahorses
Dwarven domes: Each dome has a geometric layout with two colored triangles making a square. The direction of the diagonal and the color combinations determine the dome, but they're generally used solely as a form of stamp (hence the simple form) to notate the place of origin of trade goods/materials.
Sedis: White field with golden trim, with a brown stallion, rearing back
What have been historic conflicts in this world? Anything on the scale of nations going to war over something?
Yes, too many to count. Compared to Earth, the gameworld of Engines is a lot smaller and resources are a lot more sparse, so trading agreements and alliances are incredibly important to maintain. There have been less full-out wars between nations for that exact reason, but border skirmishes, rebellions and general uprisings seem to not just be common in (recent) history, but inevitable. A few historic conflicts of note in recent years:
- the rebellion by the citizens of the nation of Gineas against King James the Pious in 1558, which led to the rising of Calidor, Neermore and Sinecliffe as autonomous city-states
- an internal conflict between the largest of the Three Free cities, Élia, Tersona and Matagán in 1622, which ended in favor of Élia, giving its important families and politicians more control in the governing of the Free Alliance
- the unofficial cold war between the Empire of the Emerald Isles and the gnomes of Xin Xiwang which is still ongoing; although the gnomes possess superior technology and have a great numerical advantage, the Empire of the Isles has an incredibly sophisticated and well-trained navy at the ready, whose only purpose seems to be to deter aggression from gnomes (and sea monsters venturing too close from the Southern Veil)
Following the usurping of the king was there a later noble backlash as seen in France following their revolution or did the republic hold out? More on this conflict would be great (did the king flee, did he die in battle, was he publicly executed. How much of his family and relations were purged, did this encompasses the wider noble grouping? Did anyone related survive, ie did anyone whose known about make it to more royal-friendly countries and set up in exile? Is there a remaining royalist faction (not in a game faction sense)?
Is this about Calidor? The first part is more or less (indirectly) answered by reading the description of Gineas in the race thread (also available as a book in-game). The latter part, look for a book titled "On the Fractured Nation of Gineas and its Major Cities".
Would one be correct in assuming that the Del Mazzi originate from one of the Free Cities, given their name?
Yes. Del "X" is a typical Tersonan name.
Can you please describe Calidor's "Gun Control" history, has there ever existed stricter gun laws before, or has there been a turbulent history surrounding the right to bear arms in Calidor?
And what about other places in the world? It's my understanding there's little to no regulations surrounding guns?
Read the assassination article in the first edition [of the Calistar Gazette].
Weapons were banned under the Kingdom of Gineas (~250 ago) and shortly after the revolution and Calidor declaring itself as a city state blades and arms were carried in public but at some point that law was not extended to firearms and they made laws about keeping weapons sheathed within city limits.
That obviously changed.
What triggered weapons being banned under the kingdom of Gineas 250 some odd years ago? And do you mean guns when you say weapons? I'm just trying to get the gist on what eras in Guineas were more gun tolerant, and which eras were more regulated?
There were no guns that far back, and weapons were banned because the kings were paranoid.
Does unarmed combat refer exclusively to European style boxing or brawling?
There's a kicking line too!
I imagine we will be flexible on how you want to describe your fighting style for unarmed, as well as the rest of the weapons. Just don't get too wild and start doing crouching tiger hidden dragon flying techniques. Use your best judgement to sync it with the setting and, most importantly, enjoy.
It would help my RP if I could interpret the skills on my character sheet to compare to what is good or bad as an average.
10 - Novice.
25 - Average
50 - Expert
75+ - Master
This is more of an OOC mechanics question, but I'll bite. 0 is completely average (beginner), 100 is top-of-your-game mastery. 0 is having spent absolutely no time doing anything related to the skill, 100 is having played guitar for years and years. The way I'd suggest going about it, is to consider each 10 levels 6 months of daily training in a particular skill. Following this rule, it actually more or less matches your initial assessment.
As listed in the racial blurb, Elves have a lower life-span if they are away from the desert. Is this some mystery thing that is always true (lifespan proportional to distance from desert), or is it more to do with basically being second (or third) class citizens just about everywhere else (with all the lower quality of life that goes along with it)?
No one has bothered to really test it to find out. It's a traditional old wives' sort of tale that if you leave the desert, you won't live as long. Could it be because they're usually poor and diseased everywhere else? Maybe?
Just a few racial questions on babies and baby making.
Has the elven birth rate always been low or has it decrease in the last hundred years or so?
Is there a noticeable difference in the number of half elf babies in the last hundred years,and do they seem to have the same difficulty having children as elves?
Do elven women have as many half elf children as human women do?
There's no such thing as a half elf, just FYI. Humans, dwarves, and elves can all interbreed, but their children come out being one race or the other.
In the case of mixed elf pairings, the kids almost always are the other race and rarely come out as elves. Dwarves and humans are 50/50. Gnomes can't interbreed with any of the other races.
Elven birth rate has steadily declined for the last several hundred years, to the point where in the actual Elven cities children are paired off at very young ages and there's a push to start young and have as many children as possible. The nomad tribes intermarry regularly and have fewer issues with breeding, no one is sure why.
Although a half-breed would come out being of one race or the other, they might retain some features of the other race. So a human that has a dwarven parent might be shorter and squatter than the average human, with a thicker beard than most. An Elf with a human parent might be taller, broader, and a little hardier (which lends itself to the Antiquan viewpoint of more potent blood), while a Dwarf with an Elven parent might not be able to grow much of a beard and be a little reedier and thinner.
And no, no matter how many Elves borne of Dwarves there have been, not a single one has ever had facial hair. Go figure.
Are 'half-elves' looked down on by society at large if their parentage is known, even though they aren't genetically half-elf? It seems a given that Antiquos elves wouldn't like them, but what about humans? Would it be considered shameful in Ginean human society to be descended from a non-human even if you're genetically human?
If you're a human with an elven parent, people might look down on you slightly, moreso in a place like Ur or Saderia than in Calidor. Calidor, despite its racism, takes most things at face value, so people wouldn't really give a shit about your parentage unless it came up. Or if you were human but had an elven name for some reason.
If you're an elf, no one cares. Elven breeding is such an exercise in desperation that most elves wouldn't care if you had a human ancestor, and if anything amongst the Clamor Antiquos you'd be seen as having a particularly potent strain of elven blood, and you (or rather, your elven parent) would be sought after to have more children. The Domus Divini would probably look down on you if you had some human (or even worse, Dwarven) parentage, especially if you were trying to claim you were from one of the 6 families.
[Overall, i]t depends. Antiquan society varies wherever you go, and outside of Astrum (where the vast majority of Antiquans currently live) the above would be the correct answer. In Astrum itself there are enough Antiquans that their whole obsession with class and purity swings back into full effect, and they can actually choose to be picky and judgemental. That said, Antiquan opinions can still, of course, vary, and if you run into an Antiquan and they're a eugenicist asshole, that shouldn't be surprising, same way an Antiquan not necessarily caring or even being impressed by a half-breed Antiquan who came out elven would also not be surprising. Like most things in Engines, there's a distinct layer of grey to everything.
As for Astrum being where most Antiquans live nowadays, that's always been part of the lore. It's the most remote from the non-Elven lands (and therefore has almost no non-elves living there) and it is home to largest museum on the Elven Empire on the planet, which has also always been in the lore. On occasion they may share artifacts or information with the Museum in Calidor, specifically because it's a means for them to gather more information about the Ancient Elven society, which is why Astrum has a reasonably busy port and actively trades with Calidor, Hvithavn, Sinecliff, and even the Emerald Isles. They are very much NOT fans of Aia, simply because of the centuries long history of Aian piracy of Astran ships.
Dwarves wouldn't give a shit, assuming you were born in a Dome, and it's actually not that uncommon (at least for SOME Domes, 90% of these would be Dvergerhove) for Elves and Humans to be allowed in if they are married to a Dwarf. However, if you were born outside a Dome and your Dwarven parent didn't have strong ties to their home Dome, you'd be considered Domeless and basically an untrustworthy outcast, since the extended bond of your Dome means a shitload to Dwarves.
So yeah... elves would vary based on what kind of elf they're talking to, humans mostly wouldn't care, at least in Calidor, and Dwarves it depends on their Dome and if they had a tie to it.
Does the lack of elven children seem to be mostly that female elves can't get pregnant?
Do male elves seem to be able to get human or dwarven women pregnant?
I guess I am trying to see if the lack of elven children seem to effect only female elves having children or if this is an all encompassing issue with elves in general.
They're equivalent. There's a level of detail that's really not needed to tell a good story, that's one of them, and it could engender a lot of sexist nonsense as part of the RP, which we're trying to mostly avoid on this server.
Race matters and is a contentious point.
Gender does not and is not. Men and women are basically equal.
Supposedly gnomes are technically advanced, but in what way? Are there any areas in which they particularly excel (Firearms, electricity, medicine, etc.) and areas in which they may be behind say Calidor? What's the general quality of life in Xin Xiwang?
They're far behind Calidor in terms of medicine and chemistry, mainly because their own physiology is so different from the other races and they just operate differently. They're also far behind in the social sciences and concepts like democracy and such.
The one field in which they vastly surpass everyone else is in shipbuilding (they use steam ships) because the main force of technology in the mainland is the Dwarves, and most Dwarves aren't that into sailing, though Dwarven mining machines are far better than anything outsiders would have seen with the gnomes.
Gnomes in general are very secretive of what tech they have, and will not disclose the full breadth of their technology with the other races, some say out of a paranoia after being slaves for so long and seeing what they did to the Orcs.
Do the elves, with their low birth rate, see [homosexuality] differently?
Elves: Most city elves are too apathetic to care about how it affects their birth rate.
Science & Technology
What is Calidor's main source of power?
I see lamps and such are implemented or to be implemented. But, I mean, Steampunk, I'm expecting big industrial factories with steam power. Or does Calidor use some sort of strange material that generates electrical energy?
Just a curious question really.
Factories generate the power, yes. It's distributed by a crude power network.
How common/mundane is electricity considered, as well as electric items in the house? Is it still a wonder that only the wealthy have at their disposal, or does the middle- to lower- class have some access to electricity for daily use (besides the electric streetlights)? Have light bulbs entirely replaced candles?
Does refrigeration exist? If not, how is food transported and preserved? (Good old fashioned salt?)
The closest approximation would be late 1800s New York City or London, in terms of food, living conditions, access to electricity, etc. The only major difference would be some anachronisms like refrigeration existing (only for the wealthy), and electric lighting being a little more common.
The thrust of Steampunk is essentially that the internal combustion engine (and gasoline in general) is never invented, and therefore steam and coal based power remain the mainstays for everything, so even a refrigerator would be some sort of fancy steam powered contraption with some pneumatic tubes that generate a vacuum to cool things down or something.
We all know what happened to the biggest airship, but how common are airships in general?
Airships are pretty common since there's one chilling over the Docks if you go into Character Camera mode and look to the Southwest. That big bridge has an Airship Station off of it that will be accessible from Downtown.
As an addendum, What are the standard units of measurement for sciencey stuff, or should we go with the ease-of-play assumption that there were dudes known for what they did similar to reality, given the existence of Tesla-weapons being associated with esoteric electrical-projection systems?
Ease-of-play. You can also write your book and we can get it published in-game. Some things are established, others are not. It's a help us help you kind of situation, so if you want to pitch in, do so. Monetary rewards for publishing do exist.
Has there been any constructions analogous to Babbage's Analytical Engine? If so, how commonplace are they, given that the primary concern with the original design was cost and functionality (though the functionality has been proven, for the Difference Engine No. 2's tolerances)
Are there other computing mechanisms, given the stated advanced technology level for the time (steam-powered or electrical)?
Comparable to early 1800's Earth. Dwarven tech features bleeding-edge differential gearwork, steam furnaces, and limited (not widespread yet) use of electricity, but no transistors, microcomputing or electronics. Gnomes are also quite advanced, trying to insert themselves in the market by undercutting dwarves.
The most common application of computing you'll commonly see is perhaps a Pascaline/Arithmometer analogue (expensive though - consider about 99% of people doing computing will have slide rules and calculus tables instead) in the Bank or a wealthy merchant - mechanical calculators and such, gearwork/steam automation, for very specific applications. Again, no general computing yet. The Academy is the faction that would be researching this kind of thing. Also, astronomical gearwork computers are used at sea (astrolabes, etc).
The Institute would actually be the one leading the way in crazy oddball tech. If the Academy is Harvard, the Institute is MIT.
Regarding medicine: What is the current level of technology and opinion regarding blood transfusions, antivenin, and other recuperative care?
Reasoning: I know it was discussed somewhere (probably IRC) that genetics and bioscience were more advanced, so blood types and such might be known.
Genetics are known within the intellectual community, though the commoner may be ignorant or completely dismissive to its existence. So, you could bring up solid scientific evidence up in court but if a judge is still living in an old world mindset he may dismiss it as nonsense.
Medicine is in a discovery period within our world, which makes it pretty darn neat. Just like the industrial age, huge advancements are being made all the time. With the setting being what it is, the Hippocratic Oath isn't exactly always followed.
So, depending on who you are doing the blood transfusion to....you may be seen as a savior or a morally flexible weirdo. Or both.
Just like in real life, there is no Hippocratic Oath that is followed or enforced, as an aside. One of the more common misconceptions in real life.
Whats the standard measurement units for Calidor/the world? Imperial(US is arse-backwards), SI(being developed in 1799), or something different? Is it consistent everywhere, or do certain countries use separate measurement standards?
Just use metric, for simplicity.
What is the general level of understanding of rocketry in Calidor and other parts of the world?
We clearly have grenades of various forms, thereby demonstrating a reasonable comprehension of solid explosives, and clearly enough gunpowder production to supply munitions to the playerbase, let alone the rest of the city. Has there been any equivalent work to the Artis Magnae Artilleriae?
Gunpowder exists but rockets don't. The fastest means of delivering ammunition is to pack a metal tube with gunpowder and blow it up. The fastest mode of travel is the airship, which uses propellers driven by steam engines.
So, no fire-arrows, fireworks, or the like?
Anything gunpowder is fine, anything relying on more complex fuel, jets, internal combustion engines, etc. is not
You might see some engineers at the Calidor Institute of Technology and/or the Academy experimenting with gunpowder rocketry, but they see absolutely no use in real battle except for signalling. Smoothbore gunpowder cannons are in wide circulation - Carronade-style (1770s) is the most common. Heavy, short range.
A common rumor is that either dwarves or gnomes have working (practical, that is - the concept of propelling a projectile with a blast of steam is of course known and even applied in smaller scale such as with some weapon mods) steam cannon prototypes (supposedly with much higher range and accuracy), but if they do, they're keeping it a closely guarded secret.
The CIT has developed better gunpowder cannon prototypes than what is currently in circulation (think Griffen Gun), but the replacement cost still proves too high for the advantages. Rifling has been tested, but it presents ammo loading problems, and prohibitive cost (the rifling process can't properly be scaled with current fabrication tech).
Would that mean that Hunting Rifles are actually breach-loaded muskets, or is the 'fabrication tech' statement mean that it needs hand-manufacturing for the rifling? If they are rifled, are Hunting Rifles less reliable than other fire-arm forms?
Revolvers, pistols, rifles, etc, come with smoothbore and rifled barrels, muzzle-loading and breech-loading, etc. Rifling personal weapons is expensive and might explain higher level weapons. A level-0 rifle might be an obsolete musket, while a level-100 might be very similar to an American Civil War top quality rifle.
What is the most advanced method of telecommunication (courier, sephamore-tower, manual electric telegraph, automated printing telegraph, etc.)? What is the most common method of telecommunication for various distances? (for reference, transatlantic telegraph cables were successfully run by 1866)
- Physics in Engines doesn't work exactly the same as it does in real life, especially with regards to electricity. If it did things would be kind of boring.
- People have figured out that there's a connection between magnetism and electricity. This is how Tesla Coils in firearms work.
- The simple electric motor, telegraph, and speaker all exist in some capacity.
- Electric communication isn't widely used because of how quickly the signal sent through a wire gets dissipated as heat.
- Some inventors envision big copper braids connecting cities but practical science suggests that they'd melt from all the heat or simply rust and fall apart.
- Printing presses and typewriters to create paper documents, runners to send them.
- Longer distances covered by steam train, airship, horse, etc.
- Sephamore towers have been figured out but they aren't widely used. Some say the gnomes use a setup of mirrored dishes for similar purposes.
What is the current level of factory-scale automation, and what industries use it? Is it waterwheels and looms, steel refineries, whales-a-la-Dishonored, etc?
Secondly, what is the most prevalent sealant? Do we have rubber (Used for millennia, though vulcanization to make it super-useful was developed 1839), or are other materials like oiled leather, animal tubes, and hard wax required for gaskets and hoses?
Factories aren't automated, but they do draw on assembly lines, big steam engines (and lots of coal), and large amounts of cheap elf labor.
Rubber exists in its natural forms but it relies on imported plant material from some fairly remote areas. Oiled leather is cheaper and easier to use on large projects. Any use you could imagine for wax and animal parts is fair game.
Medical question: Has Germ-Theory been discovered within Calidor? If so how far has it come, and would just the average medical professional know about it? On a related note, are there any hygienic standards?
In recent memory the Wards were quarantined because of a plague that had broken out there, so the city authorities are aware that you can catch diseases and willing to act on it. The exact origin and mechanism of spread of diseases is unknown but people are plenty happy to lock up or avoid undesirables whenever there's a plague scare.
What sort of anesthetics exist? Milk of poppy? Laudanum? Nitrous Oxide? Chloroform?
All of the above.
How prevalent are cameras, and how high-quality are they? Are they portable? Expensive?
In this setting they're expensive heavy, and slow to take pictures.
And what about microphones... Easy or hard to obtain?
Just like cameras, they are usually only used by early adapters and the wealthy (wealthy eccentric/show offs - its not really seen as something practical to have). Hard to obtain partly due to low demand by the npc commoner population of whom are far poorer than most players and notable npcs. If your character is trying to start a radio station he is edgy and hip, we might support it with more details. Newspapers are still the #1 source of media. Coppers use radio/microphones, sports announcers sometimes use them, etc. etc. Might run into some smaller devices per Dick Tracy type of events but anything like that should be blessed by a DM.
To clarify, wired communication like the telephone exists, but only works over short distances. There are no wireless forms of communication, and radio waves are an alien concept on engines, the stuff of fantasy like us talking about Star Trek stuff.
Recording audio exists, but it's a complicated process that requires large steamwork engines to hammer out the equivalent of phonograph coils, so handheld communications or even recorders don't exist.
So Telephonic technology exist. So theoretically if two divers were willing to be teathered to each other they could communicate underwater. Hard metal Helmets themselves make excellent amplifiers themselves.
It'd probably electrify the water and kill them both. You can do direct audio communication by being basically directly next to each other and tethering your helmets, but if you tried to make the tether longer than a meter, the electricity would bleed out into the water and be super dangerous, even with good insulators.
As such, most proper dive-capable suits are wired such that there's an audio jack on the back of the right (or left, your preference) glove, with a wire running up to the helmet. When you want to actually SPEAK to someone underwater, you need to be standing next to them and plug the jack firmly into the port on their helmet. Building it into the arm of the suit provides a nice reminder of the safe usable distance for this sort of thing underwater. (Basically, you can RP speaking to each other that way, if you're any further away you'd need to write on a board or use gestures)
I'd hazard that only more expensive helmets have integrated microphones and powered systems. Cheaper helms could have no electrical parts to save costs and to minimize the chance of user electrocution. Those audio-jacks would need to be properly treated against maritime corrosion and properly purged of water before just plugging in, particularly with how scarce rubber is.
That being said, holding your helmets together would also allow for basic acoustic communication if you don't mind basically bumping foreheads to talk over the ocean. It works in a vacuum.
Something that I've been curious of here since starting; Do the laws of thermodynamics as we know them have any bearing here, if so then which ones, if not then are there any guidelines for scientific understanding in such areas?
Exactly how much the game world's physics match our real world's, is intentionally left up for discovery. It is clear, however, that it's not a 100% match. I'm going to address this exclusively from the perspective of a starting player:
- There is no such thing as a set of clearly stated "laws of thermodynamics", or any game-world equivalent to our real world one. Generally, assume science is near mid/late 18th century levels.
- Thermal radiation and conduction are known concepts.
- Scientists generally accept the concept of conservation of energy, even if it's not called as such.
- "Entropy" is not a word going around in scientific circles, but engine efficiency is sure known, and no one has been able to build a perpetual motion machine. However, that doesn't stop people from trying.
- Scientists have not discovered an analogue to the third law. Consider that in our real world it was discovered in the early 20th century. There's no guarantee, though, that it will ever be discovered, or that it is true for the game world.
That said, it is quite obvious that some things such as electromagnetism behave very differently.
I'm not sure if this has been answered before, but how well-known are basic chemistry laws in this time period? Exothermic and endothermic reactions, Avogadro's Law, the fundamental states of matter, etc.
As stated before a few times, the natural sciences, particularly physics and chemistry, don't work the same way they do in real life. When in doubt, assume a level of mastery by academics that is equivalent to turn of the 20th century (aka early 1900s) science. If you want to know about specific laws and theorems, you're probably going overboard with minutiae.
One major exception that's known, however, is that the level of entropy in a system grows exponentially compared to real life, and that due to this it's extremely difficult to conserve energy (even in a closed system) or have controlled and predictable results with combustion. This is part of why the internal combustion engine was never invented, because the science behind it just doesn't work, even though all the primary components (pistons, oil, etc) exist.
Conversely their ability to manipulate and predict the flow of electricity vastly exceeds where we were at (arguably, depending on if you believe the tales about Tesla), and it is ironically much more easily conducted through a lot of things, including the atmosphere and the ground, but at the same time that same issue of entropy and a lack of conservation of energy means that there aren't any good and reliable conductors that can carry it over long distances. Copper wire is more resistant than real life, and heat is generated more quickly along a circuit. This is why they can have crazy lightning gloves and lightning rod weapons, but still don't have long distance communications by wire or, you know, really extensive power grids.