Medieval America Tk II: Discussion Thread

I like it! I think a good system for coming up with dialect/language regions would be to think of what some common words might be.

For example
The word Yes
in Minnesotan/Dakotan: Youbecha
Nice! But this would probably shorten to "Becha". A 3-syllable word for "yes" is bound to get shorter with use. (Like goodbye > bye.)

I would also think that "yeah" or "ya" would completely replace yes in many languages. Especially in Spanish-influenced regions where "ya" can mean something like "it's done."
Nice! But this would probably shorten to "Becha". A 3-syllable word for "yes" is bound to get shorter with use. (Like goodbye > bye.)

I would also think that "yeah" or "ya" would completely replace yes in many languages. Especially in Spanish-influenced regions where "ya" can mean something like "it's done."
that makes sense! like it! I think the east and west coasts will have a few fairly stable languages while the interior will be somewhat more chaotic.

Interesting thought: the Deserati upper class should speak/preach in archaic English... the English of Joseph Smith that is totally uninteligable by the lower classes like latin in the medieval church, perhaps this is the one place where traditional English survives
Foreign and military relations of the Republic of California
Part 4 (of 6): The North

At the north end of California, the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, and Klamath Mountains come together to form a thick enclosing wall covered with dense forests or rough scrub land. Defense up here is a matter of preventing unruly behavior by the mountain dwellers and having occasional meetings with a few client chiefs and bosses from the valleys. Very little large-scale trade happens here, and there is no danger of invasion by outside tribes or empires. For that reason, the northern command is the least powerful of the four great frontier positions.

Peoples of the mountains and valleys

The mountain people to the north are not unlike those in the Sierra Nevada, save that their connection to California is even weaker. In the Mendocino Forest, which is more-or-less surrounded by Californian territory, the Guardian can extract a little tribute and some auxiliary recruits from the small villages and nomadic clans. To the north, the most he can hope for is a nod to the Governor's sovereignty in return for some ceremonial gifts.

There are a few valleys where the population is a bit more settled and where California's Guardian can create a more stable clientage relationship. Three valleys in particular are Wareka (Yreka), the Rogue Valley, and Klamath Falls. Californian detachments regularly visit these valleys to meet with local chiefs and sometimes help arbitrate disputes between leading local families. To the northeast, Californian scouts regularly patrol/explore the Modoc Plateau as far as Goose Lake, which is considered in some ways the edge of the known world.

An important thing to note about these northern mountain dwellers is that very few of them are Scientologists, and in the Rogue Valley some families practice Buddhism. California's religious and economic footprint here is much shallower than to the east and south.

Beyond the villages, in the high places in the mountains, dwell all sorts of monsters and giants, at least according to the Californians. Most fearsome of all are the Sasquatches that prey on anyone who wanders into the woods alone. The northern command forms an important line of defense against these creatures as well.


Just as California has some autonomous regions in its southern reaches, so too it has Eureka in the north, which in many ways functions as an associated maritime republic. However, almost all of its contact with the rest of California is by sea, so it will be described later.

Columbia, the Buddhist states, and Deseret

California's most important northern neighbors are the Buddhist states of the Pacific Northwest. However, the most powerful of these are maritime republics that have few to no overland links with California. California does maintain sporadic contact with the feudal Buddhist states of the interior, the most important of which is the so-called District of Columbia in the Columbia River valley.

The overland route to the Columbia is long and arduous, and few have much need to travel it. The Columbian elite gets most of their luxury goods from their co-religionists on the coast. The Columbians most likely to come near California are military expeditions and raiding parties in the constant feuding between Columbia and Deseret. Desereti forces, too, sometimes come near the Californian borderlands. When this happens, they are typically met by Californian scouts who warn them not to trespass on the Republic's territory. The expedition's commander might send a message to the Guardian that he meant no harm, and that is the end of it.

Currently, Columbia faces challenges from lesser Buddhist states in the region. Some of these petty rulers have made their way to the Guardian to ask for aid, and he has provided a little help. It suits California to have its neighbors divided and fighting.

The Guardian of the Northern Reaches

The nature of the North means that the Guardian of the Northern Reaches, the Governor's regional commander, does not have a great central fortress like his counterparts to the East and South. He instead is headquartered in a modest fort-palace on the edge of the city of Redding, right in the center of his area of operation. He must frequently move around, touring the edges of the encircling mountains to meet with local barbarian bosses, revive the clientage relationships, and remind them of the power of the Republic.

Though the northern command is small, its relative proximity to the capital has made it important in the Republic's politics during times of unrest. When the Scoro tribe entered California with its mercenaries and the cooperation of the Eastern command, the Guardian of the North acted as kingmaker. He moved with his troops to the vicinity of the capital and chose to support the invader rather than the existing governor. This support was crucial in the rise of the current dynasty. Today, like the other commanders, the Guardian has lost much of the power to act independently, especially in the area of finance. He depends on funds sent from the capital.
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Nice! But this would probably shorten to "Becha". A 3-syllable word for "yes" is bound to get shorter with use. (Like goodbye > bye.)
was about to say. Normaly language speaker follow the law of least effort with words either losing sylables or being replaced by shorter ones. Would be pretty odd to adopt words that are longer unless, has was the case as in middle french, it is to develop words that sound more poetic or learned

I would also think that "yeah" or "ya" would completely replace yes in many languages. Especially in Spanish-influenced regions where "ya" can mean something like "it's done."
maybe as in some language, you would have a distinction between "ya" and "si" depending on the context (affirmative sentence vs answer to a yes/no question)
that makes sense! like it! I think the east and west coasts will have a few fairly stable languages while the interior will be somewhat more chaotic.

Interesting thought: the Deserati upper class should speak/preach in archaic English... the English of Joseph Smith that is totally uninteligable by the lower classes like latin in the medieval church, perhaps this is the one place where traditional English survives
The might use "book of mormon" english (like muslim's coranic arabic). It would thought in school but few would actualy be fluent in it.
There aren't that many speakers, not even in Pennsylvania. Although it is somewhat possible that they could remain a distinct group even for a thousand years... something like the Jews of medieval Europe, maybe, though they just don't seem to have the numbers for that.

In fact, it appears there are more German speakers in some of the more desolate parts of the Great Plains.

The Trickster rabbit and DAfudd. peasant tales of California

Being a peasant in California can be hard. But even in the worst times. there are times for tales that are not told by the Sagas or the Geeks.

These are the peasant tales. They are how a Rascaly rabbit ( representing a young rascal Caly peasant. ) outwit Dafudd (the feudal lord), a greedy duck (the merchants) , and a old coyote who is not as smart as he think he is (corrupt priests). Sometimes the rabbit wins and outsmarts them, sometimes he is caught ,and other times he is caught in his own tricks .

These tales always start with a song who's meaning has been lost in the mists of time and end with the saying "That is all folks"

Just a idea I had for California . Think this should be added and expanded to. I probably not the right person to add to this or modify it.
There aren't that many speakers, not even in Pennsylvania. Although it is somewhat possible that they could remain a distinct group even for a thousand years... something like the Jews of medieval Europe, maybe, though they just don't seem to have the numbers for that.

In fact, it appears there are more German speakers in some of the more desolate parts of the Great Plains.
The Amish do have the isolation going for them though. The technological wind down would actualy not affect too much and might even be welcome but on the other hand, their pacifism would make them unpopular amongst the warlords.

A plains english language that reabsorbed some of its germanic radical to replace romance ones would be interesting.
Foreign and military relations of the Republic of California
Part 5 (of 6): The West

The Pacific Ocean is California's longest frontier, its busiest highway, its bloodiest battlefield, and its holiest religious shrine. So it is not surprising that the fleet responsible for defending the Pacific, the Great Western Shore[*3], is a very important body indeed. In power and prestige, it easily eclipses any of the land-based military commands.

Religious significance of the Pacific Ocean

To understand the Shore's importance, we must first understand the importance of the Ocean on which it sails in the minds and souls of Californians.

The sea, in a general sense, has always been of prime importance in Scientology. Its illustrious founder, as every Californian knows, went to sea by necessity rather than choice, forced to flee from enemies trying to persecute him. But out there on the waves, far from earthly distractions, he and his closest circle of supporters found that the sea offered them freedom, tranquility, and spiritual discipline not to be found on land. Going to sea became one of the prerequisites for joining the uppermost levels of the faith, and so it is today. But even the most ordinary cruise by the humblest peasant in a fishing or ferryboat is a pilgrimage of sorts, for to a Californian any given patch of ocean is ipso facto more hallowed than the most holy shrine on land.

The very disposition of the ocean, cut off from most Californians by chains of mountains, gives it added mystique. Very few people live along the waterfront, so most have to make their way over passes and through gaps, nearly all of which offer a moment when the ocean suddenly appears over a rise or around a bend in the highway. Many roadside shrines are found at these points, encouraging travelers to stop, reflect, and meditate.

So much for oceans in general. But the Pacific Ocean specifically was given a prominent place in the cosmology of Scientology from its beginning. According to the earliest canonical scriptures, it is here, just off California's coast, where human souls (except those of scientologists) return to earth seeking bodies, after the harrowing journey through the heavens that follows physical death. The scriptures say that the souls fly over water until they reach land, and then seek out an unborn human body to enter and inhabit. Though not specifically in the scriptures, it is universally believed that the first kick that an expecting mother feels is the jolt of a soul entering the child's body. The Pacific, therefore, is the point where every human life cycle begins.

Given that California is the first landfall that all human souls make after splashing down, Californians assume that they get first pick, as it were, and that the best and swiftest and cleverest human essences implant themselves within Californian mothers, leaving the rest to wander further inland. Following this line of reasoning, it is considered best for women soon after conception to make their way to some outcropping or headland jutting out into the water, so as to be one of the very first people encountered by the multitude of souls on their landward journey. The busiest holy site in all of California is at Point Raise (Reyes), a long outcropping just north of San Francisco where future mothers from all over the Republic gather to cast out their metaphysical nets and snare the best possible offspring. Attending clergy, all of them members of the navy, are on hand to teach the women rituals designed to increase their chances still further - for a fee, of course. The journey to Point Raise is normally undertaken with a group of female relatives; when this is not possible, a woman may travel with her husband. It can be a frustrating trip, for if the baby should kick before the mother reaches the coast, the entire pilgrimage is pointless and the unhappy party simply returns home.

Yet another teaching illustrates even more intensely the centrality of the Pacific in the early scriptures of Scientology. All Californians know the story of the evil heavenly being called Zenu, how he murdered billions of people in the depths of time, and how the spirits of his victims continue to wander the earth today, attaching themselves to parts of human bodies and inflicting humanity with all kinds of mental and emotional pain.[*4] Hawaii, far out in the Pacific, was the location of these mass murders. One of the Church's most potent rituals is the purging en masse of these clinging spirits, and it can only be performed aboard ship on the high seas: drawing nearer to the place of the catastrophe is considered the only way to frighten them away from one's body. This purifying rite is therefore only available to members of the navy.

Naturally, Pacific islands are places of immense sanctity in the Californian religion. The Free Zone is blessed with a chain of holy islands on which Presidents past have built temples, monasteries, and other great installations. The Republic has mostly open waters off its coast. The only offshore island of any consequence is Farallon, 20 miles from San Francisco. It is home to a monastic order open only to retired sailors of the Shore. Only members of the order are allowed to set foot on it. Much further away are the mystical islands of Hawaii itself. Californians have carefully maintained the means to reach these islands, but pilgrimages are exceedingly rare. When they occur, they allow the Republic's highest clerics to engage in their most carefully guarded rituals of all. More on this later.

It is necessary to keep all of the above in mind in order to remember that California's Great Shore is no mere navy, and its area of operation is no mere coastline. Both the fleet and the waters it sails are part of the bedrock of the Republic's religion and society.

Economic importance of the Pacific Ocean

On a more practical level, the Pacific Ocean carries an overwhelming portion of the Republic's trade with the outside world. About half of its exchange toward the south, and nearly all of it with the north, is conducted by ship. California offers the other nations of the Pacific coast the abundance of its agricultural surplus, its luxury crafts of unrivalled quality, and the naval stores produced from its forests of ponderosa pine. One of its key needs is fish. The rich fisheries to the north as far as alaska are monopolized by the maritime republics of the Salish Sea. While California's fishing fleet is large enough, it must rely on the Salishers to meet all the protein demands of its large population. These great northern hunters can also hunt whales and other mammals with greater skill than the Californians, and they bring the many products of their watery game into San Francisco, as well. The ocean is also California's only way to acquire luxuries from the tropics - coca, coffee, rubber, and so forth.

The entire merchant marine is closely regulated by the navy. Ship owners must pay a fee to the navy to administer religious training and rites of purification to every ordinary seaman. The Republic has the right to press any ship and its crew into naval service when the need arises.

The Navy

Now let us look at the Great Shore itself. The navy of California, as already strongly hinted, is a religious order as well as an armed force. The complex initiation process, the harsh discipline, the shared rituals; in short, the whole structure of naval life creates a strong sense of belonging and a fierce loyalty in all of its members. This powerful group identity has allowed the Great Shore to reamin a coherent body and a cultural force through the Republic's entire history. It has come through coups, schisms, civil wars, enemy occupations, famines, and earthquakes and survived more or less intact. So persistent is the Great Shore that some palace philosophers have gone so far as to write that the navy is California. This is clearly nonsense, because as strong as those social ties holding the Fleet together may be, the Shore ultimately would be useless without the produce and labor of millions of the peasants, and the peasants can only be maintained in their millions through the system of engineers and bureaucrats that organize them and irrigate their land. Nevertheless, the Great Shore is as strong as any institution in the Republic.

Most of the manpower in this vast organization comes from Lifers, that class of lifelong conscripts that all the Western empires rely on for their military strength. In fact, the term is more apt here than elsewhere, for a Californian naval recruit signs a very traditional contract pledging himself, body and soul, to the Shore for a term of one billion years or the life of the planet, whichever should be shorter. The navy rarely has to rely on coersion to get its recruits. While life at sea is dangerous and discipline is ruthless, becoming a sailor represents a considerable rise in social status for a Californian peasant. A lifer at sea gets decent pay, the respect of the nation, and significant benefits for his immortal soul. When recruiting officers enter a village, far from having to impress young men into service, as the land-based commanders do, they often find themselves able to choose only the strongest and most able from among the volunteers, sending the rest home.

Lifers who survive the hardships of training, cruising, and combat may rise through the ranks to become mates in charge of teams of their juniors. A few are even selected for the more formal academic training required of an officer. Most of the top navy brass, however, comes from a different class of people.

The Shore as a basis for advancement

Imperial service is seen as essential for members of the landowning upper class, and no form of service is more highly regarded than the navy. The typical course of honor for a young aristocrat is seven or so years of formal education followed by a rigorous set of examinations designed to test the youth's strength, speed, intelligence, and self-discipline. Many examinees end up in the army or in the large local magistracy. Top scorers are placed in the Great Shore. (The central bureaucracy in Sacramento is under a different system, staffed mostly by eunuchs selected as boys from slave and peasant families).

Of those who qualify to be naval officers, many will not stay long at sea. The Shore is such a prestigious body that from its junior officers are drawn not only the Republic's naval commanders, but most of its top civil, religious, and military leaders on land, as well. A few years at sea is deemed essential to become an army commander or high-ranking priest or chief engineer. It is only through naval service that one can acquire the mental toughness and spiritual purity that one needs for these other offices. This means that all of the Republic's elite share the experience of naval training; it is one of the things that binds them together as a class.


And who is entrusted with the command of this indispensible, well-armed and holy body? Clearly none but the Governor himself. Ex officio he is Highest Admiral of the fleet. In his absense, there is no single officer who can command the entire navy; instead, authority is given to the Committee of Admirals, a group of old officers chosen for their loyalty to the Governor and for their skill as captains and commodores. The chairman of the committee is chosen in a strict rotation to stave off jealosy among the Admirals. And of course, even the chairman has little independent authority; he may act only by gubernatorial order or (when this is not possible) by consent of a majority of the Committee.

The Admirals meet in the Governor's palace in San Francisco. It is an imposing structure offering a sweeping view of the mouth of the bay. Their meeting place in the imperial residence is a constant reminder that no matter how powerful they may feel, the Admirals are always subject to the personal rule of the Governor, who can override, dismiss, even execute them at his whim.

Like the land-based military commanders, the Admirals are responsible for managing all trade, warfare, and diplomacy within their particular sphere. Individual admirals often must travel abroad on missions to other powers to conduct raids, treaties, and business deals. Most of these missions are northward to the cities of the Salish. Other times a naval flotilla will go to Ellei when seaborne trade is being discussed (otherwise, the Guardian of the Southern Reaches manages the Republic's relations with its southern neighbor.) Occasionally an admiral will travel further south, to Mexico, Panama, even as far as the northern Andes. But in all cases, the structure of the Committee guarantees that most of the Great Shore's commanders will remain in San Francisco in close contact with the Governor and the imperial government.

The naval commanders in the past have only rarely involved themselves in the political intrigues that fill the pages of the army's histories. For one thing, the Great Shore has no land forces besides the recruitment officers, so the admirals are in no position to march on the capital. More importantly, the whole system of advancement in the navy, and their own elevated position in society, gives the commanders a deeply vested interest in the status quo. In times of civil strife, the most they can do is lend their support to whichever side seems to guarantee them the most stability. When the current dynasty seized power in Sacramento, its first priority was promising to preserve the rights and priveleges of the naval officer class, thereby winning their approval.

The Shore of Pilgrims

Long-distance, trans-oceanic travel is rare. A few luxuries from Asia do make their way across the ocean, but normally through countless middlemen along the northern route along the Siberian and Alaskan coasts. It is only the sublime imperatives of religion that draw Californian mariners far out into the open ocean. Doing so is the closely guarded responsibility of that most select order within an order, the Shore of Pilgrims.

The Pilgrims are a mostly closed, hereditary religious order dedicated to preserving and guarding a select type of knowledge. Though common in the Free Zone, this kind of institution is rare in the Republic. The Shore of Pilgrims possesses the secrets of shipbuilding and navigation, together with certain arcane religious rites, necessary for the great pilgrimages to Hawaii. The Pilgrims are technically part of the Great Shore, but are completely independent of its command structure, answering only to the Governor. They might be called out to fight only in times of national emergency.

Years pass between great pilgrimages. A Governor is expected to lead one only once in his reign. Many Governors send a brother to take their place. If a pilgrimage arrives at the islands safely (something by no means free of risk), the governor exchanges gifts with the local rulers, who permit him to come ashore and perform the dictates of the imperial religion. A pilgrimage is considered so spiritually potent that it has healing effects upon the entire empire and all its subjects. A governor who has performed it and returned safely is treated even more as a savior and god on earth.

The Shore of Women

The Shore of Women, like the Shore of Pilgrims, is another seagoing body that technically is attached to the navy, but which for all intents and purposes is independent.

The most significant change made by the reigning Scoro dynasty was its institution of a female priesthood in parallel with the primary, male one. This was a tribal tradition they brought in from their barren Nevada hills but it has become an accepted part of the order of things in California. Once established for a while, it was natural that the leading women clergy would form a seaborne order, as well. The Shore of Women is much smaller and more uniformly aristocratic than the male one. Its primary purpose is spiritual rather than military. Ships of Women are accompanied by an armed escort up to the point where they are out of sight of land, after which they cruise alone to perform their secretive priestly rites.

But naval discipline and combat training are still considered an inispensible part of the religious life at sea, and the women are far from helpless. Many are the stories of these ships outrunning or fighting off attacks by pirates or enemy ships. In times of war they may even be called upon to defend the coast.


The Salish republics

One of the navy's main responsibilities is managing California's relations with the wealthy merchant republics of the Salish Sea (Puget Sound and the channels around Vancouver Island). From generation to generation, California's strategy is simple: keep the city-states divided, and prevent any one republic from rising to a position of leadership. This is no easy task. The republics are united by a common culture and a common Buddhist religion. Most prefer to look to local leaders rather than the distant Californians with their god-governors and bizarre religion. Admirals are constantly sailing north with gifts and trade deals to try and appeal to the jealousy of the weaker city-states.

South of the Salish are a string of smaller Buddhist maritime republics. Naturally, most of them are aligned with one or the other of the Salish city-states, but every once in a while, California is able to make client states out of some of them.

California's everyday relations with the northern republics are not in the hands of the admirals, but of agents of various merchant companies who have offices and warehouses in many of the ports. Many of these agents draw an extra salary from the navy to engage in diplomatic talks with civic leaders... and conduct a bit of espionage on the side. Actual navy personnel may also be attached to these company offices to supervise and monitor the situation, even in times when they are not officially invited to stay as diplomats.

The Free Zone

Relations with the Free Zone are normally the responsibility of the Guardian of the Southern Reaches, described above. The navy steps in on issues relating to seagoing trade. This overlap can be a source of friction between the two military commands.

Latin America

South of the Free Zone, for thousands of miles, are Spanish-speaking nations. They are as diverse as anything in North America. California's trade with them, like its trade with Utah, is small but important, mostly limited in both directions to luxury goods. Good relations with these distant neighbors are much easier to achieve, since there is almost no threat of mutual attack at such great distances. Every few decades an Admiral might make a grand tour to remind the southerners of the might of California.

Eureka and the coastal villages

Finally, like the army commands, the Great Shore is responsible for maintaining links between the imperial government and its more remote districts. The coast is dotted with tiny villages that rely mostly on fishing. Since they exist outside California's main system of irrigated farming, the imperial bureaucracy has less direct means for controlling them. The navy has to visit these villages regularly to exchange supplies for the villagers' surplus fish; this trade ensures that they continue to depend on the Republic. Young, entry-level magistrates are assigned to these remote outposts to collect taxes and administer justice. Naturally these officials rely on the navy for supplies, news, and transportation.

The largest of the coastal towns is Eureka, the Republic's northernmost point along the coast. It is a port city on a sheltered bay with a respectably large hinterland where food can grow. Like the southern towns of the Arguello, Eureka is large and distant enough to have its own center of gravity and its own momentum. It relies on the Great Shore for defense, but its republican form of government has a separate existence from the rest of the empire. It is ruled by a Senate representing the aristocratic merchant families in and around the city.

Like other associated states, Eureka can expect certain privileges from the empire. Taxes are not terribly high, and most of them are spent locally. Officials there know that if Eureka's elite are not kept happy, they can simply ally themselves with one of the northern republics. The only imperial presence there is the navy. The base is large (it is the northern line of defense, after all), but otherwise the city has authority over its own affairs. California can counter this sense of entitlement by forging cultural ties with the local elite. Most of the senatorial class has served in the Great Shore or other branches of the imperial service. Many have marriage ties to the great families of the empire.

One of the largest and best organized navies in the world, the Great Shore is the pride of California and the defender of the Republic's longest frontier. A product of California's particular culture, geography, and history, it has no real parallel anywhere else.


[3] "Shore", like I explained in an earlier post, means the Fleet, as well as a coast. The word evolved from the Scientology term "Sea Org" > Syorg > Shyor > Shore. That's fairly normal English phonetics, not influenced by Spanish. So in California nautical parlance, "shore" can mean both a fleet and a coastline. I figure that sailors in OTL can use "port" to mean both "left side of a boat" and "place to dock a ship" without getting confused, so two meanings for shore isn't too far-fetched.

[4] In the original form of scientology, this myth, like most cosmological aspects of the faith, was kept secret from all but high-level practitioners. Over the years, this story became so well known that there was no point keeping it secret anymore, and it became part of the scriptural canon as the Book of Ot-ye (a mispronunciation of "OT-III"). In the Californias, the means for ridding oneself of these attached souls does still remain a secret, revealed to most peasants only upon reaching old age, and then only if they have lived lives of hard work and obedience.
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Good, good FD. This should be just the thing to kick this thread back into gear.

Tonight I'll see about getting a write-up of Northwest Buddhism up.
Tonight I'll see about getting a write-up of Northwest Buddhism up.
Yeah, it's funny, I had meant this series to mostly be about California's foreign relations, but that was only a tiny part of this latest post. It must be because so little is still known about those Northwesterners, at least beyond the everyday stuff, food and clothing and whatnot, that you've posted.

I really need to do that sort of basic cultural info for California. For all this there is still not much about daily life for the peasants.
wow, an update. I thought that this was long dead.
You did a good job of showing how important the Shore is to California while still being detached from from the central governance.

I'm looking forward to learning about the Salish city states more than any other part of Medieval America. So I hope jmberry delivers soon.
Something that should be added to the post about the navy:

The City of San Francisco

The navy's only land-based combat personnel are the companies that garrison the walls of San Francisco, as well as a few other coastal fortresses around San Francisco and Monterrey Bays. These garrisons are the final line of defense against seaborne attacks, whether from pirates or enemy powers. Though the guards are fully consecrated members of the Great Shore and have spent a little time at sea, there is tension between them and the sailors. They frequent different taverns in the Port, and woe to the group of greenhorn sailors or guards that ventures into the wrong one.

When San Francisco is directly under attack, the Governor will usually dispatch army troops to the city to help out. But under normal circumstances the army stays away from the port, following California's rather strict geographic division of power.
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Salishan Buddhism

Buddhism is often considered more as a philosophy than a true religion. This isn't quite true - Buddhism has a mythology as established and detailed as any religion from Europe - but that's the perception that people from the Feudal Core have.

The Northwest Cities have a long tradition of debate and a burgeoning middle-class, and like the Greek Cities of old, these traits lead to philosophy being used almost as an art form. The fact that Portland used to be home to the 'Free Tibet' movement lead to many of these philosophers adopting Buddhism, and it spread to the other peoples of the Northwest. Note that American Buddhism isn't 'pure' Buddhism - a lot of it is the Northwesterners adopting anything 'Asian' or 'Mystical' to Buddhist concepts (Case in point, the most common Northwestern symbol is the Yin-Yang, a Daoist icon, and hermit-priests who live in the forests are called 'Druids')

American Buddhism officially belongs to the Northern, Mahayana branch of Buddhism. American Buddhists use the Lunisolar calendar, like the Chinese.

Popular holidays in American Buddhism are New Year's (They celebrate the new year Chinese-style) Vesak (Gautama Siddhartha's Birthday, the first full moon of May), Asalha Puja (first full moon of July, officially honors Buddha's first teaching but got combined with Independence Day), Ulambana (second full moon of August, honors those who go on a pilgrimage for enlightenment), and Yule (really stands out compared to those others, doesn't it?)

Like most Mahayana Buddhists, the Salishans have a central divine Boddhisatva to serve as the ideal of enlightenment (India has Avalokiteshvara, China has Guan-yin, and Japan has Kannon. Like the later two, the Salishan figure is female). The Americans call this being 'Kaiya' and believe her physical manifestation to be the very Earth itself. They view morality not in black and white, but in black (blight, disease) and green (health, fecundity) - as seen in their take on the yin-yang. Unique to Salishan Buddhism is also a pantheon of animal dieties, which form a unique zodiac:

-Turtle, the Silent Warrior
-Rabbit, the Cunning Trickster, who chases Turtle but can never catch him
-Horse, the Beautiful
-Owl, Wisest of the Wise
-Eagle, Ruler of All
-Spider, the Protector of the Weak
-Duck, the Arrogant Fool
-Dog, the Simple-minded Friend
-Whale, the Patron of Bounty
-Mouse, the Protector of Children
-Salmon, Who Always Finds His Way Home
-Rat, the Teacher, the Old Warrior, whom Turtle follows
-Legends tell of a thirteenth sign, Scorpion, who is unlucky and brings only disaster

Another unique feature of the Salishans is that they have no true holy sites, beyond the Ling Yen Mountain Temple near Vancouver.

Or, rather, they had them, but most of the major Buddhist sites in North America pre-Regression were in California. Many of these were either co-opted by the Scientologists (like Chùa Huệ Quang), or destroyed (like Hsi Lai). This has caused no small amount of dislike between the two religions and their respective cultures - it was for this reason that the Salish banded together 250 years ago and sacked San Francisco, running it as a colony for five years from Alcatraz before the Cals got their act together (Eureka, due to trying to maintain good trade relations with the Salishans, have allowed their guitar-playing priests to rebuild the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmadge). This is also the claimed reason for the Columbians' conquest of Deseret - the Columbians claim they were looking for the lost Great Stupa of Dharmakya, but they've always been a little crazy.
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The destruction of the Hsi Lai Temple was instigated by the exorbitant price charged for the vegetarian lunch menu at their cafeteria and the general mediocrity of their overpriced cuisine.
Foreign and Military Relations of California
Part 6 (of 6): The Center

The Central Army is how the California Republic maintains order, puts down rebellions, and reinforces the border in times of invasion. It is the last of the great military commands in our discussion.

The Central Army's field of operation is not a rugged frontier territory, but the great Central Valley itself, the broad, flat ribbon of land that runs the entire length of the Republic, and which, when properly irrigated, forms some of the richest, most productive, and most versatile farmland in the world. Thickly sprinkled with villages and market towns, traced by canals and roads, hardly a hill to impede travel through it, the Valley is almost perfectly designed for central imperial control. The Central Army is responsible for enforcing the Governor's will in this prosperous land. A unit also is stationed in the much smaller Salinas Valley.

The headquarters of the Central Army is a large fortress outside of Sacramento. It runs some dozen subordinate forts up and down the Valley. Units are typically rotated and shuffled between forts to keep the army united and prevent regional loyalties from forming.

Some misconceptions ought to be corrected, however. A typical Californian peasant is not constantly being harassed by Central Army troops. The armed men that a peasant is most likely to encounter in a given week are the hired goons of the tax collectors and engineers, the hired muscle and iron used to make sure every Californian pays his due share of crops and labor to the state. These toughs are not centrally organized. Government agents hire them at their own discretion.

The Central Army is also not responsible for law enforcement, keeping the peace, or punishing criminals. The Sheriffs, peacekeepers in the towns and districts, play that role. The Sheriffs are organized into an empire-wide Police Force and therefore face much more central oversight than the tax and labor agents, so the men they hire tend to be a bit more reputable than the tax goons and are hired on a more permanent basis; but these men are still certainly not military troops and should not be confused with the Central Army.

The Army instead concerns itself with genuine internal threats: rebellions, insurgencies, worker strikes, power-hungry magistrates or landowners who flout the Governor's authority. In most cases, the soldiers act only as a deterrent. A detachment has only to show up to the site of a local uprising, and they find that the leaders have vanished into the hills and the former rebels deny ever joining them.

California does not want its people to forget about this large armed force in the center of the country. To remind them, it has instituted the Tours. For several months out of the year, army units leave their forts and tour around the countryside with great pomp and pageantry, making their presence known to all the people. Over time the Tour schedule has been perfected; major towns get a tour every year, and every village and hamlet can expect one every ten. A Tour is a tremendously exciting event for a sleepy rural community, and local leaders make sure to time them so they coincide with festivals and fairs. This system helps build positive feelings toward the army. Most Californians look on the troops with a certain affection as well as fear. In fact, when peasants do become discontented, they usually take pains to declare their loyalty to the governor and his army, and call on the soldiers to help them resist the corrupt local agents. This rarely impresses the soldiers and officers, who are not afraid to use ruthless methods to restore peace and order.

The Central Army's other role is as a reserve in case of foreign attack. This happens only very rarely, but the officers and men are trained vigorously for it so that they can face a large opposing force, should it come to that.

The leader of this force is the Master of the Central Army. He spends the bulk of his time in Sacramento, so he is always very close to the Governor and a major figure on his council. Governors appoint only trusted friends and relatives to this post, because it offers great opportunities for intrigue if the commander should be someone of questionable loyalty.

As a limit on his power, the troops that actually defend the city of Sacramento are not under the Master's command. The Governor's personal bodyguard controls the defense of the city. These men, many of them eunuchs, are fanatically loyal to the Governor's person. Though technically part of the Central Army, they are controlled by the Governor himself and a committee of captains, not by the central command. This means that the Master does not have the ability to hold the capital hostage... at least, not without great difficulty.
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