Dominian Culture

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Overview

Dominian culture has evolved significantly from that of its colonizers in the 22nd century. Bearing the influence of hundreds of years of isolation, warfare, and fervent belief, the Empire's culture is very different from that of other human nations. A significant development in it was the injection of Unathi culture shortly before the founding of the Empire, bringing new types of fashion, architecture, and beliefs. Much of Dominian culture can be broken down to that present on Dominia proper and the most prominent subculture, present on Ignotum Balteum. The largest differences between parts of Dominian culture are not between planets or regions, but between social classes.

Honor

Dominians, like their Moghean-born cousins, take honor extremely seriously, and following a strict code of honor is required by every individual. Many Dominian houses and peoples have different metrics for honor, but all share certain key traits which place a Dominian under the code of honor, here exemplified in the most well-known Codex of Imperial Honor published in 2447. Honor can also be considered to be a family or house's face. To lose honor is to lose face, and it can lower a person or houses standing with its peers. A Dominian behaving dishonorably can also lose face, lowering their status. This makes honor as much of a political asset and liability as a personal code of conduct. Dominians of all types follow the Honor Codex, but adherence to it is generally strongest in the Imperial core worlds such as Moroz and gradually weakens as one moves further and further out from the Imperial core.

Understanding Dominian honor is a key part of playing any good Imperial citizen, particularly nobles. Read this section before playing a Dominian!

The Codex of Dominian Honor

What follows is the most well-known codex of Dominian honor and etiquette, first compiled in 2304 by Kristyan Langver, and then edited by Zalze Han'San in 2447 to reflect more modern views.

I. Conduct toward Equals

An honorable person will conduct himself in a manner that recognizes rich or poor, young or old, all are morally equal. Birth and wealth do not convey honor and a good reputation, your actions do. It is not what one thinks, but one does. Thus, a gentle-being of good repute and standing should avoid conducting himself untowardly to their fellow, that they may avoid unnecessarily coming to blows. Politeness and civility are the hallmarks of a reputable person. Thus, unless a person is known to of low repute and lacking honor, act civilly to all you meet.

II. Dueling Etiquette

There is no justice in the court of law for an offense of Slander, and to be Slandered is worse than death. To live a life of shame and ill repute is the lowest fate one can receive. It is thus that affairs of honor are brought to the contest of the duel – to satisfy both parties, defender, and accuser. In a duel, a second for both sides must be present, as well as a physician. In some cases, a legal notary may be present to ensure its validity.

In the cases of duels between men and women, or people of differing ages and physical capabilities, to ensure the uprightness, fairness, and honor of the duel, guns may be used. These shall be inspected by both seconds upon being presented by the defendant in the duel. In a contest between two of equal physical ability, swords are preferable in use, as they do not necessarily inflict a mortal wound when one is not necessary to satisfy the Honor of the two parties.

Editor’s Note: In some outer areas of the empire, duels are often simply a contest of who can draw their weapon, in most cases a handgun, first. While shooting isn’t always involved, it can often turn deadly.

III. Conduct of a Soldier

Soldiers, of all professions, have the greatest responsibilities in society to be fair and gentle in some cases, and be harsh and punishing in others. Looting, bawdiness, pillaging, a lack of appropriate mercy, cruelty in killing, all hallmarks of a dishonorable soldier. A soldier must be dedicated to their task, dedicated to becoming a master of their task, and willing to die to complete it. A soldier in defeat, if they have given their all, is a soldier who has learned. No soldier should be afraid of defeat – for no soldier can win every battle – they should be afraid to not learn from it.

IV. On High and Low

The Goddess, in Her wisdom, sees fit to place some souls high and some souls low. This does not make them any less equal in matters of honor. A powerful individual, if they have been seen fit to be head over another, must not, in any case, abuse their authority or position. An individual, if they have been seen fit to be placed under another's authority, must be dedicated and true in their work. There is no greater stain to a person of honor than to be a cruel task-master or an abuser of the weak and powerless. They have a responsibility to ensure those under him work efficiently, and they have a responsibility to not cheat their master.

V. Behavior amongst Foreigners and Enemies

When among foreigners, an honorable and respectful soul must be honorable and respectful of their customs as much as he can, unless they are themselves against the code of Honor and the Edicts. Do not expect them to know or recognize our higher Code of Conduct. They, someday, will be brought under its reach – but until then, be as polite and respectful to them as they deserve. When amongst your enemies, be polite. If they are enemies in war, they are doing their duty as you are. Respect and honor your enemy unless they prove themselves unworthy of it. In all cases, show that you are a better individual than they are.

VI. On Duty to Family and Goddess

A genteel and honorable person, in all cases, is loyal first to Goddess first, their family second, king third, country fourth, and themselves last. Your family is your closest friends, allies, and compatriots: you must rely upon them, and they must rely upon you. If a person has no family, they have nothing. Be upright and honest with your family, loyal, and keep your promises in all things – such as your dealings are with other men. Be loyal to the Goddess first and foremost – for if a soul is without the Goddess, it is not living. It is Goddess that gives us this opportunity to be honorable and just people.

VII. On Duty to Country and Emperor

Dutiful should describe any honorable person. A person everyone knows will keep their word, honor their word, and faithfully fulfill their word. And no more important word is given than an oath to King, and to Country. While some argue the Emperor is the Country, this codex is not one of philosophy. Obey the Emperor faithfully, serve him faithfully, and your country will prosper for it. Respectfully question the Emperor at the appropriate time if necessary and obey him in all right and honorable things.

VIII. On Duty to Self

Your body, your mind, your honor – these three are the trinity of life. An honorable person keeps themselves in as good shape as they can and abstains from things such as overuse of hard liquors and substances which cloud the mind and hamper the body. Without a sound body and mind, nobody can maintain their honor and reputation.

Interspecies Relations

Though Unathi have joined Dominia’s rise to the international scene, points of contention exist between humans and Unathi in the budding country. A sect of humans, a noteworthy amount being Fisanduhian, resent Unathi being accepted into the country. For some, this can be attributed to xenophobic roots; isolation from the greater galaxy for some time could explain this general behavior. Alternatively, their allegiance is sworn to the Emperor could be seen as a form of meddling in an internal conflict the Unathi should never be a part of. The problem still exists either way, and discrimination and hate crimes targeting Unathi are a significant problem within the empire.

Another sizable distinction between these two different groups is their views on religion. While it is true the fanatical Unathi contributed some of their religious ideals to the Morozi religion, various people of either species struggle with a singular and unifying interpretation of the religion. The Han’sans and the Strelitz lean towards traditional, stricter interpretations of the Kaelkahist denomination, whereas most Dominians within the Empire and the Kazhkz go by Jakakhist interpretation. Religious disputes often flare over decisions in faith as a result. More interestingly, however, is the tendency for some Unathi to revere the Aspects of the Goddess and the Goddess herself as great powers in a pantheon rather than singular parts of a whole. With this, a few Unathi even recognize and venerate powerful spirits, whether ancestors or those of lore, and pay regular tribute to them. The Han’sans are more prone to this traditional worship, stemming from their Th’akhist practices and both admirable and stubborn dedication to the old ways. Compared to the overly devout practices of the Unathi, most worship towards the Tribunal from humans remains seemingly tokenistic and unenthusiastic for most, merely going through the motions to satisfy the state-mandated religion rather than having faith. In either case, the clashing perspectives on the Morozi faith have yet to be settled and reconciled, and likely will not for some time.

Between the two species, despite their differences, developments in culture see them both coming together. House Caladius in particular enjoys close relationships and collaboration with House Kazhkz; while they are not nearly as established as the other Great Houses, the Unathi house is seeing quicker development thanks to House Caladius’ abilities with infrastructure development. In turn, some Unathi see service within Caladius as religious acolytes or, should they feel their talents are away from battle, banking and management. Though there is some disdain between them, the Houses usually see some interplay and “swapping” of members, with House Kazhkz and Zhao seeing the most resistance to exchanging talents between them. The Kazhkzs hold open arms to those who wish to make a little more money and “have a little more fun” as they would impishly put it, and similar minds craving adventure (and that are more liberal in nature) often venture to House Volvalaad.

Unathi have taken a liking to most Dominian pastimes— fencing and martial arts were both contests of skill and prowess on Moghes, and even the Emperor remarked on their skills before they swore into the Empire. However, the most surprising of these activities was their interest in video games. Due to Unathite physiology though, special controllers and grips have to be ordered custom made for anyone seriously into the hobby.

Usually, if anything, humans lean towards the storyteller-attitude most of these former pirates have. Traveling Unathi, whether Kataphracts, merchants, or Lords and their diplomats, have a knack for storytelling and weaving a great tale. The ability to orate is nothing special or unique to them, but the passion with which some of them regale others with their victories, losses, and battles is enough to inspire others to similar practices and engagements.

Integration of the Unathi has largely been a stable endeavor. Despite this, tensions between lower-class Dominians and these freshly-indoctrinated aliens remain on edge. Only time will tell if their cultures will converge or reject each other.


Holidays

Holidays in the Empire can be broken down into two types: religious holidays, usually feast days, and government or social holidays. The first are widely celebrated social occasions that provide rare occasions for all social classes to mix. Feasts are often the largest communal event of the calendar year. Of the non-religious holidays, some are officially celebrated holidays, while some may only be official in certain regions or planets.

Dominian Holidays

January 1st, New Year's Day
February 3rd, Feast of Devotion - A feast dedicated to those in lower stations or classes, it celebrates all those who work to keep society functioning from the bottom up.
April 3rd, Feast of Faith - A feast especially dedicated to the Goddess, this holiday is celebrated widely across all social classes, especially priests.
May 22nd, Worker's Day - A holiday similar to the Feast of Devotion, but more widely celebrating all who work in some way.
June 3rd, Feast of Loyalty - This feast celebrates soldiers and all professions that rely upon loyalty and fealty to something higher.
July 7th, Founding Day - One of the oldest holidays celebrated in the Empire, especially on Dominia, it remembers the first time colonists set foot on the planet.
July 29th, - Victory Day - The official Army holiday, it celebrates the victory over the Confederacy and the creation of the Empire of Dominia. July 29th is recognized as a National Day of Mourning in Fisanduh, and conflict in the region is known to flare up around this date.
August 3rd, Feast of Remembrance - This feast remembers all who have passed on to the Goddess. It is a somber holiday spent with close friends and family.
September 3rd, Feast of Joy - The largest celebration of the Dominian year. This holiday is occasioned by massive feasts, tournaments, and social gatherings.
October 29th, Day of Crossroads - A government holiday celebrating the completion of the first major section of the Imperial Railroad.
November 17th, Navy Day - The Navy's official holiday, this holiday is primarily celebrated by those affiliated with the Navy in some way. A fleet review is traditionally held on this date by the Emperor.
December 3rd, Feast of Renewal - A feast to celebrate the past year and look with hope toward the coming year, with prayers and praises often given to this effect.
December 25th, Giving Day - A feast day involving the giving of gifts to friends and family. This holiday was heavily influenced by Christmas, which was celebrated by the original colonists.

Fashion

Dominian fashion is generally modest and utilitarian with more focus on quality than extravagance. Partially due to the frigid climates of Dominia and partially due to its conservative society, Dominians view any clothing that would show the shoulders for both genders, or the leg above the knee for women, to be immodest. Exceptions to this rule include those involved in manual labor. Fashion among the aristocracy is similar to that of the lower classes, but of a far higher quality of material and manufacture.

Sports and Pastimes

Popular sports in Dominia, while varying depending on income and class, include martial arts (particularly fencing, which has been sponsored as a pastime by the royal family), tournaments, and horse racing. Video games are often played as a sport and pastime throughout the social classes of the Empire, both amongst commoners and the nobility. Dominians, while primarily associated with fencing abroad, are proficient players of esports through the Orion Spur - even in Tau Ceti. The most unique sport in Dominia is Talcrac, a sport that involves using a whip made of leather or synthetic material to hit targets. Points are awarded for the difficulty of hitting the target as well as the flair involved in doing so. Various forms of card games are popular in the Empire, with the peculiarity that only Priests can deal cards, and the dealer cannot participate in the game. Success in gambling games is often attributed to the Goddess's favor.

Music

Music enjoyed by Dominians varies wildly across the social classes. Amongst Ma'zals, music played with stringed instruments, esp. guitars, usually accompanied by folk lyrics is very popular. Among freemen, orchestral music, as well as piano and organ music is prominent. The upper classes have the most varied taste in music, but a popular genre is that of military marches, which while popular across all classes are especially so among the upper echelons of society.

Unathi tend towards vocal arrangements and songs, and it is a fairly common practice for Unathi to join choirs for hymnals, marches, and other ensembles as mastery over singing in different languages help with mastery over those tongues, or so it is said. The claws each possess make it a bit difficult to use string instruments like guitars or pianos; "tip presses" were invented for those wishing to perform on keyed instruments, and longer guitar picks, as well as new techniques, were developed for guitarists.

Architecture

Two major schools of architecture exist: the Morozian Deco style, a more somber variant of the now classical Art Deco style, and Balteu Gothic, a mix of gothic, deco, and classic themes. The most prominent building constructed in the first style is the Imperial Palace of Moroz, and the Temple of the Ancestors on Ignotum Balteum for the latter. The former utilizes modern themes and materials, often with a militaristic theme, while the latter is a more harsh and religious-inspired style.