The world is haunted. For the past 60 years, society has been troubled by strange occurances: objects moving on their own, spontaneous combustion, people falling unconscious and never waking up. The best explanation researchers have come up with is invisible, intangible beings called Geists.
Over time, people have observed the patterns of Geist activity and come up with ways to predict their attacks based on everything from the time of day to the position of the planets. But since no one can see, hear or touch them, or even detect them with machines, no one fully understands Geists, so all attempts to track them are incomplete at best.
To avoid Geist attacks, people follow a complex system of taboos; a constantly changing list of areas, objects and substances to avoid at any given time. The local daily taboos are prominently posted in public locations. There are also certain things that always carry a higher risk of Geists and may therefore have permanent restrictions; wireless communications are banned in sensitive areas, for example, and only authorized personnel may go near power stations.
There is also system of jobs which provide more active defence. Most major public attractions and places of business will hire a number of dedicated specialists for the jobs, while smaller organizations will require regular staff to train and perform these tasks as necessary.
Geist Defence Jobs
Runners, who can move safely through high-Geist areas, act as messengers when other forms of communication are taboo. Because Runners require free movement to run, climb and crawl on alternate paths, at Brantswaith Technical Academy, Runners get to wear a casual version of the uniform, with sneakers, no jacket, and a higher tolerence for sloppiness and bare arms and legs than other students get.
Guards are trained to use group formations that discourage Geists, to spot signs of Geist attack, and to use those signs to locate Geists and shoot them with special crossbows. Guards at Brantswaith wear sturdy work boots, cross-shoulder straps which hold their crossbow and bolts, and an arm guard for shooting.
Supplicants learn how to use movements, patterns and taboos to summon Geists and direct them away from high-traffic areas. Because it’s believed that Geists can latch on to bare skin during a summoning, the Supplicant students’ uniform has a high collar, a longer jacket and, for the girls who wear skirts, dark tights and high boots. During summoning, Supplicants also wear long gloves and special makeup or masks.
Brantswaith Technical Academy is a boarding school for boys and girls from ages 6-18. As the most affordable high-end private boarding school in the country, it attracts a wide range of students, from impoverished aristocrats to working class kids with high aspirations.
Because of its middle-ground status, it has one of the best Geist protection training programs in the country – more upper-class schools hire professionals for Geist protection and assume all their students will grow up to do the same, while poorer schools can’t provide equipment and teachers for as extensive a training. Although some of the more aristocratic students resent what they consider menial work, for most students, Geist-defense training is an appealing skill to add to a resume.
For the last few decades, the Progressive Party has been the dominant force in politics. It was the Progressive party that developed and implemented the current ‘everyone pitches in’ system of Geist defence, and their success in uniting the country against the nebulous threat of Geists was instrumental in opening up opportunities for social mobility and putting more power in the hands of the people.
Of course, the Progressives are not universally popular. The aristocrats who held most of the power before the Progressives came on scene still resent their fall from grace. And with unemployment on the rise and corruption turning up everywhere in government, people from all walks of life are becoming frustrated with the status quo, especially the inadequacies of the Geist defence system.
The formerly minor Geistlord Party has burst onto the scene as a major player, taking aim against the Progressives and promising to take control of Geists. Though the upper echelons are mostly aristocrats, the Geistlord Party is hugely popular among young people of all stripes. Geistlords tend to help fellow party members out through mentorship and under-the-table favours. In some areas, being a Geistlord can be a real advantage – and going against them can do serious damage to your career.