“Getting a secret out of dwarf is like finding a virgin in Toledo.” – Domingo
[This is all scratch-work, comeback and organize later. – DM]
Spider –tea sounds delightful in an absinthe kind of way. Can you imagine the trade in spider-teas and the difficulty in harvesting the same? You may have hit upon your own “black lotus,” channeling Howard? You/we (I am trying not to overstep my bounds) could do an entire adventure regarding a caravan of spider-tea merchants or the harvesting/peon abuse/slave trade/rebellion regarding the same. I can smell the pleasure gardens of the nobles and the Dons with their fine ladies and hand servants funded by drawish gold and gems and the spider-tea trade. Should spider- tea be semi-narcotic or even illegal?
Class identification – dwarves use gold regularly and jewels in clothes, armaments, etc.. Silver is used by the Dons predominantly. A Don wearing gold is newly rich or a new Lord “made” by the dwarf nobility. Phrases like “wearing your silver” or “wearing his gold” can be insults or compliments. Men have died on the end of Domingo’s rapier for less.
Just a crazy but fun thought. Since we are not on earth, giant road runners as horses. Giant coyotes as predators for them in the deep sand of the Bastard. Some of the road runners have been domesticated but there could be entire herds of them running wild in the plains beyond or bordering the Bastard. Our fearless caberros wrangle these creatures. What is a good name for a giant road runner that is as good as mustang or palomino? A cockblade, cockcourier, cockrunner, warblrunner , warunner, nestrunner? Unfortunately I do not have any giant road runner miniatures (I have an ass load of horses).
Fuck yes. Giant ostriches — Hawkstriders. I was actually already planning on giant goats — but there’s nothing saying there can’t be horses as well. If the birds are the dominant mount, they wouldn’t neccessarily have a name that involves their avian nature — we don’t call horses runhooves or manerunners. Why not just call them by color, like horses?
Literacy. I do not think the literacy rate would be very high. The “feeling” I have is that the dwarves are just starting to truly empire build. This is a period of expansion outward, quite literally. Thus, they will bring their science, technology, and agnosticism with them. This gives great reasons for conflict. I think certain pockets remain very literate because they have maintained their religious base. Thus, the Dons (highly influenced by the dwarf-lords to send their kids to dwarf schools, training camps etc. to get into the Emperor’s court) are quite literate, the pockets of elves who survived are probably literate. The ordinary peon, slave or villager is not, but those pueblos or villages that had a priest or priestess of the old gods(the balance) would also be the teacher of the town. Thus, those places might have a strong literacy but only outside the influence of the dwarf lords who seem to frown on organized religions. Thus, short answer:
Nobles and Dons literate
(Their immediate servants but only when necessary)
Pockets of civilization that had religious influence during the C.E.
(elves, etc. but only where there were religious orders and one of the roles was as teachers. I love the thought of savage elves “Elf Quest” like by the way)
Traders (a pretty recent phenomenon but like the Dons they find literacy necessary. The Dons and traders are social climbers of the highest order. They see what is coming. The expansion could create a whole new world or in this case, rediscovery of the old world. Does Don Domingo de Veracruz become Don in his own right in the savage old world [ a revolutionary like Che or Castro] or does he ultimately embrace his legacy as his father’s son? Is either fate two sides of the same coin? Or do you just kill him off first to prove a point? Hmmm] )
Bards are definitely literate. It makes all the things they have to remember easier. It is a natural outgrowth of creating art. Also our bards seem to be forming into a loose organization of contracted spies, explorers, guides, and reporters. I know you do not know this yet and I have not approached it in my stories but how organized are the bards? Clearly they are a tool in some way of the merchant guilds and great traders as well as the Dons , nobles and other high-end patrons but are they pony express riders who can sing or do they become that. Another hmmm?
Idea: Druids – old scholars and academics, those nature worshipping guys, record the annals of the seasons and animals lost scrolls and books? Worshippers of the old gods (the balance would seem to fit them nicely). They can read.
Sharing. Of course you can share whatever is helpful (in your opinion) with others.
Dagon’s Lake. I imagine Dagon’s Lake much like Robert E. Howard imagined it in the Bran Mak Morn story. Large, glassy flat, black, and deathly quiet. Somehow I see it accessible by bird but in an inaccessible location (like Peachtree City, ha!) where people or other unnamable things have “to mean to go there.” There are no trade routes, roads or paths to it. Not natural paths anyway. Bards, priests, and certain nobles might actually have been there. Is it a myth that became a real place or a real place that became a myth? Clearly bad things in it or a gate way to another world. But more on that later. Damned if I’d go swimming there under a full moon – if I could even find it. A kind of place that you find either completely randomly or sometimes it finds you.