Life In Celegia
One of the most important aspects of any world is, of course, the people who live there. The people of Celegia are no exception. One of the things which the reader must keep in mind is the fact that the world of Celegia is not Earth. The construction of the basic building blocks of matter on Earth are well known, and are hundreds of types of atoms and particles. The basic building blocks of matter on Celegia are also well known, and are the nine Fundaments. The particles and atoms on Earth behave using laws, which are reasonably well understood. The nine Fundaments on Celegia also behave using laws, and the Celegians understand them reasonably well. This means that the citizens of Celegia are neither ignorant nor wrong to believe the way they do, because in their world, the rules are different. The concept of the Fundaments and the way in which they behave are crucial to comprehending the physical world of Celegia. In Celegian terms water flows downhill because it is a plunging fundament and the fundament force causes plunging Fundaments to move downward. Air grows more abundant the higher you climb a mountain, because air is a vaulting fundament and force causes it to move upward. On Earth this is the opposite of the effect you would expect, but on Celegia it is a simple fact of life. The most valuable land in Celegia is that which is high in altitude, because life, the fundament, is a vaulting fundament. A Celegian would not understand what the word "gravity" means, since in Celegia there is no such thing as gravity.
Another aspect of the world of Celegia that is radically different from Earth is the fact that magic exists. It not only exists, it is exuberantly present in every facet of life, as ubiquitous and accepted as electricity. Even the most humble of Celegian homes is brightly lit by enchanted crystals. Food is cooked and dwellings are heated by clean and safe portable magical fires, which burn nothing but fundamental fire and leave no smoke, soot, or dirt. Magic is so prevalent that over ninety percent of the population, grandmothers, children, and all, can tap the manafield for minor and useful effects. Bathing is a strictly social activity for most Celegians, since a moment's concentration will whisk away dirt and grime and leave that "squeaky clean" feeling. Since everyone is so widely exposed to the effects of magic, there is no social stigma or fear of it, and becoming a magician is a highly respected career.
Another of the facts of existence in Celegia is the fact that mankind is not alone in the world. Strange and eldritch entities exist that are both more and less than humans. Most of them are spirits of various sorts, and the world of Celegia is awash with them. Nearly every house has at least one minor spirit that has claimed it as an abode. Nearly every place and feature of the Celegian world has a spirit living in, on, or near it. Bridges are always provided with shrines for the spirits to live in. Crossroads almost always have a spirit that will direct travelers if appeased. Entire towns, cities, or neighborhoods may have become the abode of mighty spirits who have decided to live there. Graveyards are hazardous places, because more often than not they really are haunted. The nightmares of children can and do take form and walk the night, and dangerous things they can be, too. Every Celegian is taught as a child that they live in a world that is basically and emphatically alive, and politeness to the spirits is expected and admired by both the Celegian people and the spirits.
Another unusual element of the campaign world of Celegia is the fact that it is no way small, or primitive, or ignorant. Unlike most fantasy settings which are modeled after the European Medieval period, or Japan's Feudal period, Celegia is wholly extrapolated. What would a culture look like which uses magic as freely as we use technology? Celegia is emphatically a place of high fantasy, where power and luxury is available to any who is willing to work for it. Celegia is designed from the beginning with not only the Epic rules in mind, but the Deity rules. The existence of the Celestial Cascade implies that every person in Celegia can rise to the ranks of the Deities, and many should aspire to do so. From a player's perspective, this means that caution should be invoked. Unlike most game settings where the range of power is small, creatures and things of incredible might can and are interwoven into the setting at all levels.
Celegian citizens are devout and god-fearing, and when they go to church with their children they feel the grace and power of entities that really are gods. Prayers are heard and occasionally answered by real deities, although most Celegians rightly shun the direct grace of the Gods, as it is a dangerous thing to draw the attention of things as great and pure as a deity.
No Celegian doubts that the gods exist, because miracles occur every day. The presence of the gods is almost stiflingly evident, as a mere glance at the heavens will confirm. The sky of Celegia has been shattered and re-shattered over the years by the actions of the Gods, and they have shuffled and re-made the various heavenly bodies until the heavens are a seething mass of stars, constellations, and other heavenly objects which changes every night.
All Celegians are proud of their heritage and their standing as citizens of the Empire. The Empire as a whole is pleased with their civilization and culture, with some justification. The Celegian Empire has grown and shrunk, been rich and poor, lawful and wild in its long history, but it has never fallen completely. The Celegian people have as their heritage that vast history and sense of continuity, and are taught from an early age to venerate the past and the things that come from it. It is not unknown to live in a building that is more than ten thousand years old, and that can be expected to be in use for another ten thousand. Fine craftsmanship is highly respected, and vandalism is socially a far worse crime than on Earth.
One of the quirks of the Celegian world is the fact that magic either perishes with age or becomes stronger. Thus, old magical items are often supremely potent and durable. This perception of aged items as being fine has permeated Celegian thought.
The fierce Celegian pride in their heritage and Empire is expressed in the custom of service to the Empire. The Celegian culture is one of diligence and hard work, and every person is expected to put forth their best efforts to contribute to their family and the Empire. All citizens of the Empire are expected to serve the Empire, and most young men do so by offering to join the mighty Imperial Legions. Quite a few young women do, too, but the entry tests are so difficult that fewer than one in ten young men and one in thirty of the young women actually succeed in joining the glittering ranks of steel.
Most young women, not wishing to suffer the physical indignities of service in the Legions, instead offer to serve in the huge Imperial Bureaucracy. Many young men whose physical abilities are meager also opt for Bureaucratic service, and those who fail the test for the Legions often attempt the tests for the Bureaucracy as well. Many more succeed at this test than the one for the Legions, but it is surprisingly rigorous.
Since the majority of young women apply to the Imperial Bureaucracy, they are the ones who are primarily educated in the arts of magic. Nearly every Celegian has some proficiency with magic, but extensive training and education is required to become truly expert with it. In general, women in Celegia make up the majority of the magicians, simply because cultural selection sees to it that they receive more magical education than most men.
Men become warriors more often than women do, because of the opposite effect. Failing to join the Imperial service carries little stigma, since the numerous Guilds provide training in the many crafts of the Empire to nearly any who desire it. Many youths are called into the service of the Gods, and that higher call also satisfies any dutiful requirements of the Empire. Most of the Empire's citizens are urbanites, living in one of the huge, ancient cities of the Empire. About one third of the population lives in the rural settings typically expected of a non-technological society. But the Empire of Celegia is not a typical non-technological society. Normally, cities as large as the enormous Imperial cities could never exist without tremendous farms to supply the populace with food. But in Celegia, the overwhelming presence of magic allows the impossible.
The capital city has a population exceeding 50 million, but little if any food must be imported to feed the teeming masses. Most of the large volumes that are imported are foods that increase the variety and interest of the meals available. The Celegian people eat a much wider variety of foods than most of us do, with over thirty different grains and cereals, fifty types of fruit, ten kinds of meats, and hundred of types of vegetables in common use. The Gods provide for rooftop gardens to yield five and six crops per year, they keep the weather in check so there are no severe droughts or floods, and still other Gods simply create food from their vast Power and give it to the masses. All Celegian cities have this pattern of divine aid, keeping them from collapsing beneath their own weight. In the country, magic and divine aid are both used by farmers, foresters, ranchers, and herders alike. Due to the vast age of the Celegian Empire, the people have learned through bitter experience that abuse of the land is penalized in time, and recovering from that abuse, even with divine aid, is a long and slow task. Magic replaces or supplements many farming techniques used on Earth. To a Celegian farmer, the concept of tearing open the soil and killing everything in it, then planting your crop and expecting it to prosper, would be tantamount to active insanity. Celegians always plant at least three crops together, and nurture their sprouting with magics. More magic controls any insects that become too rambunctious, and a simple spell harvests the entire crop neatly and instantly, leaving the plants alive to produce more fruits. The productivity of the average Celegian farm is actually higher than one on earth, without any machinery or fertilizer. The largest advantage the Celegians enjoy is the fact that the weather is controlled by the priests and the fertility of the plants is assured by a simple blessing. Similarly, priests see to it that animals are fertile and stored crops do not spoil and are free of excessive vermin. It has been centuries since there has been hunger in the Empire.
Given the huge populations of the Imperial cities, disease should be a problem. In truth, the Celegians have had thousands of years of trial and error to perfect their sewers, a topic little thought of but essential nonetheless in their urban planning. The sewer systems beneath their major cities are deep and intricate, designed and redesigned constantly, guided by divination magic. The sewers are the homes of vast ecologies rarely seen or hinted at on the surface, and since this is Celegia, at least half of it is composed of spirits and less wholesome things, but they efficiently perform their function, that of consuming the waste of the masses safely and cleanly. Celegian cities are clean and tidy, partially due to the pride the citizens take in them, and partially due to the magics of the Empire, which keeps them clean. If any disease does break out, the priests of several different gods converge on the outbreak to ease the suffering of the afflicted and incidentally stop any disease before it really gets going. One of the things which the priests see to is the steady supply of rain, and this rain keeps the cities supplied with fresh water and flushes the sewers on a regular basis.
One area in which the Earth excels compared to Celegia is in the dissemination of news and information. There is no mass media system in Celegia, and no mass communication either. Most Celegians are tightly bound into a small local community, and face to face contact is the main way to gain news and information. There is no mass printing, as the magical methods of copying and printing are quite adequate for the reproduction of learned texts but no one has ever thought to make available a newspaper. The Empire posts news messages in public places, and various sects of priests see to it that information is spread fairly quickly and that it is relatively accurate. Groups of traveling minstrels and performers are common in the Empire, and the many festivals the Empire hosts are as much a forum for gossip as they are a celebration of the might of the Empire. There is very efficient distribution of information on a large scale, and even long distance transportation is quick and efficient, but there is no system for the broadcast of information to the masses.
One key factor that is essential to understanding the Celegian Empire is to comprehend the fact that the Empire is consummately civilized. The Empire is a nice place to live for the most part. Of course, beneath the surface there is plenty of darkness, but on the whole the Celegians live a safe and healthy life. Most Celegians are only vaguely acquainted with violence and are insulated within their community. The enforcement of the laws is fairly informal, but several deities exist that are strongly interested in fair play and square dealings, and for most common people they serve to keep life fair. Of course, for the rich or noble, all bets are off. The Celegian culture is surprisingly lacking in barriers to advancement. The existence of magic ensures that anyone with sufficient native intelligence can become highly skilled and valuable to society, regardless of their rank of birth. No one rational will snub a powerful warrior or wizard who just happened to be born as a pig farmer.
This basically egalitarian social structure is one of the strengths of the Empire, since it allows the finest to rise. The training for magery is offered at Imperial expense to everyone who desires it and can prove they have aptitude. The cynical Imperial reasoning behind this policy is that the more magicians there are, the more the Empire will be able to benefit from their labors. The Empire rigidly controls the spells available to mages in order to protect its citizens. Destructive, manipulative, and privacy harming magics are the most tightly controlled. Of course, just because the Empire has few restrictions on the rise of its citizens that does not mean it casts down the high and mighty. The Empire has a large and firmly entrenched hereditary nobility, and one of the problems the Empire faces is the fact that most land is owned by a relatively small percentage of the population, and there is a large class of landless nobility and an even larger number of landless crafters and mages, the "middle class" of the Empire, developing that is unhappy with the situation. There are several types of nobility in the Empire, depending on the source of the title.
In rough order, the various classes of nobility are as follows:
- The provincial nobility has land and titles bestowed by the individual provinces. In practical matters, the provincial nobility is just as rich and influential as the rest, but the other ranks of nobility treat them like unwanted stepchildren.
- The next highest rank of nobles is that of the Imperial nobles. These nobles have titles and land granted directly from the Empire. They are marginally less likely to have their titles disallowed by the Empire than are the Provincial Nobility. This minor difference engenders a gulf between the elite classes far out of proportion to the actual difference.
- The highest rank of nobility belongs to the so-called Imperial Line. Selection of an Emperor is not a hereditary process in Celegia, and is actually quite a complex and competitive process administered by the Imperial Council. Once an Emperor is chosen, he becomes the source of an Imperial Line noble house, and over the history of the Empire some of these Imperial Line Houses have produced dozens of fine Emperors. These most exalted of nobles routinely snub their lesser brethren. It is a fact that when the time comes for the selection of an Emperor, a candidate from an Imperial line has a definite advantage, if for no other reason than they are given the best preparation.
The Empire of Celegia is a civilized place, but never doubt that there is any shortage of adventure there! Anywhere within the vast boundaries of the Empire, adventure lurks everywhere. In abandoned buildings, ancient ruins of lost nations swallowed by the Empire's steady expansion, along the vast ley lines that link the Realms, in the myriad of turning houses which power the Imperial industry, and especially in the fallow Hinterlands and even the terrible Frontier, there's always something amazing waiting to happen.
In the 99th Millennium, the sky of Celegia is a shattered mass of broken fragments that jostle and rattle about in a slow and stately dance. Occasionally, two fragments will collide hard enough to knock free some Skyshards, which rain down with devastating effect in what is called a Skyfall. If you are caught in a Skyfall, be underground and pray. Fortunately, they are rare events. For now.
Above the broken sky there are the wonders of the heavens, where stars dance and spin, comets dart and constellations dance, and mysterious whorls and cascades of stars give a nightly show of amazement. The rising of the Veil of Night is cause for celebration to many, and the fall of the Curtain of Dawn has often been accompanied by groans of disappointment as the amazing show in the sky is cut short by boring daylight.
The Empire of Celegia is placed upon the world, which is named Erth. Erth is a vast world indeed. The Empire has found Erth to be 1,000,003 miles in diameter. Distances are colossal on such a huge world. To make it even stranger, Erth is hollow.
Within the stone beneath your feet is a vast, truly vast, under dark world. This realm is called the Unterwelt, and is home to unimaginable numbers of monsters, abominations, and chthonic creatures of every description. These creatures are of great strength, considerably stronger than the creatures of the surface of Erth, except for two things: All creatures of the Unterwelt suffer from dayblindness, and far worse, all are susceptible to Domana's Curse, wherein the Sun is completely fatal to any creature within a day.
The Unterwelt makes the outer world seem tame, and if you continue working your way deeper, you will eventually break free into the Inner World.
The Outer World, beneath the Sky, is called Erth.
The Inner World, Beneath Furnace, is called Reht.
Reht is a dark, mysterious place and little is known of in common Celegian culture, aside from the fact that it lies beneath your feet and is dominated by the darkling majesty of the Inner Sun, Furnace.
In the year 99,991 the Celegian Empire is nearing the pinnacle of its strength. The upcoming Hundredth Millennium is the subject of fearful dread, dire prophecies, and eager fascination. Who knows what grand adventure awaits in this exciting and tumultuous time!
In the current age the Empire has expanded to cover a huge swath of the Erth. Although no one knows for certain, it is believed that the Empire is a million miles wide. The Stonecrown and Theogonian Empires have been swallowed whole by the ever-marching Legions of the Peacock Throne, although the Stonecrown and Theogonian cultures live on within the Empire. Untold trillions of subjects obey the Imperial Edicts, honor the Peacock Throne, and live lives of fulfillment and joy under the loving rule of the Emperor, his Vocats, and the Nine Great Gods.
Welcome to Celegia!