Society and Culture
Cities in Dakkon are structured on a fairly strict class system featuring the Royal House at the apex, the Major Houses beneath them, and the Minor Houses making up the final rank of the nobility. Below them stand those that make up the middle classes: high-ranking soldiers who are not nobility, successful merchants, skilled artisans and craftsmen, men of learning, and bankers. Below that are the common folk, consisting mainly of those who preform manual labor or are in servitude to another. Those with special skills, such as practitioners of arcane arts and the priesthood, hover somewhere between minor nobility and middle class depending on their individual reputation and skill. The most powerful graduates of the Thaumaturgy or The Cloisters, however, can outstrip even the most powerful of the Major Houses in their influence in national affairs.
Dakkon’s recent Consolidation means that members of the noble houses can easily trace their lineages to the founders of their Houses. Many of those were generals who marshaled armies for King Tammarach and were then given land and holdings in recompense. Others have been landowners since the Warring City-States period and managed to maintain their hold after Consolidation. Still others were more recently raised members of the middle class who achieved either great wealth or renown and have sworn vows of great fealty in the name of the Denadra line.
Because of the recency of Dakkon’s founding, the kingdom does not have a lengthy historical culture. As such, many of the cultural pursuits of Dakkon are modern in founding and limited in their spread. Easar and Il Aren are the centers of art and culture, for they have a sizable enough leisure class to have established informal patronage of institutions of culture. Among them are amphitheaters dedicated to dramatic performances by mummers and musical performances by bards, minstrels and troubadours, lyceums where poets and thinkers expound for learned audiences, patronage programs for artists and artisans of all stripes, and formal sport competitions geared around martial prowess. Recently, Easar has become the site of Dakkon’s first museum, known as the Royal Archive, dedicated to displaying artifacts from far-off lands and long-fallen civilizations of the past. While Il Aren, Aldastra and Riven also have thriving cultural classes, outlying cities have neither the infrastructure nor the time to dedicate to a studied pursuit of the arts. However, even in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, itinerant scholars, wandering minstrels and mummers are well loved by the lower classes, while trained bards and poets are often hired for the entertainment of the outlying nobility.
Tammarach placed a great value on education, believing that men of learning advanced the kingdom more than the unlettered. As such, literacy rates in the East are as high as 30% in some areas. However, men (and women) of learning are disproportionately concentrated in the nobility and middle class, and there are far more in the eastern cities than in the west. Newer cities like Bashar and Riversend have no dedicated institutions of learning and instead rely on itinerant scholars to sporadically educate the populace. It is common practice for every child of the eastern noble Houses of Dakkon to be educated in one of the academies in Easar after completing their mandatory two-year tour of duty. To date, while literacy and learning are on the increase, Tammarach’s vision of a fully-educated citizenry has not come to pass. Nonetheless, before his passing, Tammarach established several academies in Easar, as follows:
The Thaumaturgy – home to those who wish to train in the arcane arts, the Thaumaturgy is the center for those who are formally trained as wizards, warlocks and sorcerers. Many students pass through its halls, but few are those who truly have the gift for the arcane. While formal training for most students runs for three years—a period known as the Novitiate—the truly gifted often stay for as many as fifteen, progressing from novice to Acolyte and finally to Arcanist. Even after they are fullfledged thaumaturges, many never leave the shadow of The Thaumaturgy, for it is where nearly every arcane study is headquartered. The Thaumaturgy is housed in one of the largest of the Arkhosian ruins in Easar—a twisting ivory three-tower marvel that rises higher into the sky than any building other than the Palace of Swords itself. The Thaumaturgy elects as its head the Lord Arcanist, who serves both as the leader of The Thaumaturgy and also as the chief arcane counsel to His Majesty. The current Lord Arcanist is the eladrin Aelos Akarnos, a wizard by training.
The Scriveners’ Academy – here is where students are taught the arts of history, lore, writing, literature, law, finance and pedagogy. Learned scribes and historians make their home here, dividing their time between their studies and instruction. Ioun is the patron goddess of the Scriveners’ Academy, and all who dwell here forswear allegiances to all other deities save her. Students spend as many as ten years at the Scriveners’ Academy, after which they take the title of Master Scholar. Such Master Scholars are a rare commodity which, if not immediately brought under the aegis of the Royal Court, are quickly hired by any number of wealthy Houses or merchants. One exception to the title of Master Scholar is the class of students who study law; upon graduation, they are given the title of Arbiter. Arbiters often take jobs in the kingdom’s court system, and such Arbiters who excel at their craft are promoted to Adjudicator by the High Court of the King. A small number of Master Scholars refuse all service and instead wander the kingdom as itinerant scholars, teaching in far-flung places and throwing Ioun’s light of learning into the darkest corners of Dakkon. The head of the Scriveners’ Academy is the Master Scrivener; he is Chief Scrivener to the Throne, but that title is mostly honorary, as the duties of the Chief Scrivener most often fall to a skilled Master Scholar of the Master Scrivener’s choosing. The current Master Scrivener is the elf Lord Pel Alin Errtai.
The Cloisters – Priests of the various gods and goddesses are trained here prior to dispatch to the kingdom’s cities. Learned priests of each of the eight patron deities of Dakkon instruct students in the wisdom of the divine. The Cloisters is the smallest of the dedicated institutions in Easar, for the need for priests is somewhat limited in comparison to the other schools. Acolyte training generally lasts seven years and culminates in the acolyte having chosen one of three paths: Divine Prior, Divine Augur or Divine Warrior. Divine Priors are ordained as priests and dispatched to a temple to serve the people. Divine Augurs are very rare, for they are those who have the gift of prophecy; they always remain close to The Cloisters and the king. Divine Warriors are those who receive the blessings of the gods and become holy warriors, including clerics, paladins, invokers and avengers. The Cloisters is led by the Council of Eight, who are the Archpriests of each deity and are supreme over the other priests and High Priests who serve the same god. Members of the Council of Eight are chosen by the Greater Synod, which is the convening of High Priests from across Dakkon.
The Academy of the Arts – Here is where bards, poets, artisans, thinkers, philosophers and architects learn their craft, studying at the hands of master artisans. The Academy of the Arts is the largest of the Easaran schools, as it is multidisciplinary and well-funded due to the wealth of its matriculants. Many of the best artists of their crafts have passed through the halls of the Academy, which is itself regarded as the finest example of human architecture in Dakkon. Master artisans and philosophers run the recently-founded Royal Archives, while master poets established the first lyceums in Easar and Il Aren. The Academy of the Arts is located in an area of Easar which was open land at the time of the academy’s founding, and indeed planning the surrounding area was one of the first undertakings of the then-nascent academy. As a result, the Academy District has become one of the most desirable areas in Easar: its broad avenues, open greenery and mixture of middle class, minor nobility and merchants’ shops have made it the envy of Dakkon.
Aside from the schools, a number of informal trade institutions have grown around Dakkon to serve the purpose of standardizing education of youth in trades. These trade consortiums have grown in power as the wealthy seek out their superior recruits to perform highly skilled work; slowly, these organizations are gaining economic and political clout, especially in the newer western cities of the kingdom. Among these guilds are the Woodworkers’ Guild, the Masons’ Guild, the Order of the Sail (sailors, captains, traders and navigators), the League of the Sea (fishermen, shipbuilders, longshoremen and other seafaring workers ineligible for the Order of the Sail), the Seamstresses’ Alliance, the Guild of the Garter (the prostitutes’ guild), Moradin’s Hand (miners), and the Brotherhood of the Earth (farmers, herders, vintners, loggers and others who work the land). Some speak of darker brotherhoods that exist in Dakkon, but the existence of such cabals remains unsubstantiated.