Arnâron is a dying world, its glorious days long gone. Like life itself, civilization clings on desperately, and has been in a downwards spiral of famines, fatigue, and war related fatalities for centuries. In such a desperate situation, knowledge and technology are of the utmost importance to survival, but on the other hand a lot of “unnecessary” knowledge is lost as other things take priority.
How much, then, do the people of Arnâron know about their own past?
When we try to answer this question, we must distinguish between the learned scholars and the common people. In every remaining civilized society, there are those who know a lot of facts about the planet and the old societies – this knowledge is handed from one generation to the next because it could become useful in the constant wars. These learned men know about a lot of technology – for example about the great war machines that the ancestors used. In many cases they couldn’t build any of it, even if they had the resources – all the technical details have been lost. So for example, a scholar may know about nuclear physics, rockets, atom bombs, combat walkers, ray guns, and so on, but even if he’s given the full support of a nation he won’t be able to send men to the moons unless he rediscovers a lot of basic science and technology first. Likewise, a scholar will know of nuclear weapons as “terrible bombs that harnessed the power of the atom to devastate an entire city”, but he doesn’t know how it was achieved – what the “power of the atom” exactly is.
That’s what the experts know – the historians who deal with such matters regularly. The common people know much less. They know that their people were much more powerful in the past, and roughly what was possible back then. Compare it to what the average person in our time knows about, say, the middle ages. Ask them and they’ll list castles, and knights, and swords, sieges and the crusades, but they couldn’t tell historically accurate details, and they certainly wouldn’t, for example, know how to build a crossbow. The example isn’t the best, but I think it illustrates the principle.