First of all, I wish to show off this amazing
commission portrait I had done of Agent Hawkens by the very talented Bloodraptor! You can find their commission page on WSRP here!
|100% Dominion Style Badassery|
And without further ado, let us discuss the Luminai!
To behold the grace and elegance of the Luminai is a great honor. Not only are they the powerful and courageous leaders of the Dominion, they are something even far grander. They are the physical embodiment of the our blood pact with the Eldan, the promise that we are their chosen to inherit the galaxy. From our glorious Emperor to the grand houses beside him, the Luminai are our hope and faith in our future.
The Luminai. Upper echelon and holy leaders of Cassian society and the Empire itself. This week's WildStar Wednesday gave us a spectacular look into Dominion lore and, thanks to the encouragement of the folk over at WSRP, I am going to share my thoughts on the lore, the impact is has on Cassian roleplay and some further ideas and speculation. And at my side today, lending his own knowledge, is none other than the Highborn Agent Hawkens.
To begin with, a little history. Roughly two thousand years ago (See Meet the Cassian article), and following an impressive period of rapid technological growth, the Mechari arrived on planet Cassus with a proposal from their masters: The Glorious Eldan. They demanded that the legendary swordmaiden Tresayne Toria journey with them to the planet Nexus in exchange for greats gifts to the Cassian people. If they were to refuse, however, consequences would be dire. Displaying her great courage and devotion to her people, Tresayne left with a select few, never to be seen again.
Some time after, in the year 1 AE, the Cassians were finally rewarded for their sacrifice with the arrival of Dominus the Half-Blood. Half-Cassian and half-Eldan, he represented the promise of the Eldan themselves, returning with the Mechari and a wealth of technology. Upon his arrival, he gave the rallying cry to join under his rule and to become the most powerful Empire in the galaxy together. It is stated that he was blessed with the strength and courageousness of his legenday mother and that he was beloved by his people, gaining their unanimous support and establishing the Dominion.
So this sections shows a couple of interesting bits about the Cassian people:
|Women are clearly respected amongst the Cassians|
- One, they were clearly a powerful race even before the presence of the Luminai. Gifted already with brilliant minds for technology, they gained the favor of the Eldan by impressing the Mechari enough to report on their rapid elevation in the galaxy. Add to that the lore behind their settling of Cassus (Shade's Eve) and you have yourself a courageous race of survivors whos sheer tenacity pushed them through horrific tragedy into the chosen of the Eldan themselves.
- Two. Though every example of the Emperors has been male, the original 'leader' of the Cassians was The Swordmaiden. This shows that they do not discriminate by gender. The “Meet the Dominion” video also clearly shows a Cassian woman leading a military team who appears intimidating enough to send a soldier into line by her look alone. I imagine it is safe to assume that Cassians are treated the same in their society regardless of their gender!
- Three. Swordmaiden. To me this title seems important. Perhaps it was just simply her title, but looking further into Draken lore, we find that the Luminai Emperor Azrion the Conqueror bested High Clanlord Zhur in combat with a description of “The duel was fierce and brutal, and the swords of the two combatants were soon stained with blood.” To me this might signify that the Cassians have a long standing tradition of great swordsmasters. Perhaps these weapons were simply the favored of their wielders, but there is also chance that sword fighting is an honored style of combat amongst the Cassian people. Perhaps all nobleborn Cassian are required to learn the art of the sword in honor of Tresayne. It could be an interesting tradition, for certain!
Now that we have a bit of history, I am going to delve a little deeper into the posts from the WildStar Wednesday article itself, beginning with the legacy of Dominus.
Like most Luminai, Dominus was extremely long lived and ruled the Dominion for almost three centuries. He died peacefully in the year 292 AE, leaving the empire to his firstborn son Azrion. The other children of Dominus - now known as the Scions - founded the Great Houses of the Luminai and helped their brother lead the Dominion into the future.
-So from here we see that the Luminai live for quite some time which leads to some other interesting ideas. First of all, we can probably consider it safe to assume that if the half-Eldan hybrid Dominus lived for roughly three centuries, then the Eldan themselves can live for even longer still, perhaps doubling this life span or even more!
Long life can also lead to other things, such as patience and the ambition for long-term goals. Without perhaps all the severity, I imagine the lead Scions of the Great Houses to be something akin to the Sith Darths of the Star Wars universes. With a longer life span to pursue their agendas, they could afford to move their playing pieces slowly, setting up great schemes and goals that could take many decades and perhaps even centuries to realize. This could even further enforce their separation from the rest of Cassian society, putting the Luminai as clever beings of unfathomable foresight.
One should not presume the minds of the Luminai. They are a law unto themselves...
-Dominus was said to have died peacefully. With his reign having been stated to being unanimously agreed upon and having been beloved by his people, it is safe to say that his rule was a complete success without opposition, strife or civil war. Though the outlook may shift from ruler to ruler, the general outlook of most of the Cassian race towards their Emperor is most like favorable.
-Dominus left the Empire to his firstborn son, Azrion and his other children found the Great Houses. Hmm...are all Emperors chosen as the firstborn of their predecessor? Also the fact that the other children aided their brother in ruling signifies that there was an amicable relation between the Houses to begin with.
Chad Moore also gave us a nice little tidbit here over on WSRP last night. When a community member mused that Dominus must have married a Cassian woman (being the only Luminai in existence himself), Chad stepped in and added this:
“The person who you are asking about may or may not be named Olyssia Zin.”
At least at this time, there was only one half-blood Luminai in existence at the time (as far as we know) which most likely resulted in children bearing a lesser degree of Eldan blood.
On to the next section!
In 1376 AE, in the wake of the Eldan's purported ascension to godhood, the reigning emperor Jarec of House Azrion delivered the Vigilant Declaration. This document, which officially deified the Eldan, united the empire under one faith. It also included the Ancestral Decree, a set of laws meant to preserve the Luminai's sacred Eldan blood. This decree also established a set of rules for Luminai marriages and reproduction within and between the Great Houses, all of which are still followed to this day.
The controversial Vigilant Declaration also led to an unexpected class and racial divide between highborn and lowborn Cassians. Highborn Cassians were those who could trace their lineage to the one or more of the Great Luminai houses, and therefore had trace amounts of Eldan blood in their veins. Lowborn Cassians could not. This divide among Cassian humans still exists today, and continues to serve as the foundation for many Dominion social and political systems.
-“in the wake of the Eldan's purported ascension to godhood” So this is an interesting piece. Purported means “alleged; supposed ; rumored” and “in the wake” denotes that there was some sort of assumed ascension to godhood of the Eldan before the Empire deified them and rallied under one faith. I wonder, what exactly does this mean? Did the Eldan keep in contact through the Mechari or other means during the reign of Dominus? Is this part of the great mystery of the Eldan? That they apparently ascended and we now have no idea where they are? Or was this simply the result of watching their living promise walk amongst the Cassian people for roughly 300 years?
-Jarec of House Azrion: Does this mean all of the Great Houses were named after the brood of Dominus? i.e. No House Nova or something like that. Also, we have the name of our third Emperor: Jarec, presumably Azrion's firstborn son.
-The Vigilant Declaration: Though this officially deified the Eldan, there is a good chance that many of the Cassian people already revered them as the Gods of the Galaxy. Having been united under one rule, the Empire was now also united under one faith. This would also be a powerful tool to use. Under a united faith, the promise of the Eldan of a starspanning Empire also becomes a religious mandate and gives extra purpose to the Dominion's actions.
-The Ancestral Decree: The rules created for marriage and breeding between the Luminai. In order to preserve the Eldan blood from eventually disappearing, the Luminai would have to adhere to a strict set of rules. This may sound rude, unfortunate and even cruel but this is part of that “destiny is a heavy burden” deal. The Luminai are blessed by their bloodline but this does not take away their duty to the Empire as a whole. Their very existence is embodiment of the Eldan's promise. For them to fade into obscurity would be unfathomable and could even lead to breaking the spirit of their people.
So marriage and reproduction is limited to within or between the Great Houses and most likely never outside of them. The Great Houses themselves are ruled by the Luminai and any that are not direct Luminai are most likely Highborn Cassian with the closest lineages to the Luminai themselves. Genetics are very interesting and it would actually be possible that, if the percentage of Eldan blood could be know and with some very precise and complicated tracking, there could be Luminai with even more Eldan blood than Dominus himself. Though more likely, the highest traces of Eldan blood are found and combined to maintain Luminai that are at least very close to 50% Eldan. I imagine if this is the case then any Highborn Cassian allowed to marry a Luminai to help continue the bloodline would be extremely honored. If at all possible, Luminai would most likely marry only other Luminai, but for the sake of genetic diversity, they would need to branch out into more of the gene pool now and again.
-Highborn and Lowborn Cassians- Probably one of the most important editions to those that will be roleplaying Cassians. Those that can trace their bloodline to a Great House can claim in the bloodpact of the Eldan and are elevated in their society. It is very likely that these Highborns enjoy exclusive or near-exclusive rights in their society such as positions of leadership in the military, offices of power in politics or even exclusive trading and business rights in the economy. Lowborns are those who cannot trace their lineage to the Luminai which has clearly led into a rift in the society between the two. There is more I wish to add here that pertains towards Cassian roleplay, but I will get to that in a little bit!
|Political intrigue amongst the Luminai is commonplace|
Like any exclusive and isolated group that maintains frequent contact, they have developed their own ways of communicating and interacting with each other. These include formalities and rituals observed in public and in private, phrases and gestures known only to them, and of course the ongoing struggle to gain wealth, power and influence. As would be expected, the struggles between the Great Houses can often be deadly, often involving deception, machinations and murder.
-Remember, once again, that the Luminai are the living, breathing promise of the Eldan themselves. It is no surprise that they themselves be deified as part Gods. With long lives and bodies of alien and elegant beauty they must seem quite wondrous to the rest of the Cassian people. It is also unsurprising that they, over time, begin to keep more to themselves. In part this is the natural progression of such a situation. Who best to understand the Luminai, than other Luminai?
-Further fortification of their differences and religious prowess would be found in further isolation through their own methods of communication and rituals. But even more interesting are the struggles between the Houses. Perhaps this indicates that the Emperor is not always chosen by direct descendant of the current Emperor, but by a consensus amongst the Great Houses to elect one of their members to rule over the Dominion. This would certainly lead to bitter struggling to gain favor amongst the Houses, or to crush rivals before they have too much time to grow.
-This also indicates potential upheaval in the Cassian society. Much like the struggle of the Sith interfered in the goals of their Empire with their own selfish desires, do the Luminai sometimes get in the way of the purpose of the Dominion?
The current emperor, Myrcalus the Vindicator, took the throne by force after the dark reign of Vorios the False nearly brought the empire to ruin. To many in the Dominion, he is known as "Dominus Reborn". His physical resemblance to Dominus is undeniable, and many also believe he possesses the same strength, courage and indomitable spirit as his illustrious ancestor. In the wake of the discovery of Nexus, Emperor Myrcalus has sworn that he will bring the homeworld of his ancestors under Dominion control, and lead the empire into a radiant new age of galactic supremacy.
-This highlights one of the biggest things I love about the purpose of the Dominion. Their travel to Nexus is not an act of brutality for chasing down the Exiles. This is their home by blood rights. Part of the Eldan themselves flows through the heart of the Empire, giving them claim to the land of their gods and their forefathers.
-We also know our current Emperor: Myrcalus the Vindicator.
Phew, so, sorry about all that text, but those are my further thoughts based on the article we received yesterday! From here now, I would like to talk a bit more about how to apply this into those interested in Cassian roleplay!
|Carbine isn't shy about showing off the arrogance of the Cassians, such as this screen from the demo at PAX East 2013. So why should you not enjoy the same?|
ROLEPLAYING A CASSIAN: Food for thought
Taking into consideration what we just learned in terms of the Luminai and Cassian society, think on these things when you create your very own Cassian for the world of WildStar:
1)Is your Cassian a Highborn or a Lowborn?
-The Luminai are an npc race and with so very few of them in existence in the Empire, it is unlikely that any playing character will be one. (At the very least you wouldn't have the model for it) So this means that most player characters will be High or Lowborn Cassians.
-Chad Moore has confirmed that only the Luminai have Houses. Therefore if you see nobility amongst the other Highborn Cassian, you are most likely looking strictly at family names.
-Keep in mind that if you wish for a strong aristocratic family line, that the Cassian society seems to strongly favor those who contribute to the whole of the Empire. Powerful families most likely own a business or have political powers.
The Hawkens family pride themselves on their strength in innovative military engineering. When I was old enough to help, I followed my mother and father through their workshops and testing labs, learning the intricacies that brought strength and pride to our family line.
-Not all minds are alike! Although the Cassians are arrogant as a whole in their pride of being the chosen of the Eldan, that does not mean all Cassians are horribly rude and terrible people. One can have arrogance and still be good. A Highborn Cassian may not necessarily look down upon Lowborns in a cruel fashion but as a part of their society that has existed for as long as they can remember. However, keep in mind a Cassian does not have to ignore their pride just to avoid sounding like a pompous jerk. That's part of the fun of being a Cassian.
You are simply better than everyone else.
Err right, umm...something like that.
This reminds me of a part in one of the Diadem books by John Peel. At one point in time, one of the characters compliments a unicorn on how beautiful they looked. To which the unicorn replied “I know.” What struck me, however, was how the author explained the tone of the unicorn was. She had agreed as though the person had told her that the sun would rise or that it was bright. It was simply a fact of life. Nothing more, nothing less.
We are the Chosen of the Eldan themselves. Their promise still walks among us, as a reminder of our union over two thousand years ago. We were chosen because we were clever and strong. Because we were an indomitable people. The blood of our Gods mingle with our own. Truly the Cassian are a marvelous people to behold!
I think Hawkens pretty much sums it all up there.
-Lowborn Cassians are not necessarily upset with their lot in life. I saw a lot of discussion on this the other night and I especially wanted to point this out. Just as in medieval times, not all peasants hated their lords, neither do all Lowborn lament at their position in Cassian society. In awe of the Luminai and their glory, these are the most like of people to be adamant in their faith. And as such, they probably view the Luminai as gods and the Highborn as clearly elevated people in their society. Regardless of their place, all ultimately serve the glory of the Dominion as a whole. The Lowborn are still a part of the might of the Empire and will still reap the rewards of their conquest. Although there will certainly be those who see injustice in this system, there will be plenty who serve with a fervent passion.
-It was not said that Lowborn Cassians cannot hold higher positions in Cassian society short of actual nobility. From what we have seen thus far, it is ultimately the service to the Empire that matters. So whereas Lowborns may encounter more trouble or resistance in rising to higher positions, that does not mean it is impossible for them to do so.
2)What does your Cassian do?
-It takes all sorts to run an Empire. Someone needs to be there on the front line and someone needs to make sure the troops arrive where they need to. Someone needs to plant and harvest the crops to feed their people and some need to ensure the protection of the Empire itself. Some need to build ships, housing or recreation while still others must make the decisions that the lives of so many others will rely on. Your class alone does not need to be the only factor in who your character is. Don't be afraid to be creative!
-Though the Cassian rally under the call of the Emperor as a whole, that does not mean there is no dissent. From Brightland's rebellion when a more draconian set of rules were put into effect to the burning ofArboria, there are many things that the average citizen of the Empire would not wholly appreciate. But keep in mind, this society has been running like this for centuries. Many generations have been born, bred and raised to the service of the Empire and most are quite proud of it.
I am a loyal servant of the Empire. I serve something greater then myself. Through my loyalty, the glory of the Dominion is my own. My honor. My duty. My life.
-As with all societies like this, there are traitors and those who question their lot in life. Keep in mind that the ICI (and others) watches not just the threats that lie outside the Empire's borders, but those that lie within as well. Dissidents are tolerated as much as those who spurn the Empire's generous offer. They are a poison that must be culled before it spreads and weakens the strength of the Dominion. So choose your path careful and watch your back.
4)Views on the Other Races
-Cassians are elegant, snarky and arrogant. They have well earned their place in the galaxy and they are certainly not shy about letting others know it. Though not all Cassians are the same, don't be afraid to play up a bit of a snobbish attitude around other non-Cassians. Keep in mind, however, not just the feelings of other players (don't overdo it!) but also the fact that Cassians do not appear to necessarily hate or otherwise shun the other races of the Dominion. They might still think themselves the best, but they do not readily disregard the strength of the Draken or the skill of the Mechari.
-Cassians most likely have a bitter hatred or resentment towards the Exiles, especially the humans. As the humans are the descendents of those Cassians that once broke away from the fold, they hold an extra special place of resentment to their once allies. For the Aurin, however, there may be some who feel some pity towards the ravaging of Arboria. For Granok, there may be hatred and begrudging respect for the destruction of their emissaries but also for their skill with picking up alien tech.
-A current Cassian traitor will most likely be hated above all else. They have actively forsaken the glory of the Empire. Disgusting.
Keep in mind that the Empire seeks to unite the foolish and the wayward beneath the wings of the Empire. A chance for the other races of the galaxy to join in glorious service to the Dominion. Those that follow will experience the Golden Age of our ascension such as the galaxy has never seen before. Those that do not will perish beneath our might so they may never lead any astray. The will of the Eldan is absolute and we march to their holy mandate.
This does not mean that we kill needlessly. I do not slaughter every single Exile I meet on the principal of our differences. Though it may be sorely tempting sometimes.
If we arrive in paradise only to find it empty, it will be a hollow victory indeed...
|Besides, how can you resist that charming smile? ;)|
So as you can see, the Cassians are a unique and rewarding race to play. The edition of the Luminai and the lore of themselves and their Great Houses as well as the impact of their Eldan blood on Cassian society has answered many questions and started many more. Who exactly were the Eldan and where have they gone? Why did they choose the Cassian race to bear their legacy? What ever happened to the Swordmaiden?
You can be sure that Carbine has some excellent stories lined up for us to explore and discover in the amazing world of WildStar.
To close, I'd like to add this last part from Chad Moore and my reply in the WSRP forums:
“BTW...it's really inspiring to see you guys talk about WildStar's lore on this site. My team has spent a lot of time crafting our universe, and it's great to see everyone here so invested. Thank you!
And thank you! This is the raw fuel for our work. Your creative genius becomes the clay in which we shape our stories and our adventures. Thank you and your team for giving us something amazing and special to work with!
As always, thank you for stopping by dear readers. If you have any questions, comments, topic suggestions or just want to bug Hawkens, drop me a line at AgentWolf13@gmail.com or come visit myself and the rest of the awesome WSRP community on our enjin site. You can find me there as Johne.
Hope to see you around!