This page describes Merikian Society, particularly as practiced in the City of Tallon. All Merikian Culture comes from the Book of Standing Stones. The Book was interpreted from the Standing Stones themselves. Each book varies slightly from city to city. The accepted authority in Tallon was interpreted by the great Sympath Shannon, who dates from the time of the second Archon, Samuel the Brave, though his work was not completed until the reign of the fourth Archon, Carlo the Great. There are five books within the Book itself, they are detailed below.
Herein is set down the History of the World
from the revelations of Master Shannon.
Blessed be the Word and the Way
The teachings of the standing stones are divided into five categories. These are usually separated into Books whic together make up the collected Book of Standing Stones. The Five books implicit in the teachings are:
This book discusses the world of the ancients in general terms. It mentions a few place-names, but generally refers to the Old World as a place of marvels without purpose, without heart. The First World is pitied, more than reviled, much like the Christians might pity the Pagan peoples of prehistory, having never received the revelations of the Messiah. There is also considerable doubt among many people that the wonders of the ancients really existed, or at least that they were as great as claimed. Those who have travelled and seen the scale of the ruins know the truth.
This book discusses the nature of the Demon-Kings, giving no insight to their origin, but referring to a few by name. It gives some very specific examples of their cruelty and madness. Kids like this book, and the names of the Demon Kings are often used as bogeymen. The Demon-Kings are said to be the cause for all that is wrong or blemished about the world.
Known Demon King names include, but are not limited to: Nemo, Merlin, Oberon, Magus and Dragon. Whether these are their true names or names given to them by humans is unkown.
This book gives the layman's understanding of spirits, much of which can be found in the campaign guide. Some of the basic precepts are that that which has strong psyche is a person, that the manipulation of Spirit is more pure and good than the Fysics of the Ancients, and that the Spirit is eternal and transcendent (though it must be enlightened).
This is the book that details the operation of an enlightened society. It is filled with many thou shalts and thou shalt nots. The book of the word is the one that varies most from City to City, with each interpreting the Standing Stones slightly differently. This is the book that contains the Scala Vivandus, or the Ladder of Spirit, which details each person's place in the scheme of things.
This is the Book of the Adept, written in such a way that only an adept can understand it. It is kept secret nonetheless. It contains much of the teachings of the way of Spirit manipulation. A simplified and presumably much excised version is available to the lay public.
The Articles of Faith are the enumerations of the central precepts of society. Together they comprise the Word, or the code of behavior. The Way is the practice of spirit study and control. The Merikian way of life is collectively referred to as the Word and the Way. "Blessed be the Word and the Way" is a popular saying.
This is the central precept. All wisdom, knowledge morality and authority derive from the stones and by inference, the Teachings of Prometheus.
This is the root of the concept of the Scala Spiritus. It is herein stated that all people are not equal, so it is therefore inferred that there are levels of importance throughout society. You can feel better about being below somebody if you are above somebody else.
Some interpret this to mean that they are to be treated with equal justice and rights. Most say this passage means they are to be treated as children, i.e. lesser. Some pessimists say it just means don't eat them.
This is interpreted as a broad warning not to emulate the ways and practices of the ancients. Artifacts and relics are nevertheless greatly prized by collectors. Hey, they're not worshipping them or anything.
Pretty self-explanatory common religious philosophy. Some treat this as a stewardship, others as an excuse for personal gain.
This is the central precept of the Merikkian justice system. Although the civil code is enforced by the municipality (i.e. the people) the authority derives from the Word. See Law, below.
As stated above, there are a number of books in existence. Each book is an original inerpretation of the lessons and precepts inherent in the Standing Stones. Very few adepts are capable of such deep communion with the Stones.Those who can are called sympaths. A sympath is an adept highly skilled in psychometry. There have only been a handful of Sympaths in recorded history. Because they are so few, not every city has its own bookSome citys use the books of other cities. In all there are five books known:
It is possible that Mingatok also has its own book, but this is not known. Cities that have produced their own book have a very good guide to interpreting the secrets of their stones. Thus, their adepts tend to be more powerful and learned. A city without a book would do much to produce one.
There are rumored to be secret or lost books. One such is the Book of Yara. It was officially never written, for she died in a war between Melvil and Boothia, but some believe it was written and lost. Yara was born and raised in Boothia, but educated in Melvil. Finding or recovering it would be a good adventure hook, as it would be worth starting a war over.
The gods of the ancients are not worshipped by most Merikkians. Some Barbarians may remember bits and pieces of the old religions. For example the Yzlonders worship Tor (Thor), and there is even a far-off tribe that reveres old advertising icons.
But for Merikians, faith comes from the Word and the Way, the teachings of Prometheus. Prometheus fills a place similar to Moses in Judaic tradition. He is the teacher and the lawgiver. It is Prometheus who banished the darkness and brought order from chaos. It is Prometheus who gave man hope.
To the Merikians, all the world is composed of spirit. Although adepts can control these to some small degree, the absolute fundamental structure of the universe continues eternally. The spirit of the universe, or existence, is called Cosmos. Cosmos is where the Spirit goes when the body dies. Cosmos is not a place, like Heaven or Hell. It is a state of being, of enlightenment, similar to the concept of Nirvana. It is interesting that in Merikian cosmology, the afterlife is both a state of spiritual purification and physical incarnation (all aspects of spirit are transferred). This physical incarntaion is said to occur in a spiritually perfect environment, however. There is much debate over exactly what this means.
Deus: It is said that between Cosmos and Man, there is a form of spirit called Deus. It is Deus which can manipulate Cosmos. This is what supposedly became of Prometheus after the banishing of the Demon-Kings. There are many disagreements as to whether Promethus achieved Deus, became one with Deus or simply merged into Cosmos. Some even debate the actual existence of Deus. These are generally matters for religious scholars and are usually ignored by the common worshipper. Prometheus is sometimes called "Deus", however.
Disciples: Prometheus had disciples of course, none of whom are alive today. Their name and number vary from place to place. It is supposed that Prometheus lived in many places at different times during his life. The disciples of Prometheus are believed to have some tenuous contact with the world of mortals. It is believed by most people that petitioning a disciple can cause the intercession of Deus. The Disciples recognized by Tallon include:
|Gaea ("Gay-ah") who is called on for weather, growing, fertility and health. In general the anima of the world. Gaea and anima are symbolized by a circle. The circle represents the simplest motion, that of the earth itself.
Gaea is a female principle.
|Chthon ("Thone") who is called upon for strength, building, wealth, endurance, in general, the Morphia of the world. Chthon and Morphia are symbolized by a square. The square could represent a brick, a simple building block.
Chthon is a male principle.
|Patha ("Paytha") who is called upon for happiness, love, peace, harmony, in general, the Psyche of the world. Patha and Psyche are represented by a triangle. This represents the heirarchical nature of the psyche, or the pinnacle of the spirit.
Patha ia a female principle.
Note that any of these three can be called upon for negative qualities as well; Gaea for sickness or death, Chthon for weakness or destruction, and Patha for madness or hatred.
Note that the disciples are not referred to as gods, nor is Prometheus. Prometheus may be referred to as Deus, but he was a man, not the creator. The disciples are best thought of as saints.
The symbols used by the priesthood to denote the various divisions of the spirit, or the disciples, are combined into one symbol when discussing cosmos, the Book, or religion in general.
Virtues: Virtues are symbolic beings. They do not represent people who actually lived, such as Prometheus or his disciples, but instead stand as visualizations of abstract constructs such as Justice, Mercy, Hospitality or Art. They are not all what we would call positive concepts either. There are virtues of War, Rage, Murder and Theft. Virtues are nearly always statues of women with features or attributes which convey the concept. Here are a few examples
Justice is a woman holding the sword of punishment in one hand and the key of freedom in the other.
Hospitality is a woman holding a jug of water and loaf of bread.
Murder is a woman holding a dagger upraised. Closely related is:
Treachery, who bears a seductive face and holds the dagger behind her back.
There is no full accounting for the number and depiction of virtues. Some of them are unique to individuals, who use them as personal totems. Virtues are not part of the litany of the Word and Way, but are so endemic to Merikian culture that the Church embraces them as symbols anyway. There is even a Temple of Seven Virtues in Tallon.
Merikkian cities have temples dedicated to Prometheus and his disciples. Here sermons are given, worshippers petition, and in general, the founder of society is revered. On Highday (the Merikkian Sabbath) rites are conducted within the circle of the Standing Stones, but a priest can often be found in a public Temple the rest of the week.
The Archon will typically commision a major temple during his reign. The most beautiful in Tallon stands at the northen end of Shannon's island. It was built by Archon Turik the Builder. It is nearly a hundred years old. The temple is a rotunda, a great dome open to the air, mounted on a series of atlantids and caryatids representing the disciples. It is called the Temple of the Disciples.
The Church is made up of adepts of course. There are different orders and levels. Each novitiate chooses a disciple to which to devote him or herself. Priests spend much of their time in contemplation of the Standing Stones, divining wisdom and insight from these long hours. They take vows of poverty and chastity, but the Church itself is fairly rich and powerful. The Church is supported by donations and tithing.
The orders of the priest hood are the Order of Gaia, the Order of Chthon and the Order of Patha. There is no Order of Prometheus; all priests honor the lawgiver.
The lowest rank of the priesthood is the Clergy. All priests at this level are referred to as simply "Brother" or "Sister". The clergy are those who will never reach the rank of master. Most adepts fall into this category. Even if an adept proves incapable of progressing beyond the merest applications of Spirit Sight, there is a place for them in the Clergy. This does not mean they are incompetent though. Even the merest adept is keen of mind and some of the most powerful never have a desire to progress beyond the clergy.
Above the clergy is the Priesthood proper. The Priests are those who lead sermons and counsel the faithful. The council of priests also determines the succession of the adept. In some cities, such as Karkul, the title used for Priest is Rabbi. In Tallon a Priest is addressed as "Father." Priests are not usually Masters.
The High Priest is always a Master, usually a Psychist. The title of the High priest varies from city to city, but in Tallon he is referred to as Bishop.
The priesthood is not required to be celibate, and many are married. They are expected to lead exemplary lives, however. They usually refrain from excessive public display of emotion.Priests usually live in a rectory, a dwelling adjacent to or on the grounds of its temple.The bishop has a palace in the Old Circle.
Each temple, no matter how small will have an attendant priest. A larger temple will have subordinate priests as well. The province of the Bishop is the Standing Stones, though services are more often performed by his subordinates.
The priesthood is responsible for appoinment of the Archon. After the death of an old Archon, the Preisthood will convene in the center of the standing stones. Here they will meditate for three days. At dawn of the fourth day, they will announce the new Archon. According to tradition, the priesthood's meditation is to sense the collective will of the people, the lawgiver and the stones. More cynical people might say that the appointment is political and that the meditation is a time of deal-making and debate.
The Church is theoretically independent of the city in that priests of all Merrikian cities belong to one Church. They are supposed to have more in common with each other than the secular regional government. In reality, each city's priesthood is fairly autonomous. There is no central authority figure analogous to the Catholic Pope, and a wise Archon tries to stop this from ever happening. Besides electing the Archon, the Church has one other pillar of power, and it is a major power indeed. More than any other class of adept, the priesthood influences public opinion. Through sermon and force of personality (or force of spirit), the Priesthood sets the temper of the city. If the Priesthod is restless, the people tend to be restless. If they are happy, the Priesthood is happy. A wise person placates the Church. This does not mean the priesthood controls the populace. It's just that the Church is the face of the adept population that the common person most often encounters.
In Tallon there are about thirty priests and four times as many clergy. They form the bulk of the adept population.
The church venerates particularly noteworthy people who have made significant contributions to the church. These people are referred to as Immortals, in that their memory is kept alive eternally. The church will usually erect a statue or other artwork, or dedicate a sanctuary to an immortal. An immortal is referred to as "Blessed". Thus, Darno, a man who died protecting the Hillside Temple from destruction during the great flood of 173 is refered to as the Blessed Karras. The Sanctuary of the Blessed Karras was named for him. In practice, some people are immortalized for altruistic or heroic effort, others are immortalized for significant contribution to the church. All Archons and Bishops are techincally immortalized after death, but they rarely are referred to as such, having achieved cultural immortality through their deeds of office.
Any given city will have a few dozen Immortals. Over time, as the person fades from living memory, they will tend to be regarded as similar to to a higher order of Virtue. People will use their image or name symbolically. For instance, a samll statue of Karras might be erected where people died of flood, or his name might be invoked by someone working in the storm sewers of Tallon, where death by drowning is a real possibility.
Temples vary widely in layout throughout Merikia. There is no standardized layout or floorplan. For instance, the Temple of the Disciples on Shannon's Isle in Tallon is a rotunda, while the Temple of Cthon in Little Tallon is a fairly mundane square stone building. Most temples have living quarters for the priest and clergy, some form of landscaping, statuary and garden.
A temple located outside the city walls is referred to as a sanctuary. Sanctuaries will be built within the confines of a fort or other guarded fastness, if possible. A sanctuary priest is often referred to as an abbot. Sanctuaries are so named because they offer the only refuge from a reaver attack. Normal walls will not stop a reaver, and sanctuary walls are always spiritually enhanced. Any person, human or beast, barbarian or city dweller may ask for and receive sanctuary from a reaver attack. Mutants and riven might be refused, but this is on the discretion of the priest. Sanctuary is seldom refused even in this extreme. Many outlying communities of beasts or even barbarians will make offerings at sanctuaries. Some will even stay for services.
The priest or abbot in charge of a temple is responsible for maintaining ley lines. He may delegate them to clergy if he is in charge of a large temple. For instance, the Bishop of Tallon holds few ley lines since he may be required to travel. All temples are enhanced and thus reaver-resistant.
Religious services are held every Highday. This is a full ceremony, usually with readings from the Book as well as directed responses, hymns and such. It may have a special occasion such as the wedding of a high official, a Paladin vestiture or announcement of new Masters. Large temples will have a choir. Religious music of Merikia is usually loud and vibrant, full of emotion, though simple in structure. The only exception are songs about the Demon Kings before the coming of Prometheus. These are similar to Gregorian chant, but with more tonal variation. Songs of the Old World, of the Ancients, are usually worn down versions of surviving songs of the era. It would not be unusual to hear a work based on a tune by Mahler, Lennon or Sousa.
Special services are held upon the solstices and equinoxes. Since Merikia is largely equatorial, these days have little nature-influence. They are convenient time-markers though. Summer Soltice is refered to as High Solstice, Winter is called Low Solstice. First and Second Equinox are Spiring and Fall respectively. The common names all stem from lost Inuktitut words.
Pitak (High Solstice) is a merry-making day marked by scandalous behavior amongst young folk. It is a day of romance, marriage, trysts, drinking and other forms of debauchery. Popularly called Carnival, though this is technically a festival held on Pitak.(>Inuk: pivittuaq "rejoicing")
Tutsiavik (Low Solstice) is more restrained, dedicated towards charity for the less fortunate, gift giving, and general good will. Pronounced "TOO-chavik". (>Inuk: tutsiavik "Day of Prayer")
Sabbitja (First Equinox) varies from city to city. In Tallon, it is a day to celebrate liberation from bondage under the Demon Kings. Families have special feasts with elaborate customs and special venue. It is similar to a Passover Sedar in this respect. (>Inuk: sapitjipaa "let escape from hand")
Upinnik (Second Equinox) also varies. In Tallon, the Second Equinox, or Day of the Lawgiver, is dedicated to Prometheus personally, glorifying his teachings and affirming faith. Many Paladins are vested on Second Equinox. Some marriages are performed, kinships are renewed, oaths are taken or fulfilled. The Second Equinox is about Faith. (>Inuk: uppiniq "faith")
Other holy days include Archon's Day, celebrated on the anniversary of the current Archon's ascent.
The Book of Standing Stones lays down the pattern for Merikian culture; this includes law. This is why Prometheus is also called the Lawgiver. Since the Archon is the final interpreter of the Book, he is also the final interpreter of the law. Judges interpret the law on a day-to-day basis. The Archon may always be appealed to. The Articles of Faith as recorded in the Book are a good starting point for interpretation. Beyond the articles, there are certain customs of law that appear in general practice:
Grandmasters rise above many laws. Grandmasters (those who may alter all three aspects of spirit) may imprison or punish a citizen they believe is harming the City. This action must eventually be justified to the authorities, but there is no codified time limit. A "reasonable" amount of time must pass before a Grandmaster must release said person. Grandmasters cannot be prosecuted for "petty" crimes. This includes minor theft, non-injurious assault, violations of curfews or vice laws. Few Grandmasters abuse these priveleges, since they are usually powerful enough not to have to commit these crimes anyway.
Paladins act as legal proxies for a Grandmaster. They enjoy many of the same priveleges as their master, but must justify their actions immediately if challenged and cannot rely on the authorities to assist them (though most do anyway). For example, A Grandmaster could imprison someone they found rude or disrespectful. They could even order a local constable to throw them in jail under the promise that they will come up with a charge later. A Paladin could take the same person into custody for the same reason, but they could not order a constable to do so, and if the imprisoned person were to appeal to a constable, the Paladin would have to justify his actions then and there, or release said prisoner.
Poor people get hassled more often and are arrested with less cause than rich people. This is really no surprise, being a pattern as old aas time. The reason that it is noteable is that this behavior is expected and understood. In the Scala Spiritus or Ladder of Spirit, those on top have more privelege than those below. Merikian life is heirarchical; all people are not created equal. What this basically boils down to is a fundamental difference in mindset to the modern American viewpoint that all people are presumed innocent until proven guilty,with the burden of proof on the state. In Merikian Law, the burdon of proof is on the social inferior. Fortunately, since Judges are always psychists, proof can be more easily provided than in modern times. It's not a perfect system, since the judge may often be corrupt or apt to side with a social superior, but it works well enough.
Punishments are not codified. This simply means that the concept of precedence has little meaning. Judges are free to impose puishments they believe fit the crime. Some judges are harsh, others are lenient. Some judges favor one class over another, or feel one crime to be more serious than another. A death sentence can always be appealed to another judge.
Proxies. Sometimes people have sensitive information which they wish to conceal from a Psychic Probe that has no bearing on a crime. This might include trade or family secrets. In this case, the accused may request a specific psychist to do the required probe. This Proxy will then testify as to the accuracy of information. This will always incur a fee. Proxies may or may not also be judges, and are are certified by the Palace of Justice. Proxies may be used for contract law within guilds, but only where the stakes are very high. Mental probes are not used lightly.
Jursidiction. Each Judge controls a certain district of the city. The districts are not always geographical; sometimes they are defined by the nature of the inhabitants. For instance, there are several areas of crafthalls or manufacturing that lie wihtin other districts. These are still administrated by the Judge of the Craft Halls.
Fairness. These practices may seem to be ripe for corruption. This is true. However, it is much better than in ages past, when Judges had no code of behavior whatsoever, acting primarily as enforcers of the Archon's whim than as arbitrators of justice.
Keep in mind that reputations are just that. They are not necessarily true.
*Grimm is the third judge of the merchant District in recent memory, replacing Gont, who murdered his predecessor Bane.
A judge is always an adept, always has the ability to Read Psyche, not necessarily Probe Psyche. If the city cannot provide enough qualified Master psychists, the role may be filled by a psychist who is not a master. Judges are appointed by the Archon who also performs oversight on them. Judges are appointed for life. They can only be deposed by conviction of a major crime or demonstrable incompetance. It requires a majority of the Judges and the Archon to depose a judge. The will of the Archon or the judges alone is insufficient. For this reason, there are several of the old cronies of the corrupt reign of Kanukka still in power.
Judges have other duties besides deciding on criminal law. They also run the constabulary and collect taxes. The position is very powerful, similar to that of a medieval English Sheriff, many of whom were as powerful as the nobility.
To have a trial, there are three requirements: An accuser, the accused and a crime. The accuser may be a crime victim or an officer of the law. The accused has the right to decide what type of trial they are to receive. They may have a trial by argument or a trial by psyche. A trial by argument is settled through testimony, presentation of evidence, witnesses, etc. The judge may render decision at any time, and may make arbitrary judgements. Justice is swift in Merikia, and not always fair. A trial by psyche requires a probing of the accused and the accuser and possibly witnesses to arrive at an objective understanding of the events. A trial by psyche takes longer, something on the order of days. Most courts resent the personal effort and risk required and will impose harsher sentences for trial by psyche, just to make up for the inconvenience and to discourage frivolous accusations.
Although a trial by argument is the right of any citizen, a trial by psyche requires payment. The payment varies from judge to judge. A Judge may decide that a trial by psyche is preferable to a trial by argument and impose it upon the accused and accuser. In this case there is no fee imposed.
Not all judges can perform full Probes, most can only Read Psyche (emotions). A small number of dedicated Psychist who can actually probe into thoughts and memories is on retainer with the city court system. Most of them are poorly-balanced individuals, since repeated probes tend to have a debilitating effect on mental health. The most successful ones are those that have very strong self-identity and are often cold and emotionless.
Trials by Psyche are relatively rare, and reserved for very serious crimes, not petty theft, or even the murder of unimportant people.
The constabulary are the police force of the city. Each constabulary is under the province of a specific judge. That judge may outfit his constables in his own livery. There is sometimes rivalry between constabularies, similar to that between Musketeers of King and Cardinal in 17th century France. Each constabulary patrols its own precinct and criminal activity therein. In the case of Hot Pursuit, Constables may cross precincts and jurisdictions. Some constabularies are fairly energetic in their patrols. For the most part, however, constables are content to let other people have the headache of booking criminals. Constables may act as witnesses or accusers in a crime. When they do so, their word invariably has greater weight than the average citizen.
The existence of law and authority is of course a reaction to crime. Petty crime is harder to commit in a Merkikian city, given the abilities of those in power, but it is by no means impossible. Far from it. The criminal element has simply adapted and found new ways to do old activities.
Criminals do not want to be caught, and of course the easiest way to avoid being caught is to never let on that you were the one who committed the crime. There are several ways of doing this that are specifically designed to foil the adept authority.
Blindoil. This is an illegal substance, but heavily traded on the black market. Blindoil has the property of fuzzing out one's spirit. It is distilled from a rare predator called the Jump Wolf, which has this ability naturally. Continued application can lead to health problems, but for occasional use it is quite safe. Simply rub it on one's skin and it has the effect of reducing the ability of anyone with spirit sight making a positive identification. People covered with blindoil look blurry to the scrutiny of adepts. (In game terms, blindoil provides a -4 to PER rolls for the purpose of any identification. It does not disguise the wearer in any way from normal perception rolls. If the wearer is silent, makes no move and is practiced at keeping their mind calm (makes a concealment or stealth roll, and an Ego roll), the perception penalty applies to any Spirit Sight perception rolls, not just ones intended for identification.
Skoad. Skoad is a poor man's blindoil. It is similar to the other substance, but has a very visible deep purple coloration. It is not technically illegal, but it is definintely cause for scrutiny by the authorities. Some higher-security areas, such as the Old City of Tallon, would never allow entry to someone wearing Skoad. The reason it is not outright illegal is that it has valid business uses. It is used during certain types of negotiation, as a privacy screen, and to disguise valuables. The perception penalty for Skoad is -2.
Spirit layered cloth. This is cloth comprised of layers of dissimilar substances, such as cotton, leather and wool. Each layer gives a minus to perception. Anyone can purchase or make spirit-layered cloth, or indeed, a spirit layered door (wood, layered with metal, for example). Spirit-layered cloth provides no protectino from general perception, but it does make it difficult for an adept to discriminate one spirit from another beneath the cloth. Spirit cloth which is made into a bag provides full coverage. If someone wanted to disguise their entire identity with spirit cloth, they would need to wrap themselves from head to foot in it. A typical cloak gives 11- activation for the perception penalty. A merely overdressed person would have an activation of 8-, while a typical Merikian outfit provides no protection. Criminals tend to wait for rainy nights and go about it spirit-layered oil cloaks, when they are less likely to arouse suspicion. A specially prepared cloak, with extra ties to cover the body more fully, gives 14-.
Note that even ordinary cloth provides a -1 to Spirit identification, with the above activation rolls. Spirit cloth typically provides -2 or -4. Spirit Cloth that provides -8 (the next step) without severe movement and activity penalties would be extremely expensive.
Criminals can be detected by hostile thoughts, can be idetified by probes, and can even have details of their crimes extracted by skilled psychists. Nevertheless, there are rpecautions that can be taken.
Inebriation. Blurred or incoherent thoughts are difficult to pick up. Unless the drunk person is highly emotional, it is possible that the "buzz" of a mild high can mask intention. A rule of thumb is that for every -1 an attacker takes to their OCV or similar offensive action, the defender who has a detection Devotion has a -1 penalty to pick up on it. This is very sloppy protection of course, and would require time to prepare.
Lethe. This concotion is made by skilled brewers and distillers. It is the juice of the Black Moonberry, mixed with warmed wine and a few choice herbs. The effect is to erase short term memory. One pint will destroy the last 24 hours of memory. Smaller amounts will not destroy memory, but may cause temporary loss for a similar period.
Mental Defense At one time, only the Hall of Art taught defense against adept abilities. Ever since the time of Kanukka, certain rogue adepts have taken it upon themselves to teach the skills to non-adepts. What was once a freedom-fighter's reaction to a totalitarian regime has since become a tool in the criminal's aresenal. A criminal of means can hire a rogue adept to teach them the skill. See here for information about the limits of Mental Defense.
Exotic Means. Criminals are endlessly inventive, and the tools of adeptery are many. It is entirely possible that adept devotions could be used to disguise thoughts, erase memories, or even diguise memories. Player creativity is encouraged, but the GM is final arbiter of what he or she feels might unbalance a campaign.
Never underestimate the usefullness of a well-timed bribe, extortion, or general corruption. Not every solution has to be supernatural. Also, a major factor that allows crime is the fact that the civil authorities are stretched so thin in some areas, that enforcement is nominal. Quite often adventuring types are far more competent in martial skills than the constabulary, and the local watch have adopted a policy of "keep your head down unless you outnumber them three to one." The West Hill of Tallon is far more lawless than the East.
Though each city has its own way of handling trade and commerce, most cities have a merchant class, those who provide goods or services in return for money. In some cities such as Tallon or Adala, these are a powerful and organized group. In others, such as Karkul or Haven, most commerce is centrally controlled by the state (i.e. the Archony).
In Tallon, production and trade are controlled by the Guilds. These are organizations of people with similar trades who cooperate with one another in order to more efficiently control their activities and profits. Though the word "Guild" is used, they do not precisely match the medieval European model this word conjures. There is not a progression of Apprenice-Journeyman-Master for instance. Merikian Guilds are much closer to twentieth century Unions. The members pay a due and are entitled to certain rights and controls by their guild. Some guilds are more efficient or powerful than others. These include the Weavers and the Shipbuilders. Some are weaker, such as the Pathfinders or the Carpenters. Some are non-existant. There is no Farmers Guild, for instance; nor is there a Guards Guild. Even in cases like these, central control is still predominant.
Some Guildmasters are adepts, some are not. Each guild has its own rules about guildmaster succession and qualification. The shipbuilders is by tradition a Master, for instance, but the Brewers could care less, as long as you know hops from barley. The term Guildmaster is one of the few instances in which the word Master does not necessarily imply an Adept.
In addition to general Guildmasters, the Merchant Hall has a number of inter-guild positions. These are clerical or governing offices for the most part, and are used to settle disputes and to regulate trade from one guild to another.
Traders and Merchants: The term "Merchant" is usually separate from the term "Trader". A Trader may have a market place stall or a cart from which they sell. A Merchant is usually far richer and may employ many traders. But the major distinction is this. A trader sells within a single city or limited geographic area. The market he sells in is the same one he buys in. A Merchant is one who buys in one city or region and sells in a completely separate area. More information as applied to Merchant and trader characters may be found here.
A distinction must also be made between Merchant and Guild Merchant. While anyone buys and sells things for a living may call themselves a merchant or trader, this is different from being a dues-paying member of a particular Guild. A foreign merchant is referred to as "Merchant" out of courtesy, but unless they pay dues to a Tallon Guild, they are not Guild Merchants. By definition, there are no foreign "Traders".
Joining a Guild: Anyone who is a Merchant may apply for Guild membership. The dues are usually 5% of all annual profits, plus a set yearly sum. Periodic audits are required. Guild membership confers many benefits to its members, including legal advice and protection, bookkeeping, reduced rate loans, interguild prices, access to the Hall recreation areas (where much business is conducted), and so forth. Merchant benefits are slightly better than Trader benefits, though this is mostly a matter of income level and less of broadness of market. Foreigners may join guilds if they plan on staying in the business for any length of time. It is unlikely a foreigner could rise to an officer position without having had a lifetime to develop contacts, however.
Not Joining a Guild: There is no law that says you have to join a guild to practice business in the city. But there is considerable pressure to do so. Besides the benefits conferredupon guild members as outlined above, some guilds are fairly heavy-handed in dealing with outsiders. Midnight visits are not uncommon. Generally, the more powerful the guild, the harsher the treament of non-guild members. Non-guild businesses are more common on West Hill than the Promethean Hill. See more info under "Authority" below.
Taxes are collected by the Judges, as previously described. They are generally levied on property, though there goods or services that are taxed. These are generally things which rely upon public resources such as lumber or water.
Tariffs are trade controls usually instituted by guilds in order to control prices or supply and demand, and to protect themselves from foreign goods. In some cities, tariffs are imposed by the Archon upon the request of the guilds, but in Tallon, the guilds are fairly free to impose and police themselves. Many guilds employ trademarks, symbols upon goods that guarantee a certain minimal quality. Those trades which deal in services, such as the Pathfinders, use licences to the same effect. A merchant who hires non-guild (unlicensed) scouts is taking a risk when venturing into the wilds.
As implied, Archon Ningan is fairly liberal with his treatment of guilds. Ultimately, though, all authority comes from the Archon. A new Archon could effectively cripple the guilds by refusing to enforce their tariffs or to support their solidarity. They could even liquidate the guilds altogether. Thus, times of succession are always times of uncertainty and fear for craftsmen and traders.
Guilds in general regulate themselves, each enforcing their own by-laws and traditions. Most penalties are monetary in nature. For instance, a weaver who undercuts a minimum price set by the guild could have his membership revoked unless he pays a large fine. Loss of membership means that the Guild would no longer trademark his goods and people would be less likely to buy from him. Members of other guilds (i.e. the bulk of the working class) are usually pretty diligent in dealing only with guild-approved tradesmen and crafters.
Some guilds are more forthright in their dealings with non-guild activities. Non-licensed Brewers are frequently put out of business with a midnight raid by axe-wield Brewers Guild goons, for instance. As long as no murders are committed and the general peace is kept, the constabulary tends to allow these activities.
There are a number of different types of vessels employed by civilians of Tallon. By far the greatest number are employed to gather or transport food into the city. With very few exceptions, none of these are spirit-propelled.
Farm Barge: No one knows how many barges may be found throught the waterways of Tallon. Without them though, the city would surely starve. There just aren't enough carts and horses to transport the daily produce needed to feed the city. Instead, independant, hardy rivermen pole, paddle and sail barges up and down the shoreline. They take on produce until they can hold no more and then bring in into the city for unloading at the Green Docks or the Promethean Docks. Barges are nearly always broad, flatbottomed boats that depend heavily on the tide to get them where they need to go. A smart shopper in Tallon keeps an eye on the tide chart to know when they can find the freshest produce.
Fishing vessels: There is an endless variety of vessels designed to extract food from the sea. Trawlers, shrimpers, long liners, seiners, whalers, all have their place and purpose. Quite a few of the smaller vessels will actually dock at Trailhead or along the coast of the Inlet when not in use. This way, they save city docking fees.
Merchant Ships: There are a small number of spirit propelled merchant vessels, most notably the Columbia of Captain Crockett, but the vast majority are sail-powered ships. Merchant ships carry trade goods to and from other cities in the Merikian League. Sea travel is dangerous, and merchant ships are nearly always armed. Most captains have a set route they follow, always travelling to the same cities where they are known and accepted. Often merchant ships will travel in convoys for protection. There are probably 10-20 merchant ships in Tallon at any given moment. roughly a third will be of foreign make. Most foreign vessels dock at the Promethean Docks. Foreign sailors may often be found at the Bunks or in other parts of Mosaic.
The military is under the command of the general,who may or may not be an adept. Tallon's present general is a Grandmaster, a potent combination. The late General Trask of Karkul was not even an adept, but is widely recognized as a supreme strategist. All generals, be they adept or no will have a cabinet of advsors which contain adepts.
The military of Tallon is similar to the other military structures in the Merikian League. It is comprised of two branches, Army and Navy.
|Command Ranks||Enlisted Ranks|
In the Army, a Lieutenant commands a squad, a Commander a Platoon and a Captain a brigade. Special positions within the army may also carry a rank with them, though they do not necessarily command a body of men. These are usually support or advisory positions.
In the Navy, a Lieutenant rarely commands a ship, but is responisible for a portion of a ship's operation, such as engines or artillery-type devices. A Commander may either command a small vessel or is more likely high in the chain of command for a large vessel. A Captain usually commands a large vessel, though as in the army, there are some administrative positions which may hold this rank.
Each branch has an O4 rank. This is a rank held by the highest-ranking O3 as a proxy for the general. In other words, If the General is not available to command a sea operation, the highest ranking captain is referred to as the Admiral. The same holds true for the rank of Field Marshall. Note that while the General is directly commanding an operation, these titles are still used, but a Field Marshall or Admiral pretty much functions as a Captain. The field Marshall for the Army is named Denver, the Admiral is a man named Phoenix.
The army is divided into 3 corps: Infantry, Cavalry and Engineer.
The Infantry Corps is the bulk of the army and consists of , naturally, fighting men (and occasionally women) The infantry is divided up into brigades, platoons, squads. A Brigade is 1000 soldiers and comprised of ten platoons. A platoon is 100 fighters from 10 squads. Squads of special forces exist also which may directed separately from the main command structure. In a given brigade (Tallon has four), about half of the platoons are basic fighters, with the other half specialized as necessary. The non-specialized half may be released to civilian duty in time of peace. The specialized half can have any number of purposes. There are scout squads, assassination squads, mapping squads, etc. In an ideal situation, each squad would have at least one adept who possesses Spirit Sight.The number of available adepts is always less than required, however.
The Cavalry is divided into light, heavy, and armored. Light Cavalry is made of soldiers mounted on horseback. Heavy Cavalry are huge war Deezels. These animals are armored and contain a hardened box on their backs which can shield four men, usually archers. Other Deezels have harnesses on their backs for carrying up to 20 men. In this case the men have only their shields to protect them. There are about three hundred light cavalry units and one hundred heavy. The Armored Division is made up of a motley collection of various animated seige and combat engines, including meks. These are piloted devices. Unpiloted devices are under the control of the Engineer Corps.
The Engineer Corps has the highest number of adepts in the army. This part of the army controls all engines of warfare, meaning primarily combat golems. Some combat golems include:
Myrmidons: swarms of 6"-10" long metal ants that savagely bite the enemy.
Warhawks: Golem birds with any number of uses. Some attack enemy commanders, some carry combat messages, some carry lumina during night battles.
Sappers: Mechanical moles that undermine walls.
Berserkers: Any number of nasty spinny-bladed things designed to attack infantry.
Pitchers: Huge golem arms that throw loads of rock or flaming material.
There are many others. Some are constructed on the spot for specific battle needs.
The Navy is divided into fleets. These divisions change from time to time, but there are usually five fleets, each with 5-10 vessels. The primary ship types are:
Destroyers: Large well-armored and powerful vessels. Tallon has four; the flagship is the Waverider. All destroyers are spirit powered and otherwise spirit-enhanced. They may carry ballistas, catapults, water cannon or even rams. The only thing a Destroyer need fear is another Destroyer. Or a really, really big Kraken.
Transports: Large troop carriers. These can carry up to a hundred troops plus a good deal of equipment. A transport often is used by the corps of engineers to set up encampments or seige equipment.
AT Boat: The AT boat is the workhorse of the Tallon Navy. It is a small, lightly-armored, mobile craft capable of carrying about 20 troops. The AT boat is spirit-propelled, riding on special pontoons, each concealing a bank of paddle wheels. It is used to place squads wherever they may be needed, quickly and safely. It is wood-covered on all sides and has a hard wooden roof. It is capable of repelling arrows and spears with little trouble. All sides, plus roof and floor have removable sections to allow missile fire. The roof has a ballista mount, but the ballista is usually stowed. It takes a highly trained crew to use one effectively.
AT boats usually only have a permanent crew of three: Captain/Lineman, Mate and an otter.
Fireboats: Any vessel which can use a missile attack. The only difference between a Fireboat and a Destoyer is usually the size. Captains usually command Destroyers, while Commanders command Fireboats.
There are also a wide variety of support craft. Tallon has roughly 4 Destoyers, 5 Transports of varying sizes, 30 AT Boats, and about 25 Fireboats.
On rare occasions, the Admiral may allow merchant vessels to travel in the wake of a fleet. There is usually a charge for this, based upon a percentage of the cargos' worth. It is always an exciting and memorable time when a merchant caravan travels with a naval fleet. The quality and quantity of imported goods is usually much higher.
The military has one real objective: protect the homeland. This can either be reactive protection (break a seige) or proactive (conquer another city so they won't do it to you first.) Threats to the city come from two main sources: a) other cities or tribes and b) everything else. In peacetime, the military's primary duty is to keep chimerae and riven away from the city. As anyone who has travelled the Wilds can tell you, this is not an easy task. In peacetime, the army and navy are usually smaller than indicated above, though this really varies from ciy to city and from general to general.
As mentioned above, adepts in the military are always officers. There are a number of positions for adepts in the military. The lowest is Lineman, or one who holds spare leylines to valuable golem equipment. Linemen usually have other duties as well, since holding a ley line is not particularly stresseful. Some are scouts, since Spirit sight is invaluable for tracking enemy movement. There are also engineers, healers, probers, etc. A military career holds many opportunites for an adept.
Many Merikian cities employ mercenaries, barbarians, beasts or mutants in their armed forces. This is more common in the army than the navy and such personnel are rarely of high rank. Birds are particularly useful as spies and scouts. Fortunately for tacticians, Beast Birds are not very common.
The average foot soldier has a broadsword, a long chopping knife, and a short spear which can be held or thrown. Archers are armed with Medium sized long bows and twenty arrows apiece. They are armored with Studded Leather (DEF 3) 10-.
Specialist squads frequently have spirit weapons. They have either earned them through merit, or saved and purchased them independently. They are otherwise armed as other soldiers, though they may be issued special equipment. The most common is a Spirit Crossbow. This is a normal light crossbow with the exception that it only takes a half phase to reload instead of a full phase. The Spirit Crossbow has a small golem arm that puts arrow into place automatically. The drawing mechanism is frequently enhanced as well. Specialists wear studded leather with metal pieces strategically placed, giving them DEF 3 at 11-.
All personal weapons that are issued to soldiers are indelibly stamped "Army Property". To possess such a weapon without being in military service or possessing written authorization from the General is a death penalty. Spirit Crossbows are never privately owned.
In addition to normal military equipment, a Merikian army has some very specialized tools of war. All of these items require a well-trained adept to wield or direct properly. In addition to verbal commands, many of the golems here are designed to respond to special whistles, flares or other signals which can be used on a battlefield.
The Warhawk is a golem bird. It usually made of thin hardwoods with metal claws and beak. It is about the size of a small falcon (the spirit model). Though not as fast or agile as a real bird, warhawks are tireless and tougher than living avians. They are used for carrying messages long distances or in combat conditions, signalling distant troops, and most fearfully as anti-personnel weapons. They are frequently sent to gouge out the eyes of enemy commanders, for instance.
Myrmidons are hordes of small cheap golems modelled after large ants. They are used for harassment and spoiling of enemy forces. They are easily destroyed (by a strong foot stomp, for instance) and only have a 1 pip killing attack. They will mindlessly attack anything in their path however, and are good for disrupting formations and campsites, spoiling stores and equipment, and general demoralizing. They are often released in lots of 100. Of course, even with 1 pip, a horde like this is still capable of killing. See the Hero System Bestiary for rules on hordes.
Meks are the ultimate in combat golem. Meks are golem suits. They stand from ten to fifteen feet in height, depending on design. They are made of steel and have room in the chest cavity for a human (adept) operator. These are the tanks of the Savage Earth. Meks are notoriously difficult to build, maintain and operate, so an army will have at most a dozen or so. Assignment to a Mek is a high honor and a great responsibility. Each Mek is a unique creation and generally has a name. A Mek and its pilot share this name. A pilot is generally assigned to a Mek for life.
Meks are considered Vehicles, not Golems, for design purposes. As mentioned above, each is unique but they generally operate in the same range of ability. Here is a typical Mek in the Army of Tallon:
Buzzsaw Hand: 3d6+1 HKA AP
Meks use the Real Weapon Rules for their DEF.
War Golems are similar to Meks, but unmanned. They are not as intelligent or adaptable as Meks, but are often used in situations where human life (particularly adepts) may be in unnecessary peril. For instance, when encountering poison gas, fighting underwater, or other hostile environments.
Siege Engines are generally enhanced or animated to some degree. Since the actual design of them are unlikely to enter into game play, use siege engines statistics from Fantasy Hero, but halve the crew and take the reload time down one increment on the Time Chart (i.e. faster). Battering Rams should be considered Armor Piercing. Siege engines might optionally have a couple extra points of DEF,
The Raven is a flying machine. A bird golem large enough to carry two passengers, it was built for exploration by Mistress Dakota of Tallon. Its military uses are being evaluated by General Hannon, much to her chagrin. It has obvious tactical advantages, but the pilots are rather exposed and the construction is so light as to be extremely vulnerable.
All city walls are spirit enhanced. This has the primary effect of making them impervious to Reavers, and the only slightly less important effect of deterring attacks by Chimeras or foreign forces. Anywhere the need to protect people from reavers exists you will find spirit walls. This of course requires a resident adept to hold the ley lines. In a City, it is the responsibility of the Master Architect to assign adept to hold sections of the exterior wall. These ley lines are usually held by older, retired sighted folk, people with a diminished capacity or need to move about. Often clergy hold key parts of the walls. This is the primary reason for high urban density in the Merikian League. Walls are very necessary, but draw on limited resources to maintain. Even in cities which have natural boundries, such as a cliff will maintain some sort of spirit-enhancement along that edge.
Here are some common Spirit Fortifications:
The Spirit Guard were originally created as a personal guard for the Archony. By tradition, they evolved from the household of Carlo the Great, who charged them with their duties during the war with Boothia. Some scholars believe the tradition dates back further to M'Shaggan the Mad, who might have created them to enforce his insane will upon the populace.
In any case, for generations they were an elite force of adept-warriors beholden to the Archon. It was during the reign of Kanukka that they took on their darkest role. She subverted them into a secret police, using their abilities to ferret out resistance to her all-consuming will. They were much feared and in later years became rife with corruption. After Kanukka's fall, Archon Ningan officially dissolved the body. In reality, some of the more powerful members moved to other positions within the military, constabulary, religious or private sector.
During the war with the Celestial City, the repeated acts of sabotage, espionage and outright terrorism convinced Warlord Hannon that a new security force was necessary in order to safeguard the city's survival. He used his increased wartime powers (and the near-absence of the Archon) to revive the Spirit Guard under the direct control of the military. The new Spirit Guard is dedicated to finding and identifying traitors, terrorist and spies. Since this is a time of great crisis, they are assuming a role of ever-increasing power.
The Spirit Guard is composed entirely of adepts and likely number less than a hundred individuals, though their exact number is secret. They are organized thusly:
Watchers are adepts who are merely sighted and who possess no combat abilities to speak of. They are assigned roles of surveillance and minor investigation. They are often charged with a specific task, such as watching over an important person or key building or institution. For instance, while Tira was considered a strategic resource (an identified Sympath investigating the stolen scriptures of the Celestial City), she was assigned to the keeping of Watcher Larthine.
Sentinels are adepts with a small number of minor devotions and are highly skilled combatants. It is not unusual for one to possess some degree of spiritual enhancement as well, though they are generally incapable of enhancing themselves. The three most well-known Sentinels are Sotha, Surama and Phostor.
Inspectors are full Masters. They are all morphically enhanced to share a single appearance. One Inspector is indistinguishable from another, identified only by the distinctive color they wear. Inspectors so far encountered are Inspector Black, Inspector Gray and Inspector Scarlet. The idea behind this is that without any personal identifiers, an inspector cannot be compromised by threats to family or friends. It is rumored that Inspectors even occasionally swap colors, but there is no evidence that this is so.
This is a catch-all for cultural practices not noted elsewhere. In general, these traditions are common throughout Merikia. Significant differences are noted.
Marriage is a strong institution in Merikian society. Marriages are sanctified by the Church. There are no "civil ceremonies". The alternative to marriage is cohabitation. There is no social stigma to cohabitation or even having children out of wedlock. However, unions and families not consecrated have reduced legal standing. For instance, a spouse is generally considered to have control over the inheritance of their deceased partner. Likewise, lawfully begotten children have a claim to inheritance. If the spouse and subsequently the children were never consecrated, then the best claim for the inheritance goes towards surviving blood relatives.
For the most part, Merikian society is monogamous. Each city is slightly different. Tallon and Coralia for instance are rigidly monogamous. A couple may decide to separate, but they are considered married for all time in the eyes of the church. Only death can free a spouse to re-marry, and even then, the death must be free of any suspicion. Concubines are common and accepted however, as it is recognized that many people marry for political, social or monetary gain. Concubines and their begotten children have no legal standing, however. Concubines may be male or female.
In Adala, serial monogamy is the norm. Marriages are contracts that last until all begotten children are of legal age (fifteen in Adala). Marriages with no children can be dissolved by the Church. This is similar to the marriage custom of beast rabbits.
In Karkul, Polygyny is common. A man may have multiple wives, but the church must be satisfied he can provide for them all.
In Haven, normal folk are monogamous, while Adepts have a convoluted system of extended marriages. A person may marry as many as they wish and are considered "removed" from marriage unions their partners may have separately undertaken. Thus a man whose wife has taken another husband would call that man his "husband once removed" and so on.
Beasts of course have customs that vary by species and sometimes geographic area. Cats don't marry. Wolves marry one mate for life. Rabbits as mentioned above are serial monogamists.
Fostering: Merikia has a strong custom of fostering. It is common for a family to foster their children out to someone who can teach them a trade or better provide for them. Sometimes money changes hands, but often the fostering is just a mutually beneficial arrangement for all parties. The birth parents have one less mouth to feed and a useful connection to another family, the foster parents have a helping hand and someone to train in a business or trade. Fostered children are expected to continue to honor their birth parents, but are the charges of their foster parents. An adult may stipulate in their inheritance to divide up their bequest among their blood children and foster children, but it is not required. If not explicitly stated, blood children are the principal inheritors.
Adepts are very likely to foster. Since Adeptitude is not an inherited trait, many adepts look for a young and likely adept to foster. In this way, they may pass down a family business that requires adept abilities. Adepts are less likely to provide for equal inheritance between blood and foster and fostered adepts are often favored.
Children are sometimes fostered from one city to another. This usually occurs when the educational opportunities are better at another city, or the family giving up the child has a scandal to cover up, or a political enemy to avoid. Every fostered child's story is different.
Death can be put off for a time with adept abilities, but all people eventually come under its sickle. Adepts can heal damage and reduce the effects of aging, but these are temporary fixes. A person who is over a hundred years old needs more and more help every year, just to stay viable. Eventually, no enhancement is great enough and the degenerative end comes quickly.
In terms of healing damage, amazing feats can be performed with adept abilities. Organs can be regrown, nerves regenerated and limbs reattached or replaced with animated prosthetics. At the extreme, an otherwise dead person can be transmigrated into a completely artificial body which theoretically lasts forever. (see Animates). Corpses have been re-animated by strange arts from far Mingatok.
The Merikian church believes and teaches that when a person is at last well and truly dead, their spirit goes to join Cosmos, the spirit of the universe. A minor schsim exists in the church as to whether all aspects of spirit make the transition, or just the psyche. Adherents of the former belief note that the psyche disappears instantly at death, the body no longer possesses any anima, and its morphia is weakened to the point where it quickly succumbs to rot and decay. Those who claim only the psche transcends claim that Anima and Morphia are tied into the physical world, and that the afterlife is a purely spiritual existence; only the ineffable psyche can exist there.Here all psyches co-mingle in some great harmonious yet ineffable plan. They claim the anima and morphia of a body just disappear into the ambient spirit of creation. Only the psyche is believed to be truly individuated and immortal.
Whatever the truth of these matters, there is strong folk belief that a psyche can linger around if there is unfinished business for it. Whether "ghosts" really exist is a mystery. Everyone seems to know someone who has a story, though.
Funerals usually involve a procession, as the deceased body is carried from a church, where some sacrament is performed, to a place of final rest. All who attend the services are expected to make the walk. In Tallon, as in some other cities, the procession is a silent one where the attendees all hold candles. In bad weather, lanterns are used. Funerals are seldom rained out because bodies do not last long in the climate of Merikia.
Interment practices vary from city to city. Burial is common, as is cremation. Within city walls, encryptment is usually preferred. Some bereaved family members pay exorbitant sums of money to have the body of a loved one preserved intact. Special morphist/animists have developed extensive skills in this area.
Archons are always spiritually preserved, at least in the League. The bodies of dead archons are nearly always kept in some sort of crypt or mausoleum. It is rumored that in Mingatok, the bodies of Archons are destroyed, however, lest they re-animate.
All of the cities of the Merikian league practice slavery to some degree or another, in the sense that slavery implies enforced servitude. In general there are three types of slaves:
Indentured Servants: A person may sell themselves into a period of servitude to pay off a debt, or to secure a loan. In Tallon, most students in the Hall of Art are indentured for 10 to 20 years. For example, they may contract with a merchant to pay for their education if they will serve as ship's adept on a spirit craft for ten years. They may indenture themselves to a merchant, a Master, a craftsman, a city or religious official or anyone else who might have the necessary funds. Indentured servants have all the rights of a citizen other than that they are subject to the orders of their master. They can vote, press charges, pursue happiness, etc. In Tallon, an indentured servant may pay off his debt early, should he manage to accumulate the funds on his own. In other cities, the period of bondage is mandatory.
Property: These are human, beasts or otherwise who have no right to their own persons. They are owned and may be bought from or sold to others. Most slaves of this type are spoils of war. Many cities see this as a kindness, since the alternative for such people is often death. Soldiers or able-bodied fighters would otherwise have been slain on the spot, whereas spouses and children would have been left to starve or have been killed by wild animals. The only such slaves in this category in the city of Tallon are people taken from the Karkulite campaign 20 years ago. The number is very small and the Archon has done much to guarantee a certain amount of basic consideration in their treatment. Other cities are different. In Mingatok, it is rumored that large numbers are not only slaves, but not even seen as independent beings. They may be beaten, starved, tortured or killed at the whim of their owners. There are rumors of even worse treatment. In Cambridge and Boothia, children of slaves are also slaves and there is a vibrant slave market. Sometimes slaves are captured from the Shattered Isles. Supposedly all such are the result of some kind of battle, but the reality is they are often bought from sources in the isles themselves, i.e. other Sea Tribes.
Thralls: The last slave class is the dreaded "thrall". A thrall is a person who has had their free will destroy by a skilled Psychist. A thrall is happy to be a slave. Thralldom is illegal in Tallon, but perfectly common in other cities, notably Orodon and Mingatok. In the former it is limited to criminals and invaders; in the latter it is endemic to the society. It is also rumored to be practiced by the mysterious Saginaw.
Thralldom can be hereditary. Enhanced spirit characteristics may sometimes be passed on to offspring if the actual spiritual ideal is altered. Since only a Grandmaster may later a spiritual ideal, and usually only once, the use of such power is almost never used for something of so little use. It is only in cities such as the Hidden City of the Saginaw and possibly Mingatok that there is a booming Thrall class. It is presumed that at some point in their history, one or more strong workers were enthralled by altering their spiritual ideal. These were bred into a docile and hard-working slave class.
For slave prices, see the price list.
The oldest profession continues to thrive throughout Merikia. The status of prostitutes varies widely from city to city. In Karkul, they are government owned and operated, the women are virtual slaves of the state. In Boothia, it's just another profession, and like anything, to be appreciated if you do it well. In Tallon, Prostitution is extra-legal. that is, there are no laws specifically governing it. Laws on slavery apply in most cases. These laws are often used to the benefit of flesh peddlers, who trick or coerce girls into indentures they can never escape.
Nevertheless, some organizations of prostitutes are relatively benign and offer decent wages and working conditions. There are even repectable brothels, or Blue Houses as they are called for some long-forgotten reason. The greedier elements of the city continually work against any effort to create a Harlot's Guild.
Note: All references to girls and women above can also be considered to apply to boys and men.
Merikian society would collapse were it not for the work of adepts. The vast amount of food needed to support a city could not be grown in the relatively small amount of territory that can be reliably held and farmed were it not for spiritually enhanced crops. Some of these crops are the result of domesticated foodstuffs culled from the wilds, but the bulk produce of the city is the result of careful Morphic and Animic manipulation. In previous generations, grandmasters skilled and knowledgeable in the art of agriculture used their abilities to make foods staples of unbelievable yield. By altering the spiritual ideal of parent plants, they created enhanced species that would breed true. These crops are jealously guarded by their cities and indeed, some may only grow so well or nourishingly in their home soil.
In Tallon, there are three main staples: Long rice, redbean, and Tallon wheat. The rice is served with nearly every dish. The redbean is packed with an amazing vitamin content and Tallon wheat grows so fast that significant time and effort is expended in merely tying to contain it. The result is that a square mile of land can support thousands of people. Without these crops, a Merikian city would die. The difficulty of holding farming land against the wilds is too great.
This situation is not so pronounced in Merikian cities that have a high degree of natural seclusion. Haven sits upon Kingwell Island and the cities of Boothia and Melvil lie upon peninsulas. In each case, the cities have managed to secure large areas of land with a moderate expenditure of manpower. These cities lack spirit crops to any meaningful degree.
Protein comes from the sea, by and large. Fish and other seafood is the most common meat consumed in Merikia. There are some small herds of sheep, cows and goats, but the meat is generally expensive. Haven by exception has a large herd of cattle.
Sporting events are far more reminiscent of the deep past than of the lost 21st century. In most cities, gladiatorial events are the main attraction, followed by chariot racing, animal racing and martial displays from benign wrestling and fencing down to murderous pit-fighting. In Tallon, the more brutal sports have been outlawed. There is a black market in pit fighting, but the out-and-out slaughters of the arena have been replaced with the far less popular mock combat and military re-enactments.
Chariot racing is the preferred sport now. It does entail danger and often blood is shed, but murder is not the objective of the competition, so it survived the reforms of Ningan. Chariots usually compete in teams with several variations in equipment and rules. There are five teams in Tallon, each named for a color. Blue and Green are the most popular, followed by Red, Black and Purple.
By far the most popular game is Spirit Chess. This is similar to modern Chess in that pieces of varying movement ability contest on a checkered board. However the goal of Spirit Chess is to capture a set of Standing Stones and then build and hold a city around them. Complete rules may be found here.
There are three types of education in most Merikian Cities: Excellent, Functional, and None. In Tallon, the very wealthy and most adepts are educated at the Hall of Art. Here they may receive instruction in all aspects of Merikian Life: Literature, Philosophy, Spiritism, Business and Art. The price is so high though, that students must nearly always find a patron.
Tradesmen and others of moderate means who wish to educate themselves or their children may enroll them in any number of private schools. This education is almost always of an academic nature, primarily reading, writing and simple arithemetic. The Archony controls the curriculum, and uses this power to maintain the lofty status of the Hall of Art and to ensure cutlural conformity. Students are taught to read by using the Book of Standing Stones as the sole textbook. Mathematical instruction is enough to do the four basic processes, enough to keep a simple ledger or manage personal finance. In some cases, a bit more can be learned by employing a private tutor. They may often be convinced to expand the curriculum beyond the limits of an open school. In repressive times, such as the reign of Kanukka, this practice was punished harshly. The present Archony turns a blind eye.
The bulk of the populace is illiterate and ignorant.
With very little variation, this social order may be found in virtually all societies using the Standing Stones The Book reveals that there is a Scala Spiritus , or Ladder of Spirit which all beings are ranked by.
The top of the Ladder rests upon the Prime Ideal, the creative force behind the universe. The Prime Ideal is sometimes referred to as the Creator or Deus, though it is a very impersonal creator, not visualized as an actual being. Notice that the ladder is said to rest upon the Ideal. The Ideal is not on the ladder, but is the thing that supports it. The top rung is held by Prometheus the Lawgiver. He is the ultimate interpreter of the Ideal, and the basis for Spiritism. Just below him stand the Disciples, often referred to as the Prometheans or even "the gods". These rungs are outside the common experience and hold only beings who have transcended material existence. They are the Scaletta Pura, places held by spiritually ideal beings.
Below this are the Scaletta Mundi, or the rungs of the World. The topmost rung is held by the Archon. Below him are Grandmasters, Highmasters, and Masters in that order. Adepts and the Sighted follow.
Although the Merchants are technically below the sighted and non-Master adepts, in practice the very wealthy have enough power and clout that many of them treat lesser adepts as social equals or rarely, inferiors. It's tricky socially, but in some cities (such as Tallon), Merchants are often strong enough to get away with it.
Below Merchants are traders, farmers, sailors and most soldiers. The next lower rung is occupied by common laborers, barbarians, beasts, and slaves. Below that are talking animals, dumb animals, plants, and then rocks.
There is some vertical movement possible, but usually by no more than a single rung. Military service is a good way to enhance one's prestige. Where you live can enhance your social standing as well. Those living in cities are higher than those living outside.
There are three classes of being outside the Scala Spiritus:
1. The Demon Kings. Although they might be considered by some the true architects of Spiritism, they are widely regarded as "others" and "outsiders." Even the Stones are uncelar as to what they were and therefor they are not considered part of the heirarchy of spirits.
2. Animates are generally outside of the social ranking system, being accepted by all classes., though they are often treated as somewhat feeble-minded.
3. The Riven are considered to have left the Scala Spiritus. Those who are "acceptible" Riven may have a position about a rung lower than what would be normal for their class. For instance, a Riven Farmer would rank lower than an unriven farmer. In times of trouble however, people are oft apt to deny the riven any place at all. Chimera and Krakens fall into the category of riven.
The Scala may vary slightly from city to city (and sometimes even within a single city) and these variations can be the cause of religious schism. Purists in Tallon, for instance, are firmly opposed to the inclusion of Riven in the Scala Spiritus. The Archbishop is inlined to allow them provisionally. This was not so during the reign of Kanukka, when even the most minor reavings were routinely purged.
Purism is a philosophy or system of thought created by Archon Kanukka the Red, early in her reign. It is a strict and radically conservative view of the Scala Spiritus. It holds that there should be no movment along the ladder, that people are born to a particular station and prominence and should remain there. Any attempt to become other than what you are is an affront to the Lawgiver and a contradiction of the designs of the Deus.
In practical terms it is a philosophy designed to maintain the status quo. Beasts should be servile and subordinate to humans, humans to adepts and so forth. It does not allow for mixing of races or classes. Beasts should cleave to their own, live with their own and pray with their own. Riven, being off the Scala Spiritus entirely, are to be destroyed.
Later in Kanukka's reign, this was perverted to justify all manner of social subjugations, marginalizations and outright murder, all in the name of preserving order. When Ningan became Archon, all Purist content was dropped from official liturgy. Priests could maintain a Purist attitude if they wished, but radical interpretations would not be supported. To this day, there is a sizable Purist contingent within the city. Although most are simply social conservatives (including strangely enough, many beasts and mutants), there are still quite a few who would like things to return to the Bad Old Days.
Women in the Savage Earth have generally the same opportunities as men. Though they rarely opt for military service, female soldiers are not unheard of. The fact that adepts are fairly equally distributed among the sexes has some egalitarian cultural reinforcement Women are farmers, traders, merchants, priests and even Archons. There has never been a female warlord, notably. This attitude can vary from city to city, but in general, the social lot of women is pretty good compared to much of earth history.
NOTE: It would be highly likely for a world such as the Savage Earth to be a completely oppressive patriarchy However, this is not often fun to role play.
Clothing Styles are shown on the World page, since they include styles not necessarily Merikian, but also things worn by barbarians. To re-iterate here, clothing is minimal in the Merikian area. Like equatorial societies throughout history, clothing is more of a hindrance than a comfort. In Tallon, the clothing is usually of loud and vibrant colors and patterns, with ornamentation to match. Though not dandified, the average Tallonite is not afraid of color.
Merikian art varies from City to City of course, but in general, sculpture is similar to classical Greek and Roman styles: Naturalistic, but idealized. Paintings are mostly frescoes and tend towards bright colors with a slightly impressionist feel. The personality of a portrait is more important than accurate recording.
In religious art, Prometheus is never pictured, only his disciples. It is believed that the spirit of the Lawgiver has joined Deus and is too great to be expressed in mundane works. Haven notably disagrees and Havenish icons of Prometheus are often forbidden imports in other cities.
Music varies widely as well. For personal performances, guitar, flute and drums are common instruments. There are no keyboard instruments. An interesting note is that many popular tunes of the Ancients still exist, though in distorted form. They have been handed down in a sort of oral tradition through the centuries, and have eventually lost their original meanings and lyrics, but the melodies endure. Further information may be found above.
A Paladin or group thereof serves a master. The master is slain and the Paladin must avenge his death. The drama is heightened by the fact that the Paladin grows progressively weaker throughout the play, making his task much harder. Often the play requires travelling to the Wilds or a foreign city, further isolating the Paladin. The play concludes with a combat in which the Paladin, faced by vastly overwhelming forces, avenges the death of his master, usually dying in the end. Paladin plays are the most popular, possibly because of the simple plot filled with action and adventure.
These are variations on the founding of a city or the discovery of Standing Stones. The events may or may not be based on historical fact, but the play always starts in chaos and ends in order. The characters may begin as pilgrims or barbarians, but usually end up in a formal social structure with an Archon to lead them from savagery to civilization.
The drama usually comes from the threat to the progression of events from outside sources such as the riven, barbarians or beast tribes. Some plots feature Demon-Kings. It is a stage convention that Demon-Kings are never shown, only heard. The same is usually true for Prometheans, but this is not a hard and fast rule. History plays tend to be talky and more cerebral than the others, attracting a more literate crowd.
This is the opposite of a History play in that the play starts in order, with a happy prosperous city and progress into chaos. The trigger to this is usually someone breaking a social compact. Either the Archon becomes despotic, a beast slays a Master or a priest, or the Standing Stones are desecrated. It is something that works against the Ladder of Spirit that gives each person their place in society. The play may or may not end up with order restored, but not before a lot of people die. Tragedies are the least common of the three plays, but usually the deepest and best-written.
Architecture differs so greatly throughout the League that there is not really a Merikian style. In Tallon, buildings are generally either marble or bamboo with a modified wattle-and-daub. In Karkul, everything is stone; in fact most of the city is carved from the native bedrock. Orodon is entirely wood and built on piers over the brackish everglades. Adala is similar to Tallon, but whereas the jewel is bright and multicolored, Adala is a sedate variety of earth tones. No one would dye the cobbles of an Adalan street. Boothia is a vast series of living shaped trees, like an enormous baobab. Melvil is terraced and nearly vertical in places. Cambridge is a pastiche of soaring towers and impossible structures. Haven is a honeycombed plateau with waterfalls streaming from it.
All Merikian cities share a few salient features, though. Firstly, they are all centered around a group of Standing Stones. Adepts usually have a secluded area near the Stones. All Merikian cities are compact. Enhanced walls keep out reavers and walls are difficult to maintain. Many wealthier citizens build their households along the lines of small fortresses, a holdover from less civilized times.
Farmlands are protected somehow, either with natural geographic features such as the island nature of Haven's Kingwell, or man-made barriers such as ditches or dikes. In the areas outside of cities, people have access to Sanctuaries, enhanced buildings held by the Church which may be used as refuges by any people during a reaver attack. Most outlying areas build refuges against chimeras as well.