The economic structures and interactions of Terra Nova are far to complex to cover here. However, in the interest of giving a brief over- view of the situation, it can be said that most of the world's civilian products come from the UMF or the Mekong Dominion. But not all. Practically every city-state has its own niche market. Peace river has the most successful, called Paxton Arms. But -generally- it can be assumed that major production happens near the poles.
But the two major powers are not independent, economically. They both depend on the natural resources of the Badlands to provide them with material with which to build.
In the course of their adventures, the players are as likely to see an advanced, miniaturized computer terminal on the wrist of a lizard- riding peasant as they are to see two military officers fight out an old-fashioned honor duel with computer-designed composite/ceramic swords. They may even be given the opportunity to pilot a 5-meter tall humanoid machine that emulates the human body - and runs on ordinary gasoline.
Technology is varried throughout the world of Terra Nova. Even so far in the future as this game is set, devices that are quite easily imagined today can be found everywhere. There's good reason for this and it's summed up in a simple philosophy that the people of Terra Nova live by every day: "The more complex something is, the more likely it is to break." If you stop and think about it, what are the most reliable gadgets we have today? Most of the things we use on a daily basis - lightbulbs, cars, refrigerators, ovens and ranges - just haven't changed all that much since they were first invented. And why should they, other than incremental changes for efficiency gains and safety improvements? Four wheels gets you from point A to point B. Sure, you could have a hover-car, but what happens if the power goes out? Do you need fancy computers to control it?
The people of Terra Nova have taken this to heart. Out in the desert with high temperatures, engines can overheat easily. Why not ride a giant lizard? Sure, you won't get there in a hurry, but a creature that's perfectly acclimated to the environment. Besides, it doesn't need fuel - it just needs to eat a few small animals or some such. If you're in a hurry, you can use a car or truck, but you'd best be prepared for the eventual breakdown out somewhere in the 110-degree heat!
There are some things which are, by their nature, complex - and in those cases, people have no trouble accepting them. Wrist-worn coputers, Tri-D displays, holographic data discs and so forth. And then, of course, there's the ultimate in everday complexity... The Gear.
Gears are the workhorse of Terra Novan society. They are used for doing any big jobs - from battle to construction, mining to police enforcement. In their most general form, Gears are machines that are usually very humanoid in shape - two legs, two arms and a center torso. While there are variants on this general theme, Gear design companies have discovered that for the most part, the humanoid shape is fairly effective at getting work done - since it's a form we humans are already familiar with using.
Various models have wildly different features, but all have some similarities. First and foremost, Gears are moved by hydraulic systems driven by electric pumps. Those pumps are powered by generators mounted atop the "backpack", driven by a device known as a V-engine. Unlike a car engine, which has pistons inside an engine block, going up and down, a V-engine has a series of solid metal pistons conjoined at right angles (in a V shape) with the ends of each V in cylindrical blocks, not unlike a revolver's. These two cylinder-blocks rotate, causing compression and expansion of the pistons as the orbit (but don't rotate) around a central axis.
Okay, I know. The description of a V-engine is very confusing, and it's difficult to find any real information about it on the internet. However, it is a modern-day concept! The V-engine is an design created by students at the University of Colorado, though it appears no working prototypes have ever been created.
While it sounds quite complex, the V-engine has very few moving parts - keeping with the "simplicity is good" vein. It effectively two driveshafts - the center of each of the rotating cylinders. Each provides equal power. In our particular case, those are connected to a pair of generators which power the gear's systems and hydraulic pumps.
There are other bits of technology necessary for making a gear work, and the most important of these are Neural Nets (NNets). These are semi-fixed crystaline blocks which are imprinted with a basic "program", which is really a set of pathways. As the gear functions, new pathways grow through the material and the gear will "learn" behaviours. In general, this is a good thing. If you do the same motion over and over, the gear will get smoother and quicker at the motion as it is trained. Of course, it is also possible that the gear may learn "bad" behaviours as well... If your neighbor is angry at you, goes out at three in the morning every day and honks his car-horn at you, imagine what could happen if the car could learn that behaviour and start doing it without his input.
There are five languages which are most common on Terra Nova, and one language which is best considered an anomaly. Following is a list which will help you understand which languages are found where, and what they are all about.
Anglo ... Most widly-understood and taught, Anglo is the language of merchants, travellers, teachers, writers, and just about everyone who wants to be understood in as many places as possible.
Arabic ... Found mainly in the Northern Lights Confederacy, in the Irrian Plain. It is also the language of many revisionist
French ... Universal French is a derivative of ancient French, and is one of the official languages of the Southern Republic.
Hispanic ... Spoken in the Western Frontier Protectorate, this language is like a cross between English, Portugese, and Spanish.
Interlingua ... An odd language created a Humanist researcher, Interlingua is based upon the theory that human language has biological links in the brain. Interlingua is surprisingly easy to learn and even those who do not speak it can often catch the meaning of a spoken sentance.
Mandanese ... Spoken mainly in the Eastern Suns Emirates by the upper class.
Sign ... Not really a true language, Sign Language is constructed of motions set in specific order to create words. It is an old language for those who are deaf or mute.
While there are many religions on Terra Nova, only three are really prominant. The largest, without a doubt, is the Revisionist movement. Born from the teachings of The Gentle Prophet Mamoud Khodaverdi, Revisionism is a faith of love and acceptance. Revisionism is strongest in the North and in the Badlands.
Buddhism and Jerusalemism are the most common faiths in the South. Buddhism differs slightly from modern beliefs - it is still a faith of pacifistic ideologies, but many of the old rituals and trappings have been removed, leaving a more philosophical faith.
Jerusalemism is a unification movement. Their goal is to reintegrate all the Judeo-Christian faiths. While each brand of Jerusalemism still maintains its own set of beliefs, they all have in common belief in spiritual paradise and eternal damnation, redemption and sin and an immortal soul.
The Blue Crescent
The Blue Crescent is a religious/social order found throughout the badlands and even in the polar regions. They usually live in communes which mostly exist within cities. The communes can be significant in smaller towns, but they are usually seen as a harmless fringe group.
The Blue Crescent teach cooperation and benevolent communism as a way of life. They attempt to concentrate on the beauty and spirit of the community as a whole. Because of this, they shed physical aspects of themselves. All Blue Crescent members are shaved bald (male and female alike) and have a blue crescent tattooed on their forehead.
The Blue Crescent has no strict hierarchy or rank system.
The Divine Prophet
The Divine Prophet is a small but influential faction. They believe quite strongly that Mamoud was the universal life-force in human form. They have concocted an image of the man AS god, perfect and infallable. Any evidence otherwise is discarded as a fabrication meant to undermine the faith.
The Divine Prophet maintains a shadowy network of priests within both of the main Churches. The Second Follower (leader of the Sorrento Church) has privately called The Divine Prophet a heresy. The First Follower does not go that far, merely calling them misguided believers, though he agrees that the could be a problem to the faith as a whole.
Revisionist - Massadan
The Massadan sect is the original Revisionist group. When Mamoud Khodaverdi received his enlightenment in the Karaq Wasts, he founded this faith in the city of Massada. After his death, a schizm occured when the Prophet's lifelong companion founded a separate church in Sorrento.
The Massadan sect is strongest in the Badlands and parts of the South, and adheres most closely to the original teachings of Mamoud.
Each Revisionisit is expected to find their own interpretations of the Khodaverdia (the Revisionists' sacred text), though priests help in this endeavour. However, a few interpretations have become widely accepted as 'standards'.
First is that there is an almighty divine force which is universal and benevolent.
Second is a wish to promote peace and love in order to guide humanity to a harmonious existence.
Third is a belief in pacifism - since all things are connected by sympathy, a single act of violence can destroy the world, a single act of kindness may save it.
Finally, with the central theme of love and harmony, marriage is understood as the ultimate commitment to harmony. Divorce is not allowed. Because of this, individuals are encouraged not to marry impetuously - it is common for revisionist couples to live together for a decade before taking marriage vows.
There are two levels to the Revisionist Church. The First Follower is a 'wise man' who embodies all the elements of the faith and leads the Church and the city of Massada. He or she has a group of Counsels which are usually prominent thologians, social campaigners or trusted friends.
The second level is of Priests. There are two types: Clerics, who devote their life to the Church and preach in sanctified churches within Massada and guide and convert pilgrims. Clerics are the only people in the Church required to stay single (if not celibate). They are addressed as Father or Mother.
Teachers are the second type of priest. They can not evangelize or convert people, but are sanctioned to work across Terra Nova, teaching about the prophet. They often travel, but may also set up temples as communitiy centers. They are addressed as Brother or Sister.
There is really only one major difference between the Massadan and Sorrento sects, and that is a belief in Righteous Violence. Because of this, the Sorrento sect is seen as a more militant Church whereas the Massadan sect is peacable.
The Sorrento sect was formed after Mamoud's death. His lifelong companion Nathani returned to his native Sorrento and formed his own Church. The Sorrento sect is the Church which now dominates the North.