'Groundlings' is a pejorative term used by Manifold Conservation Society officials describe a specific population group which exists outside of that nation's regular social order.   Groundlings are known as such for several reasons. They rarely, if ever, visit the surface, spending most of their lives in the dark, labyrinthine tunnels in the deepest parts of Bunker Primus. Because of this lifestyle, they are universally of a ghostly pallor and usually must don dark goggles and parasols to visit more brightly lit areas. Because Groundlings usually reject 'handouts' in the form of government-issued nutritional supplements, iron deficiency is a common problem among them, resulting in a propensity for red meat unusual in Conservatees.   Because of their unusual traits, Groundlings are often the subject of 'vampire' folklore among peoples outside the MCS. These are nasty rumors that the Administrative Council does little to curb, as the Groundlings represent a threat to the MCS's image as a well-organized, progressive society. At the same time, Groundlings are valuable assets to those wishing to see what the MCS has to offer without drawing official scrutiny. Groundlings 'know the streets' of Bunker Primus better than anyone in both the geographical and social senses of the phrase. They are also unique among MCS citizens in that they embrace free trade - whether in goods, secrets, or services not otherwise provided by the state.


Culture and cultural heritage

Groundlings are a young, heterogeneous sort, having arisen as a result of inter-species relationships between the various humanoids which live within Bunker Primus. The city has not existed in its current form long enough for more than one or two generations of citizens to have been reared entirely beneath its surface. Notably, while Verdial lineages are present, the street lamps provide only meager sustenance for Caudal lichen symbiotes, rendering most Groundling Verdials unrecognizable as such.   The other major factor which has shaped the Groundlings as a counter-culture is that, in order for one to become a Groundling, one has to become disaffected with the 'grand project' of the Manifold Conservation Society. While many Groundlings are born into the underclass, others were thrust into it by circumstances; it is a truism in the Manifold that, no matter how hard a society works to prevent it, some people will inevitably fall through the cracks. An individual Groundling might be someone who fell from grace, offended the wrong bureaucrat, or simply yearned to earn something above and beyond what the state's social programs could provide. Perhaps the individual simply lacked the particular skills which the technocratic Conservatorship desires in a citizen, forcing the individual to work in a distasteful position. Some are driven underground (figuratively and literally) by a desire to get away from constant government intrusions on their privacy or to reclaim personal autonomy they had lost within the bureaucratic grip of the state.

Shared customary codes and values

As a society of rebels against the prevailing cultural norms, Groundlings are known for their contrarian nature. While the Conservatorship prides itself on lofty, forward-thinking goals, Groundlings thrive on anachronism, often sporting fashions more appropriate to the steamtech age than the dieseltech age in which they live. Whereas the Conservatorship seeks to preserve nature and peoples in dreadful expectation for a man-made apocalypse, Groundlings are noted for their gallows humor. Though it is couched in irony, many Groundlings express sympathies for the 125 Hands, hoping that the organization will succeed in their mission to overturn authority throughout the Manifold. Nevertheless, social finesse is the greatest virtue in the Groundling subculture - a clever act of malicious compliance is revered over any act of overt criminality.

Common Etiquette rules

It is common practice among Groundlings that, when one encounters a fellow Groundling in the presence of non-Groundlings, one never acknowledges that one knows or has met the other. This serves the multiple purposes: to enhance the mystique of the subculture, to provide a self-marketing opportunity to a fellow Groundling, and to make it difficult for authorities to trace social contacts effectively should a Groundling get taken in for questioning.
Related Organizations
Languages spoken

Cover image: by BCGR_Wurth


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