Culture of the Threshold Core

Authors: Pharthan

 

While being a varied society owing it’s origins to the Alliance‘s diverse spreading of culture throughout the stars, some traits have being to develop and coallesce within Threshold space. A hardworking, prideful, intellect-driven society, Thresholders tend to work hard and play hard, yet have a sense of “fun” that is often considered muted or reserved to other societies, owing to a general sense of propriety. In the Threshold if you succeed or even struggle greatly to succeed, you are awarded high honors. If you do not put forth effort, then you are often discarded.

SOCIETY


Being a Meritocracy through and through, Threshold is very much a work-based society, thriving on the idea of “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” In Threshold society, all individuals are expected to either work or study for the majority of their lives, though some recompense is given to at least one parent of a child-bearing couple. As a result, stress levels in Threshold are often high; by day, it is very much a “no-nonsense,” society, whereas by night much of the population regularly blows off steam in clubs, bars, or by other various forms of entertainment.

Welfare is almost nonexistent. Being “unemployed” is a term that carries a great deal of disdain, and “lazy” is considered a vulgar word. After a short period of job-searching, any individuals who remain on unemployment are government-ordered to work in a public-works job, which is provided for them based on their skill-set, in addition to continued job-searching. If the individual is determined to be actively job-hunting and lacks necessary skills, skill-based classes are government-provided. Many of these services are often paid for under different organizations of the government or by various companies who benefit from the works projects, and as a result Threshold cities are often very clean, orderly, and well-maintained.

While not common, some particularly lazy individuals have been deported and their citizenship struck. Regaining citizenship following this is extremely rare and often is often covered widely by local and sometimes even planetary media outlets, as the recently-re-minted citizens, termed “Prodigal Citizens,” must show great drive and prove considerable worth to Threshold society, and these citizens are welcomed back with open arms.

Due to the high-stress environment, suicide rates are higher than average (averaging 17.5/100,000 people), as are most individuals tensions; as an offset, many have found peace in religion as an outlet, while others turn to partying, and as a result night-life in cities is often very dramatic. Educational, science-fiction, historical-fiction and News shows are the most watched in Threshold, though fictional series of intriguing storyline and deep plot are often followed nation-wide. Reality-entertainment is also common, though it normally follows notably citizens or citizens with dangerous or “interesting” lines of work. Financial-based celebrity is uncommon unless it is also backed up by business-related success. “Unto the Breech,” a Reality-entertainment show starring a real-life Threshold Special Forces Tsalmaveth fireteam, is the most popular show in the nation.

Corruption is extremely looked down upon in Threshold culture. As such, most people find outright lying to be quite despicable; the slightest betrayal can end a friendship. As such, Thresholders often wear their hearts on their sleeves. Other cultures often find them to be quite blunt and even rude for this, whereas Thresholders spending much time with other peoples consider them to be fake and equally rude for not disclosing their true feelings. In spite of this, they hold high regard for people who can be professional and courteous towards individuals they despise.

FOCI

After the incidents surrounding the Thresholder Civil War, the nation underwent a reformation and developed a vertical-class system based on educational prowess, split up into Foci for every member to be categorized into. Lateral movement between Foci is legal, but due to individual aptitude is not common for the general populace. Most Thresholders are sorted into five Foci at the age of 12 when entering secondary school, and they themselves pick their Primary Focus and Secondary Focus at the age of 18 upon being declared adult-citizens.

The purpose of this system is to help categorize people for government and job roles and to promote specialization and giving credibility where it is due; to prevent social “echo chambers.” Individuals do not need to accept the foci for which they tested into; in fact, those who choose a focus that they did not test into are often highly regarded as passionate for their chosen field and hard workers, which is highly valued in Threshold society. However, choosing two fields that you tested as being adequate for is considered “the smart decision.”

Apart from Directorial makeup of political roles, there is no legal distinction between Foci.

Upon reaching citizenship, each individual may choose a primary and secondary focus from the following:

ENGINEERING

Those following the engineering focus orient themselves towards the practical and pragmatic applications of construction, building, energy, and design. It shares mathematics subjects with Physics.

LIFE

This focus encompasses biology, medicines, nature, and everything inbetween. Life is, by far, one of the most diverse foci, as it includes individuals involved on conservation efforts and general passionate studies towards helping animals and native life on planets, to the more serious scientific indivduals studying the biology of that life.

HUMANITY

The study of human sociology, psychology, history, anthropology, and other such human-focused subjects. Humanity is an aptly-named introspectively human-focused field.

PHYSICS

This focus is comprised of all physical sciences, as well as sharing mathematics with the Engineering focus. It includes all manners of chemistry, physics, quantum mechanics, dark matter mechanics, and as such is largely a theoretical focus, though coupled with engineering usually produces highly productive individuals.

ARTS

All manner of entertainment are considered “arts.” This is by far the least prevalent field amoung Thresholders, whom consider themselves stoic, serious, and professional in most regards.

BUSINESS

Those choosing business as a focus tend to do well in leadership roles, so it is no surprise that many politicians in Threshold have a Business Secondary Focus. Business also includes economics as a sub-field, as it is generally useful in all regards to run a business.

JUSTICE

Justice is the focus of lawmakers, law-executors, and lawyers. As such, it is not widely studied, as such roles are rarely prevalent in everyday life  and do not hold a large section of the job-market.

KINSHIP

Similar to Humanity, Kinship makes itself distinct in focusing on language, communication, human resources. Often, psychology is considered both a Humanity subject as well as a Kinship subject.

CELESTIAL

The Celestial Focus centers around the study of astronomy, planets, stars, termini, geology, and all things dealing with space.

FOOD


The Threshold pallet is a notably spicy one; many of its foods include various hot peppers like chilis, genepeppers, jalapenos, habaneros, ghost peppers, and the like. Despite farming them in vast quantities, the star nation is a net importer of various chili peppers. Chili powder and chili-based hot sauces are the most common additive to Thresholder printed-food dishes.

Thicker curries are common dishes in the Threshold, though the content of spices, consistency, meat, lentils, vegetables, or base component vary region to region. It has been so popularized that it has become a staple of the Threshold military, with many ships and units have their own individual recipes, culminating in the regional military competitions yearly. Belvoir and Pharthanian Curries are typically water, dairy, or coconut-milk based with specifically prepared meats and flavored curries, such as Butter Chicken Curry, and may be sweet or savory. Pharthanian and Belvoir curry is not usually served with rice, and is normally eaten with Naan bread instead of a spoon or fork. In the southern regions, curry bases are usually based on chicken, pork, or beef stock, and variation is normally done through added meats or vegetables. A traditional addition is pickled ginger, which may be un-dyed or dyed bright-red. Himeji dishes, harkening back to the Japanese curry, are almost always savory and rarely sweet, and most commonly eaten with a spoon and served next to or on a bed of rice. While the curry itself has less variation to it, southern curry has made it’s way into a wider variety of food styles; it can be found as a filling in breads, with Udon noodles, or potato-croquettes.

The origin of ramen dishes is clearly from the Himeji-influence, and most regions have their own variation, with the most popular being Spicy Miso, Miso, Shoyu, and Salt ramen. Thicker miso ramen is most popular in the northern reaches of the starnation, while the south and west prefer western spicier, thinner variations. Almost all serve nori, a type of dried seaweed, as well as pork and fish. Instant ramen is common throughout the nation, but usually include a variety of ingredients rather than those popularized outside of Threshold, which only includes noodles, broth, and the occasional dried meat or vegetable. These simpler versions are usually scoffed by Thresholders, and can only be found in import-stores.

Heralding from the Pharthan and Belvoir regions, where cattle and farming are common, bread-based and meat-based foods like steak, hamburgers, and pizza are decidedly Pharthanian and are staples of much of the starnation. These cuisines usually include heartier meals with a heavier focus on meat, usually from farm animals. Red pepper and jalapeno are common additions to these foods. Though eaten in relatively smaller quantities, fresh-water fish such as catfish and salmon do have their place in Pharthanian meals, while the Selenese and Himeji make them a key part of their diet alongside saltwater fishes.

BREADS

Many different types and grains of bread play a large role in Thresholder culture. As the people tend to be work-based and very much “on-the-go,” bread is often used as a portable utensil or wrapping around the meal in order to eliminate waste and allow Thresholders to eat and travel or do other tasks easily. Utensils are often seen as wasteful of time and resources, though are still used, particularly with thin soups and/or noodles or to aid in putting food onto breads used to actually eat the food. Several key types of breads have found their way into the heart of food-culture in the nation, and it can sometimes be difficult to identify the appropriate bread to use for which food, especially when multiple types are served at once. As ferr, crisps, and naan are often served on platters together, many foreigners can find the cultural practices to be confusing. While Thresholders are stalwart in ensuring that foreigners “get it right,” if those in question are their guests, they are usually understanding and patient with this cultural confusion.

FLATBREADS

NAAN

Central-Asian in orgin, naan is a partially-levened flatbread made with wheat or mana, and is used most appropriately to scoop up thicker soups. The bread is torn off by hand for dipping and scooping.

PITA

Middle Eastern in origin, wheat-flour or mana-flour pita bread is a flatbread made into a pocket for serving dry or sauced foods such as lamb or beef, particularly those also of Middle-Eastern origin. The pita serves as a vehicle for the contained food.

FERR

Originating from the colony ships that settled the planet of Pharthan, ferr is made almost exclusively from mana, a staple-grain during the voyage. It is more heavily oiled and salted than other flatbreads, and is noticably denser as well, but has thin edges, ideal for scooping. Made in circles from ten to sixteen centimeters around, it is ideal to use like a taco or an open-faced flatbread for scooping food. Ferr has since evolved into multiple flavors, and using the wrong flavor for different foods is seen as a cultural faux pax, unless that food is combined with the appropriate food. Saltier, whiter ferr is eaten with meat-based food, yellow, savory ferr is eaten with vegetables, red sweet ferr made with direberries is eaten with fruits and desserts, and green ferr made with seaweed extracts is eaten with fish, lean meats, nut-based foods, and the like. Plain ferr, a tan color, is less popular as it does not complement any flavors, but can still be readily found.

WRAPS

Wraps, like sandwiches or pita, may be made from cornmeal, mana, or wheat to be wrapped around a desired food, intended to be eaten as a whole meal of itself.

CRISPS

Crisps, also known as chips, can be made of a wide variety of ingredients to include cornmeal, wheat, mana, and potatos. Corn chips are to be eaten with sauces and dips, wheat chips are to be served with meats, cheeses, or vegetables, mana chips are to be served with fish, cheeses, or vegetables, and potato chips are not to be used for scooping. Any of these crisps made be made as a sweet variant to be served appropriately with fruits or cheeses as a dessert-style crisp. Pita-chips may be used for spreads.

SOFT BREADS

Fully-levened breads are used for soup-bowls for thin soups, various sandwiches, and spreads when toasted. Soft breads are rarely dipped into sauces, but it acceptable to dip denser, more savory or salty breads into cheese-dips, which is more common at parties.

PASTIES AND PIES

Crusted foods filled with meats and vegetables are common sights on the streets of Thresholder cities, where workers often require quick meals they can eat on the go with little waste whatsoever. Pasties of all varietys have swarmed Thresholder restaurants, convenience stores, and home kitchens with extreme variety among them.

REGIONAL TEAS

Tea is a very popular beverage throughout Threshold, and Thresholders take their tea very seriously. While instant-tea is common enough in the workplace and spacegoing vessels, using instant-tea is often considered lazy.  Most Thresholders prefer to brew tea themselves if possible. Tea has become so pervasive through Thresholder society that all establishments wishing to call themselves a “restaurant” must offer tea as a beverage, and most will also serve the regional tea. Each region has their own signature tea, and though some may not be especially unique, it is considered important.

PAVONIAN TEA [PHARTHAN]

Pavonian tea, also called Ambrosia Tea, hailing from New Pavonis in the Pharthanian region, is not made with a Earth-origin tea at all, but the berries and leaves of the indigenous ambrosia bush.  These have been genetically engineered to have a high caffeine, taurine, and pauvine (an indigenous chemical similar to caffeine) content. The flavor of the leaves are not unlike tea, and when the rind of the berry is added to the steeping mix, it becomes as sweet as Southern Sweet Tea with flavors similar to honey.

BELVOIR BLEND

Like Pavonian Tea, Belvoir blend involves an indigenous plant, though it is also made with tea leaves. Belvoir Blend is made by wrapping tea leaves, usually black tea, around the seeds of the direberry plant before drying. The berry and its seed are highly valued as they only grow in altitudes and cold temperatures that are otherwise normally not considered arable by Earth-plant standards, which also makes harvest difficult. The dried seeds contribute calcium, iron, and magnesium to the diet, and other minerals are easy to add into the seed as it gains rigidity not through traditional fiber, but by utilizing naturally occuring minerals, which it readily accepts; this allows for easy modification of flavor by adding desired minerals into the fertilizer of the direberry.
The berry also adds a sugar- or xylitol-like substance that acts as a sweetener, but is also not digestable by bacteria, so like xylitol it also improves dental hygiene while still flavoring the tea with a flavor often alikened to vanilla and raspberry, which readily masks the flavors of the minerals found in the seed. For additional flavor, the skin and dried fruit of the berry is a common addition to the tea-leaf mixture, though care must be taken to ensure that the skin is left intact and not consumed, as it tastes bitter if chewed after drying.

HIMEJIAN MATCHA

Himejian Matcha hails from Earth, specifically Japan. Matcha is a powdered green tea, grown for weeks in shade prior to harvest to promote enhanced caffiene production. When harvested, the stem and veins are removed, the remaining leaves dried and then ground into a soft, fine powder. This powder is then added as desired into hot water or milk for drinking. Many other regions scoff at this notion of producing what they consider to be an “instant tea,” but for those who enjoy it, they consider it both convenient and calming. Many regions consider this method to also need copious amounts of sugar to balance the strong and bitter flavor, though for those hailing from Himeji, this only means that the matcha powder is not of fine enough quality; premium grade matcha is not nearly as bitter, and may even have savory tones.

MILK TEA [ODAWARA]

Odawara is home to a more traditional milk tea made by mixing black tea with milk or cream, hailing from British and Japanese descent, formally known as a “Royal Milk Tea.” Different variations on this style have permeated the culture, and there is no set style or origin. Milk tea was adopted as the regional tea after other regions began claiming their own, as the general concept of adding milk to black teas was already popular throughout much of the nation, Odawara included.

SELENESE BLACK

Black tea, hailing from the Termini World of Selene, is brewed from mixing a black tea with indigenous Kilwa seaweed, which gives it a subtly salty yet sweet flavor. It is extremely dark and rather murky. Outside of Selene, it is often considered an “acquired taste.”

LIBRARIAN TEA

Librarian Tea is derived from English Breakfast Tea and uses fruit rind and berries to give it a strong flavor and aroma. Tea leaves used in Librarian Tea are bred and modified to have an extremely high caffeine content. In 3323 Libraria outlawed genetic modification of the seven most traditional strains of the plant, not for fear of Genetic Modification, but to help preserve tradition.

TEMPLARI STYLE [NEW HAIFA]

Overspicing or overflavoring one’s tea is often refered to making it “Templari style,” after the fashion of those New Templar in the New Haifan region, where use of natural herbs and syrups to flavor tea is often done zealously. There is no set list of required spices to use, and many are quite traditional; anise, cardamom, bergamot, chamomile, jasmine, and ginger, though these are often used to excess.
When it was announced in 3291 that each region was to have it’s own tea, New Haifan politicians – many of them from New Templar – rapidly chose to accept the style of preparation of their tea, instead of specific leaves, as their regional-choice, much to the dismay of other citizens, who preferred other teas from other regions, as New Haifa sits as a nexus of five of the seven other Thresholder regions. As such, the style is often looked down upon by other regions, and to call something “Templari Style” often is often a way to deride another’s preparation of “taking another region’s tea and add so many spices as to make it entirely different,” and is usually associated with childishness, as it is common for children to add excessive sweeteners to their teas.
Outside of New Haifa, it is not uncommon for restaurant owners to kick out patrons who prepare their tea thusly, particularly if the tea is a local or house-brew.

FERMENTED TEA [HOMESTEAD]

Fermented teas in the Homestead Region include both traditional Kombucha (made from fermenting brewed liquid tea) and Pu’er (made from fermenting tea leaves), as well as the indigenous Homebrew Tea, similar to Kombucha except with higher levels of alcohol, caffeine, taurine, and guarine. In addition to drinking the tea, some in the region choose to chew Pu’er tea leaves instead of using them for brewing the tea. Flavoring brewed teas is commonplace.

 

EDUCATION


Education is highly valued in Threshold, and is considered as much of a job as work itself is; teenagers do not regularly get jobs during high school, as their schoolwork is considered their job – those who do work often come from underprivileged or broken families and their workplace will usually sponsor them through college and trade schools, if they wish to pursue it.

All able-bodied individuals in Threshold are required to complete two years of government-service after high school or college. Most elect to serve in the Threshold Military and frequently serve a short additional two years for a small monetary bonus, but there are also Public Works jobs, humanitarian organizations, and any other jobs the Government deems necessary to be done during that time; the option is up to the individual where they serve. As many of these jobs, such as operating power plants, require extensive schooling, larger bonuses are given to those who sign up for such programs as they naturally incur longer contracts. Those who serve in the Threshold Navy and incur additional service time due to transit also receive additional pay and free schooling relative to the amount of time they have served over their two years as compensation.

As the Government Service period of life is often a point of pride with the people of Threshold, those deemed unable to serve are given the option of a free two-year course in a specific field of study or an apprenticeship in order to make themselves marketable.

HERITAGE


Similar to its originator, the Intersystem Alliance, much of the Threshold is a large variety of peoples. Chief among these is Belvoir, a major trade center; Himeji, to the contrary, is a full 2/3rds Japanese in heritage, and only since the formation of the Threshold has seen an influx of a large number of new races. The Pharthan region was originally founded by the English, with their chief founder being Scottish, who instilled a heavy Scottish and English influence upon the region. By and large, most of the following settlers to the region were North American and East Asians.

FUNERAL RITES


A good many Thresholders hold similar funeral rites as their ancestors, whatever they are. Most are individual to the colony-groups that originally founded the region; as such a good many Japanese and Western funeral traditions are followed, with some crossover between.

In such a works-based society, it was desired to develop a way for all to continue benefitting the nation, and such a method was developed soon after the birth of Threshold as an individual nation, starting with General Moira Adam, champion and peacemaker of the Never War. Bodies of the deceased are reduced to component elements and used to fabricate structures. For some, particularly of Japanese descent, these are manifested as family monuments; larger monuments denote larger families. It is quite traditional for people’s bodily elements to be made into storage devices, upon which their biographies are written.

IVORY TRIBUTE

In western-descent subcultures, many choose to donate their bodies to assist in the construction of the Ivory Tribute, a large, towering mausoleum located on the planet of Pharthan, dedicated to the works of great Thresholders; it serves as a massive, if slightly morbid, museum. As most people request their bodily elements to be made into storage devices and interred into comprising the tower-structure, the Ivory Tower is also one of the universe’s largest storage devices, and even houses its own Artificial Intelligences, entitled as the Revenants, to help see to the needs of grieving families. While some cultures may consider it morbid to have AIs “living in the bodies” of their loved ones, Thresholders find it comforting to know that even in death, their family members are helping others and contributing to the nation, even in rest.

The tower is ever-growing both upwards and outwards, with no dedicated limit. At the beginning of 3417, it was measured to be 37,453 meters in height. Smaller structures have had to be added around the base for both stability and expansion, as the current rate of growth for one tower would be too fast, and considerations for expanding the shield dome over the structure necessitated building an individual shield-dome for the structure itself.  Until it was completed in 3391, seven more structures around the base had to be started, one for each sphere of influence contributing individuals to be interred.

Since the completion of the shield dome structure, an application process has been required to have one’s body interred into the larger, main tower, and each sphere of influence may allow or disallow persons from being interred in their sphere’s outlying tower. Having one’s body interred into the base and surrounding structure of the tower requires no application or requirement other than not being a convicting felon or war-criminal.

While sphere of influence-based versions of the Ivory Tribute was authorized, those individual to planets have been banned. While companies, religious groups, and citizenry may begin their own, it was desired that people maintain their allegiance to Threshold as a whole vice their planet; to not see the nation as a collection of planets, but a unified group.

DEMOGRAPHICS


LANGUAGE

English and Japanese are the two most common languages spoken in Threshold.

RELIGIOUS FAITH

Threshold largely follows more modern versions of Protestant-Christianity, following the denomination formally known as the “Erudites of The Firstborn,” or simply, “Erudites,” seeing it as a logical combination of both science and religion. Adherence to the denomination of Christianity is further promoted for its like-minded teachings on merit and importance of taking responsibility and work ethic, which mesh well with the culture of Threshold.

The next most popular religion is Catholicism, closely followed by Atheism. A small portion of the population practices Judaism, and even smaller Islam. Threshold accepts Christianity as the official religion, but all religions deemed not harmful to society (i.e. those which prohibit seeking medical help, promote violence or racism, or encourage suicide) are considered legal and respected. Money given to the Church is mandated to “have a notable effect on society:” much of the money allocated to religious funds often finds it’s way into humanitarian organizations or in sponsoring individuals in education.

While no longer practiced as a major religion, Shinto-practices have permeated much of Threshold, particularly New Himeji.