A: The paladin would not be as out of place as you might imagine. The assumption is that the development of ergeonite and powered equipment is relatively new and growing; the culture is in a process of flux, but it hasn't changed that much yet. There can still be roles like that of paladins, which would be a reminder of the things of the past that might be lost as society moves forward.
A: Scattershot would work – sort of like a blunderbuss. Chain shot might be possible; you might have to invent it. Grenades, probably not. It might be possible to invent such a thing, but it would be hard. I think it took a really long time for people to develop grenades after gunpowder was common in Europe.
A: Hand-guns and hand-cannons are a lot more like an arquebus than a rifled musket. You load an ergeonite shard before the adventure, then drop a ball down the muzzle. There isn’t any wadding, and no rod, because the barrel is larger than the ball. Then when the ogre is in front of you, you pull the trigger, sparking the ergeonite, and blasting the ball out the muzzle in an instant. The muzzle will heat up and expand, and smoke will blast out of the muzzle and from the barrel itself. As the ball is slightly larger than the barrel, it can actually go slightly off-center, which explains why your roll of 1 just shot your group's lead character in the back of his shoulder. The gun will be stressed, warm, and unusable for about 10 hours. Assuming you both survive, you might want to consider an apology and possibly a gift of liquid refreshment.
A: Sort of a mix - London in 1848: There is a lot of development of new, exciting things, and a realization that things that used to be impossible are becoming possible. Amsterdam in 1600: The possibility of new forms of trade and travel, and the changing political structures and situations. Paris in 1200: Many areas have growing, powerful states, with vigorous social groups that have a strong historical basis and are expanding their influence. And for many/most of the population, their lives haven’t been affected by the drastic changes occurring so far in a small part of society. There are also racial differences – the dwarves started the use of ergeonite, and have integrated the new technology a lot more widely than humans.
A: We had thought about three non-human races that might be player characters – half-elves, dwarves, and halflings. Each would get bonuses in one area at the cost of at least two others. If you have any other suggestions, let me know.
A: Only according to your totally unreliable Uncle Ruloff who insisted he had seen someone move a beer glass with his mind, right after Uncle Ruloff had finished his ninth glass himself.
A: I would think so, if you are really, really careful – if you didn’t know exactly what you are doing, you could blow yourself up trying to compress the material.
A: I have to admit, I never thought of that. Probably your stomach acids would cause it to blow up in your stomach?
A: Ergeonite is triggered by fire or pressure. This does make trying to extract, refine, or work with the material very technical.
A: It is making iron/steel more common, and metal construction is starting to occur.
A: Maybe there could be, if someone invented one...
A: Electricity is not in use.
A: There is still the possibility of meeting a Themearch, or one of its creations. But it is now very, very rare. As the party is expected to be on the good side, not the evil, life-sucking side, I am afraid your friend will probably not be able to play a necromancer.
A: Taxes are different in different areas of the Outlands. In Devorem, the central plains, taxes are primarily on land. In the EastMarch and Southland, taxes are primarily on import/export, and a tax on sales. In Durendal, taxes are only use fees – most government services are provided by the paladins using the revenue from the order’s holdings. In Home and the Gates, the Dwarves have fees on trade, (mostly on non-Dwarves), and the clans take care of their own. In the Western Mountains, taxes are usually donations by those who can afford it. In times of war or crisis, there is sometimes a head tax, and social pressure for the wealthy to donate a percentage, often a significant percentage of their property to the state.
A: The Jho fire religion is not well known by non-adherents. It came with the Jho and the Jho make no effort to spread it to others. It has spread to the BirA and others who want Jho support. You don’t know of any texts, or much of their core beliefs except that the fire god is really important. Inside the temples are said to be fires that are always burning, and the religious rituals are rumored to include fires and wild dancing. Elves and dwarves are forbidden to attend.
A: It is possible, and imbuing ceramics is a skill. It is probably a lot more reliable than oil or water.
A: Elvish is the usual language of learning. Dwarvish is pretty much the same everywhere. The Empire speaks Imperial, which is rapidly gaining a bunch of Jho loan-words. The most common language of the Outlands and the Kalosian states is similar enough to be intelligible. The Southern continent has two main language groups, and there are half a dozen on the Elvish continent. In the outlands, practically every language is spoken somewhere.
A: It isn’t. Since we aren’t all together, I will have the board and figures set up here, with the computer camera showing the board. Directions will be set at the start for right, left, forward, and back. When moving on the board, you will state your move, and I will move it. For example, you will state “3 forward, 1 left, face left”. I will move the figure. You will point out that left is the other way. I will correct the figure’s location. It is a clumsy system, but cheaper than plane tickets.
A: Check the Power spells list.
A: Stayed tuned...
A: Multiple masts are back – they were common in the First through Third Eras, then mostly dropped out in the Fourth, and are back in use. You have never seen an ironclad, or heard of one. Lime juice is common, and cheaper than a cure disease spell.
A: You have never heard of an actual case of such a thing, or met anyone who ever has. For almost anyone you ask, they will say that the answer is no. A fair number of magicians will inform you that they are quite capable of communicating over large distances. And many other things. They just aren’t doing them at the moment. But they certainly could if they wanted to.