[RP Faction] Commonwealth of Chromaros


#1

The Commonwealth is a federation of allied cities, linked together by common heritage, finances, trade, diplomacy and the religion of Sagonos. The church holds a very prominent place in society, rivalling the power and influence of the civil government. Most polittics are shaped by rivalries and negotiations between the Ekklisiasma and the various merchant cartels, who hold the main power.

After the dreadful horrors of the foreign invasion three centuries ago, the Ekklisiasma of Sagonos - church hierarchy of the original kingdom - led its remaining faithful south under the leadership of charismatic Basileus Chromaros and the mighty warlord Belisarios the Butcher. In the south they would build for themselves a safe refuge from the foreigners and all who would threaten the work of Sagonos.

Some hundred years before the present, the single greatest revolution in the history of the people was unwittingly unleashed by the great inventor Lucarios Dramatorgos, who invented the Dramatorgos mechanism, or double-winch spring. It enabled following generations of inventors to develop all sorts of outrageous clockwork mechanisms, machines of endless cogs and gears, all power by the springs and winches of Dramatorgos’ original design.

These innovations changed society forever. Use of manpower in farming was gradually augmented, and nowadays a multitude of clockwork mechanisms tend the fields next to Vaha farmers. In the cities, the wealthy elites established workshops where they gathered together all sorts of mechanisms for producing the goods they would sell. Trade flourished, the merchants grew richer, but the commoners enjoyed little of this newfound prosperity. Instead, the labour-intensive nature of the mechanisms meant that most of those who had their lands seized, bought, or otherwise were left unable to continue their previous farmers’ lives poured into the cities, which became unclean, squalid, and overcrowded places where the workers toil for long hours in dirty workshops. Almost half of Chromaros’ urban population consists of winch-pullers, whose only job is to endlessly rewind the mechanism springs. The main focus of the Commonwealth economy is therefore metallurgy, and new alloys are continuously mixed and tested in laboratories and workshops’ friction furnaces.

But the expense of the mechanisms meant that many merchants began to pool their resources in order to purchase them. This was the origin of the Cartel, the foremost political unit of the Commonwealth. A cartel is equal parts merchant conglomerate, noble family and commercial enterprise. Most will have a founding dynasty, though some consist of several. It is commonplace for promising administrators, merchants, scientists and inventors to be adopted into such a dynasty - the main way of true social advancement in the Commonwealth, and the ambition of many starry-eyed youths - which instantly elevates them to the heights of society.

Each cartel owns workshops, farms, taverns, canteens and whatnot to supply its workers’ needs. Thus, most commoners live their lives entirely subsumed within a cartel - working in its workshops, eating in its canteens, drinking in its taverns, and living in its houses. Street fights between gangs of workers belonging to rival cartels are very common.

The Ekklisiasma is essentially a cartel in its own right, and an extraordinarily powerful one. It holds sway over many parts of Commonwealth life - medical treatment, higher education, religious services are almost entirely monopolized by its priests. Furthermore, it has bargained the right to persecute certain religious crimes and administer judgment and punishment in such cases. It has its own workers, canteens, taverns, and housing areas, and possesses numerous workshops spread across the Commonwealth cities. Its power is enforced by the might the Most Blessed Order of Sagonos’ Knights of the Blood, commonly known as the Blood Knights or simply the Order.

Sagonos is a hunting deity, and this is reflected in most of the associated practices and rituals. Vahans are a carnivorous species, and doctrine holds that they were created by Sagonos to enrich the world with the purity of their predator deity’s emulation. It is common for men to give thanks with a burnt offering of a hunted animal in the Oikimion - the temple of Sagonos. To do this is to curry favour with Sagonos, who might bless the individual with bountiful hunts, or bestow other boons. The greatest reward Sagonos can give is to, after death, take the individual to Himself as a hunter in his Garden, chasing its bountiful game for eternity. The greatest horror He can inflict is to, rather than a hunter, reincarnate the individual as a prey creature, doomed to be chased down and killed again and again.

This fate is reserved for heinous sinners, chief of whom are the so-called herbophages. A herbophage is a Vahan individual who has stooped so low as to consume plant matter. To do this is to spit onto the blessings Sagonos bestowed upon the species, and to betray their heritage. Such appalling crimes are quick to bring down the relentless and merciless Inquisition on the offender, who are only too eager to hasten the sinner along on his path to eternal damnation.


#2

I understand that there are some concerns regarding the timeframe and the use of clockwork technologies in them. I’ll try to address the main questions (ones I can think of, at least), properly here.

1. How in the world does clockwork technology exist on such a scale in a medieval setting?
Clockwork mechanisms are not a new thing. The use of gears and such has been a major thing since the Greeks, who developed sophisticated mechanisms like the Antikythera mechanism well before the birth of Christ. The setting put forward by the Empires staff is not merely medieval, but covers the renaissance period as well.
While I will admit I’m skirting the fringe of that period, visionary and distinctly unmedieval technologies did exist during that period - Leonardo da Vinci in particular made designs for flying machines, battle tanks and the like. Let me assure you that I’m not interested in flying machines or tanks, but rather, want to explore the potential of clockwork tech in a more creative fashion. This is a lesser known subculture called Clockpunk, described on wikipedia as “Clockpunk portrays Renaissance-era science and technology based on pre-modern designs”.

I have discussed the setting quite a lot with the staff, as I’m very aware why there’d be concerns and issues with fitting this into the time period, as well as my personal playing habits in the past. In doing this, both Siil and I have made many compromises on what is and what is not proper in this setting, also considering the lore of the rest of you. We will also keep doing this in the future, as while I’m aware of my habit of taking an idea and running with it, being so hasty about such a sensitive issue is probably not the wisest thing to do.

2. How is this balanced? You’re just doing your industry thing again!
The hallmark of the industrial age is that, increasingly, non-human and non-animal power sources replaced the muscle-driven equipment of ages past. When you’re harnessing a pair of oxen to a plow, or pull it yourself, the energy used is still provided by muscles. In a few cases, water or wind might be used (for milling grain and such) but in general, the energy provided comes from people and animals.

This, no matter all the clockwork I use, has not changed.

A coiled spring is like an energy battery. It can provide energy in the form of movement (uncoiling), but only so long as it’s still coiled. There’s a limited amount of tension it can hold, and this is a natural limit on any kind of clockwork mechanism. In the end, though, the spring will have to be rewound, by a human or by an animal who coils it back. No energy is gained by this, nor is there any loss. The industrial age was driven by the increasing use of steam machines to capture the energy of fire and burning things and transform it into movement of a piston. Hence, there the energy comes from something that’s not an animal, and it can be developed to be an order of magnitude greater and more effective than ever before.

This potential, to use the chemical energy of fire to create movement and drive machines, is what made industry so prosperous and what made mass production a thing. No kind of clockwork machinery, ultimately driven by human (or Vaha) or animal muscle, is going to be able to rival that. There’s not going to be an industrial Ariovistas juggernaut piledriving everything else into the ground with cheap chairs and life insurances. There’s simply no energy available to do that with.

3. Why not just go medieval? Why do you have to do something like this?
Several reasons. The most important one is that urbanised societies are the ones I know the most about. I am aware of the various social tensions that are important in such a society, of the political and economic issues, and so on. It’s my profession to know such things. Hence, I like to explore those kinds of things in the context of a slightly more fantastical society - like one comprised of pure carnivores, religious zealots, that sort of thing.

The second reason, perhaps just as important, is that everyone else is doing a more or less traditional medieval thing. I like being original, to create a concept that does not fit within many of the common tropes. Much fantasy literature takes place within medieval societies, and in my opinion that leaves a medieval writer at risk of simply rehashing the characters and tropes that have been associated with fantasy since Tolkien. By doing something different, something else entirely, I force myself to think of new things and characters, or at the very least, to hold to a different set of tropes compared to other people on the server.

Thirdly, more minecraft-related, is that I find medieval building boring, and baroque much more challenging and cool. This was the issue I ran into while originally building Kaveh, and I do not intend to repeat it.

Conclusions
So, to summarize. I am indeed doing a clockwork society with lots of machines all over the place. This does not mean I will be overpowering anyone else by virtue of my lore. The inefficiency of clockwork machinery and the energy sources it uses means my society will be no ‘stronger’ than an ordinary renaissance nation, just differently organized. In doing so, I want to keep my RP fun and challenging, and my lorewriting unique and interesting. I have discussed these plans a lot with the staff over the past week, and we have sought compromises wherever possible. it is my intent to keep doing this, to try and keep RP fun and engaging for everyone and to take into account other people’s concerns when writing my lore.