Certain factors heavily impact the tool-using human civilization on Maroon. Chief among them is the much greater reactivity of metals of any appreciable mass. Iron, copper, nickel, tin, and other common ores of metals are highly dangerous to smelt, refine, and even mine. This has hindered the development of industrial technology in Vindulan. But human ingenuity has solved some of the problems this wrinkle posed for the formerly starfaring settlers.
The early settlers endured the seasons poorly (see Calendar). The heat of the Firewalking and the chill of the Frostwalking led them to adopt sod, mud, and later brick structures for insulation against the extremes of Maroon's seasons. Their tools had to be refashioned out of the less reactive materials available- stone worked with flint, wood & other plant fibers, bone, glass, terra cotta, and the diminishing supply of prefabricated plastics they had brought with them. These materials are still in common use throughout Vindulan.
The key to the development of an alternative to metals in fashioning durable and effective tools lay in the nature of the riverbeds of Maroon. The abundance of river clay, and the formation of the clay pebblebeds that preserved the flow of water even in the height of the Firewalking inspired a new, less labor intensive and lighter weight method of insulating shelters against the elemental forces: wood painted with clay slip, or keramika.
Keramika became the material of choice for fabricating tools, and especially weapons and armor. The river clay forms as hard as steel but lighter by half, and will take a longer-lasting edge, though it is somewhat more brittle. The arms of the Beacon are uniformly high grade keramika, crafted in the Queensforge, and keramica-painted leather and shields offer excellent protection against barb, claw, and fang, as well as insulating the wearer from elemental surges in the Walking days. Such items are not common among the general populace; Queensforged arms and armor are reserved for Beacon soldiers. The main supply of the river clay along the Vindulan outflow is tightly controlled and directed to the Queensforge, but traders have traveled far and wide to find other sources of it, including refining silt and sand from the Abrachan Desert beyond the Thousand Thrones. Quality varies by the manufacturer, but keramika tools and weapons are generally a cut above the more usual implements.
Mechanical note: weapons, armor, and tools made with keramika have a durability score.
- Weapons and tools: each critical failure (or a roll of 1 on a d20) while using them decreases their durability score by 1. When a tool or weapon's durability is equal or less than half its maximum durability, any attack rolls or skill checks are made with Disadvantage.
- Armor: each confirmed critical hit made on a piece of armor decreases its durability score by 1. When an armor's durability is equal or less than half its maximum durability, any attack rolls made against it are made with Advantage.
Once an item's durability score reaches zero, it is irreparably broken and unusable except as an improvised weapon or tool.
The material coming out of the Abrachan wastes is a misnomer: Abrachan steel is actually glass smelted in a complex, laborious process which is itself a secret closely guarded by the Free Lander tinkers who settled on the far side of the Thousand Thrones. An implement made of Abrachan steel is said to be as supple as steel itself, far less brittle than keramika, and possessed of curious, mythical properties. Very few individuals outside the settlement of its origin have ever wielded an Abrachan warblade or worn plate made of it, but the nobility among the mages of the Cincture are often gifted with daggers as a token of the peaceful relationship they share.