In my low-fantasy setting there is a civilization of blind people living in a very safe and isolated region of the world. Thinking about how this civilization could have developed throughout the centuries I realized that many alternative development paths not requiring sight involve very flammable materials. For example:
- Housing. Since development of metallurgy is hindered by the lack of sight, and this also means lacking the necessary tools for other types of advanced crafts (masonry included), they live inside buildings made of wood and animal skins and various types of fabric.
- Settlement mobility. How can they know what buildings are around them, where other people live, where to turn along the road? By having signs based not on a written language, but on a smell based language instead. And this means a lot of plants to grow the flowers needed for those smells.
- Indoor orientation. How can you move inside a closed space where having too many smells would be confusing? By being barefoot and following carpets made of different fabrics, related to some sort of touch-based convention.
Fire would be a disaster for most of these things, not only for the risk of everything catching fire, but also because of the smoke covering other smells. Then I realized that blind people have no need to use fire for one of its main uses: providing light. They would just need for heat. So, is there some alternative way to heat the buildings?
In my low-fantasy setting there is no magic way to do it. I thought that they could build settlements in places with geothermal activity, but geothermal energy comes with a strong smell of rotten egg that could create a lot of other issues for them. Any other ideas?