Disclaimer: I may in the post below have some words on theology based on an atheist's point of view. I do not intend to hurt, or convince, or anything. This is just part the process of constructing my world. In a word, if you're sensitive on that subject, don't read. Though I won't try to be mean.
The main idea
My idea is to create a world where essentialism, teleology and gods are not only a thing, but also not disputable. Through magic (and reliable testimony), everybody knows and can't discuss that.
The main goal is to explore the consequences of those three items (and other things I consider to be based on belief) and try to find the implications of them. From basic to sociology, I intend to show what people's belief implies.
Of course, the world is always more complex than we think, and I have to admit my ultimate goal is to show that whatever the world is made of, it doesn't matter as much as what we do with it.
The world is a flat. The surface is a disc roughly the area of Europe (or the USA).
As of right now, there is no definitive map. The center is the most humanly active part of the world (and the center of my story). The North is cold, the South is warm.
Geology / astronomy
The world's surface is flat-ish, but the world is not a disc, it's a cylinder (it's height is unknown). As plate tectonics doesn't exist, mountains actually pop up like teeth. Most geological formations we know will exist too.
That big cylinder is under a dome where the sun, stars and other are hung. Yes, that dome is blue.
The classical elements are the basis of all mater. Not that matter is only made of those elements, it is also the way they are bound together through essence that really counts.
The Aether is totally a thing and it is hung to the dome.
Light propagates in that medium and, through magic, that medium can be manipulated. The Aether is curved making light naturally go slightly up, giving the impression of an horizon.
Note also that light is actually emitted by the eye and bounces until it reaches a source
Gravity is a constant field, pointing down (duh). It is most probably the force that bends the aether.
Humorism is at the basis of how biology works. Why? Because the gods created everything that is living and that's how they saw things to be fitting.
There are two gods, we know, because they pass by every thousand year or so.
One is called The Spark. Known to defend life, freedom and compassion. Their holy book (a.k.a. The Holy Book) cannot be read by anyone but the high priests. According to the priests, it's a direct order from The Spark. According to (a very few and secret) others, the priests heard what they wanted to and interpreted it how they preferred.
The other one is called The Shade. The Shade's reputation is... not good. Their holy book (a.k.a. The Book of Shadows) cannot be read, as the few known copies are destroyed by the fire. The Shade is worshiped by necromancers (see below) and is believed to want everybody dead.
Even in the canonical Church, The Shade is not considered to be all bad though. After all, they created their half of the world, and the light cannot exist without darkness. Basically, The Shade and The Spark have a beef. Humans must worship The Spark, as they're the source of life. However, no human will insult any god, even a dark and deadly one like The Shade.
When The Spark passes by, summer lasts for the whole year. Wars stop. The elders feel young and the Kingdom expands. When The Shade passes by, winter lasts for a whole year and a lot of people die. To the record, the gods haven't both been around at the same time since the creation of the world.
There are a lot of different races. I mean, not different skin colors. More like different sizes, shapes, hair and also color. Most races are near-humanoid though, and white skinned humans are the dominant race in the central kingdom.
All non-humans endure a form of oppression, though with different forms and degrees. Some are just looked down as "a bit less than us", some are put to slavery, some have the mark of The Shade on their stomach and must be slain at birth.
Race is mostly hereditary, though it doesn't seem to work in 1% of births, resulting usually in very disgruntled parents.
Sex however, is much simpler in this world, as intersex people don't seem to exist.
The current King is the all-powerful ruler of the Kingdom, and his word is law. The capital, which is literally the center of the world is a flamboyant testimony of his power. Meeting the king is quite the difficult task, as you have to navigate through a huge and diverse court of nobles representing the different duchies and external settlings, as well guild-masters and priests.
The dukes hold most of the territory under their influence, they are together more powerful than the king, but mostly quarrel about duchy boundaries and taxations.
Nobility comes from birth and with the exception of the royal crown, most titles are inherited by the eldest sibling (gender is officially not a problem, though there is sexism in practice). The king is decided between the dukes and cannot have children after their nomination. Younger children will usually be knighted by a Duke (unless they join the clergy).
- Prince (aka King successor, usually a duke)
- Duke (they run the show, there are around 20)
- Count (do the heavy lifting of territory management, around 5 per duke)
- Knights (usually have no territory, executives, some dukes have hundreds under their orders)
The justice system is (officially) the responsibility of the Church. The ruling nobles can override any decision, but they usually don't. After all, when you write the law, control the police, and the judge is your brother, you seldom feel like pardoning people. Notably, the King is also the ruler of the clergy and can declare himself judge of any trial.
There are other kingdoms around the Kingdom. The north and the west areas are organized in small tribes, most of them being nomadic. The east has small countries that maintain independence by being ready to gang up on the Kingdom if attacked. The south is unified and democratic and is mainly left alone because it doesn't have much resources. The border, being practically uninhabitable as no governing.
The Kingdom's economy is based on mercantilist. Any economic entity requires the approbation of the king or a duke.
The most valuable resource is the Crystal. Crystals have various properties (depending on the type) and are considered to be the key to any power. The rest of the economy is pretty much equivalent to Europe's economy during medieval times.
There is fierce competition within the Dukes and all-out war can happen after a famine. The outer territories rely heavily on the Kingdom's sizable economy and often gamble on that competition to their benefit.
I will focus on the Kingdom's society, other territories are organized differently but keep to a lesser or higher extent the outward xenophobia.
The nobles compose the leading cast. They have money, influence and land. It is pretty much agreed upon that only nobles will have an influence on history. Work is not considered degrading, as long as it's noble work: military officer, minister, counselor or company owner are the kind of jobs that are reserved for nobles.
The clergy comes second. Though the highest parts of the clergy are children or siblings of the dukes. They are the most educated members of society and will often serve as unofficial counselors to the executive nobles. They are the administrators and the scholars. Since they are the plumbers of power without owning anything themselves, their corruption is fairly common. To a commoner, joining the clergy is usually a social boost. Some nobles, however, consider this demeaning.
99% of the population is the commoners. Most of them are farmers, heavily religious and happy with their condition. Almost all non-human are commoners.
Crystals is a magical matter that can have different colors, shapes, and effects. Its mining and trade are a primary goal of any country, to the point of obsession. According to the gods, they are a gift of power to mankind.
Their usage is reserved to nobles and (sometimes) clergymen. Though the black market is quite developed.
Example of crystals:
- Dark crystal: produces "negative light" that cast a shade around them.
- Sight crystal: allows the user to see anything on the surface on the earth.
- Fire crystal: used with skill, a lighter, used without skill, a flamethrower.
- Power crystal: power source that can increase other crystals reach.
Necromancers are children chosen by the Shade to slaughter as much people as possible. They are the bogeymen except they are real. They are feared mostly because of how unsettling they are: it's something to see your family killed, but it's something else to see your family killed by your 6 years old neighbor with a gesture and then to see your family get back up and attack you.
Necromancers rarely reach adulthood, though, and thankfully so. In their first month of practice, a kid can slaughter a village and you need a dozen armed people to stop him. A teenager with a few years behind them can only be stopped by an army.
What is not known, however, is that necromancers don't choose to be that way. They have little to no control over what they do and most of them commit suicide early on. With puberty comes control over their power and necromancer usually go underground before that because they don't want to face an army. Moreover, necromancers don't like each other, and two adult necromancers meeting will almost always result in a fight to the death.
What even most of necromancers themselves don't know is that they can use crystals in ways that are not supposed to work, and a power crystal in the hands of a necromancer is pretty much the end of life on a 10km radius minimum.