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Social strata in Orlanthi society

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I am carrying this over from the YGWV thread as this is about making our joint Glorantha writings more compatible with the canonical presentation rather than reveling in the grognardy of outdated terms and concepts.

 

On 9/14/2019 at 8:23 AM, Jeff said:

I try to avoid terminology like "thrall" or "cottar" in favour of a much more neutral semi-free and unfree.

The neutral terms make this sound very much like absolutist feudalism to me (serfdom was abolished in Schleswig-Holstein only in 1804), but that may just be my German cultural background. A family background in serfdom was still a social issue two generations later in the Schleswig-Holstein uprising of 1848-1851.

Are you advising us to talk about a rider nobility rather than horse thanes?

I tried to find any clues to Sartarite social stratum in RQ2 era texts, but at least at a first glance I didn't manage to find any. As I started my career of looking at Orlanthi society using King of Sartar and the Pavis Box, the terms thrall, cottar, carl and thane are pretty much ingrained in my Orlanthi vocabulary. Thane already was part of the Genertela Box description of the Varmandi clan.

Thunder Rebels may be the pinnacle of "antrhopowanking" and went over the top with its subcultitis, but it provided an atmospherically dense image of an archaic culture. In many ways too puritanic, but that's another issue.

Quote

Note that the younger siblings or adult children of a Free person is considered Free, even if they may technically be dependents of someone else.

Expanding the potential range of free cottagers in circumstances mostly undistinguishable from semi-free status.

The real question is about the upward mobility of the children of unfree or semi-free people.

The Sartarite quota of 10 percent (as an average, rising up to 30 percent in some clans closer to the Esrolian model with a great number of clans closer to the Hendriki model) probably can be maintained without hereditary unfree status. Those unfree people who manage to raise children probably are in a tenant-like relationship anyway, with a mix of domestic and labor duties in the agricultural society.

Do children of unfree and semi-free Theyalans in Sartarite and Hendriki society end up as semi-free tenants, or do they join the (poor) free common group?

Quote

Here's how those numbers break down in Sartar, Hendrikiland, and Esrolia:

Region

Unfree

Semi-free

Free Common

Free Wealthy

Low Noble

Middle Noble

High Noble

Total

Sartar

10

16

50

16

5

2

1

100

Hendriki

0

16

60

16

5

2

1

100

Esrolia

30

25

25

10

5

3

2

100

These numbers (taking those of Sartar or the Hendriki as a measure) map somewhat strangely on the distribution of stead-holder households (carls, plow-men) vs. cottager households with at best a share in a plow, which appears to divide the "Free Common" category about halfway.

The high percentage of unfree and semi-free people in Esrolia indicates either hereditary serfdom or the power of the grandmothers to designate or sell anyone in their house to serfdom or a semi-free tenant position. Calculated from this break-down, Esrolia has more than half a million unfree inhabitants, and less than 700K free non-noble inhabitants with about 180K nobility of all heights.

 

Edited by Joerg

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10 minutes ago, Joerg said:

These numbers (taking those of Sartar or the Hendriki as a measure) map somewhat strangely on the distribution of stead-holder households (carls, plow-men) vs. cottager households with at best a share in a plow, which appears to divide the "Free Common" category about halfway.

RQ:G has a ratio of about 60/40 Carl to Cottar in the example on p. 406 (although this discounts people not working the land, servants and in-house farm workers, and so on). 

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8 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

RQ:G has a ratio of about 60/40 Carl to Cottar in the example on p. 406 (although this discounts people not working the land, servants and in-house farm workers, and so on). 

Interesting conclusion from the (internally somewhat contradictory) statement on "Temple wealth" - a clan with 200 hides, a hide able to feed a tenant family of five with half its production (but add in an equal amount of food produced from livestock), would have between 50 and 70 hides assigned to the temple/nobility.

I tend to regard the "wealthy free" portion of the population as carls with their own tenant households on their stead - of the two Elmali households I outlined in my Elmali Stead suggestions, the larger one would be wealthy free while the smaller one would common free. (The households work just as well if you replace "Elmal" by "Yelmalio horse-thane".)

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33 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

RQ:G has a ratio of about 60/40 Carl to Cottar in the example on p. 406 (although this discounts people not working the land, servants and in-house farm workers, and so on). 

There is a reason I have eliminated (or at least very much minimised) terms like "carl" or "cottar" in favour of "free", "semi-free", and "unfree".  

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I am sure that the unfree and semifree can become free and rise in the ranks of society, after all, Orlanthi society is all about Change. However, there will be a certain amount of snobbery, at least in some quarters, that the person was born unfree or semifree. You get the situation where dirt-poor free people look down their noses at rich unfree-born or semifree-born people.

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22 minutes ago, Jeff said:

There is a reason I have eliminated (or at least very much minimised) terms like "carl" or "cottar" in favour of "free", "semi-free", and "unfree".  

I am not asking for the reason (your use of the terms in the table makes it clear that these in-culture terms are hardly applicable to the Dara Happans, for instance, and likely not that applicable to the Esrolian, either), but for guidelines what terms to use in future publications (e.g. for the Jonstown Compendium).

TR offers a plethora of ceremonial roles with "-thane" added, where the use of that element basically means "officer of the clan", often in a rather minor role that doesn't convey nobility, and prominence only in certain situations. I guess we ought to avoid those with regard to making Glorantha more accessible, at least without giving an explanation in current diction whenever we happen to fall back on such terms.

There is a military consequence for the status of a household, too.

 

Orlanthi custom makes a differentiation between plow-men/cow men and shared-plow households/sheep men, but almost all of this falls into the "common free" bracket, with some carls or clan-level lower "nobility" occupying the "wealthy free" bracket, and the semi-free population being counted among the sheep men, too. (Although the roles of pastoralism vs. plow-driven agriculture is inverted, a situation similar to the "ranchers vs. farmers" trope of the Old West, with the numbers of cattle owned matching that trope.)

 

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14 minutes ago, soltakss said:

I am sure that the unfree and semifree can become free and rise in the ranks of society, after all, Orlanthi society is all about Change. However, there will be a certain amount of snobbery, at least in some quarters, that the person was born unfree or semifree. You get the situation where dirt-poor free people look down their noses at rich unfree-born or semifree-born people.

Yep. The daughter of a priestess who was the daughter of a tribal king, etc. is going to have a much higher perceived social status and is likely going to look down her nose at the son of a unfree prisoner who made himself a powerful Storm Bull khan.

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4 hours ago, Jeff said:

There is a reason I have eliminated (or at least very much minimised) terms like "carl" or "cottar" in favour of "free", "semi-free", and "unfree".  

 

4 hours ago, Joerg said:

Orlanthi custom makes a differentiation between plow-men/cow men and shared-plow households/sheep men, but almost all of this falls into the "common free" bracket, with some carls or clan-level lower "nobility" occupying the "wealthy free" bracket, and the semi-free population being counted among the sheep men, too. (Although the roles of pastoralism vs. plow-driven agriculture is inverted, a situation similar to the "ranchers vs. farmers" trope of the Old West, with the numbers of cattle owned matching that trope.)

Sorry Jeff, I usually have no problem toeing the party line (I’m a barbarian, PARTY... where?), however, these titles make me think of the glorious free peoples state of the Soviet Republic of Blandistan. (I know I should not joke with americans in this way ‘cause o’ the 20th century and all, but being canadian it really is not intended as the slur that americans might make of it. But a slur none the less.

Unfree

Semi-free

Free Common

Free Wealthy

Low Noble

Middle Noble

High Noble

 

They evoke a bland state filled with bland people. I know y’all don’t like the terms cottar, thane, etc... but gods damn, man! The new terms suck. Sorry!

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24 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

 

Unfree

Semi-free

Free Common

Free Wealthy

Low Noble

Middle Noble

High Noble

 

They evoke a bland state filled with bland people. I know y’all don’t like the terms cottar, thane, etc... but gods damn, man! The new terms suck. Sorry!

They're abstract terms; you fill in the terms used locally. DH and Yelmalions call them ergeshi or sixths, halfs, and so forth. Kerofinelans call them Slaves (and don't usually have them), cottars/stickpickers, and so forth.

It's blank names on purpose because you don't use them in-game.

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I really hope we will at least get the local cultural terms filled out, even when these more general terms are used for the tables. Serf, Cottar, Carl and Thane are loaded with meaning in a way the blander terms aren't.  

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21 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

I really hope we will at least get the local cultural terms filled out, even when these more general terms are used for the tables. Serf, Cottar, Carl and Thane are loaded with meaning in a way the blander terms aren't.  

Serf, Cottar, Carl, and Thane are also misleading in a way the blander terms aren't.

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13 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Serf, Cottar, Carl, and Thane are also misleading in a way the blander terms aren't.

yeah i mean that's the thing with local terms: there's no unloaded term because societies may define several kinds of unfree, and also the Orlanthing terms are yoinked from English.

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27 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Serf, Cottar, Carl, and Thane are also misleading in a way the blander terms aren't.

I'm totally fine with the general terms. From a RPG-perspective this approach is the better one.

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2 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

 

Sorry Jeff, I usually have no problem toeing the party line (I’m a barbarian, PARTY... where?), however, these titles make me think of the glorious free peoples state of the Soviet Republic of Blandistan. (I know I should not joke with americans in this way ‘cause o’ the 20th century and all, but being canadian it really is not intended as the slur that americans might make of it. But a slur none the less.

Unfree

Semi-free

Free Common

Free Wealthy

Low Noble

Middle Noble

High Noble

 

They evoke a bland state filled with bland people. I know y’all don’t like the terms cottar, thane, etc... but gods damn, man! The new terms suck. Sorry!

Probably because we're just seeing them in English. These ranks would sound quite different in Theyalan.

Spoilered guesswork:

I figure Kar is still the root word for free, because why get rid of it? So most likely the word for a Free Man would be something like Karar (plural Kari), with Unfree and Semi-free taking variations (although unlike Dara Happan there's no easy antonym that I've found.)

While the nobility have a lot of different rankings, temporal and spiritual power is intricately linked for the Orlanthi. Jeff has previously said that some Orlanthi titles are "x's voice." I could easily see this being the root of the term "Dar" given the chief is the clan's Wyter-Voice. Although usually seen for chiefs, it may be that Dar is noble/thane, with specific ranks from TR (as Joerg referred to) as being what they're the "voice" of. The Clan's hearththane would be Mahomdara for instance.

But because familiar terms are more useful for gaming, it's easier to just say noble or freeman.

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25 minutes ago, Tindalos said:

Probably because we're just seeing them in English. These ranks would sound quite different in Theyalan.

Spoilered guesswork:

 

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I figure Kar is still the root word for free, because why get rid of it? So most likely the word for a Free Man would be something like Karar (plural Kari), with Unfree and Semi-free taking variations (although unlike Dara Happan there's no easy antonym that I've found.)

While the nobility have a lot of different rankings, temporal and spiritual power is intricately linked for the Orlanthi. Jeff has previously said that some Orlanthi titles are "x's voice." I could easily see this being the root of the term "Dar" given the chief is the clan's Wyter-Voice. Although usually seen for chiefs, it may be that Dar is noble/thane, with specific ranks from TR (as Joerg referred to) as being what they're the "voice" of. The Clan's hearththane would be Mahomdara for instance.

But because familiar terms are more useful for gaming, it's easier to just say noble or freeman.

 

If I end up giving out in-setting social status titles, it is much more likely to be things like Darkaring, etc. Non-English, non-terrestrial in origin. But until I am ready on that, I am going with the Soviet Republic of Blandistan.  

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

If I end up giving out in-setting social status titles, it is much more likely to be things like Darkaring, etc. Non-English, non-terrestrial in origin. But until I am ready on that, I am going with the Soviet Republic of Blandistan.  

Da Comrade... gak!

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Bumping this thread to ask: what makes a given Orlanthi clan have a tradition to have thralls non-free people or not? I'm having trouble finding info on that, it seems pretty much arbitrary.

(and for the record: I think "bland" terms are the way to go for generic, Glorantha-spanning gaming tables, but I'll definitely like to see "in-world" terms suggested for the GM to use when playing NPCs)

Edited by lordabdul

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58 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Bumping this thread to ask: what makes a given Orlanthi clan have a tradition to have thralls non-free people or not? I'm having trouble finding info on that, it seems pretty much arbitrary.

(and for the record: I think "bland" terms are the way to go for generic, Glorantha-spanning gaming tables, but I'll definitely like to see "in-world" terms suggested for the GM to use when playing NPCs)

Somewhat disappointingly, the answer seems to be: their ancestral clan. For example, the Hendrikings appear to oppose slavery, and this is something they passed on to their segmentary groups.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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1 minute ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Somewhat disappointingly, the answer seems to be: their ancestral clan. For example, the Hendrikings appear to oppose slavery, and this is something they passed on to their segmentary groups.

Not disappointing at all -- it makes sense to me that the cultural taboo or acceptance of slavery mostly comes from a clan's ancestral origins. What are your references for this though?

(I'm trying to figure out how likely it would be for clans of Tarsh origin to have slaves...)

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16 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Not disappointing at all -- it makes sense to me that the cultural taboo or acceptance of slavery mostly comes from a clan's ancestral origins. What are your references for this though?

(I'm trying to figure out how likely it would be for clans of Tarsh origin to have slaves...)

Clan generators, both in KoDP and HQ. Whether your clan keeps thralls depends on how your ancestors treated refugee peoples.

One way thrall-keeping or not is maintained is that the ancestors show up to complain if you try to change things.

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1 minute ago, Akhôrahil said:

Clan generators, both in KoDP and HQ. Whether your clan keeps thralls depends on how your ancestors treated refugee peoples.

Yeah I saw these, which is what I meant by "arbitrary"... you answer the questionnaire and it's really up to you to decide one way or the other, with zero hint as to whether your clan will stand out among your tribe/neighbours or not.

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3 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Yeah I saw these, which is what I meant by "arbitrary"... you answer the questionnaire and it's really up to you to decide one way or the other, with zero hint as to whether your clan will stand out among your tribe/neighbours or not.

Not really. In HQG or WF 15 (IIRC) there are the various types of Orlanthi (like Hendriki, Light Orlanthi, Axe Orlanthi) listed. When your players create a clan, they choose which of these they belong to. KoDP didn't know or make use of these terms, and neither did the HQ version of it. (HQ1, IIRC)

 

There are a few clans where the answer "what kind of clan is this" is canonically known and the players have no such choice. The clans of the original Colymar Tribe (like the Orlmarth or Ernaldori) are all Hendriki in origin (i.e. no thralls), and the Red Cow are Axe Orlanthi and keep at least one very notable thrall, Willandring.

The clan generator left the details known about the clan in the joint creation of the narrator and the players. Populating not just the clan ring and clan temple with NPCs and their inter-relationships is quite a bit of work, even with a system using so minimal NPC descriptions as HQ2/HQG.

 

I have a couple more questions to add to the clan questionnaire and/or the player ancestral and personal deeds in the past.

Like the question whether you were born as a member of your current clan, or whether you married in.

What do you know about your siblings, parents, uncles/aunts, cousins in your household? From which clans did the marriage partners come, and what is your and your bloodline's relationship with these clans/in-laws, and can you name some?

How extended is the family household, or the bloodline of several households in the clan?

What neighboring clans are typical marriage partners, what may be factins of marriage partners from these clans, and how do they influence clan politics?

 

I've been toying with the idea of producing such a story-teling approach to define a clan more closely for the Jonstown Compendium. Possibly throw in some flavors of clan generation, interweaving historical events with clan history, creating tribal and clan local history (using the old "Military Experience in Dragon Pass" for a start into that, but getting finer grained), and providing fairly well developed households to drop into a game for an array of more than one-dimensional people to interact with. But such an approach needs character portraits of some quality, and possibly house-plans and relationship maps, and contemporary layout and layout elements. Not quite above my paygrade, but rather ambitious and time-consuming for some of my "talents".

 

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:
2 hours ago, lordabdul said:

(I'm trying to figure out how likely it would be for clans of Tarsh origin to have slaves...)

 

The followers of Harvar Iron Fist were pretty brutal.  The reports of the crucifixes lining the Prax Road for miles following the rebellion of the righteous wind shows that. The forced expulsions of two tribes is another indication that the Alda-chur Overtribe might be a wee bit brutal. Add to that that one can have slaves in Tarsh and the empire (have they left the Far Place lands yet) and I have seen nothing mentioned that would indicate that they would have any problems with slavery.

My guess is yes they do, or at least they would be opposite the Sartarite Tribes to the south and have it be unusual to not keep slaves.

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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23 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

and the empire (have they left the Far Place lands yet)

By yet, do you mean 1625-6 at the start of RQG? If so, then no. The Lunar forces still in Sartar (that weren't eaten) retreat to Alda-Chur and control it (since Harvar also got eaten in the Dragonrise). 

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51 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

The followers of Harvar Iron Fist were pretty brutal.  The reports of the crucifixes lining the Prax Road for miles following the rebellion of the righteous wind shows that. The forced expulsions of two tribes is another indication that the Alda-chur Overtribe might be a wee bit brutal. Add to that that one can have slaves in Trash and the empire (have they left the Far Place lands yet) and I have seen anything mentioned that would indicate that they would have any problems with slavery.

My guess is yes they do, or at least they would be opposite the Sartarite Tribes to the south and have it be unusual to not keep slaves.

I suppose no more than half the Sartarite tribes are predominantly Hendriki in outlook. The Sambari for instance have a long tradition as slave traders, and their position on the main pass to the east of the Quvin and Storm Mountains makes them a necessary intermediate for Praxian slave traders (who in turn may replenish their stock with captives from Praxian raids on Sartar). Thus, the Sambari are fairly likely to trade in (former fellow) Sartarites, both north and south.

The northern Orlanthi may have the occasional clan opposed to taking slaves, but they have no equivalent of the Hendriki and their spirit of Freedom.

Actually, the proportion of Hendriki clans may be lower in Heortland than it is in Sartar, as the theft of that Spirit of Freedom was a major motivation to pack up and leave Belintar's reign behind.

Edited by Joerg
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