I created these little heart flags to identify characters because I wanted a succinct visual way to give them a little more background without derailing the adventure aspects of their stories. I also want to normalize the discussion around certain concepts to improve awareness and acceptance.
In Eternity: Hotaru the thing to keep in mind is that none of these characters are human. Some may look human but on a fundamental anatomical level there are enormous differences. They all reproduce asexually and many of them have completely given up human-like sexual practices. That being said, they still have clear ideas on gender and it varies from person to person.
An agender character is genderless or gender-neutral.
A genderqueer character falls somewhere along the non-binary spectrum, they may embrace androgyny or inhabit multiple genders simultaneously.
A genderfluid character's gender is not fixed. It may fluctuate along binary or non-binary lines day by day.
A transgender character's gender differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
An intersex character was born with a variation of sex characteristics that may be chromosomal, hormonal, or genital, that deviate from binary definitions of gender.
A non-binary character's gender is neither strictly male or female. The term is used similarly to genderqueer.
A CIS gender character's gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth.
Gay or Questioning
A gay character feels attraction to members of the same sex.
A questioning character is unsure of their sexuality and are continuing to explore and give the matter serious thought.
Similar to gender, the thing to consider in the scope of Eternity: Hotaru is that none of these characters are human. They do not reproduce sexually and have a very different relationship with sex and intimacy than humans do. So, sexuality here refers to the type of attraction a character feels.
A demisexual character feels attraction only after forming a strong emotional bond with another person.
An asexual character does not feel sexual attraction but may develop other forms of serious personal bonds with another person or people.
An aromantic character does not experience romantic attraction.
A lesbian character is a woman (trans included) who experiences attraction to other women.
A pansexual character experiences attraction to many or all genders and sexual orientations.
A bisexual character experiences attraction to two (or more) genders.
A polysexual character experiences attraction to multiple genders.
A heterosexual ally character (1) experiences attraction to their opposite binary gender (trans included), (2) understands that other people can and will be different, and (3) is decent about it.
The vast majority of character romances in Eternity: Hotaru fall into the category of Non-Monogamous. The number of partners an individual has is far less important than the ages of the parties involved. Huge age differences are a big no-no.
Beyond that, anything goes.
A non-monogamous character may practice any variety of open intimate relationship styles within the loose definition of non-exclusivity.
A monogamous character practices romantic and/ or sexual exclusivity with their partner.
A polyamorous character establishes intimate relationships with multiple partners in an open and ethical manner.
Religion & Culture
For practical meta-reasons, all choice-based religions featured in Eternity: Hotaru are presented as "heterodox." Some religions are also hereditary cultures that may layer on top of or beside other varied personal ideologies, family traditions, and social obligations. Religion and culture are completely different things except when they are not.
(1) I, as the writer, am not able to and should not replace any kind of in-depth study into the religions at play here. Talk to a professional about religion, not a fantasy author.
(2) As I keep emphasizing, these characters are not human. The rules for the religions of the world were largely written for humanity. I have made some changes to the ways my characters interact with their religions in an attempt to adjust the world they live in to the presence of their individual cultures.
Expect some similarities. Expect some differences.
Know that I did my best to be respectful.
Characters who are Jewish in active faith generally may seek to heal the world, protect the people, and keep the flame going through the generations. Many participate in hereditary traditions that they are born to and regional differences vary heavily.
Characters who are Christian in active faith may generally seek to spread the message of "one god, one people." This practice is used to prevent immortals from taking over mortal religions and setting themselves up as gods. Many participate in hereditary traditions that they were born to.
"The Old Gods"
Immortal characters who venerate the Old Gods engage in a form of immortal ancestor worship. This practice is technically outlawed in the Eternity: Hotaru setting. This is not any one specific religion or practice. Many participate in hereditary traditions that they were born to and regional differences vary heavily.
Immortal characters who are actively devoted to Shinto care for the natural world and spirit world simultaneously. Their practices invite and include other supernatural beings, sometimes in a friendly way and sometimes in opposition but never are other beings ignored--mortal, immortal, or otherwise. Many participate in hereditary traditions that they were born to.
Immortal characters who are Zoroastrian in Eternity: Hotaru venerate the holy light and actively oppose the encroachment of darkness or the "eternal night." For immortals, this involves incredible sacrifice and close adherence to virtue. Many participate in hereditary traditions that they were born to.
In Eternity: Hotaru, immortal characters of the indigenous family of Pueblo cultures are united by birth. Many of those who actively participate in their ancestral traditions have banded together to protect the six realms between the mountains they share. Some have begun an expansion beyond the mountains to save the world from "Trinity"--the living ghost of the Manhattan Project.
Atheist or Agnostic
Characters who are Atheist are making an active choice to reject the practices of religion and the veneration of gods, ancestors, or spirits. Agnostic characters do not know if gods, ancestors, and spirits exist or how to interact with them if they did.
I have a handful of invisible things that I would like to bring some attention to within the scope of Eternity: Hotaru. These are things that are ALWAYS in play in any given scene. They drive how a character responds to situations and the words they use to communicate.