Life in The Rockery is dominated by eight social “bodies” whose influence envelops every aspect of an individual’s existence, particularly in the teeming capital of Anchor. Anyone who wants to be anyone of any importance must curry favour with one or more of the bodies to succeed: in Anchor who you know is almost as important as what you know. Gossip can kill in the claustrophobic alleys and dwellings of the capital and knowing the right people might just save your life or, more importantly, your reputation.
Image: Invitations, Tom Garnett.
The much-feared, much-maligned Bureaucracy is the seemingly monolithic organisation that handles most of the day to day running of society. The responsibilities of the Bureaucracy include organising the water supply, drafting laws, running the audit and Law and Order. On paper, its power is immense. The favour of the Bureaucracy is a fine thing to have, especially on Audit Day.
Read more about the departments of the Bureaucracy here: LINK - Bureaucracy
With such large populations crammed onto such tiny landmasses, social cohesion is incredibly important to life in The Rockery. Religion plays a huge part in keeping harmony and peace, particularly in the overflowing streets of Anchor. The Church of the Anchorer has shouldered this burden and ministers to the population as well as keeping law and order. Unfortunately having such large populations crammed onto such tiny landmasses also means that dissent, rumour and revolt are never far from the minds of the citizens of The Rockery. As such religious warfare and persecution rage just below the genteel surface of society, as the establishment battles to keep the criminal and heretical at bay.
Read more about the Clergy, Inquisiton and Knights Anchorer here: LINK - Church
The bustling docks see everything and everyone that comes in and out of Anchor - as such it is the first place that much-needed food and water, Found Fashion and Islander visitors set down in the capital. The sheer amount of paperwork necessary for the docks to be a well-oiled machine - ship ownership papers, writs of passage, inventories, schedules and rotas, health and safety legislation - generate mountains of work for the ever-present bureaucracy to process. Vast warehouses hold masses of exotic goods waiting for shipping out to the islands or to be scuttled off to other areas of Anchor. Taverns and coffee houses in the area brim with confused visitors, flambouyant skydancers, weary bureaucrats, burly dockers and engineers discussing the latest in balloon and skyship design. It thus provides a haven for gossip and opportunities. Influence here could mean many things - access to warehouses, shipping manifests, even a preview of the latest Found Fashion before it seeps into the streets of Anchor.
Read more about the Docks here: LINK - Docks
At first glance, the Islanders seem dull and provincial in comparison to the residents of Anchor, though the wise will not let this fool them. Islanders have their own concerns, true, and these tend to be specific to the island in question. When your only trip to Anchor is for Audit Day, it's easy to be overwhelmed and confused by the capital. Thus the Islanders have loosely bound together in a coalition, but only recently. At heart, they are still insular groups, fearful of outsiders. This doesn't mean they are without influence, as some have found to their cost. Disrespect a Basinet and you risk your water shipment being delayed or tampered with, or running out of food. Turn your back on a Shackler and you risk vendetta from his fellows. The Islanders may lack the subtlety and refinement in methods the Anchor citizen knows well, but they should not be underestimated. And the further you are from Anchor, the less influence the Church and the Bureaucracy have, not that these august bodies would admit such things.
Read more about the various Islands here: LINK - Geography
Before the city made its daring escape from a vaguely sensible geography, four noble houses ruled Anchor hand and fist. Since then, they've ceded a lot of their power to the logistics of the Bureaucracy and the might of the Anchorites, but have lost nothing of their ambition and their tenacity. They wrote the book on intrigue and treachery, and their collected books of dirty tricks could fill a library. The Nobility may be a dying breed, but they're far from dead yet, and they don't plan to fade into history any time soon.
Read more about the 4 noble houses here: LINK - Nobility
Skydancers live apart, rarely setting foot on land. They travel in Troupes, one to a skyship, each one tattooed and decorated with whatever they can barter for. Rumours abound about them, for they share little with those outside their own close circles. What is known is that if you have need for something from the mist’s edge, or to travel further than the commonly known routes, you have no choice but to hire a Skydancer Navigator or risk crashing on the drifting rocks and chains - or worse, becoming lost in the fog and drifting endlessly. Holding monopoly on both the navigational routes and the control over iron ore that they seem to have, they can set the prices they choose for the goods and commodities at Anchor’s harbours, but they are rarely welcomed.
Read more about Skydancer tribes here: LINK - Skydancers
All society has its criminal elements, in this respect The Rockery is no different. Whether it be through smuggling, piracy, forgery, blackmail etc… there's always going to be a market for it somewhere. Forging/stealing Bureaucratic documents is the most common form of crime, in a society where a correctly signed Audit form can change one's life forever many people are willing to dirty their hands if it means making a fortune or saving/ending a life. However, the most lucrative engagement by far is that of Sky Piracy. Everything in The Rockery will have to take to the sky at some point: goods, information, people, all of these are potential prizes for an individual with loose morals and an eye for profit. Of course, you need a ship too, but you could always just steal one.
Read more about the Underworld here: LINK - Underworld
The students, and the artistic community that mingles with it in Gongtredding, are viewed with suspicion by many citizens. It is believed that some students disavow the Church, participate in strange cults or even openly express atheism. Artists question the established order by means of paintings (often little more than pictorial graffiti on the nearest bare wall), coded symbolism in sculpture and poetry, and raucously seditious music, while the students write tracts and leaflets, form small talkative political collectives, and congregate in smoky coffeehouses to debate on freedom of speech. The University, and because of it - the whole Gongtredding district, is viewed by the Anchor authorities as a hotbed of trouble and treason.
University Influence is likely to mean access to message runners, fringe movements, a printing press or the latest anatomical texts.
Read more about the University here: LINK - University