Jump to content
Joerg

Social strata in Orlanthi society

Recommended Posts

4 hours 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...)

I should've specified that I meant"disappointingly simple" or something along those lines. It's an explanation that makes a lot of sense, but it doesn't do much more than push back the question of how those traditions became enshrined to begin with, which we still don't know (except in the case of the Hendrikings, who due to their association with the Larnstings and their spirit of freedom prevented keeping slaves).

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So if ones clan's ancestors kept non-free folk, and someone married into that clan, that's a cause of culture conflict, if they now have to adjust to that idea that keep people  is acceptable.
But if its only one event that informs this choice, what keeps a clan-off shoot from saying: We will no longer do this?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, HeartQuintessence said:

But if its only one event that informs this choice, what keeps a clan-off shoot from saying: We will no longer do this?

I think that probably happens, yes. Social and political pressure from inside (people marrying into the clan) and from outside (neighbouring clans in the same tribe) could potentially make a given clan change their stance on keeping non-free people. I could see it happening either way, but with the combination of Hendriki sensibilities and the fact that the "new bad guys" (the Lunars) also engage in slavery, it means there's probably a recent bias towards stopping the traditions of having non-free people, at least in the core of Sartar.

There might also be big events in the clan's history that change things. For instance, the tribes of the Alone confederation (Amad, Bachad, Tres) were formed by previously Tarsh people who moved to Alone after the Battle of Grizzly Peak. Although they are likely to have historically had thralls, they also probably didn't move them over to to the Far Place (they wouldn't have had the resources to make sure they didn't escape or rebel). I could actually imagine some non-free people getting liberated on the condition that they follow their previous owners and help them build the city of Alone and get setup in the Far Place. That's bound to create some interesting historical tensions between bloodlines in those tribes... And while the clan leaders might want to get new thralls as soon as possible, as is their tradition, they might not be able to do that much because, well, they just got setup and are probably lacking the resources to raid their neighbours and keep an eye on prisoners. That's also bound to make ancestor spirits happy, especially after a generation of complacency on the topic...

Mmmmh... it opens up some questions about what it takes to capture someone and turn them into a thrall (I suppose they need to be supervised 24/7 for at least a couple years, if not more?), but this gives me a bunch of ideas for my Bachad campaign, and that's nice.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Joerg said:

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)

It would be very interesting to see a canonical mapping of answers to the clan questionnaire to the different types of Orlanthi, in as much as such exists as a trend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, HeartQuintessence said:

So if ones clan's ancestors kept non-free folk, and someone married into that clan, that's a cause of culture conflict, if they now have to adjust to that idea that keep people  is acceptable.

Marrying out of your clan is guaranteed to give you a culture conflict. There are always virtues that you must re-learn - even if it is a marriage between two of the original Colymar clans, who theoretically once shared all of their ancestors when they followed the Black Spear into Dragon Pass.

Basically, your ancestors are likely to be made up of everything, or at least a very large variety of cultural values. (There might be clans with a very limited number of ancestors, but you know what happens when you limit the number of ancestors a family has...)

So the clan traditions are about which of the multitude of ancestors have the most say, and which have been confined. Not speaking of individual ancestors here (although individuals like Harmast Barefoot will certainly be remembered), but groups of ancestors. Going along with the Only Old One, or supporting the Tax Slaughter - this kind of watersheds.

 

So how jarring is keeping people as property?

There are numerous forms of treating people as property, and the semi-free status of tenants is the entry-way into this. In other words, there is no society which doesn't have parts of the population with limited self-determination.

In most Sartarite clans, the unfree are basically indentured people who are unfree as the result of being caught in raids and not ransomed back, as being caught while outlawed (and not killed), or (rarely) as punishment for actions of theirs.

The price of a slave is significantly lower than even a tenant's weregeld, which is why many slave-takers will gladly ransom back any captives that come their way to their origins, and there are famous intercessors who go to negotiate such payments with people any sane person would avoid like hell in order not to join the ranks of captured future slaves.

The role of an unfree in Orlanthi society is significantly worse than that of a tenant. There will be no marriages arranged for unfree. They are effectively strangers living with the clan, as the law goes, although any children they give birth to (or more rarely beget) will be non-unfree.

There is a pitfall in this "the children of a slave will be free". It means that slaves are expected to have sex. Now this is a basic human urge, and it can be done in a very friendly way like the episode of Vikings where Ragnar and Lasgertha invite their enslaved former monk into their marital bed, but there is of course the way more ugly side where an unfree is ordered to have sex without any regard about inclination or willingness. But with the very limited personhood, a slave has no right to say "No", only the slave's owners (usually plural) have that right.

So, who actually owns a slave? Sad to say, but it is similar to the question who actually owns a cow, or a sheep. In the end, most of the property in a clan is owned by the clan and only "loaned" to be used by the assigned occupants. There is personal property, and there is odal property brought in to the clan by a bloodline and held by the bloodline, or by a branch of it.

Most slaves will be owned by a stead/household. This means that the steadfolk share ownership of the unfree person, and that the right to order the slave around is hierarchically layered as is all decision making in the stead/household.

And "stead" may well be a semi-free charcoal-burner's or miner's cottage.

Being a slave to a more prestigious household might be desirable, but undesirable tasks are found in any kind of household, and usually the unfree will be set to take care of those.

Still, an unfree person tasked with a job will have all that job's authority. In his smithy, Willandring the giant is the master, and assistants who push the bellows or bring in supplies have to listen to his orders, even if they may be free and of higher social status.

 

Let's compare Esrolia. With their high percentage of slaves, the question is whether the children of slaves will be slaves or assigned to a semi-free status. How does an Esrolian become property?

The Grandmother of an Esrolian House has absolute power over the house. She may have advisors, but she can tell them to shut the hell up, and go about her business as she sees fit. This goes to marriage arrangements. And in the lower tiers of social strata, being married away and being sold may be little different. So a grandmother might have the power to sell away members of her house, getting rid of uppity folk who dare have an opinion differing from hers, or having offended her in some other way. Higher status may protect initially, but the grandmother has always the option to lower the status of an individual or even a family branch (or bloodline) as she sees fit.

(The chief of an Orlanthi clan has the same power, but his position is a lot less secure than that of a grandmother.)

(The downside of the job security of a grandmother is that with only voluntary retirement or death as exit clause, involuntary death may be a common way to end the job. Assassination of grandmothers might be an accepted tool of politics, even intra-house politics.)

 

Back to marrying into a clan with different traditions. The negotiators of a marriage will have made a fuzz about what applies to their valued clan member handed over to that new clan. Carefully, without insulting those differing customs. That's why many clans have traditional marriage partner clans - there all the differences in tradition are a) known factors and b) have been ever so slightly re-moulded with every import of wives or husbands from that clan bringing over their influences and prejudices.

Your typical patrilocal clan will have the children raising overseen by senior generation wives who will have spent quite a while in that clan, but who are responsible to instill the basic ethics of the clan. Handing this over to people not born in the clan will shape the values of the next generation, and some day these next generation will have become ancestors of the clan.

Bloodlines come with a set of ancestors, both specific individuals and groups (clustered around those individuals). Maternal descent does count a bit, and prestigious maternal descent counts a bit more.

 

Slaves don't contribute to the ancestors, even if they leave their children in the clan. (And there is no indication that e.g. Argrath as a ground man among the Praxians left behind any offspring, but then male slaves among the Praxians may be prohibited from having children, if need be castrated.)

Slaves still are supposed to worship, at least when they have cults that have some compatibiity with their owners' cults. And they are supposed to worship as lay members, I guess.

Then, what about buying and selling slaves? It should be highly unusual (not to say impossible) to become a slave in your birth clan or the clan of your (most recent) marriage. But in times of economic need, surplus of workforce (when did this ever happen?) or famine, a slave will be sold, and possibly be moved away half a continent (there are thousands of uses the Lunar Empire finds for slaves) or an entire sea (Fonrit has a steady demand for exotic slaves).

 

What about slaves running away? Are they treated as escaped property, or do they get treated like outlaws when encountered by third parties? There is no reason for even a Hendriki clan to offer hospitality to an escaped slave, except if they want to make a political statement to the (former) owners of that slave, or that slave has a proof of kinship with a (group of) clan member(s), if only some of the marriage partners.

Escapees from Lunar owners bring their own political statement reasons for being accepted as guests (or being denied).

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Joerg said:

What about slaves running away? Are they treated as escaped property, or do they get treated like outlaws when encountered by third parties? There is no reason for even a Hendriki clan to offer hospitality to an escaped slave, except if they want to make a political statement to the (former) owners of that slave, or that slave has a proof of kinship with a (group of) clan member(s), if only some of the marriage partners.

Escapees from Lunar owners bring their own political statement reasons for being accepted as guests (or being denied).

That's the part that I was wondering about when talking about the cost of keeping slaves, as in: the cost of having guards, locked buildings, escort back and forth, etc.

The Sambari tribe (the "Thrallholders") might have some special "slave shepherd" roles, accommodations, processes, and even maybe magic to manage their large number of slaves.

Lunars have slave barracks and labour camps and soldier guards, and therefore probably manage their slaves in the way we might be most familiar with from movies and books about, say, the Roman Empire (whips and chains and kicking them down in the dirt and all).

The Grazelanders' vendref are semi-free and live in villages -- they're kept in check mostly from the fact that they have no access to weapons and riding beasts, and every now and then some Grazelanders come around to remind them of their place. Anybody trying to escape will possibly be caught, and their head of a spike brought back to their village. Generations of semi-free status also cements people's "place" in their minds, and they really might have no concept of the fact they could be "free" if they lived elsewhere.

For Orlanthi thralls, though I'm less sure. First, S:KoH says that the practice to keep thralls is in decline ever since the Lunars have been the "bad guys", enslaving everybody that stands in their way (it's bad when they do it!). S:KoH further says: "Most of the thralls we know about are either debt slaves or criminals, though there is also the occasional recalcitrant war prisoner". I'm not sure what a "debt slave" is? Probably someone who goes to work for someone else because they can't pay back a loan, ransom, or other type of compensation for a past crime/offense? So they're effectively slaves for a pre-agreed amount of time?

Also, it's probably different between cities and rural lands. Cities might have enough resources to keep slave pens/barracks... Wilmskirk has one, but Swenstown doesn't seem to, for instance. But like I said, for rural areas it might not be very economical to guard/manage slaves as closely, apart from the occasional slave pen in a clan centre or chieftain household. It's possible that a few farmsteads have slaves (a handful at most for ~20 adults), but don't keep a particularly close eye on them -- if they escape, they will either die in the wilderness, or be captured before they leave the tribal lands, or have spirits sent after them... although that probably means (unless you go the "spirit" route) that such slaves are marked somehow -- either with a bracelet or collar they can't remove themselves, or with a tattoo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

That's the part that I was wondering about when talking about the cost of keeping slaves, as in: the cost of having guards, locked buildings, escort back and forth, etc.

 

Well if one is an outlaw, I am thinking, slavery might be preferable for the protection of a clan. If one is in debt, slavery would be preferable to exile, and I believe they wold be able to earn money to buy their debt back. Far from home and not a great warrior, linguist or traveller. Death or staying put, you’re choice. The clan will not be putting a lot ot resources  in for these types for guards I am thinking.

Unfortunately Jeff says the slave bracelets that suck MPs (temp POW) of CoP fame are no longer canon, too bad. I will be using them in some way myself img.

55 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Wilmskirk

Sambari is part of the Wilmskirk confederacy I am guessing (going to take a nap before a very long work night so, no time to look it up.

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Sambari is part of the Wilmskirk confederacy I am guessing

Oh right, duh. Thanks. So it might be that Wilmskirk is actually the only Orlanthi city with slave barracks...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, lordabdul said:

Oh right, duh. Thanks. So it might be that Wilmskirk is actually the only Orlanthi city with slave barracks...

Seems good to me, although in your neck of the woods the Overtribe (well it use to be Sartarite) would have tons, I am not sure about the Undertribe.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, I imagine the Alda-Churi tribes, especially the Princeros and Vantaros, might have a fresh batch of slaves as per around 1610. Between the new Yelmalio government of Harvar Ironfist and the Lunar support, that's a lot of people in charge who enjoy keeping slaves chained around.

For the Alone tribes, I think that since they're historically from Tarsh, it's very likely that they're totally OK keeping slaves. But like I said, they might have "reset" back to zero (or very few) slaves in 1582 when they setup camp in the Far Place, and they might only have a few ones kicking around, as per debt slaves, temporary prisoners from ongoing ransom/compensation negotations, and a few other edge cases like these.

As mentioned before, it makes for interesting narrative tension, I think: between the bloodline that used to be slaves back in Tarsh but got freed in exchange for help with the exodus and installation in Alone (including building the city) and who would obviously be opposed to thrall-keeping, the bloodline that insists on capturing and keeping slaves themselves to "honour the traditions", the ancestor ghosts being angry that there are not enough slaves around, the anti-Lunars and newer generation who say that only Lunar assholes keep slaves, etc. I think it's going to be pretty fun to make these various faction argue at every tribal moot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

I'm not sure what a "debt slave" is?

You failed to produce enough income for the clan, or wagered it away, or incurred some "protection" debt, etc. and now you must work/labor to "pay off" the debt. Your "earnings" go to pay off the debt (which might still be increasing). Until you do so you are not free. Why would you stay and not run away? Loss of Honor and Reputation. Excommunication by the clan priests. Outlawry from the clan. All of which cuts you off from Orlanth/Ernalda and leaves you without support.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/31/2019 at 4:20 AM, HeartQuintessence said:

So if ones clan's ancestors kept non-free folk, and someone married into that clan, that's a cause of culture conflict, if they now have to adjust to that idea that keep people  is acceptable.
But if its only one event that informs this choice, what keeps a clan-off shoot from saying: We will no longer do this?

Happens all the time. Think about it this way - every Orlanthi community in the late Third Age traces its lineage back as far as it can. Most Sartarites, when they want to tell thousand-year old stories, look at the Second Age Hendreiki as their heroic "ancestors" - sort of like Hellenistic Greeks looking at the deeds of Bronze Age Mycenaeans as sources of legitimacy and lineage. But those lineages are rarely if ever unbroken, and Orlanth and Ernalda are often easier to contact than distant purported ancestors. Communities might say that they have slaves because they always have had slaves, but a Daka Fal shaman might summon a distant ancestor that says they always owned slaves.

The clan questionnaire is a way of determining how a community currently views its past - every community is a combination of cults and groups, many of which are new or have different importances from a century ago. The Orlmarth clan in 1626 might answer that questionnaire differently from the Black Spear clan of 1326 which might answer it differently from the Orshanti clan of 1026. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/30/2019 at 9:22 PM, 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)

The norm for most Gloranthan societies is to have some non-free people. Lots of different explanations for it, but basically is either a Golden Age myth of how do we order society or a Lesser Darkness myth of how do we deal with defeated outsiders.

The Hendreiki were unusual in that they had a "Cult of Freedom" which forbids slave-owning. That's part of what kept Hendrik and his followers alive during the Gbaji Wars and is a defining story for many of the Hendriki peoples (including those who followed Colymar into Dragon Pass). But they also have their own ways of dealing with prisoners of war who are not ransomed by their temple or kinfolk. And other Sartarites don't have the same tradition. So in Sartar about 10% of the population are unfree and 16% are semi-free. More in some areas, less in others. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, jajagappa said:

You failed to produce enough income for the clan, or wagered it away, or incurred some "protection" debt, etc. and now you must work/labor to "pay off" the debt. Your "earnings" go to pay off the debt (which might still be increasing). Until you do so you are not free. Why would you stay and not run away? Loss of Honor and Reputation. Excommunication by the clan priests. Outlawry from the clan. All of which cuts you off from Orlanth/Ernalda and leaves you without support.

Another form of debt slavery is borrowing cattle or other livestock in exchange for service. Until the cattle loan is repaid you must perform the service.

Still another is selling the service of yourself and your family in exchange for guaranteed food - something that probably happened a lot in 1621-1623.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jeff said:

Happens all the time. Think about it this way - every Orlanthi community in the late Third Age traces its lineage back as far as it can. Most Sartarites, when they want to tell thousand-year old stories, look at the Second Age Hendreiki as their heroic "ancestors" - sort of like Hellenistic Greeks looking at the deeds of Bronze Age Mycenaeans as sources of legitimacy and lineage. But those lineages are rarely if ever unbroken, and Orlanth and Ernalda are often easier to contact than distant purported ancestors. Communities might say that they have slaves because they always have had slaves, but a Daka Fal shaman might summon a distant ancestor that says they always owned slaves.

Might the same Daka Fal shaman also summon another distant ancestor with the opposite claim?

 

2 hours ago, Jeff said:

The clan questionnaire is a way of determining how a community currently views its past - every community is a combination of cults and groups, many of which are new or have different importances from a century ago. The Orlmarth clan in 1626 might answer that questionnaire differently from the Black Spear clan of 1326 which might answer it differently from the Orshanti clan of 1026. 

Each of these would have been composed of different bloodlines, as people joined or left clans (which appears to happen quite a few times if you look e.g. at the Antorlings or the Karandoli, each of which include nobility from the original Colymar lineage at some time), so of course their ancestors would have varied. But then, bloodlines splitting into different branches and in-law ancestors creeping in bringing different values might be another way for the clan ancestors to vary over the centuries.

 

1 hour ago, Jeff said:

The Hendreiki were unusual in that they had a "Cult of Freedom" which forbids slave-owning. That's part of what kept Hendrik and his followers alive during the Gbaji Wars and is a defining story for many of the Hendriki peoples (including those who followed Colymar into Dragon Pass). But they also have their own ways of dealing with prisoners of war who are not ransomed by their temple or kinfolk.

Which are?

 

1 hour ago, Jeff said:

Another form of debt slavery is borrowing cattle or other livestock in exchange for service. Until the cattle loan is repaid you must perform the service.

That's basically how a free household turns into a semi-free household?

I have been wondering how the difference in successfully producing progeny between the haves and the have-nots refills the vacancies among the have-nots in Heortling society. Debt slavery of the cattle loan kind looks like it is inheritable, unlike personal slavery due to being captured and sold or similar reasons.

 

1 hour ago, Jeff said:

Still another is selling the service of yourself and your family in exchange for guaranteed food - something that probably happened a lot in 1621-1623.

There appear to be entire civilizations (both historical Real World as well as Gloranthan) where raising and then selling surplus children is an accepted way of life. A good portion of the African slaves shipped across the Atlantic had been sold by their own chieftains to neighboring tribes, and then sold on to traders with contacts to the European-American buyers, moving them from a culturally accepted and acceptable form of slavery into one outside of their cultural context.

This is about equivalent to a Fonritian trader buying slaves with exotic appearance say in Nochet, Corflu or the Threestep Isles for the delectation of his Karreeshtan customers (the Afadjanni have a readier source of Orlanthi/Western descended slaves in Umathela).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the topic of holding slaves or why slaves stick around: the uncertainty prospects of what would happen to you if you ran away are probably a fairly significant deterrent. What will you eat? Where will you sleep? Will you be able to protect yourself? Where will you ultimately go?

Then you have to deal with the fact that the vast majority of the neighbors of your slave masters probably are very much aware that you are an escaped slave, and they have a cultural motivation to capture you and send you back to your masters - or maybe just take you for yourself. 

All in all, I'd argue that there's probably a decent amount of attempted escapes from stead-slaves, but that most of them probably don't get too far, and receive a public beating when they are caught. A few might manage to get away. An even smaller amount might even survive to make a different life. 

Lastly there's a few factors to be taken into account: material living standards might not be much worse for a slave in a rural stead than a semi-free stickpicker barely scraping by. Also, we have to take into account that in many ancient and not-so-ancient cultures, the idea of an ordered social hierarchy was deeply ingrained, and that some people might very well have internalized their position as slaves to the point where it seemed reasonably natural to them. Not ideal, but sufferable. The way things just are. 

While I know comparisons to the Norse vikings is considered a bit of a Gloranthan no-no, I would say that a comparison between a Norse farm with thralls and an Orlanthi rural stead with slaves is probably not to distant from each other. And of the vikings with their string of farms along the Scandinavian coast managed to keep slaves to the point where it made sense to them and it was practical, then I'd say it should make sense for Heortlings too (even if escaping overland might be marginally easier than escaping overseas back to Britain or mainland Europe - arguably). It's just up to as to find out how (as I tried to do above.)

None of this applies to the mass-slavery of mines, plantations and public works, which is a different case.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...