Note From The Authors: The culture of Amova is loosely based on the Belgium of 1890, but several discoveries and ideas have come either early or late in this other version of reality; society is substantially affected when you add extra species and magic.
Exports And Trade
With a long and very accessible coastline full of ports and eight months of fine weather, Amova is an industrial trading hub. Most of its raw materials come by sea into the great cities of Viranus, Dallo, Menai and Myrit, entering the forges, smelters and workshops of these cities and emerging as sophisticated devices sold across the continent. Only the north is a little behind the times, and Wycliffe, Odegi and their environs mostly export fish, warm wool and hemp products. The north relies on its rustic charm for a healthy tourist trade as well.
The Amovans keep the upper hand in trade by virtue of their technological acumen and their industrial efficiency; they'll sell you a motor car, but they won't teach you how to build one. Nevertheless, the country, and especially the capitol city of Viranus, enjoy a constant influx of students to its universities, which provide the best education that can be had in Atla.
Society And Religion
There is no official state religion and technically discrimination based on creed, race or species is illegal. But society is slow to change.
Before the Agency and the ongoing industrialization began, the Amovans were a mainly human society of farmers and fishermen, run by a council of the landed aristocracy. Three hundred years before the beginning of our story, a series of riots and social unrest induced the aristocracy to create The Agency, an oversight group staffed with members of all levels of society (theoretically) which came to have three branches: the Agency Council, the executive branch; the Agency Constabulary overseeing law enforcement and social services; and the Agency House, overseeing legislation and educational establishments.
There are still vestiges of that underlying history in social attitudes. There's an unspoken belief that nature has an inherent hierarchy, and certain people and species are 'of lower quality' than others. As Amova continues to grow in international trading circles, this attitude is weakening, but it's slow to die.
Most native Amovans follow the Church of the Seven Gods, and a common expression is 'by all seven gods!' It's believed that the seven Brothers of the Sacred Family created the seven 'pure' forms of magic and handed them out to all races. But set against these seven gods is the Devil, who was spawned separately and is the source of all evil in the world. Anything that doesn't conform within the standards of the Seven Pure Magics is 'renegade magic' and probably devilish.
No one is really sure why some humans turn up with magic; according to Amovan science it's not a natural attribute of humanity, though it is as common as a beating heart to some of the other species they share the world with. Religiously, it's explained that these humans are either divinely or satanically touched. Some believe it's a result of occasional intermarriage with Elluthians, and the scientific community has begun to explore the possibilities that magic is a property of the electrical-chemical system of the physical body, since there are clear links between the health or state of the individual and their magic. But it's a fact that some humans will come up with talents, and these are both valued and feared.
Magical people are automatically enrolled in the Agency magical programs as children, and are required to be trained. The Agency Constabulary is tasked with prosecuting renegade or uncontrolled use of magic as one of its duties. As more forms of magic are encountered from more cultures the definition of “renegade magic” is starting to change, but the process is slow. There's still social discomfort with other species and, especially, with humans who possess magics or other traits that are not usual. Religious writings of the Church Of Seven Gods specifically warn against 'the monster who comes to you wearing a familiar face', and in fact there's more fear for other humans who show oddities than there is for species that are physically different, such as the katts.
Because of the writings against nonconformity in humanity, racism and homophobia are still issues in Amovan society, though in law the Amovans are very progressive and have legalized the women's right to vote and the right of all couples to marry regardless of species or gender.