So today I’m going to focus in one one of the major civilizations of Aethera – the primary human one, in fact. The Hierarchy is theoretically where your character will be coming from if you’re human, and they’re also a good source of hooks and links for adventures. On the absolute surface, they seem fine – a bit regimented, but they’ve just been through a century of war and all.
They’re also the most Orwellian nightmare of a society you could ask for. Every citizen has an assigned job – theoretically, this is one you’re the best-suited for physically and mentally, and you can request re-assignment or promotion as time goes on. In theory, the Hierarchy is a meritocracy.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a functional meritocracy. I’m sure that prior to the Slot system the Hierarchy tried to be meritocratic, given that their homeworld of Akasaat is pretty harsh and isn’t going to coddle notions like patriarchy for long. I’m equally sure that the Hierarchy was full of people being promoted by favoritism and nepotism long before the Century War even started, much less by the end when the people in charge would be fighting to keep their people safe from the meat grinder of endless-seeming war.
The Slot System simply codified this, as a method of keeping the freshly emancipated phalanx from rising to positions of power the way a functional meritocracy would demand they be elevated. Now everyone from undesirable dissidents to second-class manufactured citizens such as the infused and the phalanx can be kept in their proper place and prevented from disrupting the orderly society the Hierarchy relies on.
The Hierarchy isn’t all bad, of course; they do keep the majority of Akasaat’s population fed and housed, provided with drinking water and necessities. They even provide some semblance of rights to all their Slotted citizens. If you aren’t Slotted, though, you’re not a citizen, even if you’re paying into the system regularly to live n one of the rebuilt arcologies.
In addition to being shot through with the kind of corruption that comes from “meritocracy” they’re also home to shadowy organizations that work to control the entire society. The one that’s got the best grip is the Symphonium, which amounts to a shadowy cabal who interpret the Score’s secrets and act on it to guide humanity into the future. There’s no proof that they’ve got their predictions right, they’ve misinterpreted at least one prophecy left to them by the founder of the society, and there’s fair evidence that they’e erased one of said founder’s prophecies.
They don’t take well to competition, be it the Vox Riders who broadcast anti-Hierarchy propaganda, the erahthi who fought them for a century, the mysterious taur, or even their own second-class citizens who just want the chance to have a better life. There are military forces who double as peacekeepers and secret police; they don’t trust spellcasters, requiring arcane casters to register with them and locking up those who try to escape if they don’t outright kill them.
All in all, I wouldn’t trust the Heirarchy any farther than I could throw a storm giant.
That said, the Hierarchy isn’t a bad place to be an adventurer. There’s always someone with power and funding looking for semi-disposable mooks to do some side work, and most arcologies are going to open on the vase cavern networks that honeycomb the world of Akasaat. It’s easier to go adventuring if the nearest help is only half a mile away, even if that half-mile is straight up. And if anyone has surplus war materials that can ‘go missing’ with a few clever misdirections, it’s the Hierarchy. Political and social intrigue abounds, for those who enjoy that. Play your cards carefully and you might even manage to get officially given a life of relative power and leisure – at least until your sponsor loses favor with their bosses and their indiscrestions like you start getting rooted out.
The Hierarchy. Don’t trust them, be paranoid about any claims they make, take what they offer, and run before the other shoe drops.