Old Christendom
An Example Cryptic Nation

Old Christendom is the cryptic survival of the Holy Roman Empire. It now exists as a network of hotels, lodges, clubs, and the occasional convent, monastery, or country house, scattered over central Europe. It has no enclaves in the form of neighborhoods or small towns in the manner of Grand Normandy and is much smaller than Grand Normandy (which is smaller than Monaco). They are so small, they could be regarded more as a dispersed and Sundered clan than as a nation; they need to marry out often, and to recruit. They are not doing so often enough and are slowly shrinking.

The state religion is Avignese Catholicism and all citizens are at least nominally Avignese Catholic. Old Christendom has a hotel and three clubs in Avignon, its westernmost outpost. The nation is ruled by an emperor elected from among the noble families by three Electors, one of whom is always a bishop. The current emperor is Friedrich XIX. "Nobles" constitute about a third of the population, though they do not live much like nobles now; about another third are the servant class, who are too rare and valuable to be treated in a very servile manner.

Being Avignese, their clergy can marry and includes women. Monks and nuns are celibate, so it would be bad for demographics if there were too many of them in Old Christendom, but many people do a hitch as oblates or tertiaries in the orders of Sts. Alice, Teresa, or Nicholas. Old Christendom venerates St. Karl the Great (Charlemagne) and St. Moritz ("Maurice").

Because of its small size, Old Christendom's military consists of only one body, the Kaiserwachen, the "Emperor's Guard." The size and composition of this body has varied a lot over the generations. At present, it is about 10% of the population, with about 20% of the population being veterans. Within the Kaiserwachen, the Traumsoldaten, "Dream Soldiers," are a notable special force of astral projectors. Some of these are Traumwölfe, German benandanti.

Christenheiters (as they call themselves) are usually polyglot but all speak German. Most know a lot of Church Latin and many are fully literate in Latin. Many are also scholarly and know the languages related to their studies.

Christenheiters are far too few to have their own currency, but use local ones for material matters. For magical matters, they measure prana in "nights" and are part of the esoteric community that makes the night (abbrev. "nx") a standard unit in the Sundered world.

The arcana of Old Christendom runs to dreams and ghosts. On the dreaming side, the bulk of Christenheiters learn lucid dreaming in childhood and can frequent the Dreaming at will. Dream-side mercenaries and private investigators are prominent professions offering services to the rest of the Sundered world. Old Christendom has extensive holdings in the Dreaming and (to a lesser degree) on the Noetic ("Astral") plane, and plenty of shamans, the kind of mages who make most use of those domains.

On the ghostly side, Old Christendom is noted for:

In between those two, Old Christendom is noted for its worrisome animations of toys, dolls, vehicles, tools, etc. Properly, these are supposed to be animated by ka'u cast by the maker or by souls traduced from the maker's own. But there is always the worry that they were animated by a ghost, usually a Trimmer, or by non-consensual traduction. (Traduction off animal souls is a gray area.) (If outsiders find it unsettling that a small but steady stream of Grand Norman men volunteer to be permanently turned into centaurs, they find Old Christendom's steady production of animations about equally unsettling.)

Old Christendom is also noted for excellent and often enchanted pastry and coffee (used for potions—many a guard has said, "This is really outstanding coffee," just before slipping into a carefully timed two hours of unconscious catatonia while Old Christendom's agents or clients slipped by).

Old Christendom is currently on fairly good terms with Grand Normandy, but relations have blown hot and cold over the generations. They don't like Russia so they do like Outer Russia. Old Christendom's ongoing opponents include the Erlking (leader of the Unseelie fay) and the Piperkinder (mostly ardent Seelie fay), so that they tend to have a sour attitude toward fays generally.

When most Sundered folk think of Old Christendom, they think of a society that is small, stuffy, even quaint, very religious certainly, but in a spooky Gothic mode, with an unnerving vibe of dreams and ghosts, with services and products relating to those things.

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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2019