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, Imperial culture and society is quite distinct from that of other human nations. Dominian society and culture is sharply divided between that present on its core worlds such as Moroz -- often referred to as "core" Dominia -- and its colonial holdings, such as Sun Reach. Differences between parts of Dominian culture are not only found between planets or regions, but additionally between the Empire's social classes -- the Primaries, Secondaries, and Ma'zals.
Dominians, unlike other humans in the Orion Spur, 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 which makes honor as much of a political asset and liability as it is 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 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.
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 many Dominians within the Empire -- particularly those affiliated with Houses Volvalaad and Zhao -- and the Kazhkz go by more liberal 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 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.
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.
Dominian cuisine is, like much of Imperial society, a product of the harsh conditions that the original settlers of Moroz were first met with upon their landing on the planet. These original settlers quickly discovered that aquaculture and water-based techniques were the best way to grow large amounts of food on Moroz due to the planet’s short growing season and lack of easily farmable land. As a result Dominian cuisine is often fish-based, and most plant-based cuisine tends to derive from crops that take less space to grow -- or those that are hardier or have been genetically-modified by the Volvalaads, with rice a common crop throughout Moroz and the broader Empire. The expansion of Dominia beyond Moroz and into its greater colonial empire has allowed for the Empire -- and Moroz -- to have a much more diverse diet, and the modern Empire’s culinary scene is quite unlike that of its original colonists. Many Dominians see their vastly-improved culinary scene (and diets) as a mark of pride for the Empire, and Imperial holidays -- particularly the Feast of Renewal on December third -- are often very extravagant culinary affairs.
Morozian brudet is a common dish found throughout the Empire that, as the name suggests, originated upon the Imperial capital world. Its fairly simple ingredients -- fish, vegetables, spices, and wine or vinegar (depending upon one’s wealth) -- and ease of preparation (as it requires only a single pot to make) have made it a staple of Imperial cuisine from the poorest frontier settlements to the palatial residences of Moroz.
Imperial scallops are rumored by Dominians to be the absolute best in the Orion Spur, but Silversunners would likely disagree. Traditionally these scallops are boiled in saltwater and served with only limited herbs, reflecting the austere nature of early Morozian cuisine. Contemporary scallops retain their saltwater boiling but are typically garnished lavishly, often with previously-rare ingredients such as olive oil. Genetically-modified scallops are often exported by House Volvalaad, and are consumed throughout the Orion Spur.
Imperial pots are traditional festival and holiday meals of the Empire that originated upon Moroz shortly after the end of the War of Moroz. The size of the postwar celebrations overcame the amount of serving dishes in many Dominian communities, and large wooden pots were employed to serve celebrating Morozians. Contemporary Imperial pots are communal meals primarily consisting of seafood and rice that are served on Imperial holidays, and are intended to be shared between a family or the residents of a given building.
Morozian flatbread is, much like Morozian brudet, a commonly-consumed dish throughout the entire Empire. Morozian Flatbread is dry and thin, and is typically made of a mix of flour, salt, and eggs -- though some mix in fat before it is baked. The ease of its creation has allowed the flatbread to spread far beyond Moroz itself to the greater Empire and even beyond its borders, where it is typically referred to as “Imperial flatbread.”
Jadrican flatbread is, as the name implies, a regional variation upon its Morozian counterpart from the Imperial colony of Novi Jadran that is commonly consumed by the Ma’zals of the planet. Until its final stage Jadrican flatbread is prepared in exactly the same manner of its Morozian counterpart, but upon the completion of its baking the flatbread is fried in fat to improve its taste and nutritional value. The flatbread is able to stay edible -- and tasty -- for weeks after this frying, which makes it ideal travel food for traversing the frigid surface of the rural planet.
Jadrica is a braised beef dish from the Imperial colony of Novi Jadran commonly seen at the feasts that the planet throws Imperial dignitaries, though it has travelled well beyond the planet itself over its decades in the Empire. Due to its composition of beef (not an easy meat to raise on the frigid world), cloves, carrots, and bacon in addition to enough vinegar to marinade it for an entire night traditional Jadrica is a time-consuming and complicated dish to prepare and those that are able to properly prepare it can find themselves rapidly in the employ of a visiting dignitary’s culinary staff. Netoriclie is a meat-heavy dish from the Imperial colony of Novi Jadran. Most commonly consumed by the planet’s Ma’zal population, netoriclie is composed of marinated meat and fresh potatoes (a fairly common crop on the planet), both of which are then grilled before being placed into a cauldron filled with water before being served as a hearty soup or individual meat chunks. While typically consumed during celebrations, netoriclie is a common travel food on the Imperial frontier. If not immediately consumed the meat is removed from its stew and heavily salted for preservation, and can last several weeks on the road before spoiling.
Dominian fashion is, like its wider society, generally divided between the core worlds and its colonial possessions. In the core worlds of the Empire fashion is often focused around extravagance and opulence in an attempt to show the glory of the Empire, and bright colors -- often those of one's house -- are very common. While some conservative Tribunalists preach modesty, most of the Imperial aristocracy attempt to be as eye-catching as possible in their dress -- though those of House Strelitz are an exception, due to generally being seen in only the officer uniforms of the Imperial Army that their house proudly serves. In the Empire's colonies (and in Fisanduh) clothing tends to be much more practical and utilitarian, though some in the Empire's core worlds decry it as simply boring. Much of the clothing found on the Imperial frontier can trace its origins back to Imperial expeditions into the Lyod -- the vast ice caps of Moroz -- and their experiences with the Lyodii that inhabit it.
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.
Like much in the Empire, music enjoyed by Dominians varies across their social classes. Amongst Ma'zals music played with stringed instruments, particularly guitars, usually accompanied by folk lyrics is very popular due to low cost of effective string instruments and the ease with which they can be constructed. These songs are typically sung in Vulgar Morozi (a local dialect of Solarian Common) or, more rarely, in Freespeak on the Empire's frontier worlds. Among Secondaries that make up the Empire's middle class opera and similar classical works are prominently enjoyed, due to being seen as a marker of one's class and good tastes. Many Dominian orchestras are primarily made up of Secondaries, and performing in a successful orchestra or choir can bring a Secondary -- and their family -- significant prestige. The Imperial aristocracy have similar tastes to their Secondary counterparts, and are the primary funders of the musical arts in the contemporary Empire.
Dominian music is perhaps most well-known beyond the Empire's borders for its religious hymnals and the musicians that perform them. These choirs and orchestras can, if they are successful, tour throughout the Empire and even travel to locations well beyond its borders in the greater Orion Spur to perform. The Empire of Dominia's embassy in Mendell City is well-known for hosting such performances, with local notables often attending its open-air theater in order to see the Empire's best classically-trained performers (even if they themselves do not speak High Morozi Tradeband, the dialect and language most Dominian vocal performers are trained to perform in).
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.