The Twilight of the Known Worlds
Only Knives and Staves are the only melee weapons allowed to peasantry. In some areas (such as Hawkwood holdings) they may also be permitted to use Bows. Artifact melee weapons, slug and energy guns are denied to the general population. Only the Church, Nobles and their designated soldiery, and Guilds can produce and carry them. The only exception granted by the Church is on Frontier Worlds, places of scarce human habitation (where zombie and/or indigenous wildlife attacks can be devestating) and the border zones near the Symbiots and Vau.
The Inquisition enforces this proscription by branding the hand of the offender with the Dark Sign. The insignia of a black star is recognised throughout the Known Worlds. It shows the offender has left the reflected light of the Pancreator and has morally fallen. The mark is not irredeemable and can be removed upon occasion. Still, many superstitious peasants shun those with the mark.
When caught a second time, the offenders hand is cut off and the brand applied to their other hand. A third offence leads to legally sanctioned execution. Due to many abuses of its procedure, the Church allows for a Plea of Circumstances during the second and third offences. Extenuating circumstances exist (zombie outbreaks etc) and bribes given to local authorities and the Church officials are helpful.
No serf can wear armour better than a studded leather jerkin, although this often falls under local Noble Law and customs. Certain noble houses (once again, led by Hawkwood) allow great leeway on this matter, sometimes calling on the populace for War on border planets. The Nobles and Church agree on keeping high tech armours away from the populace, although the Guilds will sell it.
Usually the offending party is punished by local Noble Law. The Church can place an offender in Church or Community Service for a period of up to five years and may brand them, similar to the Dark Star (above). Bribery, alliances and Letters of Extraction which may be provided by certain Nobles or Churchmen prove an exception to the general rule. Usually this is for a service rendered or is purchased from an official discretely. Since Noble sway and laws shift from planet to planet, Church letters have more authority. Energy Shields are denied serfs, but again a Letter of Extraction can cover these as well. Obvious exceptions exist for local constables who come from peasant and freeman classes.
Cybernetics are suspect because they take away from the Divine Reflection of the sentient body/soul with the less reflective qualities of technology. Serious debate on whether Cyborgs possess souls has plagued the Church theologians for years. Some argue that cyborgs exchange the Pancreators Gift when they replace body parts and organs. Most feel that any sentient still possesses a soul (albeit one in serious jeopardy) until the majority of the sentients physical form is replaced. The Ratio finally arrived at (in the year 4653) by the College of Ethicals was 64%. Anyone Exceeding 64% loss of original physical form was declared “unreflective”, the number being arrived at by the number of Disciples multiplied by their number. Unreflective beings are soul-dead and can be killed by anyone with impunity.
(In Game Terms, having an XXX Trait of more than 7 or higher, is Unreflective, though concealed cyberdevices can hide this.)
This proscription, directed more against the production of cybernetics than the cyborgs themselves, finds enforcement by the Inquisition. Excepting parts designed for “ethical medical treatment”, independent operators and owners of such plants can expect execution. Noble Houses producing parts are ignored on principle, unless the Church allies with one House against the guilty partys House. Some inquisition members will hunt Cyborgs on Principle, but the Majority do not (hate the sin, not the sinner). A cyborg can find protection through service to a Noble House, Militia Duty, or membership in a Guild. These situations can lead to temporary amnesty for the cyborg, until the fickle winds of fate and favour change once more.
Think machines, unless used by the Church, League or nobles, are heavily regulated because they are considered “approximate reflections,” mimicking sentient intelligence. The Church regulates their manufacture and production. Church inspectors are often paid off by rich Reeves to approve otherwise sinful devices. Most nobles ignore the Church inspectors or keep them firmly in tow, manufacturing think machines with impunity. It is the small time (non-guild) operators whom Church law falls hard on.lnde~ndent plants are destroyed and their owners jailed or fined.
Regency Law, initiated under Emperor Vladimir, placed the construction of such devices in Noble, Church and League hands. Since Alexius. Regency Law is now imperial Law; and the Emperor is trying to extend hls reach by defining secular crimes more fully. The overlapping of Imperial and Church law has started a bitter feud now kept barely under the surface Generally, think machines are falling more under Imperial law and out of Church authority, although the degree depends on local conditions (Li Halan worlds still follow Church law on tech, others have local customs). There is only one way for the small-time manufacturer to survive: bribing local officials or agreeing with the local power structure (sometimes the Church) to share in the profits and technology allows for protection.
These fall under local authority. After the collapse of the Second Republic, the Church made them forbidden to the general population, but this was largely ignored. Communication devices are more common in urban settings. It is more often a local lords law which endangers the communication device user. A peasant caught with a communication device is subject to public flogging by his lords servants. During peasant revolts or Church schisms, offenders have been beat:en to death. This is permissible (“extreme necessity”), for both the Church and nobles fear the organization of the populace. Pirate stations broadcasting anti-Church or pro-Republican propaganda are under an injunction of destruction and their leaders live under the threat of execution.
The proscription of this technology was prevented by the noble Houses and Sanctuary Aeon. Still, the Orthodox looks askance at nano-tech and other aspects of advanced healing tools, fearing that it leads to a love of technology and cybernetics. A few zealous believers have attacked high tech med users. but the Church sanctions healing tools while keeping a wary eye on them. Still, certain practices are proscribed, including medically-assisted suicides, poison production, and the promoting of false elixirs. The first two proscriptions fall under execution, while the seller of false potions receives public flogging. Again, bribery and protection by powerful factions are important there.
High tech tools are denied serfs (since the Regency, this varies on some worlds). Licensed mechanics, under noble or Church protection, are exempt. Belonging to a guild is helpful here. Bribes to local officials are the best methods for many to obtain legal tools. Again, on isolated or borderworlds, high tech tools are tolerated as a matter of necessity. Freemen and licensed serfs make up a small technician class. Many join the guilds.
Starships and Planetary Transportation
The Universal Church of the Celestial Sun has inveighed against populations moving from planet to planet and to obey the local sun as the best source of the Pancreators reflective light, instead of the distant stars. This happened after the Fall of the Second Republic. Prior to that, the stars were seen as the reflected lights of the Pancreator beckoning humanity onward. Nonetheless, some planetary travel is necessary for the communication of news and enforcement of Church doctrine. Permission for peasants to travel off world must be approved by their lords; offenders can be branded and set to hard labor for years. Papers granting authorization are needed. Certain guilds can get these for a price, and there is a brisk trade in authorisation documents.
Calling on The Doctrine of Universal Inheritance the Church holds that all starships not belonging to the Church or nobles are the property of the Church and can be legally appropriated. Since the Church is the guardian of sentient law, they view this theory as one aligned with the Pancreators diminution of reflected light The Church can sanction piracy against the guilds under loose interpretation of this doctrine. It is seldom used, as the Church needs the Charioteers to find the jump roads.
The manufacture and production, as well as maintenance of the larger starships, must be under legal sanction of the Church or nobility. Proscription falls on all other starships. Since the Church, nobility and League each possess the resources to create or maintain these ships, this proscription enforces the existing monopoly. Directed at potential pirate fleets and a fear of the Charioteers developing a large navy, it maintains the status quo. Production plants can be destroyed. Pirate and barbarian bases are destroyed once found. and their ships confiscated or destroyed. Too large a matter for the inquisition. the Church must deal with this with the Patriarchal Fleet or in alliance with the nobles.
Owners of starships wanting to escape this proscription must ally with a noble house, guild or Church or pay heavy bribes. Often isolated worlds are the only places where such pilots and crew can find immunity. Captains and crew face incarceration and execution under Church and noble law. Some pilots have bad their eyes blinded as a merciful alternative. Since the barbarian incursions there is a justifiable fear of unidentified starships.
Any and all artifacts of an alien technical nature must be given to the Church immediately. Even inspection of Ur Ruins is outlawed unless a Church representative is present. Hoarders of ancient alien technology are under an indictment of death. The Inquisition kills offenders with impunity and delivers the forbidden technology to the patriarch’s aides.
Cargoyles are to be avoided. Soul Shards must be handed over to the Church. While Almatheans and certain members of the Eskatonic Order call for studying these mysterious artifacts, the Orthodoxy fears that their heling properties would devalue the Church’s teachings, and it fears the ‘psychological balancing’ said to occur to the wielder. The Orthodoxy planted the idea that this might be a subtle form of Possession, similar to Symbiots. Silence is Golden. The less people know about Soul Shards the better.
The Church demands all found Philosophers Stones – immediately. The wielder faces death, otherwise. The Church finds these Preadamite artifacts problematical. They seem to express the ultimate promise (and lie) of technology, but astute Church officials also see a way to break the power of the Guilds with these objects, and place the Nobles under their own rule. The longstanding dreams of the Universal Theocracy could be achieved by the use of a powerful Philosophers Stone. Unless closely allied with the Church, an individual who bears a Philosophers Stone will be hunted down by Inquisition teams, no matter who else they are allied with.
Second Republic Technology
Second Republic technology is suspect. Any items found, belong to the Church. Depending on the utility or power of such items, membership in a Militia, Guild or alliance with a Noble House is wise; so too are well placed bribes. The Churches response depends on the nature of the item. Serfs and Freemen must all turn such items over.
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