The Fundamentals of the World

Questions on the World Itself

What is this invented world called?

The Moonshine people live in the northern regions of the planet Teppala.

What kind of world is this?

Teppala takes Earth's place in the solar system, but there are only two continents, and humans live on only the smaller of those two. The human population of the world has never exceeded 10 million at any one time, and the current population is much lower than that. Of that, the Moonshines are just a few hundred thousand.

Is it Earth, an Earth-like world, an alternate history Earth a completely alien planet?

If it is an A-H, what is the specific historical point of departure (POD) where this world split off from the history of the primary world?

How long ago did this happen; how much has changed and will continue to change as a result?

If this planet is not Earth, how does it differ physically from Earth? -- is it of comparable size and composition or quite different?

Comparable density, gravity, ratio of land to water, atmosphere, etc.?

Are there any satellites, rings, unsuspected alien satellites or the like?

How many suns are there?

How many other planets in the system?

Are there spectacular constellations, comets, nebulae or other astronomical phenomena visible at night or even by day?

Questions on Geology and Climate

Describe the climate this society deals with. How severe are their seasons?

The Moonshine Empire has a very cold climate. The total range of temperatures is comparable to that of Canada plus Greenland, but with the land concentrated towards the Arctic and only the far south of the Empire within the temperate zone.

The Moonshines derive most of their food from fishing, and though their population density is higher towards the south, the difference is slight, and many Moonshines live in the northern states where it can snow even in summer.

Moonshines in general are proud of their ability to survive and prosper in the world's coldest habitat. Many believe that they have evolved an innate adaptation to their climate, and very few Moonshines show interest in moving to a warmer climate.

What kinds of natural disasters has this society gotten used to?

The only natural disasters are winter storms.

If there is more than one moon or sun, how does this affect winds, tides, and weather generally?

Are the axial tilt and orbit comparable to those of Earth -- i.e., does the world have similar seasons and length of year as Earth?

Currently the axial tilt is 17° and the eccentricity is much greater than Earth's, with the aphelion offset by about three months from the solstices. Combined with the predominance of open water on the planet, this makes seasonal amplitudes fairly small in the Northern Hemisphere where humans live. Thus, although the Moonshines' climates are very cold by Earth standards, they never experience temperatures comparable to the very coldest temperatures found on Earth. Nonetheless, because summer is so weak, in many parts of the Empire it snows every month and glaciers dominate the landscape.

How old is the planet and its parent star?

How geologically active is this planet?

How are the continents laid out?

How much land is there, and how much of it is habitable?

How much land is in each of the equatorial, temperate, and polar zones?

How have peoples' activities affected climate & landscape in various regions?

Where are major mountain ranges, rivers and lakes, deserts, forests, jungles, grasslands and plains?

Questions on Ecology: Natural Resources, Flora, Fauna, and Sophonts

Natural Resources

What is this region's most abundant resource?

Water and the fish that live within it.

What is its most valuable resource?

What resource is it most lacking?

Which natural resources, if any, have been depleted over time?

The population density is so low that Moonshines have very little impact on nature, and little evidence of their presence exists outside their widely scattered and highly transitory settlements along the coasts and riversides.

Is there usually enough food and water for the population?

Yes; it is rare for a person to starve, and typically due to an incurable disease or mobility issues; mass starvation is unheard of.

How has the location and availability of natural resources affected relationships between peoples? -- are there conflicts over limited resources or active, peaceful trade?

What water resources available, and for what uses are they put?

Which areas have the most fertile farmland?

In the far south, some people own farms, but even there, the Moonshines mostly stick to their traditional lifestyle.

Where are mineral resources located?

There are caves, but most metals are introduced through trade.

Flora, the Plants, Fungi and Similar

What are the most common domesticated plants here?

Horticulture is absent from all but the extreme southern fringe of the Empire, where there are vineyards and a few apple orchards.

And what are they used for?

For how long a period of time have people been domesticating and propagating plantlife?

Are people actively seeking to breed plants for specific traits or purposes?

How hardy or fragile are the domesticated plants considering their yield in food or other useful materials?

What are the most common wild plants here and what are they used for?

Do any of the plantlife pose serious threats to people, animals or other plants?

Fauna, the Beasts and Animals

Which animals, birds, fish, and other wildlife are commonly found in which areas?

There are many large land animals, including wolves, penguins, and bears, though their habitats do not greatly overlap. Like humans, penguins and bears derive most of their food from the sea. Only wolves primarily target land animals. In the sea live many dolphins, which humans consider to be an animal on par with themselves. There are other sea mammals of similar or even larger size, as well as very large fish.

There are no truly domesticated animals, though some wild animals, including all four of wolves, bears, penguins, and dolphins, are naturally tame and can be safely approached by humans. It is merely that humans do not see themselves as natural leaders of those animals that prevents domestication.

What are the most common domesticated animals here and what are they domesticated for?

What are the most common wild beasts?

How are wild animals treated?

Which animals are likely to be pets & which ones won't be?

If there are animals such as dragons or unicorns or megafauna such as sivatherium or mastadon or deinotherium, where do they live and how do they fit into the ecology?

What do they eat and how much habitat do they require?

Can they live nearly anywhere, or do they prefer or need specific kinds of climate or terrain?

Are there intelligent animals, perhaps nearing the threshold of awareness and personhood?

Sophonts: Races of People, Spirit Beings, Angelic and Divine Beings

Are there different races of sophonts on this planet or only one and has this always been the case?

How are living beings that are persons differentiated from living beings that are not persons?

Can one's status change: .i. from non-person to person or vice versa?

What are the other races called?

How long have there been people on this world?

Did they evolve here, or were they created here or did they arrive in some manner from elsewhere?

If there are several sophont races, how numerous are they and in what proportions are they to each other?

How openly present are they? -- do some hide themselves away from others, or do they not care whether their existence is known by others?

What regions do they prefer to occupy?

How diverse is the population of this country by race and ethnicity?

The Moonshines arose from an amalgamation of tribes from all climates, but living in a highly mobile society for 2,500 years has made them very homogeneous.

How does the cultural and ethnic diversity of this otherworld compare to the primary world?

The Habitat

Questions on Geography

Describe the geography of where this society calls home.

What importance, spiritual or cultural, do people ascribe to the geography?

How do people feel about local landscapes being altered or used for a purpose other than what is traditional or natural?

The Moonshines are a primitive people who do not see a contrast between their lifestyle and nature. They consider humans to be simply another animal species among many, and their humble wooden houses to be comparable to beaver dams or birds' nests.

Where in this land do they congregate?

What parts of this place do they avoid?

Where did civilisation begin and how long ago?

Into what directions did civilisation spread?

How has its development been affected by the presence of magic, different sophont races, and the direct or indirect action of the gods or other great powers?

What is the population of this country and what percentage of world population does this represent?

How many people live in a small village, large town, or city?

What natural features mark the borders?

All five Moonshine states have water borders, most commonly the ocean but also lakes and rivers.  Only two states border each other with no running water between them, but this is in the icecap region, and the open land border is indeed marked by a deep inlet of the sea.

Who are the neighboring countries & peoples and what are they like?

Why did people settle in this country in the first place -- strategic location, trade route, water transport, minerals, good farmland?

The Moonshines, at the time calling themselves the Feminist Compact, fled into their current homeland after losing a war against a traditional all-male army. The men entered the women's territory and began to abuse them even there, but were soon thrown out of power in their original homeland, and the ultimate winner of the war was not interested in invading the Feminist Compact. Within a generation, human civilization collapsed worldwide, and no organized invasions took place at any time afterward.

How much has their situation changed since their first immigration, or has life changed little for them?

Very little has changed in the last 2500 years.  Of the original six states of the Moonshine Empire, one has since seceded, but the Moonshines did nothing to stop this and the receiving empire allows the residents of that state to continue to think of themselves as Moonshines despite living outside Moonshine territory.

Is population shifting from rural to urban or mountains to coast?

Are the migrants being affected by war or plague or economic opportunity?

What effects has this had on the places being left behind and also by the places gaining people?

Questions on Time

Is there a single, generally accepted calendar and system of reckoning time, or do different countries or peoples or races have different calendars?

The Moonshine Empire uses a single calendar.  All calendars in use elsewhere are related to this one and are broadly similar, but the dates are not standardized. 

How is the day divided into smaller time units?

What are the names of the various units of time and how are they named?

Is the length of an hour fixed, or does it vary depending on changes in the length of the day as the seasons change?

What are the names of days, fortnights, months, years, decades, centuries and how many days or other subdivisions are in each?

The Moonshine year is divided into 39 periods corresponding to the birthdates of the familiar angels.  These have irregular lengths because the birthdates are not spaced equally.  The periods are sometimes grouped into thirteen months of three periods each, but this is of secondary importance.  

How well in synch is the calendar with astronomical reality?

The year is 365 days long, and is based around the solstices. 

Are there leap years, and if so, who keeps track of them?

Which days are holidays or festival times?

What do people celebrate and what holidays are there that are only celebrated in particular countries, cities, or regions?

From what point of origin does the calendar begin?

Do they use a singular event such as the creation of the world, the beginning of a great dynasty or recurring events such as the terms in office of a ruler or consul or the numbered year of a dynasty or republic?

The proper year number dates from a great migration that occurred around 6,800 years ago.  Most people, however, only deal with decades and centuries, and in most contexts only the last two digits of each year are pronounced.

How do people tell what time it is?

Are there mechanical clocks, pocket watches, sundials, sand or water clocks or thaumological timepieces?

Do people simply listen for bells from the palace or church, or just eyeball the location of the sun?

Are there any extracalendrical periods of time?

How did these originate and how are these times customarily observed?

Questions on History

How far back does this society's written and oral history go?

How far back do its people believe it goes?

How widely known are these stories?

Do average people believe the old tales, or do they dismiss even some that have a basis in fact?

How was this society founded; who founded it and under what circumstances?

What were the chief powers in the time when this society was founded?

If it originated far away from its present location, how did it get here?

What is the worst disaster they believe they've faced?

What are the major events in this culture's past?

What was the best thing that ever happened to them; what was their greatest moment?

What in their past makes them feel ashamed and do they speak of it or hide it?

What are they afraid might happen again?

What are they hoping will happen in the future and do they think it likely to happen?

How strongly are people attached or connected to their heritage?

Who in the past are the greatest heroes and the worst villains?

Do people think the present better or worse than the past?

Do people believe the future will be better or worse than the present or past?

Which peoples are considered the most and least civilized?

Which are most and least technologically or thaumologically advanced?

Questions on Constitution and Language


Races of People

What are the chief races of sophonts in the region?

What do they look like and what are their most distinguishing features and characteristics?

What is their range of appearance: e.g., colour of hair or eyes or skin, height, build, and the like?

How are they related to one another?

Do they acknowledge any kinship or do they see one another as enemies or rivals?

Are there any physical, psychic or magical powers particular to this race?


What are the chief ethnic groups of each race in the region?

How are they distributed in place?

How do they differ by language, appearance or ancestry?

What jobs do the majority ethnicities primarily occupy?

Are any groups of people denied work because of racial or ethnic heritage?

What are typical attitudes of the native (or majority) ethnos to immigrants or travellers of other ethnicities?

How has the variety of ethnicities in the region altered social structure and culture of the country?

How are native minority ethnicities treated by the majority?

How are foreign ethnicities treated by the locals?


What is the average life expectancy?

Girls are more likely to survive infancy than boys, and women tend to live longer than men. The average woman can expect to live around 50 to 60 years, whereas male life expectancy is much more spread out, with some men also living into their 60s but many dying in early adulthood.

How does this differ between different regions, races or ethnicities?

What do people generally look like?

The Moonshines arose from a diverse confederation of tribes. Their political founders were the Crystals, who had come from a tropical rainforest at around 10°N, fled into mountain highlands, and then made their way to the world's coldest climates. Along the way, many other tribes came to follow them.

After thousands of years in the polar regions, however, the original diversity has developed into a very homogeneous national phenotype. Modern Moonshines are fairly tall and robust, with light skin and medium to dark hair color.

Most importantly, women are reliably taller than men. This trait is shared with all of the neighboring tribes as well, and many modern citizens of the Moonshine Empire no longer realize that they were once considered very strange for expressing this trait.  But the Moonshine height gap, roughly 7:6, is wider than that of their primary neighbor to the south, the Poswobs.  Furthermore, women are more broadly built than men: a healthy adult female will be only about one-sixth taller than a healthy adult male, but nearly twice his weight.  This is despite the fact that Moonshines eat a very high-protein diet and live physically demanding lives, such that both sexes, but men especially, are very muscular.  Women are also muscular but they also carry much more fat on their bodies than do men. 

Both sexes have characteristically wide hips in comparison to their adult height, but women's hips are wider than men's by an average ratio of about 3:2. 

Newborn babies are exceptionally large, but Moonshine women seldom feel pain during childbirth because of their robust anatomy.  Boys and girls are born the same height, and remain the same height throughout early childhood. Beginning around six years of age, girls begin to slightly outgrow boys, and retain more fat on their bodies.  However this difference is subtle and a tall boy will still be taller than a short girl throughout their childhood. 

Boys and girls both enter puberty in their early teen years.  Boys develop broader figures, strong muscles, and ample body hair, but no longer grow taller.  Girls develop wide hips, large breasts, and a typically feminine distribution of body fat, and continue to grow taller throughout puberty.  Most of the height gain during puberty is from the waist down; thus Moonshine women have very long legs and wide hips, but their torsos are comparable in size to their men's.  

As adults, both sexes are broadly built at the chest, with men having strong muscles for lifting heavy objects and women having both strong muscles and large breasts.

Both sexes have straight hair almost as a rule, but only women are expected to wear their hair long.

Men have deeper voices than women and most men develop facial and body hair around the age of thirteen.  Thus, men do not resemble boys. 

Women have no concentrated body hair other than their pubic hair, but as most Moonshines have dark hair, body hair is nonetheless visible on both sexes.  Neither men nor women shave their body hair, and most men do not put great effort into styling their facial hair either, as the technology is not well-developed.  

Would a blonde, redhead or brunette stand out in a crowd?

Blonde hair is uncommon even though many of the original founding members of the Feminist Compact had been from the typically blonde Lenian tribes. The main evidence of their partial Lenian ancestry is that many Moonshines today have brown, not black, hair.

Would a very tall or very short person stand out?

The Moonshines are fairly tall for their planet, but due to the prevalence of disease, not everyone reaches their ideal height.  The region of Repilia, home to many Moonshines but not politically part of the Moonshine Empire, has an even greater height gap than is found in Moonshine proper, with adult men scarcely taller than their women's bustlines.  Even the other Moonshines find this situation odd, as it makes sexual intercourse difficult for both partners and often painful for the man.  Even in Repilia, however, men have deep voices and would not be mistaken for boys.

Is there sufficient variety of peoples in this region so that it is considered ordinary to encounter people from other races?

How healthy, generally speaking, are members of a particular race or ethnicity -- hearty, sickly, prone falling prey to some disease or malady?


How many languages are there and which ones are related?

The Moonshine Empire speaks a single language, as the school system is run from a single city, and that city's dialect is the basis for the standard language throughout the Empire.  Because people are highly mobile, this language has come to dominate the local dialects.

Do speakers of a given language tend to borrow words rapaciously or is there some means by which foreign words are expunged from the language?

Are some or all people multilingual?

Is there a common language many people of different backgrounds use?

Is it a creole or is it the native language of a dominant group or even the language of an imperial overlord?

Are there "secret" languages or codes known only by priests, soldiers, wizards, guild members, street urchins?

What are they like and how did they develop?

What are the variations in speech patterns, syntax, and slang from one social class to another?

The four speech registers of the Moonshine language are all based on gender, which is the prime determinant of social status.  There is one speech register for women addressing other women, which is considered the most beautiful form of the language and the only one suitable for general purpose writing.  Women use a different speech register when addressing men, characteristically blunt and lacking the ability to express complex ideas.  Men addressing women use an extremely difficult form of the language in which they typically spend more time trying to remember the correct polite term to use with each woman they address than in actually communicating the idea they are trying to get across.  Finally, men addressing men use a vulgar form of the language that combines the disadvantages of the two male-female discourse patterns, and some men prefer to use their hands and bodies to communicate with other men rather than struggle with the difficulties of their language.

The school system teaches children the four speech registers early on, and the weight of social pressure is sufficient to keep men from deviating from the prescribed rules they learned as boys.  In some circumstances, it becomes a crime for a man to address a woman without using the proper speech register, even for a single sentence in which the man could plausibly have claimed to have simply made a mistake.  But such a crime can only derive from its occurrence a specific social situation, such as a public gathering; misuse of the language itself is not a crime.  

When Moonshine women travel overseas, they refuse conversation with any foreigners who attempt to address them in a language other than the Moonshine female speech register, which is the only form of the language they allow to be taught overseas.  Foreigners are therefore puzzled when a team of diplomats brings a man along and the man starts talking to the woman in what they perceive to be Moonshine interspersed with babble; and more puzzled still when the woman replies back with something that sounds quite unlike what he had said to her. Furthermore, because the female speech register is the only one taught overseas, male Moonshines traveling with women in other countries cannot so much as say a word when a foreigner addresses them without violating the speech rules. This leads foreigners to assume these men belong to an unknown tribe within Moonshine's territory but not part of it, but when asked questions about this, women give inconsistent answers. Few foreigners understand that Moonshine effectively has four languages instead of one, and that knowing the standard form of the language is insufficient for anyone attempting to understand the other three.

Though not part of the curriculum, there is a fifth speech register in Moonshine, used by young children of both sexes among themselves.  This is the speech of children who have not yet learned the nuances of the four gender-based registers, and who for the time being use a much more egalitarian manner of speaking.  It is not the same as the feminine speech register but shares the feminine register's omission of politeness morphemes and is thus very easy for children to use properly.   

Describe some local slang, colorful turns of phrase and curse words that people use.

There are no inherently obscene words in the Moonshine language; any word deemed offensive is due to its use in a particular situation.  Men's speech is so widely at variance with the female acrolect that some women would say that any word that comes out of a man's mouth is obscene, at least when he is talking to another man.

Men are forbidden to use the language's basic words for female anatomy and related concepts such as menstruation.  This prohibition is not because the words are obscene, but because the female form is considered so beautiful and powerful that words describing it cannot come from the filthy tongue of a man.  For a man to even think about menstruation is considered a minor social misdeed.  This prohibition further extends to some concepts that are merely related to the female anatomy.1

Women have the greatest latitude in selecting expressive words to fill a phrase. There are no words forbidden for women to say in and of themselves; when women use euphemisms, it is due to their mastery of their language's broad vocabulary and not because they fear social punishment if they accidentally select the wrong synonym for a female body part or basic verb of motion.

Young children's speech features slang words for various everyday concepts, which adults generally do not use, even when speaking to children.  Thus, children's slang is passed down from young children to younger children, and although adults understand it, they do not use it.  Small children talking to adults are allowed to use either the children's words or the more mature words, as they are not expected to fully grasp the intricacies of the Moonshine language at the age of five.   

Many children's slang words are patterned after words in the neighboring Poswa language, which has a distinctly babyish sound.  Others are inherited words that have had a separate existence in the Moonshine language for thousands of years but have in recent times come to be considered childish.  For example, any word containing one of /pw tw mw nw/ is considered childish, regardless of its meaning, and even if it is a native Moonshine word.

Moonshine does not ordinarily loan words from other languages, and when they do, the newly adopted words stand out from the rest of the language.  Any words taken from Poswa become part of the children's speech register, and because Moonshine children do not typically travel abroad independently, there are few opportunities for Poswa words to enter the Moonshine language.

As children grow, they gradually adopt the adult speech registers corresponding to their gender.  The school system handles this, and the transition begins when the children are six years old.  Thus, at age five, boys and girls speak in the same manner, and their vocabulary is easily distinguished from the vocabulary of adults.  By age ten, both boys and girls have shed their childish slang words and adopted the words of men and women respectively.  In between this period, a transitional phase exists where children use the words they are comfortable with, but are expected to grow quickly and not lag behind their peers. Thus, a ten-year-old with the speech habits of a five-year-old will not be seen as cute, but rather as grossly immature.

What things in this culture would their language have many specific words for?

What do the people in this culture consider important enough to name and what does this say about the way they look at the world?

What things would people of this culture not have specific names for, or else have one word that covers numerous variations?

What do they consider too unimportant to name and how does this affect the way they see the world?

Are there words that must never be spoken except at particular times, in ceremonies, or under particular circumstances?

Men are required not only to use a difficult polite register when talking to women, but also to use different forms of the polite speech register when talking to different women.  Typically, the speech rules are most relaxed between a man and his wife, with the rules becoming more stringent as the social status of the woman becomes ever higher in comparison to the man.  Men in many social situations are not allowed to start a conversation with a woman at all; they must wait to be addressed.  Even then, in formal settings they may only be allowed a choice of a few specific sentences to use in reply before turning the conversation back to the woman, and the man is expected to know what those sentences are without the woman spelling them out for him. 

A man must also use a different register depending on whether a woman is pregnant or not, and the man is expected to know which of the women in a room are pregnant even if their bellies have not yet become round.  Likewise, a woman who is about to terminate her pregnancy must be spoken to with yet another register, and men are expected to keep track of this as well. 

Further complicating men's struggles with their language is that when two women requiring two different speech registers are within earshot, the man must use a combined register that unites features of the other registers.

The words for abortion and abortifacients must never be spoken aloud when in the presence of a pregnant woman; this is one of the few rules that affects both men and women. Because of the way Moonshine builds words, this situation comes up more often than a foreigner might expect; the basic word root for abortion is merely a two-consonant shell: č—ř.

Are there words that must not be spoken before guests?

Do these words differ from culture to culture or race to race?

1 A roughly analogous situation in English would be a speech register where men are not allowed to use the word period in any sense because it can refer to menstruation, and are also not allowed to use the phrase full stop because it is a synonym for period.

 Ethnographical Questionnaire C

The Community

Questions on Family

What is considered a family?

How extended is an extended family?

How important are family connections and responsibilities?

Many corporations are small, family-owned businesses who hire only their children and other close relatives.  There is no unconditional welfare support for adults, so it is important for every able-bodied adult to find a job, and someone with marketable skills may have trouble doing so if the only companies interested in their skills are owned by strangers. 

How many spouses may a man or woman have?

Polygamy is legal everywhere, but most marriages are monogamous. When polygamy does happen, it is usually 2 wives and 1 husband, and both wives must be familiar with each other from before the marriage. In such a marriage, the two women must agree beforehand on how to divide up property, since a woman ordinarily takes ownership of her husband and all of his property during a monogamous heterosexual marriage. Generally the first wife has priority, but she can legally transfer property to the incoming wife, including the ownership of the man. This is most common when the incoming wife is much younger than the first wife. It is illegal for two women to both claim full ownership over the same man, so a common arrangement is for one wife to own the man and the other his most important belongings.

Who decides on a marriage?

Customs vary from one settlement to another. In some areas, girls simply to go the edge of the town and buy a boy from the state-run work camps set up for boys who have aged out of their parents' care.

In other areas, boys are still required to live outside the main part of town after age 10 but are not considered property of the state, and are allowed to refuse a marriage proposal from a girl who enters their home.

Although Moonshines tend to marry very young, parents have no role in setting up a marriage for their children. If a boy and a girl love each other but do not want to get married they are allowed to still live together and be apart from their parents.

Can a marriage end in divorce and how would this work?

A divorce is the inverse of a wedding. All marriage contracts include the terms for divorce, and these cannot be changed during the marriage even if both parties agree.  All divorce clauses are inherently unequal, because only one party can retain ownership of the house.

Women who have legal ownership of their husbands are allowed to get rid of them at any time for any reason, but it is customary for the woman to first visit a council of local women to see if any of them are interested in taking over control of the man.

Because men cannot own land, a man whose wife dies must immediately marry another woman or else forfeit any property that she had owned.  Thus, men at this age are even weaker than they had been as boys in the cabins.  But many single adult males are not widowers but rather divorcees, and a woman who divorces her husband will typically leave him nothing at all, meaning that the man loses his right to live in a town and must flee into the wilderness to live with criminals.  Thus, though not legally defined as such, it is effectively a crime in Moonshine society to be a man whose wife has divorced him.

This means that a single woman in hear peak childbearing years will have a difficult time finding a single man in town; because women die less often than men, there are always more widows than widowers, and because men must remarry immediately, it is rare for even a large town to have more than one single adult male living there at any one time.  Thus, single women who wish to remarry are forced to choose between the various men living at great distance in the wilderness, all of whom are considered non-citizens, and who can be legally killed for any or no reason at any time by any Moonshine citizen.   

A woman in this situation will often seek a husband who is older than she is.  Many women in this situation will say that they find men slightly older than them to be more attractive than those of equal or lesser age.  Older men are perceived as more emotionally stable and less likely to be criminals than are younger men.

Even marriage is not enough to restore the civil rights of a man who has fled town; men who move back to town to marry a woman live out their life with the realization that anyone around them can simply kill them without provocation, and will pay no fine nor face a prison term for so doing.  The wife can pursue a criminal case against the perpetrator for the crime of violating her marriage, but if it can be shown that the husband was once a violent criminal rather than a man who was pushed out of town by his previous wife, the perpetrator will be acquitted.     

When a woman marries another woman, both of them have legal rights set into the marriage contract, and at the time of the wedding both women agreed to respect the terms of the contract throughout their marriage.  Typically, the two women agreed to split their property in the event of divorce, but because two women cannot split ownership of a house, any divorce between two women leads to one of them becoming temporarily homeless.  In most cases, this woman will still have her job, and may be able to afford a new house immediately, but if the woman had been working for her wife, she may lose everything during the divorce process. 

Who usually takes custody of children if a marriage ends for some reason?

Women always retain control in a monogamous heterosexual marriage; in any marriage involving two or more women, these agreements are written into the marriage contract and cannot be changed at a later date.

Children over the age of five are allowed to request a change to the custody arrangements, but they cannot themselves make a binding decision; instead, the matter goes to the local priest in her temple, where the two mothers and their children will all make their cases.  The priest's decision takes effect immediately. 

How are families named?

Children use their mother's given name as a surname. 

When a daughter moves out, she is no longer legally tied to her parents and will choose for herself a new surname, which can be anything of her choosing but typically describes her in a positive way.

Sons who move out at the age of ten are known only by their birth names; they no longer belong to their parents, nor do they receive a new surname until they marry.  When a boy marries a girl, he takes her surname in an inflected form to show that he belongs to her.  When two women marry, the one who owns the house is defined as the head of household, and the incoming woman adopts her surname in an inflected form, but different from the inflected form that men take.   

What happens to orphans?

Orphans are taken care of by the state, and the operators of the orphanage are supported by taxes, but they also force orphans to work both in physical labor and in the classroom.  That is, they work to support their own immediate needs, but also work different tasks intended to ensure that they will be self-sufficient when they become too old to live in an orphanage.

Living conditions in orphanages are comparable to those in prisons, and because they are communally run, neglected children have a difficult time seeking help from outside.

How are boy and girl children treated differently?

Girls are prepared for leadership roles and boys are prepared for subservient roles and physical labor. The education system is humble, but this too tends to favor girls as they are required to have broader knowledge than boys by the time they are teens. Boys, however, generally learn just one subject and learn it deeply.

Although many women have jobs on their own in the public work force, their husbands are required to pay for them if they choose not to. In fact, a man's property becomes owned by his wife when he gets married. Because unmarried women do not receive money from their boyfriends, most women marry as soon as possible, usually in their teens, and have many children.

Additionally, during pregnancy and early child-raising years, women are not expected to work; they derive all of their income from their husband's employment and from government-supported maternity funds.

What, if anything, is considered a good marriage gift?

Boys learn carpentry in school and many women expect their husband to build her a new house to live in before they will be truly considered married. 

The construction of so many new houses is not a problem because of the nomadic lifestyle of the Moonshines and the harsh climate that causes nature to destroy many houses each year. The boys are expected to build and maintain a house for the duration of their time together, but not one that will stand for hundreds of years.

In some circumstances, a young woman will already own a house before she is married, and may not be interested in a marriage gift other than the man himself. 

Does this society connect the ideas of marriage with love?

Yes, but Moonshine's emphasis on legalistic contracts leads people to think about what they are required to do before they consider what they want to do.

How big are families, typically?

The population of the Moonshine Empire has been stable for a long time, neither increasing nor decreasing. The average mother has about three children, with a stereotypical preference for two daughters and one son. This gender ratio results from the practice of infanticide against boys, boys' greater susceptibility to disease, their exposure to more dangers in early childhood, and the requirement that all boys leave town when they reach the age of ten.

A woman who gives birth to three daughters in a row with no boys among them is considered to be very lucky, and may experience a modest rise in social status after the third birth.

What constitutes a household?

Anyone who owns a house other than a group home is considered to be the head of their household, and anyone who lives with them is part of that household.  The head of household must be an adult female.  Homeless people are not considered to be residents of any town, and are not included in population tallies. Prisoners, orphans, and residents of boys' wilderness camps are thus the only residents who do not belong to households; they are all wards of the state.

How many people live in one household?

Most houses are small and fragile, intended for only a few people at one time. Renting homes or rooms within a house is legal but very rare, and the tenant must already have another place to live.  Thus, rentals are typically short-term and the tenants are travelers on long journeys who need to postpone further travel for a significant amount of time.  Large cities also have hotels for short-term stays.

How many generations?

Children leave their parents' house while still young, and each new husband builds his wife a new house to raise their own families in. Thus, a household consists of at most two generations. Because people marry young, a woman can become a grandmother before the age of thirty, and give birth to children who are younger than the offspring of their own siblings. Thus, generations do not line up well with chronological age.

Which members are expected to leave, and why and when?

Boys leave their homes at around the age of 10 to live in cottages at the edge of town with other boys their age. These homes are tax-supported and owned by the city, but like the orphanages, the boys are made to work for a living and to learn basic life skills on their own, with minimal adult supervision.

What determines succession and inheritance?

If a woman dies and all of her children are too young to own property, their children become orphans (even if the father is alive) and all property is handed over to the state, to be disbursed to them when they reach the age of majority.  If there is at least one child old enough to own property, they receive what they were promised in their mother's will and the rest is reserved for the younger children.  If all of the children are of the age of majority, the mother's will is executed as written with no delay.

If a woman has no children but has a written will, the will is sent into a court that determines which provisions of the will should be followed and which should be overridden by the court.  For example, the woman cannot deed her house to a relative who already has a house, even if the person is willing to sell their old house. Typically, much of the property of a woman in this situation will be taken over by the state.

If a woman has no children and no will, all of her property reverts to state control immediately, and other relatives are not allowed to challenge this.

A woman can name her husband as a party in her will, and the husband can take ownership of most of the woman's tangible belongings, but cannot inherit her house, and therefore cannot feasibly inherit the rest of her property either unless he immediately finds another woman to move in with. 

What types of marriages and sexual relationships are required, encouraged, allowed, and prohibited?

The only illegal marriage is a triangle marriage, where three people are all married to each other. Instead, a marriage consisting of three people must have a formally identifiable core participant, who is married to the other two, while those other two are not married to each other. This rule is solely due to property inheritance laws, and there is no prohibition against a tripartite relationship existing at the social level.

The same rule also applies for a four-party marriage, although such arrangements are uncommon. In a four-party marriage, the chain of relation must be a line, not a square. Thus, there are two core participants who are married to each other and also to one other party, and two side participants who are only married to one other party. It is much more common, however, for four people living in a household to pair off into two ordinary monogamous marriages, even if they are also having sex with one or both of the people from the other couple.

Male and female homosexuality are seen as greatly different from each other, but both are allowed.

The most common tripartite marriage consists of two women married to the same man. The second wife signs a marriage contract with the man, and the first wife signs an inheritance agreement, agreeing to surrender certain property rights to the incoming wife.

Also common is a marriage in which a woman is married both to a man and to another woman. 

It is uncommon for a woman to simultaneously marry two men because women outnumber men in Moonshine society and men tend to marry very young. However, this is legal, and from a legal standpoint is exactly equivalent to the woman entering two monogamous marriages. The two men do not sign any type of agreement between each other and such a marriage does not typically involve any input from the first husband.

Sometimes, two men will marry each other, and then a woman will choose one of them to be her partner as well. Since men cannot own land, this is the only way a male-male couple can earn the legal right to sleep indoors. The woman in such a marriage may be intensely interested in the man or entirely uninterested; in either case, however, her legal rights are the same, and she owns all of the property of the man she chose to marry, and also wields lesser control over her husband's husband.

Three women can marry each other, subject to the rule that one of the three must be the core partner, with superior legal rights compared to the other two.

Lastly, three men may also marry each other. While these relationships are legal in and of themselves, such groups must immediately leave town because, without a woman, they have no legal way to enter mainstream society or even earn the right to sleep indoors.

What are the patterns of childcare?

Women who work typically return home after the birth of a child and return to work only gradually. If two women are in a relationship with the same man, it is rare for them to both be pregnant at the same time, and so the women will alternate nursing duties for the baby when the other is away.

Which member of the household cares for the children in what ways?

Ideally, the mother and father divide the duties of childcare in half: the mother takes care of the baby's top half, while the father takes care of the bottom half. This means, broadly, that the mother will breastfeed the baby and feed the baby their first solid food, while the father will change and wash the baby's diapers, and carry the baby around from place to place.

In practice, however, most fathers are at work during the baby's first year of life, and because the mother typically remains at home until the baby is ready to eat solid food, she attends to all of the baby's needs when the father is out of the house.

Most Moonshine men are capable of breastfeeding their babies, but men's milk is considered to be an inferior form and men are only called on to perform this service when the woman's supply is insufficient.

What is the division of labor among gender and generational lines within the household?

Boys move out at the age of ten and girls move out when they marry or acquire enough money to buy a house. Girls and boys both marry young, and if the marriage is stable, they often remain in the same house for the rest of their lives.

Are girls or boys preferred and why?

Moonshine families prefer daughters.

Because children cannot choose to be born, there is no contract signed at childbirth, and children are not legally required to repay their parents for the labor and expense that growing up demands.

The birth of a son is an economic liability for the parents, because the boy must move to the edge of town at the age of ten and any labor he does from that point on can benefit only his future wife or the town as a whole. Though Moonshine society always grants women superior legal status to men, Moonshine men are legally more tightly bound to their wives than to their mothers, so mothers cannot call their sons back to the house to ask for help with basic daily living activities. Even during the typically short period in which the boys live in cabins at the edge of town, they are already more tightly bound to the female property owners of those cabins than to their mothers, and their mothers may not even be allowed to visit their sons during this time.

Daughters have no legal obligation to care for their parents, and typically move out in their early teen years. Thus, parents get no immediate economic benefit from raising children of either sex, and because raising a daughter in Moonshine society is vastly more expensive than raising a son, daughters are also an economic liability for their parents while they are young. However, even though women in Moonshine society have every legal right to neglect their parents as their parents become elderly and frail, most women will visit their parents frequently and care for their needs as their parents become less able to care for each other. By contrast, men can only do similar things when their wife permits it, and the earlier separation from their parents that boys endure leads to a much weaker bond between the parents and the son as the son becomes a man.

How common or rare is domestic violence?

In areas where marriage contracts assign the woman full legal ownership of her husband, she is allowed to inflict physical injuries of any kind against him and pay no fine. No other woman can intervene in such a situation even when the man's life is in danger.

Violence against husbands is common even in the most egalitarian marriage contracts because men are not allowed to testify in court without a woman's permission, and so the husband must first find a woman who is willing to hear his story before he can accuse his wife of a crime. Even when the evidence of abuse is plain, uninvolved Moonshine women will commonly blame the husband for the situation and remind him that whatever suffering his wife inflicts on him at home, he would suffer worse if let loose into the wilderness to fend for himself.

Men also sometimes beat women. Here, women are expected to have full control of the situation, and a woman who cannot control her husband is expected to be embarrassed unless she is visibly disabled and unable to competently defend herself. A battered woman expecting sympathy from another woman would be given an even colder rejection than would a battered man; battered women's shelters simply do not exist in the Moonshine Empire. However, all Moonshine marriage contracts allow women to divorce their husbands for any reason, so in the case where the woman is physically disabled, if she can escape her home and contact another woman, she can then ask for help, and the police force will immediately imprison the man with no trial.

Child abuse can come from either parent. Boys are not allowed to accuse their parents of abuse, but young boys are more likely than grown men to find a woman willing to represent them in court, and therefore have more success than adults at escaping their situation. A court system that determines that abuse has been committed will punish both parents regardless of which of them committed each instance of abuse, because the wife in any marriage is expected to be fully in control of her husband.

Children rescued from abusive homes are immediately placed into orphanages. The living conditions at Moonshine orphanages are notoriously dire, but very few battered children have ever asked permission to return to their abusive parents.

Is this understood to be a problem, or a normal aspect of family life?

Adults receive little sympathy, and both men and women are often blamed when they are physically abused, though in starkly different manners.  A crime against a child is considered to be much more grave.

If it is seen as problematic, what is being done about it?

The school system watches children closely and will hold a child after class if they suspect the child's parents are abusing them.  Regardless of the true situation, the police will arrest and imprison both parents immediately and they will then need to wait for their trial to make their case.  The children are then housed in the local orphanage.

When innocent parents are arrested, the process is often traumatic for the child, but the school system is immune from retaliation and the parents cannot pull their child out of school.  But the court system defines child abuse as any physical assault by an adult against their child, and few parents are truly innocent.  Many children have to be convinced that what their parents are doing is wrong.

Boys are not allowed to accuse their parents of abuse, so the teacher must appear in court to make the boy's case.  Girls are allowed to represent themselves in court, though the emotional reaction that a child testifying on the witness stand brings can determine the outcome of the case regardless of the evidence, and send innocent parents to jail while exonerating guilty ones.   A very young girl will typically speak only through trusted adults, and a 5-year-old who speaks plainly and confidently about what her parents are doing to her will often lead the judge to believe that she doesn't understand what she's talking about.  Similarly, a 13-year-old who claims to be too traumatized to speak will garner suspicion even if she is telling the truth.

Questions on Customs and Social Life

How is society divided into ranks or hierarchies?

Women are at the top of society and men are at the bottom; all other divisions are secondary. Among women, social status is determined primarily by occupation, which correlates well with wealth and income, but some women with well-esteemed jobs remain relatively poor because of financial obligations not their own fault, and many rich women simply choose not to work. Monthly income is more important than total wealth in determining one's status, as people recognize that many rich women simply inherited their wealth rather than earning it through hard work.

Women could be said to have two simultaneous social class systems: a legal one and a popular one. Legal social status is important when determining which of two women has a better claim to a disputed property item or which of them should be excused from basic civic duties, but popular status is never written down and is based on intangible personality traits such as keeping promises. A woman who becomes popular in society may eventually see her intangible status become a tangible one, if offered a high-paying job she would ordinarily not deserve.

Men are typically egalitarian among themselves, but women will treat their own relatives with more respect than they treat other men, and thus men form into temporary social hierarchies depending on which women are around them at any given time.

What social classes or divisions exist in this society?

Are people able to move from one social class to another?

Are there any benefits to being of one class over another?

What are the various ranks and titles and their proper forms of address?

There are no specific titles, because legal social status is derived primarily from one's occupation.

Which occupations are respected and which are looked down upon?

Moonshines teach their children that there are no inferior occupations, but those in dangerous jobs are treated as inferiors even so.  Often, the assumption is that someone in such a job would never have wound up there by choice, and must have committed a crime or become otherwise untrustworthy.  Nearly all people in dangerous jobs are men, and the few women who work alongside them are treated with even greater suspicion because women are expected to be in rewarding careers by the time they reach adulthood.

How firm are the divisions between social classes?

Is it considered beneath dignity for a noble to engage in trade or for a warrior to help with the harvest?

Women who perform arduous physical labor are highly respected so long as the work they do is merely unpleasant rather than being both unpleasant and dangerous.

How difficult is it to rise or fall from one social level to another?

How much social mobility is there in fact compared to how much people believe there is?

In what ways do weather & climate contribute to the habits or customs of this culture?

What colors are associated with power, with virtue and with death?

When the Moonshines were at war, they embraced the color white, to represent the glaciers and frequent snowfall of their new nation, and also preferred cold colors generally.  Modern Moonshines still use these colors frequently, but for the most part they have given way to shades of pink and purple, perceived as the most feminine colors.  Since femininity is power, pink and purple are their power colors.  The most common objects with these colors are fruits and flowers. 

There is no one color associated with virtue because there are three goddesses and they are depicted in three different ways.  Malamen, the goddess of life, is associated with white, and with pink and purple especially in the context of childbirth.  However Kwatena, the goddess of death, is also a supreme deity and her judgments are perceived as morally good.  She is associated with dark colors, including black, and therefore black is also a color of virtue.  Lastly, the supreme deity Yuni is most commonly depicted in purple, but as a shapeshifter, she can appear in any form. 

If two men get into a fight, how is this supposed to be resolved?

The women closest to the two men would meet up and decide what to do with their men.  In most cases, the women would agree that no crime has been committed, but if one man is clearly stronger than the other, the woman on the losing side might ask the other woman to keep her man indoors or at least limit his contact with the public.

If two women get into a fight, how should that be resolved?

Women are discouraged from engaging in physical fights with each other, but for it to be a crime, one of the women must report the other; a third party cannot object to a fight between two women who have no interest in pursuing legal charges against each other, even if property damage was involved.

How do people demonstrate grief?

The emotional needs of the closest surviving relatives are paramount.  Nobody is allowed to criticize another person's reaction to the death of a loved one; some people will weep for years, and others will exhibit no emotional change at all.  Many who show no visible reaction will explain that they had seen the death coming and had already come to accept what was about to happen.

How are matters of inheritance resolved when wealth, property, land, titles and position or office are involved?

Jobs cannot be passed down through a person's will; a woman will typically try to get her daughter into her line of work while they are both young.

Men cannot meaningfully inherit property because they cannot live in any town unless they are married to or under the care of a woman, and that woman will nearly always take ownership of all of the man's property, and in some cases even of the man himself.  A woman who leaves property to her husband is in effect hoping that he will be able to choose which woman to give it to.

Is society segregated in any way?

Large cities have neighborhoods at the center of the city in which only female citizens may enter; women typically work in these neighborhoods and then return home to their families, but some all-female families live in houses in the female district even so.  Young boys are forced to live in the wilderness after they turn ten and until a girl their age takes them in.

Non-citizens are not allowed to so much as enter Moonshine territory, let alone live there, but the Moonshine Empire is almost entirely defined by water boundaries, and furthermore, their nearest neighbors are both wealthier than Moonshine and friendly to Moonshine, so illegal immigration is very rare.  Most non-citizens are in fact Moonshines who have had their citizenship stripped after committing a crime.  Such people can be killed on sight with no penalty by any other person. 

Is there any discrimination against or oppression of some groups be they racial, ethnic or religious in this society?

How independent or codependent are individuals?

What genders are biologically ordained and socially constructed?

The male-female divide is absolute; men cannot live as women, or otherwise escape being men.  Gay men may identify themselves as hařč or pàp, which mean top and bottom respectively, but such terms give away that they are not interested in having children and thus not part of mainstream society.  Women, including lesbians, have no similar terms.

What are the typical roles of individuals of different genders?

What are the expectations of children?

Does the government play a large part in individuals' lives?

A large portion of the adult female population works for and is paid directly by the government.  The government also funds the temple at the center of each town.

Does religion play a large part in individuals' lives?

Everyone attends temple services; people who privately question their religion act and speak the same way as fervent believers in public.

In what ways has this society changed and do people make any importance of this change?

Very little has changed in Moonshine society in the last 2,500 years.

The Place of Myths and Folklore in Society

What are the most popular stories about the past?

Moonshines today still teach their children about the founding of their Empire, over 2,500 years ago, when their women seized control of power from their male population and started a worldwide feminist revolution hoping to unite all of the women and girls in every nation of the world.  A long and very embellished retelling of this story appears in the scripture book in nearly every temple, and is one of the few written texts of the religion that do not vary from one temple to the next.   

Very little organized violence has happened in Moonshine territory in the last 2,500 years, so most stories are about peaceful happenings such as the discovery and settlement of new islands.

Do average people believe old tales, or do they dismiss some that have a basis in fact?

What place do various kinds of traditional story have in this society?

Are they the primary means of passing on everything a young person needs to learn, or is folklore being pushed aside & replaced by "proper" science and history?

Or is the folklore itself come to be "proper" in its own right?


What's in a name?

Are names for things mere matters of identification or are there deeper meanings?

Are concepts other than people named, as well?

How are ethnonyms formed?

Moonshine is properly the name of a political party, but because it is the only legal party in their Empire, it has come to be used as the name of their tribe as well.  This practice is common on planet Teppala and not restricted to just certain nations.

How are individual people named?

Parents choose the names of their children typically while the mother is still pregnant.

What constitutes an individual's name?

And what of toponymy, the names of places and geographical features?

Are towns & cities and woodlands & fields named?

And what of hydronymy, the names of bodies of water?

And what of oronymy, the names of mountains?

Are streets, roads, highways named?

Do rivers, railways, power lines, canals, mountain chains, roads & highways that pass through different jurisdictions & even different countries keep one name, or do names change from place to place?

Are private houses (mansions or cottages) and public buildings (schools, churches, temples, libraries, markets) named?

Are animals given individual names? What sorts of animals might be given a name and which are not?

Are vehicles or tools or weapons named?

Do names convey any kind of power over a thing or are they mere labels?

What rites or ceremonies pertain to naming someone or something?

Can one change one's own name?

Can one confer a new name, or a nickname on oneself or others?

Questions on Sex

How does this society define incest and rape; and how do people react to these events?

Male-on-female rape is rare because of difficulties of anatomy, and when it does happen it is punished less severely than anywhere else. Male-on-male rape is the most common form. When prosecuted, it is often referred to euphemistically, as if the man being raped had only been beaten up or wounded, as the penalty for this is quite severe on its own. It is generally taller, stronger men raping shorter weaker men.

Female-on-male rape is rare, and is classified as domestic abuse, since it mostly happens with married couples. The same is true of female-on-female rape or woman vs child. Women cannot legally be accused of rape, either by men, or by women, or by children, but they can be tried for assault.

Moonshine society has the highest rate of child rape in the world.1 This is due in part to the physical difficulty encountered by Moonshine men in attempting sex with an unwilling adult partner; men attack children because they are easy to subdue.  Because this situation results from the Moonshines' anatomy, there is no simple solution to it, and the problem persists despite aggressive punishment of the perpetrators.      

There are no laws against cousin marriage, but significant social pressure combined with the restricted access eligible bachelors have to the outside world keeps such marriages from happening except when the parties are unaware they are related.  Incest within a household is not outlawed either, but anyone hearing of it will immediately arrest both parents for child abuse and deliver all of the household's children to an orphanage pending the result of the child abuse trial.

What secret vices are believed to be widely practiced?

Moonshines are proud of their empire's good sexual morals.  Apart from the high incidence of child rape, which is well known, most Moonshines would not believe an accusation of sexually deviant behavior leveled against a neighbor, even an unpopular one.

What secret vices actually are being practiced?

The only illegal sex is rape, and the Empire's child rape problem is no secret.  The problem persists because while the general public is aware that children are being raped, few people suspect their neighbors of perpetrating it, and assume that the typical child abuser belongs to a social network with other child abusers who protect each other from the law.

What sexual habits are widely believed common among foreigners?

The only neighboring tribes that the Moonshines know much about are the Poswobs, whose culture is very similar to the Moonshines'. But some Moonshines perceive the Poswobs as being physically weak and prone to submissive behavior, even towards inappropriate targets. Thus, the accusations against Poswobs, though rarely made, tend to focus on depictions of the Poswobs penetrating themselves with vegetables and other firm objects, and submitting to sex with dangerous animals.

What sexual acts or behaviours are considered unnatural, and how do people react to them?

The most common sex position involves the man lying on top of the woman, resting his head against the uppermost part of her chest, cushioned by her breasts.  This is considered the most natural sex position because women, being larger than men, are able to hold the man in place during the sex act.  By contrast, when the woman is on top, the man must position himself farther down her body and she may inadvertently smother him.  Some couples prefer this method, but typically keep it a private matter as they do not want other people thinking of their sexual habits as their most salient characteristic.

Sex typically stops when a woman becomes visibly pregnant, because a woman's belly becomes quite large and a man would need to bend into an awkward position, putting him at risk of significant injury, to achieve penetration.  Nevertheless some couples continue to have sex throughout pregnancy.

Women and men typically pair up with partners of a compatible height.  Women are taller than men, but a woman who is taller than average will usually seek a man who is also taller than average.  If a woman forms a relationship with a man who is judged by society to be too small for her, she may lose the approval of the women around her and come to have a low social status.  Women almost never form relationships with men taller than them, with the exception of women who failed to reach their normal adult height due to disease. 

Women typically avoid traditional sex during menstruation, but will engage in other sexual activities.

Common fetishes are looked down on by some.  For example, some women are attracted to playfully dominant men, while others see any form of male power, even as part of a sexual game, to be disgusting and will shun women who identify as that particular type.   However, most female Moonshines who disapprove of this type of sex are very young and do not have fully formed identities of their own yet.  Once women become independent and realize how weak men really are, they no longer feel repulsed by games involving male sexual dominance.

Are premarital or extramarital sexual relations allowed?

Premarital relations are allowed, and to the point that a marriage between two virgins is very rare. When an unmarried woman is pregnant, she will go on leave from her job, and her boyfriend will pay for her needs and is expected to marry her.

Because the vast majority of the adult population is married, extramarital relations typically imply adultery.

How is adultery defined?

Adultery is any sexual contact between two people, at least one of whom is married, that transgresses the will of another partner in that marriage.  It is not a crime, but a civil matter, and therefore it is handled by a council of women at the local temple rather than in a criminal court.

What, if any, is the punishment and how is it decided to be an offence?

If a wife finds her husband with another woman, she is entitled to punish her husband in any way she sees fit without seeking a second opinion. Since by law the wife owns all of the property in the marriage, she can simply throw him out of the house and end the marriage, keeping all property for herself and making the man homeless. Thus, men do not cheat on their wives very often.

If a man finds his wife with another man, he typically will hide the fact he saw her, because the woman could punish the man for the mere act of discovering the affair by divorcing him and throwing him out just as in the situation above. However, because almost all adult men are married, a woman who does this would be also committing adultery against her lover's wife, and therefore that woman could sue the first woman for violating her marriage contract.

Is prostitution legal?

Prostitution is allowed in most but not all cities of the Empire; there is no state that outlaws it, so the decision is left up to each individual city or town. However, most prostitutes live in the wilderness, not in ordinary homes in the cities.

Most prostitutes are submissive males seeking other males, though some also contact female clients. Male prostitutes often have surprisingly luxurious homes, as they have much free time to themselves, are richer than typical males, and live in remote areas where other people's property claims cannot reach them. By choosing a submissive role, a male prostitute can perform many times per day and appeal to a wider client base.  Some male prostitutes will perform in a dominant role sometimes and a submissive role when they are worn out.

Female prostitutes are rare, and many perform only in an accessory role in which a male prostitute is also present and is the primary target of attraction. 

In areas where prostitution is illegal, the law has very little effect on its prevalence, because prostitutes typically do not live in cities.

Most married women control their husbands' whereabouts to an extent that they will soon learn if their husband has been secretly visiting a prostitute.  A woman who learns this is free to divorce her husband immediately, which in most cases will automatically banish him from the town.  Thus, visiting a prostitute is dangerous for a man.  For this reason, men who wish to see prostitutes will ask their wife for permission, and provide a well-thought explanation for why allowing him to see a prostitute would actually help strengthen the marriage.  As most prostitutes are male, often a woman will acknowledge that her husband is attracted to men and women alike, and will grant him permission to visit the male prostitute.   If the wife is unwilling to share her man, however, she is free to divorce him on the spot, not even allowing him the choice of whether to obey her.

A woman who is unhappy with her husband's performance at home may seek a male prostitute in the wilderness, but more commonly she will force the male prostitute to come to the woman's house instead, which saves her the trouble of making a long hike and humiliates her husband as well.       

How are prostitutes viewed by people and are their views accurate?

The existence of prostitutes does not bother most Moonshine adults, though women who suspect their husband has secretly become one may ask their friends to keep watch over him to ensure that he continues to show up at his job and does not travel into the wilderness.

What is the greatest sexual taboo?

What does this society mean by the word "virgin" and how important is it?

Is sex confined to marriage, or, is it even supposed to be?

Marriage typically follows a sexual relationship, though in some cases they begin simultaneously.

Priests marry in a different way from their worshippers.  When a priest becomes pregnant, she will announce to her worshippers whether she conceived the baby with a man, with a woman, or by herself.  Adult worshippers are expected to know that the priest is not literally claiming to have a supernatural womb; rather, priests undergo a ceremonial marriage in which the partner is usually not the one who conceived the baby.  But if the priest chooses someone other than the biological father to be the baby's other parent, the father may not reveal himself.  Such men are typically already married to other women; indeed, it is rare for a priest to announce a man as her ceremonial partner. 

Priests who have many children often have many different male partners, and they are above reproach by their worshippers.  Occasionally, a priest will give birth to a child with a distinctive appearance such that it becomes plain who the biological father is; in such a case the man is still required to keep silent about the event, but his wife may become irritated as the word spreads around the town.

The idea of a three-way distinction between male conception, female conception, and internal origin is derived from the reproductive patterns of the angels.

What constitutes aberrant sexual behavior?

The presence of large, tame animals such as wolves and bears in close proximity to human settlements presents both male and female Moonshines with a temptation to pursue intimate relationships outside the bounds of social acceptability.

Are there any cultural or religious strictures, norms or taboos that specifically address sexual conduct?

Couples are expected to marry when the wife becomes pregnant.  This includes lesbian couples in which one partner conceives a baby with a man; the woman must marry immediately upon discovering that she is pregnant, but she will marry her female partner, not the biological father.  This is similar to the priests' ceremonial marriages, but unlike priests, lay women do not have the option to declare the baby to be of their own origin and remain unmarried. 

Are there laws that control or restrict sexual behaviour?

At what age is it considered normal to engage in sex?

Boys move out from their parents' household at the age of ten and live in cabins at the edge of town. They seek to marry a girl at the earliest possible time, though because they are competing against the other boys in the cabins, it is typically the oldest and best-prepared boys who find mates first, and most boys spend at least three years in the cabins.

Children under the age of ten who engage in sexual behavior with other children are assumed to have suffered sexual abuse themselves, and the parents of the initiating partner will be arrested on sight.  The child is then charged with assault, though younger offenders are typically acquitted on the basis that they were not acting with a clear mind. 

Are there taboos against sex with children?

A man accused of having sex with a child will be imprisoned immediately and soon executed unless credible witnesses arrive in court to testify in his defense. If the rapist is a woman, the crime is still considered severe, but is classified as assault because women cannot be accused of rape in the Moonshine court system. A woman may receive a long jail sentence if convicted, particularly if there were multiple assaults, but women are almost never executed.

Children also cannot be legally accused of rape, so boys who rape other boys in the cabins are tried for assault, not rape. This applies even if the rapist is several years older than his victim. Nonetheless, this is still a very serious crime, and the rapist may be executed if the judge is convinced of his guilt.

Should sex be a one-to-one experience, or are groups allowed?

Group sex is rare, but unless it involves adultery, it is legal and no outside party can raise any legal objection.

How much privacy is accorded to sexual activity?

Moonshine houses are built such that finding visual and auditory privacy is difficult outside a bathroom, and most homes do not have bathrooms. Young children in a household may hear their parents having sex, but typically will think little of it as they do not know what sex is at that age. There are almost never any adults not part of the marriage living in a household.

1 Although the Moonshine Empire has the world's highest incidence of child rape per capita, children in cities such as Blop are victimized at higher rates simply because there are few young children in such crowded cities, and many adults. The Moonshines are aware of this, but politicians do not use this as an excuse because they believe the Moonshine Empire's child rape problem is already its greatest societal failure. The only disagreements are over how to solve it.

Questions on Food & Drink

What does the ordinary diet consist of in this region and how does it differ by social class or occupation?

Moonshines admit that their cooking is unappetizing, and that it becomes worse the further north one goes, as climates get colder and food sources become less and less varied. Even the poorest citizens have enough food, however, and people who appear thin are typically those with digestive problems or other health problems that lead them to waste away.

Western Moonshine states have access to tropical fruits from Baeba Swamp, which is a few thousand miles away and separated by a tall mountain range. Coconuts and pineapples are hardy enough to survive the journey, and pineapples especially are favored as a topping on meat dishes, but they are expensive.

What dishes are considered holiday food and which foods & drinks are associated with particular holidays or times of the year?

Describe how daily food is obtained.

Hunting and fishing are sufficient to supply the dietary needs of the people, but food must be eaten quickly and replenished. Vegetables are eaten in small amounts, but become rare in the colder climates.  Most people do not have access to any truly nonperishable foods.  There are restaurants in large cities, but they sell food that must be eaten immediately; there are no grocery stores.

What foods are staples, commonly eaten every day and does popularity of choice vary?

What are typical dishes and specialties of the region?

What type of food is the locality or region famous for?

What kinds of utensils, cutlery, and cookware, if any, do people use for cooking and eating?

Most families eat with knives, forks, and spoons.  In winter, it may be so cold inside a family's house that they are forced to wear thick gloves even while eating, and in such times, using cutlery is extremely frustrating, so people will eat with their hands.  Some people prefer to eat with their hands all the time, and this is acceptable even in public. Cooking is done with pots and pans over a fire, but many families have only one such item in the house.

Children learn to cook very early because there are times when both parents are away or otherwise unable to help them, but ideally cooking is the responsibility of the husband, with the wife helping out when a meal is very difficult.

Describe the eating arrangements: how is the table or other eating space arranged?

Most families have just one table in the house, which serves all purposes, so it may need to be cleared off at mealtimes.

Where is the place of honor for a guest?

At a family gathering, the host takes priority over the guest, but when they sit down to eat, all are equal, because there is typically only one table to eat at.

Where do the important members of the household sit or recline?

Nearly all families have a dining table with enough chairs to give each family member a seat.  If they do not, the husband will wait until the others have finished their meal before sitting down himself, or will eat on the floor.

How do people sit when eating?

Is there any arrangement by age or dignity of diners?

How many and when are the main mealtimes?

Most families will have at least one large meal per day, usually in the evening, in which they all eat together, but if the parents have different work schedules, this may not be possible.  Outside of the evening meal, people tend to eat very little because it is difficult to cook small portions. 

Are there restaurants, popinas, street vendors or other places where food may be bought in public?

Is there a significant risk of food poisoning?

How many cases lead to death?

Is there understood to be a link between food and poisoning or illness?


How much does a typical meal cost, if bought and not grown at home?

Food is unappetizing but plentiful, so a typical meal is very cheap, but a tasty meal can be very expensive. Most families avoid expensive foods so that they will not develop cravings. Full-time restaurants are only found in cities; here, the restaurant owners buy food from traders in quantities that would be impractically large for single families.

What foods are considered exotic or expensive?

Almost all fruits must be imported.  Western states actually have an easier time importing foods from the tropics than from temperate climates due to the shape of the land, so they are more familiar with pineapples and oranges than with apples and berries.  Further north and east, neither of these fruit types are easy to find, but the large tropical fruits tend to be more durable and thus remain more common even in the far north.

In the extreme south of the Empire, apples grow, but most land is nonetheless used for hunting and fishing, and settlements are near water.

What things, while edible, are never eaten?

Even cannibalism is legal, so long as the person being eaten was a fugitive whose right to life had been taken away by the court system.  Humans who eat humans typically do so out of an insatiable curiosity, not for utilitarian reasons, as there are many other animals which are both larger and easier to kill.  The court system will never directly sentence someone to be eaten, and when criminals are executed, their bodies are dumped into the sea with the intent that they will soon be eaten by fish and other sea life.

Are there religious or social norms governing what may and may not be eaten?

Are some foods commonly consumed by one race poisonous or revolting to another?

How many meals are considered normal in a day?

What times of day are they served and in what manner?

Which meals are substantial and which are smaller; which are more formal or more relaxed?

Are certain foods reserved mainly for a particular meal?

What dishes, seasonings, and drinks are considered typical of this area?

What foods are considered peasant food?

What foods are normally eaten cooked versus raw?

What herbs and spices are readily available, and what must be imported?

How common or expensive are imported foods and spices?

How is food preserved for later use and how reliable are the methods used?

In the coldest parts of the Empire, simply storing meat outdoors is sufficient to preserve it. In warmer climates, food can be stored underground or in caves throughout the summer. Some people shovel snow into dark caves where it persists throughout the summer.

When food is in limited supply, is there a scheme of rationing or if not, who gets to continue eating well and who starves?

There has never been a true famine. People starve to death occasionally because they are unable to catch fish and to alert their neighbors that they need help, but when this happens, it usually means that the entire family is incapacitated, and so the entire family suffers starvation together.  Legally speaking, however, when food runs short parents are required to prioritize their children over themselves, and women over men.  

What kinds of drink are most commonly served at meals?

Most people never drink anything besides water, which is obtained from rainwater and melted snowfall.

What forms of alcoholic drinks exist?

Grape wine is the only known alcoholic drink. In the extreme south of the Empire, grapes can be grown, but wine produced here is typically drunk locally because Moonshines in general perceive the quality of native wine to be poor, and prefer to pay higher prices to drink wine grown in warmer climates such as those of Paba.

Is sanitation good enough for untreated water to be safe to drink?

If not, what do people drink instead?

Do men and women, parents and children, servants and masters eat separately, or does everyone eat together and how is status displayed at the table?

The entire family will sit at the same table and eat at the same time. When everyone has had their fill, the husband will clean the dishes and then go outside to dispose of any waste products.

What distinguishes a formal, high-court dinner from an ordinary meal, besides quantity and variety of food?

How do high-court manners differ from everyday ones?

What is the order of a typical upper-class meal? -- is there a particular starting dish followed in proper order, or are all the dishes brought out at once?

Are special arrangements necessary for entertaining guests of different races?

How do the eating customs of different races reflect their cultures and biology?

How difficult does this make social interaction among the races?

Describe the types of food or seasoning that are characteristic of the cuisines of different races & cultures.

Questions on Clothing and Fashion

Body Adornment

In what ways do people decorate their bodies?

Like their neighbors to the south, and indeed most other human cultures on the planet, the Moonshines are very plain, with neither jewelry nor bodily modification, even in warm climates where people show more exposed skin.

Are tattoos, scarification, piercings or body paint common?

What forms do they take?

Are they monochromatic or tinted?

What kinds of jewelry or accessories are worn on the body?

Are hats or scarves or leggings or gloves worn?

All Moonshine territory has at least some snow each winter, and in some areas, it can snow in every month. Thus winter clothes are the primary mode of dress and people are often so bundled up that their own relatives can only recognize them by their distinctive clothes, so women especially take care to ensure they have a wide variety of winter clothes.

What colors and combinations of colors are thought to look well or to clash?

Do opinions on this vary from race to race?

Are weapons of some kind a standard part of dress for any/all segments of society?

As pacifists, the Moonshines never carry weapons in public, but thick animal hides capable of holding a sharp knife are used in the clothes worn by both hunters and cooks.

Are such weapons crafted solely with "utility" in mind or are they so decorative as to be nearly useless?

There are no ceremonial weapons.

What areas of the body must be covered?

Nudity is legal; this is a common trait on planet Teppala. However, the Moonshines live in the world's coldest climates, so days warm enough for people to be comfortable with no clothes on are rare enough to be cause for celebration, and even they occur only in the southern reaches of the Empire.

Or is clothing more a matter of individual taste?

What significance might these kinds of decorations have?

How important is fashion to people?

How does this vary by individual?

If such adornments are not used in this culture, how do people react to outsiders wearing tattoos or piercings, facial hair or cosmetics?

Even the neighbors of the Moonshines dress in humble clothes, so most Moonshines are not aware of such things even from what they study in school. Only a few scholars remember that, nearly five thousand years ago, the Moonshines participated in a war on the side of a tribe whose historical enemies were known for their pride in wearing jewelry and bodily modifications. But even during this war, the Moonshines were fighting for their Empire and not against the third nation.


What articles of clothing do people habitually wear and how does this vary by season, ethnicity, age, profession, and the like?

Moonshines are famously tolerant of cold weather, and seem perpetually underdressed by comparison to more southerly peoples. If the temperature is above freezing and the sun is in the sky, many Moonshines will simply go about their business in their underwear. Because their underwear provides no significant protection against the cold, this is also the same outfit they wear during the very rare warm and hot days of summer, but such days can be seen as cause for celebration and some people will go outside wearing nothing at all. Thus, nudity is legal everywhere and is not considered rude. Likewise, underwear can be revealing of one's figure underneath and not be considered rude, even in the presence of family members.

Describe how the genders dress: what differences and similarities are there between men's and women's clothing and accessories?

Outer clothes for both genders are made of simple cloth or animal hide, and have a similar appearance, but women's clothes are more sturdy and thus longer-lasting.  Men's clothes tend to be tighter, as men have a more simple body shape, whereas women's and children's clothes are loose-fitting but adjustable.  Women's outer clothes often have side pockets sewn into the hip and breast areas to help them carry small objects without the need for a backpack.  Typically the hip pockets are external and used frequently while the breast pockets are internal, much smaller, and used less frequently.  Some women's outerwear also has pockets in the front or back.  Men's and children's clothes do not typically have pockets, though girls approaching adolescence can often fit into women's wear.

Parents buy or hand down clothes to their children that are at first much too big for them, which they will grow into over the next year or so.  When the clothes become too tight, the parents will hand them down again.  

How is clothing made, in small shops or larger factories?

Both men and women learn are involved in the production of clothes, and it is one of the few areas where different private corporations compete with each other in the same industry.  Despite clothing manufacture being one of the Empire's few robust local industries, the cost of clothing is among the highest in the world because Moonshines wear thicker clothes than any other people and because some of the materials they rely on cannot be found locally.

What materials are used most commonly?

Animal hides, plant fibers, and fur are the most common material in order of increasing price.  A thick fur coat is meant to last many years, in some cases even long enough to be handed down through several generations.  Though fur coats are made from the hides of local animals, the process of sewing a sturdy coat together is very labor-intensive, and therefore this is the most expensive material of all.  The same is true of bed blankets.

There are no stretchable materials, so pregnant women buy maternity clothes that at first are far too big for them, and which they fasten with a series of belts.  As the woman's belly grows, they loosen the belts until finally when they are ready to give birth their clothes fit in the way they were intended.  Because women do not wear maternity clothes very often, they tend to last a long time.  Most women have more than one child, but when they are no longer of childbearing age, they typically will hand the maternity clothes down to one of their daughters.

Women have many options for handling their menstrual periods. Monthly flow is extremely heavy; the typical woman will bleed for about six days and spill enough blood to fill a drinking cup.  Thus, great attention is paid to feminine hygiene and different women prefer different methods of keeping clean.  Some women buy inexpensive underwear, which they use and then throw away. Others use cloth menstrual pads that they put inside their underwear to keep the underwear clean. There are also washable menstrual pads intended to be used and reused for several years. Still other women use tampons made from imported plant fibers. Young girls who are just starting to menstruate may use nothing at all.

Reusable menstrual pads are very expensive; a single pad can cost as much as an average worker's monthly wage. But women who buy traditional pads will spend about one tenth that price for each use, and thus if they are not willing to wear the same pad for several days in a row, they will spend more than the women with disposables.

Diapers for babies may be no more than handfuls of moss, but some families will buy expensive washable diapers made of cloth.

There are no zippers.  Men who are able to urinate simply by pulling down the front of their pants are proud of their ability; men who cannot reach using this method are forced to pull their pants all the way down.

What materials are intended for special occasions?

There are no ceremonial clothes; even at a wedding the bride and groom will be wearing their own clothes from home, though typically they will show up wearing the best clothes they own.  Sometimes the bride will wear shoes and the groom will not.

When the weather is warm, especially in the first half of summer, people will take off their clothes and some will appear in public wearing nothing at all. Thus, it could be said that Moonshines do not put on special clothes for ceremonial occasions, they take clothes off.

Is the material produced locally, or must some or all of it be imported?

Women's underwear is often made of plant fibers that are cheaper when imported from warm climates where they are most plentiful, but can be made locally in at least the southern states.  Animal hides and fur are obtained locally.

How much does typical clothing cost?

Thick winter clothes can be very expensive, reaching well into the four figures in an economy where the typical annual salary is on the border between four and five figures. But well-made winter clothes can last as long as a human lifetime, and people who buy them consider them well worth the price.

In order from most to least expensive, typical Moonshine clothing items are:

  1. Thick winter clothes such as fur coats and tall boots for walking through deep snow. A woman earning a monthly salary of 1,000 mač working an outdoors job involving riding horses will happily pay 2,000 to purchase a single winter coat that would block the cold winter wind and a few thousand more for strong snow boots. Women's clothing tends to cost more than men's, but this is because it is better made and more protective against the elements, not because women are expected to pay more.
  2. Ordinary women's overclothes made of cloth fibers such as linen, intended for all uses. Although men can also wear clothes made of plant fibers, such clothes made for men are hard to find, and most men seen dressed in fiber are wearing ripped clothes that their wives abandoned. A full suit of clothes from head to toe may cost around 100 to 1,000 mač, depending on thickness and perceived durability, with a median price around 300.
  3. Washable diapers and women's undergarments intended to absorb fluids and then survive a thorough scrubbing to return to their original clean state. A cloth diaper is typically thin but tightly woven, intended to be used for at least two months and cleaned at least a hundred times before falling apart. A typical cloth diaper will retail for between 100 and 300 mač, out of reach for many families as typical incomes are below 1,000 mac per month per adult in work. Thus cloth diapers are rare in Moonshine society. Moonshine women have reusable menstrual pads that retail for about the same price as children's diapers, because although they are much larger than diapers they are not used as often and do not need to be washed hundreds of times.
  4. Cloth underwear and swimwear for women. Here again, women's underwear is more expensive because it is made of a finer material and typically more sturdy than men's underwear, not because women are expected to pay more for what they wear. Though individual pieces of underwear are larger than cloth diapers, they are not meant to perform the same job, and so they are considerably cheaper, on the order of 50 mač for a bikini or bra-and-panties set. (Moonshines generally make no distinction between cloth underwear and swimwear.) Menstrual pads made of the same material typically cost about 35 to 40 mač because they must be more durably made. Men typically do not wear these items because they are not anatomically suitable.
  5. Ordinary overclothes for both sexes, made of animal hides, intended for all uses. Because many large animals inhabit Moonshine territory, clothes made from animal skins are much cheaper than similar items made from cloth, but are typically judged less comfortable. Prices for clothes made from animal hides are typically from one tenth to one fifth the price of the comparable cloth item, with little difference in price between clothes made for men and those made for women. Thus, someone who could not afford a cloth outfit to protect them from the elements could still suit up from head to toe in animal hide for a price not far off of 40 mač.
  6. Underwear made of animal hides. Here again, thong underwear is much cheaper than that made from cloth, and although women's underwear is again more expensive, prices seldom exceed 20 mač for even the most desirable sets of underwear.
  7. Disposable diapers. For many parents, diapers cost nothing at all because they simply scoop up moss into a pile and tie it together. But similar items can also be purchased, with a price around 5 mač being typical.

Even the cheapest clothes sell for prices proportionately higher than garments in modern Western societies on Earth; for example, if the Moonshine income scale were translated into US dollars, a single disposable diaper would cost around $20, while a reusable one would cost hundreds of dollars. A suit of leather clothes for adults would cost a similar amount, and a fur coat could sell for over $10,000.  Another comparison is with food prices; a typical meal in an urban restaurant will have a price in the single digits, with a median around 5 mač for a small meal.  Thus a diaper costs more than the meal it holds.

The reasons for this price discrepancy are that Moonshine garment manufacturers do not have mass production and that Moonshine society is far less advanced economically, and thus overall much poorer, than modern Western societies on Earth. Thus the price of garments is high even though wages for garment manufacturers are low; see Textiles for details.

The pricing is set in a very utilitarian manner, with form and function considered first, comfort second, and all else ignored. There is no mass production, so sometimes two coats intended to be identical will end up with a very different appearance, and the inferior coat will be marked down to a lower price. But few customers will refuse an item of clothing due to a mere cosmetic defect.

Are certain articles of clothing customary or obligatory for certain occupations and how much variation is allowed?

Are there dyes for certain colors, such as purple or indigo that are very rare, making cloth of that color more expensive and/or reserved for nobility or other high-status people?

Are there sumptuary laws, defining who can wear what kinds of clothing?

How many changes of clothing can a person be expected to own or afford?

Most people will wear the same clothes several days in a row, and wash clothes only once a month.

Typically, people have more items of inner clothing than of outer clothing.  Most people, even the wealthy, own only one winter coat.  They will have several full-body shirts and pants if they can afford to, and possibly dozens of pairs of underwear. 

The same also applies to bed blankets.  A typical couple will share a bed and have one very thick blanket on top, which covers several thinner blankets which the sleepers will periodically rotate so that the same blanket only touches the sleepers for a few weeks at a time.

What are the penalties for breaking these laws?


Are there fashions or fads in things besides clothes? -- styles of carriages, furniture, race or gender of household slaves, modes of speech?

Are there fashions or fads in magical practice, religious devotion or in other areas of life? -- are herbal spells "in" this year and ritual spells "out," or is that god out while this new religion is in fashion?

What is the current fashion in clothing, haberdashery, jewellery, shoes & other accouterments?

Do such fashions differ between the races?

How marked are the differences in fashion between city and country and from one country to another?

How easily do trends in fashion travel across borders?

What articles are considered tacky and vulgar, and which are stylish?

What physical appearance types and characteristics are currently fashionable? -- tan versus pale skin, the "consumptive look" versus robust good health, fat versus thin, blonde versus brunette?

How pervasive is the culture of vanity and how are people who simply can not fit into a fashionable category affected? -- do they suffer along, or try to make up for their perceived deficiencies or do they simply create their own categories of fashion and vanity?

How do the fashions of the various races reflect their physiology & culture?

How much exchange of these ideas goes on between various races and cultures of the region?

Questions on Manners


When meeting someone, what gestures or words are used for greeting?

Moonshine culture is known for the extremely intricate system of politeness, such that even memorizing a list of rules about who is expected to say what is not sufficient.

How did the greeting gesture originate?

Is there a difference between the greeting offered to an equal and that offered to a superior or an inferior?

See below; the person with the highest social status may often be the only one offered any greeting at all.

Is there a difference between the greeting offered a man or a woman or between people of different races?

Other than their own relatives, Moonshine women will typically not greet or acknowledge a man in any way, even if the man is the husband of an invited guest, and even if the man was specifically invited so he could to talk to her. Only when all of the female guests have finished their introductory conversations and mentioned the man's name will the woman turn to address him. Men are required to wait for permission to speak, and cannot ask for permission on their own; a woman must ask the host for them.

These rules are traditionally enforced at the whim of the host and the guest with the highest social status; a kind-hearted host can choose to defy social trends even in a large public gathering such as Parliament where the most formal manners would be normally expected.

At a large gathering that includes children, the common assumption is that the children will want to play, and preferably to play with children near their age.  Thus, the children will be allowed to skip the introduction process entirely and go right to each other, even if it means that some of them do not know the primary reason for the gathering.

How are two people who have never met normally introduced to one another?

What is the order of precedence when there are several people of differing sex or social status or race present, all of whom need to be introduced to each other?

If the meeting is taking place on private property, the host will acknowledge the guest with the highest social status, and then turn the conversation over to them to meet the others.

Are there classes of people who are never introduced to other classes of people?

Are true names significant, and if so, under what circumstances would someone be given another person's true name?

Are there customs involving the way in which someone is named when being introduced, such as using full titles at the first meeting, but never repeating them afterward?

Is there any difference in the way you greet someone you already know, compared to greeting a stranger?

How does someone acknowledge seeing an acquaintance at a distance, for example passing on the other side of the street?

The only rules that apply here are those defined by mutual consent. A third party attempting to correct someone's manners would be soundly rejected even by the party perceived to have been slighted.

Gestures and Body Language

Are gestures and body language in this society generally subtle or obvious?

Nonverbal communication is poorly developed; every hand gesture represents a particular word or phrase, not an emotion or abstract concept which could be verbalized in many ways. People express their emotions with body movements they consider to be instinctual, though some are learned.

Do people talk with their hands or other appendages, or is that considered vulgar?

Is there a way of changing a greeting gesture to make it insulting?

What is a comfortable and polite speaking distance for people in this culture and how does this compare with others?

When indoors, Moonshines in general are close talkers. With the world's coldest climate and lowest population density, Moonshines are accustomed to having lots of room to spread out, but to stand far away when indoors is perceived as impolite. It is also considered impolite to back away from another speaker walking towards the listener, or to ask them to speak louder unless the environment is very noisy.

This rule holds for conversations between adults and children.  An adult talking to a young child will typically stand a few hand's breadths away, enough that the child will be able to see their surroundings without needing to walk around the adult.  To stand closer than this is rude unless the listener is one's own child or the child draws nearer on their own, but for the adult to stand further away suggests to the child that they are unclean and, unless true, is even more rude than standing too close.  If the height difference between the adult and child is large, neither partner will make eye contact, as forcing a child to look up merely to carry on a conversation is also considered rude.  

In warmer areas of the Empire, people spend more time outside and buildings are often more spacious, so people do not need to stand so close to each other when indoors, but this trait has spread to the warm areas even so because Moonshines in general are highly mobile.

How aware are people of these differences and are they well or poorly respected?

What gestures are insulting?

A woman may cover her nipples with one arm to indicate that she has done enough favors for the listener, and the listener needs to handle their problems on their own.  This is a nursing metaphor that is most insulting when the listener is an adult; however, if a woman performs this gesture in front of her child, she is signaling that dire consequences will soon follow if the child does not immediately learn behavior appropriate for their age. 

Similar is the "squeezed womb" gesture, whose meaning is complex and culturally bound. The angel Yagutīl1 confines believers within her womb, and can curse anyone, even a priest, by compressing her womb and refusing to give birth.  The gesture is made by slightly crossing the legs and cupping the hands over the womb.  This gesture can be augmented with a boiling pot of water, as the words for womb and stewpot were the same in an early stage of the language, and a womb in late pregnancy is typically imagined to be very hot and crowded.  Thus a woman who dumps a pot full of boiling water on someone's head is signaling that the person deserves an even worse punishment and will earn no sympathy from their injuries.

Another culture-bound gesture involves horns.  Yagutīl is often depicted with paired spiral horns growing from within her hair, and these horns can inflict a curse on a believer.  Priests can also inflict this curse by invoking Yagutīl's name while grabbing their hair with both hands in one of the two places where a horn would grow.  A believer afflicted with the curse can also spread it to another, but typical believers do not have this power under control, and therefore the afflicted are separated from their loved ones so that the curse does not spread.  Women who perform this gesture are not claiming to be spreading the curse, but only implying that the target of the gesture deserves such a punishment.

All of these gestures are used only by women; for a man to attempt one would only provoke laughter among those present.  This is because all three are imitations of the actions of certain angels, and are thus dependent on female anatomy.  Though men lactate, their breast milk is seen as supplementary only, not crucial for a baby's survival.  Likewise men do not have wombs even metaphorically.  Lastly, because the only angels ever depicted with horns are female, horns are seen as part of the female anatomy even though ordinary believers cannot grow them and would not want them.

Young girls will sometimes copy the adults they see, but most children understand only the first gesture, as it is the only one of the three that they will normally see directed at them.  Apart from this, the only insulting gestures used by children are the mildly obscene ones they learn from other children.  The most common involves turning the whole body around to face away from the listener, and then bending to put one's buttocks as close as possible to the listener's face.  When the target is an adult, the child will usually bend over and grasp their knees with their hands.  This mimics the adult practice of turning one's back to an unwelcome conversation partner.  A child who does this only occasionally will earn respect from adults when they do use it, but overuse may lead to parental discipline.

What do they mean?

Do some gestures differ in meaning depending on the culture, race, or era?

How do gestures and body language differ between races & cultures?

Are there signs that don't matter in one region but that are grave insults in another?

What are the ways of showing respect and to whom is one expected to show such respect?

Eye contact is important. In ordinary conversation, one must always make eye contact when addressing someone of superior status. When addressing a listener of inferior or equal status, the speaker usually will also make eye contact, but they have the right to choose not to, or to begin normally and then continue talking while moving around the room. This means that someone of high status can end a conversation by simply turning away from the person talking. If the person being shut out insists that their conversation is important, they may walk around the other person and wait to be acknowledged again. If the person who turned around does not immediately address the person who walked around them, the second person understands that the conversation is lost and is expected to move on. 

Moonshines are so convinced of female superiority that men almost never start arguments with women, even over matters the man deems crucial to his well-being. The man knows that even if he is winning the argument, the woman can simply turn around, and that even the other men in the room will expect the man to stop talking and accept that the woman will do as she wishes and has won the fight. Women also use the same strategies when arguing with each other; here the rules for who can escalate and who must back down are very complex.

It is not considered rude for a man to look straight ahead at a woman standing close by when not actively talking or listening to her, even though women are taller than men and for the man to gaze directly forward will often put the woman's breasts, rather than her face, in his focus. This holds true even when the weather is warm and the woman is not bundled up in thick fur clothes, as is common both indoors and out due to the generally cold climate. This is because women in Moonshine culture do not see a male's gaze as a threat or even a thing worth noticing unless directly engaging them in conversation.  A seated man may even look at a nearby woman's crotch and not arouse attention; he is simply looking straight ahead, holding his head in the most natural position.  But as soon as the woman addresses him, he must look up.

Regarding children, different people have different opinions.  Most adults do not expect their young children to make eye contact with them if both are standing in close quarters on the same surface and to do so would be humiliating for the child but not the adult.  Often, a mother will only say "look at me" when she is very upset, even if she expects the same from her husband during every single conversation with him.  This allows the child to understand when they have done something gravely wrong. Because parents do not expect eye contact from their children, they typically do not kneel or crouch down to speak to their children either.

Visiting and Hospitality

When a guest arrives, is food or drink offered immediately, after an interval, or only on request?

Most people do not have houses large enough to accommodate large numbers of guests, so invitations typically do not revolve around mealtimes and guests do not expect to get free food.  When the weather is warm, visitors may find that they are more comfortable outside than in.

Is there a particular food or drink that is customary to offer a newly arrived guest?

Are there questions that must be asked or avoided?

Are there topics that can only be raised by the host or the guest?

How seriously does the culture take the responsibilities of host and guest?

What norms define the host-guest relationship?

What things are considered courteous to offer a guest? -- food, reading material, personal guards or attendants, music, entertainment, a person of the opposite sex to sleep with?

What is considered a courteous response to a host's offer?

Are there things it is considered rude to accept or rude to turn down; rude to ask for or not to ask for?

How do different eating customs of the various cultures and races interact and conflict?


Who speaks first at a formal gathering?

What kinds of gifts are considered appropriate or in extremely bad taste?

The only gifts that would be received with disgust are those which are unusable or intended as insults, such as a rolling walker for an elderly person who refuses to admit they need help getting around, or maternity supplies for an infertile couple.

How do younger adults address their elders?

Moonshine society is divided by gender and class, but not by age. Children and young adults use the same terms as older adults in all situations. Moonshine speakers seeing children in faraway societies burdened by the requirement to treat adults as superiors might be upset or at least puzzled, wondering if the children realize they will soon become adults themselves.

When is it rude to laugh at something funny?

Whether something is funny or not is decided democratically, meaning that if all the people in a room are laughing except one, that one person has no right to be offended. 

What kinds of questions cannot be asked in public? -- or in private or even not at all?

What parts of the body are routinely covered?

Women usually cover their breasts even when the weather is warm, and this is for comfort rather than modesty, as breasts are not considered obscene.  Aside from that, Moonshines are typically underdressed for the weather, relative to their southern neighbors; some Moonshines believe that this is because the Moonshines have an inborn tolerance for severe cold.

How private are bodily functions like bathing or defecating?

Most families have their bathroom outdoors, so privacy is taken for granted. 

Urination is not considered obscene, so all people are expected to take just a short time to urinate and to not be embarrassed while doing so. A man or woman who has difficulty urinating when others are nearby is expected to be ashamed. Thus, bathrooms are not used for urination; both men and women pee outside, on their own property, and most people have a favorite spot to go. If the weather is cold, they may use a bowl on the floor instead. It is even permissible for people to continue a running conversation while one party is urinating, provided that 1) both parties are members of the same household; 2) both parties are the same sex and close acquaintances; or 3) the party who is urinating is a small child and does not appear visibly embarrassed.

Women urinate standing up, hands-free, and will not be ashamed if they make a mess as they go.  In warm weather, they may be dressed such that they do not have to remove any clothes to urinate, but in cold weather, urination involves removing several layers of clothing.  Men also urinate standing up; ideally they will curl the front of their pants downward and then aim upward over their beltline; the ability to do this without spilling a drop on one's pants is seen as a crucial part of being a man.

Menstruation is not considered obscene in many social contexts, but the social rules are complex.  Men generally do not bring up menstruation at all, while women will mention it with close friends but not with strangers. A woman does not go outdoors to replace a tampon or pad, even when in someone else's house, and therefore this action cannot be disguised as something else. As this may lead to awkward glances when the woman returns to the room, many women state what they are doing explicitly.  This often embarrasses the men in the room, as men are prohibited from discussing menstruation while women are present, and to even think about it is to make the same mistake in a lesser form. 

Because women typically remain in their homes while nursing a child, breastfeeding is not commonly seen in public.  When a woman must appear in public with her baby, it is usually for a matter deemed important, but nonetheless the needs of the child are even more important, and no one else is allowed to tell the woman not to feed her child.

Children are potty trained while being watched and are expected to have not yet developed the need for privacy during bathroom time. A child who is still not potty trained by the age of five is considered to be a failure; parents may lose interest in their child's wellbeing if the child fails to learn how to use a toilet by the time they go to school, and the school is not expected to train the child either; indeed, the school will typically refuse to admit the child at all. Society often blames the parents, particularly if it is their first child, and some families have been forced to abandon their house and livelihoods simply because their child was not successfully toilet trained and thus could not attend school.

What are the rules of precedence? -- who gets to go through doors first and who gets introduced first?

Both of these are determined strictly by social status, and each member of a party is expected to know their exact place on the hierarchy, even if it changes from one situation to the next. Hosts always outrank guests, regardless of their relative economic status. Women always outrank men; because men cannot own houses they cannot be hosts for social ordering purposes. A guest of honor will outrank other guests.  Women in highly valued occupations outrank those in lesser valued occupations. Beneath this, any further social ordering is defined by mutual consent and the reasoning may be opaque to outsiders.

Many doorways in Moonshine dwellings are open, with no solid door between the rooms. Even private rooms often have doors attached only to the sides of the walls. Typically, if a large group of people is passing through the same doorway, the highest-ranking female in the group will choose a man to hold the door open for the others, and that man will only follow the group once the others, including other males, have all passed through the doorway. If there is more than one male in the group, it is customary for the host to choose a different man to hold the door if they pass through a second time.

Because it is impolite to address someone of higher status while standing behind them, a long chain of people walking through a narrow hallway will be expected to remain silent while doing so, apart from the leader. This, too, applies regardless of economic status. However, addressing bystanders and people walking in the opposite direction is allowed.

How important are "good manners" in this society?

Proper manners are very important.  It is legal and indeed quite common for someone to lose a job, or be refused a new job they are otherwise well fit for, simply because they said the wrong thing to the wrong person or even the right thing at the wrong time.

What constitutes everyday good manners?

Men must defer to women in all social situations according to complex learned rules, and women defer to other women according to even more complicated rules.  Children learn the basic rules of etiquette in school, starting from the age of five.  At first, they mostly learn social rules governing interaction with children their age, but by the time boys and girls reach the age of ten they are expected to know and apply adult manners when interacting with their classmates, as well as with adults.  

Boys and girls enter school as equals at the age of  five, but with each progressive year girls rise in status while boys are pushed further beneath them as they learn their place in a feminist world. Children's manners at home are left up to the parents, and therefore schools teaching children how to behave are only speaking of school and public places.

Rules for children:

  1. Children must answer any question asked of them by a teacher.
  2. Children are not allowed to make fun of other children for any reason, even if the target of the joke has made a very embarrassing mistake unreasonable for their age.
  3. Children must never speak out of turn, except to alert a teacher that they need to use the bathroom.
  4. Children must clean up all visible evidence once they are finished using the bathroom.
  5. Children must keep their pants clean at all times.
  6. Children must serve their own meals, eat their full portions, and not spill or refuse to eat any food.

Exceptionally, Moonshine allows even small children to be charged with a crime. For example, a child who leaves a mess in a bathroom is not merely misbehaving, but actually a criminal. 

A child who soils their pants in school has committed a much more serious form of this same crime, and, after having had just one such accident, is considered to be on the same level as an adult who has just burned down a neighbor's house.  The school lesson will stop, the teacher will forcibly carry the child out of the classroom in a bucket, and then deliver the child to the police force.  The police will arrest and imprison the child, and only then will they alert the child's parents to what has happened.  At the teacher's recommendation, they may also arrest both parents, as failure to properly toilet train a child is also a serious crime, and Moonshines typically blame the parents for such incidents.  If the parents are arrested, then the remaining children in the household also become orphans and are delivered to the orphanage the same day their parents are delivered to prison.

Meanwhile, the child who originally soiled their pants remains in prison oblivious to what has become of their family. Because this type of crime is considered legally impossible to misjudge, the child is not entitled to a trial, and is automatically convicted of incontinence with no chance for appeal.  Children's prisons are exactly like orphanages in that children are made to work for a living and are disciplined even more harshly than are children in school.  In some towns, the children's prison is just a wing of the orphanage, and misbehaving orphans can also be sent there.  The main difference between a child in prison and a child in an orphanage is that the orphan is entitled to legal representation in court that the criminals are not; orphans hope to find a new family to adopt them, whereas children in prison are hidden from potential adoptive families, and from the public at large.  Prison guards are not allowed to physically beat child prisoners, but because there is no contact between the children in prison and the outside world, no evidence of violations of this rule will ever leave the prison.    

Children who remain in school gradually learn the rules they will follow as adults.  With each new year, the code of conduct for boys and girls becomes steadily more like that for men and women.  Men's behavior is governed much more strictly than women's behavior.

Rules for men:

  1. Men are forbidden to address any woman who is not facing them, even if they have something urgent to say. 
  2. Men are forbidden to physically touch any woman without their permission, even if only brushing against each other. If a woman pushes a man out of her way, the man has violated this rule and must immediately apologize for not paying closer attention.
  3. Men must answer every question a woman asks them, unless another woman enters the conversation and agrees to speak for him.
  4. If a woman physically strikes a man during a conversation, the man must immediately stop talking and apologize for what he said, and promise he will do whatever he can to make up for it.  The man is expected to know immediately what the woman is upset about, and therefore to know what he is apologizing for.  If a woman senses that a man is apologizing simply because he is expected to apologize, she may pursue further action against him.

The combination of the first two rules leads to embarrassing situations for men in public gatherings with lots of women; in a crowded room, a man can be trapped in the corner for quite a while if a woman or group of women is standing in front of him but do not notice him, since he cannot say "excuse me" nor can he push past them.

Additional rules exist governing men's conduct in public spaces, and in private businesses.  The business owners cannot waive these rules: 

  1. When waiting in any type of line, all of the women must always stand in front of all of the men, regardless of their order of arrival.  This means that a man cannot be served unless there are no females waiting in line. 
  2. Likewise, in a large public gathering such as an open-air market, where people's attention is focused on a stage or other raised platform, unaccompanied males must stand behind all of the women present, even if the generally taller women obstruct the men's view. 

The rules governing unaccompanied men do not apply to males travelling with female family members.  Thus, a husband and wife will be allowed to remain together, and young boys will not be forced to stand behind adults.

Most of the Moonshine Empire is hilly, and when possible, large public gatherings will be set up in places where those further back in the crowd are on a slightly higher level and can see over the shoulders of those in front of them, but the rules still apply indoors and on flat land.

The above rules apply to men in general, meaning that male employees at private businesses shoulder all of these social burdens, and their female supervisors cannot waive the rules.  On top of all this, male employees at any type of business must also follow additional rules enforced by the government:

  1. Men are not allowed to work in any job without women actively watching them at all times.
  2. A male employee cannot have command of any female employee; they may be employed as equals so long as a female supervisor is physically present to watch over both the men and the women.

Lastly, a private business will often add a fourth layer of rules, applying only within that company, governing the conduct of their male employees.

Expectations for men are enforced rigidly.  Women will say that men are not intelligent enough to understand nuance, and that all rules for men must be spelled out for them in such a way that the meaning is clear to even the simplest minds.  Because these social rules are so precisely defined, they are easy to exploit.  For example, a woman in a bad mood may block off a doorway and refuse to move when a man behind her wants to get through, and although this behavior is considered antisocial and unwomanly by other women, for the man to so much as ask politely to be let through is considered even worse behavior.

It is easy for a woman to trap a man in a no-win situation, such as by physically obstructing his path, or by asking him a question such that the only truthful answer is socially forbidden, for him to lie is socially forbidden, and for him to remain silent is also forbidden.  Often, two women will stand in front of a man and ask him questions that require very long and detailed responses, quickly wearing him out and not letting him go.  Grown women who derive pleasure from this sport are seen as childish and therefore unwomanly by other women, but a man cannot escape from such a conversation unless another woman present decides to start speaking for him or tells the man to leave.

In a heterosexual marriage, the wife sets the rules of behavior for the man: many women dislike the heavy burden of politeness that men follow in public, but still expect their husbands to treat them as superiors.  So for example, one woman might allow her husband to talk to her even when she is facing away or in another room, but only if he addresses her with the most humble speech register in the language.  Another woman might permit her husband to use some of the words women are allowed to say, but only when no other women are in the room and she is facing him up close. 

Rules for women:

  1. A woman seated at a table with other women can join the conversation at any time if she is a stranger, but if the person addressed does not immediately answer, she is expected to remain silent for the entire gathering unless spoken to.
  2. Women are not allowed to interrupt other women who are speaking, even if they have an urgent matter to bring up.
  3. A woman may not physically strike another woman, even gently, unless in self-defense.
  4. Women waiting in line must mind their place, and if they walk away from the line for any reason they must resume waiting at the back of the line.

Social rules for women are written down and taught in school, just like rules for men.  But women in Moonshine society are expected to read between the lines, and to understand when a rule is meant to be followed, when it is optional, and when following the rule will in fact lead one to be a social misfit.  Memorizing a list of rules sorted in order of importance is not enough, because the importance of a rule changes from one social environment to another, and depends on who is present, who is speaking, and many other things that some women have a difficult time keeping track of.

Thus, while men's social rules are more difficult and sometimes impossible to follow, there are some women who become jealous of men's one advantage: a man always knows what is expected of him; a man is always the lowest-ranking member of any social group and does not need to think quickly about when he is supposed to follow the rules of etiquette and when he is expected to disobey; he always obeys, and typically must do the most humiliating thing possible at any given time.  

Women who fail to see the rules behind the rules are confined to a low social status and typically do not speak much.  They have many of the social disadvantages of men.  And yet they are still socially superior to men, and are often the ones who derive pleasure from cornering men at social gatherings and then forcing them to say things which men are not allowed to say.

How do "good manners" differ from race to race?

How do different peoples react when someone has just been, by their standards, unspeakably rude?

Some Moonshine states have at times codified speech manners into law, such that a man can be imprisoned simply for speaking to a woman out of turn, or for refusing to acknowledge her when addressed. This would be considered a crime even if that woman was against the punishment. These laws have typically been passed in packages in which freedom of speech is restricted in other ways too, including ways that affect women.  This is because the intent of the speech laws is to provide a structure for society and not merely to further increase women's power over men.

When and where are people supposed to be on their best behavior?

Taboos and Faux Pas

What are considered controversial subjects in this culture?

Strangers will generally not bring up religion and politics, but close acquaintances have stronger ties to each other that can overcome differences of opinion.  The political structure of the Empire is so stable that political discussions are typically about local issues, and are scarcely differentiated from gossip.

What things can you start a friendly disputation about?

What things will automatically result in an unfriendly argument?

What are the primary social taboos? -- what things are simply not done and what things are not talked about?

It is considered grossly improper to make fun of a child for being a child, an elderly adult for being elderly, a disabled person for being disabled, or a stupid person for being stupid.  This last trait is an extension of the prohibition against mocking small children: an adult who is very unintelligent is like a child but typically garners less sympathy from others, and is more likely to attract verbal abuse.  Thus, social pressure is required to prevent this from becoming commonplace.

It is similarly considered rude to withhold information in order to shock or surprise someone, even if the surprise is a pleasant one. This, too, is an extension of the prohibition against using children's helplessness as the target of a joke.  Adults should not ask questions of other people's children outside a classroom.  Adults need not answer every question their children ask them, but are expected to assist them in acquiring basic knowledge about the world and not abandon the child to figure things out on their own.

What would happen if someone broke such a taboo?

Much depends on who is talking and to whom.  A woman addressing a man will not worry about whether she hurts his feelings, and the man in such a conversation is not allowed to leave, ask for permission to leave, or even to stop answering her, even if it is clear that the only purpose of the conversation is for the woman to irritate the man.  If the man's wife is present, she may enter the conversation to protect her man, because she will be allowed to say things that her husband cannot.  Other women may do this also, but any other men present must stay silent or leave the room.

Men talking to other men will typically not aggravate each other on purpose, as in many social situations they are each other's only dependable friends, but occasionally women start arguments between two men so that they can enjoy watching how it plays out.  Moonshine men spend less time talking about their anatomy than do men of most other cultures.

Likewise, men have such a low social status in Moonshine society that a woman needing to bring up an emotionally painful topic with another woman will often make her husband start the conversation instead, knowing both that men are expected to be constantly thinking of shameful things and that, at the same time, no full-grown man would dare address a woman about such a subject if he was acting of his own volition; thus, the other woman will realize the man's wife is the one who is really looking to talk.

What are the greatest social faux pas?

What subjects or actions cause embarrassment or discomfort?

Anything that reminds the listener of their own physical weaknesses, or their mortality, can be offensive.  Mothers and even fathers are expected to scold their children for misbehavior, but not for such things as failure to potty train, using improper grammar, or spilling food on the floor.  Likewise adults are cautioned to speak very carefully to their aging parents and avoid even gestures of good faith such as offering to help their parents with basic life tasks unless the parents bring it up first.

Questions on Morality, Ethics & Faith


What is the ideal life that people aspire to?

What virtues are held in greatest esteem?

What are the virtues and vices within this culture?

What kinds of people are the rebels and outcasts of this society?

There are very few voluntary rebels. Most often, someone who has committed a crime and escapes arrest will try to reach a different town and assume a new identity, but such people are often eventually discovered. If they manage to escape arrest again, they will become fugitives and be forced to live in the wilderness.

How does society deal with them?

Anyone expelled from the Moonshine political party loses their citizenship, and with it the right to live within the Empire. Such people retreat to the wilderness and attempt to live off the land, but because even the wilderness is legally Moonshine territory, anyone can kill these people and face no penalty.

Do wild and rebellious young people dress any differently from anyone else and are they tolerated within society or are they in some way living marginal but socially sanctioned lives outside the normal bounds of good society?

Because children leave their homes while still young, teenagers consider themselves adults, and many have already started their own families by the age of 15.  As such, teenagers have no adult authority to rebel against and girls rely on their mothers for parenting advice.

What ideas or words or actions will result in making one a social outcast or exile?

The Moonshine political apparatus has been stable for 2,500 years, so few people take seriously any threats to overturn it. Even when the state of Balaš seceded from the Empire to join a rival empire, there was no dissent from the remaining states and none of them followed Balaš's lead. Thus, criticism of the empire's political leaders does not arouse the anger of those leaders or their supporters.

The state of Flʕrùn is the only one of the five that has any laws restricting free speech, but even here, most cases are brought between two private citizens, rather than a leader bringing to court someone who criticized their actions in Parliament. Flʕrùn also has criminalized silence, meaning that private citizens must answer any questions asked of them by a government official, and men must answer any questions asked of them by a woman.

Poor social skills can lead to embarrassment and prevent someone from realizing their normally expected social status, but such people often become hard workers and end up economically superior even when they are socially inferior. Also, many people with a tendency to say things they later regret learn to feign a speech impediment and simply talk very little. This is one of the few areas in society where men are arguably better off than women; because men are expected to constantly say awkward and embarrassing things, they disappoint no one when they do so. However, there is no reward available for men who rise above these expectations.

Thus, the only sure way to become a social outcast in Moonshine society is to commit a crime that is too minor to merit jail time, and then return to normal life as if nothing had happened.

What happens to people who don't fit the accepted social order? -- do they live and work in their own sections of town, or are they invisible, or are they expelled altogether?

Someone of very low social status but who remains legally free may decide to flee their town in the interest of safety. Murdering a free citizen is always a crime, but murderers are occasionally acquitted if enough character witnesses appear in court to speak in favor of the defendant.

Even in the largest cities, there are no particular neighborhoods that attract people of disreputable character. Such people instead are pushed out into the wilderness to live off the land. These people tend to live far apart even from each other, because a cluster of humans in a small space would have difficulty finding enough food for all of them.

What will people swear a binding oath by?

By the goddess Kwatena, also known as Enōra.  People believe that Enōra herself may punish a person who breaks such an oath, but that such punishment is not guaranteed.  If a person breaks an oath and nothing bad happens to them, they are considered to have justified their action to Enōra in private and cannot be further pursued for justice.

What is the most desired or most valuable object in this society, be it gold, jewels, drugs, money, furs, reindeer, knowledge or virtue?

Moonshines are materially poor, and tend to focus on basic things.  A thick winter blanket is worth much more than a painting or statue. 

Why is it so coveted and valued?

Do different races value different things?

What attitudes, speech or actions are considered normal and acceptable in this society that may not be so considered from an outsider's perspective?

Moonshines observe strict hygiene codes, but they ignore certain things which some foreign tribes would find alarming. Despite the great amount of attention Moonshine women pay to menstrual hygiene, teenage girls and some lower-class adult women are left to bleed through their clothing, and while Moonshines consider this shameful and regrettable, they do not consider it filthy, and women who have visible period blood on their clothing are not expected to avoid physical contact with others or with objects that will soon be handled by others.  If a menstruating woman leaves visible fresh blood on a surface, she is expected to clean it up, but need not apologize for her mess.  Anyone who refuses to sit where the blood had been will be ridiculed and asked what the problem is.

The Moonshines share with the neighboring Poswob tribes a lack of aversion towards urine, and therefore people of both tribes pee on trees and into fields that people will walk on, and do not mind that when they walk they are likely to eventually step into someone else's urine.  Unlike the Poswobs, Moonshines are also tolerant of children's wetting accidents, even when the smell of urine on their clothing is unavoidable. 

Moonshines enjoy bathing, but due to their climate, bathing can be difficult or impossible during winter, and some Moonshines never bathe at all.  Poswobs by contrast bathe every day. 

Moonshine speech habits are based on an extremely intricate politeness system, with different lists of rules for each individual social situation, whereas the nearby Poswob people have no speech registers at all: men, women, boys, girls, scholars, and sailors are all equally rude to each other in every social situation. Thus, it is impossible for the Moonshines to offend the Poswobs. One must go further south to find cultures who would find the Moonshines' everyday conversational manners to be unacceptable, and Moonshines have no regular contact with those parts of the world.

Occasionally women will slap or shove a man during a conversation in response to a seemingly trivial provocation. Men are not allowed to hit back, and are in fact expected to apologize immediately for making the woman angry before they can continue talking.  Complex social rules govern which women are allowed to hit which men, and for what; any woman who hits a man is likely to attract attention from the man's wife, if present, and she may tell the woman to stop.  Indeed, often a woman who pushes or shoves a man is actually signaling aggression against the man's wife, but because women are not allowed to hit each other, she can only offend the woman indirectly. Women who hit men say that they do so because sometimes physical violence is the only language that men truly understand, but men do not commonly hit each other.

Although the Moonshine Empire has a high rate of child sexual abuse, men are not stigmatized the way they are in the neighboring Poswob Empire and most societies further afield.  Children often meet up with local men in playgrounds with no other adults present.  This is because men are seen as less threatening and more playful than women, and therefore are better partners for small children to play with. 

What attitudes, speech or actions are considered shocking in this society that may not be so considered from an outsider's perspective?

Small children's emotions are always assumed to be genuine, and when adults express childlike emotions such as crying they are assumed to also be genuine, as the Moonshines' general belief is that crying cannot be convincingly faked.  If an adult or even an unusually wily young child is found to have only pretended to cry in order to earn others' sympathy, they have committed abuse of knowledge and in the case of adults will no longer be fully trusted again.

On rare occasions Poswob women who have learned the Moonshine language have been secretly invited to Moonshine territory, only to be shunned by the Moonshines for their poor manners. Poswobs who study the Moonshine language in school are well aware of the social burdens faced by its speakers in Moonshine territory, and male Poswobs realize that they could end up in prison for simply speaking out of turn if they were to attempt to blend in with the Moonshine population.

What would be the reaction of an ordinary person who sees someone doing one of these things?

Most of the time, a third party who witnesses an offensive conversation between two strangers will stay out of it, unless one party's speech is actually illegal.  Likewise, if a woman (or even a man) is hitting a man who is trying to talk to them, a bystander will leave the matter to the two participants and not interfere, knowing that even the person being hit would likely find their attempt to protect him unhelpful.

What are the acceptable limits to honor and honesty in this society?

Are "white lies" acceptable socially, or is lying in any form inconceivable?

Lying is only acceptable when the liar has a credible claim that they or someone else would suffer if the person they lied to found out the truth. For example, a child dying of a debilitating disease may not be told of their fate because the parents know that the knowledge would ruin what little was left of their childhood. 

By contrast, to purposely lie to someone, or even to say nothing when important information could be shared, is considered abuse of knowledge and is frowned upon in the same manner as is laughing at a child for being a child. Though not a crime, when knowledge of what happened comes to light it is common for the local priest to punish the person who lied and warn them of a greater punishment to follow if they lie in a similar way again.

There is no tradition of giving surprise gifts, and someone who expects to see happy faces when they show up at a gathering with an unexpected gift may find themselves shunned and asked where they were born.  Surprise of all types is considered abuse of knowledge, as one cannot surprise another person without earlier withholding useful information.

Is thievery an accepted, if disreputable, occupation, or is it a crime?

Theft of tangible goods is always a crime.  Theft of already stolen goods is still a crime, and both perpetrators are liable for punishment.  

Eyewitnesses cannot report a theft to the police; only the victim has this right, and she must be an adult female who has not herself been convicted of theft in the past.  This means that all men and some women are easy targets for thieves and are expected to either hide their valuables in a safe place or simply not have any.  Married men legally transfer all of their property to their wives, however, and nearly all adult men are married; this means that a man who is robbed is allowed to ask his wife to pursue compensation for him.  However, if the wife refuses, the husband must simply accept that he has lost his possessions and move along without them.

Because children cannot legally own property, even personal effects such as clothing, a thief who robs a young child is actually robbing the child's parents, and therefore justice can be pursued as in an ordinary case of theft.  For orphans, the owners of the orphanage take ownership of the child's belongings, but orphans typically live lives so poor that even habitual thieves take pity on them.  

Counterfeiting of money is not considered theft in and of itself, because there is no identifiable victim.  It becomes a crime as soon as the money is spent, but because the person spending the money is often unaware that their money is illegitimate, they cannot be accused of theft either. 

Is a binding oath absolutely unbreakable or can one consider the arrangement broken should the other party turn out to have had ill intent or withheld key information?

The person making the oath is making a promise to the gods, not to a person, and therefore the oath is not binding if new information comes to light; indeed, the person who lied will almost always be punished instead.

What is considered the right thing to do if two oaths come into conflict?

The two people must go to court, where a judge will resolve the dispute. All judges are priests, but this situation is still different from a personal dispute in which they could go to the temple and resolve the dispute with no legally binding resolution.

What are attitudes toward ownership of crafted objects, of intellectual property, of chattels, slaves and of land ?

There are two types of land ownership: the ordinary type, in which a person owns the land and with it the rights to everything that grows or is found there. A person who founds a new town has an even greater right, however: political sovereignty. They are allowed to restrict travel onto their land, even to the point of banning state and imperial government officials from visiting them to collect tax money. A town that pays no taxes receives no government benefits, but this type of de facto secession is perfectly legal under Moonshine imperial law. The Moonshine state of Xema, due to its difficult geography, consists almost entirely of such ungovernable towns.

Most people who found new towns nonetheless continue to pay taxes and cooperate economically with the towns around them. But the right of political sovereignty allows the founder of a town, and their descendants, to become extremely rich by controlling the rights of the people who live within their town.

What constitutes "theft" and what can be stolen? -- gems, gold, someone's good name or reputation?

Theft is defined as any crime in which one person takes and keeps a valuable object belonging to another person.  If the perpetrator simply destroys an object instead, not keeping it, the crime is described as malice.  Spreading false rumors would usually be classified as malice, since the guilty party derives no meaningful benefit from the crime.

Can a slave steal himself and what would the consequences be?

All prisoners are allowed to undergo the death penalty if they feel that they would rather die than work in a labor camp.  Someone who escapes prison and goes to live in the wilderness is considered to have given up their Moonshine citizenship, and therefore can be killed on sight by any bystander. 

Are thieves independent criminals, members of a guild or businessmen licensed by law?

A group of women called the Honey Poison Pirates, historically also known by several other names, constitutes the largest and most stable criminal organization in the Moonshine Empire. They identify themselves as simply a political party, but because the Moonshine party is the only legal party, the Honey pirates are outlaws by definition, and can be attacked or killed on sight by any Moonshine citizen. The Honey pirates have reacted to this status by resolving to commit endless crimes against Moonshine society, knowing that they already occupy the lowest possible status in their society and that further crimes will not harm them in any way.

The Honey pirates are openly tolerated in the Moonshine state of Wa, the warmest state and the only one sharing a land border with the neighboring Poswob Empire. They are thus able to intercept trade routes and steal merchandise from the Poswobs, and because they also have the southernmost ports in the Empire, they intercept trade by sea as well.

The Honey pirates do not allow men to appear in public; their men spend much of their time at sea, fishing and rowing the boats that the pirates use to get around. Because of this rule, the Honey pirates know that any man they see in public is not one of theirs, and historically they have roamed around Moonshine cities killing men indiscriminately in order to deprive the non-Honey society of its adult male population. The Honey pirates have never sworn off doing this, but they no longer consider it a productive way of life because they have won the support of even many non-Honey people in the state of Wa, and today such crimes typically occur only when the Honey pirates feel that their way of life is being threatened.


What is the overarching moral framework of this society like?

People are obligated to help each other as a community, and by helping their fellow citizens, they are doing the will of the gods.  These two goals can never come into conflict.

Does morality arise from philosophy or descend from religion?

Moral commandments are local to each temple, and written down in each temple's scripture.  Each temple has its own archangel, and the different archangels have different moral codes for their believers to follow.  These archangels cooperate with each other, and having different moral codes is not seen as a dilemma; people accept that when they move from one town to another, customs will change.

How are the morals within this system known to be true?

Worshippers believe that the archangels communicate the moral guidelines to each temple's local priest.

What actions are considered moral and immoral and amoral?

Teppalan religion in general could be described as primitive in the sense that it does not distinguish between misfortune and sin.  Someone tripping down a staircase is considered to be in the same category as someone who has just burned a book or insulted a priest; both have just done something contrary to the will of the gods.  That one person did so by accident and the others in full conscience is of no importance.  This trait is common all across the planet, not just to Moonshine culture.

How do the systems of morality of different races and cultures interact and how are conflicts between them resolved?

Do all races or ethnicities agree on some basic framework of morality, or are there grave and insurmountable differences among them?

Are moral systems enshrined in secular law, religious law or ancient custom?


What systems of ethics is in use in this region?

Who are the persons or groups of people to whom one automatically owes a duty simply by being born to a particular estate?

What is the hierarchy of duty among them and what do the various duties consist of?

Who are the arbiters of ethical matters, as opposed to legal matters?

Priests are also judges, but there is a difference between a formal criminal trial and a priest's judgment within the temple; only the former is legally binding, and a civil judgment in the temple cannot trigger a criminal case.

Which ethical or moral decisions are considered the province of religion, and which are not?

Faith and Religion

Are the people of this culture religious or nonreligious?

What are the major religious groups in the region?

Nearly everyone on the planet belongs to the Ridia religion, where customs vary from place to place but the same gods are worshipped everywhere.

What are some of their core doctrines, dogmas, beliefs and practices?

What is the overall cosmology and eschatology in religious terms?

Is religion a cause of dissatisfaction, dissension or hostility in the region?

Are religious traditions and any scriptures oral or written in nature or a combination?

Everything is written down.

Is there a set canon of what constitutes officially sanctioned scripture?

Every temple has a physical book of scripture containing the words of the angels local to that temple.  Since different angels speak to different temples, every book of scripture is different, and the priests understand this.  They believe that this is because people in different towns are expected to behave in different ways rather than having people be the same from place to place.  These differences are primarily matters of expression, such as the wording of a particular prayer, rather than gross differences in morality.

How are scriptural & traditional exegesis accomplished and by what hermeneutics?

What is the role of myth within the religion?

Is there a formal creed or set of credal statements that define the faith?

Yes, but it varies from town to town, and this is not seen as a contradiction, because behavior is more important than theology.  Only the priests dive deep into scripture to ponder phenomena such as the life cycles of the three generations of angels.

What are typical symbols used in the religion and their meanings?

What ritual objects are used in the religion (relics, talismans, medals, charms, etc)?

What religious officials are there?

Is there a formal clergy and how are they organised?

Are there monks, saints, faqirs, nuns, prophets, apostles, disciples, preachers, friars, shamans, martyrs, mystics, seers, vates, sages, ascetics, religious heroes, saviours, redeemers, etc?

What do people believe happens to them after death?

Everyone is reincarnated, but ultimately everyone's goal is to achieve salvation.

How, if at all, can they influence this?

By winning the favor of the savior and supreme deity, Malamen, worshippers can achieve eternal salvation.  Salvation can be taken away and regained any number of times, in every case by an act of Malamen.

What happens to those who disagree with the majority on questions of religion?

Only behavior matters; people who disagree with the theology typically do not bring it up, and are thus not noticed.

Are there any particular places considered especially sacred?

Is there a fixed religious calendar?

The year is divided into 39 irregular periods corresponding to the birthdates of the familiar angels.  These are grouped into thirteen months of three periods each, which are also of irregular length.

What are the most popular rituals or festivals?

Are there liturgical, meditative, and contemplative aspects to the religion?

What is the basic structure of the religion (unitary, dualistic, etc)?

Teppalan religions could be described as unitary in the sense that there are no evil beings.  The supreme deities are always good, and the angels sometimes commit acts of evil but are on average morally superior to humans. 

What is the basic theology of the religion (i.e., monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistc, atheistic, etc)?

There are three supreme deities, and the usual explanation is that although all of them are omnipotent, Màlamen is stronger than Kwatena, and Kwatena is stronger than Yuni.

Young children worship Yuni, and practice a simplified form of their parents' religion. As they grow older, they learn to also worship the other two gods.

All three deities are female, although Yuni is immaterial and can change her form.

What do people have to offer to their Deity or deities?

There are no sacrifices. People's commitments are to each other, not to their gods. The gods, being invincible, do not need or want humans to give up anything to them.

What do people want from their Deity or deities?

How do they try and get it?

Are there differing denominations or sects of the religion?

Nearly all religions on Teppala consider themselves to be different traditions of the same religion. People traveling from one area to another simply adopt the local tradition, and no tradition considers any others to be wrong.

How do their religious practices differ from their neighbours?

Are issues such as orthodoxy, heterodoxy, heresy and apostasy keys in the religious life?

What gender, ethnic, national or racial issues exist within the religion?

Is ecumenism engaged in, or are other traditions treated as adversaries or enemies?

What is the most commonly broken religious rule?

The religion prescribes ritual prayers that can consume a substantial amount of time.  Even though the gods can act instantly, they prescribe the prayers in the belief that human behavior is more easily controlled by such rigid behavioral influences than by allowing instant gratification.  If a believer reciting a prayer makes even a single mistake, they must immediately switch to a different lengthy prayer in which they apologize for their mistake and state that they will strive to speak more clearly in the future, and then they will begin their original prayer all over again.

Few believers actually recite the prayers in their full form.

What is the least-violated religious rule?

How are such infractions punished?

Priests are immensely powerful.  A priest can require a believer to stay in the temple and work unpaid labor as punishment, even if this causes the person to lose their job in the wider world.  The priest's authority is unquestionable and therefore there is no need for a trial; the priest makes their decision on the spot.

As elsewhere in the Moonshine world, men are punished far more harshly than women when both have committed the same offense.  For example, if a husband and wife both miss service one day, the priest may require the husband to work hard labor on the temple grounds for a week without going home, while for the wife the priest may deem that a week without seeing her husband is punishment enough.

Is it possible to expel a community member?

How can an outsider join the religious community?

Does the religion send out missionaries and what roles do they play?

What factions exist within the dominant religious institutions?

How do they compete?

Are the differing groups a result of schismatism or mutual and cooperative separation?

Are there monastic groups?

What do they do and how are they organized?

How do you join one?

Are there cult groups within the religious community?

How are those who follow different faiths treated?

What relationship do religious and political leaders have?

What superstitions are common?

What kinds of supernatural events or beings do people fear?

What kinds of supernatural beings exist?

There are three supreme deities, all female: Malamen, Kwatena, and Yuni.

There are a few dozen archangels, all female, who worship Malamen. Many traditions consider Kwatena to be one of the archangels, even though she is also a supreme deity, but this is not canonically part of the religion and those who believe it do not try to convince others that they are correct as there is no scriptural basis for their belief.

There are a few dozen angels, mostly female, who worship each of the archangels who in turn worship Malamen. These are the angels who most often interact with humans.

Yuni, though also a supreme deity, is not part of the cycle of angels and archangels. Her spirits are immaterial and are portrayed as being no more humanlike than they are animallike, treelike, or even rocklike. Yuni is worshipped mostly by children, and most people believe that animals also worship Yuni in their own way.

There are no evil beings. All evil not caused by humans is attributed to the angels, because even though the angels are seen as morally superior to humans overall, they are not completely good. Even the evil that angels commit is ultimately resolved, but not all will resolve within a human lifetime.

How are dreams and visions encompassed by the religion?

How is religious action expressed (spontaneous or ritual liturgy, song, dance, music, ritual action, sex, miracle plays, etc)?

Are any divine beings present or distant; and do they take an active role in temple activities and the lives of everyday people?

Few people will claim to have seen an angel up close, and fewer still will claim to have seen one of the goddesses.  The ordinary angels, the yina, are the ones believed to interact most commonly with humans in physical form; they appear as ordinary humans, mostly female, but are larger than average and can to some extent change their body size.  Because angels have physical bodies, they can physically harm humans, even crushing them to death, but can also help humans as well.  Angels do not have wings, but they can fly through the sky even so, and thus help humans on long journeys over land and sea by physically bringing them to their destination.  All angels can swim as well, and are never harmed by the cold water of the Moonshines' habitat, but only a few angels are known to appear at sea. 

How many gods are there?

There are three supreme deities, all female.

Do they exist within a hierarchy and do they form various classes or groups?

All three goddesses are omnipotent, but most believers claim that they can be ranked in order from most to least powerful even so. Others disagree and state that the three goddesses have a circular power structure, where each goddess both leads and follows another.

Which ones are good or evil, or somewhere in between?

Is this distinction even applicable when speaking of gods?

From a religious perspective, how are miracles distinguished and differentiated from magic?

Is there tension, rivalry, or outright hostility between any of the gods?

No; the three goddesses always cooperate.  The archangels also cooperate. Only the ordinary angels sometimes have fights, and these fights can have consequences for humans who cannot get out of the way.

Does this spill over into tensions between various temple organisations or secular polities?

How does religion mesh with society?

How do people view its actions (or inactivity) within society?

Is there an established church?

Is freedom of religion the norm or is there some amount of compulsion?

It would be difficult for a believer to even express the idea of disbelief, as worshippers take the gods' existence as self-evident and many cannot conceive of an alternative.  There are no alternative religions within the areas of the world known to the Moonshines; their only historical knowledge of a non-Ridia religion was a tribe who had existed thousands of miles to the south and which never came close to Moonshine territory; even that tribe ceased to exist thousands of years ago.

Do the gods care how people behave?

What part does faith play in the worship of gods?

Do people choose one or more gods to worship and ignore the others, or does everybody officially worship everyone?

Children worship only Yuni, and learn to worship the other two goddesses only gradually. First, they learn to pray to Kwatena, and finally Malamen. All three are considered supreme deities, but one needs a clear mind to address the higher ones.

There is no distinction between worship and prayer, but there are distinctions between several different kinds of prayers.

How is it determined which god an individual will worship or temple to be affiliated with; or are all gods worshiped indiscriminately?

Are philosophers and theologians considered ivory-tower academics, or do they debate in the marketplace for all to hear and consider their perspectives?

How much influence do their theories have on the way people actually behave?

Are priests and philosophers full-time workers, or do they support themselves through working at some other craft?

All priests are judges and all judges are priests. They neither spend nor earn money, as the temple is funded by the government, and the priests are expected to live simple lives. 

If they are full-time, who supports them? -- the congregation, a wealthy patron, the temple's investment fund, the god they serve?

Why are the gods interested in people?

Are they like a family pantheon (quarrelsome, larger-than-life humans), or are they transcendent and incomprehensible?

Are gods limited in their powers and capabilities?

The three goddesses are all-powerful, but do not project their full power into the ordinary material world; instead, humans mostly interact with the angels.

Can gods make mistakes? -- where can a person go to seek redress against a god?

The three supreme deities always agree with each other and cannot sin.  When Malamen decides to deprive a person of salvation, that person then becomes shunned by the community and can be enslaved by the temple.

How do the various temples and philosophies explain the problem of evil?

Some evil is caused by human nature; some is caused by the world around them; and some is caused by the angels' moral faults.  Angels are morally superior to humans, but they are also much stronger than humans, and therefore their moral faults have grave consequences for humans.

Do they think bad things are always a just punishment for some transgression, a character-building exercise, the result of an evil antagonist or simply something the gods can't overturn?

Morality is poorly developed.  In many cases, when a person suffers misfortune, the incident itself will be considered the fault of the believer, as though they had consciously called it upon themselves.  Thus, the believer can expect to suffer a punishment in the near future for their perceived transgression against the will of the gods.


What are the various rites like?

What offerings are considered appropriate or insufficient and are different sacrifices required for different gods?

There are no sacrifices in any Teppalan religious traditions.

Are there times when people are expected to fast, or feast?

Are there rites or temples that are off-limits to outsiders, or even uninitiated insiders?

Children worship their own god, Yuni, who is often depicted as a young girl or even a boy.  Children are not expected to think deeply about moral questions but merely to follow the rules that Yuni gives them.  Yuni's depiction as a small child helps children feel comfortable in speaking to her, and the children often complete their worship with little or no adult supervision.

Just as children cannot participate in the wider temple service where people worship Enōra and Malamen, adults cannot participate in the children's service, although some temples do have prayers in which adults address Yuni.

Questions on Arts & Aesthetics

What are the favourite and least favourite art forms?

Most people are only familiar with art that comes to them from overseas, but intangible forms of art such as dance and poetry appeal to certain segments of society.

Is there a distinct musical or literary style; and what are they like?

To write a book, one must be an adult female scholar who has studied literature in school; such people are rare.  The scripture is believed to have been written by angels, not by priests.

How respected are artists?

Do artists require official or unofficial protection or patronage?

What kinds of trouble are artists in particular likely to find themselves in?

How might a very successful artist live?

What forms of theatre does this society have?

How naturalistic or stylized is this society's art?

What shapes are most common in this society's arts, like embroidery or architecture?

The founders of the Feminist Compact expressed their femininity with round shapes; the original flag was a sphere divided into eight pieces (four in front, four in back).  This still holds true today.  When one early rival nation designed a flag with sharp triangles and threatened to invade the Moonshine Empire, the Moonshine leaders pointed out that human male anatomy does not feature any sharp body parts.

Which art forms get the most and least respect or receive the most attention?

What form does censorship take?

Most districts support freedom of speech; exceptions for blasphemy and politically divisive writings are confined to just a few towns.

Who may not be an artist?

What qualities equal "beauty" in this society?

What makes a man or woman especially beautiful?

Heavy-set women with large breasts, wide hips, and otherwise full figures are considered the most beautiful. Moonshine women are proud of their wide hips because they feel much less pain during childbirth than do women in neighboring countries where women typically have narrower figures.

Despite the Moonshines' meat-heavy diet, obesity is rare because both men and women have to perform physically demanding tasks to get through the day.  Pregnant women often put on a lot of weight as they suddenly become nearly sedentary while simultaneously doubling their food intake.  After pregnancy they will typically lose the weight they gained, not for the sake of beauty but because they are once again physically exerting themselves every day.  Nevertheless, women are not ashamed to be obese and anyone attempting to insult a woman by calling attention to her swollen belly will receive only a confused expression.

It is far more socially shameful to be thin.  Because of the abundant food supply, even the poorest citizens have plenty to eat, and anyone who remains thin is thus assumed to have an incurable medical disease.  Cultural attitudes towards disease vary; some people will blame the victim, saying that diseases are inflicted by the goddess Enōra and thus that it is Enōra's will for the person to suffer, while others believe that Enōra causes only quick deaths and that someone suffering from a wasting disease should at least be kept as comfortable as possible while they are still alive.   

Women prefer men with broad muscular figures and ample body hair, thus differentiating them from boys even though men are shorter than women.  But some women also like to see feminine traits in men, and say that the most beautiful men are also the most feminine.  There is a difference between what is seen as sexy and what is seen as aesthetically beautiful. Thus, among the Moonshines, both women and men are expected to have a feminine body type, but women do this better than men can.

What are the standards of beauty for people; paintings and sculpture; clothing and furniture?

Sculptures of humans are realistic.  Sculptures of angels and archangels show them in human form, but when angels and humans appear together the humans are either depicted as babies or as much smaller than the angels. 

Beauty is not a goal in selecting clothes; the only people wearing colorful clothing are those who need to be seen from a distance and to stand out from a crowd. 

How do standards of beauty reflect the physical traits of the various races?

What is the status of the arts in this society?

Are artists revered or mistrusted?

Are there permanent theaters or concert halls for the performing arts?

Are there also traveling troupes of players/musicians/dancers?

What things are considered appropriate subjects for representational arts and which are not?

Are certain races or cultures considered better at some arts than others?

Where do the best dancers, painters, musicians, actors, and so forth come from?

Questions on Entertainment

What are popular games, sports and pastimes?

Contact sports are popular, often involving the entire able-bodied adult population of a town, with the only spectators being children and the elderly. Sometimes men and women compete side by side, and sometimes men and women compete against each other.

Children do not have toys to play with.  The Moonshine Empire was founded adjacent to three societies with very high birth rates that forced children to shoulder much of the burden of manual labor, and allowed them little free time.  These attitudes became molded into Moonshine customs.  Nevertheless, there is no law restricting play time, and children are expected to spend much of their free time outdoors, playing with other children in nature.  In inclement weather, they may also play inside, though space indoors is typically limited.

How important are they?

How do such activities vary from one race or culture to another?

How much free time do people usually have?

Most people have careers, but many are in fields where they only need to work for part of the year, or in which they can work from home at their leisure.

What do they spend this time doing?

Does the culture have outlets for dramatic arts?

The Ghosts of Comfort, a small empire located near Baeba Swamp, are the only cultures within reach of the Moonshines who have theater. This has caused theater to be banned in many jurisdictions, but the police are not always familiar with the concept.

What other major forms of entertainment are there?

Is the populace literate and numerate?

Moonshines are expected to be fully literate by the age of ten, and to know basic math skills in order to handle money.

Do people read for pleasure?

Yes, but there is no printing technology, and therefore all books are rare books and many are one-of-a-kind.

If so, what do they read?

How much do books, magazines, broadsheets and the like cost?

Is there a public library system; and who uses it?

Who are popular authors and poets?

Who are some of the more famous characters from literature?

What are some of the more well known story lines from literature?

How embedded have scenes or lines from literary works become in ordinary language; what are the equivalents of "a rose by any other name" or "it was a dark and stormy night"?

How do people listen to music: in a theater, making music at home, street musicians, mechanical reproduction & playback?

Does music influence people's behaviour?

Does this culture have a typical dance form; and what is it like?

Who is able to see such entertainments and what restrictions might there be against some people?

Questions on Healing Arts

What access do people have to clean drinking water, either at home or in public?

Even in the warmest parts of the empire, snow is common, and melted snow is always considered safe to drink.  Water is stored in containers indoors throughout the warmer months and retrieved as needed.  There is no public water supply anywhere, as none is needed.  

What access do people have to proper sanitation, either at home or in public?

Full-body bathing is typically done outdoors and only when the weather is warm. Some people in the coldest parts of the Empire never bathe at all, but will still wash their hands by submerging them in freshly melted water before they eat a meal.  Many citizens believe that warm climates are a cause of disease, and that simply by living in a cold climate they are protecting themselves.  Soap is easily obtained in stores but not considered a necessity. 

Do houses or public buildings have plumbing? -- and does it involve cold and warm water plus sewer?

Plumbing does not exist; water must be carried to the place where it is needed individually each time.

Describe any public or private bathing or toilet facilities.

The ideal toilet is a curved wall abutting a stone floor opening into a deep underground cavity which will never need to be cleaned.  Public toilets of this type are found in some cities but seldom in rural areas.  There is no fully enclosed space because the user trusts that nobody nearby will look at them while they are relieving themself, though the wall typically faces vegetation on the other side rather than a second road.

Outdoor public toilets are unmaintained, and thus open to everyone: man, woman, child, and animal.  Toilets attached to schools and government buildings are always on the outside of the building, and can often be accessed either from within the building or from outside it; the people working in the building trust that few if any people would enter the building just to get to the toilet, and that if they did do so, they must have really needed it.  If a school has more than one bathroom, the division is between women and children, not between females and males.  If there are three, the division is still between women and children, with the children getting two bathrooms and the teachers just one.  The only sense in which separate bathrooms for men and women exist is that in the capital city of Wōm and some other cities, certain neighborhoods are restricted to women only, and a public bathroom in that neighborhood is thus also for women only.  Often it will be placed near the boundary with the open-access neighborhood and there will be another public toilet on the other side of the border, making it effectively a men's toilet.

It is a crime to leave a visible mess in a public bathroom.  Very few people are ever arrested for this, and fewer still are punished; the purpose of the law is to embarrass messy people and pressure them to clean up after themselves.  Nevertheless, someone who refuses to clean up will indeed be arrested.  This law even applies to children in school, and the punishment in their case is a mandatory prison sentence with no trial, which is both traumatic and economically disastrous for the child.

Most people live near water, and will make use of nearby bodies of water either directly or as the dumping place for their waste products.

Citizens living in very cold climates try to avoid leaving their homes during the winter, even for a short time to use the bathroom, and so these are the only Moonshines who typically have fully functional bathrooms inside their homes.  Because their homes rarely have walls all the way across between each room, the invasive smell is a difficult problem, and some people prefer to use the bathroom outside even on the coldest of days.

What level are the healing and medical arts at?

Moonshine medical knowledge is fairly advanced for such a materially poor society; Moonshines have even spread their knowledge to nearby empires such as the Poswobs.  Moonshines understand chemistry, and have a table of various elements, but they do not distinguish between pure elements and their compositions; they just state that mixing two elements together can produce a third element.  Bodily humors and plant products are listed among these elements.

Is there an understanding of or distinction between quack medicine and valid medicine?

How is healthcare delivered in this society; what are its foundations?

Hospitals are separate buildings, but in small towns, there may be no hospital within a reasonable distance for most people, and it is up to the doctor to visit their patients at their homes.

Are there hospitals or sanataria where many forms of health care are concentrated; or are practitioners more diffuse within the community?

Do people have access to any form of medical aid for emergencies or for less urgent problems?

What kinds of ailments or injuries are treatable in the locality using available supplies and expertise?

What does typical healthcare cost?

All health care is provided for free by the government, and there is no private health care available.

Regarding healers, how are they chosen and educated?

What divisions or groups are there?

Are the divisions hierarchical or horizontal in nature?

Is healing generally a magical process?

How does the magical healing talent work?

Does a magical healer have to consciously direct the healing process, or does magical healing simply speed up the normal, unconscious healing process in the patient?

Is there more than one kind of magical healer?

Are there both magical and non-magical healers, and if so, are they rivals or simply different specialties?

How do this society's healers try to treat wounds and sickness?

Which medical assumptions of this society are wrong?

Do people seek care on an as-needed or emergency basis; or is health care seen as a preventative endeavour; how often do people typically engage with a healer?

Is a distinction made between physical and nonphysical ailments?

What happens to those suffering from extreme mental or spiritual illness?

How do people react to physical deformity, both congenital and acquired?

What level of medical care can be found in this region and how reliable is it?

Which is better to be suffering from -- the disease or the cure?

How accurate is the diagnostic process?

Do healers have ways of telling two diseases with similar symptoms apart?

How much is known about anatomy, physiology, pathology, etc.?

Are treatments based on purely practical experience, or do healers understand at least some of what they are doing?

Who normally handles issues of fertility and childbirth -- midwives, doctors, or someone else?

Are birth control or abortion or infanticide taboo or practiced freely; and under what circumstances?

A visibly pregnant woman seeking an abortion will go to the temple and address a council of women about her decision. Occasionally, one of the women will encourage the mother to carry the baby to term and then give the baby to the other woman for adoption. Most commonly, however, no objections are raised. Then, that night the woman will recite a prescribed prayer to the goddess Kwatena, drink a medicinal potion, and in the morning alert her husband that she has aborted their baby. If the baby does not spontaneously abort, the woman will return to the temple and again address a council of women. If the women still do not convince the mother to carry the baby to term, a medical procedure will take place in which the baby is physically removed from the mother's womb and disposed of. She will then once again explain to her husband what she has done.

Once a baby has been born, however, the mother loses her legal right to abandon the baby unless a willing adoptive mother can be found immediately; see below.

What is the mortality rate for pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children?

What kinds of treatments are available, be they herbal teas, vaccinations, acupuncture, spells, and the like; how effective are they?

Is it possible to resurrect or resuscitate someone who has died; and when is it to late for the process to be successful?

Is such a person considered normally alive, a zombie of some kind or some other category?

Are there diseases that only affect one race or another?

Are there diseases that affect everybody, but with different degrees of severity, regardless of race?

Do healers have to take specialized training in order to properly treat people of different races?

Questions on the Life Span

How long do people of various races or ethnicities live?

What factors explain any discrepancies?

What subdivisions exist that describe the various times of a person's lifespan?

Moonshines distinguish unborn babies from newborns, newborns from toddlers, toddlers from playing children, playing children from teens, teenagers from parents, and parents from grandparents. A person may become a grandparent at age thirty and then continue living for an additional thirty years, but there is no formal recognition of a change in life stages beyond the birth of their first grandchild.

Elderly adults with declining health often socialize with other adults their own age, but the population is young overall and there are no societies or social organizations specifically set up for the elderly.

What rites mark these times in a person's life?

What rights or duties do people have at different times in their lives?

Boys become legally independent from their parents at age 10, and girls when they move out.  Thus, children have no obligation at any point in their lives to care for their parents; parents are told to love and nourish their children for their children's sake, and expect to get nothing back.  Parents are not allowed to use corporal punishment on their children, even though schoolteachers often do just that.   

What emoluments or considerations do people have at different times in their lives?

Questions on Birth, Childhood and Adolescence

What customs surround a birth and the introduction of a new child to the family?

Both parents will pray to Malamen and ask her to bless the mother's womb. The prayer is cooperative and prescribed, with precise words for each parent to say.  If the couple is a lesbian couple, the biological father does not participate, as the legal parents are the two women, not the pregnant woman and the man.

Is the mother sequestered for some period; or is the child?

Women leave their jobs when their belly becomes fully round and live at home. They give birth at home and remain until the child is ready to eat solids.

Is there a formal presentation of the new child to the parents, grandparents, overlord, priest or community?

The local priestess will visit the mother several times during her pregnancy, and will also greet and bless the baby as soon as she hears that the mother has given birth.  Often, the priest is already there during the birth itself, but this is not always possible.

Is a feast and celebration declared, or does everyone keep a low profile to keep from attracting demons or bad luck?

There are no demons; angels sometimes commit acts of evil, but as they are more aware of humans' affairs than humans themselves, there is nothing that humans can do to hide the birth of a new baby from the angels.

Who is normally present for births?

When a woman is ready to give birth, she will summon her husband and anyone else she wishes to be present. Typically, a priest is also present in order to bless the baby. 

Is childbirth strictly a matter for women, or are men involved as well, or is an expectant mother secluded and expected to give birth entirely unaided?

Who raises the children?

At what age do they begin to be educated or trained for a craft?

Who normally educates children?

The Moonshine Empire has a government-run and funded school system which children attend from the age of five. It is intended to teach economically useful skills, and so the school system is administered by the Business Department and the children are told to think of themselves as employees. The students are not paid, but are told that they will reap their rewards in the future if they study hard.

Are children dressed differently from adults; and if so, when do they change to adult dress?

Children have the same dress style as adults in normal circumstances, but in inclement weather, or when traveling great distances, they may be told to put on clothes with bright markings to allow other people to identify which family they belong to.  Each family will use a separate symbol, which may be the first letter of their name, but is more commonly an abstract symbol unrelated to the family name.

Questions on Rites of Passage: Coming of Age, Marriage, Anointment

What are the rites of passage in this culture?

Are there formalized rituals or is the transition more informal in nature?

Are there different rites for men and women or other groups of people?

When and how does someone go from child to adult?

How is a marriage defined?

How is a marriage contracted?

What are the society's mores regarding courtship, betrothal & marriage?

Is marriage primarily a civil or a religious institution?

What is the term of a marriage contract?

What gifts are considered appropriate or inappropriate for a wedding?

How are marriages celebrated?

What is considered too great a difference in age for a couple?

Girls typically choose boys very close to them in age.  The minimum legal age for a boy to marry is ten, and for girls thirteen, with the exception of orphans, who may marry at age ten regardless of sex.  All healthy boys move to campsites in the wilderness at age ten where they live mostly independently but are watched by female camp guardians. 

In choosing a mate, the girl has most of the power; the camp guards have the right to object, however, and because they own the land the boys live on, they can physically prevent a prospective bride from entering the boys' camp site to select a mate.  The boy himself has no power at all in most cases, though sometimes the women running the camp will respect the wishes of a boy who objects to a particularly unsuitable mate. 

Most girls prefer to select boys who are physically mature enough to build them a house and join the workforce immediately after they wed, so not many of them will select a boy who is only ten years old.  A typical girl aged thirteen will be at nearly her full adult height, and a boy aged ten will be therefore much shorter and clumsier than her.  A girl who deliberately chooses a very young suitor is assumed to be one who is immature for her age and who may not be fully ready to marry yet; such girls are encouraged to wait a few years, and then come back to choose someone closer to their own age.  Rare exceptions are made for boys who themselves are seen as unfit for camp life and unlikely to improve; these boys may be paired off with a girl who will be told that the boy is very needy for his age and will likely not be able to build her a house.  Girls who accept boys like this are therefore usually those who are independently wealthy and do not need a stable income. 

Though Moonshines marry very early, divorces and deaths lead to the reappearance of a substantial population of single adults.  Women of childbearing age who lose their husband must select a new husband from a much more restricted pool of men; see Divorce. The new husband in most cases has no civil rights at all, not even the right to live, meaning that they typically remain in the woman's home and provide relatively little economic benefit. Some women instead seek out already existing married couples and ask to join as a second wife, expecting that they will be subordinate to the first wife. To do this, they must sell or abandon their house.

When a woman becomes too old to bear children, it is once again common for women and men to be about equal in age, and often the woman will be older than the man.  This is because women above the age of 40 greatly outnumber men above the age of 40.

Do relationships allow multiple partners?

In what ways is a marriage considered broken?

How can a marriage be terminated?

A woman seeking to divorce her husband needs only to declare that she has done so before a judge; the divorce is executed immediately, all property goes to the wife, and the husband becomes homeless. If a woman wants to divorce another woman she must go through an often complicated legal process which both parties earlier agreed to when they signed the marriage contract.

Questions on Death and Funerary Customs

What is their understanding of death and dying?

Moonshines and nearly all other human cultures on the planet believe in simultaneous reincarnation, meaning that when a person dies they are losing only one of their many incarnations and are thus still alive somewhere else in the world. 

What does this society do with their corpses?

Bodies are typically buried at sea. There are no cemeteries.

What customs surround death and burial?

How are dead bodies disposed of?

Are there lands set aside for burying grounds, are dead bodies cremated or left to be eaten by scavenging birds?

Is the family responsible for the body or are there specialised craftsmen that handle corpses?

What part do the priests or other clerics play?

Are bodies buried in the ground or in caves or catacombs?

Does each family have a crypt with all their relatives gathered together?

Do people visit the dead?

If so, how often and what is done while visiting?

Are the dead feared, revered, or ignored?

Questions on Unnatural Death: Suicide, Abortion & Exposure, Murder, Killing, Judicial Slaying


What views do people in this culture have about suicide?

Moonshines believe in reincarnation, and that one who commits suicide will be reborn in another body. Importantly, Moonshines believe in simultaneous reincarnation, meaning that people are already living in more than one body at a time, and merely have divided consciousness. Therefore, a person who commits suicide is killing only one of their incarnations.

Most people who commit suicide do so by leaving their family and running into the wilderness, where survival is difficult. Most will leave a message to a trusted friend or relative if they have one, but many people who commit suicide are those with no trusted acquaintances at all. Most people do not have access to weapons with which they can easily kill themselves, so a passive method of suicide is preferred; many people will deliberately chase down predators so that they can be quickly eaten.

The household relatives of a person who commits suicide may be charged with murder, even if it is clear that the person died by their own hand. If the person committing suicide lived on their own, however, there is no crime. Men often sign marriage contracts which state that the man becomes the woman's property by marrying her, and in such a case, a wife whose husband commits suicide cannot be charged with a crime either, even if she was very abusive.

Prison guards must honor the requests of adult prisoners who want to commit suicide, even though prisoners work very hard and their labor is important to the economy. This is because the death penalty is considered even more severe than a long prison term, and any criminal is allowed to select a greater punishment than the law would merit if they wish to do so. Children in orphanages are also worked very hard, and their life is often compared to that of a prisoner, but children wishing to commit suicide are not assisted.

Is it the greatest sin one can commit or is it seen as a civic duty under certain circumstances?

Or is it even a sin at all -- is it the great and last comfort of a tormented soul?

Is it worse than murder?

Abortion and Exposure

Under what circumstances might an infant be aborted in utero or exposed after birth?

A pregnant woman seeking an abortion will go to the temple and obtain a medicinal abortifacient from a council of women. Because the baby has not been born, the mother does not need to explain her reasoning, although she is expected to consider carrying the baby to term if one of the women in the council is interested in adopting the baby.

A baby that has just been born, however, has the same legal rights as any child, and cannot be legally disposed of under any circumstances. Since the mother's family and friends will expect to see the mother and her baby frequently, physical disposal of the baby would make her crime obvious and she would risk imprisonment. Thus, a woman seeking to illegally abandon her newborn will typically smother the baby so that it dies without any visible wounds, and then claim that the baby died of natural causes.

Are such killings viewed as legal or moral?

Infanticide is classified as murder, and is prosecuted as such. The woman accused is immediately imprisoned, whereupon she will await a trial before an array of female character witnesses who will each attempt to convince the judge that the woman either must or must not have killed her baby. The husband is legally prohibited from appearing in this courtroom, even if requested by a third-party female witness. Because none of the women testifying are eyewitnesses, none can prove or disprove the crime even if they are considered trustworthy. Thus, the judge makes her decision solely on the basis of her perception of the mother's character.

A woman's decision to abort her baby cannot be questioned under any circumstances. The only illegal abortions are those in which one person physically assaults another and causes a miscarriage; this is nonetheless prosecuted as assault, not murder.

What features might mark an infant for abortion or exposure?

Visibly deformed babies are usually not killed, because in nearly all births, other women will have seen the baby immediately after birth, and will then appear in court and alert the judge to what they suspect has happened. For a mother to get away with this crime, all of her close female friends must be in on the conspiracy and then, if the crime is discovered by an outside party, appear in court to back up the mother's claim that the death was unpreventable.

What circumstances surrounding the infant's conception, gestation or birth might mark the infant for abortion or exposure?

Uneducated women sometimes abort for superstitious reasons, but women in general are well-educated about the birth process and will choose abortion only after consulting with a priest and usually several other women at the temple.

Among newborns, boys are more likely to be killed than girls, but women typically give birth surrounded by friends and relatives, so a baby seen alive shortly after birth and dead soon afterwards will always arouse suspicion.

Are such children ever rescued, and under what circumstances might this happen?

Because babies must be smothered in secret, there is no meaningful chance of an outside party rescuing the baby.

Murder and Killing

Is there a distinction to be made between a planned murder and an accidental or incidental killing?

For legal purposes, a crime is defined in objective terms, so any crime that results in a human death is classified as murder, and the guilty party is imprisoned immediately. For a male perpetrator, the usual penalty is death; for a female, the usual penalty is several years in a labor camp. But both males and females have the opportunity to plead their case before a judge and attempt to convince the judge that the crime was an accident or otherwise unavoidable.

If so, how is this reflected in cultural lore, the justice and penal systems?

Nearly all accused murderers are expected to produce an alibi, and for some situations, the expected outcome of the trial is complete exhoneration from the beginning. For example, a logger who tripped over a rock, dropped the wood they were carrying, and accidentally crushed a bystander would be let free with no penalty at all if an eyewitness in good community standing testified in court that the incident was indeed an accident.

Most cases are not so clear-cut. If two men set out to sea to catch fish, and only one comes back, the survivor is immediately charged with murder. In this case, there can be no witnesses in court, and the man's fate will be determined entirely by the testimony of character witnesses, who will attempt to convince the judge that the man either must have or must not have killed the other man on purpose.

Many of those accused of murder are new parents whose babies died shortly after birth; both parents are always charged, regardless of the circumstances.

Are either ever justifiable or even outright permissible?

Because it is illegal for non-citizens to enter Moonshine territory, and because the court system can strip a criminal of their citizenship, violent actions against such people are legal, including homicide.

A similar argument involves murder in self-defense; if a person is attacked without cause, and they overpower and kill their attacker, they are again charged with murder, but will show their injuries in court and explain that they killed their attacker because they would themselves have been killed had they not done so. Most people do not have access to dangerous weapons, so most fights are hand-to-hand combat. If someone does acquire a dangerous weapon, attacks against them, even unprovoked, can be justified in court as self-defense.

Judicial Slaying

Is the execution of convicted criminals permitted?

Execution of male criminals is common; execution of female criminals is extremely rare.

What laws must be broken to warrant such a punishment?

All crimes have maximum penalties defined by law, so even a highly despised person cannot be given the death penalty if they have not committed either a murder or the rape of a child, which are the only two crimes defined by law to merit the death penalty. However, criminals may be exiled for lesser crimes, even if it clear to all involved that the person is not physically fit enough to survive in the wilderness and will soon die of starvation.

What forms does this punishment take?

Most victims are executed by drowning and are then buried at sea.

Who carries out the sentence, and is it done in open or in secret?

The drowning pool is adjacent to the courtroom and the guards of that courtroom act out the execution process. The public is not invited to watch, but neither is the pool hidden from public view. The same is true of the burial; it is easy for citizens to watch the burial process from a nearby cliff or hilltop.

Questions on Education

Describe the education of the society's people: is there formal schooling, apprenticeship, etc.

Girls and boys study together in classrooms from the age of five until the age of ten, after which point they are guided into radically different paths. Moonshines have different words for the different stages of schooling, but when they speak of "school" plain and simple, they mean the elementary school that both boys and girls attend from the age of five to the age of ten.

Early in their history, the Feminist Compact was politically affiliated with a private school system calling itself Save the World (STW), which operated in the neighboring Thunder Empire.  STW accepted children by invitation only, considered them to be employees, and deliberately traumatized newly enrolled children to ensure they were up to the task of graduating from the world's most difficult school.  These punishments were inflicted not by the teachers, however, but by other children; thus, children being traumatized realized that they could escape the abuse if only they could hang on long enough to become one of the children doling out the abuse instead of only receiving it.

The founders of the Moonshine Empire copied this system and therefore also deliberately inflicted severe punishments on their children.  They rapidly turned against this idea, however, and came to cherish children's rights.  This was also borrowed from the Thunder Empire; merely from the other political side of it. 

Nevertheless, even the reformed Moonshine school system was based on harsh discipline and forced labor, as they knew nothing else.  And the Moonshine government was so rigid that little further reform took place as the Empire grew.  School is not deliberately traumatic but it is very difficult, and a child expelled from school loses any chance at a fulfilling career, and many leave town to lead a life of crime in the wilderness; see Discipline for more.

Schoolteachers sometimes use corporal punishment on their young students.  This is illegal, but it is very difficult for parents to complain about a teacher, because the schools are run by directly by the Business Department, which is the most powerful branch of government, and wields great power over even other government employees.  Sometimes, a teacher who has injured a child will contact the local police after the school day is over and blame the parents.  When this happens, the parents are immediately arrested and held in prison until their trial date comes up.  Then the teacher can go back to teaching her class until the incident is forgotten.

If education is mainly by apprenticeship, how is this accomplished?

Is education compulsory or voluntary?

Parents are required to send their children to school because school is necessary to achieve financial self-sufficiency.  Failure to do so is child abuse, and both parents will be punished very harshly, often being sent to a labor camp.  Upon discovery, the children will be removed from their parents and sent to an orphanage, where they will be also worked very hard in order to help them catch up with other children their age.

Schools are open every day of the year, but each year nonetheless has a beginning and an end, so all children start school on the same day.  Children are allowed to show up to school literally every day if they or their parents believe it is in the child's best interest to do so, but quite a lot of these days are "play days" where little or no academic lessons are taught, and the children attend because they want to have fun playing with children their own age.

Are educational opportunities open to everyone?

Boys cannot attend school beyond the age of ten; girls are allowed to stay in school as long as they wish so long as they pass all of their classes, but most do not go beyond their early teen years.  Women with advanced educations have narrow career paths because they will have been made to specialize in only one subject area, and therefore an advanced education is of little use to most women.  Most girls study the same subject that their mother or another adult woman did, so that they can continue their education while at home.

What is the cost of education?

All education is provided free of charge by the Education Administration, a subdivision of the imperial Business Department. Teachers are paid and employed directly by the government. All teachers are female. Because children are made to work manual labor while in school, it could be said that school is not free after all, but the work they do stays within the school and does not intersect with the mainstream economy; they only prepare meals, clean up messes, and move furniture around the school.  This is because the Business Department runs the school system and does not want child laborers to compete with adult laborers. 

Between which ages does education happen?

Formal schooling begins at the age of five. When it ends is a matter of definition; boys are let loose shortly after they turn ten1 to live in the woods and teach each other how to live as adults. They have little adult supervision in their cabins, but they are not considered legal adults while they are living there either. Girls remain in school until at least the age of thirteen, thus having completed eight grades; having eight grades has been the tradition among both the Moonshines and their neighboring peoples for nearly 3,000 years. At the age of thirteen, a girl becomes marriageable and many will find jobs in the workforce and marry a boy of their age or older. Others will remain in school for many more years and pursue the life of a scholar. Scholars almost always marry as well, but they typically do so in their late teen years or even beyond. Scholars are much rarer than the girls who marry in their early teen years.

How are academic curricula and years arranged?

Girls are expected to stay in school for at least eight years; boys are limited to five.  During those five years, boys and girls are taught in the same classrooms. 

In first grade, which begins at age 5, children learn the basic skills of self-care and how to interact with others their age.  Very little academic material is taught, and children spend much of the time playing with their peers.  Basic life skills included in first grade include proper eating habits, bathroom habits, and the ability to empathize with others.

Children learn how to cook meat and vegetables in the first grade, and to overcome their fear of fire.  They cook each meal very slowly and carefully, under the close watch of the teacher.  They are expected to grasp the basic concepts of kitchen safety, to know precisely when a meal is ready to eat, and to be able to feed their parents when their parents are sick, but are reassured that even in such a dire situation other adults will likely be able to help.   

Children in first grade are also taught how to identify dangers around them, and when it is and is not appropriate to trust an unfamiliar adult.  The teacher will bring her students on field trips into dangerous wilderness areas and expect them to find their own way back, without relying on her advice.  This teaches the children the skills they need to survive an emergency, and also teaches them to cooperate.  In accordance with a strongly held custom, however, the teacher must announce the date of each wilderness trip well ahead of time, and must also make it clear to the children that their trip is only a test and that the teacher cannot actually abandon a failing student to die in the wild.

In second grade, the first academic subjects are taught.  Children quickly learn the alphabet and how to read and write.  The four speech registers are introduced here; the teacher will introduce a list of words that only girls are allowed to say, and teach the boys the various politeness morphemes they will need to use for the rest of their lives.     

Counting and shopping skills are introduced here. Children are made to count and sort money, and to make proper change.  Most schools have a small store set up where the employees are 2nd graders, and the customers are other students, from all grades, looking to buy school supplies.  The teacher participates only to stop shoplifters and to help the children carry heavy items.  This store is within the school building, and is open only a few hours per week throughout the year.  The male students move the supplies and fixtures into the store each week and then remove the unsold merchandise when the store closes. 

This weekly sale event is intended to reinforce the second grade math lessons with concrete applications so that the repetitive math curriculum will not tire out the students.  The money needed to buy the school supplies is given to the customers free of charge, as if it were a salary, but each student is given only what they need, and those who spend unwisely will not be allotted extra money.  Children in the lower grades are supervised by the teacher as they shop, but by the end of the second grade, students are expected to make purchases without adult assistance. 

A common method of teaching shopping skills is to ask the students to choose one of three or four similar products, differing by quality and by price.  The simplest scenario involves three similar items, such as a pair of gloves, where the most expensive choice is also the most durable, and the cheapest also the least durable.  This means that all three answers are permissible, but the students must explain their answer.  Once the students have learned the pattern, the teacher will disrupt the pattern in various ways, such as making the most expensive item only the second best in quality, or adding a fourth item that is both very cheap and of very good quality.  This teaches children that price generally correlates with product integrity but not reliably so.   

Second graders are also taught basic mannerisms, and for the first time are taught how to properly interact with adults and with older children, not just with their peers.  Girls begin to diverge from boys, though they remain seated together in their classrooms. 

In second grade, girls learn to wield authority and begin to assign boys minor chores such as sweeping the floors of the classroom, carrying eating trays between the kitchen and the classroom, and stacking chairs in the corner of the room when the day is over.  Yet the girls are taught not to overstep their authority by pushing the boys too far, and must always obey the teacher in every situation.

Because boys spend much of their time doing menial tasks, they spend less time studying academic subjects, and girls noticeably pull ahead of boys by the end of second grade.  Thus, girls are better spellers and are better able to handle and count money than are boys.  On the other hand, girls typically have more free time to play, and the division between girls who are strongly motivated to succeed academically and those that are less motivated is already apparent by this stage.

In third grade, the manual labor workload is increased.  Boys are taught basic carpentry skills; when they misbehave, their chair will be broken, and they will be made to stand up until they repair it.  On one specific day towards the end of the school year, the girls in the classroom will break all the boys' chairs and watch the boys put them all back together.  Boys also clean the kitchen after every meal and pick up trash that lands on the floor. 

In warmer areas of the Empire, children spend time in the garden outside each school; boys remove unwanted weeds while girls plant and tend to the growth of ornamental flowers and sometimes vegetables.  The teacher will inspect any vegetables before the children are allowed to eat them.  Boys are taught how to shovel snow, but are not expected to perform this task unless the usual adult laborers are unable to come to work that day.

Third grade is where mathematics beyond addition and subtraction are introduced.  Again the teacher uses money to illustrate the mathematical operations she teaches, and children see large amounts of currency for the first time.  The teacher will bring them on shopping trips outside the school to help them learn how to buy clothes and other basic necessities.  This time, the children must bring their own money rather than drawing from the school's endowment; thus, children also learn the difference between rich and poor.

The teaching of proper manners intensifies in third grade.  Boys are seated in the back of the classroom and are made to wait behind the girls at mealtimes and whenever the teacher calls the students up one by one.  Both girls and boys are expected to remain silent through the entire day until a teacher calls on them or releases them into unsupervised classroom activity.

By the end of third grade, girls are expected to be far ahead of boys academically, and those who fail to reach this mark are privately shamed by the other girls even though shaming is expressly forbidden.  The girl's parents will typically be warned that their daughter is falling behind and will not be able to secure a high-paying job as an adult if they do not immediately make rapid gains in their school studies.

Children are still allowed ample free time to play every day, but by third grade, the boys and girls are expected to separate from each other at play time rather than forming one large group as they had in the earlier grades.

In fourth grade, girls begin to separate from each other into smaller groups defined by interest in a particular career path.  In large towns, the groups of girls may each have their own classroom, but in most towns, there is still only one fourth-grade teacher, and the girls merely divide into groups within their shared classroom. 

Boys in fourth grade have little time left to participate in the academic lessons, but are expected nonetheless to listen to the teacher and the girls as they perform the daily chores the girls assign to them.  Girls who plan to pursue manual labor jobs also begin to lose interest in academics by this stage, and spend more class time with boys than with the other girls.  The teacher will assign these girls to supervisory roles where they watch over the boys and judge the quality of their work, but they are expected to also do similar tasks themselves rather than merely standing around giving orders.  This reflects the typical situation in the adult world; although women are given power over men, verbal-only jobs in menial industries are restricted to disabled people who cannot otherwise work, and to certain administrative government officials who are not tied to any one particular company. 

In fifth grade, children learn to study independently, and their ability to ask the teacher for help is restricted to various uncommon situations. 

By sixth grade, only girls remain.  All of them are ten years old when they begin the sixth grade.  Here the paths of the different academic groups diverge further, though they still meet in a common room at the beginning and end of each day, as well as at lunchtime. 

In seventh grade,

In eighth grade,

What are the typical courses of study?

After boys have completed their five years of basic education, they move to a cabin in the wilderness where they live with other boys. Girls usually remain in school at least three years longer, and in some cases will remain in school for most of their adult life.

What degrees or diplomas are offered?

Does this society have its own language?

Its own writing system?

How common is literacy?

Mentally healthy students are fully literate by the age of ten at the very latest. Unlike most languages on the planet, Moonshine uses an alphabet rather than a syllabary, so there are fewer symbols to memorize. Spelling is somewhat difficult because there are silent letters and some pairs of letters that share the same pronunciation, but a misspelled word can nonetheless be easily understood.

How is literacy understood as a continuum within society?

Is universal or selective literacy a goal of society?

What form and value are books?

Who decides who learns to read or write?

Are foreigners ever brought in to teach new skills?

How educated is an average person living in this region, and what does this education consist of?

Is it enough to be able to count and do sums; to be able to read a little bit?

Who are the most and least educated people in society?

Even scholars admire the people who work strenuous manual labor to make a living, and would say that in many ways, loggers and trappers are more educated than scholars. Moonshines are proud of their society's education system as a whole, but people are not inclined to look down on people who aren't well-read.

Are there schoolhouses in every town, or do people travel if they want to be educated?

Elementary education is done locally and children walk to school on their own unless physically disabled. There is typically only one teacher for each grade.   Education beyond the age of thirteen may involve moving to a new town, and girls who do this no longer consider themselves children.

Are there universities or colleges?

Education beyond the age of thirteen is administered directly by the corporation or arm of the government that the student is intending to enter; this includes the priesthood.

Are there private tutors?

Parents will help their kids throughout elementary school, and potential government employees may be helped by those who plan to hire them, but these people tutor their prospective interns for free.

What things are considered absolutely necessary for a noble or other well to do class of people to know?

What must a tradesman or a peasant learn to function in society?

1 That is, in the year in which they turn ten; all school years are synchronized regardless of the child's birthdate.

Questions on Daily Life

City Life

Does a city's layout reflect some particular philosophy, such as that the ruler of the city must be at the center or at the highest point or at the most strategic location within the city?

The imperial capital city, Wōm, is the only city with a fully planned layout. It is also the capital of the state of Safiz. Wōm is nearly 3,000 years old, and its original structures are mostly still in their original places. The center of the city, where only females are allowed to enter, is the location of all of the government buildings for the imperial government as well as those of the state of Safiz. It is in a remote location, designed to be difficult for invaders to reach, but the leaders have insisted on keeping the city in its original location despite knowing that the threat of invasion has long since passed.

Are practical consideration such as the confluence of rivers or trade routes of greater import?

Are cities planned and laid out or do they grow in a more organic fashion?

Are there public or private parks in cities?

How wide are the boulevards, streets and alleys?

What are the chief landmarks in a typical city?

Where are the interesting neighborhoods in town: the districts worth visiting and those worth avoiding at all costs?

Do neighborhoods, wards, roads, courts and alleys have names?

How are houses or shops addressed?

How can an unfamiliar visitor find a location?

Where do people go to shop, eat, have fun, worship or visit culturally significant places?

What sorts of goods, foods & entertainments are available in large cities that are not available in the country or smaller towns?

What are houses in the city like: their size, layout, manner of construction and available ammenities?

Houses are built for one family only and are typically very small to conserve heat.

When might a city house be abandoned by its inhabitants?

Houses are intended to last for the duration of one marriage, but often nature will destroy a house while a couple is still living in it.  In such a case the husband will build another one.

Country Life

What is the composition of the rural landscape: small farmsteads; semi-independent manors; vast latifundia?

Are peasants, farmers, yeomen or serfs tied to their land by law or custom, or can they move from place to place or even to a town if they desire?

Can they own their farms and property, or is all land held "in common" or is it rented from a lord or landholder?

Given the state of roads and transportation, how much food is it possible to ship to a given location before it spoils?

Are rural areas primarily farms, forests, grazing meadows, or waste land?

In outlying areas where there aren't many people, how many roads are there, who builds them, and to what standards are they built and who maintains them?

How reliable is the weather from year to year -- is crop production relatively dependable, or do people have to cope with regular famines due to drought or floods?

Even those who live in warmer areas of the Empire rely on hunting and fishing for their main food supply rather than farming.

What kinds of catastrophic weather are common -- tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, waterspouts, dust storms, thaumic typhoons and how do people cope with them?

The only severe storms are snowstorms.  Rain is common in summer in all but the coldest areas of the Empire, but people tend to build their homes in areas that resist flooding even though snowfall is often more severe on hills than in low-lying areas.  Winter storms can also bring high waves, which encourages people near the sea to build on higher ground as well.

How are agricultural areas divided up between the different races of people?

What kinds of conflicts are likely to result when two or more groups' territories & interests intersect?

What kinds of rights over land, crops, game, etc. does a landowner have?

People own any food that they can find on their land, including wild animals.  Animals who stray onto private property effectively become owned by the head of that household by so doing.  However, Moonshines' weapons are very primitive, and more food is taken from bodies of water than from land.

Is poaching a problem?

What are houses in the country like: size, layout, manner of construction, amenities available?

Even in rural areas where land is plentiful, houses are typically small because of the need to keep the house well-heated during winter.

When might a country house or farm be abandoned by its inhabitants?

The husband is expected to continually repair a house that is damaged by winds, but if a severe storm destroys the entire house all at once, the government will place the family in a new house provided a safe one can be found. 

Matters of Daily Life

What are accepted norms of personal hygiene: do most people bathe regularly, or is bathing considered a health hazard?

People enjoy bathing and will never pass up an opportunity to clean themselves, but with such long winters, it is not always convenient, and some people in the very coldest parts of the Empire never bathe at all, though even they will wash their hands with recently warmed snow before they eat if they plan to eat with their hands.

Washing clothes and bedding is approached likewise; it is easy to get clothes clean by submerging them in water and scrubbing all the dirt out, but often difficult to get them dry if the weather is cold.

Urine is considered safe, and someone who accidentally wets themselves will move on as if nothing had happened, though they may change their clothes if spare clothes are available nearby.

Menstrual hygiene is very advanced, in that women have many choices of what to wear, but importing the soft plant fibers that Moonshines make pads and tampons from is expensive, so many women are forced to reuse pads for many months or even years.  Young girls on their first few periods find this disgusting, but soon learn to accept it as they come to understand the meaning of money.

Very poor women may not be able to afford menstrual products at all, and will bleed visibly through their clothing. This is common for teenage girls who are not yet fully part of the workforce, and contributes to teenagers' dislike of menstruation, but for a grown woman to live in such a manner is a source of shame.  

How is rubbish and other waste material disposed of?

The population density is low enough that people don't worry about pollution, and consider their waste products no more harmful than those of the animals around them.  All waste products are either burned or dumped into a nearby body of water. 

What kinds of furniture are in common use?

Most families make do with a single bed and a single table. If the bed becomes too crowded, they may buy a small second bed, but especially in the colder parts of the Empire houses are built very small to retain heat and a family's entire floor space could be used up just by two beds and one table.

What is furniture like in design, shape and decoration; and what is it usually made of?

Beds, chairs, and tables are all made of wood. Chairs and tables typically do not have cushions, but especially in cold climates beds are amply covered with thick soft blankets and luxurious mattresses beneath.

Chairs for women are twice as wide as chairs for men, and therefore, a woman cannot comfortably sit in a chair designed for a man.  Freestanding benches are usually unmarked, but on a banquet table the bench will often be painted with lines between each intended seat, with men's and women's seats clearly marked.  This means that women have plenty of table space to spread out their meals, but men may be cramped.  One solution to this problem is for men to eat with their arms by their sides rather than resting them on the table. 

Chairs that face tables or counters are built at the same height for both men and women; since men and women are of similar height from the waist up, this puts men and women at nearly the same eye level when seated at a table, though women are still taller because of their wide hips.  Conversely, the seat of a freestanding chair made for a woman will often be higher off the ground than one made for a man, since women's legs are much longer than men's legs, and both sexes generally prefer to rest their feet on the ground.  This amplifies the height difference that is otherwise much smaller when sitting. 

There is no distinctive furniture design for pregnant women; women in the late stages of pregnancy will still fit into an ordinary women's chair, but may be unable to sit at a lunch table regardless of the chair's width.    

Some families buy chairs with higher seats for their young children to sit at the table, and then give them away or hand them down when their children grow too big for them.  Freestanding chairs for children may either be very small (to allow them to rest their feet on the ground) or raised well above the ground (to allow them to interact with adults at eye level).  In the latter case, the chair may abut a raised platform to allow the child to get up and down without adult assistance.   

Are certain articles of furniture reserved for high-status individuals?

People at a large gathering will enter the seating area in order from highest to lowest status, and the first ones in the room get the best choice of seats.  Sometimes a well-renowned woman will choose a humble seat out of respect for the others, but she has no obligation to do so. 

In what ways does furniture design reflect the customs and lifestyle of the people?

Much carpentry work is done by young boys, and such furniture is not intended to last for generations.  Every once in a while, a chair, bed, or other piece of furniture will collapse, and this is not taken as a mark of bad workmanship, but rather attributed to normal wear and tear.  Furniture that is intended to last for a very long time will be chiseled from large stones rather than from wood.  

What are the plumbing and sanitary systems like; and how reliable are they?

How do they differ between country and city?

How do people cope with various domestic disasters like fire, floods, tornadoes and the like?

How common are such disasters?

How early do people get up in the morning?

Are clocks common, or do people tell time by the sun or by listening for church or town-hall bells or some other public alarm?

 Ethnographical Questionnaire D

Technology and Thaumology: Craft and Magic in Partnership

Questions on the Technological Level of the World and its Regions

Are philosophy and science unified, or do they exist as separate and independent disciplines?

What devices and technologies are available for ordinary people's use?

Are such devices taken for granted?

What sorts of devices or technologies are available for a limited, priviledged sector of society?

How is the knowledge base of this culture distributed?

Is it freely available to all, or are certain segments kept hidden from the uninitiated?

Books are available, but there is no copying technology, so there is often only one copy of any particular book.

What is the level of technology in this society comparable to -- stone age, bronze age, iron age, silicon age or some combination of eras?

The Moonshines have access to metal but little use for it; their only weapons are knives and fishing spears, which are often made of stone or even of wood.

What is the basis of technology: agrarian, manufacturing, military?

What important inventions or advances have been made; which ones are about to be made?

Have any of these inventions reached the point of affecting the daily life of the average person, or are they absurdly rare curiosities?

What inventions or advances have not been made that you would normally expect to see at this stage of technological development?

How much is known about the laws of nature, be they physics, magic, chemistry, etc.?

How much of what is commonly known and assumed to be correct turns out in fact to be quite wrong?

Is there a scientific or philosophical method used to arrive at an understanding of the facts of nature?

Where is research done: universities, private laboratories, under the auspices of the ruler or government or religious institution?

In what areas might magic replace technology, and thus perhaps suppress its development?

Or are science, technology and magic wedded together?

Questions on Magic

What is the nature of magic in this world?

Moonshines believe that prayer works instantly, which could thus be described as magic. They believe that their priests can wield the powers of the angels, which also work instantly, and that in rare instances, common people can do the same. All of this is part of the belief system of their religion, which is the same religion practiced by the majority of the human population on planet Teppala.

Where does the power of prayer come from?

A clear-thinking priest wields the power of the temple's local archangel.

Is the power of prayer an exhaustible resource?

If a priest must feed his spells with his own willpower, life-force, or sanity, what long-term effects will this have on the health and/or stability of the magician?

What can prayer not do: what are the limits to its power?

Prayer is magical, and can do absolutely anything the worshipper desires; prayers can even defy the rules of logic.  But people pray to angels, and angels pray to gods: there is never a guarantee that an individual's prayer will be heard, let alone answered.

How do magicians try to get around these limitations?

What is the price magicians must pay in order to work magic?

Is there a difference between miracles and magic?

If so, how are they distinguished?

What is needed in order to cast a spell; and are there different ways of obtaining a similar end?

What kinds of paraphernalia, such as staffs, wands, crystal balls, skelletons of animals suspended from the ceiling, are required for the proper working of magic?

How do wizards obtain these things?

Do they make their own or buy them from craftsmen, inherit them from their teachers, or order them from a supply shop?

Can two or more priests combine their power to chant a stronger prayer, or is prayer done only by individuals?

Priests rule their temples and mostly stay within their hometowns.  Because each temple has a different archangel, each priest prays to a different archangel.  However, priests also have the ability to pray directly to the goddesses, and some worshippers believe that when many priests recite the same prayer at the same time, the goddesses are more likely to grant their wishes.  There is no scriptural basis for this belief, however, and priests do not seek to coordinate their prayers with those of other priests.

What makes one priest more powerful than another?

What general varieties of magic are practiced?

Does one particular type of prayer work better than others?

Are there quack forms of magical practice?

Are certain prayers used solely or chiefly by one sex or another?

By one race or another?

Does a priest's ability to pray clearly change over time -- e.g., growing stronger or weaker during puberty, or with increasing age?

Ability to pray is not linked to age, but to clarity of mind.  Very young and very old priests are the ones most likely to have trouble, but mental problems can appear at any age, and some priests retire prematurely when their abilities start to falter.

Can a priest "use up" all of her power, thus ceasing to be a priest, and what might she do after?

Can the ability to pray be lost or taken away?

The goddess Màlamen controls the power of prayer.  Sometimes Malamen rejects a prayer; this is common and does not imply any fault on the part of the priest.  Separate from this, however, Malamen may punish a priest by taking away her power entirely, and this is considered to be the priest's fault; they are removed from their position and the new priest will reveal what punishment the outgoing priest deserves.

Are wizards organized or hierarchical?

What happens when the person at the top dies; who takes over and how is this determined?

Are magicians a force in politics or religion?

Are there national policies that revolve around or involve magic in some way?

Are wizards above or below the law -- or are they a law unto themselves?

Do they have full rights as citizens, no rights, or can they do as they like without regard to anyone else's rights?

Are there statutes, constabularies and law courts that handle thaumic crimes?

How does magic and the people who practice it figure into the power or international prestige of a country?

Is a magician's lifetime normally longer or shorter than the average?

And does this vary for the different races?

Are there races all of whose members are magic users?

Are there fashions or fads in magic?

Are there certain kinds of magic or particular spells that are illegal to practice?

If a wizard casts such a spell and is found out, how would such a criminal magician be detected in the first place; how might he be apprehended, tried & punished?

Is the catching and punishing of lawbreaking magicians the responsibility of the guild, or do the ordinary courts have to handle it?


What effects have magic had on ordinary technology?

Are the two married into a single discipline, or is magic above or otherwise insufficient to manipulate ordinary technology?

Are there thaumological means of transportation such as thaumically motivated waggons or airships?

How do they compare in speed, safety and expense to non-magical means?

Are there any drawbacks to thaumological travel?

How commonly are such methods used, and for what purposes?

Are there thaumological means of rapid communication?

Of waging wars?

Can ordinary objects be enchanted to make them (or their users) supremely good at something, like a Sauce Pan of Gourmet Cookery?

How common and useful are such enchantments?

Do they endure indefinitely or does their efficacy wear off?

Are there especially constructed thaumological devices that serve (for better or worse) the purpose of a device of ordinary technology?

To what degree does the presence of magic, enchanted objects, and wizards in general replace technology?

Is technology frequently duplicated or merely supplemented?

Is daily life made demonstrably better or worse or simply more perilous by thaumology and magic?

Can spells and/or magical items be mass-produced?

Are there magic carpet factories and boutiques selling magic rings, or must such devices be individually crafted?

Can spells and/or magical items be used to increase the efficiency of manufacturing or mass production?

Do businesses keep a wizard on retainer the way a business might keep a lawyer on staff?

If so, what, exactly, are they paying for?

Questions on Agriculture

What are the primary crops of a given region?

In the southern states, some fruits will grow, but the Moonshines' diet consists primarily of fish and meat.

Are any grown mainly for export?

What crops can not be grown in a particular region because of the soil, climate, or for other reasons?

What are the most commonly grown food crops?

What are the most commonly raised livestock animals for meat or milk or motive power?

What level has agrarian understanding achieved? -- slash & burn; passive gardening; active farming; crop rotation; advanced fertilisers, hydroponics & genetic manipulation?

Questions on Architecture

What major architectural styles are present?

What do buildings look like?

How does this vary over time and between places in the region?

What are typical buildings like inside and out?

What are typical floor plans like -- can people afford to waste space on hallways, or do they just have a series of rooms opening into other rooms?

Are buildings normally built square, triangular, domed?

Above ground or in ground?

How much use is made of natural spaces like caves or hills?

How tall a building can be constructed at a reasonable cost and in a reasonable time and without collapsing?

What materials are used in typical construction?

What materials have to be imported and from how far away are the locals willing to obtain those materials?

How are buildings constructed?

Are there construction machines or is work done by hand?

What are some famous landmarks in the region and why are they famous?

How many people usually live in a typical house?

Houses are meant to hold one family.

How large or small is a typical house?

Moonshine houses are small because of the need to keep warm.

What are the differences in materials, construction and appearance of houses between the several classes & races of society?

How are buildings decorated?

Are there differences of ornamentation depending on the purpose of the building?

How common are windows and what do people use to cover windows necessary for ventilation and light?

How are living quarters arranged?

Are bedrooms on the top floors for privacy or on the ground floor for convenience?

Are parlors or libraries common?

How are houses heated & cooled?

Are wars and insurrections common enough that castles and cities are built with an eye to military defense first and appearance later, or are palaces and walless towns the rule?

Questions on Locomotion, Transport and Communications


How do people travel from one place to another?

Most often, people travel by foot for short distances and by boat or sled for long distances.  Travel downstream is quicker than travel upstream, but much of Moonshine territory is near the sea.

What kinds of vehicles are available in this region?

Do individuals or families own and use their own vehicles?

What are the common domesticated animals used for locomotion & transportation at various levels of society?

Are certain animals preferred by certain industries?

For traveling short distances within a city, what are the alternatives?

Can people hire a cab, a litter, a rickshaw, or do they have to walk or rely on their own servants or horses?

Is there any kind of public transportation system and how well is a typical city or town served?


Do people make long journeys?

Most people remain in their town for years at a time, and often for their whole life.  Exceptions are those working in trade and diplomacy, and in some areas also hunters and fishers.  Long-distance travel is usually by water.

If so, for what purposes and what are they like?

What are the roads like?

How do they vary from place to place?

How safe, clean & reliable are the various methods of transport?

What major fuels are used?

How available is water for transport?

Are there good canals, or navigable rivers?

How reliable is water transport and how dangerous or expensive?

How common is individual travel (for any reason)?

Does the concept of travel "to see the world," i.e. as a tourist, even exist?

How dangerous is travel; and how large a group would be considered safe to travel with?

Do coaching services provide security?

How much traffic is there inside and outside the main cities?

Which areas are best/worst?

What is the fastest means of traveling long distances over land, water, under the ground or through the air?

What is road transportation like?

Are there good roads?

Who built them?

Who is responsible for maintaining them?

Are there railways or trams?

Are there dedicated military or post roads or are all roadways open for public use?

Where would a traveler stay at night?

Large cities have hotels, but otherwise people will either camp out or stay with another family, typically a young couple who do not have children or an older couple whose children have moved out.

Are there enough travelers to support inns, or do people have to stay with a conveniently located farm or monastery?

Are some classes of people such as slaves or serfs not expected to travel at all?

And are some people such as heralds or messengers expected to travel constantly?

Are such official travellers accorded any particular respect, even by highwaymen or ruffians?


Apart from face to face, how do people communicate with each other?

The temple is the center of any town, and anyone wishing to communicate a message to a large number of people would go to the temple and speak to the people there before the service.  Even if their message is not related to the service, the priest may grant their request.

Written communication mostly involves birch bark; paper must be imported and is used less often.

Is there a postal service?

How fast is it?

How much does it cost to use?

What restrictions are there on packet delivery?

Does the post operate internationally?

How likely is it that an article sent in the post will reach its intended destination if within the province or same country?

How likely if sent abroad?

What technical or mechanical means of communications exist?

How are messages sent when necessary?

How fast does news spread point A to point B?

News and Information

How do people find out what is happening in the world?

Few people are interested in events outside their town; those who are typically already work for the government and focus mostly on their particular department.  There are no newspapers or other mass media because the Moonshines do not have the ability to quickly copy written words. 

Are there equivalents of the rumor mill or water cooler; or more official means such as a town crier, newspapers, tele and radio?

How slanted is the news people receive by these means, and in what direction?

Is there freedom of the press, or are the media owned or controlled by the state?

Who controls and censors the news and by what means and what is their agenda?

What materials are used to make newspapers, broadsheets and books?

Is the written word transmitted via some kind of printing, or are all written communications hand written?

How are books produced and are they common?

All books are handwritten, and therefore rare.  There may be only one book in the whole town: the scripture book in the local temple. 

What kinds of scribal technologies or techniques are in use in this region?

Where are the great libraries or collections of books, scrolls, codices & manuscripts?

How accessible are they to scholars, wizards, monks and the general public?

Who supports them?

 Ethnographical Questionnaire E


Questions on Money

What forms of currency exist?

Moonshines use coins made of iron, called mač. The mač is indivisible, and can be compared in value to a US dollar, a dime, or a penny, depending on the comparison being made.  For example, a typical meal in a restaurant costs about 5 to 10 mač, and average monthly wages are around 1000 mač before taxes.  But clothes are expensive, with a durable winter coat typically selling for several thousand mač.  This is despite the fact that nearly all clothes are produced locally and are primitively made. 

What is the local currency like? -- i.e., paper money, metal coins, large immobile stones set up in the forum, tallies stored in the local banking offices?

The mač is the only official currency. In rural areas, informal currencies are used, and some people never see coins at all, preferring to simply trade favors for favors, or for tangible objects.

Because the school system is run by the Business Department, children are considered employees, and are expected to do manual labor alongside their schoolwork.  The schools do not pay the children, but promise them that a good education will open the pathway to a high-paying job in the future. 

Is currency and coinage standardized, or is there a system of exchange?

What are typical denominations?

Denominations are irregular, but higher denominations are not in wide circulation.  Higher denominations of mač look like the ordinary 1-mač coins, but are struck with indentations forming a shape unique to each coin.  These shapes appear random, and yet always follow a secret pattern such that imitation is difficult for those who do not see the pattern, but forgeries will be easily spotted by those who do.

There are no fractional denominations, even though some items are priced very low.  For example, a partial meal or a very cheap meal may cost 2 mač, but if a restaurant owner wants to charge 1.5 mač for an even smaller portion they must sell two at once and charge the customer 3 mač for the pair.

What types of currency is a traveler or merchant likely to carry on a trip?

What are different coins called, and what are they worth?

How is currency exchange handled, and by whom?

What is the local currency based on: metal, labour, fiat?

How does it compare to other neighbouring currencies?

How has the value of the currency changed or fluctuated recently?

Who is responsible for coinage: the ruler, local barons, local merchant guilds?

Are there generally acceptable standards?

How easy or difficult is it to counterfeit the currency, and if caught, what punishments do conterfeiting bring?

Counterfeiting the ordinary 1-mač coins in common circulation is easy, but almost never attempted, as the metal is worth more than the value of the coin.  Physical reproduction of real-looking coins of the higher denominations is similarly easily, but because such coins are typically only handled at banks, bankers know which coins are real and which are imitations.

How are coins and notes produced?

How common are forgeries?

How is wealth distributed?

Is there a public banking system?

Who uses it?

What benefits does it bring and at what cost?

Is there a large gap between the wealth of the rich and poor?

The wealthiest people in society are large landowners.  The Moonshine Empire has many millionaires and some even claim billionaire status based on their ownership of large tracts of land; however, the richest among the rich do not have the means to actually control their holdings, and squatters are commonplace.

What expectations do each group have from the other?

What constitutes "poverty" in this society and also "wealth"?

Questions on Trade and Commerce

What is the local economy based on?

How is commerce engaged in?

If levied, how are taxes collected?

Every worker in the entire empire pays a flat tax of 15% directly to the imperial government. For convenience, the government collects this money from each corporation and all employees receive their paychecks with this money already deducted. The remaining taxes are paid by employees after they have received their paychecks, as calculation of the proper amounts can be very complicated.

The remaining taxes are calculated in order of importance, meaning that if a worker exhausts their entire taxable income before they have paid all the taxes they are liable for, they are forgiven the rest of the taxes and they will not be carried over to the next year. This ensures that the most important government programs receive the most funding and that less important programs are funded only when the economy is performing well.

What are such revenues used for?

The 15% flat tax, from which no worker is exempt, is actually two separate taxes:

  1. A 5% income tax to fund the executive branch of the imperial government. This money only funds the executive branch, and only the imperial executive branch; the legislative and judicial branches must acquire their funding by other means.
  2. A 10% income tax to fund the governments of the states and cities. This money is a blank check and where it ends up will be decided at the state and municipal level; the imperial government has no power to tell the states how to spend their tax revenue.

All workers receive their paychecks with this money already deducted and many do not think of the 15% flat tax as a tax. At the end of each month, each worker receives their paycheck and then calculates the remaining payroll taxes on their own. The remaining taxes are laid out on a list in order of decreasing priority. Calculation can be difficult because the required amount for each individual tax may change from month to month depending on factors other than the person's income.

The remaining taxes are totaled up in the order they are listed, and the worker sets aside the required amount of money for each tax. If, in going down the list, they exceed the total of their monthly taxable income, they write a check for the amount of their monthly taxable income and deliver it to the bank. The monthly taxable income is 50% for female employees, of which no more than 35% can be directed to functions at the state and local level; this amount includes the 10% flat tax that employees have automatically deducted from their checks. The taxable income is 100% of total income for males; however, males do not simply pay taxes twice as high as females. Most taxes are calculated the same way for both sexes, and men still have the same 35% cap on taxes paid to state and local governments, so they will only pay significantly more than women if their obligations to the imperial government are very costly.

One tax that affects only males is the First Hospital Tax: male employees are required each month to pay a sum equal to 50 mač multiplied by the nearest integer ratio of female to male employees at his workplace. This tax funds maternity leave for female employees and general healthcare needs for employees of both sexes. So, for example, a man making 500 mač per month at a small bookbindery with three female employees would pay his normal taxes to the various layers of government, and then pay an additional 150 mač to the hospital fund each month. This tax is very important, but the Moonshine government opposes the idea of female employees paying into maternity funds, so the burden of this tax falls entirely on male employees. There is also a second maternity tax with a narrower scope: it provides healthcare supplies to pregnant women and mothers of newborns as needed, but does not deliver money to women out on leave. This money goes to the Department of Health and the government does not consider this to be a proper maternity fund, so both male and female employees pay this tax.

How does taxation affect the people?

Most Moonshine taxes are either flat taxes or regressive taxes, meaning that the poor pay a higher share of their income than do the rich. This provides a strong incentive for workers to seek higher-paying jobs. Though the government provides many services free of charge to those in need, there is no cash welfare for able-bodied adults aside from the maternity fund.

Income taxes are very high; women can lose as much as 50% of their monthly salary to the various stacking income taxes, and men can lose as much as 100%. 

There are no sales taxes because private retail businesses are taxed on their monthly profits.

There is no wealth tax, consumption tax, or production tax either.  Tariffs on imported goods are steep, but not typically thought of as a tax by the people. Thus the only proper taxes in Moonshine's government are the income taxes, of which there are many.

At the state level, the highest taxes are those in Xema, because most Xemans live beyond the reach of the government and simply refuse to pay their taxes.  The few actual taxpayers in Xema are the only ones eligible for government services, are typically more needy than the rest, and therefore consume more in government revenue than would be expected for their population size.  Furthermore, there are a large number of children among the taxpayers' households.

What does this country import and export?

Despite its extremely cold climate, the Moonshine Empire is self-sufficient, and foreign trade is only a minor part of the economy.  Likewise, though the Moonshines have a reliable surplus of food, they cannot export this because their only nearby trading partners are other sea-based societies that also have ample food supplies.

Nevertheless, the Moonshines do import food from their neighbors in temperate and tropical climates, particularly fruit, which they use to enhance the flavor of their meat and fish dishes.

How important is trade to the economy?

What trade routes, commercial & trade relationships and economic activity exist in this region?

Is there a lingua franca or trade language that facilitates commerce between countries that don't speak the same tongue?

Moonshine traders will refuse business with anyone who speaks to them in any language other than the female acrolect of Icecap Moonshine.  This is so important that the Empire sends women overseas to teach the language to people in the Poswob Empire, the main trading partner for the Moonshines, even though this costs the Moonshines a significant amount of money.

Is there an universal language spoken by educated or noble persons, as a matter of philosophical or scientific communications?

Why did people settle in this country in the first place -- strategic location, trade route, water transport, minerals, good farming, etc.?

Have things changed much since, or do they still depend on whatever brought them in the first place?

How much do official attitudes toward other countries affect commerce and trade?

Do merchants pretty much ignore tensions between government as long as they can make a profit, or will this get them into trouble?

Are there Customs inspectors or their equivalents at border crossings?

Is the export/import of some technologies/magics/commodities regulated by the government, or by non-governmental cartels?

How does this affect political relationships between countries?

How is business organized?

Private businesses are allowed to set their own rules, but taxes are so high that all businesses rely on government subsidies to pay their employees.  The business owner receives a predetermined salary package from the imperial Business Department each month, and distribute this money along with any profits they make that month to their employees. 

The Business Department employees have the right to decide how much subsidy each individual private business deserves, and thus are very powerful.  By providing the money needed to keep businesses open, the Business Department effectively sets the maximum wage of any employee in that company. 

Are there labor unions?

Labor unions are very powerful in the Moonshine Empire, but each union is confined to operating within a single company rather than cooperating across an entire industry. For very small companies, particularly family-run businesses, the matter of unionization is trivial and most employees who work for their parents never bring it up.

The Moonshine imperial Business Department defines a labor union as any organization within a corporation which enrolls employees of that company but does not include the owner of the business. No business can have more than one labor union, and no labor union can enroll employees from more than one business.

Moonshine commercial law allows any adult female employee of any corporation who is not the owner of that corporation to join a labor union. Women working for a company with a union are strongly motivated to join the union because doing so can only benefit them and will rarely harm them.

When a business owner receives her monthly payroll sum from the imperial Business Department, she must immediately turn the entire amount over to the labor union. Then, the members of the union will vote democratically on how to disburse the money, and therefore, cooperatively, they set each other's salaries, as well as those of the business owner herself, of employees who choose not to join the union, and of the male employees who are not allowed to join the union. This provides a strong incentive for employees to work as a team and not seek to get ahead of or otherwise antagonize their coworkers, as an employee who falls out of favor with the rest could well receive no salary at all when the union votes on the payroll disbursement at the end of the month.

However, it is also legal for employees to consent to a zero monthly salary in order to evade taxes for a particular month, on the understanding that the money they would normally get will go to an employee they trust, who will then pay a total tax amount slightly less than the combined amount the two would have paid if they had each received their normal salaries. This strategy does not always work, however, because the sizes of payroll taxes depend on factors that the employees would typically not know at the time they go to vote on their salaries, and more often than not, it is safer for both parties to consent to their normal monthly salaries.

Business owners can fire union members just as they would fire any employee, and so union members typically do not assign their boss a zero monthly salary, even if the boss is perceived as having performed poorly that month. In the event that more than half of the union members indeed vote for their boss to have a zero salary, however, the typical business owner will get the message and work to better their standing over the next month.

Because the Moonshine Empire has no minimum wage, and because employees at all businesses receive their paychecks from their bosses rather than a corporate bank, the great power held by the labor unions is no greater than the power held by business owners at a company without a union. This is why businesses with no unions are typically very small family-run companies in which all of the money the business earns is considered common family property regardless of its distribution within the business.

Guild structures?

Multi-state corporations?

International cartels?

Are people able to cross-craft, .i. learn or perform different trades?

Does cross-crafting require guild permission, a writ from an overlord, or is it automatically guaranteed by law?

How rigid are craft laws: e.g. are carpenters the only people allowed to build houses?

What types of trades would be represented in a small town or large city?

Are industrial processes (e.g., swordsmithing, weaving, etc.) considered "trade secrets," or are they common knowledge?

What is the process a young person goes through to enter a craft or trade?

Are the requirements for various ranks, such as apprentice, journeyman & master standardized, or does rank depend more on the good favor of guildmaster than it does on skill?

Do different regions or cities specialize in specific crafts, processes, or products (e.g. Damascus steel, Bordeaux wines, Chinese silk, Wisconsin cheese)?

Do different races specialize in some crafts?

What regulations, if any, has the government placed on business practices?

The enforcement of consumer protection laws is devolved to the states.

Are there antimonopoly laws?

There are neither monopolies nor laws against them in the Empire, but for most customers, travel is the main limiting factor in finding a good deal on an item they wish to purchase, and individual stores even in large towns are often the only outlet available for the majority of their customers.

The government heavily regulates all industries, and it could be said that the government thus has a monopoly after all on the distribution of food, clothing, and other basic necessities.  

Are there standardized systems of weights and measures, or does a merchant have to specify "a London bushel" of grain rather than "a York bushel"?

How do differing systems affect shipping and trade?

Are any new industries developing?

Which old ones do they compete with or make obsolete?

How are records kept: tally sticks, quipu, parchment or paper ledgers, clay tablets, beads?

Is there a merchant class?

Where do they fit in society?

Are there trading guilds?

If so, how are they organized?

How much power do they have to control trade?

How much infighting is there among them?

Are there trading organizations that transcend countries, like the Hanseatic League?

How large a presence do they have locally?

Is this a money-based economy, or barter or gift based?

What goods are commonly available in small town markets vs larger towns and cities?

How do goods get to market?

What industries -- mining, fishing, shipbuilding, lumber, farming, manufacturing, etc. -- are important, and in which areas?

Which depend on materials from other areas (as shipbuilding on wood, or weaving on wool)?

What happens if supplies are disrupted?

How much smuggling goes on?

What gets smuggled and, whither and whence?

The Honey Poison Pirates, concentrated in the southern state of Wa, control much of the trade with the Poswob Empire because Wa has the only land border with the Poswobs and also has much seacoast in that area.


Describe any kind of division of labour, such as into physical versus mental versus spiritual.

For-profit child labor is illegal.  Elementary schools always force their students to work various manual labor jobs, but they earn no money for doing so, and their work must stay within the school; thus, schools cannot send child laborers out into the workforce to compete against adult laborers.  

Is there any especial prestige attached to some category of labour or a particular job?

What jobs are considered mucky or are particularly depreciated?

What professions or activities are considered masculine?

Many men hold dangerous and unpleasant jobs such as fishing in stormy weather, gathering food from areas with predators, and handling and disposing of contaminated waste products. These men are considered the most masculine of all men, and thus are envious of the men who have been able to escape the curse of their gender and work alongside women in happier trades.

Any business that employs men or boys working indoors must assign a female employee to each room in which men work, whose only job is to watch the men and ensure that they are following the government's rules for male private sector employees. The money needed to pay these women itself comes from the government, so it is no financial burden for business owners to hire men, and men are often considered harder workers than women, but the government believes men are so unreliable that hiring a man necessitates hiring a woman to watch him.

What professions or activities are viewed as feminine?

Government jobs, management, teaching, child care, and jobs involving handling or changing money. This last category in particular includes many jobs involving heavy physical labor, and many jobs in which women work side by side with men in similar positions. In such a case, what makes the woman's position feminine is that she is typically younger than her male co-workers, and can expect to be promoted to a higher position whereas the men mostly will not.

What are usual working hours?

True to their name, the Moonshines often work, even outdoors, long after the sun has set or before it has come up. Many believe that they have evolved superior night vision as compared to the peoples to their south, which coupled with the predominance of white snowy landscapes enables them to get around even in the middle of the night.

Work hours do not change greatly from one season to another, and thus most people who work at night do so only because of the shorter days in winter, and in summer their shift becomes either an early morning or late afternoon shift.  Nevertheless some truly nocturnal jobs do exist.

In most jobs, workers are expected to show up for their shift at the same time each day, but will not be sent home until their work is done.  If a job is difficult and a work shift drags on for an exceptionally long time, the workers may be sent home to sleep and expected to return early in the morning to finish their work.  They will not earn any extra money for doing this because all wages are in the form of monthly salaries.

In a space where men and women work together, women have priority when waiting in line, meaning they can, and are expected to, jump ahead of men when both are waiting for the same thing.  Thus even if a man arrives early for work he may not be allowed to begin his daily task list if a woman or group of women who arrive after him jump in line and check in ahead of him.  Even if a man is already at the front of the line, his supervisor may tell him to wait if she sees a female employee approaching.  

Likewise, the first male employee will not be released from work until the last woman has left, because in most workplaces, both male and female employees must wait in line to leave as well.  Rather than frustrate themselves by letting women repeatedly push in front of them, men typically decide to do extra work after their shift has ended, waiting for all of their female coworkers to leave.     

Are there days of rest or holidays?

There are no state holidays. Corporations set their own working hours and also their days of business, but the holidays of any one corporation are seldom aligned with those of other nearby corporations.

Religious holidays are celebrated, but there are so many of them that they have little association with corporate holidays.

How does this differ between different jobs?

What jobs have few workers and why?

What are typical wages for various jobs?

There is no minimum wage. Businesses are allowed to set their own wages, including the right to pay their employees nothing at all. Businesses that don't pay their employees are typically seeking friends and family of the owners and will offer the employees other benefits under the table simply to keep the business in the family.

In general, dangerous jobs earn higher monthly salaries than safe ones, and jobs that society depends on earn higher monthly salaries than those considered less important. 

  1. Doctors have the highest salaries of any large class of people, averaging around 4850 mač per month. Their line of work demands both scholarly knowledge and manual labor skills, because they are all general practitioners and must be able to handle fine motor movements. All doctors are female and are employed by the government; there is no private medicine. Their salaries change little throughout their careers, and doctors who have proven themselves to be especially valuable will be rewarded primarily with intangible benefits rather than with higher salaries.
  2. Police are the highest-paid manual laborers in the Empire, receiving an average monthly salary of about 4200 mač, with higher salaries for more dangerous positions. All police officers are female, meaning this position is an exception to the general social rule discouraging women from risking their lives at work. Some police are equipped with weapons otherwise illegal in the Empire, and some police wear body armor to protect themselves from violent criminals. But police whose positions are judged less dangerous are not provided with these protections.
  3. Prison guards are considered a wing of the police force, though their work is less dangerous and therefore they are paid less than police officers who work on the streets.
  4. Blacksmiths are well paid, receiving an average monthly salary of about 1500 mač. Most blacksmiths are male, and they work in teams, usually with only one female supervisor controlling them. As in other career paths, this woman must take to the bench herself rather than simply ordering the men around, and therefore she has an intimate knowledge of the men's needs and will understand when something is wrong.
  5. Teachers have an average monthly salary of about 1400 mač, with relatively little variation related to the type of teaching done or the teacher's seniority. Teachers with specialized knowledge, who teach only in one subject, are more scarce than elementary school teachers who are easily replaced, but because scholars typically acquire much of their knowledge independently, these specialized teachers receive only slightly higher wages than elementary school teachers.
  6. Carpenters have mean monthly salaries around 1100 mač, near average for the Empire. Much carpentry work is done by small boys, as young as seven years old, because all boys are expected to be skilled enough to build a house by the time they reach the age of thirteen, or in some cases even younger than that. However, the Business Department keeps the work these kids do separate from the wider economy, so that the child laborers, who are typically not paid at all, do not drag down the salaries of adult workers in their field.
  7. Although carpentry is a mandatory study subject for boys, and few girls take interest in it, adult women sometimes become carpenters even so, as the wages are higher than those of other manual labor jobs that require less skill.
  8. Politicians have the lowest salaries of those in verbal trades, averaging around 800 mač per month. This is because the Moonshine Empire prefers it to be difficult for a person to accumulate both personal wealth and political power. Politicians' salaries are thus the lowest that they can be for a person who cannot supplement their income with fishing and other means of creating wealth. All politicians are adult female government employees.
  9. Soapmakers are among the lowest paid free workers in the Empire, receiving an average monthly salary of about 400 mač. This is because soap, while seen as a natural and healthy product, is inconvenient to use in colder climates where people keep their clothes on even indoors, and water is difficult to heat in large volumes.  This job is often hereditary, however, with soapmakers employing only their relatives, meaning that the workplace receives its payroll in a lump sum each month from the government and the family members divide it up according to their needs.  Thus there is usually only one family in each town that makes and sells soap, and they know little else.     
  10. Textile workers are the poorest of all major groups, with a typical monthly salary of about 330 mač per month. This salary is so low that textile workers have difficulty meeting their basic needs, and often must ask for help from their friends and neighbors. This is despite generous government subsidies to garment manufacturers, allowing them to pay wages that would otherwise drive the company to bankruptcy. Furthermore, clothing prices in the Moonshine Empire are very high, such that the purchase of clothing consumes a sizable portion of the average worker's income, and the people in the garment factories often cannot afford the clothes they themselves produce. The explanation for all of this is that Moonshine's textile industry is very inefficient, using primitive technology to work with materials that are either very delicate or very expensive, so much of what is produced goes to waste because it is unsalable.
  11. Textile workers often marry others in their trade, and though they encourage their children to enter higher-paying fields, when such jobs are scarce the textile jobs are passed down even so.  Unlike soapmaking, textile jobs are not directly hereditary; a family of textile workers may see their children remain in the industry but work in a different field, or even a different company.

Smaller career paths have wages that fall within the extremes above. For example, bookbinders are not well paid, averaging only about 400 mač per month, because their skills are considered similar to those of textile workers.

Alongside these occupations, there exist several forms of unpaid labor in the Moonshine Empire:

  1. Farmers and fishers receive modest government subsidies, which are proportionate to their overall monthly productivity. Apart from this, their only income comes from their sales, and they do not pay taxes on that. It could be said therefore that they pay a negative income tax. There is no legal minimum activity requirement for these workers, and therefore even someone who catches fish for sport can file for the subsidy and receive a small payment at the end of the month.  This subsidy is calculated with the aid of the government's standard price list; thus, unsold products are still subsidized, and the subsidy does not depend on the price at the time of sale.1
  2. Judges and priests are the same people. They do not receive salaries, and the temples provide them room and board and fulfill their other basic needs, so they never handle money at all. Most judges are happy this way, and say that it is better to live in a world without money than to have money but be constantly facing financial uncertainty.
  3. Prison laborers are also unpaid, and also have their basic needs provided to them, but their work is much more dangerous and much more difficult than other unpaid laborers, and prisons are not held liable if a worker dies from work-related injuries. Most prisoners are adult males, but women are also imprisoned, and prisons exist for children as young as five years old.
  4. Men in prison are given the most unpleasant and most dangerous jobs, and are physically confined in their labor camps so that they cannot leave. Often they are forced to work with damaged equipment, and are underdressed for the weather. Men often injure themselves simply by walking around their worksite.
  5. Women receive much better treatment in prison, and even the worst criminals are given nonhazardous jobs. Thus female prison labor is not a great benefit to the economy and is seen more as a punitive measure than an economically utilitarian one.
  6. Children in prison are treated very gently by comparison to adults, but because prisons enroll children who are very young, the experience can be extremely traumatic for the child, who often lacks even the basic understanding of what they did wrong. Corporal punishment is common, even though it is illegal; the government simply refuses to enforce this law inside child labor camps, as the government officials believe that it would be impossible to keep the children contained any other way. Another way the guards punish children is to assign them higher and higher workloads each day, punishing them more severely each time they fail to complete the tasks. This tactic is used mostly with children whose crimes are less severe and whose workload is lighter than average; if a child is already working as hard as they can, the guards will not assign them an impossible task. Rather, punishment for children like this often entails forcing them to work in environments built for adults, such that they may have trouble even reaching the tools they need, and must constantly strain their bodies just to complete even simple tasks. Their work is thus very inefficient, but the guards do not mind this, and they promise the child that they can only get back to their proper worksite if they improve their behavior.
  7. Orphans have a work load very similar to that of a prisoner, except that their work is arduous but not typically dangerous, and they have legal representatives whose job is to find them an adoptive family as soon as possible.
  8. Because child labor cannot be for-profit, orphanages employ children on the orphanage grounds only, and cannot sell the children's time to private companies seeking cheap labor for repetitive tasks. The orphanages serve the role of schools as well, meaning that they teach orphans the basic life skills they will need as adults. This means that orphans do many tasks that serve no practical purpose in an orphanage, such as painting and re-painting furniture. This means that the children work extremely long hours and only just barely manage to meet their own basic needs.

Men and women are formally hired at similar wages for similar jobs.  Women have such strict control of their husbands' money that a man's salary belongs for all practical purposes to his wife, and therefore women with men in their household have an interest in keeping men's salaries comparable to those of women.  However, men pay higher taxes and are more likely than women to have their salary kept from them when payroll runs short, and at some companies a husband-wife team will receive a single bundled paycheck made out to the wife.

Importantly, supervisors and entry-level workers are legally equivalent, and supervisors do not necessarily earn more money than the employees they direct.  At most corporations, a labor union enrolls much of the female work force, and these women decide democratically what their wages will be each month.  This means that the low-level employees can outvote their managers and even the business owner.  The business owner's primary check on labor union power is that she can fire any employee who demands too much money, even if the other employees in the union support that person. 

How does work affect lifestyle and health?

What sort of jobs are preferred by which people?

Are some jobs denied to certain groups?

Business owners are allowed to hire whomever they like for any position in their business.  They are also allowed to fire whomever they like for any reason or for no reason.  Business owners typically do not control the wages of their employees, because large companies are unionized, but the owner may at any time fire any employee she deems to be too well paid for their work.  Unions may vote to strike or decrease work output if they deem their boss too abusive, but they are not obliged to take action simply because the boss has fired a union member. 

Government jobs have strict hiring credentials: all employees must be adult females who have completed a course of study in the area of government in which they wish to serve.  This applies even to hereditary appointees.  Government employees are very difficult to fire; in most cases, they cannot be fired at all unless they commit a crime which forces them to lose their citizenship or be imprisoned.  Government employees wishing to transfer from one position to another must go through the same process as a new entrant, and therefore government employees do not change positions very often.

Because the government directly runs the school system, the hospital system, and many other basic services, all teachers, doctors, police officers, and other such workers are female, and like other government employees they must be well trained in their narrow line of work before they can be hired.  Also like other government employees, they cannot easily be removed from their positions.

Priests and people in other religious positions do not think of their work as a job because they need never spend nor handle money.  However, they too must all be adult females who have successfully completed a course of religious instruction in the office they wish to serve in.

What are the ethical oaths or codes that govern various jobs?

Is there a difference in ethics between manual and mental or spiritual work?

1 This is because, were the government to demand proof of sale, any farmer could have a friend purchase all of the remaining stock, and then reimburse that person, and claim that the sale was ordinary. Likewise, the subsidy does not depend on the purchase price, because any farmer could similarly have a friend pay an exorbitant price for a relatively small amount of product, and then reimburse the friend later.


Questions on Government and Politics

Citizenship and Rights

Who is considered a citizen, with the rights and privileges thereof?

All citizens are members of the Moonshine political party. Party membership is hereditary, and conversion is difficult, so the party is for all practical purposes a tribe. However, the Moonshines define themselves by their political beliefs and not their ancestry.

What are those rights and privileges; and what responsibilities go along with them?

All civil rights are reserved for citizens; a foreigner entering Moonshine territory may simply be killed on sight, even if they first produce credible evidence of having been invited in.

Are there certain classes of people who have fewer legal rights or less legal recourse than full citizens?

Are they considered mentally or morally deficient, a danger to the state, or is there some other rationale?

Is there a group of people who do not have full rights in this culture?

Are they considered mentally or morally deficient, a danger to the state, or is there some other rational?

Are priests or prostitutes or certain classes or races of people barred from certain kinds of government jobs or offices?

Do some government jobs require that their holder be of a particular race or social group?

All government employees must be adult females who have completed a course of study in the department in which they wish to serve and have been invited by a sitting government employee. Those seeking to work in the executive branch can only be invited by a member of the same department they wish to work in.

What are the easiest or most common ways to advance in status?

How much resistance is there to someone advancing in social status?

Politics as Usual

What is the political status of oppressed communities?

Because non-Moonshines are not considered citizens and not included in any population tally, Moonshines consider any such people to be criminals, not oppressed people.

Is bribery allowed?

Very early in their history, the Crystals declared that bribery, though not ideal, was superior to all forms of violence, and as pacifists living in a very violent area, they thus openly promoted bribery. The Crystals were the founders of the Moonshines, and the Moonshines still agree that bribery is superior to violence, but with the threat of violence having long since passed, the Moonshines no longer consider bribery to be acceptable.

Under what circumstances?

What makes someone a bad ruler in this society?

Government employees are given great power, and expected to serve the interests of their constituents. But with their great power, they may do many selfish things, and become very unpopular.  For example, a ruler of an inland town who decides they want a road to the sea will immediately get one, as laborers from the Department of the Environment arrive in town with the necessary supplies.  Then the imperial government will typically raise taxes on local businesses in that town to make up the difference, as they are not allowed to bill the town directly for a project.

Priests often abuse their power as well, both in their capacity as priests and in their secondary role as judges in criminal courts. 

What can be done about it?

Neither toparchs nor the legislators they appoint may be impeached; people who disagree with the way a town is run are invited to leave town.

Priests cannot be legally removed either, but because they have face-to-face contact with the wider population of the town, they are more vulnerable to strong social pressure when an entire town begins to turn against them. For example, if the majority of a temple's worshippers agree amongst each other to stop showing up for the temple service, even those who do show up will mostly blame the priest and expect her to either resign immediately or take it upon herself to win back the other worshippers.

What major political factions exist at present?

Nearly three thousand years ago, even before their land was fully under their control, the Moonshine political party created five factions, giving each of them absolute power in one state only. This tradition has continued through to the present, and in the present day each of these factions simply uses the name of its state rather than seeking a name that describes its beliefs. Thus, it could be said that the five traditional factions of the Moonshine party are all three thousand years old.

More importantly, there are several modern factions:

  1. Crosses: Violence should be avoided at all costs.  Sports can channel people's natural aggressive tendencies into something fun for both the winning and losing parties.
  2. Performers: When climate permits, Performers should derive as much nutrition as possible from plant life, including nuts, rather than relying entirely on fish and large game animals.
  3. Orphans are cruelly mistreated and immediate rescue is needed; Performers should adopt as many children as they can bear.
  4. Windsongs: The Windsong party is the rightful owner of the whole of Moonshine territory; all other powers must submit to the Wind army. 
  5. Windsong women have the right to wander cities at night and capture men walking alone for ransom.  If the ransom is never paid, the man becomes the property of the Windsong army and can be used in any way seen fit.
  6. Windsongs should occupy land areas, not the ocean.  Warmer climates are preferred, particularly those where the snow melts early. 
  7. Windsongs shall initiate women into the party by a ritual similar to that which ordains a priest.  
  8. Rainbows: Impolite speech is illegal, and offenders shall be enslaved in prison.  Both men and women can commit this crime.
  9. Men must always answer any question asked to them by a woman, and women must always answer any question asked to them by a government official.
  10. Habits: Habits should concentrate near rivers and live among large animals such as bears.
  11. The Habit logo shall be a simplified depiction of an adult human breast to remind party members where their power derives from.
  12. Greater care should be given to orphans and other disadvantaged children; the prison and education systems should both be reformed.
  13. Champions: Champions must be able to move quickly.
  14. Champions should have healthy, beautiful body types, and women should pride themselves on their bodies.
  15. Legal action is always preferable to violence; the ancient Oyster party provides a good model to follow. 
  16. Tulips: Tulips should work hard even when they know they will not be rewarded; mutual trust will draw people together over time.

The proper name of the Habit faction is in fact póm "breast", and this is the name they use when interfacing with the other factions of the party. It is only outside organizations that insist on using their alternate name.  The Champions and the Crosses also used breasts in their logos; the cross in the latter party's name refers to the original Moonshine party's logo of a ball with an X-shape on it.

Smaller unrecognized factions of the Moonshine party also exist, but they have no legal status or representation in Parliament, because if they were to declare themselves official political organizations, they would lose their status as Moonshines and thus as citizens.

What are their core philosophies?

How long have they been around?

Which factions are allies and which are enemies?

Are there any potential new forces on the political scene?

The Moonshine party is the only legal political party. There are three illegal political parties, but because their members would be imprisoned upon discovery, they do not participate in legal political discourse and simply occupy land on the fringes of Moonshine territory.  And because some Moonshine toparchs also live like this, the three illegal parties have little incentive to strive for political power or even to reveal their existence.  Thus, the stability of the one-party state persists.

What are the controversial political issues?

What positions on these issues are considered normative, radical or even unthinkable?

How much influence do organisations such as guilds or universities or monestaries or temples or merchants' unions have on court politics?

How do they exercise their influence -- indirectly, e.g. by talking nobility or council members into taking their side; or directly, e.g. by bribery, coercion or having their own representatives on the council?

Are there any shaky political alliances between disparate groups?

Why were they formed?

How long is it likely to be before they fall apart?

When they do, what will the effects be?

What ancient rivalries, prejudices and hatreds still affect current attitudes and political positions?

What kinds of people are likely to face social or political prejudice, by race, ethnos, gender, trade or place of birth?

Is this enshrined as a matter of law, or is it primarily a matter of public or individual attitude?

Is the ruler powerful or influential enough to defy this prejudice and appoint a Dwarf as Chief Councilor or Secretary of Defense and make it work?

Are there people who have great influence on government or politics, but who do not hold any official position?

All priests are also judges, which precludes them from holding any other government position even though Moonshine law allows people to serve in more than one government post under some circumstances. Because the priests are at the center of their community and are held to very high standards, their opinions matter even on issues outside their legal scope of influence.

Who are they?

Why do they have influence?

How do these people wield their influence?

Form of Government

What is the form of government and how is it structured?

What are some of the most fundamental policies of the government?

How are government officials chosen?

New government officials are appointed by their predecessors and, for certain positions, also by government officials working in a different area of the government.  There are no elections and most positions are protected from recall and impeachment. 

How are new laws created or old ones changed?

Who has the right to give orders, and why?

What titles do various officials have?

How are the rules different for officials as opposed to common people?

Government officials are exempt from certain laws.  Different positions earn different exemptions, and some factions of the Moonshine party have different exemptions for each of these positions as well, though they can only enforce these restrictions informally, as the dominant Cross faction's rules are the only legally enforceable ones.

How do government officials dress?

Who cannot rise to positions of leadership?

Men and domestic animals.

Any female resident over the age of 13 can be elected to a position in government so long as she has not been expelled from the Moonshine community.

Parliament appoints new members to replace outgoing ones from among the general population. Potential leaders need to have completed a study course in politics, and the number of people completing this course is only slightly larger than the number of open spots available in the government, so most women who want to hold political office will do so, and they cannot be impeached.

At the top is a council of eight rulers, one for each department of the government.

What is the basic form of government? -- feudal, aristocratic, oligarchy, monarchical, democratic?

Though they refer to their government as an Empire with a capital city, the Moonshines live under an alliance of toparchies, where supreme power lies at the municipal level, with the state governments being weak and the imperial government being weaker still.

The structure of the government in many ways resembles a corporation.  There is no democracy; new legislators are appointed by invitation from the toparch of their city or town, and executive officials are appointed by existing officials of the same department.  Once appointed, a legislator or local executive official cannot be removed by any means, and they typically stay in their position until they are old enough to retire, or in many cases until they die.  The Moonshine party believes that this system works best because it allows leaders to share their true opinions rather than worrying about what the common people will think of them.

What forms are used in neighboring countries, and why are they the same or different?

No other empire has a similar system; the neighboring Poswob Empire's government is far more complicated and internally heterogeneous; Poswobs allow the many states within their empire to determine their own form of government.  Poswobs even allow Moonshines living in the Poswob Empire to consider themselves Moonshines and to practice Moonshine-style government within their private territories.

What services do the government or state provide: e.g. roads, schools, wells, courts, an army?

The imperial and state governments perform different services, with little overlap.  The imperial government is divided into an executive and a legislative branch.  The executive branch has no single head of state; instead, power is divided into seven departments, each of which is run by a woman who has supreme authority in that branch only.

The seven departments of the imperial executive branch are:

  1. Treasury: Mints and distributes currency; sets the price of controlled goods. Owns and operates all banks. Pays and sets salaries of non-executive government employees, and certain executive employees; disburses money to each of the five states.
  2. Business: Grants business licenses and disburses predetermined salary packages to business owners. Provides basic education and school supplies to young children. Teachers and other employees are paid directly by the Department of Education. Certifies and places all government employees. Oversees children not attending school.
  3. Recently hired government employees retain affiliation with their school, and receive a reduced salary until promoted to a higher-paying and more powerful permanent position. The Imperial Business Department oversees most businesses directly rather than devolving authority to state and local government.
  4. The Business Department also pays and sets the salaries of its own employees and all of the executive-branch government employees not paid by the Treasury Department. Because of this power, the Business Department is sometimes referred to as "the government's government". However, because the Treasury controls the minting of money, the Business Department's greatest power, the supply of money, is therefore held in check.
  5. Health: Provides medical care and proactively fights plagues and natural disasters. When needed, provides food aid to hungry people. Owns and operates all hospitals.
  6. Environment: Authorizes construction of buildings, roads, and other manmade structures; maintains the health of forests and bodies of water within the borders of the Empire. Builds public housing and hotels for travelers. With the cooperation of the Department of Health, mitigates natural disasters and provides temporary shelter to displaced residents.
  7. Exploration: Maintains trade and foreign relations with neighboring empires; controls the distribution of imported goods. Levies tariffs on imports. With the cooperation of the Department of the Environment, maintains security of open-water ports.
  8. Inventory: Assists with obtaining and maintaining ample food supply chains to all settlements; provides food aid to hungry people; stockpiles unneeded food supplies in remote protected locations. Controls shipments of unneeded food supplies out of the Empire for trade, and negotiates prices in foreign currencies. Levies taxes on exported goods (unrelated to the tariffs on imported goods).
  9. Resources: Sets the value of natural resources within the Empire, and grants licenses for mining for precious materials and other forms of inedible resources. Cooperates with the Department of the Environment to reclaim unused or dilapidated buildings to be converted into raw materials.

The five states have their own independent executive branches, which perform mostly different functions as compared to the imperial executive branch. A typical setup is:

  1. Police: Enforces laws at the state level; punishes and executes violent criminals.
  2. Treasury: Levies state taxes; collects taxes from within each city to distribute throughout the government of the state.
  3. Commerce: Sets business hours and approved locations within cities; oversees businesses and forcibly closes businesses for violations of the law. Protects consumers from dishonest sales practices. Maintains weights and measures and investigates consumer complaints. Places teenagers and young adults in apprenticeships and entry-level jobs.
  4. Housing: Provides shelters for the homeless, explorers, and traders; assigns building contracts and places families in newly constructed homes.
What services are provided locally or privately or through non-government means?

Restaurants and clothing and furniture stores are the only major private businesses in the Moonshine Empire; these stores also sell raw materials to people who can build furniture and sew clothes.  Even these businesses are heavily regulated by the government.

Who has the right to levy taxes and for what reasons and upon whom?

Taxation is based on a hierarchical system guaranteeing that no female taxpayer, rich or poor, be required to pay more than 50% of their income in any year in taxes. Taxes are imposed beginning with those deemed most important, and if 50% of a person's income is used up before the full list of taxes is paid, that person is forgiven the remaining taxes. Additionally, no more than 35% of income may be paid in state and local taxes. There is no limit on taxes paid to the imperial government.

Can taxes be paid in kind, or do certain things require money?

Who provides support services for the head of state?

Are the various offices of government hereditary or are they appointed or elected?

Many jobs can be all three of these.  Common people cannot vote — government officials appoint new officials within their department.  And often, an incoming representative is the daughter of a sitting representative in the same or a similar position.  But the government employs such a large share of the empire's female population that most common people know someone in government, and will talk to them when they have opinions to share. 

Who will take over running the government if the current head of state is incapacitated and how is incapacity determined?

What is the structure of the line of succession?

What happens if the heir is a minor?

What safeguards exist against general attack, assassinations, magical assault, seditition & revolt?

Government Services

Is there a civilian police force, or is law enforcement the province of the military?

Is the police force a nationalised one, or are there multiple regional forces?

Each state has its own police force, wholly supreme within its territory. There is no military and no imperial police.

How militant or vigilante are they?

Are they usually or ever armed?

What is the extent of their authority: e.g. can they shoot you or use magic or telepathy or torture or otherwise force a confession from you?

Are there individuals or groups who are above the law?

Are there secret police forces of any kind?

What is the role of police informants, if such exist?

Is there an organized system of education?

Who provides it and how is it supported: e.g. government via taxes, religious houses via donations (or taxes), private persons by philanthropic gift?

Are there occasions when the ruler is expected to provide a celebration or spectacle for the people to enjoy?

Questions on Law and Justice

Who in society benefits from the Law and from the Justice system?

Anyone with Moonshine citizenship is entitled to civil rights, including the right to appear in court for trial when accused of a crime.  Anyone who is not of Moonshine ancestry, or has had their citizenship removed by a court order, can simply be killed on sight, and therefore lesser crimes against them are not prosecuted either.

What groups are excluded and why?

Is there a parallel or subordinate or extra-legal system in place used by such people?

Non-citizens typically live in the wilderness and fend for themselves, staying far away even from other non-citizens in the same situation. Some alliances do exist, though, and have appeared and disappeared over time. 

How is it determined whether someone has broken a law and who judges the case?

Crimes are defined based on the situation at hand.  If two people are seen fighting, both are charged with assault, even if one person is clearly much stronger than the other.  Both will be imprisoned and assigned the same sentence, and only in court will each be allowed to plead their case before a judge in order to lessen or eliminate their sentences.

Because a man cannot be the head of any household, whenever a woman married to a man commits a crime, her husband is automatically arrested as well and assigned a prison sentence equal to hers.  Because children cannot live by themselves in a house, all of the children will be moved to an orphanage.  Parents forfeit any right to their children in such a situation, and cannot expect to get them back when their jail term expires.   

Moonshine stands alone in allowing the police to arrest and charge children as young as five years old with crimes that carry punishments ranging up to life in prison; see Discipline for details of crimes commonly committed by small children.  Police are not present inside schools, so the teacher is trusted with the authority to report crimes committed by children to the police. 

In some cases, a child who is reported to the police has not actually committed a crime; rather, a teacher has accused them of a crime in order to influence the police to arrest both the child and their parents.  This typically happens when the parents of the child have previously insulted or upset the teacher in some way.  Another method of achieving this outcome is for the teacher to physically assault the child before school and then deliver them in that state to the police, accusing the parents of having beaten their child.  However, some children are able to convince the judge that their parents are innocent, so this is not often attempted.

Is there some form of clemency or pardon?

Is the law codified and written down?

Who are the interpreters of the law?

Once accused, what recourse does a person have?

Some crimes are considered self-evident, meaning that no witness is necessary because the evidence of the crime is incontrovertible.  For example, people are not allowed to own dangerous weapons such as swords, and therefore anyone seen carrying a sword is immediately sentenced to life in prison with no trial.

Is torture allowed as a general aspect of criminal justice?

Prisoners are made to work, but the guards are not allowed to torture them. Any adult prisoner who feels that their work is unbearable can request that their jail term be replaced with the death penalty, and the guards must obey.

What kinds of torture are allowed and against whom may they be applied and under what circumstances?

What are considered normal and legal ways of gathering evidence and determining guilt?

The highest court in the Moonshine Empire is that of each of the five states within it; there is no imperial court. The judicial branch is the only branch of government in which religious teachings are commonly invoked; legislators are believed to have the authority to create and revoke laws, and police to enforce them; but appeals and requests for exceptional leniency involve philosophy.

Once accused of a crime, a suspect is imprisoned and the penalty defined by law is made known to the prisoner. In jail, the suspect awaits trial before a judge. The judge's job is to find a reason to release the prisoner, either by proving his innocence, or by proving that the criminal had no choice in the matter. Once the courtroom hearing begins, the criminal allegations are repeated publicly. If the defendant visibly blushes during this time, the trial ends and the maximum allowable punishment is applied.

If the judge cannot free the prisoner, she then attempts to reduce the sentence by the same line of argument. The judge can only remove, reduce, or reaffirm the punishment; the maximum allowed punishment is that which was automatically imposed by the law. Thus, the judge is an ally of the accused. However, there are no appeals: each judge's decision is the sole authority in their respective case.

The courts also mediate disputes between individuals that do not involve a crime, but may be seen as a means to prevent a future crime.

Are arbitrary judgments by the lord or landowner allowed, or is there an independent judiciary?

Is forensic magic possible and if so, is it utilised and by whom?

Are the results of forensic magic admissible in court as evidence?

Are there separate civil, criminal, ecclesial and thaumic courts?

Are there different legal systems in place for different races or ethnicities living in close proximity?

What is different about each type of court?

Are judges or other court officials required or forbidden to have studied magic?

Is evidence obtained by magic considered more reliable or less reliable than physical evidence or eyewitness accounts?

What things are considered truly serious crimes and why?

Murder and child abuse are considered the most serious crimes.

Although rape is also considered a serious crime, it is punished less severely in the Moonshine Empire than in most other nations unless the victim is a child. Many cities have no specific law prohibiting the rape of an adult, and simply categorize it as assault.

What are typical punishments for serious vs. minor crimes?

There are five possible punishments for crimes:

  • Penalty: The criminal is obliged to pay a fine to the victim of the crime. This is typically reserved for minor crimes.
  • Fine: The criminal is obliged to pay a fine to the government. This punishment is typically assigned to the wealthy.
  • Imprisonment: The criminal is imprisoned in a labor camp for a set period of time. This punishment may be handed down for any type of crime, but the offense must be severe. Men, women, and children may all be imprisoned, but men receive sentences about ten times longer than a woman who commits the same crime.
  • If a woman commits a crime and receives a jail sentence, her husband will also be imprisoned, even if he had no hand in it and did not benefit from it; here, his sentence will be longer than hers, but less than ten times as long. If there are children in the household but no remaining adults, the children will be moved to an orphanage and put to work there as well.
  • Exile: The criminal is stripped of their Moonshine citizenship, making it illegal for them to remain in Moonshine territory, even in the wilderness outside the boundaries of any town. Most criminals who are exiled nonetheless remain in the Empire and find a place in the wilderness to live. Here, it is legal for any citizen, or even any criminal, to kill them on the spot, since they are violating Moonshine's territorial integrity simply by being there. But the police force is uninterested in tracking such people down so long as they do not return to town to inflict further harm on the people in mainstream society, and criminals typically do not camp out near other criminals.
  • This punishment can be handed out for any type of crime; the only requirement is that the offense must be severe.
  • Execution: The criminal is killed, typically by drowning, and then buried at sea. The only crimes for which it is possible to merit this punishment are murder and the rape of a child. This punishment is reserved for adult males only except in the very rare case where a women commits at least ten murders before being stopped.

The Moonshine court system never inflicts corporal punishment on a criminal; however, once exiled, it is legal for any other person to physically assault or even kill that person.

The Moonshine court system cannot order a convicted criminal to make restitution towards a victim by any means other than financially. For example, someone convicted of spreading false rumors cannot be made to go around town apologizing and setting the record straight to everyone who heard the rumor; they can only be made to pay a sum of money deemed appropriate by the judge. Financial punishments are typically mild when the convicted criminal is poor; on the other hand, a poor person unable to pay may be additionally charged with intent to commit a crime in the knowledge that they would not be able to pay the typically assigned penalty; this can lead to a jail term.

Prisons have strict rules of discipline for inmates to follow; these become crimes when disobeyed.  Thus, a prisoner with a long sentence has many opportunities to make it longer.   

Of the five forms of punishment, the only one that can be assigned to children is imprisonment.  Very often, when a child commits a crime, bad parenting is suspected to be the ultimate cause, and both parents are arrested.  In many cases, the child will be acquitted of the crime and the penalty transferred to the parents alone; however, this means the child becomes an orphan and will for some period of time live a life only marginally better than that of the children in prison. 

There are nonetheless some behaviors that are crimes when committed by a child, but legal when committed by an adult.  Most of these involve basic bodily functions: children cannot refuse, spill, or spoil food; they must serve their own meals and clean up every scrap when they are done eating.  And they must clean the bathroom everytime they use it, and keep their pants clean.  Violation of any of these rules is a crime.  Of those, the most severe, and the only one that automatically results in a jail sentence is to soil one's pants. Because fecal incontinence may be a sign of child abuse, the police will also imprison the child's parents and deliver any remaining children to the local orphanage. The second most severe of the crimes above is to ruin a meal, either their own or another child's.  Typically this also results in a jail sentence, but because it is not a self-evident crime, the child is entitled to have someone plead their case for them in court.    

Who metes out punishment?

Are there prisons, or are criminals physically, spiritually, emotionally or economically punished and then released?

Prisons enslave their inmates, and thus resemble labor camps. Men are much more likely to be imprisoned than women. If a man is imprisoned, the legal status of his children is unchanged, but if a woman married to a man is imprisoned, her children automatically become orphans and are put to work as well.

Men and women are placed in separate prisons or in separate areas within prisons.  Male prisoners are underclothed and are made to work in walled-in environments watched by female guards armed with range weapons not otherwise permitted in the Moonshine Empire. Trained animals may also be present. 

Depending on the labor required of them, men may be chained to a workbench, chained to a wall, or left to roam freely within their area.  Men sleep in groups of a few dozen per room.  The prisoners are not protected from each other, and may be killed by other prisoners.

Children are placed in buildings a great distance from the rest of society, and the only adults they see are their guards.  They are told to remember the outside world but to consider the prison their new home.  Children are grouped by age and protected from other children to a much greater extent than adult prisoners are.  They are told that they will never be comfortable in prison, but will always be safe, and that if they obey the rules dutifully, they will one day see the outside world again.

Children are the only prisoners who ever receive rewards for good behavior, though the standard applied is that the best-off of all children in prison should be living a meaner life than the worst-off of all orphans and free children.  A child who seems too happy will often be denied rewards they would normally have earned.

Although children can receive life sentences if the crimes they commit are severe enough, more typical sentences are on par with those handed out to adult women.  Children who are released into free society while still young may be very happy to see the world again, but years later turn against the prison system and seek revenge against the guards who abused them when they were young.  For this reason, the prisons that house children are guarded even more heavily than those that house adult males, and are often located far outside of town, protected by a physical barrier such as a swift-running stream.  This also prevents children from running away.  

Are there varying degrees of punishment based on circumstance, gravity and even judicial whim?

Men are punished more harshly than women. A general rule of thumb is that if a man and a woman commit the same crime, the man's punishment should be ten times more severe than the woman's. For this reason, women cannot be assigned the death penalty or a life sentence unless they commit many instances of the same crime that would singly merit such a sentence for a man.

Additionally, there are many actions that are crimes when committed by men, but not when committed by women.  Furthermore, men must be imprisoned whenever their wife is, even if the man has committed no crime, and even if the man was a victim of his wife's crime.  In this case, the man's sentence will be identical to the woman's, rather than ten times as long.  However, men in prison are more likely to have their sentences extended, and it often happens that the woman completes her sentence only to find out that her husband will be in prison for the rest of his life.

How are alleged criminals treated before and after their convictions?

Who is responsible for catching criminals and by what rules do they operate?

How are the police or watch organised within a polity?

Are there volunteer posses, or is the right to apprehend an evil doer the sole prerogative of the watch?

What arms do they carry, if any?

Are there lawyers or advocates who plead for the defence?

Are there lawyers or advocates who prosecute?

Are they arranged in a relatively equal adversarial system or is one side stronger than the other?

Are people guilty until proven innocent, innocent until proven guilty, or does it depend on the mood the lord is in when they bring the case before him?

Are there judges other than the ruler, lord, or landowner?

If so, how are they chosen and how are they maintained?

Are appeals possible, and if so, to whom?

How often are outlying areas likely to see a judge?

Is "mob justice" common or uncommon and how wide an approval does it receive?

Are there sumptuary laws regulating what different classes or races of people may wear or display or even purchase or trade for in the market?

Do judges and lawyers wear special clothing to indicate their office?

What sorts of crimes is the average citizen likely to run across during her lifetime?

Who can make or repeal laws?

Is there a legislative body or is the ruler the sole legislator?

How much can the nobility, middle class tradesmen and the like influence the lawmakers?

Do the police, military, or city guard make a practice of roughing up suspects, or is this frowned upon?

Questions on External Relations

What is this country's overarching foreign policy?

Have there been recent innovations that may upset the balance of power, or are most countries in the region more or less equal as regards industry, technology, magical capacity and culture?

Who are the rivals or enemies of this country?

How close are they geographically?

How powerful are they, and how prestigious?

Do relations between countries depend mainly on the relations between the heads of state or upon ministers and diplomats?

Does this country have formal relationships with other countries?

If so, how are embassies formed and what is their function?

Are there standing embassies and consulates, or are special envoys sent only when some issue of import crops up?

How are treaties arranged and who negotiates?

Are treaties ratified or confirmed; how might they be broken?

How much do official attitudes between rival governments affect commerce and trade across the border?

Are there customs inspectors or their equivalents at border crossings?

Is the export & import of some technologies, thaumologies, magics & commodities regulated by the government, or by non-governmental cartels?

How does this affect political relationships between countries?

How much formal spying and intelligence gathering is normally done by governments, the military, guilds or other business, social and magical interests?

Are there actual governmental bureaus that collect such information, or is espionage done by diplomats or freelance agents?

Which countries or races of people are traditional allies and which are traditional rivals?

How do these traditions affect present-day relations between countries and races of people?

Which heads of state are related by blood or marriage, and how important is this in determining foreign policy?

Moonshines allow their people to marry non-Moonshines so long as they move to the nation of the other partner. Thus, some Moonshines live in Poswob territory. Furthermore, the historical Moonshine state of Balaš now lies within the Poswob empire, and maintains friendly relations with Moonshine. Thus, Moonshine diplomats often focus their attention on Balaš.

Questions on Weapons and Warfare


How do the weapons of this country compare with those of surrounding cities and countries?

People do not have access to weapons apart from metal fishing spears and kitchen knives.  The only immediate neighbors of the Moonshines are the Poswob people, who are even more pacifistic than the Moonshines, and therefore the Moonshines face no danger of invasion.

What personal weapons are available to anyone who can afford them?

Are some weapons considered "for nobles only" or "for carls only" either by custom or by law?

Are there laws forbidding certain classes from being armed at all?

Are there laws requiring certain classes to learn particular weapon skills?

Are magical weapons available?

Moonshines, like other cultures on their planet, believe that magic is involved in warfare, but as pacifists, few are interested in details.

How is magic used in warfare, apart from charmed or ensorcelled weapons?

Is spellcasting fast enough to be useful in hand-to-hand combat, or is magic use slower and more suited to laying or breaking sieges?

How has the presence of magic affected the waging of war and progress of weapons technology?

How readily does magic backfire on the weapon wielder or spell caster?

Can magic be used defensively as well as offensively?

How much has the presence of magic affected strategy and tactics in general; is it for example a matter of study in war colleges?

Are there weapons (defensive as well as offensive) of stone, bone, horn, bronze, iron, glass, obsidian, steel, titanium, thaumium or some other ever more exotic material?

Are weapons all close range, or do long range weapons exist as well, such as bows or atlatls or gonnes, and if so, how sophisticated are they?

The only weapons are those used for hunting sea life, and therefore are all close range.

How are such ranged weapons used tactically?

What small arms are in common use during war: e.g., melee weapons, edged weapons, unconventional weapons?

What major weapons of war are available: e.g., siege towers and engines, catapults, bombards, thaumic bombs, holy grenades?

What weapons and armor are standard for an army's low ranking footsoldiers?

What about the weapons of mercenaries and their noble leaders or even the average peasant trying to defend her home?

Does a soldier provide weapons and armor from home, or are these provided by the army?

Are weapons, such as swords or pistols, a standard part of dress for any and all segments of society?

Are weapons kept by individuals or are they locked up in an armoury?


Does the country have a standing army or navy or air corps?

No; pacifism has been the Empire's official military policy since its founding thousands of years ago.

How many soldiers can the state afford to keep at the ready?

How do the armed forces compare with others in the region or world?

Who has the power to declare conditions of war and peace?

What happens to prisoners taken in battle?

What weapons are favoured by the various armed forces?

What form of warfare does this society use: e.g., close-quarters hand-to-hand; stealthy attack; long range fighting?

How do battles in the airs or waters or underworlds differ from surface warfare?

Who are the elite warriors?

What distinguishes them from ordinary soldiers?

How does someone get command of troops?

Where do the loyalties of military units lie?

Do they make up the bulk of the military?

What is campaign or camp life like?

What ethical or moral codes do warriors adhere to?

How are battle injuries treated?

How long do wars typically last?

Has this society ever attacked another?

The Feminist Compact originated as a violent transnational revolutionary organization, but they only ever joined preexisting wars, and never started a new one.  Furthermore their explicit goal in each case was to organize a transnational alliance of women in every nation on both sides of the war, and thus to end the war with a victory for the female population of both sides.

What was the nature or pretext of that war?

What would make this society go to war?

Has there ever been a civil war or a revolution?

What do soldiers do when there's no war going on at the present moment?

Are there any current tensions or outright wars with any other nations?

Who are this country's enemies and allies?

Who's winning the war?

What defences are available to cities and towns and other polities?

What are the accepted conventions of making war: e.g., only fight in winter when nobody is busy with crops; don't make war on civilians; only certain kinds of weapons are available?

How are armies typically structured?

Is there a formal, independent command structure, or is everybody officially under the command of whoever brought them to join the ruler's army?

If there is a formal structure, what are the various ranks and titles used?

Are there legal, customary, or biological restrictions on the types of weapons different races or magical beings can use?

Are battlefield commissions or knighthoods possible during wartime, or must such promotions wait on formal ceremonies?

Do normal social restrictions apply during times of war, or is everyone equal on the battlefield?

Who can call up men for an army, and how is this done?

Does the ruler ask the nobility for men, who in turn draft their peasants, or can the ruler go straight to the bottom as it were and raise her own army?

Are there professional soldiers and mercenaries?

Is a career in the army possible, or would one have to become a mercenary or hired sword in order to make a living as a soldier?

Does the army accept volunteers, or only draftees?

Can an ordinary soldier rise to officer ranks by displaying courage and merit on the battlefield, or are officer positions reserved for a higher class of person only?

Are there officer academies or war colleges?

What percentage of the soldiers in an army will be professional soldiers or mercenaries or veterans or academy trained and what percentage will be untrained recruits?

Are recruits given any kind of training, or are they expected to learn on the job, i.e., in battle?

How is the army supplied with food, shelter, medical care and ordinary necessities that aren't carried by the soldier in his kit?

Are soldiers allowed to live off the land, or do they pay for what they take from local peasants?

What happens if the supply caravan gets lost or captured?

How are supplies handled during long campaigns?

How many days' worth of supplies can the army haul along with them?

How does the presence of varied races of people affect strategy, tactics, and battles generally?

How might soldiers of various races turn their physical differences to their advantage?

Are particular races of people traditionally, or even actually, more capable of wielding certain weapons or using certain techniques better than others?

Are certain races or groups isolated into segregated units or are the armies reasonably integrated?

If so, are those segregated units considered elite troops or the most expendable soldiers on the battlefield?

How do the inter-species attitudes of the leadership affect their strategy and planning?