Author Topic: Letters, letter-carriers, and carrying information in Kavis  (Read 1286 times)

Jubal

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Letters, letter-carriers, and carrying information in Kavis
« on: December 08, 2023, 12:19:01 PM »
Letters and letter-carriers

Information movement is key to any society and to possible quests or games within it. As such, some notes on how it works in a Kavyne context.

People across many societies do write letters, but papyri and parchments aren't cheap options - most of the time, messages will be memorised and carried by whoever is deemed trustworthy and travelling between places. In some cases, a short letter giving an official instruction or charter will be accompanied by a much longer memorised message. For more important messages, leaders will send a trusted servant of their own rather than entrusting it to a merchant. Long-distance information movement is largely a matter for merchants, travellers, and the elite - most people simply get information about nearby areas via herdsmen or local traders walking to markets and any information about things further afield is transmitted via the most literate local individuals (priests, lords, heirophants, monks, etc).

Letters, being a little expensive, can be matters of status, often written in order to show off or make an impression, and perhaps also to be displayed - indeed, writing a physical letter can be a favour to a minor local subordinate, giving them a way to show off a higher leader's favour. The Heirophancy uses lead or occasionally even silver seals to enclose documents, and coloured ribbons and inks are common across different cultures: the Alasian and Cenican high kings tend in particular to use a reserved-for-royalty deep blue dye. Generally letters are written on parchment (in the north

Merchants are generally trusted as information carriers, but this varies by culture and by merchant - those with predictable routes who make regular annual journeys are often trusted much more than total strangers. Around the Dragonfly Sea in the Heirophancy, Palictara, Tullactara, Dulshan and Camahay, the Order of Whisperers are monks who are often particularly highly trusted, much more so than traders. Alasians . In the Dwarf republics, the republics share a common postal service, with each city-state maintaining their part of a wider network of runners and beacons. In parts of the Heirophancy there are also networks of stables for information riders, but these are solely for use by the Heirophants and thus for religious, bureaucratic or military post.

People have some ways of transmitting more secret information: basic codes like caesar ciphers are known but mostly used by larger armies around the Dragonfly Sea with access to significant papyrus resources. More commonly, code words or phrases to double-check identities are common, or regular and pre-arranged meetup places, to make it harder to simply impersonate a messenger. This also makes the use of trusted servants or regularly present traders more reliable: being already known to all parties, they are much harder to impersonate.

Implications for interacting with message carrying

Travellers and adventurers often aren't the most likely people to be entrusted with a vital message or letter, because they're unlikely to be well known to the people in question (exceptions if they are or can reliably pose as a Whisperer), but they might well be hired as protection for someone who is being so entrusted.

The use of memorisation as a norm for message carrying means that those who wish to intercept a message (as opposed to an official document) usually need to take the messenger alive. This provides an additional layer of difficulty when doing so - besides the issue of persuading the messenger to hand over such information. Guards, in particularly high secrecy messages, might be instructed to kill the messenger over and above letting them fall into the wrong hands.

The use of metal seals in the heirophancy adds a possible additional type of plausible clue - unlike a wax seal, a lead seal cannot easily be destroyed even if the document attached to it has been cut open or stolen, so if it was pulled off in a hurry this might be a useful lead on a mystery of some kind.
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