Let's say a sovereign kingdom, about the size of modern Tibet, was isolated from the rest of the world through magical means, to prevent a dark god from rising up and destroying civilisation. The plan is to seal as many of the world's authorities on destroying/containing dark gods inside as possible, put up a magical bubble, and shunt that bubble into some kind of space between realities, with the bubble automatically returning if the god dies. No-one is entirely sure if it will work, but no better option has been proposed.

This is put in place in a matter of weeks, to ensure it can't be sabotaged by agents of the god or its peers, who will be outside the bubble but too weak to reach the bubble or reverse its effect. This plan has the consent of the majority of the royal family, and some effort is made to evacuate people who really, really want out, although jingoism and patriotism is invoked to convince people to stay and fight.

This kingdom is a cultural centre of its world, at around the technology level of the late Iron Age. It's mountainous, but its staple crop grows well in the region, and there's a large valley in the middle. Magic is widespread, although effects on the level of building a bubble of reality require multiple practitioners using expendable magic sources, which are mined and need to be purified before use. From the outside, the magic barrier is obvious. From the inside, it's not - only those who travel to the edges and whose curiosity overcomes their fatigue find that the sky and mountains beyond the bubble aren't real.

The plan fails, but the god is beaten into temporary submission. While its agents are still present in parts of the kingdom, its isolation (unintentionally) robs it of a lot of its power.

How would this kingdom look just before the bubble goes up? You'd have quite a lot of people leaving, but also some coming in to be part of the Final Battle. How would the culture change as the god-killing effort goes on? Would it be likely to change character significantly - for instance, would it become more or less patriarchal?

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site! I would think the kingdom would become a massive battlefield rather than survive as a nation. They are fighting a god, after all. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    May 8 '15 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ What sort of timespan are you thinking? I'm a bit fuzzy about whether you're talking about sealing the god inside or not? $\endgroup$
    – Murphy
    May 8 '15 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ God's sealed inside (it's inconveniently under this particular kingdom). I'm keeping the timeframe fuzzy because while I'm counting on the bubble being up for at least 600 years, there'd be enough history that it'd be impossible to give a definitive answer on what the culture "should" look like. $\endgroup$
    – Merus
    May 8 '15 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Frosfyre I thought you meant a slaughter-house. $\endgroup$ May 8 '15 at 17:58

A country with late Roman era technology, approx. 1 million square kilometers, from some population figures call it 10 million people. Perhaps a bit less if the mountains are high and the valleys are small. Still, one can see how that could be a cultural center.

Most of the population will be rural. The city of Rome had a large urban population, but they imported food from Egypt. I don't see how

some effort is made to evacuate people who really, really want out

unless only the capital city upper classes count as 'people'. There is certainly no orderly effort to evacuate some farmer who would rather not be entombed in a pocket dimension with the devil. Even evacuating the elites on such a short notice will be tricky.

  • Nobles and merchants with business ties outside the bubble would spend a few frantic days sending instructions, but they can't know how long the bubble would stay up. Perhaps they prepared orders for their factors abroad that made sense for a few months, even years, but what happened in centuries? "I am the heir of the 4th Duke of Whatever. He left instructions that Whatever Castle was to be maintained for his heirs, out of the estate around the castle, and here I am. The soi-disant 5th Duke and his heirs are all thieves. And cowards, since they bugged out."
  • Other notables might send their families out while they themselves stay and fight. If all heirs were outside the bubble, what happens inside when the elderly noble dies? "I'm the 28th Baron of Somewhere. Somewhere House in the capital belongs to me. I hope you remembered to air the linen from time to time."

How would the culture change as the god-killing effort goes on?

Many people left inside when the bubble went up would have a clear goal. Kill the evil god and they're free again.

  • Witch hunts against the agents of evil? The fact that the bubble stays up proves that they were not radical enough yet.
  • No more contact with foreigners and foreign ideas. Widespread xenophobia? Fits with the religious fanaticism.
  • No more imported luxuries. They might have enough for a balanced diet, but no exotic fruits. No imported fabrics and dyes, either. Everything is bland.

This is a very wide question. You might consider to edit and narrow it down.

Regarding society after 600 years, much depends on the accuracy of the historical record:

  • Do people outside really believe that humans did the barrier, or do educated people believe that this is a mythical superstition by people who did not understand a perfectly natural phenomenon?
  • Do people inside believe that the world has been greater and that they deliberately walled themselves in?

If the people inside retain a good idea, especially of the battles within the bubble, they might see themselves as martyrs for the common good. Once the bubble is lowered again, their descendants might claim that they're due some sort of compensation by the rest of the world for their hardship. What if the rest of the world disagrees?

  • $\begingroup$ I think I'll focus it by dropping the speculation about the far future; answering that question accurately likely depends on a whole host of additional assumptions, some of which involve plot threads. $\endgroup$
    – Merus
    May 8 '15 at 9:27

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