Etatia is a multicultural empire simply by virtue of its immense breadth. While it does its share of “exporting” Etatian values as the “proper” way to be, for the most part it is simply too diffuse to even consider any kind of cultural hegemony. So what kinds of generalizations can we make?
The Empire does maintain a consistent system of currency within its borders. Coins in current use are
- Ducat: A gold coin. Worth 10 grossi, or 100 pfenning. Heavily debased with lead, only 25% pure.
- Grosso: Plural grossi. Silver coin. Worth 10 pfenning. 50% silver, 50% lead.
- Pfenning: Or “penny.” Copper. Usually 75% copper, 25% lead.
All 3 common coins are standardized to weigh 100 coins to a pound. Each Circle is responsible for minting its own coins, and will imprint different images on them, but coin values are standard throughout the Empire.
Older coins of greater or lesser purity are sometimes uncovered; these are best melted down and dealt with as commodities. Foreign coins may be of similar value but vastly different sizes.
One discontinued coin that is still in rare circulation is the Gulden. This is a platinum coin of 70% purity worth 10 Ducat.
Why the variable purity? Well, decimal coinage isn’t realistic historically or on the basis of the metal. Gold is worth a lot more than 10x silver; a pure gold coin worth ten silver coins would be half the size of a US dime. More realistic, perhaps, would be coins worth different denominations… a 10-silver coin makes more sense than a 1-gold coin, at least in common use. However, remember that our worldbuilding goal is to massage standard FRPG tropes into making more sense. The only way that coins of different precious metals relate at a 10:1 value is through debasement.
While the gods are now distant, it is accepted that they were at least at one point real. Given this, it would be foolish to deny the existence of other deities; there are no ‘true’ gods and ‘fake’ gods, only ‘my gods’ and ‘your gods.’ Given the distance, however, this has become ‘my religion’ and ‘your religion.’ The organizations and hierarchies themselves have power.
As the Empire conquered new lands it had no need to discourage the populace from worshipping the gods they wished; however, the native Etatian church did not care for the competition foreign religion would bring. Hence, the gods of newly conquered regions were brought into the Etatian pantheon, either merged as aspects of already extant gods, or as newly accepted demigods. The old religious hierarchies were disassembled.
The Etatian Church is highly political and orthopraxic. They teach that the gods do not care what you believe or how you hold your heart, but only how you behave. A righteous man participates in rituals and holy days, observes the virtues of the church, at least publicly, and most of all, tithes as required. The gods deal with mortals through duty and contractual obligation; protection in exchange for the proper sacrifices.
As such, most Etatian citizens do not devote themselves to one god, but pray for favor to different gods as the situation warrants, making the proper sacrifices at the proper temples. There are of course exceptions; the clergy become priests of particular divinities, and the very devout or thankful might choose to devote themselves to the service of particular gods as lay servants or champions.
Etatian is the common language of the Empire, in which all legal documents are written, and in which important ceremonies are conducted. As such, almost all Etatians can speak at least a few words of the language. Those in the west are most likely to be fluent, but speakers are not hard to find even in Eastern Etatia.
Officially humans are afforded no special treatment within the Empire, and all races are, in theory, equal on that basis. However, no nonhuman has ever been elected Emperor, and few hold positions of real power. The truth of the matter does vary from province to province, but a few generalities can be made.
- Elves are novelties in regions where they are rare, and seen as backwards and difficult near where they remain. Non-avalonian Elves have a rough lot of the human-centric world in general, finding themselves increasingly marginalized, and they tend to keep to their own increasingly poverty-stricken communities. There is a fashion of elves who present themselves as charming novelties to the court, and spend their days being wined and dined throughout the empire. Most cannot tolerate being treated as “pets.”
- Dwarves are far more common but just as likely to stick to their own communities, given how their preferences stray from what humans would find appealing. Frequently a dwarf community manages itself with little Imperial interference as long as the taxes are paid, but they are not often considered full Principalities.
- Halflings have, perhaps, the most parity with humans, being fully integrated into Etatian society so much so that traces of their native culture exist only as trace elements in place names and surnames. They wear human fashions, give their children human names. The sole concession halflings allow for their race is in ethnic neighborhoods built to a more comfortable halfling scale, with shops selling goods sized to their smaller frames.