Friday, April 18, 2008

STRANGE EONS: Society

The thing to remember about Strange Eons, is that its a world at the end of a truly enormous history. Reminders of mans space-faring accomplishments and technological achievements are everywhere. Ruins of ancient cities and grounded starships litter the landscape in many regions, and in some cases comprise all available living space.
Mankind lives beneath the shadow of so much history that he feels overwhelmed at times. There is so much history to slog through, that most people don't care to bother, leaving the cataloging of history to archivist robots.

Population
Long past are the days of enormous cities filled to bursting with human life. Now mankind lives in far flung city states and remote villages and tribes. As the years pass, there are less and less true humans being born, as this once mighty race comes to a slow end.
Some planetary Oracles (clerics) claim that mankind's vitality is linked with the life-force of her mother world Gaia, and as she drifts into a final sleep so shall mankind dwindle. It is postulated that mankind must either seek to revitalize her (a daunting task), or bind themselves more fully with another world spirit. Most prefer to do nothing, and so mankind dwindles.
Certain "breeds" of human are more populous than others, as their livelihoods and numbers are a subject of resources and are force-bred. Other breeds, living wild and untamed lives have recaptured some of mans ancient zest for life, but are brutal versions of mankind, more animal than anything else.

Morality
The "civilized" people of Strange Eons have given in to a sort of decadent apathy, lacking strong enough feelings about grisly acts of depravity. Dreadful acts such as slavery, torture, public bloodsport and even occasional cannibalism (of "lesser" breeds of humanoid of course), are not readily rejected.
Amongst wizards and sorcerers, this apathy often takes the form of a "scientific" detachment. This allows them to take part in the most obscene despoiling of a person or creature out of mere curiosity.
Strangely enough, it is the barbarian who most often rejects such acts as evil, going out of his way to destroy would-be practitioners of such acts. Many barbarian tribes see this apathy as a sure sign of the evils of civilization.
Strong alignment is rare in regards to Good or Evil, though the more seriously apathetic could be considered Evil. Rather most "civilized" folk tend towards Lawful Neutrality, or even true Neutrality.

Government
Large empires are a thing of the past for most folks, with city-states the most often seen governmental system, though some will be quite large. All such city-states will be ruled by one or more predominant families, who themselves are beholding to powerful wizards in some way.
Conflict and rivalry between city-states is common, with raids, sabotage and outright war fairly common. The reasons for this can be virtually anything, from bloodlust and vengeance to a real or imagined insult. Life is cheap in this era.
Some traveling cultures exist, living their entire lives in motion up and down the rivers or coastline, or between worlds in spacecraft. These will be handled in later postings.

Nobles
Quite different from the petty kings of savage regions (who are little more than peasants), the "true" nobles of Strange Eons are the result of many generations of careful breeding and culture. These rulers of men, are the aristocratic elite, who exist in splendor and decadence amidst the fruits of their ancestors labors, while the common man drudges on.
Nobles rule through force of might, often coupled with technological and/or magical support. The greatest of rulers are those with magical abilities, either Wizards or Sorcerers or perhaps Clerics (though the last is rare). Access to some ancient tech is also a plus, though having such a device will likely result in a powerful spellcaster coming to take it for himself.


The Common Man
The common man of Strange Eons is surprisingly skeptical, despite being quasi-medieval in culture. Even magic is often assumed to be some marvel of forgotten technology than a supernatural force. Despite this skepticism, commoners rarely know more than the simplest versions about the past,
This doesn't mean that the common folk lack a sense of wonder, its just that they posses a sort of stiff-necked practicality that makes them haughty in the face of "superstition".
The common folk of different regions and worlds are very different in many ways, but all live simple, short, hard lives of toil. Dangerous creatures both wild and domestic haunt their world, but they trudge on regardless. Technology is between that of 14th-16th century Europe, but can be considerably more primitive.

Guilds
Powerful organizations of common craftsmen, the guilds hold tremendous power. Within city-states, the guilds control all craftsmen, meting out harsh justice on "freelance" craftsmen. Individual guilds all control their own specialized lore and maintain histories of their craft. Often, it is guildsmen who are the best equipped to maintain ancient technology, and in some cases beild new versions of old designs.
Some guilds are: Alchemists, Apothecaries, Beast Handlers, Blacksmith and Metal-workers, Brewers, Coachmen, Cobblers, Furriers, Guardsmen, Leather Workers, Librarians, Machinists, Navigators, Shipwrights, Slavers and many others.
Obviously, hunter-gathering cultures have no need for guilds, and thus Barbarian types don't know what to make of the guilds.

Barbarians
Far from the cultural centers and city states, savage tribes of humans and other beings hold to different lays and customs. Few barbarian peoples know anything about mans past achievements, living for the now in violent splendour. It should come as no surprise that barbarians are far more vital and prone to strong populations than "civilized" peoples, though their exuberant lives are far shorter.
Barbarians are particularly prevelent upon Dione (Mars) and Tethys (Venus) though they differ greatly in physical makeup. Barbarian religion often denounces all arcane magic as evil, and a few advocate orders of wizard slayers.
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I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light
-- Henry Vaughan