The Culture Forge

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The Culture Forge

Post by Kingmaker » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:41 am

Taking a cue from Shroomy, I'm going to use this thread to post shorts and bits of flash fiction detailing various aspects of world culture, such as sports, religion, art, and so on. The idea is to build up the setting in a more flavorful way that encyclopedia entries. There probably won't be any terribly constant thread running through them, aside from being set near the setting's present day.

The standard format is going to be a bit of short flavor fiction followed by a more standard entry detailing the subject of the post.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
-Rudyard Kipling

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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Kingmaker » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:45 am

The Automata Combat League

There was a dull flash of pain and a screech of tearing metal. I saw my arm on the sand of the arena, arcaulic wires and clockwork gears spilling out of the severed limb. Without even thinking, I slammed my remaining arm into my opponent’s bronze chest, sending him reeling back. I pushed myself to my feet and let loose a deafening mechanical roar at Hector Talos, my opponent. Too much was riding on this battle for me to lose. I pushed aside all the pain and exhaustion of the past five matches and threw all of my will into making my body move. Arcane radiance shone from the runes covering my steel skin. Above me, the stands roared as the crowds realized the battle was coming to an end. I paused for a moment to drink in their adulation before hefting my axe and charging at Hector. If I’d had any blood it would have been pounding as I crossed the sand towards the bronze-clad automata. Like me, he had lost an arm, but the odds were far from even. I could practically smell the fear coming off him. He had made a good show, but we both knew who was better.

“You’re mine now, Hector!” I screamed as I brought my axe down. He feebly tried to block, but I hooked his sword on the beard of my axe and wrenched the weapon away. A shoulder slam knocked him to the ground, and I stomped on his outstretched hand, pinning it in place while I hacked off the arm it was attached to. Again, the crowd screamed with awe and excitement. One final blow severed the limb and the bell sounded, ending the match. With no arms, Hector couldn’t go on fighting. I thrust my axe skyward and let loose another deafening roar, basking in the adulation of the crowd. This was what truly living felt like. I pitied the people in the stands around me for the banality of their lives.

And then the pain and exhaustion vanished as my soul was pulled back into its real body, leaving only the exhilaration of victory. I sat in impatient silence while technicians unhooked me from the psycho-projector, the arcane device that made the battle possible. I leapt out of my seat as soon as they finished, eager to go claim the spoils of my success. First there was the inevitable awards ceremony where I’d spout off whatever speech my press agent feed into my mouth. Then there was the real celebration, as every nightclub and restaurant opened their doors to me, the victorious champion. The best drugs, booze, and food in the world’s best city were mine for the taking.

As I emerged into the light of the photothaumic lamps that lit Tarres at night, I was joined by my usual aura of security and media experts. I spotted Tania Islanova, the red-haired, obsidian-skinned beauty that was Automata Combat League reporter for the Shaft oculspex network. Shaft had managed to keep its monopoly on ‘casting the Automata Combat League, meaning that I was spared the usual deluge of shouting journalists that would have greeted most championship-winning athletes. Instead, all I had to deal with was Islanova and her kinospex, plus a handful of print journalists. And dealing with Islanova was hardly a chore. I towered over her—she was a ratri, a nocturnal abhuman that rarely stood more than five and a half feet—giving me a perfect view down her rather immodest blouse. A subtle jab from my press agent reminded me to stop staring at the eye candy and focus on the questions.



The Automata Combat League is a wildly popular international sports organization based around mock battles between possessed automata. It is based in the Republic of Tyrre, though it draws entrants from across the world. It is also one of the most valuable sports in the world, drawing in billions of Tyrran solidii every year in advertising, ticket-sales, and merchandising. Most major corporations clamor to sponsor popular Ingenitors (automata jockeys), and association with the world-champion ingenitor is a near-guaranteed boost in sales. Oculspex broadcasting, on the other hand, is limited entirely to Shaft Network, which has fought tooth and nail for over a decade to keep a monopoly on its broadcasts. Alternative media outlets also make the bouts available, but almost all of them are of questionable legality.

Though there are other sorts of bouts, the ACL revolves around the one-on-one fights between prominent Ingenitors and their automata (most of which are 2-3 meters in height). Rather than control the automata remotely, the Ingenitors use a type of arcane device, called a psycho-projector, to temporarily implant their souls within their constructs. This allows for somewhat faster reaction times, and amplifies the importance of willpower and skill over superior equipment, while still keeping the Ingenitors safer than if they were to attempt riding their constructs. Nevertheless, there is a constant attempt to acquire equipment superior to the opposition, and equipment costs for an Ingenitor’s construct usually hover around seven digits annually, on top of the often staggering repair bill required for a full stable of constructs between matches. A typical Ingenitor will have four or five constructs available, allowing multiple matches to be held in quick succession. Firearms and other long-ranged projectile weapons are banned, limiting the Ingenitors to fighting with melee weapons and very short-ranged projectiles like drillspears and flamethrowers.

Being a successful Ingenitor is a difficult task, and only a tiny fraction of aspiring pilots make it out of the wreck pits, where unskilled competitors and amateurs fight with cheap, remotely-controlled clockworks in larger-scale battles. The turnover rate for pit fighters is extremely high, as aspiring contestants get burnt out by the constant action. On top of that, the most successful of pit fighters are put up against Ingenitors in many-versus-one matches to let the Ingenitor show off. However, making it out of the pits guarantees an eight digit salary and the respect and admiration of adolescent boys the world over, even for the worst of Ingenitors.

The majority of Ingenitors are Tyrran, which has drawn accusations of bias in the selection from international fans of the league. The selection committee has been quick to point out the largest share of applications come from Tyrre, and there has been no investigation into possible corruption in the selection process. Furthermore, the mostly-male Ingenitors have a reputation for arrogance and anti-social behaviors, and more than one Ingenitor has seen their career go down in flames as a result of one too many assault or rape accusations. The most recent World Champion Ingenitor was Aias Lacona, winning a series of mostly one-sided victories over his opponent Hector Talos. Though billed as a “Duel of the Dorians”, Lacona is a third-generation child of Dorian immigrants and Talos is not Dorian at all. This sort of exaggerated and duplicitous advertising is all too common in the world of the ACL, where the sheer popularity of the sport prevents any substantial investigations into fraud or abuse.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
-Rudyard Kipling

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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Booted Vulture » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:42 am

Now, that is a mad mix; bloodsport without the blood. Like metal sport! machine-oil-sport! A mix of vicious Russel Crowe style gladiatorial combat mixed with Robot Wars

What are the consequences of burning out in the wannabe up and comers? Does it just mean they can't pilot robots any more or do they suffer more serious medical conditions like actual Death?
Ah Brother! It's been too long!

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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:58 pm

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

I wonder if the Automata themselves are sponsored. I mean, some corporation making the stab-resistant skin, other companies making the unbreakable bones, and pharmaceuticals providing the acid spit or dental associations giving 'em sharpened teeth, and car companies providing for turbocharged mechani-cardiovascular systems, and other guys sponsoring the artificial musculatures and badass hydraulics systems. These Automata could be totally decked out in advertisements while they beat the ever living crap out of each other!

You mention "temporarily" transfering their souls, which kind of makes 'soul' analogous to conscience in the context of these avatars. Can one permanently transfer his soul into machines? And does the military have this technology also, for Automata soldiers?
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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Kingmaker » Mon Feb 01, 2010 6:35 pm

What are the consequences of burning out in the wannabe up and comers? Does it just mean they can't pilot robots any more or do they suffer more serious medical conditions like actual Death?
Psychological burnout, mostly. Using a psycho-projector has no significant side effects, but constantly getting your dreams crushed in the most humiliating and painful way possible is not good for the mental health.
I wonder if the Automata themselves are sponsored. I mean, some corporation making the stab-resistant skin, other companies making the unbreakable bones, and pharmaceuticals providing the acid spit or dental associations giving 'em sharpened teeth, and car companies providing for turbocharged mechani-cardiovascular systems, and other guys sponsoring the artificial musculatures and badass hydraulics systems. These Automata could be totally decked out in advertisements while they beat the ever living crap out of each other!
Oh, you know they are. Pepsimech vs Cokemech: the ultimate showdown. Whose carbonated beverage can be weaponized more easily. Tune in next week on Shaft! network to find out, after an all new episode of Treadliest Warrior (an all new show where various tanks and their crews compete to see Who! Is! Treadliest!).
You mention "temporarily" transfering their souls, which kind of makes 'soul' analogous to conscience in the context of these avatars. Can one permanently transfer his soul into machines? And does the military have this technology also, for Automata soldiers?
It is possible to transfer a soul permanently into a machine, but making such a transplant stable is considerably more difficult than using a device or spell to temporarily project one's soul into a different body. The military does use automata a lot, but not in quite the same way. They tend to be more practical (i.e. they have guns) and specialized (used for scouting, CAS, or light armored warfare especially).
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
-Rudyard Kipling

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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Kingmaker » Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:46 am

This is what happens when you read the Iliad while listening to power metal.

Cult of the Iron Maiden

The growl of Zipacnans filled the crags that trapped us. Hundreds of the demons, reminiscent of Outremeran crocodiles, closed in on us from nearly every direction. Dozens advanced up the slope towards us, spitting bolts of killing energy towards my company of Templar dragoons as they came. Still more sprinted down the cliff face of the dead end where we had decided to take our stand and call for help. With no fuel or ammunition left in our mechanocycles, the best thing left for us to do was to turn them into cover and try to take as many of the Sinkhole’s spawn with us.

I gripped my saber with one hand while holding my pistol with the other, taking carefully aimed shots at the Zipacnans coming over the cliff face. With nearly every shot I sent one tumbling down to a bone-crunching death on the floor of the ravine. Next to me, one of my men took a bolt of energy full in the face, burning away the biomass and leaving the scorched inorganic remains of the skull behind. Another stark reminder that we all going to die, thanks to my failings. I had led us in here, rather than to high ground where a dropship might have been able to extract us. I shouted words of encouragement to my surviving troops. I couldn’t afford to let them see my fear—knowing your commander was terrified was never good for morale. They knew there was no hope, but if I panicked, so would they.

“Captain Martyne,” my vox operator yelled. “We have dropships inbound. ETA four minutes. We need to get to high ground for extraction.” I nodded in acknowledgement, but glancing around I could see that there was going to be no escape. There was only one thing left to do: pray. I thought of the saints that watch over soldiers, and my hand moved to the medallion around my neck.

Saint Promache, I prayed. If you are listening, your disciple Diomedes Martyne asks for guidance. The Iron Maiden’s warriors are faced with destruction and ask for your protection. I’ve never been one for wordy prayers. I didn’t expect a reply. The saints do not deign to answer every prayer. I turned back to the fighting.

“Diomedes,” a woman whispered in my ear. I stopped breathing for a moment when I saw who had appeared next to me—a silver-haired, grey-eyed woman of godlike beauty, clad in shining plate armor. Saint Promache had not only answered my prayer—she had come to the battlefield. “Diomedes. Do you want to save your command?” I nodded wordlessly. “Then do so. I will stand -beside you.” With that, she seemed to vanish—almost. I suddenly felt stronger, and around me my soldiers started to fight harder. I scanned the oncoming wave of Zipacnans again. I spotted something I had missed before. One of the creatures crouched a short ways back from the action, egging its companions onward. I laughed and started issuing orders. I had found our way out.

“Ramir, Ilya, Waytes, Tomas, mount up and follow me,” I yelled, running to my own mechanocycle. “It’s time to push these bastards back.”



The Cult of the Iron Maiden is a group within the Aurian Church that give special veneration to Saint Promache, one of the three military saints of the Church’s hagiarchy. Promache is the saint most prominently associated with leadership, tactics, and discipline, distinguishing her from Saint Michael, a fallen Archangel associated with individual prowess and heroism, and Saint Leon, a foot soldier and monk associated with the virtues of soldiering and with common soldiers. Saint Promache was the general that commanded the armies of the rebellious humans fighting against the Archons, and was herself responsible for crippling the Archon now called the Madgod, reducing it to a state of insanity and weakness. She is known as the Iron Maiden for her appearance (when manifesting to followers, she usually appears as a silver-haired and grey-eyed eyed woman in full plate armor) and for a reputation, like all the military saints, of having lived a strict, Spartan lifestyle.

The majority of adherents to the Cult of the Iron Maiden are Aurian Templars, particularly officers and women. The practice of dedicated veneration of Saint Promache is also common within mercenary companies and the militaries of nations where the Aurian Church is a common religion. Again, a disproportionate number of the adherents are officers or women. On the other hand, the Cult is virtually nonexistent outside of the various armed forces, seeing only occasional practice among law enforcement. The practice of venerating a single saint is not unusual, so despite a lack of official endorsement from the Hagiarchy, the Cult has thus far avoided censure. The Cult itself is relatively unhierarchical, with the primary division being between the clergy and the laypeople. The exceptions to this are the aristomachs: the handful of individuals chosen and blessed by the Iron Maiden with exceptional insight and skill. Aristomachs are universally held above all others as exemplars of the Iron Maiden’s principles.

The Cult of the Iron Maiden generally holds to a number of tenants, though only a few are really inflexible. Most prominently, adherents are expected to be an example to their peers, both in and out of battle. Excess and hedonism are frowned upon, and ill-discipline is a cardinal sin among members of the Cult. Knowledge of arms and tactics is also expected, as a key part of leadership is knowing how to lead from the front and employ the weapons of one’s troops properly. Battle-hunger and bloodlust, on the other hand, are frowned upon as promoting poor discipline and individual glory over accomplishing objectives (this frequently causes tension between the Cult of the Iron Maiden and the Michael-venerating Cult of the Archangel, which places a great emphasis on individual skill and a battle-loving mindset). There are a number of other minor tenants, but they vary from chapter to chapter of the Cult, and are regarded as far less important than the core principles that every adherent is expected to maintain.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
-Rudyard Kipling

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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:33 pm

That's really cool, a variation of the Church Militant "trope" (ick, tropes) and all that. I like how the seemingly Very Catholic guys do follow the very Catholic tradition of having people pick and choose the particular saint they worship, and how these saints have differentiated traits. Despite coming from a very Catholic country, I really don't know what differentiates one Saint from another, and I doubt the other layfolk know better. But this, a Saint for commanders and officers, is very most cool.

They can have prayers before briefings! It's like Sun Tzu and the Holy Bible all in one.

Voxes, do I see some 40k influences? Some Saint Sabbat, perhaps? :D

I also like the weirdo nomenclature. MECHANOCYCLES!
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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Kingmaker » Tue Feb 09, 2010 4:13 am

Life Extension Magic and Technology

Michelle Leoncor glanced up at the sickly man who had just been deposited in the seat across from her. It was another supplicant and a rather desperate one at that, from his expression. He looked both fearful and pleading. Desperate was a good thing for Michelle’s purposes. Desperate men and women were always coming to the door of her favorite café, begging favors. A guard whispered the man’s name in her ear.

“Mr. Rezze, what can the Compline Cartel do for you?” She gave him a predatory smile.

“I, uh, I’m sick,” Rezze stammered. “I’ve been sick for a while and I can’t afford a doctor…and I heard you people could do stuff the doctors can’t. Oh, saints I don’t want to die.” He shuddered.

“The saints won’t help you, Mr. Rezze. I will, however. I’ll do more than take away your sickness. I’ll make you better. I’ll give you a way to live forever and a reason to live. How does that sound?”

“What will it cost me?” Rezze gulped, but hope had entered his eyes. She already had him. The desperate were easily tempted by the gifts of the Cartels, and immortality was more than most could dream of.

“Nothing but your loyalty and submission. I was once in your place, Mr. Rezze. I was a pathetic wretch. The faust cost me nothing and gained me everything: wealth, power, youth, and a reason to rise above my hopeless existence—it reshaped me into what I am. That was sixty years ago, Mr. Rezze, and yet I look younger than you.” Michelle barely remembered those early days, when she and her faust had been separate creatures in the same body. But that had been a long time ago, and the old Michelle Leoncor was gone, replaced by something better. In time, the same would be true of Rezze. “Do you want to live forever, Mr. Rezze?”


Despite several millennia of arcane research by countless mages of all disciplines, life extension technology is just now starting to come into something approaching common use. Previously, it was poorly developed, very expensive, and many approaches entailed rather morally questionable behavior. The result was that very few people could expect to live beyond the natural human lifespan, and most of them were talented archmagi, fausthosts, or the favorites of eidolons. The cultural impact of these people has been minimal for the most part. The only real exceptions were necromorphs, thanks to their prominence in Lysmer and, to a lesser extent, in Outremer. However, the cultural ramifications of life extension have been growing with the increasing number of soul-forged and homunculi and the ever-cheapening of alchemical life extension drugs. Wealthy nations like Tyrre and Altar, where these things are relatively common, are being forced to adjust their social and legal structures to deal with the fact that many of their citizenry will now never need to retire. At the same time, this has merely amplified the resentment directed at them by people in poorer nations. Attempts have been made to disseminate life extension magic to some of these nations, but have thus far proven ineffectual.

One of the inhibiting factors in progress has been the resistance of the human soul to life extension. Accustom to the natural human lifespan, the human soul has a tendency to dissociate from the body as it passes the normal physical limits of age. Getting it to remain past this limit is similar in difficulty and expense to a full-body soul-forging/soul-transfer. Nevertheless, this obstacle has been consistently overcome, just not frequently. The other primary inhibiting factor is, of course, the natural aging process of the human body itself. Its regular biological maintenance causes damage that has proven very difficult to repair, even with modern bioccultic knowledge. Before the Arcane Revolution it would have been nigh impossible and required a bioccultic genius to accomplish. Nevertheless, various workarounds have been developed, some more common than others.

Theurgical: Bargaining with fausts, muses, and eidolons has always been a common way to seek immortality. It is frequently less than successful, with supplicants facing outright rejection or simply being unwilling to pay the often horrifying price that a faust or muse may demand. A separate approach involves putting the soul in a different body. The hard way to do this is to try and bind the soul into an artificial body. The (relatively) easier way is use psychonomy in conjunction with theurgy to displace another person’s soul and take their body.

Alchemical: Arguably the main line of research for life extension, and the one that has yielded the most effective for the least cost. Indeed, the development of life extension drugs has been one of the core goals of Alchemy since the discipline’s inception. Older formulae required absurdly difficult to obtain or just plain grotesque reagents, limiting their availability and use. Recently developed drugs, while still quite expensive, will freeze physical aging around 18-30, depending on the individual, and consistent use is expected to keep them in that range for about four centuries

Bioccultic: The inherent delicacy of the human body has made this a difficult path to pursue. While any decent cosmetic bioccultist can keep the body looking as young as desired, actually repairing or slowing aging would require a virtuoso bioccultist. There has been considerably more success with prenatal alterations to slow or eliminate aging, though this has been limited primarily to the already spectacularly expensive homunculi projects.

Necromorphic: Prior to the most recent developments in alchemical drugs, necromorphy was the most common form of life extension. That has not meant that it is genuinely common, and indeed, necromorphy has been limited primarily to the followers of the Maggot King or one of the other eidolons associated with death. As always, there are exceptions. However, cadaverizing is an expensive process if one hopes to retain sentience and free will, and the maintenance of lifelike appearance is also quite difficult.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
-Rudyard Kipling

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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Kingmaker » Tue Feb 09, 2010 4:44 am

Shroom Man 777 wrote:That's really cool, a variation of the Church Militant "trope" (ick, tropes)
It gets easier the longer you read TVtropes. :mrgreen:
I like how the seemingly Very Catholic guys do follow the very Catholic tradition of having people pick and choose the particular saint they worship, and how these saints have differentiated traits. Despite coming from a very Catholic country, I really don't know what differentiates one Saint from another, and I doubt the other layfolk know better. But this, a Saint for commanders and officers, is very most cool.
When I originally conceived of the Aurian Church two years ago, they were basically the Catholic Church transplanted into a fantasy world. While they're always going to seem very Catholic, I hope long-term to develop them to the point that they're clearly distinct.

Voxes, do I see some 40k influences? Some Saint Sabbat, perhaps? :D
A vox is magic-powered radio. I cribbed the term from a friend of mine's fantasy story about a magitek Roman Empire before I ever encountered the 40k term. I suspect he stole it from 40k, but I never bothered to ask. Besides, latin is in the public domain. :P And Saint Sabbat? Que?
I also like the weirdo nomenclature. MECHANOCYCLES!
They're like armored war motorcycles. But mechanical...wait.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
-Rudyard Kipling

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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:19 pm

Saint Sabbat is some divine woman in 40k who stabs people in the face with a space sword. Or something. :D
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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Acatalepsy » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:38 pm

There should be a Saint Sabot, patron saint of armor-piercing.
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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Magister Militum » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:18 am

I like your article on life extension, but I have a question. You mention that nations such as Tyrre had been forced to modify their cultural and legal norms to account for the vastly increased lifespan/outright immortality of their subjects. Precisely what does that mean, though, in terms of specifics? Are lifetime appoints in, say, the government of Tyrre now just for a set period? And how does the younger generation feel at the fact that their chance to replace their predecessors has either been delayed significantly or outright denied because of the life extension techniques?
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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Kingmaker » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:16 am

Magister Militum wrote:I like your article on life extension, but I have a question. You mention that nations such as Tyrre had been forced to modify their cultural and legal norms to account for the vastly increased lifespan/outright immortality of their subjects. Precisely what does that mean, though, in terms of specifics? Are lifetime appoints in, say, the government of Tyrre now just for a set period? And how does the younger generation feel at the fact that their chance to replace their predecessors has either been delayed significantly or outright denied because of the life extension techniques?
To some degree, the ramifications of life-extension are just starting to sink in. Prior to the last several decades, the number of people who could expect to live more than a century and a half numbered only a few million (out of a global population of about 4 billion), and were almost entirely concentrated within a nation designed specifically for an undying aristocracy.

In Tyrre, for example, the very rapid expansion of the slow-aging population has started to alter perceptions of development. Increasingly, people are expected to take longer "growing up" and it has become less common for younger adolescents to be employed (you know, kind of like what is happening now in wealthy countries). Correspondingly, the birth-rate has dropped, although it will probably rise in the long run, as couples will have more children over their extended lifespan. People are working much longer, and one's professional career usually starts later. Altar, which has a fairly extensive social services network, has had to rework the way it deals with the elderly to some extent. In both Tyrre and Altar, there has been some criticism of the development of a class of "gerontocrats"-- elderly political leaders who have avoided retirement thanks to life extension technologies. To some degree this has been dealt with simply by voting leaders out of office, and in some cases by imposing limits on the time that a single individual can hold an office.
And how does the younger generation feel at the fact that their chance to replace their predecessors has either been delayed significantly or outright denied because of the life extension techniques?
As mentioned before, adolescence has started to extend, and younger generations tend to spend more time in pursuit of diversions. Resentment is fairly low, because younger generations are simply diverting their efforts into new enterprises rather than get irritated at some eighty year old who has held the position they want for the past three decades. The adult population is expanding despite lower birth rates, and their is a corresponding increase in demand for services, which younger generations both consume and supply. The resentment is mostly concentrated at the top of any hierarchy, whether it be a corporation or the military, where the same individuals have held top rank for years and show none of the ordinary tendencies towards retirement.
There should be a Saint Sabot, patron saint of armor-piercing clogs.
Fixed. :mrgreen:
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
-Rudyard Kipling

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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Mobius 1 » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:36 am

Actually, when reading through this most recent article, I did catch on something that aroused my interest. This Maggot King, what's his deal? Beyond having a nasty name and sounding like he's the last practitioner of a dying (ha) art, how much power does he have? Is the reason as to why Necromorphy dying out a cultural reason (icky) or simply that more efficient, less... gross alternatives have proven themselves over Necromorphy?
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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Kingmaker » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:19 pm

Mobius 1 wrote:Actually, when reading through this most recent article, I did catch on something that aroused my interest. This Maggot King, what's his deal? Beyond having a nasty name and sounding like he's the last practitioner of a dying (ha) art, how much power does he have? Is the reason as to why Necromorphy dying out a cultural reason (icky) or simply that more efficient, less... gross alternatives have proven themselves over Necromorphy?
The Maggot King is a physical god (associated with (surprise!) decay and undeath) inhabiting the body of over-curious archmage. Consequently, he is stupendously powerful, in no small part thanks to the necropolitan theocracy he has created in Lysmer (rather than attempt to spread his portfolio through war and conflict, he decided it would be more effective to institutionalize it in the nation he took over). Going up against him would be a bad idea for any small group of individuals, with the exception of the handful of entities designed to kill gods.

Necromorphy isn't really dying out so much as it was never really popular outside of Lysmer. Necrourgy is a complex cross-disciplinary skill requiring knowledge of bioccultics, theurgy, and alchemy, so finding someone with the requisite skill set to create necromorphs is non-trivial. It isn't helped by the fact that life as a necromorph is usually unpleasant or demands anti-social behavior. A quick rundown of the prominent (as of now--I hope to come up with more) varieties of necromorphs:

-corpse golem: far and away the cheapest and easiest to make, and really only requires technomagy if you don't care about it decaying. Some people get soulforged into these, but suffer from the problem that the body is still dead, and rely on simulated senses. Sight and hearing are about human level, but touch, smell, and taste are virtually gone. Higher quality ones are put through an alchemical embalming process and look like very well preserved corpses. Physical abilities are about the same as a normal human.

-strigoi: the closest thing Arcane Steel has to vampires at this point. Strigoi retain basically human appearance and sensation, and gain enhanced physical abilities. However, they are reliant on (fresh) human flesh for sustenance, effectively demanding that they behave in a fairly anti-social way. These are the most common necromorph found amongst Lysmer's cadaveri nobles, thanks to the ease with which they can obtain sustenance there. Elsewhere, they tend to criminals and predators. Strigoi are created through a ritual performed on a recently dead corpse.

-koschei: built around a specially-made core that contain's the person's soul, these guys tend to look very similar to corpse golems, but are much, much harder to damage or kill. They are also much, much rarer. Like Strigoi, they retain human-level senses, but unlike Strigoi, they can derive sustenance directly from arcane energy, making it much easier for them to function in regular society.

Sooo, long story short, necromorphy is uncommon both because of cultural reasons and economic reasons. Despite necromorphs tended to be the most durable option, most people are unwilling to accept the trade-offs. Still others simply don't have the money or access to a necrourge needed to cadaverize. With the advent of cheap(er) alternatives for life extension, interest in necromorphy outside Lysmer has plummeted.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
-Rudyard Kipling

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Re: The Culture Forge

Post by Kingmaker » Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:52 am

The Holy Fire

A small group of young men and women coalesced as soon as they noticed the white and red clad woman walking through the market. Karisa smiled as she looked back at the growing group. In five years she had never failed to attract eager students with the distinctive garb of those who followed the Holy Fire. She recognized a few of the adolescents from previous excursions. The rest were strangers that had likely learned of her from their friends. There were even more faces missing from the crowd, warned off by the local temple or kept away by parents fearful of what she might teach them. In truth, they had little to fear on that front. The Uninitiated seemed to have little interest in finding enlightenment through studying the holy fire of the Empyrean. For them it was only a tool. That was no excuse for her to give up—better to instill some appreciation for the power of theomimetics than to leave to their own devices.

Karisa led her impromptu class to a small courtyard near the marketplace. The apartments around it served to dampen the din of the market, making it a decent enough place for instruction. She drew out a small accumulators and tokens with inscribed foci from her satchel and turned to the students.

“You,” she said, gesturing towards the oldest-looking of the new faces. It was a boy who looked just old enough to have been entering academy, had he been from a family of higher status. “What do you know of sorcery?”

He shrugged “A few cavils for dealing with pests, and for cleaning. Not real sorcery.”

“Of course,” she agreed. “I suppose that is why all of you are here. Because you want to know real sorcery, to truly touch the holy fire of the Empyrean.” Karisa saw the discomfort in the children’s eyes at her mention of the holy fire.

It was several moments before any of them responded. It was one of the younger ones, another boy. “The priests say we shouldn’t talk to you, because you tell lies about Lady Chana.”

Karisa paused for a moment to work out her response. If she misspoke, many of the children would leave. “I respect Lady Chana’s skill at manipulating the Empyrean—indeed I am in awe of it—but she is only human, and her power comes from years of study and practice, not a divine spark. The sparks in our souls let us touch divinity, but we ourselves are not divine. Lady Chana should be admired for coming closer to the holy fire than all but a few.”

A few children still looked nervous, but most accepted her hasty apology. It gave them an excuse to learn from her, and they could tell their parents that Karisa the heretic genuinely admired the city’s god-figure. One day she might persuade them to learn more, but it was a start.


The Holy Fire is a magolatric religion that holds that the Empyrean itself is divine. Following from that, the study and practice of Theomimetics (i.e. magic) is an integral part of worship rituals. Adherents of the Holy Fire (called Lastorans after the ancient mage that founded the religion) tend to be at least modestly knowledgeable of Theomimetic theory, though not all have access to the resources necessary to be full practitioners. The Holy Fire is a fairly small religion, with only about 20 million adherents. A plurality of them reside within the city-state of Arregda, where the religion began, but enclaves of Lastorans can be found elsewhere, especially in Tyrre and amongst members of the Saevenok Clan.

History

The Holy Fire began during the long decline of the Lightbringers’ empire in the city of Arregda. The founder, Lastor, was a researcher into empyreal physics. Shortly before his death he produced a book of philosophy and theology, entitled, The Holy Fire, which detailed his views on the Empyrean and how humans should interact with it. Several of his students read it after his death and arranged for it to be published. The religion became phenomenally popular with the Theomimetics-educated elite of Arregda, but was less well received amongst non-mages and in places where eidolonic religions were strong. Beyond that, the Holy Fire is most remarkable in history for being the de facto religion of the world’s second most populous city. Outside of Arregda, its followers were persecuted in Lysmer, and to a lesser extent by Altari Aurians, but it has yet to play a major role in world history.

Practices

Lastorans have a number of traditions that all adherents are supposed to follow. The most obvious of them is their religious dress: white and red are considered to be the colors of the empyrean and of sorcery (a holdover from Lightbringer-era culture). As such, all adherents are expected to wear white and red at all times when they are out in public. Only the most devout wear only white and red – the majority of Lastorans are much more casual about the practice and simply incorporate the colors into their normal outfit. Lastoran religious rituals bear little resemblance to those of other religions. There is no singing or praying – individual worship takes the form of study and meditation, and group worship the form of a lecture or philosophical discussion. Furthermore, the Lastorans do not aggressively proselytize, but rather prefer to induce curious individuals to inquire. They will instruct anyone who asks in Theomimetic theory and practice to the best of their abilities, and these lesions invariably interweave necessary instruction and Lastor’s philosophy.

Beliefs

The Holy Fire asserts that the Empyrean is the manifestation of divinity and that by studying Theomimetics one can touch the divine. The ultimate goal of a Lastoran is to “Walk the Empyrean” after death, persisting as a consciousness without form. Lastoran morality and ethics, on the other hand, is hazy aside from a handful of vague proscriptions against misusing the Empyrean. Lastoran philosophy mostly encourages the spread of knowledge and respect for the study and practitioners of Theomimetics. They lack an organized clergy, and use knowledge and skill of arcane theory as a way of judging adherents. Adherents skilled enough to be considered proper mages are called the Adept. Lesser followers are referred to as Acolytes and are expected to defer to the Adept. Non-believers are the Unintiated.

Lastorans maintain an agnostic stance as a whole toward idealist and abstract religions, but outright deny the divinity of eidolons and regard eidolonic religions as the misguided and ignorant worship of a manifestation of the Empyrean rather than the Empyrean itself, a view that has not endeared the Lastorans to the many, many followers of eidolonic religions.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
-Rudyard Kipling

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