Galvian Culture and History
Epithet: The City of Depths
First raised in eras past, Galvia has faced the Convergence throughout the ages. With each planar collision, the city fell to the elements and the threats that it faced whereupon it collapsed into the earth only to rise again upon its own ruins. Walls were rebuilt to be higher and stronger, laws and order were reinforced to keep the surviving generation together and hopeful. Each iteration of Galvia has followed this pattern into the modern day where it now stands brilliantly in a world that has seen the threat of the Convergence ended.
With six districts forming the whole of the city, Galvia is a well tuned and learned machine of people playing out their roles to keep to the faith and purpose that the Dragons instilled within its people long ago.
The Court of Mirrors
The Gentry is the political district of Galvia, home to nobles, lawmakers, and merchants. It is stated that throughout the ages it has shifted forms. Its current form is a Republic. Of the six districts, it is seen as the most elite due to the constant creation of bard songs, noble house sayings, and the commissioning of sculptures, paintings, and other expressive mediums to line the landscape.
The Gentry is ever a district in flux, filled to the brim with opportunity and political conflict. Some Noble houses and Lawmakers focus on keeping things the same, driven to maintain the structures that have existed for their lifetimes. Others are more focused on change and the spread of the new. The Gentry remains a political battleground, where these views and many more fight and conflict, always trying to get ahead.
The Gentry is one of the oldest of the districts of Galvia, the home of noblemen, and of politics within the city. The records do not indicate the names of those who first took command over the city, only that they gathered the people up and ordered them to work, some on the fields and food, and others on what needed to be done and where. Before it even had a name, the district of political reform was in the minds of those of the land.
Through every age, the Gentry is reformed and reorganized, and, in the current age, the Gentry has become a Republic, filled with lawmakers who have the ability to vote for and change laws as needed or desired. These Gentrymen, however, only make up one part of the Gentry is, with wealthy Merchant families and the newer journalism faction rising up behind the Gentrymen each with their important roles. The Merchants trade items, ensuring that those who need them are capable of obtaining said items. It is in this district that laws, customs, and duty all intertwine, creating a wealth of information and intrigue.
The Court of Chains
Law and Order is the very foundation upon which society is nurtured, a social contract to adhere to and uphold. Fairness, Justice, and Judgment are rendered upon those who would seek to tarnish a citizen’s expected social conduct and contract within the City of Galvia. These, at the very core, are the tenets to which the Constables of Galvia hold themselves to. To those who don the Ironcoats of the Constables, the tenets are not merely an important facet of society: it is an absolute necessity. There can be no honest living whilst disorder reigns supreme.
Thus, at the very heart of the Constabulary, is it a place populated by the self-righteous, the just, the dutiful, and those who have been wronged in their past. The Constabulary is what keeps the Districts of Galvia in line: to disrupt social conduct and contract is a mistake many live to regret. Public opinion of the Constabulary tends to shift like a pendulum; reception of the Constabulary may swing from outright respect to begrudging tolerance. While many find them to be an unneeded nuisance, most would agree that, at best, they are what keeps Galvia functioning, and, at worst, a necessary pain.
Camaraderie runs thick in the Constabulary; the esprit de corps is an essential part of day-to-day life within the force. Constables, detectives, and scouts all share an unbreakable bond despite their differences. No man in the force looks down upon another for his position, as it is a universally agreed truth that, by donning the Ironcoat, they shall be made brothers. Whilst not every member may personally know each other, they undeniably would step into the line of fire for each other.
Ever since the first iterations of Galvia through Convergences past did the Constabulary make themselves an important facet of the city. Though fluctuating in the rules they carry out - the operations and laws year in and year out are always in flux - the function of the Constabulary has remained set in stone. Whether as a disorganized militia, a privatized company, to professional lawmen, it has almost always existed in some capacity. As an entity dedicated to public service, they have always been under the most scrutiny. From low to high borne, an inherent flaw with their position. Despite this, they continue to operate from dawn to dusk without relent.
It is only in recent years that the Constabulary has relaxed: not so much that they’re willing to let all criminals off the hook, but in terms of public outlook. No longer are the days of Constable partners running into the depths of the Foundry for minor infractions, nor are Constables searching every single entrant to their district. Public assemblies are allowed to stay, as long as they’re peaceful . It’s hard to say what exactly caused this shift in demeanor. Some attribute it to the last Convergence never happening, grumbling veterans claim softening recruits who come from more than storied Constable families to be the root of the issue, others point out the diversification of thought, an extension of worship beyond Paludrex. Whatever the case may be: it is undoubtedly a turning point in the Constabulary’s history.
The Court of Feathers
Though the three aspects of the Ward vary greatly in their roles, those drawn to work within this section of Galvia tend to be empathetic, wise, and charitable souls with a desire to give back to their community. All three parts of the Ward work directly for the people in some way: physicians attend to injuries, those sick both physically and mentally, and work on the mind and body aspects of cleansing Touched; the clergy preach and teach of Rhystian and Galvian history, uplift the people’s morale, and attend to the spiritual aspects of cleansing Touched; and oracles look beyond to the future within the skies and scry what is to come so that all may reap a better tomorrow.
While this is especially true for the clergy, the Ward also tends to attract the most devout to its ranks. The Earth Dragon Paludrex sees the most worship as the grand guardian and patron deity of Galvia. Other than Paludrex, his children, the Greater Earth Spirits, see the most worship in Galvia: Delta, Hysena, and Sylva in that order. As the people who directly attend to Galvia’s past, present, and future, the Ward knows it is vital to represent and embrace the great Dragon’s values. In accordance with Paludrex, those of the Ward put great emphasis upon valuing order, endurance, responsibility, longevity, and the preservation of humanity. No matter how the outside world changes, Galvia has a duty to its patron and people to remain steadfast in protecting what is right, yet being willing to change for the greater good just as Paludrex made the first push to end the Convergence.
Despite the Ward’s tireless noble work and intentions, the downside of such fidelity means that those of the Ward tend to be sticks-in-the-mud prone to all the flaws of bureaucracy. In practice they may come off as holier-than-thou, snobbish, and pedantic. It is important for those of the Ward to maintain an esteemed reputation, for what good can physicians, faith leaders, and diviners of fate do if their people do not trust their expertise or intent? This, in turn, can make the Ward feel as though they are unappreciated by the people they serve. Performing thankless work can have negative effects on the mind, causing the Ward to treat the people more coldly, and thus the cycle continues. It’s often a balancing act to stay true to one’s values, act as a role model, and encourage others to behave accordingly without making them feel small or lesser. Discordance shall lead to the death of Galvia.
Though no one knows for certain the exact events that led to the creation of the Ward, it is commonly accepted as a snowball effect brought on by the Reflecting Well. Though faith and healing are both concepts central to even the most rudimentary societies, the third aspect of the Ward does not share that trait. While the stars themselves were always bearers of reverence and conduits of prophecy, their importance was lesser-known. The Reflecting Well changed that.
Faith has always been strong in Galvia, and remains so in the modern day. The same can not be said of the city’s physicians; many were tied to the churches themselves, or functioned as one or few in small-scale clinics. Neither of these situations support the creation of the unified hospitals of modern Galvia- but they formed anyways. It’s for that reason that the following theory is the most commonly accepted one as to how the Ward came to be, and it is tied closely to the creation of the Reflecting Well.
Oracles have existed in Galvia long before the Well was created, for it was through them that it was made; and yet, it was only after this event that they were thrust into public perception. Little is known of their activities before this time, especially as their groups swiftly went from unknown to common knowledge. The allure of divination is grand, and so many who had no ties to the stars began to seek out the tenders of the Well to see what their future held. There were more petitioners than oracles, however- vastly more.
This is where it is thought the clergy join the growing Ward. With so many people seeking prophecy and so few oracles, many were left disappointed; an environment fit for proselytization. This indirectly began to bring the physicians tied to faith together, resulting in wounded citizens beginning to gravitate towards the reaches of the Well- for if one doctor was unavailable, there were likely to be more. This, in-turn, attracted healers not associated with the faith- and when even that proved insufficient to properly care for the citizens of the city, eventually resulted in the formation of the hospital that continues to tend to the city of Galvia as a whole.
As the Ward is itself a conglomeration of three different groups, it is one of the districts most prone to internal disagreements. It is itself this disunity that allows it to address as many problems as it does; in modern Galvia, it acts as the city’s bastion against plague, faithlessness, and uncertainty.
The Court of Eyes
The oldest records dredged from the interminable depths of the ruins below speak of a bank of raised stone steles. There, the wise men and women would gather, having been taught in the old ways by their elders, and would do work under the stars atop the ancient mount. The fire at the center would burn, heaped with tinder, and whispers would spill freely from lips as if the smoke drew them out. Within that ring of ancient arches, crude basalt constructions older than writing itself, there was no seeming. No pretense. There was only ever the first goal; that which had brought all to that place, and would bring others to follow. The desire to know more.
So it is said that the Arcanum began. Whether the provenance of this ancient tablet found below lies in truth or deception has been hotly debated within its halls, but there is no countering the most base of its claims: that Galvia has always sought to learn, and some will always seek to touch the mysteries of the world.
It is a grounding as deep in the bones as the Foundry lies within the flesh. Even so, there are several schools of thought within the Arcanum. There are those who reject the limits of the world, and seek to push past them with knowledge so that they might master some part of creation. Others believe in the purity of knowledge; that all must be educated, that what is known now must not be forgotten, and that those in the future should benefit from knowledge learned today. Finally, there are those drawn to the deepest of secrets, who covet them, willing to vivisect creation so they might learn from it. It is out of these three cardinal precepts that the Arcanum lives: Temerity, Foresight, and Usurpation.
Life within the Arcanum is described best by the attitude of its inhabitants. Many of them are perfectly reasonable, if sometimes self-important and convinced of their rising star. Some of them are - charitably - eccentric in the extreme, living like rats in their laboratories as they struggle to make the next breakthrough, only escaping the court to run mad tests in the wild or the ruins. Yet more are convinced that they are basically gods, a perfect gift of intellect and superiority - all while being unable to match a single recruit of the Constabulary in combat. The people of the Arcanum are erratic, self-possessed, terrible gossips, and often hold delusions of grandeur.
But sometimes, they are right.
On nights rare as moonless skies, in the dead of a secret hour, wonders are sometimes made. Artifacts that can change a person’s face, industry, the weather itself - those are the promises that the Arcanum lives and dies by. In times of intellectual famine, they are seen as a group of mad idiots trying to make water from fire, little more than nuisances. In times of plenty, it seems as if they are the inheritors of the world itself, wise beyond mortal means, capable of miracles that others could never imagine. Those times are rare, but have a habit of staining memory. A member of the Arcanum will rarely find disrespect from any other court, even if they act a little strange.
What is said less about the times where the Arcanum erred- the better. Those who delve too deep into the forbidden are a danger to all, and their example is taboo to even speak of.
The Court of Flames
The Artificery is the heart from which the goods of the city flows to both its own streets and to much further reaches, and with that distribution of goods comes a natural sense of business. The Artisans of the Artificery were quick to make their dealings sacred among themselves, and backing out of a handshake deal with one Artisan could quickly see their name tarnished throughout the fiery halls of industry, for the Artisans hold loyalty in the highest regard.
Reneging on a handshake deal with an Artisan is a quick way to never see your goods, and having even the most basic of services from any Artisan suddenly triple in price. It is said that words travel fast - but no word has ever traveled faster than a grudge among Artisans.
It is that loyalty and that plight that binds them together, and gives them the name of Artisan - not Artificer, as their domain would suggest, because they remember the time of the Artisan’s Quarter. Many a gruff-witted smith and graying alchemist will recall the days of their relocation to any joining greenhorn, and to earn a direct apprenticeship under an Artisan is not just the acceptance of a job. It is an acceptance into the good grace and brotherhood of the workers below the city - and once you call yourself an Artisan, you don’t abandon that plight.
Industry grows from the tiniest flame, and one might be fooled into assuming that was never the case for Galvia. The Artificery is no Ward, certainly no noble spire, but only the misguided might assume that the Artificery is secluded below because it is unsightly. The truth is the industrial core of Galvia began as a place of curiosity and creation, but quickly turned into a mechanical factory upon which both the survival and progress of the city came to depend on.
Once known as the Artisan’s Quarter, this burgeoning part of Galvia was scarred by the falling of the star that plunged into the earth. Where they once knew seclusion and peace, the Quarter was shaken at its foundations both from the physical impact and from the responsibilities that they were soon called upon to shoulder. Weaponry, tools, armor, and more was needed to study the depths that the star has cleaved downward in its wake, and only the Artificery could be trusted with forging gear of proper caliber for this task.
It was a call to action understood by the master Artisans, and so over time the Artificery cemented itself as an essential part of Galvia. The wonder, the mystery, and the fear that all the Artificers felt became fuel to stand alongside the Foundry in the understanding of the depths and ruins below.
The Court of Briars
The Foundry is a place for the damned to find redemption, for the forsaken to find a purpose, or for someone who doesn’t have anything else to live for to live out their days in solitude. A society of amateur heroes, hardened doomsayers, and criminals condemned to the ranks of the divers, the Foundry is nothing less than a reminder as to what purpose Galvia is meant to serve. Even with that in mind, that purpose is still one that presses the optimism and goodwill out of any rookie recruits after their first journey into the dark.
To those who have come to understand the Foundry for what it is, there is a reverence for the grand abyss that rests underneath the city above, and statues of ancient earthen spirits are often visited on the morning of a dive, and some who do survive and return to the gloomy streets do so mutated and transformed by what they saw. Known as the Errant, these divers are seen as outcasts by those who dwell on the surface, but those of the Foundry have learned that in the dark, they make some of the most steadfast companions a hunter could ask for.
Throughout Galvia’s known histories, the Foundry has stood as a testament of the duties entrusted to mortals by the gods. There is a distinct and very clear need for the district to operate as it does, for the ruins that have sunk deep into the earth house both genuine and deadly terrors as well as dark secrets that might otherwise be best left undiscovered. It is for this reason that the ranks of the Foundry are often filled with wanted men or forgotten veterans, for as noble as their purpose may seem, it is above all else necessary for the continued survival of Galvia and perhaps Rhyst itself, and brave souls are harder to come by than the press ganged men and women on death’s row.
The Foundry is perhaps the oldest of Galvia’s districts, and many believe that renditions of it exist throughout the ruins below that belonged to ages long since forgotten. If this is true, then it would mean the depths beneath Galvia precede at least the layers that civilization has reached and that even those of the past required a vanguard against something within the shadows. The idea is not one that is notably comforting, but it is one that affirms a greater purpose entrusted to the mortals set here by Paludrex himself.
This lower district has always been the place in the city that sees the most crime, for what are laws to a person already slated to die? Despite this, the Foundry isn’t crawling with guards or lawmen, and the blind eye is turned more times than it isn’t to illegal activities in the name of a greater duty that is needed here. It’s thought that the Foundry wasn’t originally the black sheep of the districts, and that when it was first established it was a place of honor and courage. Some in the modern day still think it can achieve its former glory, while many others have taken advantage of the Foundry’s current state.