The Culture of Gov’s Domain

The culture of Gov’s Domain is not static, but as with all cultures there are certain important traditions that have evolved. This is a brief rundown of common questions and answers about how things work in Gov’s Domain. Feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have, and we will do our best to answer.

Gov’s Domain is the setting of Season 1, which starts in the Prologue.

What is the most important thing to the people of Gov’s Domain?

Work, which is a form of devotion to Gov. Work can take the form of any labour, from masonry to painting, but must be the central focus of your life.

Is it ever night in the Domain?

Yes; the sun moves away and returns on something resembling a schedule (most of the time), so there is night time.

Is there a moon?

There are two moons in the night. They don’t move.

Does everyone have to shave their heads?

No. That’s a punishment, usually for light heresy.

Where do we get our salt?

There is sea salt harvested through solar evaporation. The Church also doles out salt from an unknown source. It’s part of the economy and social control system.

What animals exist?

Most small animals and insects that we know exist in the Church’s domain. The largest mammals are goats and dogs. There are some larger birds. Blacktip sharks are the largest fish. The game starts in an environment similar to the steppe, so animals you’d find there, you’d find here.

What diseases exist?

Very few. Aside from the rotting sickness people got from being too near a splinter, the people in the Church’s domain almost never get sick. There are occasional common colds, and some people have seasonal allergies. Most genetic disorders are unheard of.

How do we produce food?

Everyone works the fields, fungus caves, or algae farms, or tends the chickens or goats. This is in addition to whatever other duties they have as part of their profession or trade. Children help with sowing and harvest as well. Some people are farmers by profession, and they are in charge in all matters related to the production of food.

What do people wear?

Lots of goat, sheep, and dog wool. Some leather from the same sources. People in the Church’s domain use brightly-coloured dyes to decorate and pattern their clothes. Most folk wear functional robes, or tunics and pants. Hats and other head coverings are pretty much universal.

Which religions are around?

The culture of Gov’s Domain is very strict on this point: you worship Gov or you die. There are rumours of forbidden religious practices that spring up from time to time– sometimes followed by a Decimation or a Purge. Some ancient beliefs still exist underground, but their practice is dangerous due to the omnipresent eyes of the Church.

How do families work?

In many different ways. The only requirement is a minimum of two parents, as the Church expects one parent to be present with the child at all times. If a child is left with only one parent due to a death or separation, that parent will either have to quickly join another family grouping, or lose their child to another family grouping. This is non-negotiable, and has led to a lot of heartbreak over the centuries. Most families consist of one child and at least four parents.

Pregnancy is not allowed outside of designated breeding cycles in order to control the population and ensure there is enough food and water for everyone under the Church’s domain. People wishing to get pregnant must apply to their local branch of the Church well in advance of the breeding cycle. If they are approved, they will be given a special potion that renders them fertile. Without the use of this potion, pregnancy is extremely rare– and people found pregnant outside of a designated breeding cycle are taken in by the Church. They may or may not be seen again.

At three months, pregnant parents must go to the Church to undergo a Transference. No one is entirely sure what happens during a Transference– not even the pregnant parent who goes through it– but the parent emerges no longer pregnant. Seven months after the Transference, their child (or children) are decanted from the birth chambers on that year’s Birth Day, and the family group takes them in. All children are considered genderless until they pick a gender (or not) themselves.

How does the Church view gender and sexual orientation?

The culture of Gov’s Domain is fairly liberal about this. The Church does not view policing sexual orientation as part of its purview, and has no laws or beliefs against any sexual orientation. Disorders such as pedophilia, necrophilia, and bestiality are not sexual orientations, and are illegal. People are allowed to have whatever sexual or romantic relationships they want, so long as the relationship is consensual and does not interfere with getting work done, or the survival of the Church. As a result, families with same-sex parent groups, or with many parents, are not uncommon– in fact, a family with just two parents would be considered odd. There has been no stigma attached to sexual orientation or romantic leanings since the Emergency and the dawn of recorded history a few centuries ago. Parent groups of any orientation may adopt orphans (which are rare due to the restrictions mentioned above, but do happen), have a child through a surrogate, or may be assigned a child that has only one parent and whose parent decides against joining a new family group.

Gender is likewise unimportant to the Church. This is largely positive, but the Church’s views on trans, genderfluid, and genderqueer folk are problematic. On the one hand, the Church and society at large are accepting of whatever gender identity a person has. People are expected to address each other using whatever pronouns are appropriate, and deliberately using the wrong pronouns is a form of light heresy. There are no traditional gender roles, and anyone can do any job so long as they’re qualified and capable.

Content warning for state-sanctioned transphobia in the paragraph below.

On the other hand, the Church’s laws state that a person born in the “wrong body” has been given an opportunity by Gov. That person’s struggles– whatever they may be, whether that be dysphoria or any other response– are extra tests of their piety from Gov. Experiencing a life as a trans, genderqueer or genderfluid individual is considered a way of increasing one’s positive balance to an even greater degree than usual, so long as one is deeply pious in the face of those struggles. In modern gaming terms, we might think of it as a “score multiplier,” or a higher difficulty mode. As a result of this law and these beliefs, there are a great many trans, genderqueer and genderfluid people working within the Church or the Bureau.

There is some gear available for trans folk such as binders and packers, and local Church branches offer voice training and other services. Safe and reliable gender confirmation surgery does not currently exist in the Domain, though there have been stories of illicit procedures being carried out by doctors. These are dangerous, and not sanctioned by the Church. The trans community shares recipes for foods and other preparations that encourage or discourage certain hormones, but these are again not sanctioned by the Church.

How does the Church deal with neurodiverse folk?

So long as a person can work, the Church does not deal with neurodiverse folk at all. If a person requires minor supports to contribute to society, the Church may provide assistance through specialists at their local branches. If someone cannot work for whatever reason, and requires more than minor supports, the Church will take them in for what they call a Renewal. These people are rarely seen again, but the Church assures its people that a Renewal only brings someone closer to Gov, and that most who experience that closeness during a Renewal simply do not wish to enter the outside world again.

There are many rumours about what a “Renewal” actually is. Most of those rumours are unpleasant.

How does the Church deal with disabled people?

Much the same way as it deals with neurologically atypical people: so long as that person can work in some capacity and meet quotas, they will generally ignore them. Minor supports are available, such as mobility aids, very basic hearing aids, and prostheses. Ramps are the default rather than stairs, and livestock or water-driven lifts are common. Settlements typically try to find work that a person can still manage with their disability. If a person cannot work in any capacity due to their disability, however, they are also taken in for Renewal by the Church.