The world works on rules: the rules of a table-top miniature game, to be precise. Every creature and person can see the world-wide grid of squares, takes their time (usually) to ponder what to do on their turn, and can look within themselves to check up on their stats. All this is largely not of interest to the typical commoner, who is just trying to farm, craft, or get by, but these tactical rules dismissed as “celestial mechanics” are of interest to adventurers.
If this life is a game, it looks like one of those Japanese role-playing games, and, directly, like one if designed by Tetsuya Nomura, Akihiko Yoshida, Hideo Minaba or similar artists. Each town appears populated by stock monsters, common items and stock character archetypes, with each town having some regional theme to stand out from the others, though their similarities are uncannily familiar to any wide-faring traveler.
Despite such visual similarity to video games, the rules make use of figurines (monsters, objects, and people!), dice of varying shapes, and cards. This mix of components leads to a complex set of game-play rules, both basic things commoners know about daily life, and emergent strategies likely only known or exploited by advanced-level characters.
Such characters are acting, without their knowledge, on the whims of higher powers. The phrase “celestial mechanics” underlines society’s suspected superstition: that life is a game, the world has rules, and the gods play games with mortals’ lives. All the triumph and misery of the world is the whim and whimsy of gods, entertainment for beings of cosmic power the game pieces are never meant to see or challenge. The people know their world has rules, but they don’t know that they’re being played … and the gods like to keep it that way.
(I do not own the images in the above collage, and all copyrights belong to their respective owners.)
Go to another world …