Society of Quadarc
Quadarc is a Late TL3 to early TL4 society, shaped by the following major factors:
1. The Thearchy: The Gods are undisputedly real entities with demonstrable power. They ruled the plane of Quadarc for several hundred years during a period known as the Thearchy. See History of Quadarc for more information.
2. Gods of Quadarc: People believe the gods to be at war with hostile entities known as The Outer Gods. Because the Gods are fully engaged with keeping Quadarc safe from this menace, they can no longer assist people directly in in daily affairs. Instead, the Gods’ power is manifest through clergy that speak the Holy Tongues. See Gods of Quadarc for more information
4. Chimera and Godspawn: The offspring of all species — both sapient and non-sapient — are occasionally born with special powers. Human children with these powers are known as Godspawn. Animal offspring are known as Chimera. See Chimera and Godspawn for more information.
5. The Corpax: In response to the corruption of the undead and the mutation of the chimera and Godspawn, the citizens of Quadarc strongly value wholeness of body. Thus all of society is organized into body-like units called Corpa. See The Corpax page for more details.
The remainder of this page discusses other aspects of society influenced by these facts.
How do people worship?
Most “respectable” people belong to one or more temples of the Gods of Quadarc. These people attend regular worship sessions lead by clergy. The clergy belong to hierarchical administrations that are typically powerful, both magically and temporally. Like everything else in life in Quadarc, the clerical hierarchy is organized according the principles of The Corpax.
Poorer people pray to one or more gods in pidgin versions of the Holy Tongues, and have charms and rituals to bring the God’s favor into everyday life.
Well-to-do ships, businesses, and households typically have a voteme. Voteme (plural voteme) are ancient altars, left over from the time of the Thearchy. Each voteme is devoted to a particular God. In form, a voteme is a fixed, closed vessel, that is closest in form to an oven. Voteme may range from the size of a mailbox to the size of a walk-in closet. Worshipers place offerings into a voteme, close the door, and pray to the associated God. The offerings within a voteme disappear when unobserved, taken up by the Gods. It is believed that the Gods perform small favors in response to such offerings.
What are the funereal rituals?
Since 1 in 100 corpses, if left untreated, will rise as an Undead, and 1 in 10,000 will become a Hadraghaunt, proper disposal of the dead is an extremely important part of Quadarcan life. Last rights are administered by clerics of Angkidu, who ensure that the body stays dead. Destruction of the body is the easiest way to ensure they don’t come back. However, wholeness of body is an important Quadarcan value (see The Corpax). Thus, the wealthier the deceased, the more elaborate the ritual to make the body stay dead, but more “intact”:
- Cremation: Poor people are almost always cremated, never buried. While not an ideal form of burial, cremation is considered a reasonable compromise, as the body is destroyed completely,
- Pithing: Middle class decedents are generally “pithed.” A large spike is driven from the top of their head, down through their spinal column. The fee for pithing covers the cost of the forging of the spike as well as a skilled priest of Angkidu to perform the ritual. Richer middle class will have elaborate pithing spikes, made from precious metals, and decorated with runes in the language of their favored God or Gods
- Dirge of Final Rest: An Angkiduan priest can cast a spell that will keep a corpse from rising. However, due to the time involved, the precision, and materials needed, this tends to be very expensive.
- Water of Final End: This thick, slimy, iridescent liquid is found in isolated pools located in the remotes, most inaccessible regions of Quadarc. It is rare and expensive, primarily because it is extremely hard to transport. The Water of Final End disintegrates most inorganic or dead matter. The only things that seem immune are living beings, the magical pools where the liquid is found, and specially blessed orichalcum vessels can carry the stuff. The very wealthy carry vials of this substance with them when they are traveling without an Angkiduan priest. If such a rich worthy thinks they are near death, they will imbibe a few drops of the substance. Then, if they die, they will be disintegrated completely. The completeness of the destruction is considered remaining whole in a way that dismemberment or cremation are not, and it is far preferable to becoming undead.
Murder, theft, kidnapping, and most other “normal” crimes are illegal, as expected. Punishments include
- State Slavery
- Dismemberment and disfigurement
The following crimes are somewhat unique to the society of Quadarc:
- Blasphemy – Worship of any of the “dark gods” is a crime. These include: Felarin, Hadragor, Nugritu, or the Outer Gods. The authorities will often torture a blasphemer to help them come back to the right faiths, but the punishment for continuing to blaspheme is death.
- Kinetheft – Even touching a pharmakine without the permission of a Kinelord or Kinewarden is a crime, punishable by amputation of the offending parts
- Deadharbor – Hiding undead from the authorities is illegal. Typically this is charge is leveled at sentimental folk who cannot bear to part with a favored pet or a loved one who has passed on, then returned to unlife. For non-dangerous Undead, such as a house cat or an elderly parent, punishment can be simply a large fine. Harboring an undead predator or a large group of undead is punishable by death.
- Spawnharbor – Except for clergy specifically charged with the duty, interacting with Godspawn in any way is a crime. This charge is most often leveled at parents who wish to raise a human-looking Godspawn in their own home as a normal child. Punishable by flogging
Also, owning the following items is a crime:
- Nullstone – a heavy reddish mineral that nullifies magic and holy powers, and sickens people iwho remain in contact with it for long periods of time. Nullstone is found in deep caves and the remote peaks of the Bone mountains. Punishment for poseesion is usually forced ingestion of the nullstone. Thus, the severity of the punishment is directly proportional to the amount of nullstone.
- Godspawnalia – There is a rich, black market trade in “holy” or “powerful” relics made from parts of deceased Godspawn (bones, horns, skin, etc). Many of them are fakes, many do nothing, but some are known to allow the bearer to wield the power the originating Godspawn had when it was alive. Owning Godspawnalia (real or fake) is considered Spawnharbor, and punishable by flogging.
- Cordyceps – This fungus, grown in the Pantroglid Homelands that can be used to control the minds of sapient beings. Punishment of possession or use.of the substance is state slavery, as an eye-for-an-eye-style punishment for trying to ensalve another’s will.
- Endic – A very rare, greyish powder that can disintegrate living beings. It is rumored to be the detritus of the Gijihale, and incredibly dangerous. Very few people are aware of where it comes from or how it is made, and it is very difficult to dispose of safety. Ownership is punishable by a long, painful interrogation as to its origin, followed by death.
While the following practices are not illegal per-se, they are frowned upon by most of proper society:
- Disreputatble Worship: – Many areas have a favored God. In these areas, worshiping that God and Gods closely aligned is considered pious. Worship of Gods hostile to that God — while not blasphemy — is somewhat disreputable, and suspect. Examples include:
- Elmethyn is disreputable in Altabraxis
- Altabrax is disreputable in Xantos
- Karhadris is disreputable in Invocheya
- Molmet is disreputable in most urban areas (no one likes a fire-worshiper in a densely packed, mostly-wooden city)
- Prostitution – Prostitution is legal in most places, and considered Holy by Vessani. In fact, priests and priestesses of Vessani are often temple prostitutes. Many followers of other Gods (Invocheya, Molmet, Olivoleth, and Karhadris, for example) distrust the practice. They consider it a corrupting influence, and a possible vector of influence for the Dark Gods.
- Slavery – Slaves can be bought and sold legally, but the practice is becoming outmoded, and “enlightened” or “modern” people consider chattel slavery to be barbaric. State slavery — the practice of using prisoners to do manual labor for the government — however, is common, and accepted. State slavery is non-transferrable, and non-hereditary, and has a defined duration (though that duration may be life). Since no one can be born-into state slavery, most people consider state slavery to be legitimate and justified, as the enslaved are thought to have “deserved it.”
- Nil Coprax – those who do not belong to some form of Corpa are generally suspected to be criminals. The logic goes, “everyone is part of a Coprax, so if this person isn’t known to belong to one, they must belong to a secret Coprax that is doing something terrible.”
- Unlicensed Drugs – Drugs are not illegal, but are “controlled substances:” the only legitimate way to get ahold of these drugs is via the Kinelords or the clergy of the associated God. If one has drugs on their person, but are not associated with the God, profession, or Corpax associated with that drug, the assumption is that the drugs were obtained through crime.
Powerful drugs are common on Quadarc. Most drugs are associated with the God of the pantheon which seems “appropriate” to the effects of the drug. As stated above, drugs are not illegal, but are “controlled substances,” in that they clergy of the associated God is generally the only way to get ahold of the substance. Example drugs are:
- Sunsalve (Atabrax) – An ointment that can heal minor burns, cuts, etc. Made from the eggs of a rare bird
- Firethorn (Onegaro) – A stimulant, about 5x as strong as caffeine, usually made into teas. Made from the thorns of a bush that grows on volcanoes
- Crimson (Vessani) – An aphrodisiac. Delivered as an oil or lotion, pressed from the petals an island flower
- Mutabega (Elmathyn) – A mutagen that can give minor, temporary Godspawn-like powers. A paste made from roots deep in the Forest of Changes
- Heartweed (Xephilessa) – A medium-strong sedative, smoked in pipes. Grows as a tall grass in hot climates.
- Reflection (Olivoleth) – Enhances focus, and can be used to recover lost memories. A shiny, mineral powder.
- Bricks (Karhadris) – A strength enhancer that deadens pain and makes people less distracted. Delivered as a beer, brewed from a desert grass
- Lightning (Perciphron) – Reduces the need for sleep for several days. A clear fluid, distilled from seaweed
- Deepdream (Invocheya) – A mild hallucinogen that causes vivid — and perhaps prophetic — dreams. Made from a cave fungus.
- Inferno (Molmet) – Enhances endurance, speed, and strength, but also gives a hair-trigger temper. A red powder created from animal waste.
Since most of these drugs are made from rare items originating in remote areas, good quality drugs, are expensive. However, over the last century or so, such rare drugs have slowly begun to be replaced by the Pharmakine drugs of the Kine Lords (for more information, see Pharmakine and the Kine Lords ).
Disagreements within a Corpax are resolved by the Capital in consultation with the Cordis. It a resolution cannot be reached within the Corpax, or multiple Corpa are in disagreement, disagreements have one of several routes to resolution:
- Clergy: If a the disagreement clearly falls within the domain of a particular God, the clergy of that god typically make the final decision. The clerics of Perciphron decide Shipping disputes, Angkiduan priests resolve wrongful death suits, and Vessanites resolve matters of love and marriage, etc
- Plenary Courts: The Plenary Council has Plenary Courts that can convene to resolve most major disputes. Plenary courts are groups of 7 citizens of high standing, specifically convened to hear evidence and make decisions. Their decisions are considered final, with no appeal
- Corpax Belli (Belacor): Corpax who do not wish to have their affairs decided by the Plenary Courts can opt for trial by ritualized combat. The combatants in these combats are teams of specialists, known as Corpax Belli, aka war corpa, or belacor for short. Matches between belacor, known as War Parties, make up a major part of political and entertainment life of the cities of Quadarc. For more information, Belacor and War Parties.
See the Belacor and War Parties page for information about the most prominent participant and spectator sport.
Card Game: Thearchy
The most form of gambling is based on the card game Thearchy, named after the era when the Gods walked the earth. A Thearchy deck has 16 suits, one for each of the Gods of the pantheon. Each suit contains cards for the God, their Avatars, and their Servitors. The game proceeds by each player trading cards very rapidly by adding money to the central pot. Winning hands each have names corresponding to specific battles against the Outer Gods. Play is fast paced, and chaotic, and stakes can grow large very quickly. Many an inexperienced player has been sent to the poor house in a game of Thearchy.
Boardgame: Game of Gates
For players of a more strategic bent, the board-game Gates provides a slower, more thoughtful pastime. Gates is most likely the oldest surviving game on Quadarc, and is thought to date back to the Triangle Wars between the three Gatewalker kingdoms.
Gates is like a magical cross between chess and go. Gates pieces are enchanted such that certain configurations the pieces on the board cast spells which move other pieces on the board. The objective of the game is to use these spells to force pieces through one of the 3 gates at the corners of the triangular board.
The enchantment runes for Gates pieces are so well known, that any reasonably skilled craftsman can create a Gates board in their chosen medium (stone, glass, metal, wood, etc). However, the magical theory and mechanism behind these runes are not understood at all, even by the most gifted mages and clerics. Some thaumaturgists believe that someone who could unlock the hidden mechanism of the Gates pieces would become the most powerful mage on Quadarc.
As a late medieval society, Quadarc is still primarily rural, with people living on feudal estates ruled by petty lords. Estates are organized according as Corpax, with peasants forming the Cruces, craftsmen forming the Bracchi, the clergy as the Cordis, and the noble family forming the Capital. The Corpax proportions instruct the nobles on the ideal ratio between these various elements to keep the estates economically viable.
Larger feudal units (duchies, earldoms, kingdoms, etc), are simply fractal Corpa. For example, the current Kingdom of Bright Progress is a large, loosely knit fractal Corpa, with its Cordis as the Altabraxine clergy centered in Altabrax, its Capital as the royal Court of the Shining Throne. The petty rural estates make up the Cruces, and the Royal Army are its Bracchi.
Most of the major cities of the continent of Noramnus were founded during the Thearchy as the seats of the Gods. Today they are pale shadows of their former glory. Much of their architecture was devastated by the War of the Outer Gods, and since the departure of the Servitors and Avatars, the magical power to rebuild on the same scale has gone from the land.
Nonetheless, the cities are hubs of trade, the centers of political power, and hotbeds of magical and mundane innovation. Since going by water is still the fastest means of travel (see below), cities are costal or riverine, and ideally both.
Cities are generally ruled by an uneasy coalition between the Corpa of the major industries in the region, and the Corpa of the dominant clergy. To the degree that the interests of those two align, the city can be peaceful and smoothly run. Often however, the government is a snake pit of political intrigue, blackmail, infighting, and backstabbing.
- Sail ships – Sailing technology in Xantos is Late TL3 to early TL4.
- Odonti Pods – for fast package delivery pods of Odonti (sapient dolphins), can be contracted. They will carry a few pounds to distant ports for the promise of gemstones (and only gemstones… they have no use for gold)
- Galleys – galleys are a common mode of travel, with the oars manned by slaves, prisoners, and the poor
- Gemskiffs – the cigarette boats of Xantos, these are small, blazingly-fast craft powered by gems holy to Xephilessa. Only the hyperwealthy can own a Gemskiff, and they are usually guarded by one or more armed Tardigrades
- Caravans – Given the prevalence of undead, chimera, and lawlessness in the hinterlands, most long distance travel is in armed caravans
- Gateroads – the Gatewalkers left behind high-quality, durable roads, that remain in good shape till this day. They are maintained by magic. The gate roads connect the ancient sites of the Gates. Most of today’s cities were built near these Gates, and so the roads connect them