Finally, we have a few things here too short to warrant their own section. Miscellaneous stuff. The leftovers. Well...okay, maybe not THAT bad.
Though I have rendered most of what the characters say in English, they (obviously!) do not speak our language. Most of the languages of Hearthstone are not phonetic, but rather use ideograms (like Chinese) and this will be reflected in the Annals whenever we feature things like signs or written materials. Donít try to create a glossary out of these if youíre bored....Iím pretty much making up these things as I go along, though some symbols I will keep in mind as permanent ones (the one example you can see even now is the two-part symbol for police organizations). Residents of the first three continents have a common lingua franca that enables them to communicate, while those from the Cartel's continent resist linguistic assimilation. I have rendered this lingua franca in English, as well as conversations in the same "home" language; but where a character uses what to another character would be a "foreign" tongue, I will portray them as speaking in that language and will provide a footnoted translation -- especially when it might add to the drama of the situation! (grin)
I'll also note some common "foreign" phrases or words here as I create them....
The people of Hearthstone are a devout bunch, and I make no bones about this. If you're offended by religious expressions and spirituality, this is not going to be your type of story. In the tradition of Lewis' Narnia series, an idea of God, with a specifically Christian outlook, underlies what you'll find here. But I think that unless you have read this paragraph, you may not find it that obvious.
The primary religion of Hearthstone is The Covenant of M'kai. It is the parallel to Christianity on Hearthstone, but with a major technical difference: The atonement event is yet in the future. (I'll make that part of a story sometime, actually.) Salvation is achieved strictly by loyalty to the brokerage of M'kai, the Hypostasis of the One. The eschatology ("end times") story, which I will also do in the far future, will reflect my preterist leanings. (If you don't know what that means, you may find my other website of interest where it addresses that topic.)
There are various other faiths on Hearthstone, but most take the form of what would be called paganism, albeit one rather sanitized compared to what we might think of (Aztecs cutting out hearts and such). The second most popular religion pledges loyalty to the deity Pasin, a rather kindly figure whose moral teachings are not dissimilar to the Covenant of M'kai's moral teachings. It could be regarded as similar to Confucianism in our world. Others are more or less what we would call deists. Atheism is almost unknown, though at the start of the Annals, one of the characters (Beamer) is an atheist.
The bulk of the peoples of Hearthstone are dyadic and agonistic. Many Americans don't even know that the bulk of our world is like this, so some explanation is in order.
To be agonistic means that your society runs on principles of honor and shame. The internal motivating force we call "conscience" (or "guilt"), does not exist. Rather, agonistic persons seek their identity and moral guidance in what others say and do. Dyadic peoples do not "get to know" each other as persons. Typical of such societies, what is best for the group is what matters; the concerns of the individual are given second place. Marriages are not put together by the process we know of "dating" and falling in love, but rather are arranged by families looking for mutual advantage. "Love" may happen but it is not the force which initially links the relationship.
If you want to know more about this type of society, I often recommend this article as a popular summary.
The only people of Hearthstone without this orientation live in Nullabor (Sheila Rangslinger's home). They are closer to being individualists, as modern Westerners are.
In the agonistic cultures there is a complex system of classes that was developed in past ages by the Prycene Empire as a way of keeping order, although it has naturally changed and developed in different directions in different places, such that only a few core principles remain the same as when the Prycenes devised the system (it was much more egalitarian in their day). There are four classes: First, Second, Third, and what may as well be called "none". Each class has certain rights and abilities, including with respect to the other classes. Status is usually earned by deeds but can also be passed on via family.
Members of the Second and Third Classes conventionally wear some sort of emblem or patch to indicate their status. Members of the First Class (and "none") may do so but are not requried by convention to do so. You'll see that for some the strictures of class are not as binding as for others. Felicity Hornacek, for example, will sometimes ignore convention, partly because she is in something of an "outgroup" herself where she lives; but she performs her "rebellions" against the system in subtle ways. Brom Shriker, on the other hand, as a result of his adherence to the principles of the Covenant, takes a more open view of class interaction (we'll see some of this in Shrike Team #2), and actually expresses himself within the system much more as his Prycene ancecstors would have.
Though systems like this can and do lead to abuses in our world, Hearthstone has managed to avoid such pitfalls. In other words, as a whole, a Third Class individual who shows up at the emergency room isn't going to be forced to wait while a First Class person has a hangnail attended to -- or indeed, any other less serious illness. Naturally singular abuses may happen here and there, but it is considered dishonorable to eg, deny someone equitable medical service on the basis of class.
The reader will notice that Hearthstonians tend to be more forthright than we (and I mean here modern Westerners) might be. This trait -- which the less perceptive may mistake for "one-dimensional" behavior -- is in good part a function of an agonistic society, one in which frankness and forthrightness are considered a virtue (even still in Nullabor). It's also rooted in their past history, a "get down to business" attitude without which they would not have survived....and there will be more about how and why that developed on Hearthstone as the stories progress.
Each of Hearthstone's races has some unique traits where this subject is concerned, but there are a few general rules that can be spoken of for all or nearly all of them.
The institution of marriage is taken quite seriously on Hearthstone. The phrase used to refer to it at times is "make covenant" and that expresses the view that marriage is a contract to be honored, not merely a convenience. Even in individualistic Nullabor this has been preserved as a viewpoint.
The scene depicted here is an encapsulation of the ideal on this world. Male and female share a mutual respect for each other and value one another as team members. The extended palm touch is a typical sign of affection and can indicate the depth of feeling the couple have for one another based on the length of the touch and the amount of "skin to skin" contact made. (A similar gesture involving the touching of knuckles can be used as a sign of simple friendship between any two parties.)
Certain accommodations are made for married couples that would be surprising even in our world. A husband and wife will, when possible, be given the chance to work together; employers will often gladly create a position for a spouse, under the premise that their work as a team will benefit the whole of the organization. Two examples that can be seen early on in the stories will be Range Patrol's Campion and Betsy Charlock, who are co-leaders of Nullabor's military (Range Patrol #2); and a Tilkrig couple (Shrike Team #3) that are jointly responsible for the running of a cross-continent steam-train route. Of course, there are times when couples may not share the same occupational interests; but in the East the marriages tend to be arranged in such a way that this will happen anyway. Thus for example Brett and Annabelle Ketterling, in the Range Patrol series, would have expected to become co-presidents of her father's company once the reins were passed to them; and it is natural for Charlock to immediately offer to have both of them go through the same Range Patrol training and work on the same team (Range Patrol #1).
Since Hearthstone's peoples live for such a long time, an extended family unit can encompass as many as ten generations (though three or four is most common). In most cases there is a family patriarch or matriarch (as alluded to in Range Patrol #1) whose final word is law, though there may be dissent practiced under the table, so to speak.
Hearthstone's technology when compared to ours is in some cases downright primitive, but in many other ways, light years ahead. The difference is governed by Hearthstone's lack of fossil fuels on the "minus" side, but offset on the "plus" side by an exceptionally strong planetary magnetic field.
Places where they are far more advanced than we are include:
Medicine, biology and genetics (especially in the use of technical implants, as pictured here);
The use of magnetism. Ground transportation operates on the same principles as a maglev train, though without need for tracks. You will see at the bottom of all transport pods a blue element called polarium. This was specially developed by Hearthstone's geoscientists to allow objects to "levitate" just above the ground. Thrust and braking is performed by the use of steam power.
Hand-held weaponry and armor. Because of the above, war is still conducted overwhelmingly by ground forces, and personal, hand-held weapons have become extremely advanced. We'll also see that there is a red polarium that is used in armor as a sort of deflector of incoming weapons fire.
What we would call "alternative" energies: solar, hydroelectric, oceanic wave, and wind power.
The replication and manipulation of matter.
Places where they are less advanced than we are include:
Large-scale transportation. Because all vehicles run on maglev principles, larger vehicles tend to be difficult to manuever; they have trains after a fashion, which work well because they can keep to a straight path, but things like tanks would simply not be practical or useful, if anything becoming easy targets. They also have no powered flight, other than by balloons or similar devices. Circumnavigation of the globe happened only about 700 of their years ago, and they still find a remote, undiscovered island now and then.
Long-distance communication. The magnetic field plays havoc with waveform transmission devices, which have never developed beyond what we would regard as CB radio stage. It's good for only short-range communication, and even then, if the planetary magnetic field is giving you a particularly hard time, you might not get through or get through badly. However, at this stage in history we do see the laying of fiberoptic cables across the planet, and the beginnings of what will be Hearthstone's "Internet" (called GICIN). The Eastern continent is fully connected as of the start of the Annals, and Nullabor wants to be as soon as possible.
Hearthstone has developed advanced computers to the same level we have, but the preference tends to be for a projected display rather than a "box" screen. Such displays are also used for communications devices when practicable.
As of the beginning date of the Annals, Hearthstone's social setting is dominated by the insidious effects of the Cartel. The Cartel runs exploitative businesses (drug rings, prostitution, gambling, etc.) indirectly all over the Eastern continents and holds many high-ranking political officers under its sway through bribes and coercion. There are also issues of kidnappings (for reasons we will get hints about first in the second Rangslinger story) and assassinations, and rumors as well of plans for military incursions, particularly against Nullabor. In the East, only the military might of the Prycenes keeps the Cartel at bay. The threat of the Cartel as a military power only became apparent within the last ten of their years, when the Cartel tried to exterminate one of the native races of their home continent, the Sanslorian, who refused to join them in their military plans.
The Cartel itself can be considered something like a mix of al-Qaeda and the Mafia...but without any religious component. There's no one person in charge of the Cartel; they've set themselves up with multiple chains of command so that if one person is lost someone is always there to take their place, which makes it very hard to fight them.
Cartel agents (who are mostly Sk'lan, and Tilkrig loyal to them, with the ocassional traitor from other peoples thrown into the mix) are quite vicious. When arrested they don't care about attorneys or legal rights; they simply offer threats like, "we will pave our streets with your bones" and so on. They do not even try to hide that they were engaged in criminal activity, and indeed are so inclined that they think they have a right to exploit the rest of Hearthstone's residents, even if they don't need to. What lies behind this is a sort of "master race" theory the Sk'lan hold to similar to Nazi theories on this world...and the results are, well, not surprising....but we'll save the details for the stories.
Stuff you need to know that I didn't put somewhere else...
Residents of this world have a very advanced sort of credit-debit system where they use a card. Money never actually changes hands, unless it is collectible money from the past. Only the Cartel still uses currency.
The years (or "revolutions" ['revs' for short] as they are called) have 8 months of around 47 days each, and there are 392 days in each revolution. The days have 12 increments which they call cycles, not hours.
Violent weather (hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) is unknown on Hearthstone. If you believe their lore (which many don't), this is because the Legions of Almanor (see Eidolon's history) found a way to keep the weather relatively calm...and some suppose that their technology still exists...and hope it continues to work....