The academic culture of Tomos is its pride and the centerpiece of its identity. Though Tech Level 3 in Earth's history represented the European Dark Ages, Tomos has never experienced such a wholesale loss of knowledge.

The Sciences

Since the earliest written record of Tomosic learning, mathematics has been an honored art, especially geometry. The compass and straightedge are iconic symbols with multiple meanings of logic, rationality, truth, and perfection; mathematical concepts such as the Golden Mean and the five regular solids are integrated into buildings, art, and even philosophies. By dint of widespread cultivation mathematics is at TL4; calculus is just now appearing on the scene. Academicians are excited about the possible applications to many other fields of endeavor. (Among those skills currently at TL3, but in a position to be thrust forward to TL4 soon by the advent of calculus, are Astronomy, Cryptography, Physics, and possibly others.)

Alchemy and Chemistry, as one might expect from a society so obsessed with the elements, are also at TL4. Astronomy is a noble science as well, though for the moment it resides at TL3. (Astrology is also alive and kicking, whether assisted by divination spells or not.)

The natural sciences have yet to specialize; a professional "scientist" is more likely to have some knowledge of many of the recognized subfields, including but not limited to geology, zoology, botany, meteorology, astronomy, and physics. The wildcard skill Science! is not necessarily cinematic in this setting: it represents a fundamental training in all known scientific knowledge, which is well within reach of a good Academy's curriculum.

Astronomy is currently working on the geocentric theory with the epicycle variant. Medicine has a good knowledge of gross anatomy but the germ theory is still well in the future; coarse surgery, wound-stitching and bonesetting are available and a herbary is known (mostly for symptoms), but cures for diseases are usually going to involve either patience or magic.

Social sciences are similarly unspecialized. Archaeology, history, linguistics, sociology, and theology all overlap and GMs may consider ignoring any requirements to specialize: there just isn't that much information available yet. Economics is not yet a recognized area of study(Finance is considered applied business knowledge).

Farming in Tomos is TL2; the horse collar and shoe have not been invented, and the horse is primarily used as a beast of burden and war. If Tomos did not receive regular infusions of Essential Earth, it would be unable to support its urban population with the arable land available.

Shockingly, Architecture remains at TL2(as does its dependent, the Civic specialization of Engineering); buildings and civic structures such as roads and water distribution systems still have the general flavor of the past millenium. The size of the island reduces the need for long roads or vast aqueducts; stone manufactured from Essential Earth bears large loads and reduces the need for creative engineering advances.

The Arts

Tomos honors its poets and orators as much as it does its scientists. Plays are entertainment for both rich (in private theaters) and poor (often put on by students for free, in public spaces). They range from comedic to tragic, and from fluff to moral or political content. Monologues and poetic recitals are equally welcomed.

Musical performances are held in similar esteem; Tomos enjoys the lyre, flute, piccolo, bugle (without keys; pitch is only varied within a set of harmonics), and a wide variety of percussion instruments, as well as of course singing, all solo or in ensembles large or small. A genre that has been around for a few years is "experimental percussion," in which some decidedly peculiar instruments are fashioned. The pan pipes (named "farmer's flutes" here) are known, but considered mostly rural.

Debates are always free, and always held in public; indeed, they are just as likely to be spontaneous arguments that draw a crowd as they are to be scheduled by the Convention or an academy for edification of the public. They're considered great fun, complete with boos and applause. Heckling is frowned upon, though, as the orators are expected to say their piece. The topics can be philosophical or religious disputations, current political events, scientific dialogues, artistic critiques, or any other topic under the sun. A good debater who makes several widely-watched appearances and wins can develop a positive reputation as a notable mind; failures have less effect, unless they are comedically disastrous.
Debate Skills

Trying to "win" a debate is best roleplayed if a PC is involved; for quick resolution, roll against both parties' Public Speaking skills and any applicable skill, such as Current Events, Biology, Theology, or so forth. Unless Public Speaking is a critical success, a talked-about win requires a success on both rolls, with a combined total on the two margins of success higher than that of one's opponent if they also passed both. Any use of Enthrallment in this setting is first contested by one's opponent's Enthrallment skill, if they have it, or Public Speaking-3 if they do not.

Because Tomos is a democracy, social characters have the chance to rally the people to make sweeping changes. The Pyramid article on doing so at provides a great framework in which to measure the success of characters' efforts.

Tomos recognizes "wordsmiths" -- poets, dramatists (both writers and actors of plays), singers, and orators -- as a protected class due Bardic Immunity. Qualification requires a minimum total of three points in at least three of Writing, Poetry, Acting, Public Speaking, Group Performance, and Singing, and one point in Current Events. Particularly talented wordsmiths with a keen eye for human nature gain great reputations, and a few of the poets of ancient times are still regularly addressed in prayers for inspiration from beyond.

The visual arts are well-compensated and visible in many corners of public life, but less honored than the arts of the word. Painting, thanks to the mathematics of perspective and plentiful coloring materials, is at early Renaissance levels of quality, while sculpting relies heavily on the Golden Ratio rather than strict realism. Earthy browns, watery blues, airy whites and greys, and fiery yellows and oranges are the favorite colors of cloth, ceramics, woodwork, and other crafts. (Reds, unless required for realism, are considered unlucky in their association with the Red Moon.)


With so many thinkers debating the details of the world, there are numerous schools of thought on how to organize the mass of knowledge available to Tomosics and present a coherent view of existence. Three of these schools have become widely popular; anyone who considers themself educated in Tomosic society probably subscribes to one in particular, though there are many more loose adherents than experts who rigorously understand a school's arguments. One reason these three schools in particular may have become popular is that, in Tomos' magically-active environment, great personal dedication to disciplines of the mind can awaken personal abilities, in the case of these schools psionic powers. Indeed, adherents of Tomosic philosophies who are inclined to deride the Church of Oneness simply claim that priestly devotions permit them the abilities of "holy magic" they exhibit as a flavor of psi.

To gain psi benefits from philosophical training requires at least two years of study, and 2 points or a skill of 14 in Philosophy (school), whichever is higher. Along with psi, all three schools can teach the Visualization Advantage. This alone makes them popular with those who can benefit from this technique, which is almost everyone.

The abilities granted by these schools are not, at least at their current level of understanding, externally effective. They could almost be explained as products of keen observation and self-control, if it weren't for the occasionally precise controls they offer. If other psionic abilities are learnable or inborn on Terra, they are not yet known to Tomos at large.

Causalism is a popular philosophy among scientists and mages. It posits that the universe exists as a series of causes and effects; that information is never either created or destroyed, only perceived; and that sapience is a self-perceiving datum. Causalists ultimately reject free will and regard the Universe as deterministic. From these premises they draw the conclusion that Man and Nature are understandable and controllable. Causalism teaches a sensitivity to the patterns of causality: adherents develop ESP powers from among Danger Sense, Oracle, Precognition, and Racial Memory. Keen sensitivity to details may permit a Causalist to learn See Invisible in some cases; this is a subject of current study.

Sapentism, with hints of solipsism, regards the entire Universe as a consensus reality created by minds; which minds is a matter of some debate, with some adherents assigning the creative function to the Four Gods (or all Eight Powers), and others expanding the list to all sapients. With the creation function assigned to the One God, this school of philosophy is not even considered heretic by the Church of Oneness. Study of the patterns in which minds react to events is called for under this school, and the results teach sensitivity to mental activity: students can obtain Telepathy psi powers, including Empathy and Animal Empathy, and Terror (touch only: Melee Attack with C,1 range, -20%). Speak with Animals is a recently-developed success. There is some indication that Sapentists may be on the verge of developing Special Rapport, too: the school's latest leader is married and apparently very devoted to his wife.

Somatism, almost an animist belief, regards the Universe as a living organism made up of separate parts, and argues that the proper framework in which to understand reality is one in which the instincts, desires, and life cycle of this organism is understood. This in turn requires study of more accessible living organisms, especially oneself. This school is popular among doctors and soldiers, not least because it teaches abilities from Psychic Healing: Detect (for diseases, poisons, etc.), Metabolism Control, Resistant, and Regeneration. The school is searching avidly for a way to heal others (true psychic Healing ability), and Regrowth would be a natural extension of its abilities.

Cultural Touchstones

Particular works of art with which any educated Tomosic is expected to be at least passingly familiar (in something like the expectation that an American has heard of Mark Twain), and which have informed proverbs and paradigms in Tomosic thought, include the (mostly) nonfiction Voyage of Dionides the Traveller, the (mostly) fiction Romance of Vasha, and the (mostly) religious Messages of the Emissaries.

The Voyage opened the world to Tomosics. The astrologer had kept sufficiently accurate notes to map an entire hemisphere well enough to travel and had independently developed the astronomy and trigonometry necessary for global navigation. He described numerous lands and peoples, always through an impenetrable language barrier (and occasionally, the modern reader suspects, somewhat embellished) but evincing a growing respect for the wondrous variety of ways in which humans had made accommodation with strange, terrible, and beautiful environments. The capability of every man to contribute in unexpected ways to the betterment of a people also became an axiom he used to argue for a republican form of government, collecting influences from numerous different societies and coalescing them into what he claimed must be the ideal form of a nation, one in which every man's contribution was weighed and the best chosen.

The most famous work of fiction in Tomosic culture is the Romance of Vasha, the tale of how Dionides met, wooed, and married his wife. The _Voyage_ touches little on this incident and later writers ran with the idea of a romance in an exotic setting between strangers from distant countries. The definitive version, an epic poem of numerous chapters, is a collection of the work of many authors and contains scenes of high comedy (the Sanguine of the West disguised as his own daughter), action (desperate flight of the couple from pursuing assassins), tragedy (the sacrifice of Horizon crewmen), and passionate romantic passages of love at first sight. A selection of scenes can provide an entire night's entertainment for a travelling speaker. Play versions of the Romance are standard fare for acting troupes as well.

The Messages of the Emissaries is a collation of the pronouncements of the Four Gods as given by their emissaries, of all kinds. The work still grows as reports are brought to the Temple and found reliable, but the core books set out the story of creation (capsule version: from the naked possibility of the four forms of matter arose gods to oversee them; the four, occasionally cooperating and occasionally squabbling or even warring, created the rest of the Complex and ended up on Terra itself, capping the work with Man) and the stories of quests commanded or undertaken by the emissaries. These latter house the moral commandments, often in the context of struggles against the Four Devils (a product of man's free will, an effect not anticipated by the Gods, who are, after all, basically elementals themselves). Amalkur of Earth comes off best in the most of these, though Lyn of Water is well-liked.

Stories and songs are also made of the work of adventurers, the Enlightenment War, and satires of current politics. About the length of a short story when written, these works take perhaps an hour to recite orally and are some of the works most commonly produced by travelling professional entertainers. Popular legends have been made of the monsters of myth from when the world was less tamed, and the efforts of mankind to subdue their world. Tomosic heroes tend to champion the common man and have a sage advisor or true friends -- more recent legends have companions from Vare or the tropical islands. One genre of lighter works veers between political satire and morality play, and anthropomorphizes the nations of Terra as family who live in the same house: Tomos is an easygoing academic man, Vare is a rough-and-ready brick (or sometimes a tomboy), the Western Alliance is a precocious kid brother, and so forth.


School in Tomos comes in several discrete phases, each with a specific purpose.

Required of all children, and paid for by general taxation, is a four-year course of study that begins at the age of 6 or 7. Primary is meant to teach students how to think -- not all students will become full citizens, but everyone can be given the opportunity, at least theoretically. The central class is mathematics; every adult in Tomos is expected to be able to handle enough of numbers and geometry to make basic mercantile and agricultural calculations. Philosophy is second in importance -- many teachers have a favored school they emphasize, but a broad overview of the major schools is expected. Oration is also taught, supplemented with memorization of classic monologues, debates, poetry, and plays. Social studies include the geography of the island and planet, the history of the nation, and the ideas behind democratic government. All of this is oral, with the exception of numbers and geometric diagrams -- literacy is considered an advanced skill.

All further schooling is voluntary. At the age of 10 or 11, once primary schooling is complete, some students simply return home and carry on with family farming, while others enter into apprenticeships in the trades. Specialized secondary schools of three years exist for boys who wish to become soldiers; these are boarding schools, and are also state-subsidized. General preparatory schools exist to prepare students for further study to become mages, teachers, or thinkers such as mathematicians or philosophers. These schools teach literacy, writing, further mathematics, and more in-depth history, literature, and very basic natural science. Such schools are private, and outside of the cities are usually boarding schools; tuition varies but a minimum is perhaps $4200 a year, the entire income of a struggling farmer. This secondary education is considered sufficient to become a civil servant or enter formal study of magic or the priesthood. It also is a plus if one is seeking high position in business.

Upon completion of this phase of schooling, students (now 14 or 15) who want to enter academia seriously take strenuously competitive examinations. The battery of tests usually takes days, and include personal interviews as well as written and oral examinations; youthful characters facing the exams should be encouraged by the GM, via the devisement of diabolically complex, extensive, and competitive examinations that call for employment of a wide variety of skills. (For students who lack real skills, some schools consider effective cheating a sign of potential and enthusiasm.)

Academies are solely housed in the cities, and board out-of-towners who pass the exams. The most prestigious, of course, are in Unitum. Students at the academies specialize in their intended professional study, such as mathematics, medicine, philosophy, or the natural sciences. They are quite expensive, though donors are known to provide scholarships for particularly promising young students; nothing so crass as a business exchange takes place, but a student thus assisted is pressured to use his talents for the benefit of his sponsor. For larger-scale projects, academies as a whole are available as "think tanks" for wealthy donors. Graduates of the academies often become professional academicians themselves, though some seek high office, become artists, or decide to become travellers. Academies are typically run by a single well-known thinker, and the intellectual flavor of the academy -- the philosophical leaning of the teachers and the courses of study available -- will reflect his inclinations.

Status, Taboos, and Stigmas

Variations on the basic system of status in Tomos are mostly involved with the nature of democracy. A typical freeman is at Status 0; a citizen is at Status 1, and elected officials gradually increase in rank from the mayor or judge of a small town or region, at Status 2, to the Executor and Caller of Tomos, at Status 6. Slaves have Status -4, though those currently on duty as a patrolman or similar governmental function must be respected. Women who are of marriageable age and still single, especially those who have moved into professions, suffer a low-grade Social Stigma, a Status one level less than their efforts would usually gain. The election of female citizen to a public office has not yet occurred, and would be a seismic event.

Slaves who are in bondage for less than 4 more years slowly buy their status back up to its original amount at one level per year; slaves in bondage for less than a remaining year, for minor crimes for example, have only temporary low Status to worry about.

Tomos is a society in which Innumeracy carries an additional Social Stigma, and lack of at least 1 character point in mathematics constitutes an Ignorance. Priests of the Temple of the Mountain carry a Social Regard when clearly in vestments.

Other culturals find Tomosic society positively lacking in serious taboos; in polite Tomosic society one can discuss highly-charged issues and find reasonably academic consideration given. The ages of consent, voting, contractual obligation, and similar effects of majority are all 14 years of age, though marriage at 12 is legal with the consent of guardians. Teachers and skilled academicians are given much respect; disrupting their activities, or those of formal governmental affairs, is shockingly rude. Heckling of artistic performers is likely to get one ejected from the building, unlike in historical medieval societies.