The Eight Pointed Inward Star
Destiny Lies With The Few
Largest City: Chetas
Official Language: Bexulian
Government: The Most Holy Council
- Tylith the Ancient
- Renea the Mother
- Qarina the Scribe
- Makel the Quick
- Tokirina the Outsider
- Saskel the Young
- Gankel the Mad
- Lamina the Dark
The Hagiocracy of Bexul
Tier 2, Level 10, Type 8
The Hagiocracy of Bexul, commonly just called Bexul, is a Tier 2, Level 10, Type 8 civilisation with pseudo-theocratic government that occupies five star systems within the Vazio Rift. It has an estimated population of just over 13 billion people ruled by the eight god-like Magi. The vast majority of Bexulians live and work in primitive toil without ever stepping foot out of their home village, claimed by one of the Magi as their own. A lucky few serve the Magi directly and are imbued with a tiny part of their power forming the priesthood. Using their vast magical abilities, the Magi are able to exert substantial influence on the Rift but are typically more concerned with internal power struggles and preventing any one of the others from gaining ascendancy.
Bexul gets its name from homelands the first of the Magi, Tylith, who subdued his world under his leadership and established a single language and government. Tylith ruled unopposed for a thousand years before another was born to contest him.
The standard way to refer to a citizen of Bexul is as a "Bexulian."
In the murky depths of pre-history, the world that was to become Bexul was a typical terrestrial planet with a population of primitives slowly acquiring the necessary technologies to grow and spread. According to myth and legend, and if similar to other Magi, Tylith was different from the moment of his hatching, being fully aware and highly psychic. Within 12 years, Tylith had used his vast powers to subjugate his entire neighbourhood, being totally invulnerable to anything that could harm him. The conquest of the planet took another couple of decades, but Tylith soon claimed the entire world as his fiefdom. Sweeping reforms followed, with a homogenous government, single language and culture, all enabled by Tylith's magical abilities to teleport at will, conjure up vast energies and manipulate matter at the atomic level. Favoured acolytes could be imbued with some of Tylith's power for a period of time, carrying his authority across the globe.
This lasted for close to ten thousand years, Tylith, seemingly immortal, ruling the world as a virtually omnipotent and, if not benevolent, then at least an uncaring god who demanded obedience but little more. Gross excesses by his favoured were largely reigned in, and any dissent was ruthlessly crushed, but most people were left to get on with their lives. One day, however, news came in of a hatchling who displayed powers similar to Tylith and had defied the local priest, outclassing them in every regard. Leaving his palace for the first time in almost a thousand years, Tylith travelled to confront the youngling and was dismayed and astounded to find that she, named Renea, was his equal in almost every regard and he was incapable of controlling her. Despite an early attempt to bring her under his tutelage, Renea demanded her independence, unhappy and unwilling to live as anything other than Tylith's equal and could find no shortage of followers eager to overthrow ten thousand years of rule by the older Magi. A vast war followed, only ending when Tylith and Renea realised that, without compromise, they would have no one left to rule over. They met and agreed to split the world between them, with Tylith holding slightly more due to his age and experience. Uneasy peace settled for a long time.
It was nearly four thousand years after Renea's appearance before another Magi was hatched; a female called Qarina. Like the last time, Tylith confronted the newcomer and attempted to sway her to serving under him but, like last time, the younger one defied him. Seeing history repeating itself, Tylith called upon Renea to support him but, to his chagrin, she declined, instead offering assistance to Qarina. Faced with two powerful opponents, Tylith acquiesced and the world was split into three, Tylith and Renea both giving up land and people to their new rival. To the relief of both, Qarina was more obsessed with gathering knowledge than power and was content with a smaller portion than the older two, but soon outstripped them both in terms of technology and ability with their powers.
Less than a millennium later, a second male Magi was hatched; Makel. Unlike Renea and Qarina, Makel had carved himself an empire of his own from territory claimed by Tylith and Renea before either of them had a chance to react and were forced to deal with him as an equal instead of a potential rival. By now, Tylith was getting concerned at the rate of Magi appearing and what newly hatched Magi would be happy with, and doubted the world could cope with another war on the scale of those previously. His fears were alleviated somewhat when Qarina demonstrated the ability to teleport far enough to reach a new world, her studies having revealed to her, not only how to teleport over light-year distances, but also how to transport entire cities with her and sustain them in hostile environments. With Qarina on a new world, and the ability to occupy more worlds now available, Tylith's fear subsided a little.
It was nearly seven thousand years before the next Magi, and Tylith had begun to hope that no more were coming. In the time between, Makel and Renea had claimed to lands of their own on other worlds, but the four Magi kept in contact and presented a united front to the other Involved in the local area, meeting regularly to ensure their plans and goals were not mutually exclusive. The other worlds were only habitable through almost constant expenditure of magic, so Bexul still remained the jewel in the crown and the Magi realised that their powers were intrinsically linked to their homeworld.
In an isolated settlement that had, somehow, escaped the notice of any of the existing Magi, Tokirina hatched. Like the others, she was fully aware and puissant at hatching but unlike the others did not exert her powers fully until she had gained some measure of maturity, her upbringing leaving her unaware that there were others like her. It was only when she stretched out her awareness that the other Magi detected her presence and rushed to meet her. The Magi were resigned to handing over some of their own territory to this new one, but Tokirina surprised them all by declining any people or land, instead taking her closest companions on a voyage outside of Bexulian space to explore the universe, disappearing from Bexul for several millennia.
Up until now, the Magi had been born to random parents, with no indication or obvious pattern to their appearance. The Magi themselves, whilst still capable of being sexually active, seemed to be incapable of having their own offspring and typically found more intense ways of satisfying their urges. A millennia and a half after Tokirina left Bexul, Renea produced a single egg which, from the moment of laying, indicated awareness and sentience, something previously thought impossible. Named Saskel, the hatchling proved to have substantial powers from the start and the other Magi once more abdicated land and peoples to this fresh power. Despite his familiar connection to Renea, Saskel showed his mother no favours and Renea felt no obligation either.
Over three thousand years passed before another Magi egg was laid but, due to an unfortunate series of events, it was left untended. The hatchling from this egg would be the seventh Magi, Gankel. Gankel was isolated and alone and without the social activity around the unhatched egg that was essential for the proper development of a Bexulian's personality. The other Magi became aware of Gankel almost immediately, as his unfettered use of power shone like a beacon. Unwilling to compromise, frustrated and angry, Gankel attempted to take what he desired by power, his unique upbringing lending him a raw edge to his abilities that the other's struggled to counter. After two hundred years of conflict, that saw large stretches of Bexul decimated, it was only the return of Tokirina and her knowledge of unique magical abilities that saw Gankel properly restrained and confined. Gankel's attitude has mellowed in the time since, and he has drawn in his own people, but he remains unstable and unpredictable.
The last Magi to be hatched was Lamina, nearly five millennia after Gankel, thankfully in a stable part of the world and to a 'normal' society. Thankful that no conflict was arising from this new Magi, the others offered her, as previously, her own lands and people which Lamina accepted. It soon became clear that Lamina was not of the same ilk as the others, ruling her lands with an iron-fist and instilling dread and fear amongst her people. Lamina moved the majority of her peoples to a place on Bexul's moon, keeping them in perpetual darkness. Despite their disapproval, there is little the other Magi can do, especially has Lamina has made it clear she is willing to accept the outcasts and criminals from other Magi's land. Whilst openly protesting this, the Magi see it as a convenient way of getting rid of malcontents from their own lands.
It has been over four thousand years since Lamina and in that time Bexul has prospered; technology levels are kept artificially low, mainly due to the desire of the Magi to retain control, but also because their powers make most technology unnecessary, at least for the people who matter, them. Currently, five star systems are under their thrall, with all but one of the Magi claiming land on at least one other world, but also holding territory on Bexul itself.
Occupied star systems
Bexel orbits an M2 class star, approximately 1.1 x1011 years old (Earth measurement), and with a surface temperature of 3,330 K and mass of 0.67 Sols. Bexul is the third planet of seven, and one of four rocky inner planets. It is approximately two times the size of Earth but about the same density, giving it a gravity twice that of Earth. Whilst the core is still highly active, enabling a protective magnetic field around the world, Bexul's tectonic activity is very low, with minimal movements in the crust and virtually no significant mountain building activity. Higher gravity, combined with the planet's greater age (a billion years older than Earth) and a very active hydrological cycle, most of Bexul's mountains have eroded down, leaving a landscape that doesn't exceed two thousand meters in elevation. A large moon, almost half the size of Bexul, combined with the continental masses being very low-lying, creates vast inter-tidal and marshy areas, fertile and home to complex ecosystems. The atmospheric mix is heavy with the products of decay, such as carbon dioxide and methane and the higher gravity leads to a dense atmosphere that quickly becomes opaque at sea level and facilitates the regular creation of large misty areas.
Bexul is a warm world, with large oceans and minimal ice caps. The average global temperature is 297 K with minimal variations between the equator and the poles. The unique nature of the landmasses creates a largely homogenous biome, although there are some differences, especially between the large tidal flats and marshes, and the drier inland areas. Cloud cover is almost constant, raising the planet's albedo and rainfall is regular. Mineral deposits are scarce, but fossil fuels are abundant, if under-utilised. The vast estuarine ecosystems ensure a constant supply of gas and oils, of which only a minimal amount is actually used by the Bexulians. By far the world with the highest population, over seven and half billion Bexulians live on Bexul, with all the Magi represented. The de facto capital city, Tekim, is also here, where the Magi hold their regular meetings.
Raxin's star is an F5 class, with a surface temperature of 6,600 K and a mass of 1.46 Sols. Raxin is the third of ten planets, 5 inner rocky, 4 outer gas giants and 1 rocky outer. It is marginally bigger than Earth, but less dense, giving it a surface gravity of 1.49 g. Raxin is far younger than Bexul, with an active mantle and crust, leading to a world far more Earth-like in appearance and geography. The average surface temperature is much less too, at only 11.9 °C. There is one large equatorial continent, with smaller landmasses at each pole. Most Bexulians find Raxin intolerably cold, but the lighter gravity is pleasant. Raxin was the first extra-solar planet discovered and colonised, so holds a historic place in Bexulian culture and has the second highest population, with the majority of inhabitants living in the warmer rainforest regions around the equator. Qarina has made Raxin her world of choice, with the Great Library being held here. Tylith has a substantial presence here as well.
Orbiting a G2 class star of a surface temperature of 5,770 K and a mass of 1.03 Sols, Paluvio is the fourth of seven planets; five inner rocky worlds, one outer gas giant and one outer rocky world. Paluvio is smaller than Raxin, with a gravity of 0.94 g and an average temperature of 9.11 °C; it has severe axial tilt, with most of the northern hemisphere locked into a perpetual winter, although there is a band around the south that is habitable for Bexulians. Most Magi deem Paluvio far too extreme for large-scale habitation, but Makel moved most of his population here soon after its discovery, appreciating the isolation. Tylith and Renea also have settlements here, mainly to keep an eye on their eager rival.
Iquitos' sun is a large, hot, F0 class star, 7,300 K in temperature and 1.82 times the mass of Sol. Iquitos itself is the third of eight worlds; four inner rocky ones and four outer gas giants. Small, barely a third of the size of Earth, Iquitos has a gravity of 0.11 g. Despite it having a breathable atmosphere and active biome, Iquitos is a desert world, with water a scarcity outside of the highly saline seas that are scattered around. The temperature is considered comfortable for Bexulians, but the lack of humidity makes it a poor choice of world for the Magi, with barely 200 million living here; Makel, Tokirina and Lamina, all with their own reasons to maintain a presence.
With an old, cool M6 star; a surface temperature of 2,900 and a mass of 0.61 Sols, Lacnori is also a cold world, about the size of Earth with a gravity of 1 g. Most of the planet is a frozen wasteland and was initially deemed useless for Bexulian use. However, the discovery of hot springs in massive under-ice caverns changed this perception. Tokirina has most of her small population here, and Saskel maintains a strong presence; both of them with large settlements warm and safe under the ice and snow. Renea has recently moved some people here as well, and others may follow suit as more caverns are discovered.
The current estimated population levels of Bexulians is around the 13 billion mark, although a lack of official census activity makes this number a gross approximation. The majority of Bexulians live in rural areas, in small villages centred around a communal spawning pond and a source of food, usually fishing grounds and semi-farmed aquatic plants. A few significant cities exist, built to serve the Magi and serve as centres of government and economy.
The distribution of population between the worlds is such (in millions):
Bexulian language is mono-dominant, with one only spoken across the entire civilisation. Regional dialects exist, but are easily understood, largely as a result of the priesthood taking care to prevent language drift. Literacy rates amongst the common people is low, perhaps only 20%, with only traders and priests required to learn. Written Bexulian is based on 30 basic glyphs, which are combined to form more complex word-sentences. The shape of the 'word' is related to the tone; questions are one form, statements another, and so on. Each of the eight Magi has a complex arrangement of glyphs that represents them and is found frequently on their temples and even as tattoos on their priests and guards
All worship of Bexul is directed to the eight Magi, being as they are god-like in their powers. Each Magi demands obedience in a different form; where Tylith is content with basic respect, tithing and an expectation of responsible behaviour, Qarina expects her people to contribute practically to their community and Lamina revels in sacrifice and penance. The Magi of their hatching is, almost always, the one to which a Bexulian lives and dies, although it has become more frequent lately for discontents and convicted criminals to escape to Lamina's holdings as she is far more liberal with her attitude to social taboos and crime. Worship of the people underneath them is not strictly necessary for the Magi, as their power is independent of such, but all the Magi recognise religious behaviour as being important to social cohesion, morality and as a way of retaining authority.
All Magi also appoint a priesthood, into which they can grant a small measure of their power. This must be done directly, and it is a great honour for a Bexulian to travel to visit their Magi and be imbued with this power. The amount of power given is a reflection of the status of the priest and it must be recharged regularly, with most Magi doing so via a regular ceremony. High level priests are powerful and competent users of magic, but still insignificant compared to the Magi.
Description: Bexulians are an amphibious species, with long, powerful legs and webbed toes, and long, thin arms with a four-fingered hand. Bipedal when on land, they are also competent swimmers and capable of remaining underwater for long periods of time thanks to their unique gill-lungs which can extract oxygen from water (although not as efficiently as in air). They have a large head for their body size, bulbous eyes with large slit-like pupils, large mouths and no nose. A fully grown Bexulian stands at about 1.3 meters tall, although could stretch taller, and weighs around 60 kilograms. There are two biological sexes, with little difference between the 'male', which provides genetic material to an egg laid by the 'female'. As a Bexulian ages, it gets more massive and less active, eventually becoming almost entirely stationary at the end of life. The eight Magi are an exception to this rule and whilst the majority are content to be almost permanently seated, some are as active as a youngling, although all of them display the larger mass of an older Bexulian. Most Bexulians are green in colour, with shades varying from bright to dull. Genetic mutations do occur that result in colours such as blue, purple, dark reds and even white. A Bexulian of an unusual colour is typically accorded a higher social standing, with some Magi preferring their priests to be of a given colour.
Life-cycle: Aside from the eight Magi, Bexulian life expectancy is about 60 years old (Earth equivalent) from hatching. Reproduction is not subject to mating seasons and Bexulians will reproduce in response to a sub-conscious demand for a higher population. After choosing a mate based on social standing and perceived genetic strength, the 'female' will lay a clutch of around six, small soft-bodied eggs (about 10 cm in diameter) in a specially prepared pond to which the 'male' will sprinkle with his own genetic material. Fertilised eggs will then grow, absorbing nutrients from the pond, and harden, shedding layers as it does so until it is about 50 cm in diameter. About four months after fertilisation, the Bexulian will hatch, small but physically fully developed, and intellectually and emotionally immature. Raising of the young is allocated to the older members of the local group and the parents have almost no role in the upbringing. Bexulians are sexually mature at ten years of age, with most females laying only 1 or 2 clutches in their lifetime. Gender diversity is large, with about five males to every female.
Diet: Bexulians are omnivorous, consuming almost anything organic, from vegetables to small creatures to detritus. A typical diet consists of root vegetables, caught aquatic organisms and water weeds collected from shallow waters. Regional variations occur, but are not significant. Digestion is simple, with waste being passed out of an anus at the rear and often used to add nutrients to spawning ponds.
Behaviour: The key motivators behind Bexulian psychology is standing within the tribe and obtaining resources. The more standing a Bexulian has within their grouping, the more chance they have to contribute to the next generation and the less work has to be done to get food. Standing is obtained by sharing food and resources with those of a higher perceived standing; the lower your standing, the more you are expected to gather and contribute to those above you. The further up in standing an individual is, the less actual gathering is needed. Outside observers have likened the system to a pyramid scheme, but one based on social mores and not actual money.
Bexul's highest level of government is best described as a form of collective theocracy with each of the Magi holding absolute power within their own domains. The eight Magi meet irregularly to prevent conflict or to form some kind of cohesive, collective face towards outsiders, but the level of contribution from each Magi varies. Tylith is increasingly withdrawn and isolated but still shows an interest in some affairs, whereas Gankel's madness often precludes him from meaningful input. Within a Magi's dominion, the level participation by others varies, with some having an almost democratic appearance, but others entire despotic.
Tylith: The government in Tylith's domain has not changed in the three and a half thousand years of its existence; Tylith's word is law, but he leaves the general running of the domain to his priests which have a strict hierarchy based on service and devotion. Twice a year, Tylith gathers his priests and bestows his powers on them, the level of the power based on Tylith's perception of a priests piety and service and advice given to him by higher level acolytes. This is a broadly consistent process, although in-fighting and politics do play a part. The priests are allocated areas in a feudal manner, with the lowest priests being responsible for just a single village, and the highest having authority over entire continents. New priests are recruited from Bexulians hatched with a non-standard colour, with white Bexulians being the most highly sought after.
Renea: Within Renea's domain, there is a broadly similar structure to that of Tylith, with the exception that where most of Tylith's priests are male, Renea's are exclusively blue skinned females. Given the gender ratio within Bexulian society, and the scarcity of colour mutations, this limits the numbers of the priesthood of Renea and, correspondingly, makes them far more powerful and responsible for a much larger area. Local authority is taken up by councils of local elders, with seniority given to female with high numbers of clutches.
Qarina: Whilst the priests of Qarina hold much authority, and are far more egalitarian in recruitment than in other domains, temporal authority in Qarina's domain is the responsibility of the learned class; a minority of scholars who collate and copy the accumulated knowledge in the Great Library. Scholars recruit on a regular basis from all over the domain, but retention rates are low, with successful applicants granted great power. It is the scholars who make and apply the law, and judge over infractions. Qarina herself leads the scholarly pursuits and whilst she only ever grants her magical power to her favoured priests, there is much rivalry between the two groups in influence.
Makel: Like Tylith, Makel rules with absolute power, unlike the others however, Makel takes a direct interest in his domain, managing it with a firm hand. Thankfully, Makel is logical and rational, and his commands are only ever for the betterment of his domain as a whole. He views his people as tools, and is a believer that the end justifies the means, his priesthood being the executors of his plans. Power is very centralised around his capital, Nokila.
Tokirina: The most widely travelled of all the Magi, Tokirina has taken some elements of what she saw on her great journey and used them in her domain. Her capital city is a vast travelling palace that moves throughout her entire domain and she allows her people some measure of self-determination. Every adult Bexulian can vote for their local representative who is sent to serve on the Commoner's Assembly, a body that discusses and proposes laws and actions. These proposals are then scrutinised by the Priest Conclave and those that they feel with merit are given to Tokirina to decide to implement or not. It is a measure of Tokirina's openness that some of the proposals actually become policy.
Saskel: Saskel has modelled his domain after that of his mother, Renea, but reversed it, so that his priesthood is exclusively made up of red-skinned males. To keep the numbers low, he forces prospective priests to compete for their positions, with his annual bestowing of power preceded by displays of dominance and skill. Saskel applies this process to local authority too, with councils made up of those who succeeded over their rivals.
Gankel: Information on the societal set-up within Gankel's limited domain is sketchy and largely obtained through the rare occurrences remote viewing can penetrate through Gankel's psychic shielding. What is known is that Gankel has a largely meritocratic set-up where individuals are expected to prove competency through actions in competitive conditions. Only the best and most skilled are granted access to whatever powers Gankel bestows. Whilst the system would appear to be egalitarian, in practice the least suited rise to the top, creating a system more akin to anarchy.
History of the Bexulian Armed Forces
Originally, the Magi did not have militaries in the traditional sense; the power and might of the Magi and their arch-priests made involving large numbers of non-magic using soldiers pointless and it was realised in the first Great War that such forces are massacred within minutes of a battle starting. Even the chaos war with Genkel was fought almost entirely with Magi and priests directly, with 'normal' civilians becoming unfortunate collateral. Only Magi and priests are capable of shielding themselves from magical attack and summoning up enough power to penetrate another's defences.
There were always some military-type occupations however; given the relative scarcity of priests, most Magi assigned minor infractions of their laws to mundane guards, nominally associated with the local temple. These individuals pursued criminals, investigated breaches of local or regional laws and taboos, and generally kept the peace. Bexulians are not by their nature violent or aggressive, so crimes were limited to errant individuals and were relatively uncommon. Temple guards were typically given sigil-inscribed weapons and imbued with very minor magical powers; enough to cow and impress civilians, but far beneath all but the most junior of priests.
Since Tokirina's voyage beyond the borders of Bexulian space, and the turning of the Magi's attention externally, it has become apparent that there simply aren't enough priests to provide a decent force to deter external threats and the Magi are unwilling to take the burden of defence on their own. In the past, it was sufficient for travel between the worlds to be conducted entirely using portals; space and its hostile environment were seen as too hostile and too easily avoided. The awareness of space-faring civilisations in the region has led to a re-think of Bexulian policy in this regard and the creation of a Bexulian-wide space navy. None of the Magi were willing to allow any single other Magi to control this force, so it is nominally independent of the individual regions, with its leaders answerable only to the Magi and their assigned representatives.
Temple Guards are the closest thing that Bexul has to a ground army or police force. Picked from the most aggressive Bexulians, they are normally assigned to a temple and locality and tasked with keeping the peace in that area. As part of their role, Temple Guards are given a mace with sigils imbued on it. These sigils typically make the maces non-lethal but still very effective. Uniforms vary between not only Magi, but also the area to which they serve. Considered a necessary evil by most Bexulians, Temple Guards have a decent reputation, but are largely avoided by the general public.
In Bexul's infrequent cities, the Temple Guards are usually better equipped and enjoy far more resources. In and around the main temples for the Magi, having numerous, well equipped and good-looking Temple Guards is a mark of some pride for most of the Magi. Whilst actual lethal weapons are still unusual, the maces and other items assigned are often more ornate and capable of performing more complex magic.
The Bexulian Navy is a semi-autonomous entity, an almost unique organisation in the tightly controlled civilisation. The Magi agreed to appoint a neutral admiral over the force who is tasked with responding to external threats to Bexul and whilst the Magi as a whole can provide guidance to the Navy, the admiral has ultimate say in deployment of its forces. This arrangement is only upheld for as long as the Magi and their priests provide the necessary magic for the functioning of the Navy's ships and weapons, ensuring the Navy remains neutral in internal affairs. Qarina and Tokirina are the most enthusiastic of the Navy's supporters, with Qarina providing most of the magi-technology and Tokirina with the intelligence.
The current admiral is Jexalpalel, originally destined to be a priest of Tokirina. Jexalpalel accompanied Tokirina on one of her frequent travels through the Rift and is considered by most of the other Magi as obscenely cosmopolitan, having picked up several 'bad habits' from the worlds he visited. However, none of them can deny he brings an experienced hand to the role and is best suited for dealings with exotic civilisations. As Admiral of the Bexul Navy, Jexapalel is imbued with sigils from all the Magi and is considered one of the more powerful magic users not a Magi. For his part, Jexalpalel plays down these abilities, preferring to work with the ships and magi-tech provided.
Ship classes (click images to enlarge)
The Bexulian Navy's role is that of a rapid response defence fleet and not one of aggression. Should the Bexul ever embark upon a campaign of aggression, it would be led by the Magi and their substantial resources, with the Navy as support only. For this reason, Navy craft are typically quick to arrive on a scene, but heavily armoured and slow in the field. Any hostile incursion would soon be responded to by the Magi, so the Navy's role is to react to the initial attack and provide enough resistance for the Magi to get their plans in motion. Lacking any high-end magic users of its own, the Navy's ships and weapons are powered by sigils granted to them; this enables them to function independently of the Magi, but does leave them lacking in 'new' magic and unable to respond quickly to adaptations brought against them.
There are eight Defence Fleets currently in operation, although the unique nature of the Gateships means there is a lot of crossover between the fleets. Only the Gateships are truly confined to their fleet positions, with the rest of the Navy able to distribute to threats in a more fluid manner. Each Magi is, in theory, supposed to 'sponsor' a fleet, although the distribution of the various fleets is not related to their sponsor. In practice, some of the Magi are better at responding to requests for magic or resources than others, to the extent that some fleets have almost no connection with their 'official' sponsor.
Nuxlra Class Gateship
Dimensions: 1,100 x 800 x 300 meters
Jump range: 25 ly
Subluminal speed: 0.01% c
Crew complement: 4,400
Armaments: Aetheric bolt casters, Jade drones
The Nuxlra Gateships are the largest ships in the navy and act as flagships for the eight fleets, with each fleet having at least one Gateship. Almost constantly on patrol, the Gateships are the only Navy ships capable of their own teleportation, using powerful sigils granted to them by the Magi themselves. Once in position, the Gateships use their large portals to allow other craft of the fleet to join them almost instantaneously. These portals are connected to all the other Gateships, of any fleet, and 'home' portals in orbit above all the Bexulian worlds.
Heavily defended by magical shields and a thick, magically reinforced hull, Gateships have a small complement of Jade class drones and have numerous point-defence aetheric bolt casters; with no large offensive weapons, Gateships are not designed for offensive actions and are known to teleport away once the attack fleet is in place. The large portals that take up most of their size are vulnerable to attack and represent a significant investment of magic. Whilst no Gateships have been lost as yet, the Magi would be reluctant to have to replace them with too much frequency; not least because they grant a power to the supposedly neutral Navy that is typically restricted to the Magi alone.
Yelx Class Carrier
Dimensions: 300 x 200 x 200 meters
Jump range: n/a
Subluminal speed: 0.05% c
Crew complement: 500
Armaments: Aetheric bolt casters, Jade drones
The Yelx Carriers are the workhorse of the Bexulian Navy, being present in any and every engagement and being responsible for the patrolling of Bexulian space. The majority of the interior of a Yelx is hollow and contains housing for almost 8,000 Jade drones which can be deployed in waves. The drones are semi-autonomous and the large crew complement on a Yelx is mainly devoted to the maintenance of the drones, and to provide diplomatic support should the craft encounter exotics. The parts of the craft not given over to the drones and their maintenance function as a ecumenical temple of sorts, capable of receiving guests in a suitable surrounding. The center belt of the Yelx is open, allowing the drones in and out of the superstructure. Whilst the Yelx can deploy drones rapidly, collecting them all in takes more time.
Dimensions: 170 x 115 x 115 meters
Jump range: n/a
Subluminal speed: 0.05% c
Crew complement: 40
Armaments: Aetheric beam
Chiqil gunships are more numerous than the larger Yulx but are only deployed if the situation requires an overt show of force. Almost the entirety of the Chiqil is given over to the aetheric beam; a large laser-like weapon that uses aether to project a concentrated beam of energy. On their own, these beams are sufficiently powerful to threaten ships of an equal size and mass to a Chiqil, but it is the tactic of firing of dozens of beams at a single target that makes the Chiqil more dangerous. The four pillars at each corner of the ship function to gather in the aether for the shot, with a re-charge time of around 15 seconds between firings.
Jade fighter drone
Length: 9 meters
Wingspan: 10 m
Height: 1.7 m
Jump range: n/a
Subluminal speed: 0.05% c
Armaments: 8 x Aetheric bolt casters
Current Bexulian doctrine in space combat is to overwhelm the enemy with large numbers of fast, expendable, unscrewed autonomous fighter drones. A single Yelx carrier is capable of discharging almost 8,000 drones into combat which will then either swarm the enemy craft, or create a screen between the Bexulian ships and the enemy. Controlled by an inscribed sigil, Jade drones have a reasonable level of autonomy and can, if required, be controlled remotely by a priest or Magi either singly or in large groups. Targets are assigned by a magic-user by the in-combat tactics are left to the simple AI of the drone. Magi are capable of producing drones in large numbers using specially built magic 'factories' on most of the Bexulian worlds, which are then sent through portals to the required carrier, so the drones themselves are considered extremely expendable.
Each Magi handles their own economies differently, but the majority of Bexulian settlements are self-sufficient; the low levels of technology, combined with an extensive magic-wielding priesthood, mean that most of the needs of the population are met locally. Internal economy is barter based, with most trade conducted within the village; the unique form of Bexulian culture sees a flow of resources from lower classes to upper classes. Trade between settlements, and to a lesser extent Magi's domains, is conducted by a semi-hereditary trading class who deal exclusively with priests, trading tokens known as 'Taw', each one representing a fixed amount of tradable goods. Trade between Magi is limited, Qarina often trades knowledge for items of interest collected from the region, and Tokirina often returns from her frequent forays into the wider Rift region.
Travelling between Bexulian systems is facilitated by the use of large portals; circular constructs imbued with power from a number of sigils inscribed upon them by priests. Travel between gates is almost instantaneous, saving for few seconds passage through, and transit is only limited by whatever can fit through the gate. Actual travel for most Bexulians is rare; most travelling is done entirely by the priests and the few things that require trading between worlds. All the Magi make and maintain their own portals which are generally fixed to a destination. Altering the target is possible, but requires a changing the sigils on the portal, a time-consuming and complicated job only high priests and the Magi can do. Portals also exist from the surface of the world to the Bexulian star-ships.
The Magi only operate a handful of actual star-ships themselves, mainly for the purposes of diplomacy, physical exploration and ceremony; the Magi and the highest of the priests are capable of inter-planetary travel without them, taking along whatever is needed at the time. Since the discovery of other civilisations, however, the Magi established a Bexulian Navy, tasked with defending Bexul. Most ships (mainly warships) operate under that remit. Finding a target is relatively easy; the caster simply finds the target location in their minds (what some might call extra-corporeal excursion), then casts the teleportation to the location in mind. Travel is almost instant and whilst most priests are only capable of transporting themselves, Magi (and arch-priests to a lesser extent) can take along vast amounts of other things as well. The portals exist to remove the onus of all travel from the actual magic users.
Magi's star ships are essentially entire cities surrounded by a magical field containing the air and keeping out radiation and asteroids, that travel to remote locations, bringing the light of the Magi to far-flung areas. Maintained and guided by either a Magi themselves, or a priest of the highest order, these craft carry tens of thousands of specially selected Bexulians and use Aether weapons and smaller craft to defend themselves. They are propelled along by direct manipulation of the aether around them and travel long distances through portals opened by their magic user.
Magic in Bexul is entirely focused on the eight Magi and their ability to manipulate the universe. Whatever the cause, the Magi have been imbued with the ability to use concentrate and use aether, the only limitations being that of their own imagination. Their power is almost absolute, capable of creating energy and matter out of seemingly nothing, changing existing matter and energy, teleporting across galactic scale distances and granting them immortality and almost total invulnerability. Their capacity appears limitless, destroying whole cities, re-directing comets and moons, creating armies from the dust to fight for them or food to feed entire regions, takes no more effort than lifting a finger or uttering a word. Qarina has speculated that the Magi are focusing lenses and capacitors for the Aether than permeates the entire Vazio Rift, accumulating far more of the mysterious substance within them than any other being or object. Combined with their innate ability to use the Aether is what makes them so powerful.
Magi can also imbue others with a small measure of their power. By marking another Bexulian with a specially designed sigil, that individual is capable of using the power in any way they see fit, to the limits of the sigil given. Sigils vary between Magi, with intricate symbolism evolving to denote power and identity. Qarina has noted that the exact shape of the sigil is largely irrelevant; rather it is the intention of the Magi that gives the marking its power, not the actual shape itself. The sigils are not permanent; once all the imbued power is used up, the sigil fades and vanishes. This is entirely deliberate on the part of the Magi, who are very jealous of their power.
Marking with sigils is not limited to other Bexulians; inanimate objects can be so inscribed, gaining power in much the same way and with similar limitations. However, priests are capable of making their own sigils for inanimate objects. Most of Bexulian 'technology' is so made, with actual non-magical technology being limited to pre-medieval levels as a result. Sigil have a quantity of power imbued in them for whatever it is they've been inscribed for, for constant functioning, this must be 'recharged' or re-inscribed if exhausted. It is far easier to recharge a sigil than create a new one, maintenance of sigils is an important part of a lower priest's role.
Tylith the Ancient, oldest of the Magi