THE ROCK ON WHICH THE METALSPHERE IS FOUNDED
Life in the Metalsphere is, paradoxically, both extremely anarchic and extremely ordered. Whereas the very ethos of Rock & Roll demand that the listener fight conformity and champion the individual, human nature being what it is, those same champions inevitably impose ideological standards all their own and a new order eventually asserts itself.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the strictly controlled, neo-feudalistic dark age culture of the 31st century, where might makes right and a person’s Metalocity rigidly determines their station in life. After the chaos and destruction of the Thousand Psychic Wars, humanity craved order. Those who were strongest after the war, the Lords of Rock, were the ones to establish that order and they imposed their ideas and beliefs on it, ideas and beliefs based on the music that had literally shaped the universe around them.
There were eight Lords of Rock, each one dedicated to a specific musical style that had a particular effect on sub-quantum superstrings and helped them to take command of large armies and even larger sections of space during the war. To end the destruction they agreed to divide known space among themselves. They each established a School of Rock, and wrote a Book of Rock, which serves as the source of cultural mores, military doctrine and iron-handed law in their domains to this very day.
While individuals are theoretically free to wander where they will and do what they please, the reality is that all of their behavior is predicated upon a firm foundation of beliefs and mores related to the School of Rock in which they were raised. It influences all their interactions as surely as the moon effects the tides, and the degree to which a headbanger adheres to the principles and edicts of their school will ultimately determine their place in society.
Those who are the paragons of their School will eventually become Metalheads (31st century feudal knights) or even Warlords. The most insanely devoted might even become Inquisitors, hunting down the impure and cutting them from society like a cancer. Those who are found wanting will find themselves becoming thralls or, even worse, ‘Scavvies’: scavengers who have no rights and are scorned and abused throughout the Metalsphere. All throughout human space, Issuing the statement ‘I am more Metal than you!’ has serious implications and proving that, or having it proved against you, has severe consequences for your station and status in life, no matter how ironically that conflicts with the central conceit that Rock & Roll is all about rebellion and freedom.
When shown together, the Eight Great Schools are represented by holy icons arranged around a stone or metal octagon, and it is very common to see this symbol in talismanic form around some headbanger’s neck, adorning the hull of a Warp Craft or tattooed on the skin of a thrall. While all respect the integrity of that mighty symbol as a whole, most keep the icon of their school aligned at the top when wearing or branding it.
When the borders of the Metalsphere were initially established, there was a great deal of interstellar territory traded to ensure that two styles who were vehemently opposed to each other were placed on opposite ends of space so they wouldn’t be warring neighbors in the new order. Thus the Rocktagon not only shows the various schools, but also their placement in space and their natural oppositions. As it worked out, the numbering of the schools and their representative elements all seem to naturally echo their mystical and elemental nature as well, which tends to reinforce the holy validity of the structure in the minds of the citizens.
Each school has a mystical number in addition to their holy icon, and this is based on their position on the Rocktagon as well, starting with the Nazarites at space number 1 and moving around in a clockwise manner to end with the Yngwie at number 8. The number of an opposing school is always considered a ‘discordant’ or unholy number and headbangers, being a relatively superstitious lot in general, will typically avoid imagery, activities of even repetitions associated with it, even when this leads to absurd consequences.
Each school is also associated with a mystical element or concept, whichusually shows up in the harmonic resonance of their musical style. Again, based on the positions of the various styles on the Rocktagon these naturally oppose each other, reaffirming the unshakable truth of the Rocktagon as the driving force behind all of existence.
Finally, every school has a Patron Saint, typically a legendary figure of Rock from the before time.Their original names have been lost to the mists of time, and they are often portrayed in mythical, sometimes fantastical forms, but each was at one time the paragon of the musical style represented by the school founded in their image and many headbangers believe they watch over and guide those whose are worthy.