Question: Q: Are there dialectical accents around Arvum? Like a Western Oathlands vs Southern Lycene vs Central Crownlands? I mean, I'm assuming there *are* since that's just how language tends to evolve, but are there any set generalities we can assume or analogous comparisons to accents we'd be familiar with? For example elongated or flat vowel sounds? I know, I'm a complete nerd. -.- For whatever reason, my head cannon has given the Oathlands a French/Israeli sound (Shhh, I know why!) whereas the Lyceum is more of a blend of Italian and Spanish, etc. Am I over thinking this? I'm probably over thinking this.
A: Yes, but I don't want to overplay this and have a few people go overboard and drive other PCs nuts by hyperaccenting to the point where their characters are indicipherable. So let's use a very light touch there. But that said...
Each region does have some clear inspirations, and I think it's fine to see the accents as light touches to their real world analogues. Crownlands: North America (midwestern newscaster neutral), Oathlands: French, Lyceum: Italian/Spanish, Northlands: Scandinavian, Mourning Islands: Eastern Europe. Veeeeeeeeeery roughly. Don't drive other player nuts.
Question: What are the regional and universally appropriate greetings outside of bows and curtsies? Kissing cheeks? Shaking hands? I have been careful not to pose kissing a hand as I thought it may be too gender specific.
Answer: Kissing hands and cheeks is fine, it's just gender neutral, so kissing a man's hand (which is not uncommon in greeting say, the Dominus to kiss the Star of the Faith). Physical greetings, including shaking hands, is somewhat less common in the Lyceum due to contact poisons, and more common in the Northlands. The Mourning Isles tend to be the most stiffly traditional and formal.
Question: Q: Are there any? Can we make some up as we go and stick them in a file somewhere?
Answer: Tons. Check out 'lore holidays'. More will be added as time goes on, and it's fine to fill in small details and they can become a thing (such as commoners calling nobles 'silks' was player made that caught on, or calling resources 'writs'), but the key word there is small, and ones that are easily intuitive. The danger in oocly creating super detailed ones is it becomes far less accessible to new players, and way more intimidating when the first time they are on grid people reference a hundred different cultural traditions that no one has any idea what they mean. As such, yes, sure, I add them, but I always keep that in mind.
Question: Do nobles play croquet?
Answer: No, too modern, that's 19th century.
Question: How much do we know about foriegn sigils? Marcus signed his proclamation with a moto and the name of his house. Have foreigners been using sigils and banners that people would know by now? I would like to include this information in the next edition of Sigils, Volume X - Beyond Arvum.
Answer: Very very limited. It's rare to have Eurusi visitors- it's unlikely to have more than a couple ships in Arvum at any one time, out of the thousands of different Arvani ports. It's even rarer to have Cardians, with perhaps a single Cardian visit every decade or so. And the recent visit by Jadairal's envoys is the first visit on record. In these visits, they tend to be brisk and formal for the purpose of trade, with showing sigildry as uncommon, making the Compact's knowledge of other continents extremely limited. There's no common record of the sigils of foreign houses- there's the very general knowledge that noble houses exist in Cardia and the Dune Kingdoms of Eurus, but that's about it.
Question: What's the proper form of address for a commoner besides 'you there with the crippling poverty and unfortunate case of social immobility'? Is there any variation between regions?
Answer: I'm not very interested in this, and I don't really like most of the options. I think the ones players have randomly come up with aren't atrocious, even if I'm not fond of them. Addressing people by their profession is the most thematic, as that's how commoners have intrinsic value in the eyes of society, and generally avoiding broad customary honorifics for commoners.
Answer: Gendered slurs DO NOT EXIST on Arx. Words like "bitch" or "cunt" or "dick" are pejoratives by gender and make no sense in the context of Arx. While we appreciate that this can be very difficult to change if, in your OOC life, you're used to using gendered slurs on the regular, we'd appreciate you keeping that out of our game.
For some ideas on things that would be in the lexicon of Arx, take a look here (and I didn't have this available either but Aleksei found me the link ofc) - http://arx.mythicus.net/Arx_Lexicon
Question: I know you shouldn't run around town naked, but how does society here feel about nudity in art? Not erotic art, but David or Venus style nudity.
Answer: While erotica isn't suitable for public display, it's socially acceptible to have nudity in artwork. Context is critical, but something like David or Venus style statues is unobjectionable.
Answer: Each of the five different old kingdoms of the Compact and the five great houses that held sway of them have a distinctly different flavor and set of guiding principles. These principles that are firmly held by the NPCs in each of the five regions guide the reactions of NPCs to the actions of player characters, and what a player character does that might win respect in the Oathlands could earn them disdain in the Lyceum. Player Characters gain respect and affection with different organizations, and while affection is approval over taking actions that better the lives or generally help those NPCs, respect is gained only by only taking actions consistent with the principles held by those NPCs and working to further their ideological goals. Each of the five different great houses will have its own more detailed helpfile, but here's an overview of those principles.
-House Valardin and the Oathlands
"We know not what awaits us beyond the Mirror, when we die and pass into the Shining Lands. We know not if the gods will be there to greet us, or if we go to a long and dreamless sleep. But if I should die and face Gloria and she asks if I lived and died with honor, I should hope I can provide a satisfactory answer. I must then politely decline your offer to yield." - Last words of Sir Erec Redhill, the Sentinel of Redhill
While every house in the Compact holds honor in high regard, no one else comes anywhere close to being as unyielding on issues of honor as House Valardin and the Oathlands. Idealistic to a fault in the eyes of other houses, Oathlanders respect those who are uncompromising on matters of honor, and hold Lycene style pragmatism in contempt. For many in the Oathlands, a life without honor simply isn't one worth living, and they are willing to endure polite mockery to be in the right. Oathlanders might not like plays with actors parodying an inability to tell white lies to avoid catastrophe, but that's fine. They'd rather be right than have the admiration of those who simply don't understand honor as well as they do. Disciplined and dignified, they respect traditions and authority, provided none conflict with living an honorable life in accordance to the virtues of the Faith of the Pantheon.
-House Redrain and the Northlands
"Southerners live in the past. They harbor grudges for so long that sometimes their houses don't even remember why they hate one another and need their leaders to beg them to let go of slights. Some of them look at the Northlands and see an undisciplined and fractious people with ancient feuds, but that's not so. When the Northlands quarrel, it's a fire that burns white hot then is done. We don't roll around in the ashes and breathe deep poisonous fumes and see who dies first from a cancer. Grudges are madness." - Prince Sherrod Redrain, Prince of Farhaven
Fiercely independent, some marvel that anyone is able to rule over the Northlands. Everyone in the Northlands has an opinion and feels they should be able to share it, fights happen easily, and the sort of discipline that the Oathlands or Mourning Isles take for granted is largely foreign to the Northlands, where rugged individualism is prized and respected. In the Northlands, one is responsible for their own actions... for better or for worse. Certainly they understand house honor and can respect it, but it is not anywhere near as bone deep in importance as other fealties, and House Redrain is about living in the present and planning in the future- and letting the past stay in the past. There are few things worse in the Northlands than holding a grudge- it makes one look spiteful and petty, and open to mockery, as a sign that they simply don't understand the free life of endless possibilities still ahead. Once a matter is settled it's over, and other fealties are astonished by the ability of House Redrain and its people to set aside a grievance and work with former enemies once a wrong has been made right. Win them over with hope for the present and the future, and anything can be forgiven and forgotten.
-House Velenosa and the Lyceum
"Every once in a while an Oathlander will ask a question that shows such a stunning lack of understanding that it stops one in her tracks. I was asked the other day 'do the ends justify that means?' What a silly question. The ends are the only thing that -can- justify the means. Our ideals are stars that help us guide our ships through darkened nights, as we shepherd our people below decks to safety. They are no excuse to stay blissfully ignorant and sail into a coming storm and drown everyone that depends upon us." - Princess Ducleali Valardin nee Velenosa, the Fox Dragon
Pragmatism is the single most important guiding principle to the Lyceum. A transactional approach to politics isn't just understood and expected, it's respected as the best way to approach ruling over the diverse Lycene city-states. The stereotype held by more idealistic fealties that the Lycene are only self-interested and amoral isn't necessarily true or particularly fair to them, however, just even the Lycene most focused on improving the lives of their house and the subjets of their city-states tend to think in terms of the simplest and most effective means to produce results to the common good. Caring intensely about the bottom line makes the Lyceum more of a meritocracy than other fealties, with a willingness to reject tradition if a clearly superior method comes along- once the failures have been discarded and politely forgotten, of course. Whether a Lycene noble is formal or informal, dignified or salacious, courteous or crass comes down to a simple question... what works best in this situation? Destructive quarrels and disrespect born of pique are frowned upon the Lyceum often not because they buck noble expectations of dignity, but because they might be selfishly wasteful. A respected Lycene noble throws a fit and makes a scene only if it is to their advantage.
-House Thrax and the Mourning Isles
"The Compact has not lasted for seven centuries by luck and the grace of the gods. It is not good fortune that has kept our isles free, it is not happenstance that we wax powerful enough to be respected and feared. No. It comes from the mighty institutions we have built, the houses that have weathered the storms of the ages, and the traditions that have served us so well. Anyone wearing a crown is just a man, but when they speak, they speak with a voice that echoes with a thousand years of tradition. Our way of life has led us from triumph to triumph, and those who seek to unravel it are enemies who will be destroyed." - Prince Durian Thrax, the Monster of Maelstrom, on his address before the Campaign of Bloody Isles, crushing the Great Thrall Revolt of 705 AR
The Mourning Isles can be summed up with the word 'traditional'. They are not a meritocracy, seeking to test the strong and weed out the week, for the strength lies in the blood of the nobles born into power houses who seek to be the next link on a chain stretching back a thousand years. High born nobles have immense expectations of them, for they represent the institutions they are born into, and those who fail in those expectations are often immediately discarded. Strongly disciplined, the Isles are far more authoritarian than any other fealty, with a bone deep respect for the established order. Pragmatic rather than idealistic, they are willing to take utterly ruthless measures to ensure the continuing success of their houses, and anyone can be sacrificed to those ends. Ever mindful of being cast out as an embarrassment to their houses, the Mourning Islanders tend to be seen as somewhat obsessive over appearances, with formality and courtesy as an ever present shield against social missteps that could cost them dearly.
-House Grayson and the Crownlands
"All of us are called to serve. From the lowest among us working in the furthest field in the Compact, to the Sovereign of Arx sitting upon the Elfbone throne, we all serve. The least of us honor their oaths of service when called to battle, and the greatest of us must never forget their obligations in turn, tirelessly working for the betterment of their lands and peoples. The greater one rises, the more deeply they should feel their obligations to diligently see to all lesser than them. Fidelity with Limerance requires nothing less from the powerful. It is the duty of the greater to help the lesser, and 'None Greater Than Grayson.'" -King Alaric Grayson III
Power must be wielded responsibly. House Grayson perhaps benefits from feudalism representing the natural order of things more than any other house, but they are the ones that constantly reinforce the idea that they bear a responsibility from that power to safeguard and improve the lives of their social inferiors. They simply expect and demand more from their nobles to rise to the lofty ideals that any commoner could hope for. Bold, decisive and daring leaders that lead from the front is simply expected of House Grayson, and never taking advantage of the trust placed in them by their many vassals.
Answer: While the original theme for Arx is extensive and detailed in all the different help topics under lore and world, here are some commonly asked questions that might help someone find what they are looking for when deciding how they should approach situations in game as a new player.
1. What kind of power does the king have? What kind of monarchy is it (constitutional vs absolute)?
-- Absolute monarch, and in theory complete power. This is heavily checked by traditional autonomy by lords within their own domain, which has made for some periods of a strong crown or weak crown. See http://play.arxgame.org/topics/Feudalism/ and http://play.arxgame.org/topics/Vassalage/
2. What function does the Assembly of Peers serve under an absolute monarch?
--While it is an absolute monarchy, in practice the crown has in the past often put a great many decisions before the peers, and decided conflicts with a simple majority vote by the highlords (the head of the house paramount for each of the five kingdoms). In periods with a weak crown, or one completely disinterested in politics, this resulted in effective Arvum wide rule by the highlords, while in very strong periods the Assembly was virtually never called and created discord and resentment among the peerage.
3. What does the king's court consist of?
--The crown will be played by a non-staff player pretty much always, and while it's expected that he has a great wide range of courtiers (particularly exemplified by the Whisper House as the core institution for courtiers), he or she is free to use their discretion and whatever generates the most RP. Generally speaking, expect for a pretty inclusive crown.
4. Will there ever be rebellion?
--Sure. Generally speaking I wrote everything when I designed the game with dynamic change in mind. I don't mind a great house being destroyed, the crown changing hands to another great house, and so on. But there always will be considerable inertia on the side of the status quo, and a house paramount isn't going to change every couple months as one group becomes inactive and another becomes active. Arvum is huge, with thousands of miles from coast to coast and population in the tens of millions. In order to effect lasting change, the Dominion system of automated land and army management (and a civlization style minigame) is going to be core to it.
5. What type of RP can be expected by joining each group or each major institution? The Crown, the five great houses, or the different core institutions: the iron guard, the king's own, the inquisition, the Faith of the Pantheon, the Whispers, the Observers?
--There will be a great deal of overlap. Most characters can be members of more than one organization, and RP from divided loyalties is expected. Only a few, such as the Faith of the Pantheon's godsworn or the King's Own crownsworn require members giving up ties to other groups. Every organization has its own help file, and the five kingdoms also have their own culture files as well. For example the Inquisition is http://play.arxgame.org/topics/org/48/ and is a secular, not a religious organization. While Velenosa has both http://play.arxgame.org/topics/Velenosa/ and http://play.arxgame.org/topics/org/2/ and the organization web pages are automatically populated from the current state in game.
6. Who are the highlords? What power do the highlords have? What does court intrigue look like in each group?
--The five highlords are the heads of each of the house paramount for the five different separate regions. Currently:
- Darren http://play.arxgame.org/character/sheet/1793/ for the Northlands
- Edain http://play.arxgame.org/character/sheet/1809/ for the western Oathlands
- Alaric http://play.arxgame.org/character/sheet/1641/ for the central Crownlands
- Eleyna http://play.arxgame.org/character/sheet/5106/ for the southern Lyceum
- Victus http://play.arxgame.org/character/sheet/1643/ for the eastern Mourning Isles
While the flavor and style of each court varies immensely (scheming and sly for the Lyceum, vs arthurian for the Oathlands), every house paramount has multiple powerful duchies as vassals, who then in turn all have marches who have counties who have baronies. While individually any of the houses paramount might be more powerful than their ducal vassals, they certainly are not moreso than multiple of them, which creates a tensely cooperative dynamic of needing to balance the needs of both PC and NPC vassals with conflicting desires and the jostle for position among them.
7. How important is religion in this game? How much power do the religious structures have? How much influence does religion have over NPC masses? Can my character avoid religious RP?
--The world of Arvum was intentionally designed against type for medieval fantasy as a highly skeptical populace rather than a highly superstitious one. That does not make for a weak Faith of the Pantheon, however, as the church is often regarded as the '6th great house', and since law is largely entrusted to autonomous local lords, the Church is the bellweather for shared legal and ethical norms across Arvum. Fantastically wealthy from the tithes of millions of faithful and having probably the largest standing military in the faith militant orders of the Templars or the Knights of Solace, the church is extremely powerful. That said, while the Church is a core component of Arvani life, there's really no requirement for characters to be showing piety, and really only directly butting heads with the faith in a public way is likely to impact characters, so religious RP isn't particularly required, and we don't really want players to ever feel obligated to do RP they don't particularly enjoy. Similarly, the far less organized faith of shamanism popular among the Northlands and some prodigal houses should never be seen as required for characters it impacts.
8. Are there fantasy creatures? Is there magic? Can I play one? Can I do the magics?
--Almost all Arvani would laugh and say no. The population is intensely skeptical of magic, and even when presented with proof of its existence, tend to go far out of their way to explain it away in a way that is a little bit suspicious. Or a lot suspicious. Really, really sus. So while everyone would say 'no', there are hints they exist, even if no character would have anything obviously supernatural or magical for some time. Just yet.
Answer: Arx is an original theme based in a feudal fantasy world. Because of the nature of the theme, players tend to have a fair amount of expectations or assumptions based on other popular works in the fantasy genre. A lot of those assumptions might be generally correct, but there are some parts of the setting that may feel a bit counterintuitive or contrary to assumption. For the sake of clarity, this file has a few common misconceptions.
* PREJUDICE: There is no prejudice or bias based on gender identity, skin color, or sexuality. Outside of the Mourning Isles, where women have historically focused on areas of law and administration and been barred from noble leadership and combat, there are no traditional gender roles. Please see: help gender (http://play.arxgame.org/topics/gender/ ). There is, however, considerable prejudice against Abandoned and Prodigals. Please see: help abandoned (http://play.arxgame.org/topics/Abandoned/ ) and help prodigal (http://play.arxgame.org/topics/prodigal/ ). Classism is also alive and well.
* DIVERSITY: Arvum is a racially diverse continent, and you'll see a large variety of skin tones and features. Additionally, with the intermarrying across all the fealties, there isn't a strong correlation between skin tone and region of Arvum. However, for specific story reasons, you won't see features we'd associate with East Asia as native to Arvum.
* SKEPTICISM: For story reasons, citizens of the Compact trend very strongly towards skepticism. Magic and supernatural creatures don't exist as far as the larger NPC populace is concerned. (The one major exception to this is the superstition surrounding mirrors. See: help tehom (http://play.arxgame.org/topics/Tehom/ ).
* RELIGION: The Faith drifted away some centuries past from thinking of gods and demons as literal beings to treating them more as metaphor: virtues to aspire to, vices to avoid. This point is currently beginning to shift. The Faith is also a syncretic polytheistic, which means that there is a Pantheon of multiple gods, but they are all worshipped and given equal reverence. Disciples are volunteers helping with the worship of a specific god, but it is heretical to worship only a specific god or gods and not the others. See: help disciples (http://play.arxgame.org/topics/disciples/ ). Godsworn are priests of the Faith, and their vows do include no marriage, inheritance, or having children, but their vows do not include chastity. See: http://arx.mythicus.net/Theme_Questions#Relationships_and_Children .
* BOOKS: There is no printing press in Arvum, but books are surprisingly plentiful. They are much more accessible to commoners than would be expected from a real-life medieval analogue. This is due in large part to the worship of Vellichor in the Pantheon, who calls for the spread of knowledge. Part of the work of the Scholars of Vellichor is the reproduction of important knowledge. See: help vellichor (http://play.arxgame.org/topics/Vellichor/ ).
* MEDICINE: Arvani medicine is strangely good for no reason anyone can really identify or think to question! Infant mortality rates are surprisingly low. Contraception is readily available and 100% effective when taken by either the man or woman. See: http://arx.mythicus.net/Theme_Questions#Birth_Control .
* SEX: Sexual purity mores are not a thing in Arx. There is no value placed on virginity, and people are free to sleep with who they like. The exception to this is if one or more parties had taken an oath not to engage in sexual relations with someone. For example, some (but not all) marriage contracts stipulate that there will be no sexual activity outside of the marriage. In this case, a person would be judged not for sexual immorality, but for breaking their word of honor. However, there are still taboos against public nudity, wanton public orgies, incest, bestiality, etc.
* MARRIAGE: Marriage between nobles fall under the approval of the Faith as well as their house. Marriage between commoners, however, are largely just declared by the commoners in question saying that they're married, and divorce among commoners is as simple as them saying they're no longer married. See: help limerance (http://play.arxgame.org/topics/Limerance/ ) and http://arx.mythicus.net/Theme_Questions#Marriage . There is no prejudicial stigma against same-sex marriage, but nobles rarely enter into them just because of issues of breeding and inheritance. See: http://arx.mythicus.net/Theme_Questions#Same-Sex_Marriage .
* BASTARDS: A noble having a bastard child is largely considered to be irresponsible due to the presence of such effective contraception, which generally means that the noble in question conceived the child purposefully, and a child born out of wedlock is a potential succession crisis down the road. However, it is only considered a matter of true dishonor if a noble refuses to acknowledge and support the child. See: help bastard children (http://play.arxgame.org/topics/bastard%20children/ ).
* NOBLES AND COMMONERS: Classism most definitely exists in Arvani culture, but it doesn't generally expectations of over-excessive deference, groveling, etc., on the part of commoners. It's considered poor etiquette to censure someone for an accidental slip of a noble's title, and nobles have no rights to physically abuse commoners on a whim, and blatant verbal abuse would not . There are also no sumptuary laws: if a person can afford something, they can buy it.
* IMPRISONMENT: This actually follows what would be historically accurate for a similar period in the real world, but sometimes causes misconception in Arx's setting: there is not a prison system in the Compact, as it would be prohibitively expensive. Imprisonment is for the most part be short-term before some sort of sentencing and/or trial. Instances of long-term imprisonment are very rare.
* SETTLEMENTS: Villages and settlements are largely found close to the main holdings of the noble houses, as the majority of the land in between the major cities tends to be populated by Abandoned and quite dangerous. It's not generally likely to find a village on the road in between holdings. (This is also a major reason for the existence of the Knights of Solace, the knightly order of the goddess Gild. See: help disciples (
http://play.arxgame.org/topics/disciples/ ), help gild (http://play.arxgame.org/topics/Gild/ ), and the Knights of Solace org (http://play.arxgame.org/topics/org/170/ ).)
* BATS: They're extinct. Aw! Arvani do know they existed once upon a time, but they have not been seen in living history.
Answer: In all public spaces in Arx weapons are expected to stay sheathed. In events or invitations to homes, it goes further than that, with weapons expected to be peacebonded. There is a lot of culture around the peace knots used to do so: popularly, a deceased loved ones' belongings may be portioned out to create peace knots for those close to them, as a mourning tradition. If one draws a weapon, it is considered a threat of violence, and it is acceptable for the Iron Guard to detain someone threatening a peer. If you are invited to an event, it is safe to assume your weapon is bound in such a way that readying it for violence would take you a few moments (a few rounds, thinking in terms of combat).
Armed servants of the crown, such as Iron Guardsmen, Inquisitors, or King's Own would not be violating protocol by carrying unsheathed weapons, nor are house guards in their own wards, but anyone carrying drawn steel otherwise would be expected to lower it or sheathe it upon the order of a crown servant or be arrested for threatening others.