The Twelve Walls of Agnusse Diah
Agnusse-Diah is run by women. In fact, relatively few males of any race live in the city (only about 25% of the population is male), and men are viewed as people to be suspicious of, or at least beneath women in terms of equality. Men are forbidden to learn or practice any sort of magic, and their ability to use technology within the law is strongly limited. Men can own property, but legally not very much. There are a few very lucky men who have married into wealthy families or been adopted as children by the right people and hold positions in government or help to run a business—however it is very difficult for men to earn respect in this society.
First of all, marriage is pretty uncommon in Agnusse-Diah. Because the society is run mostly by women with a strong history of independence, there is a bit of a stigma against marrying unless it’s for reproduction (it’s illegal to have kids unless you’ve obtained some sort of union with your partner). Still, love does happen, and it’s not incredibly uncommon to meet a happy, loving couple.
There are two main types of marriage: Highest Union and Middle Union. Highest Union is fairly uncommon, because to get a Highest Union you have to have a written blessing from the Five Holy Mothers. However, occasionally a couple from a high ranking family or with a position of power (celebrities, movie stars, politicians, etc.) will obtain the blessing and be able to be married. It’s particularly beneficial for men to be in a Highest Union—they can hold certain government positions and have the right to write their own wills, as well as some other basic rights.
There’s also Middle Union, which is the most common type of Union. It’s not considered to be a fully sanctified and blessed marriage, but it’s an easy legal way to get reproduction rights. To obtain a Middle Union you have to be blessed as a couple by any Priestess in the city. About 40% of the total population of Agnusse-Diah is in a Middle Union.
Lastly, there are some rumors that have cropped up here and there about something called Lowest Union—an unmarried couple having sex or having a child—but that’s almost unheard of and highly illegal. Literally no one does it—it’s seen as a direct affront to the Patron.
Because marriage (and thus reproduction) is somewhat uncommon, especially in the upper classes, anyone is allowed to adopt a child from The Patron’s Hands, which is essentially an enormous, city-wide orphanage. The children in The Patron’s Hands, who are mostly girls, are blessings from the Patron herself, brought into the city by Belusi (giant horned beetles that are considered the Patron’s favorite beast). Since the Patron knows reproduction is uncommon, she’s been kind enough to send children of all races to the residents of Agnusse-Diah for adoption. Children born from a Union are usually the only ones to be raised by two parents—it’s much more common to be adopted by a single woman and raised that way.
When an unmarried person simply can’t control their basest urges, they do thankfully have one option—they can go to an officially licensed brothel, where young men and women chosen by the Patron provide sexual services. These young men and women are the ONLY people it is legal to have sex with outside of marriage. However, it’s not a taboo to go to a brothel in this society—in fact, most people go at least once, usually more often. It’s seen as a way to get release without having to enter into the bond of marriage.
Different races have different ways of schooling their youths. All female spellcasters (mages, sorcerers, and clerics especially) who can afford it are sent to the Academy of the Highest as soon as they begin to show signs of magical ability. There, they are trained for a life of service to their city and to the Patron. Those who can’t afford the Academy (which is most people) are sent into apprenticeship with a graduate of the Academy, where they will essentially work as her assistant. Non-spellcasters’ education depends entirely on race. Gnomes, elves and humans send their children to a sort of vocational school where they’re taught a trade— something like architecture, construction, computing, running the public transit ships, etc. Halflings tend to teach their children at home,
those avian things learn by following their parents on the job, Illumen spend years studying with the Illumen Elders in the Tower of Tomes, and creatures like Orcs oftentimes don’t educate their children at all. Since Agnusse-Diah is pretty well-integrated, however, a human might find herself studying with the Illumen, or a halfling might become a skilled weapon craftswoman. It very much depends on background and your character’s parent(s). Females are permitted more educational opportunities than men.
Agnusse-Diah is loosely divided into three social classes. On the top are the magic users and the religious workers (all spellcasters as well as paladins and monks). Some silver-tongued bards are also able to make their way into this class. Seen as the holiest creatures in Agnusse-Diah, the members of the highest class frequently become celebrities, and all politicians are members of this class. You don’t necessarily have to be wealthy to be in the top class, either—mediocre spellcasters and even some non-magic users who choose to devote their lives to the patron in some way are told that they are also a part of the holiest group, although they rarely get any of the same privileges as the top-tier mages, priestesses and clerics.
The middle class consists mainly of people who have chosen to integrate both technology and magic into their day-to-day lives, learning a little bit about each. They still worship the Patron, of course, but usually don’t have jobs that revolve around the Patron like most of the upper class does. They tend to get jobs as merchants, business owners, or city workers. There’s plenty of privileged members of this class, as well as plenty of average joes. It all depends on how hard you’re willing to work for the city or city-wide organization. There’s also a substantial working class of dwarves and halfliings that are considered to be somewhere in the middle.
The lowest, poorest, and sadly largest class consists of those who haven’t wanted to or been able to adapt to magic or changing technologies, and prefer the good old-fashioned “hit-it-with-a-battleaxe” approach. They’ve been on the bottom since long before the end of the world, and chances are that’s exactly where they’ll stay. Druids, Barbarians, Fighters, and so on are typically part of this class. They tend to be considered a hindrance to society by the rest of Agnusse-Diah.
I’ve left plenty of stuff out here, guys, and since this campaign is so open-ended I’m totally willing to take suggestions and ideas. It’ll help develop the story and add some realism to your characters and such. Just ask me if you have something you want to add and I’ll let you know if it’ll work!