[[sophostos]]

Sophostos

The information presented on this page is intended to give you a flavour of this dome, to help you decide where you want your character to live and how they fit into the world. IC, most of it will be unknown to those who are not citizens. At game start, expect to receive a bit more detail on your chosen dome.

A dome characterised by a search for knowledge, where one's social standing is decided by exams.

Located in the North of the known world is the city of Sophostos. Famed for its great seats of learning, the Grand Library contains a vast and ever growing selection of books. The people are always searching for new knowledge, whether in the lab, the library or out in the field. The opening up of the Wilderness and new fields of research however has led to rapid changes, with new departments springing up and calls for the reform of the examination system.

Population: ~68,000

History

Ancient History

Founding and the Apocalypse

“In the distant past mankind was divided into many warring states that filled the entire planet. This was a time of great learning and culture and many great feats were possible, that we would dismiss as impossible today. Man could fly through the air like a bird, dive beneath the sea like a fish, and create the most wondrous things using thought alone. How much of this was truly possible and how much is mere hyperbole and myth we may never know but our ancestors were without a doubt far more technologically advanced than we are today. Unfortunately these times were not to last. No-one is quite sure how, but the World that was was destroyed. Some say that it was a great war that led to the end, these proud states putting their best minds to create ever more horrific weapons, weapons which could rain fire down from the heavens, kill with only a sound, and even poison the very earth. Others believe that mankind delved too greedily and too deep, awakening in the darkness a nameless evil from the dawn of time. However it happened, the Old World was destroyed, gone forever.

But all was not lost, wisdom still existed, even in these foolish times. A learned woman, our saviour and founder, Sophia Delagosta, foresaw the end and made plans to create a great repository, containing all of human knowledge, endomed to protect it from the outside world and the dangers that threatened it. Work started and before long a completely self sufficient society was created, filled with the best and the brightest minds and with books containing all of human knowledge. The dome was impervious to all outside forces, the knowledge contained within safe forever. Shortly after the dome was sealed what was predicted came to pass and the outside world, and all who lived in it, were destroyed. The people of the repository were alone.”

-Extract from “Sophostos; A History” by Joseph Gibbon

The Great Fire

“In the years following the destruction of the outside world much of the life of the new society revolved around the Great Library. Many were anxious to sort and categorise the books that had been saved, while others sought to fill any gaps in the collection with their own knowledge. Provision was also made to teach the children of the dome, for those original chosen had been permitted, nay encouraged even, to bring their partners and offspring into the safety of the dome with them. Essential work, such as the growing of food and the cleaning up of waste was carried out by volunteers, as nothing is more barbaric than forcing one to do work for which one is not suited and has no desire to perform.

Five years passed relatively uneventfully, but then disaster struck! Somehow, no-one knows how, a fire started in the Great Library, and although few were killed, much knowledge was lost. Many books were nevertheless saved, either wholly or in fragments and to aid with restoring the Library, as well as ensuring such a thing would never happen again the Order of Librarians (later to become known as The Most Ancient and Noble Order of Librarians) was founded, to devote their lives to protecting and maintaining the remaining books. Sophia Delagosta was installed as the first Chief Librarian and when her time in this world was drawing to an end she hand picked her successor.”

-Extract from “Sophostos; A History” by Joseph Gibbon

The Great Schools

“As the children of the first inhabitants grew to maturity it became clear that their education could not be left to periods of self study or informal instruction if they were to become as knowledgeable as their elders. To this purpose the eight Great Schools were created, each one responsible for education and research in one of the fields of human knowledge: Natural Philosophy, History, Law, Mathematics, Philosophy, Literature, Classics (Pre-Apocalypse Literature), and Politics. It was around this time that the first issues with discipline occurred, so a Dean was appointed by each School to maintain discipline. To co-ordinate matters between the Schools the position of Master was created. This position would doubtlessly have been offered to Sophia Delagosta, but she had unfortunately passed away just six months before so instead the Court of Fellows, a body comprising of all who taught at one of the Great Schools, appointed Julius Stoward as the first Master.”

-Extract from “Sophostos; A History” by Joseph Gibbon

The Rise of the Examination System

“To start with the dome ran reasonably well with everyone just performing the jobs they wanted to but as the level of complexity of society grew so did the number of problems. Many people wanted to perform the relatively few high profile, highly intellectual jobs, like professors, researchers, medics but few wanted to carry out the far more numerous but much less glamorous jobs of growing food, cooking or cleaning. It was clear that a way of deciding who should perform what jobs was needed… but how? The solution was simple and devised by Ambrosius Buchan. Everyone would still pick whatever job they wished but they would do so from a fixed list and in a predetermined order , thus ensuring that every job was filled. Exams were already used by each of the Great Schools as a learning aid and to determine whether one possessed sufficient knowledge to be allowed to teach, it was natural that this method be selected to determine the order in which one got to choose ones jobs. And so the first Grand Examination was held, consisting of a paper in each of the 8 Great Subjects, as well as a 9th General Paper produced by Ambrosius Buchan, the first Supreme Examiner. To allow opportunities to change job and to make advancement possible it was decided to hold the Grand Examination every 3 years. Over time the rating one received from the Examinations became used for more and more, determining one's home, where one could eat, and one's overall social status.

As the Rating became more and more important, so did the Board of Examiners so that eventually the Supreme Examiner, the person with the highest Examination Rating that cycle, became the most important and powerful person in Sophostos, while the role of Master, now a title given to the person with the highest Total Rating from all the Examinations they have sat over the course of their lifetime, became a largely ceremonial one and the Chief Librarian,still appointed by their predecessor, while remaining well respected, possesses little power outside of the Great Library. The Rating System was also made more flexible by allowing extra-credit to be awarded for services to the city, such as the production of a book or thesis or the making of a discovery or invention.”

-Extract from “Sophostos; A History” by Joseph Gibbon

Recent History

“The discovery that the dome could be opened and that there were other people out there had a massive impact on life in Sophostos. The most notable effect that this has had is greatly increasing the power and importance of the Schools of Natural Philosophy and Mathematics, the two Schools most involved in the exploration of the Wilderness and the construction of the IDRW. Historically these have been two of the least powerful schools with fewer affiliated Supreme Examiners or Masters than any other Schools. This rise in prominence lead to increased calls for more Specialised Exams, a viewpoint that had always been held by a small minority but now growing popularity for the first time. The rise of 'hobby rights', the idea that creative works or sporting ability should be rewarded also began during this time, encouraged no doubt by the example of other domes where these attributes are praised. On the other hand the discovery of other domes has proved quite profitable for Sophostos, as Sophostian knowledge and expertise is very much in demand in some of the other domes.”

-Extract from “The Impact of the Outside” by Dr Nicodemus Ford

The People

The class system of the dome is of course based upon where one is placed in the ratings. The following categories are something of an oversimplification, class in Sophostos is comprised more of a sliding scale than of discrete categories. In reality there would be little difference between the life of someone rated in the top 49% and someone rated in the top 51%.

Top 5% Rated

Supposedly made up of the finest minds of the dome, the top 5% are expected to fill the most important administrative roles such as Head of School or Department, Dean, High or Senior Examiner. They live in large houses with several servants. They have very little free time however as the demands of their jobs, and the level of private study required to remain at this level is immense. It is impossible to reach this level from the exam score alone, significant amounts of extra credit for making discoveries or writing books are needed.

Top 10% Rated

The top 10% perform jobs like Head of Sub school, Sub-dean, Junior Examiner, Respected Professor or Researcher. They live in smaller houses with maybe one or two servants. To reach this level one needs to either score incredibly highly in all nine exams, or as is becoming more common, scored very highly in most of the exams and also receive extra credit.

Top 20% Rated

It is perhaps at this level that the most in depth, specialised knowledge can be found and is where one will find Researchers, Medics, Lecturers, Teachers, Architects, or other professionals. They live in fairly large, comfortable apartments and often share a servant with a neighbouring apartment.

Top 50% Rated

Clerical workers, skilled craftsmen and students. Live in moderate apartments which are cleaned weekly. Large amounts of freedom of time and movement.

Bottom 50% Rated

Junior Craftsmen, Apprentices and semi-skilled manual workers. Small Apartment. May work as a servant for the top 5 or 10%.

Bottom 20% Rated

Unskilled Manual Workers. Very Small Apartment, may have to share with others.

Society

Despite being geared towards academic excellence life for most people is, with a few exceptions, very similar to the life of most city dwellers.

Government and Laws

“The political hierarchy in Sophostos is quite complex and can be confusing for outsiders. This is partly the result of how the state has grown organically and the fact that there is no single codifying moment or document setting out the duties and powers of Government. The Master, the person with the highest accumulated rating over their lifetime, is the Head of State, but retains very little personal power. He also serves as the chair of the Court of Fellows, a body made up of the top 10% rated citizens, which acts as the legislature. Although anyone in the top 10% is entitled to attend and vote in the Court of Fellows few actually do.

So far it has been quite simple but it is considering the executive branch of Government that things get really complicated. The Board of Examiners, headed by the Supreme Examiner, the individual with the highest rating from the most recent cycle of exams, sets the exams and allocates one's rating. Alongside the Bursar the Board of Examiners also arrange the accommodation and rationing brackets, setting out what goods and services people with different ratings are able to access. There are also the Heads of the Eight Great Schools, who are responsible for the education of the people of the dome, subject to the requirements of the exams, and for most of the employment. They also decide on the allocation of resources to the various sub-schools and departments beneath them.

Discipline is overseen by the Deans, of which there is one for each of the Great Schools. They are assisted in this by the sub-deans. Due to the nature of the society most crimes are non-existent, as all essentials and some luxuries are provided by the state in a manner consistent with one's Rating. Intellectual Property is taken very seriously however and any instances of plagiarism will be treated very harshly with Demerits from one's Rating and enforced Community Service. Mind Altering or Intoxicating Substances are also strictly forbidden.”

-Extract from Political Structures of the Eight Domes by Dr Gregorius Hernel

Economy

“There is no formal currency as most essentials are allocated based on one's Rating. A low rating entitles one to a small apartment, three basic meals a day in one of the Food Halls and a supply of material to make into clothing whereas a high rating will get one a large house and superior food and clothing.

The main medium of economic exchange is the favour, with everyone carrying around a book recording favours owed and due. These can be for things like teaching a child maths, producing an illustrated copy of a favourite book, etc. The system generally works on honour and the fact that if someone does not abide by the system and pay a favour when it is due then word will get around and no-one will give them favours in future. These favours can be traded, for example if Alicia owes Basilus a haircut and Basilus wants Charles to make him a pair of shoes and Charles wants his hair cut in return, Basilus can offer the haircut Alicia owes him in return for the pair of shoes. Basilus will then be obliged to write to Alicia to inform her of this arrangement.

In terms of trade Sophostos is primarily a knowledge economy, manufacturing is a low key affair with individual craftsmen producing sufficient quantities to satisfy the needs of the Dome but little more. What is made though is of very good quality.”

-Extract from “Political Structures of the Eight Domes” by Dr Gregorius Hernel

Daily Life

Most of the inhabitants of Sophostos live in student style accommodation, either alone or with a partner (who may or may not be romantically linked to them), and dine in communal dining halls. Most children board at their school but are encouraged to spend time with their parents in their free time. As most people spend most of them time in communal areas most people know each other and ideas can be exchanged quickly and easily.

Childhood

Most children board at school but often spend the weekends with their families. The classes are not sorted by age but rather by grade, with all children sitting exams every six months to determine their grade. As a result children of varying ages will be in the same class. A child is not considered an adult until they have passed the Majority Exams, which like the Grand Exams consist of an exam in each of the eight Great Subjects and a ninth general exam. Most children pass these exams between the ages of sixteen and eighteen although some do so at an older or younger age. Emma Timmons and Leonard Potts made history by being the youngest people ever to pass the Majority Exams, at the age of thirteen years and six months.

Apparel

Most people wear fairly simple, practical clothes; trousers or a skirt with a shirt or jumper are the most common items worn. Lab coats are popular among the scientists and some of the more highly rated individuals have started to copy the suits favoured by Muruvians. Academic Robes are worn on a few ceremonial occasions.

Technology

Sophostos is theoretically the most technologically advanced of all of the domes but does not put this advantage to as much use as some of the other domes as it lacks the means and the inclination to mass produce most of the inventions developed. In this respect Sophostos could be seen as the opposite of Murruvia. As a result there are lots of unrealised prototypes and blueprints for devices that have never actually been made. A good example of this is the steam engine, which was seen as mainly an academic curiosity for over two hundred years before being used to power the IDRW.

Interacting with the Outside

“Since the re-opening of the dome Sophostos has been one of the most outward looking domes, eager to make new discoveries and learn more about their fellow domes and the vast wilderness. Initially very keen on exploration, following the disappearance of three expeditions in the mountains north of Sophostos fifteen years ago and a number of other casualties, a moratorium on exploration was imposed until the completion of the IDRW; a project that Sophostos played a major role in, primarily with the design of the train and surveying of the tracks. Now that the railway has been completed and there is a greater understanding of the Wilderness a number of scientific and exploratory expeditions are being planned.”

-Press release from the Department of Cartographers

Layout

The dome is laid out much like any major university city, with a mixture of Dining Halls, Libraries, Lecture theatres, Laboratories and accommodation buildings scattered throughout the dome. There is also a fair amount of open space in which people can congregate and spend their free time.

Architecture

The architecture of Sophostos is quite impressive, although not as diverse or original as Cross. The appearance is also somewhat old-fashioned compared to most of the other domes with Neoclassical and neo-Gothic being the preferred styles.

Important Places

The Grand Library

The largest and oldest building in the dome, it contains the largest collection of books in the world, including a large number of books and written in the World that Was. It has been expanded a number of times and in some of the oldest parts the scorch marks from the Great Fire can still be seen.

The Court of Fellows

A large, circular building, where the Court of Fellows, the dome's legislature meets.

The Eight Great Schools

Eight large buildings spread equally in a circle around the centre of the city which serve as the home of each of the Great Schools. Each one was designed to reflect the subject that is based there. Each is surrounded by the buildings containing their largest sub-schools and departments. Going round clockwise they are:

The School of Natural Philosophy
The School of History
The School of Law
The School of Mathematics
The School of Philosophy
The School of Literature
The School of Classics
The School of Politics

The Department of Cartography

One of the newest buildings in Sophostos, situated near to the School of Natural Philosophy. The outside features a large mosaic depicting all of the known world.

The Museum of Natural History

Still under construction but nearing completion, this building is near to the School of Natural Philosophy and contains specimens of the plants and animals found in the Wilderness.

The Railway Station

Built in a grand Neoclassical style, rumour is that it was designed specifically to compete with the Muruvian Railway Station, which was designed in a more modern style.

The Observatory

A tower constructed half a days walk away from Sophostos to carry out astronomical and meteorological observations.

Common Opinions

Cross

“Some of the work they do there is extraordinary. I really enjoyed working with some of their Architects and Engineers on the Railway. They can really put things together and are great to bounce ideas off. They actually do stuff, not just talk about it.”
- Dr Leonard Potts, Engineer and Physicist

“They know how to appreciate a true artist there, not like here.”
- Xavier Zanadoo, Artist, Thespian and Hobby Rights Campaigner

Citadell

“Of all the domes that have been discovered Citadell worries me most. Their militarism is reminiscent of what little we know of the pre-Apocalypse societies, whose frequent wars nearly destroyed the world. I sincerely hope that they do not repeat the mistakes of the past and am glad that the weapons that supposedly existed back then no longer exist today”
- Dr Matthias Gallagher, Director of the School of Classics

Haven

“What a load of country bumpkins!”
- Anonymous student from the School of Classics

“Such a peaceful place, and surely they have much to teach us about botany and agriculture”
- Dr Emma Timmons, Biologist and Chemist

Wildekein

“This is a fascinating case study of life without government, of mankind in a primal state, of true anarchy and it works! At the same time it is an illustration of the need for government and the formation of a social contract as certain deeds are deemed to be 'bad' and discouraged for purely selfish reasons. No one stabs the barkeep as if they did there would be no-one to serve drink. It is a shame contact with other domes will corrupt this otherwise fascinating glimpse into primitive social life”
- Dr Gregorius Hernel, Director of the School of Politics

Muruvia

“A very enterprising dome. If only they valued learning as much as they valued making a profit”
- Zacharius Smith, Master of Sophostos

“Possibly my favourite dome, everyone is so busy and there are so many opportunities to make deals”
- Rowena Smith, Diplomat

Kallipolis

“Kallipolis is a mystery wrapped up in an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum. They select the wisest to rule, as we do, and place a high emphasis on educating their children. Somehow though they have developed in a way totally different to us and most seem to lose all interest in learning after a certain age, perhaps because there seem to be no rewards for doing so”
- Dr Humphrey Goddard, Supreme Examiner

“Boring place, no interest in art or anything, I've heard that they've banned fun”
- Xavier Zanadoo, Artist, Thespian and Hobby Rights Campaigner

Ravissem

“Their advances in Medicine are highly impressive, even more considering the general lack of drive and original research. Some of it, like the cosmetic surgery, seems rather useless but I would very much like to learn more of what they know.”
- Dr Emma Timmons, Biologist and Chemist

The IDRW

“A triumph of modern engineering. Truly those who came up with the idea for it must have been inspired geniuses. What do you mean, wasn't I one of the original designers? Well yes but that doesn't change the validity of my opinion.”
- Dr Anthony Buckley, Head of the Schools of Natural Philosophy

“A testament to inter-dome co-operation, which makes such co-operation much easier in future. Hopefully it will promote a peaceful exchange of knowledge and ideas between the domes and aid in the further exploration of the Wilderness.”
- Dr Humphrey Goddard, Supreme Examiner

The Wilderness

“An absolutely fascinating place filled with a myriad of different plants and animals and new things to discover. I've just seen a little of it during my time working on the IDRW but I can't wait to see more of it. There's just so much for us to learn from it, and who knows we might even find more societies that survived the End of the Old World. This is such an exciting time to be a biologist!”
- Dr Emma Timmons, Biologist and Chemist

“It's filled with bugs and snakes and creepy crawlies and other worse things. It's always too cold, or too hot, or too wet and you're never comfortable. And that's just the railway camps! I don't see what Timmons likes about it so much, or why she always has to drag me along.”
- Dr Leonard Potts, Engineer and Physicist

“Exploring and mapping out the Wilderness is the most important job we can do now that the railway is complete. What a time to be alive in. This is a chance to make a real mark on history, to really make a difference.”
- Natalia Thorne, Head of the Department of Cartographers

Paradise

“Paradise. References to it are scattered throughout the Old Texts and now we find that there are myths about it among all of the domes we have discovered. No two sources agree on what exactly it is however, indeed there is the old joke that if you ask two philosophers 'What is Paradise?' you will get five different answers. Some believe Paradise is an afterlife, where the virtuous go after they die; others claim that it is a state of mind. Some say that it is a place, out there in the Wilderness, while others say that it was a place but no longer exists, that it was the way the world was before even the World that Was. Perhaps it is all of these things, or none of them. Maybe with all the domes coming together for the first time we will find out soon.”
- Dr Marcellus Biggs, Head of the School of Philosophy

On Exams and Ratings

“The breadth of knowledge that the Exams test one on is necessary in order to reflect the nature of an education system designed to produce well rounded individuals, able to engage with and tackle a whole range of issues from a whole range of subjects. A more specialised, focused system might lead to better doctors, or better architects but it would result in weaker Sophostians.”
- Humphrey Goddard, Supreme Examiner

“Trivia. That is what we are really being tested in. Trivia. With the number and breadth of exams we can't be tested in anything else. No depth, no nuances, no real subtlety. We need to overhaul the system and have fewer, more specialised exams. Rather than one Natural Philosophy exam we should have exams in Chemistry, Biology, Physics and not require everyone to waste their time memorising lines from books by long dead authors. Literature and History are fine but it has nothing to do with my job and nothing to do with how smart I am. Think of the advancements that could have been made if we did not all have to spread ourselves over eight radically different subjects”
- Dr Anthony Buckley, Head of the School of Natural Philosophy

“I say extra credit should not be reserved solely for works of academic importance but for cultural and artistic efforts as well. We reward the one who writes a piece analysing the symbolism of a poem more than we reward the poet themselves. I say that makes no sense at all. Without the poet there would be nothing to analyse. We all appreciate culture but we don't appreciate the ones who produce it.”
- Xavier Zanadooo, Artist, Thespian, and Hobby Rights Campaigner

Rolling a Sophoston Character

Note: this section is for creating a character in Sophostos. For more general character creation read the character creation page.

Characters from Sophostos tend to be driven by a search for knowledge and information. This may be scientific but there are also plenty of scholars in other fields as well. One of the most technologically advanced domes, it lacks the pure creativity of Cross.

Sophostos is well suited to civilised characters with ambition, particularly those with skills in science, humanities and the arts, as well as characters with more mundane backgrounds. Politically-minded characters can also work, especially if they are focussed on diplomacy with other domes. Sophostos lacks a proper police force and has no standing army, so military characters will not fit in this dome. Explorer types will fit in well with the Department of Cartographers.

When rolling a character things to consider include which of the Great Schools, if any, your character is affiliated with and if they have a particular area of study. Another thing to consider is that as rank in this dome is based on academic ability it would be unlikely for someone in the top 10% to have inept academics… unless they have a high stealth and are very good at cheating in exams.

Playable Ranks

You can choose any of the following ranks from the hierarchy. The Skills in brackets are the favoured skills for each rank (meaning you can take up to 3 points in that skill, rather than the usual 2).

Rank Favoured Skills
Top 10% Rated Academics and Strategy
Top 20% Rated (Humanities)Academics and Strategy
Top 20% Rated (Science)Academics and Medicine
Top 50% Rated Academics and Craftsmanship
Bottom 50% RatedAcademics and Craftsmanship
Bottom 20% RatedEndurance and Craftsmanship

Sophoston Specific Traits

For more information about the traits system, as well as other traits a Sophoston character can take, please visit the traits page.

Eidetic Memory (+3)

You are fortunate to have a near perfect memory. A major advantage in exams or any time you need to recall precise details. OOC Note: Attempts at memorising something seen in session must be brought to the attention of a GM during the session

Thesis (+2)

You studied for and wrote a thesis, making you a functional expert on an aspect of obscure knowledge, such as The lifestyle of Social Insects, 2nd Century Poetry or Rocks and Minerals of the Northern Quadrant. Let us know what it was on!

Cloudcuckoolander (-2)

Street Smarts? Common Sense? Such things are for lower minds, you prefer to focus on higher things. Unfortunately this can be quite disadvantageous as with your mind rarely focused on the mundane world you often fail to notice or appreciate the possible dangers that surround you.

Costuming

Remember, dressing up is entirely optional! These are simply suggestions for those who want to.

Sophostons favour smart yet practical clothing. The general look is rather 'preppy' if you are playing a younger character while older characters would wear slightly more old fashioned clothing. As Muruvian fashion is gaining in popularity among the ambitious and outward looking a suit may also be a suitable costume.

Naming Conventions

Most people from Sophostos have Latinate first names with more English sounding surnames. There are however exceptions to this rule, for example Emma Timmons does not have a Latinate first name and Xavier Zandadoo has an extremely unusual surname.

sophostos.txt · Last modified: Mon 20 Oct 2014, 01:21:42 UTC by gm_jamesw
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