Welcome back to our Worldbuilding Journal series, where we try to create an entirely new world based on prompts from the Worldbuilding Journal published by Wizards of the Coast. The world we have created is so far centred upon the magical city of Cadameria. We’d previously tackled the Cadamerian Black Markets (even got a story written about that) and the inns and taverns of Cadameria. The setting in which Cadameria is a part of has yet to be named for now, but we do know the place is a city of magic, which is used by way of a special ore called Glintstone which can hold, transmute, and release charges, creating wondrous effects. Along the way we met an assassin, smoked a hookah courtesy of a culture foreign to Cadameria, and watched as a Grand Magus of the Schola Arcanum met a gruesome end.
I dream of the day when that recap gets so long it takes a whole blog post to cover all we’ve done. Baby steps…
So let’s continue by looking at the next prompt in the journal:
Think about a child who has been affected by the actions of you or your party. How did crossing paths with you change this child’s life? Perhaps you accidentally burned down their village or saved the child from a monster’s attack. What is this child like, as a result, when they grow up?
At first glance, this seems like more of an adventure prompt than a worldbuilding one, but the questions asked actually refer to childhood and growing up. Or, in other words – what is childhood like in Cadameria?
Before we consider abnormal childhoods like the ones in the prompt, we need a baseline – a rough idea of what we consider to be a normal childhood in Cadameria. We might also consider this question through the stages of a child’s development – infant, toddler, primary schooler and finally teenager – and what is expected of a child in each of those development stages.
I can’t say what a normal mediaeval child goes through in life, but I imagine it’s different based on economic and social background. Noble children might be able to afford schooling, for example, while peasant children probably did a lot of manual labour. But it seems to me that there is a similar thread across all cultures and backgrounds when it comes to childhood – that childhood is the time to learn how to be an adult.
Thinking about it, this makes a lot of sense. In our world, the modern 21st century earth, a normal childhood consists of going to school, learning lessons and about the world we find ourselves in. The same goes for the noble child, who needs to be taught in the ways of nobility to navigate politics, and for the peasant child, who needs to learn their fathers’ trades in order to be able to work and provide for his family later on. Hell, this is the same with animals too. Kittens play a lot to learn how to pounce and catch prey. All of this is in aid of allowing the child to function as a normal member of society.
Since we’ve assumed a lot about Cadamerian society being the same as earth’s with the exception of magical effects, it would make sense that children would grow up differently with the existence of Glintstone. Children would need to know what it is and how to use it at the very least. Furthermore, we’ve also established in the Black Markets prompt that this is a society that loves magic and is always seeking more of it. Parents (usually) want the best for their children, and thus, the best thing for Cadamerian children…would be to join the Schola Arcanum.
Competition is surely fierce. You can’t just accept any kid who says ‘Mommy when I grow up I want to be a wizard’. Even with Glintstone, there’s not enough resources to go around (I just decided that). Heck, there’s not enough manpower to go around. Imagine one wizard teaching a class of a thousand unruly little brats. That’d make anyone jump on their swords. So the top tier school of choice would be the school of magic. Hogwarts, if you will, but with Glintstone instead of wands and Dementors.
And somehow I’ve created Raya Lucaria in my setting.
One thing hasn’t changed here. The Schola Arcanum Apprentice Academy is usually dominated by nobles, or the nouveau riche, or the children of anyone who has made great contributions to the Schola Arcanum. Think less Hogwarts and more Eden Academy from Spy X Family. Everybody and their mums are loaded here.
So does that mean that the children of the peasantry are reduced to shovelling turnips and wrangling cattle instead of studying in the Academy? Unfortunately, yes. Of course, the Academy does not actively prohibit children of a lower class from enrolling, but the fact of the matter is that there simply is no room for them once the political contributions and connections are used up, to say nothing of the exorbitant fees. So what is left for them? They pick a trade, of course. They follow in their fathers’ footsteps, becoming peasants themselves. Sounds unfair, but such is life.
Now here’s a question. I’m wondering if there is such a thing as a ‘middle class’ in Cadameria. Hang on while I do a quick google on how a middle class is created.
Okay, I’m back. So as I understand it (and I did a very, very perfunctory google search, so I may be completely wrong about this) the middle class came about because of capitalism – there were new opportunities for entrepreneurship afforded to the peasants who were able to rise above, though still not as powerful as proper nobles. This makes sense, and can fit in Cadameria. The people of the city love magic, and the advent of Glintstone has had a great benefit on society. Therefore, those who can discover new applications of old stones can definitely rise above and form a new ‘middle class’, as it were, of people who benefit from their inventions. In other words, in Cadameria, the ‘inventors’ are the middle class.
I am not just thinking of inventors in the sense of them constantly trying to invent new things, but also inventors in the sense of them creating new business opportunities, or entrepreneurs. Say a new Glint charge is invented that converts fire into movement – boom, horseless carriages. That would make its inventor a rich man. Guess who else is rich? The merchant who deals in said Glint. Both of them now belong to the nouveau riche, the up and coming movers and shakers without a drop of noble blood in them – the middle class.
This actually makes me reconsider Cadamerian society. I had in mind a stereotypical ‘mediaeval’ fantasy society, but clearly that can’t be the case. Not with inventors as a middle class. I’m starting to think that this is an early modern era, corresponding to the renaissance or Napoleonic wars. People still rode horses and used swords but guns and steam engines weren’t unheard of. The difference is Glintstone. In our world we arrived at the Renaissance after advancements in science and learning more about how the world worked – Cadameria arrived at their renaissance via the usage of Glint.
As a small aside, I am actually of the opinion that we as a society have had our technological growth outpace our society. We have technology that allows us to communicate a lot of information across the world instantaneously, but not the capability to learn how to communicate with those people properly. So let’s put that philosophy in our world. Cadameria is a society that is mediaeval in its thinking, but has the technology of the Renaissance world. I’m not sure what that means for now, but it’s something I could keep in mind as we continue to explore Cadameria.
So what about middle class children (that took a long time to get to)? If they can afford it, sure. If their parents supply certain Glintstone charges to the Schola, sure. But what of those who could have afforded it but for some reason were deemed not capable of enrolling, or the yearly quota was already met and they just got unlucky? The middle class would want education for their children still. They know how important it is. Obviously, there would be a less prestigious school for these children, and this school might be one that caters to peasant children whose parents can afford an education as well. They’ll learn stuff that can help them be part of Cadamerian society, learning things like Glintstone usage and other trades helpful to the city. Sort of like a technical school…The Cadamerian Technical School.
We haven’t touched on the issue given by the prompt – that of children with less than normal opportunities such as orphans or unwanted children. We also haven’t considered what kind of futures would be possible for graduates from the two schools. That will be the subject of next week’s worldbuilding post, I think. This one has already run a bit longer than expected – no thanks to the many asides and considerations of Cadamerian society, but that’s kind of what a prompt does. It makes you ask questions of your setting that you haven’t. I’m excited to see where we go from here, so check back often (and leave a comment) if you’re interested to see more!