Moroz

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Located within the Mira Sancta system Moroz has overcome a variety of challenges - hundreds of years of isolation, decades of war, its cold and icy nature, strife between its unathi and humans, and more - to become, without a doubt, the most important planet of the young Empire of Dominia, itself a major regional power in the Orion Spur. With roughly six billion permanent inhabitants Moroz is home to upwards of two-thirds of the Empire’s population, and the vast majority of noble houses - both minor and major - make their home here, as does the royal family. Contrary to other inhabited planets, Moroz lies fairly far out from its star - meaning that, despite being inhabitable, most of the planet is covered in ice and snow. As a result the vast majority of its human settlements are concentrated around the middle of the planet, where massive taiga-like forests instead dominate. Despite a lack of easily settled and arable land Moroz has become exceedingly wealthy in recent years due to its colonial possessions, and the native Morozians of the planet have become some of the wealthiest people in the Empire. In recent years efforts have been made by the Empire of Dominia to reclaim some of the planet’s massive polar regions due to its steadily growing population, though not much success has been had from these programs.

The imperial capital of Nova Luxembourg houses fifty million residents in what was once a humble colonial settlement barely eking out an existence in the remains of their colony ship. In the years since then, the city has grown to be a true galactic capital filled with wealth, prestige, and academic knowledge. However on the other side of the planet lies evidence that not all is well on Moroz. Within the Semi-Autonomous Region of Fisanduh the former Confederated States of Fisanduh capital of Neubach sits as a reminder that the Empire of Dominia is a society ultimately built upon the conquest of those weaker than itself, and seeks to expand the reach of Moroz even now. But Neubach and Fisanduh provide another symbol: an icon of resistance to the Empire that still yet stands, even in its homeland.

Moroz has two moon, Lyoid Primary and Lyoid Secondary, though only Lyoid Primary is inhabited - the moon features a small mining outpost designed to extract lithium from the planet’s surface.

History

The history of Moroz as a planet is intrinsically linked to the history of the Empire of Dominia as a whole and, as such, discussing it separately is an exercise in futility. The fate of the planet has, for as long as the Empire has existed, been tied to the fate of the Empire. Without Moroz, the Empire of Dominia as it now stands simply does not exist.

Environment

A map of contemporary Moroz showing its major cities and the Imperial Railroad.

The environment of Moroz is dominated by one thing: the cold. As a result, the planet is somewhat uncomfortable for human inhabitation while being extremely difficult to live on for unathi. Heavy overcoats are a common form of clothing due to this temperature, with fancier coats being a typical fashion accessory of the Primaries of Moroz. Upwards of seventy percent of the planet’s surface is dominated by its massive polar caps, and much of the area that is not tundra or outright polar icecap is dominated by cold taiga forests. Temperatures are typically near or below freezing, and most areas on Moroz see snow year-round. What oceans there are are generally quite small, and snake their way around the equatorial taiga regions of the planet. A body of water known as the Imperial Sea is the largest body of water on the Morozian surface, and many of the Holy Kingdom of Domelkos’ and Imperial Alliance’s cities were built around this during the early period of colonization.

The large polar ice caps of Moroz are known as the Lyod, and are quite inhospitable. Plants and animals are rare and, if present, typically small to endure the polar winds that often whip across the ice planes found across the planet. With temperatures usually well below freezing and arable land all but impossible, human inhabitation of this area is extremely rare. Only the Lyodii (meaning “People of the Lyod” in Vulgar Morozi), dedicated survivalists that often exist outside of greater Morozian society despite following the Holy Tribunal, reside outside of the rare reclaimed zone.

Geographical Regions

Moroz is typically divided into four distinctive geographical areas -- though only two see significant human inhabitation -- by Imperial cartographers: Equatorial Moroz, the Fisanduhian Range, the Northern Lyod, and the Southern Lyod. These regions are said to date back to the early post-colonial era of the planet and have persisted with very few changes since that point, despite complaints that they are no longer accurate by some members of the Empire's geographic societies.

Equatorial Moroz is the most populated region of the planet thanks to its (relatively) hospitable weather and long growing season. Both states that would go on to form the the basis of the modern Empire of Dominia -- the Holy Kingdom of Domelkos and Imperial Alliance of Zhao and Volvalaad -- originated here, which has helped to make this region the most prosperous one in the entirety of the Empire. The Imperial capital of Nova Luxembourg -- along with other critical cities such as the industrial heartland of Jinxiang -- can be found here. This region makes up all of the planet's surface aside from the northern and southern ice caps (with the exception of Fisanduh) and, unlike other regions of the Empire, is directly administrated by the Emperor himself instead of by an appointed Imperial governor.

The Fisanduhian Range is a large mountain range, spanning from the northern to the southern Lyod, that divides Equatorial Moroz in half. Technically two separate mountain ranges the Fisanduhian Range has a large, still mountainous region between its eastern and western regions that is commonly referred to as Inner Fisanduh. The foothills surrounding the outward-facing sides of the Range, on the contrary, are known as Outer Fisanduh. With only four valleys -- commonly known as the "Gates of Fisanduh" -- that allow easy passage between the inner and outer regions, the Inner Fisanduh was the last region to be conquered during the War of Moroz that formed the Empire of Dominia. The country that once controlled the region, the Confederated States of Fisanduh, never formally surrendered to the Empire and the region has been home to an insurgency for almost a hundred years. While economically deprived due to its ongoing war with the rest of Moroz the region is home to immense amounts of mineral wealth, and many believe it could someday be a prosperous manufacturing region. Assuming, of course, that its war ever ends.

The Northern and Southern Lyod make up the vast majority of Moroz's surface. These vast regions are primarily composed of arctic tundras in which very little grows and few animals reside, though they are hardly completely devoid of life. Dense taiga-like forests composed of Morozian conifers can be found in the regions of the Lyod bordering Equatorial Moroz, and the majority of the Lyod's population can be found in and around these forests. The taiga of the Lyod has been home to Dominian outposts for several decades now, which has brought the Empire into contact -- and conflict -- with the native population of the region: the Lyodii (the "People of the Lyod," in Vulgar Morozi). Experiences in attempting to tame the Lyod have influenced the Empire's current expansionist colonial policy and led to the creation of the well-known Lyodsuit, a piece of cold-weather survival gear originally used in the Lyod and now seen across the Empire's colonies due to its resistance to adverse weather conditions.

Morozian Flora and Fauna

The flora and fauna of Moroz, both native and modified by the experienced laboratories of House Volvalaad, are all adapted to this cold - lest they quickly wither away and die in the “eternal winter” of Moroz. Most animal and plant life is concentrated in the taiga of Moroz, though some venture into the tundra “shrubland” surrounding it, with only a few animals eking out their existences in the massive icecaps of the planet. Here are some examples of creatures that can be found on Moroz.

The tenelotes is a large, roughly horse-sized, herbivorous herd animal commonly found in the equatorial regions of Moroz outside of Fisanduh. These mammals are covered in a thick layer of fur that is often utilized in Morozian clothing, and are fully able to be ridden by a trained human. Tenelotes were often utilized by the Imperial Army during the War of Moroz as pack animals, and they are still sometimes utilized in the tundra of Moroz due to their reliability. Where tracked or wheeled vehicles cannot go on Moroz, the tenelotes often goes instead.

The prejoroub is a large omnivore, roughly the size of a Solarian wolf, native to the taiga forests throughout the equatorial regions. This catlike animal has very large, broad paws to allow it to tread across snow more easily and is one of the fastest animals on Moroz. Prejoroub are pack hunters that typically work in hunting parties of up to six animals in order to bring down large prey such as tenelotes. The prejoroub is often used as a symbol of Imperial Navy vessels, due to naval doctrine dictating that small vessels must fight in a pack to overcome larger opponents.

The confusingly-named yupangyangwangmi (often shorted to “yupmi”) is an extremely large rodent, roughly the size of a Solarian donkey, native to the mountains of Fisanduh. Yupmi are friendly, docile animals that were domesticated by the Confederated States of Fisanduh nearly a century before its fall and were a common pack animal for its army during the War of Moroz due to the ease with which they could climb up Fisanduh’s mountainsides with their six legs. A significant amount of artillery used by the Fisanduhians during the War was carried on the backs of these sturdy animals. In the postwar era yupmi are often utilized by the Fisanduh Freedom Front to haul equipment without attracting unwanted attention and the ability to hide weaponry under the voluminous fur they possess.

The yastr is a bird of prey commonly found throughout the mountains of Fisanduh. While they are able to eat nuts and fruit, yastr prefer to consume small game commonly found along the mountainsides. These large birds are nocturnal and eerily quiet when they fly, despite a significant wingspan intended to keep them aloft in the thinner air towards the top of the Fisanduhian mountains. Yastr, despite their size, are able to be trained by experts and were commonly used as an alternative form of communication for the Confederated States of Fisanduh Army during the War of Moroz. Presently, they are often used as messenger hawks by the Fisanduh Freedom Front.

The treutduro is a genetically modified dove commonly found throughout the grand cities of Imperial-controlled Moroz. Originally genetically modified to better withstand the cold climate of Moroz, the treutduro is larger and lives longer than its Solarian counterpart. It is typically seen as one of the primary symbols of the Empire of Dominia and is often utilized to represent the so-called peace that the Empire brought to the war-torn planet. The birds are easily trained and quite intelligent, and are often kept as pets by Primaries and Secondaries alike.

Society and Life on Moroz

How one lives their life on Moroz is highly dependent upon which region of the planet they are originally from. If one comes from the Empire of Dominia-controlled parts of Moroz, the majority of the planet’s surface, their life will look radically different from someone who originates from the region of Fisanduh. Much of the society experienced by Dominian Morozians can be found here and here, but any competent discussion of life on Moroz must be divided into life inside Fisanduh and life outside of Fisanduh.

Life in Dominian-controlled Moroz

The Imperial standard of House Keeser, intended to represent three nation states of old Moroz that formed the basis of the Empire of Dominia.

Life in what is commonly referred to as “Imperial Moroz” by its denizens is typically regarded as the best lifestyle possible in the young Empire of Dominia. These Dominians are wealthy, influential, and stable. Support for the Empire is highest in these regions, due to the wealth and prosperity it has brought to those that reside there. While Fisanduh remains a problem, it is a distant issue in the minds of these Dominians - a background threat that exists in a rump state that is, honestly, not really worth controlling due to the cost involved. Off-world travel is common amongst Imperial Morozians due to their wealth, with many traveling to other colonies of the Empire and a large amount traveling as far afield as Tau Ceti - particularly those associated with the more diplomatically-inclined House Volvalaad. Despite the presence of unathi within the Empire, Moroz remains overwhelmingly human due to its frigid temperatures.

The cities of Imperial Moroz tend to be very heavily developed due to the wealth of the planet, and are connected by the massive Imperial Railway - a construction project of Emperor Keeser during his first years on the throne that is, according to the Empire, one of the largest rail networks outside of the Sol Alliance. These cities are often awe-inspiring, if grandiose, sights to behold with their unique Morozian Deco architecture and wide boulevards dotted with the homes of Moroz’s nobility and commoners. One notable example of this architectural style is the Holy Cathedral of Our Lady the Goddess, the largest Tribunalist church on Moroz. While most assume that Tribunalist churches are built in austere, quasi-Gothic styles the Holy Cathedral was instead built in the Morozian deco style on behalf of its primary sponsor: Empress Lei Keeser.

Despite this opulence, Moroz sees few immigrants due to the authoritarian nature of the Empire of Dominia and immigration standards that have been deliberately designed to make immigration to Moroz without previous proof of familial residence extremely difficult, if not impossible. Some reformist elements wish to make this process easier, but most Dominians are perfectly content to keep the frontier “riff-raff” out of their core worlds.

Imperial Morozian society has been heavily influenced by the Primaries - the nobility of Dominia - and it is seen as very in vogue amongst Secondaries to take a page from the habits of nobility. As a result of this fencing - a traditional pastime of House Volvalaad before the creation of the Empire of Dominia - has become a widespread pastime due to Her Majesty Empress Lei's Royal Fencing Society, which accepts all into its ranks and possess a geneboosted and non-geneboosted league. The Royal Society’s fencers are renowned throughout the Orion Spur, and some joke that the planet’s primary export is slowly becoming fencing experts.

Life in Fisanduh

The red and gold flag of the Confederated States of Fisanduh. Despite its collapse at the conclusion of the War of Moroz, the flag remains a common sight in Fisanduh.

Life in the territory of the former Confederated States of Fisanduh is much less opulent than its counterpart on the outside, but manages to be more free. Decades of war in the period leading up to the ultimate collapse of the Confederated States and its democracy, followed by thirty years of insurgency have done significant damage to Fisanduh despite the thorough contingency plan of the Confederated States known as Plan SCRAM. As a result the standard of living in Fisanduh is less than that in Imperial Moroz, thanks to decades of devastation as a result of the ongoing conflict with Dominia. Despite how dire their situation is the Fisanduhians of the region remain steadfast in their opposition to the Empire of Dominia, but their lives are often swept up up by the violence that results from their resistance.

Fisanduhians value their freedoms above all else: many remember the democratic Confederated States of Fisanduh and the decades-long war waged by its Army to preserve the freedom of Fisanduh at all costs, no matter how steep the bloody price of freedom would be, and the Confederated States never signed a formal peace treaty with the Empire of Dominia. In the minds of many of the citizens of Fisanduh, the war yet marches on -- even decades after what most Morozians would consider its formal end. The strong ideological foundation of the Confederated States, one forged in the violent fires of war and the struggle to survive against the environment of Fisanduh itself, has persisted in the postwar era despite attempts by the Empire of Dominia to control and dominate Fisanduh.

Due to its position in a very mountainous and cold -- by equatorial Moroz standards -- region of the planet that never saw combat within its borders before it fell, the cities of Fisanduh -- those not destroyed during the occupations, at least -- tend to differ from the cities of Imperial Moroz. The former Confederated States capital, Neubach, is a good example of this: the city is spread out over a much wider area than other cities on Moroz, and follows a much more utilitarian style of architecture derived the industrial needs of the colony. While the Fisanduhian style is often referred to as “hideous” by many Dominians, Emperor Keeser deliberately kept Neubach intact as a gesture of goodwill towards the region.

The largest resistance movement in Fisanduh is the Fisanduh Freedom Front, often referred to by Dominians as the “Shadow State of Fisanduh.” Created as a result of Plan SCRAM, the 3F -- as it is often called -- is loyal to the government-in-exile of the Confederated States of Fisanduh. It holds significant sway with the population in regions it as a result of this, though its control fades the further one travels from Neubach. The leader of 3F is known simply as the "Chief," but much of the organization itself remains shrouded in mystery due to the secretive nature of both itself and the Empire of Dominia. Rumors of direct and indirect support of 3F by the Coalition of Colonies surround the organization yet no formal connections have been established, much to the rumored frustration of the Empire.

The Lyodii

Life in the Lyod -- the large polar ice caps that dominate the surface of Moroz -- is quite unlike life anywhere else on Moroz due to the extremely harsh environment of the Lyod, which has in turn given rise to a quite unique culture: that of the Lyodii, the People of the Lyod. Originally composed of exiles and outsiders from the colonial period the Lyodii, while often seen as "backwards" or "savages" by their fellow Morozians, are the only people that have mastered the Lyod to the point where they are able to safely reside in it -- though life is hardly easy or comfortable.

The Lyodii typically follow a unique interpretation of the Moroz Holy Tribunal known as Lyodic Tribunalism -- or Morozi Paganism, if one is a follower of the Imperial Moroz Holy Tribunal -- that is distinct from the traditional Morozian interpretation in its perception of the Goddess and Her Edicts. The largest Edict-based departure between Lyod Tribunalism and its Equatorial counterpart is on the Seventh Edict: due to the value of animals on the tundra the Lyodii commonly perform ritual sacrifices of animals in order to please the Goddess, and as an offering to Her from Her humble Lyodic followers. The Fourth Edict is another marked departure in Lyodic Tribunalism: the Lyodii, lacking an empire (or formal state) believe that one should instead not deliberately wrong another or break a law, unless one's life or property is threatened by the person or law. Lyodic shamans often adorn themselves with animal bone charms as a result of this and these adornments vary greatly between various shamans: some wear small adornments -- such as bird skulls on chains -- while others wear adornments as large prejoroub skulls during especially important events. Lyodic shamans tend to be female due to a superstition among Lyodi that women have a better connection to the Goddess. Unlike the formal schooling of Morozian clergy, the skills needed to serve as a Lyodic shaman are generally passed down through apprenticeships in which young Lyodii serve as a shaman's assistant before eventually assuming the role when hey are deemed ready.

Politically the Lyodii are quite unlike the centralized societies of their southern counterparts, the Empire of Dominia and now-fallen Confederated States of Fisanduh. Though the Lyod is home to some small permanent towns that are generally located in the more hospitable taiga zones on its borders, most Lyodii live in small nomadic communities of anywhere from 100 to 1,500 members that follow animal herds and plant growths around the tundra in order to survive. These Lyodic tribes follow no authority beyond their chieftain and the chieftan's shaman, who generally serves as the second-in-command of the tribe due to their experience in matters of the divine. While conflict is not uncommon between tribes -- particularly when resources are scarce -- most tend to avoid conflict with one another, as their lives on the tundra are challenging enough without warring over hunting rights. Tribes, however, have been known to unify into larger confederations in response to external threats such as Dominian efforts to "tame" the taiga of the Lyod -- a conflict that continues at a low level even today.

Daily life for the Lyodii revolves around the difficult task of ensuring that they, and their tribe, are able to continue surviving in the Lyod, where they can be free from the Mo'ri'zal and the influence of the Empire of Dominia. To fail in one's tasks -- even ones as simple as ensuring that water is set to boil -- runs a risk not only to one's own life but to that of the entire tribe, and failure to perform is typically met with harsh punishment by one's parents or the tribe's more senior members. The nature of Lyodic life means that one is almost always on the move following animals or plant life, and many Lyodii that travel off-world are often used to (or uncomfortable with) staying in one spot for months at a time. This nomadic lifestyle is not present in the rare villages and small towns that dot the taiga of the Lyod, which often serve as meeting points for tribal diplomacy and trade centers where the resources of the Lyod are sent to the greater Orion Spur. These towns are additionally some of the few opportunities Lyodii have to go off-world, as they are the only places where those with the funds needed and interest to recruit Lyodii for megacorporations -- primarily Zavodskoi Interstellar -- can be found.

Major Settlements

Nova Luxembourg is the crown jewel of the Empire of Dominia and lies nestled in a fairly temperate (by Morozian standards) region. The city’s skyline is dominated by the massive Imperial Palace of Moroz, which towers above other structures within it. The largest temple of the Moroz Holy Tribunal, the Holy Cathedral of Our Lady the Goddess, can be found close to the Imperial Palace, as can the largest chapter of Her Majesty Empress Lei's Royal Fencing Society. Nova Luxembourg is the wealthiest city in the Empire of Dominia, and much of its economy is dedicated to more esoteric pursuits such as art. Poverty has been all but eliminated within its city limits, thanks to the massive charitable efforts undertaken by the well-loved royal family. Outside of the royal family, the House Volvalaad-sponsored Juro School of Genetics and Bio-Sciences can be found in Nova Luxembourg.

Jinxiang is the industrial heartland of Imperial Moroz, and is the historical home of House Zhao. Much of the Imperial Navy’s shipwrights are trained here, and the metropolis is famous throughout the Empire as the “forge of Dominia.” While designed in a more practical manner than the opulently-designed Nova Luxembourg, Jinxiang remains a very wealthy city on Moroz due to its status. The prestigious Royal Naval Academy is located in this city, and many of the Empire’s most well-regarded naval officers - including the current Grand Admiral, Duchess Huiling Zhao - are alumni of it.

Domelkos is the former capital of the Holy Kingdom of Domelkos, one of the three nations that eventually became the modern Empire of Dominia. The city is often regarded as the sister city of Nova Luxembourg due to its similar focus upon the arts, and similarly beautiful surroundings. Many nobles and well-to-do residents of Domelkos partake in outdoor activities such as hunting in the lush and idyllic forests surrounding the city, and the crown prince himself owns a modest hunting lodge outside of the city that he often entertains Imperial Army officers at.

Neubach is the former capital of the Confederated States of Fisanduh, though it has arguably remained the de facto capital of Fisanduh despite efforts by the Empire of Dominia to control it. 3F control is at its strongest here. Located in a relatively flat region of Fisanduh, the city is built more horizontally than vertically and has maintained its status despite the collapse of Fisanduh due to its position in the interior of Fisanduh, the dogged resistance of its citizens to Imperial occupation, and Emperor Keeser’s desire to leave the city intact as a gesture of goodwill to Fisanduh. The city remains a major regional manufacturing center though the economic devastation of the region is still felt here, with understaffed or shuttered factories not an uncommon sight. Above all else, the former capital remains an important rallying point for the people of Fisanduh.