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THE WORLD OF REMNANT
Remnant is the future-fantasy world of RWBY, with airships, gadgets, high-tech weaponry, and a form of natural energy called Dust, existing side by side.
The four kingdoms of Remnant are Vale (center), Vacuo (west), Atlas (north) and Mistral (east). Each of the kingdoms have their own distinct culture - for example, Atlas is known for its militaristic nature and technological advancement, and Vacuo for its rough-and-tumble lifestyle.
Vytal is the name of the island to the north of Vale. Other known landmasses include Menagerie, the continent to the bottom right. The last continent, shaped like a dragon, remains unidentified.
In the world of Remnant, all living creatures possess a soul, the physical manifestation of which is known as Aura: a form of innate energy that bestows its user with certain abilities and powers. Unique expressions of these abilities which are specific to individuals are known as Semblances. Remnant is populated by two intelligent species - humanity and Faunus, a race of human-animal hybrids.
Legend states that mankind was born from dust into a hostile world, forced to battle for survival against soulless creatures of darkness known as the Grimm. However, man discovered a power that would help them combat the forces of darkness; they named their newly discovered power, Dust, after that from which they were formed. Armed with Dust, described as "Nature's Wrath", mankind was able to turn the tide against the Grimm.
In the absence of darkness, mankind was able to build civilization and spread throughout the world. The mining of Dust would continue to be a major industry, leading to the rise of large enterprises such as the Schnee Dust Company.
However, having survived the Grimm menace, humanity began to turn against itself, spiraling into a series of self-destructive conflicts. The largest of these was the Great War, fought over issues of individualism and self-expression. Conflict also arose between the humans and the subjugated Faunus, eventually sparking the Faunus Rights Revolution.
In the modern day, most people live within the four Kingdoms; Vale, Mistral, Atlas and Vacuo. Through a combination of human tenacity and the use of natural barriers, these settlements managed to survive and are regarded as "safe havens" and "beacons of hope" for humanity. However, small villages and nomadic communities do exist outside of the territories of the main kingdoms, though they are noted as being far more susceptible to Grimm attacks. This serves to emphasize that Remnant is not a particularly welcoming world to humans and Faunus.
Following the Great War, Huntsman Academies, such as Beacon Academy, were created to train Huntsmen and Huntresses, warriors whose sole purpose was to combat the Grimm using a combination of powerful weapons, Aura, and Dust. In doing so, they protect those who cannot protect themselves from the dangers of Remnant.
Apart from huntsmen, conventional militaries are also known to exist, but not all of the kingdoms keep standing armies. The kingdom of Atlas is known to maintain a sizable military force, fielding a large airfleet, as well as robotic soldiers and mechs.
Although the world is said to be in an unprecedented state of peace, social issues seriously threaten the status quo - racial tensions between the Faunus and humans caused by continuing prejudice in society, the immoral practices of the Schnee Dust Company, as well as agitation from the White Fang terrorist group, continue to cause friction in society. The Grimm still thrive in the wild areas outside the territory of the four kingdoms, whilst plotting by mysterious groups threaten them from within. The narration of "Kingdoms" implies that the future of humanity is heavily contingent upon the continued cooperation of the four kingdoms.
Remnant has a vibrant culture owing to the diversity of its inhabitants. Each of the four kingdoms has a unique identity and this distinctive character is encouraged by events such as the Vytal Festival, where the people of Remnant gather to celebrate their cultures.
Given the importance of huntsmen and huntresses in mankind's continued existence, part of this celebration also includes a combat tournament between students of the Kingdoms' respective academies.
Remnant has a wide variety of advanced technologies. The kingdom of Atlas in particular is known for its technological advances in numerous fields. Most technology is powered by Dust, which is the primary source of energy in Remnant.
One of the most significant examples of Remnant's technology are the weapons of huntsmen and huntresses. Unique weapons are designed and manufactured by their users on an individual basis, and use a variety of techniques to increase their effectiveness, such as in-the-field transformations for versatility, and the harnessing of Dust.
The field of robotics, as well as artificial intelligence, is incredibly advanced in Remnant. Androids built specifically for combat are known to be a mainstay of the Atlesian military, with units such as the Atlesian Knight-130 and Atlesian Knight-200 being capable of operating autonomously. Large human-controlled mechanical suits, such as the Atlesian Paladin-290 are also produced by Atlas. However, the most remarkable achievement in the field of robotics is the creation of synthetic people capable of producing Aura (for which a soul is believed to be necessary). (Penny Polendina from the show is an example of an Aura-producing robot.)
Advanced personal electronics are also commonplace. The scroll is a mobile device that serves multiple purposes, including making phone calls, taking photographs, viewing live video feeds, as a form of personal identification, and as a digital data storage device. Holograms are also very common, being used as personal avatars, computer displays, and even as traffic lights and barriers.
Communication and data transmission over vast distances are also possible through the use of the Cross Continental Transmit System. The CCTS was created by the kingdom of Atlas following the Great War as a gift to enable the kingdoms to communicate with each other effectively. Video calls and digital file transfers are some of the capabilities of the CCT, and equivalent technology is available in many places, such as public libraries.
In terms of transportation, land-based transports include standard motor vehicles, such as cars, motorcycles and trains, as well as non-motor vehicles, such as bicycles. Airborne vehicles include enormous passenger Airships, agile VTOL aircraft known as Bullheads, and hoverboards. However, spaceflight is impossible since Dust loses its power once it leaves the atmosphere.
Faunus have had at least one major conflict with Humans in recent history. In particular, the Faunus Rights Revolution was an attempt by Faunus to gain rights through violence. The revolution is said to have stemmed chiefly from Humans' attempts to confine the Faunus to an area of Remnant known as Menagerie. Given that Faunus are seen living amongst Humans in the present day, it can be deduced that the Faunus were at least successful in preventing this confinement. While still being able to live within the human kingdoms, it has been noted that some Faunus have lived outside of their borders.
In spite of any gains they made during the revolution, Faunus still tend to be treated like animals or second-class citizens by some Humans, and are shown as still trying to gain equality.
A group of Faunus known as the White Fang have been in bloody conflict with the Schnee Dust Company for the past three generations of the company's leadership. While originally a civil rights organization, due to a shift in leadership the White Fang has evolved into a much more violent and aggressive group often associated with terrorist attacks on Schnee shops and supply lines.