The Doom That Came to Sarnath
Sarnathi Culture and Entertainment
The Sarnathi are above all a people of migrants and borrowed ideas. The founders of the city were migrants from far to the southeast, according to lore, and over the centuries, the city’s unique government system has drawn those who hope to make a new life for themselves and their descendants, peoples from all across Maynar and beyond, and all have added to the hodge-podge of Sarnathi traditions.
The dominant religion of the city is the worship of the Pantheon, the many domestic gods of the city and its neighbors, the three chief gods being Zo-Kolar, Tamash and Lobon – gods of duty, commerce, and war. Accordingly, Sarnathi value duty and responsibility as the chief virtues, and the main duties of a citizen are to serve in war, when needed, and to create value for the city’s economy.
Citizens also have a duty to produce offspring – same sex relationships are quite common, but frowned upon if they are seen as interfering with one of the participants’ duty to create new citizens. In recent decades, as the fear of the Doom has gripped the city, the power of a more fervent branch of the worshipers of Zo-Kolar, calling themselves the Singers, has increased. As opposed to the more traditional form of worship, which was often seen as almost transactional, the Singers believe that moral living is key to staving off the doom. They shun the decadence of the past ages of Sarnath’s glory, seeing it as pride and vanity. They associate homosexuality with these times, and so, increasingly homophobia is becoming a problem, especially in Oldtown, where the Singers have much influence.
The city has always had a complicated relationship with its vegetation – the city is verdant and covered in trees, vines, mosses and plants of every variety, but the proximity of the Greening Yawp means that there is always a danger that these plants will host illicit godlife. Accordingly, the Gardeners’ Department is a powerful administrative office, drawing primarily from botanists, aethernauts and the clergy. They maintain all city parks and have wide power, especially if they believe citizens to be maintaining illegal gardens.
Those wealthy enough to live in the Estates have private gardens, which are regularly monitored for infection. Districts of free citizens have communal gardens, which are even more tightly monitored and controlled. In poorer districts, like Miasma, gardens are strictly forbidden, on the grounds that monitoring in such an environment is logistically unfeasible. The penalty for violating this law can be quite severe – exile, or even death. Of course, the reality is that private gardens are quite common, perhaps even more so since the fall of the apothecaries, who once provided most medicinal herbs to the poor.
Sarnathi value their free time and like to spend it communally – for the poor, in underground theaters called Golgerisi, or dance and music halls where beer, liquor, marijuana and opium are consumed. For the rich, opera is in vogue at the moment, as is snuff, and wine. There are also frequent symposiums, and exhibitions in the area around Watchmakers’ Square, ranging from talks on the behavior of foreign gods, to displays of new transportation machinery, to bizarre animals caged for the fascination of Sarnathi residents.
One distraction shared by Sarnathi of all social ranks is gladiatorial combat. Conquered warriors, pit-slaves raised for combat, strange automata from the Clockwork Assembly, bizarre beasts bred by the zoologists , and foreign monstrosities brought in by the far-ranging explorers of the Pilots’ League – all can be seen in the arenas, especially the central Stade du Peuple in New Sojourn. Regulations and attempts at reform have put some limits on the more extreme combats, and so there is now also an underground circuit, run by the Triad. This last is becoming especially popular based out of Miasma