Bleak World has approximately a late medieval/early Renaissance level of technology: there is no gunpowder (so no muskets or cannons), most transportation is still via horse, but they do have fairly advanced ships. Trade is fairly advanced, generally by ship, using port cranes to lift cargo to warehouses on docks. Wind and water mills are in use. Steel is used for the best weapons and armor. Major cities have hospitals, universities, and theaters. The printing press has not been invented yet, so books are still written by hand. Textiles are woven on the loom in small factories of ten to twenty weavers. Buildings are made of wood, brick, or stone. Large cities have sewers, aqueducts and public fountains, though in-door plumbing hasn't been developed yet. Glass windows are still rare and used only in temples and in the homes of the wealthy. The wealthy travel in open or closed carriages.

Most people in Bleak World are rural peasants, though there is a growing number of landless urban laborers. In any case, 90% of the population is poor to destitute, living from day to day. There is a growing middle class of merchants and guild members (masons, carpenters, vintners, textile manufacturers, etc.) though it is still relatively powerless as a political group. The masses are still dominated by the landed lords and ladies who generally provide the military with officers and the government with politicians. It is possible for peasants to acquire power through the various temples (especially the state temple), through distinguished military service, through membership in a guild, or through the arcane universities.

The people of Bleak World have not pursued technology further than they have in part because of the existence of magic. Magic is a tricky, finicky thing, largely dependent on the skill and temperament of the caster, so it still has its limitations. Highly specialized schools have been created to teach promising students a limited range of magical effects. Magic is employed by the military, by the secret service, and by various other organizations.

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