Light side, positive qualities: Strong loyalty to culture/family, rich lineage of traditions
Dark side, shadow qualities: Clannish, clique-y, suspicious of outsiders, conservative
Cultural dream/hope: A world to call their own, a planet or worldship or satellite of their own. (This is, mind you, a stated dream; there are many among the Children, especially the United Fleets, who believe this dream should be abandoned, that to settle into a system would be to lose the essence of what it means to be a Child of Earth.)
Cultural nightmare/fear: Oblivion, being cast out/exiled and disconnected, unremembered, grounded.
What do all the Children of Earth share?
This is what the Children share across factions and cultures.
- Tea is a valued ritual and experience. It keeps well, and can be a meditative and bonding ceremony. Some tea is mind-altering or psychoactive in nature, some has calming properties, other teas are energizing; sharing tea is part of hospitality, trade deals, and any meeting of importance. The Children source tea from all the systems they trade with, and it’s one of their more treasured trade goods.
- Dance, music, storytelling, and theater are deeply valued, and everyone participates in one of these to some extent or another. You’ve got to make your own entertainment on long trade-routes, after all.
- The government is a loose, semi-tribal conglomerate. They have rules for how different family systems interact, but every family is a Law Unto Themselves. Each major Fleet and Caravan has its own hierarchy, and all the significant leaders of the Fleets and Caravans form a Trade Commission that meets to resolve interfleet disputes, interworld dynamics, and establish and uphold mercantile law. The Commission has no real governing power beyond that.
- High context, collectivistic culture. Social harmony is vital because you’re stuck with these people for a long time with nowhere to go, so you have to get along well enough. Disputes can be often settled over a competition, with both or all parties agreeing to abide by the outcome, but the dispute is never settled through violence.
- Food is well spiced, because spices keep well and they have the advantage of being able to get a huge variety of spices from all different kinds of worlds. (Not always “hot” spices, and often simple in substance/texture, but always richly flavored and colorfully presented.)
- They live different lives from the systembound: They see all the worlds, and they see the same world over the course of generations. They live in a different time stream due to the relativistic speed of their ships; only other Children can understand what that’s like.
- They are merchants, traders, and gamblers on a huge scale. The systembound sell goods to the Children, who carry it to a world that needs the goods and hope that world will still need those goods by the time the Children arrive years later.
- They carefully track lineage. Every ship and family has a keeper of ancestry. This is not just for cultural needs (all of them can trace their lineage back to Earth), but also to prevent inbreeding. Names, births/deaths, and DNA prints are stored for all.
- They value long-lasting, quality, heirloom possessions, and own fewer of them due to space constraints. Rich colors and textures are preferred over plain elegance, because the vastness of space is stark and silent enough as it is.
- They value the family unit or family constellation in what might look to us as a parody of old Earth families; they believe it’s how families were on Earth and that they’ve maintained those traditions, alone of all the worlds. (Perhaps, even, that was how families were on Earth at one point or another, in one culture or another.)
- They privilege the elderly and honor elders as lineage-keepers and tradition-keepers.
- There’s an “out” if one of the Children wants to become systembound or spend some time on a system; it’s also an exile or a large punishment to exile someone to a static world.
- There’s an adoption process for systembound who want to join the Children; this differs somewhat by culture, but generally starts with the prospect spending the entire length of a trade route on the ship.
For roleplaying purpose, every world has a predominant board game, a gambling/dice game, and a card game that is well-known on that world. The most common games among the Children of Earth are as follows:
Views of other worlds
- Fanseeth: They always need our trade, and they always have raw materials to sell. They’re the least risky trade option, and you can almost always offload goods here that no other world wanted. They’re a hospitable people, if painfully blunt at times. Step careful around their prickly pride, though.
- Nurani: If you want heirloom pieces, this is the place. Their art is second to none. Their traditions aren’t ours, but they feel more like kin to the Children than any of the rest; they are at least avidly human, and they are well-cultured, if uptight at times.
- Etamui: They are the farthest from Earth’s traditions of all of humanity, but they are also some of our most profitable trade partners. They and their tech are useful. They’re just not particularly pleasant to deal with. It’s like dealing with a bunch of adolescents who haven’t been raised to respect their elders.