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How magic changes Glorantha from Earth. Let's start with sex...


JRE

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Glorantha has, despite the claims of bronze age equivalence, many modern sensitivities. I find it a good thing, as historical bronze age quickly becomes depressing for most of the population. In general, these are due to the widespread magic solving important social problems, rather than adventuring problems. I would like to focus here on sex, from a social point of view, starting with the Dragon Pass Orlanthi as a touchstone, but I would like to see other cultures too.

I am a cis heterosexual male, which brings a set of preconceptions and blind spots. I suppose we are still the most populous group here, as we are in roleplaying games in general, though fortunately diversity is increasing. So please correct me, point out the preconceptions or fallacies I may be using, but please consider that this is Glorantha, a fiction, and one where we can improve on what we have in the Real World.

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Posted (edited)

Women independence.

There are several factors, and we will touch some others, but for me the main one is the low infant death ratio. We know of some magic that helps pregnancies, and the general magic use practically guarantees that in attended deliveries survival rate will be 100% for both mother and child. Although we still expect a high casualty ratio in human males and a lower but significant ratio among human females due to the higher systemic violence, that probably means smaller families and much less pressure on pregnancies for women, as the dead males are socially disposable. If marriages are mainly monogamous, of course. So there will be an excess of single women without partners and widows, which are those better suited for adventuring and other independent life choices.

A higher women independence would balance out the decreased number of married males and decrease social tension, and bring a more equal social weight, though we have irregular results in the cultures described in the literature, but that is not the point today.

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Recreative sex.

Although as far as I know it has not been officially described, most campaigns I have seen preclude easy access or even magical anticonceptive. Accidents still happen and may make excellent if poignant plots, but in almost all cultures (I was going to say in all, but we always have Mostali and Brithini) sex is to be enjoyed and coupled with reproduction only when you so desire, even if fertility still plays a big role in sex, and sex in fertility magic. Maybe it is the 60s California vibe, but I think this is something to preserve.

Decoupling sex from reproduction also opens the way to alternate sexual arrangements being normalized, including same sex and group sex, not only for religious reasons. It complements very well the women independence when you can decide on your pregnancies.

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Sex is not life.

In Glorantha people are rated in terms of death and life affinity, which means fertility, and they are somewhat aware of this affinity. On earth religions fertility would have been directly coupled to sex, but in Glorantha fortunately strong Death people can still enjoy sex, even if it is likely they may have difficulties to conceive, and anyway there are magic remedies also for that. I know many people disagree with this, but in my Glorantha someone infertile (unless due to maiming) would be strong in death and weak in life, even if they have never touched a weapon.

Once again that normalizes those sex options beyond vaginal penetration, and it helps people enjoy themselves and their sexuality more. You are not failing your family or clan by having a same sex lover or adopting an alternate gender. Though you may be failing them if you do not have children when population needs to be rebuilt, so there is also those kinds of pressures.

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Abortion and infanticide.

This is a touchy subject, but once again easy contraception and I must assume quick detection of pregnancies by magic sight means pregnancies are detected early. Here it probably depends on the gaming group sensitivities, but it would be easy to postulate abortive remedies without the risk and trauma in the RW, or Earth temple assumption of all unwanted pregnancies, with possibly even a fetus transfer magic from unwilling to a willing carrier (that with enough fertility magic could be a physical male as well). With healing magic cesarean sections are safe.

All these combines to make infanticide rare except in time of famine (and you can just stop pregnancies) or persecution, making it dramatic when it happens but not an ongoing concern.

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Religious sex.

Some cults practice ritual intermarriage, and some even limit who you can marry. I would consider that those depend on the people involved, as you can have sex without marriage and a marriage without sex, though in a ritual marriage of the two ruling deities, the harmony of the marriage will increase the Harmony of the community, and the fertility likewise, though I am sure proxies can be used in special cases, such as a Vingan marrying a Ernaldan. But you knew what you were getting into when you accepted.

As well many cults have ceremonies and festivities where you practice sex. To make sure that women join as much as men, it would be necessary that, unless desired, no guaranteed pregnancies come from such a ritual, as otherwise women will be more reluctant than men in joining these ceremonies, because the potential consequences of joining the ceremony are very different. You could say that all human pregnancies become animal pregnancies or boost the harvest without actual pregnancies taking place.

Uleria opens a different can of worms, religious prostitution, as well as becoming initiate for pure pleasure. I consider Apple Lane did not help by making commonplace something that I would expect only in relatively large cities, but it is certainly there. I suppose other cults will offer these services, with the main difference being that in Glorantha I expect a more equal split of sexes and genders among the holy prostitutes.

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Pleasure.

The only deity from the original Court left is related to love, sex, and procreation, and she is probably known and apreciated everywhere. I consider that most cultures value the pleasure they can get from sex, and it is considered perverse to deny your partner pleasure as well. And that is as much as possible a general ruling. Even in arranged marriages, Uleria can guarantee only one sexual act is needed to guarantee the desired offspring, and to give the pleasure they do not find in duty, according to their own preference. I expect Uleria is really a deity of mutable gender and sex, able to satisfy any and all, and to be their true object of desire, though seen through the lens of the culture, so patriarchal cultures will see her as a woman, and matriarchal cultures as a virile man. Her symbols and amulets will be found all over, and probably characters will have a few, because that is probably the trait most humans share.

Besides the sacred prostitute aspect, and the pregnancies, I expect many couples take a visit to the temple as we take a romantic week end, and the services may well reflect that. Baths, massages, seeing your partner as beautiful as the first time, and a certain guarantee that the spark will be there once again. Much more than just scratching an itch.

I also suspect Ulerians are exempted from the taboo of sex among the uninitiated, because someone must teach how to do it right, though that will not help in isolated clans, where it may well be your cousins who have to teach you.

I also expect that with this expectation of pleasure, sex will be open, something you discuss, and most people know more than we do about how to administer your pleasure and how to please others. And makes Gloranthans happier than we are.

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4 hours ago, JRE said:

the low infant death ratio

Also, far fewer mothers dying during, or shortly after, childbirth.

A few years ago I read Daughters of Chivalry, by Kelcey Wilson-Lee.  It's about Edward Longshanks' many daughters.  When they faced a difficult birth, and called for the sacred relics for aid, I found myself surprisingly affected and fearful for their lives.

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5 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Also, far fewer mothers dying during, or shortly after, childbirth.

A few years ago I read Daughters of Chivalry, by Kelcey Wilson-Lee.  It's about Edward Longshanks' many daughters.  When they faced a difficult birth, and called for the sacred relics for aid, I found myself surprisingly affected and fearful for their lives.

i've made the argument a lot that the gender system of the Orlanthi has a lot to do with their mortality rates being significantly closer to those of the current era: shamans and priests who can cure disease and heal and an entire pantheon of deities dedicated to safe and effective childbirth means birthgivers and children survive, a critical issue in human life, and where "women" was a significant category for historical life it is not so for Gloranthans, and overlap between the two is our bias. I've also argued that gender in many Gloranthan societies is largely runic, and that Greg had shifted his perspective radically in the 90s from real-world gender to a different system, hence the rising cult of Orlanth-with-boobs and the like.

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Posted (edited)

I agree, which is why I want to explore what the magic means in terms of quality of life and social changes, because I agree the views changed but many cultures are still rooted in some artificial analogues of their Earth equivalents rather than extrapolating from the different base conditions. I have edited the initial piece to clarify that the 100% survival is for both mother and child, if an attended delivery. Battlefield conditions would be different. 

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1 minute ago, JRE said:

I agree, which is why I want to explore what the magic means in terms of quality of life and social changes, because I agree the views changed but many cultures are still rooted in some artificial analogues of their Earth equivalents rather than extrapolating from the different base conditions. 

*cough* also Kralorela is racist homygod *cough*

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So one of the basic models I've used for understanding the "clan and tribe" society of... large chunks of Glorantha, but most detailed for Sartar and Prax, is that of real-world cultural analogues like Anishnaabe doodemag, where the clan is consanguine and necessarily exogamous and the tribe is a fundamentally political grouping within a broader cultural identity. Now, there are aspects of this which are not entirely consonant with recent clarifications (eg within a "standard" marriage children would seem to be unrelated to their mother, as marriages do not alter clan status of the mobile partner) but one thing that's worth thinking about is the recent additions on fertility festivals and the fact that children produced from sex during these ceremonies are understood to have a divine parent regardless of whose body was actually being used by the fertility daimons as a ride or chwal. 

So, one of the consequences of this is that surrogate pregnancy already has a cultural presence, because anyone with a vagina and uterus who is ridden by a fertility daimon and gets pregnant as a consequence is carrying the child of the fertility daimon and their mortal partner, without their involvement. And in turn, parentage must be a more slippery thing, because even observing that a particular baby came out of a particular birth canal isn't any kind of proof. (Alternately, a more expansive understanding of parentage where >2 parents is normal and explicable could be retrofitted in, or we could assert that it's only ever men with penises who are ridden by fertility daimons, or various other options that require more work or actively weaken the interesting aspects of this notion.) 

So when we think about sex and sexuality, we have an environment where casual, anonymous sex with kin who are temporarily not kin is something every young adult is going to be aware of and have the opportunity to participate in. Now, as far as how this works out for the full valences of sexual orientations and genders, well, that's another question, and there I think you just have to make it up. 

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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I agree, but I have always believed that the one that first person that makes something up, if it is good, has a good chance for it to become true in Glorantha, at least for a time. And the more diverse viewpoints, the more diverse the shared world as well.

Concerning the result of the religious sex, I think the reality will be quite more complex than "this is a child of the gods". Because we are dealing with people, and people that know each other well, and they will know and gossip, whether A had the hots for B, and used the ceremony to consummate their desire, or if someone really was not themselves, or if someone was still clearly the same as always. So there is a religious cover for it, and the temple will make theirs any unclaimed child, but I think (except when normal sex would be forbidden, or taboo) the birthmother can always, if they wish, claim the child as theirs. The other partner(s) may have more difficulties to claim parenthood, as it is likely there are several partners, or at least potential partners, involved, so exclusivity would be difficult.

But I think it is a choice. I also agree that in that case more than two parents will be accepted. So you may have one birthmother, and three parents (of diverse genders), and the child could be the child of all four of them. Or three and the gods I think the Orlanthi are sophisticate enough to accept that sometimes the numinous rides you, but sometimes you ride the numinous, and you are still yourself. These children will remain with the clan, as they are blessed, even if some of the parents will later return to another clan. I also expect, specially in magic rich conditions, that there will be more partners than the attendants from the clan, so there will always be mystery parents, or even mystery mothers, with the children appearing at the temple 40 weeks after the ritual.

Thinking of similar cases, even if Lunars are weird, we have Phargentes, born from a magic sex ceremony between Moirades and Jar Eel. Interestingly, everybody accepts he is Moirades child, while his mother is more ambiguous. Jar Eel? Hon Eel, as she was possibly channeling her ancestor? The goddess, through her mask, confirmed when he became Emperor? 

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51 minutes ago, JRE said:

Jar Eel? Hon Eel, as she was possibly channeling her ancestor?

Jar-Eel has been identified as the current living incarnation of the Red Goddess, which I think trumps Hon-Eel

Edited by Qizilbashwoman
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3 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Jar-Eel has been identified as the current living incarnation of the Red Goddess, which I think trumps Hon-Eel

Well, sure, but do we have Sedenya on record in any of her incarnations as plowing someone into the mattress death by snu-snu spiritual liberation and release? Apart from Hon-eel? 

Of course, there are some interesting slippages in some texts as to whether Moirades is still around after 1610 but in retirement and it's quite possible that, ah, a hippocampic situation was in effect there and Moirades puerperium mortuus est.

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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I was thinking of Hon Eel as the founder of the current Tarsh dinasty, through a sacrifice king and a posthumous child. So Jar Eel may not be acting as herself, but as a proxy of her great-grandmother. Phoronestes did not make emperor, so Jar Eel may have brought something more, or Moirades may have been a more suitable partner.

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I always was a lonely child, so I am not going to stop because only a few people want to play with me. And I find writing these ideas help me focus and refine them. 

Incest

Another touchy matter, and one that has been discussed in the Forum several times. I suppose we can agree that Earth genetics do not need to apply in Glorantha, though most people expect that children resemble their parents (no matter how many there are, as discussed earlier). There are also good cultural reasons (avoiding kinstrife) to minimize sex among family except in codified ways. So my own take is that incest does bring the risk of dreadful consequences (at least among the Orlanthi), but this is a magical effect, not a biological one, and may bring monster children, succubus (lust spirits) and other negative effects. As a magical effect, I would propse it does not limit itself to biological links, but it means any sex within the bloodline may bring up this effects, so, extending it, also non-reproductive sex may cause a magical backlash. So fooling among brothers or sisters, or lusting on your step-mother, could have serious effects, or be a plot driver, which is what mainly matters for us.

As a magical effect, and taking the bloodline idea to the limit, you could have sex with your birthmother if she is not in your bloodline (you joined your father clan, or she returned to her clan and left you) without it being incest, and in this model, without consequence. I suspect that is the explanation for all the family sex among the Orlanthi gods, and it may be a matter for ribald tales. If Velhara is not in Orlanth's and Yinkin bloodline, it is ok for them to have sex and children with their sister. 

As a magic effect, it is easy to explain why incest does not apply in religious ceremonies, and also why in special cases it can be a source of powerful magic. That also opens the door to other Cultures having different criteria. I am sure the genealogy obsessed cultures, as most of the West and the Solars, will have specific (and sometimes absurd) rules on which pairings are allowed and which ones are not (and sometimes deliberately broken as they search for particular genealogical mixes), but genealogy obsessed people tend to ignore non-reproductive sex, so it may not be classed as incest. I am sure the Orlanthi whisper in horror about what happens among brothers and sisters in those cultures, while the others mock the orlanthi all sleeping in a single bed with their sheep and cows. Lunars pay lip service to the Solar concerns but then do what is necessary to reinforce Lunar traits. They also often hide parentages because incest is another artificial construct that should not interfere with personal satisfaction, but they still want to avoid any excessive outrage. My Lodrili do not really concern themselves with incest, and will share most things within the family. No idea how it is considered in Kralorela or outside Pamaltela. 

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The Triads.

We have the life (Voria, Ernalda, Asrelia) and the death triad (Babeester Gor, Maran Gor and Ty Kora Tek). We could propose the step from the first to the second face is sex, rather than motherhood (or rejected motherhood, in the case of Maran Gor), but we all know Babeester is no virgin, and I would not expect Orlanthi to require Voria initiates to remain virgins either. So here what makes cultural sense collides with the game needs. Not to change anything, just pointing out an area where PCs may be exceptional. I would make the change in status comes with the pregnancy, not the birth, as that allows the sharing of secret knowledge and magics before childbirth.

Although we have examples in the sources of Ernalda priestesses that have not given birth, I would expect that it is a prerequisite for the deep initiation. However, as suggested in other entries, I am sure there is a ritual so a priestess can assume an unwanted pregnancy from someone else, and that may allow a biologically male priestess as well to bear a child. A step up from Couvade. I would expect the strongest magics of Ernalda the mother may require her priestess to be pregnant. It may be used also by a priestess in a critical mission, to leave her unborn child under the protection of the temple and one of their sisters.

Then we have the third aspect. Although we could force a change from Ernalda to Asrelia when menopause arrives, I think in Glorantha it should be the opposite. Orlanthi women are fertile (as most mammals are) all their life, unless they change into the right goddess. So if you remain with Ernalda, you can have children all your life. As age weakens you, and your own daughters need help with their own children, you will be pushed into the role of Asrelia, or losses and deaths may make you take Ty Kora Tek’s shroud. but I would make it the women decision. I also would extend this change to make Asrelia and Ty Kora Tek the goddesses that control anticonceptive and abortive magics, respectively, as it is just a normal extension of their powers, and even their role in the community. It also helps to bind the three goddesses together, as Voria will be asking Asrelia for help, to delay changing to Ernalda too early. That would also explain the list of Esrolian queens and their retirements, as transferring to Asrelia, which allows you to keep power in a less obvious way, but you must be an Ernalda priestess to be Queen.

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There are practically no Voria initiates, since adulthood initiation means the shift over from innoent youth to (early) adulthood. There might be the occasional devotee or disciple of Voria, an individual responsible enough to take on magical rituals and possibly spells but still eschew adulthood, at least for ritual purposes, or the child prodigy able to pull in the deity's magics at incredibly young age. When old or experienced enough to consider practicing sex, the cult of Voria usually is no longer appropriate.

I liked the "Ernalda the Healer" young, unbound aspect of Ernalda in Thunder Rebels, as close to Ernalda Adventurous as we get (outside of the marital bed).

Ernalda membership as a way to postpone the menopause doesn't seem right, although there is the example of Bruvala who got pregnant for the last time at age 70.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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These are mainly ideas to how magic may make things different in Glorantha than they are in Earth. And in this case, what significant changes may mark the progression through the different cults. 

If we consider Voria is a cult of lay members and not initiates, we can have two levels in Ernalda, one of not-mothers-yet, and one for mothers. I suppose that even without a direct experience of it, we may agree pregnancy and childbirth is a major perspective change, a lifetime event. That is why I proposed as an alternative a deep initiation, with the motherhood secrets, and the real fertility powers. I am not the best to discuss this either, but there may be too many male writers and little perspectives from other points of view. And obviously pregnancy and nursing will not be compatible with adventuring, unless we add some mechanism as a pregnancy transfer...

As an aside, but related to this, I find the list of Argrath companions depressing. Two women, one an Eurmali and by definition an outsider, and the only Ernalda is her "loving" companion, and she will be replaced by a guy in 1627 ST. Maybe Argrath is a misogynist, but I fear it may signify a general problem. I am quite happy with the changes in RQG, but the problem is with the baggage of the previous fifty years.

As for menopause, I suppose we agree that it should mark the change from Ernalda to Asrelia. I feel it makes magic more prevalent if such a big fertility change is magic dependent rather than biology dependent. Alternately, magic can delay its onset so a powerful Queen such as Bruvala can delay its effect to keep her position as the Queen. I feel it fits Esrolia's politics if you maneuver your rivals to switch them to Asrelia, rather than dueling to the death, and that is the end game. They are still powerful, but they can never be the queen again. It may have ambitious priestess risking dangerous pregnancies to keep their grip on their magics, and varied political maneuvers with lovers and husbands that are not necessarily violent, but as ruthless as combat.

 

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On 5/23/2022 at 12:16 PM, JRE said:

I know many people disagree with this, but in my Glorantha someone infertile (unless due to maiming) would be strong in death and weak in life, even if they have never touched a weapon.

Unless they are cursed, or unlucky.

Not every infertility is due to having a high Death Rune.

Maran Gor, for example, had a Runespell that made the target infertile. That does not give them a high Death Rune.

On 5/23/2022 at 12:17 PM, JRE said:

All these combines to make infanticide rare except in time of famine (and you can just stop pregnancies) or persecution, making it dramatic when it happens but not an ongoing concern.

The Foundchild myth could be seen as the result of Exposure, i.e. infants left to die in the wilds, a form of infanticide that was known to the ancients.

Trolls kill and eat trollkin, which is a form of infanticide, although they are often older.

Orlanthi have a prohibition against kinstrife. If infants are treated as kin, and it might be that they are not until they participate in the clan initiation, then infanticide might not be an Orlanthi thing to do. 

I read about a woman in Sicily, I think, who was the last of the Baby Killers, although there was a specific term for it. Her job was to go to houses where someone had given birth to a baby that was ill, deformed, or that the family could not afford to raise, and she would then smother the baby, or kill it in another way. It was a commonly held belief that such people were necessary in poor areas. Glorantha could have the equivalent, perhaps worshipping an subcult of Ernalda.

On 5/23/2022 at 12:18 PM, JRE said:

Some cults practice ritual intermarriage, and some even limit who you can marry. I would consider that those depend on the people involved, as you can have sex without marriage and a marriage without sex, though in a ritual marriage of the two ruling deities, the harmony of the marriage will increase the Harmony of the community, and the fertility likewise, though I am sure proxies can be used in special cases, such as a Vingan marrying a Ernaldan. But you knew what you were getting into when you accepted.

The Waha Khan and Eiritha High Priestess are normally husband and wife.

Orlanth Rex and Ernalda Priestesses are often married.

Yelmalian Priests can only marry Ernalda Priestesses.

So, ritual marriages are common and expected.

On 5/23/2022 at 12:18 PM, JRE said:

Uleria opens a different can of worms, religious prostitution, as well as becoming initiate for pure pleasure. I consider Apple Lane did not help by making commonplace something that I would expect only in relatively large cities, but it is certainly there. I suppose other cults will offer these services, with the main difference being that in Glorantha I expect a more equal split of sexes and genders among the holy prostitutes.

Apple Lane shows that it is commonplace, so not just confined to big cities.

The Uleria cult is all about sharing love, in its various forms. Having sex in a Ulerian Temple is a sacred act that shares love, as is being a shoulder to cry on, or a circle of people talking through their problems.

Other cults support prostitutes and courtesans, but their emphasis is not about sharing love.

On 5/23/2022 at 7:09 PM, JRE said:

Concerning the result of the religious sex, I think the reality will be quite more complex than "this is a child of the gods". Because we are dealing with people, and people that know each other well, and they will know and gossip, whether A had the hots for B, and used the ceremony to consummate their desire, or if someone really was not themselves, or if someone was still clearly the same as always. So there is a religious cover for it, and the temple will make theirs any unclaimed child, but I think (except when normal sex would be forbidden, or taboo) the birthmother can always, if they wish, claim the child as theirs. The other partner(s) may have more difficulties to claim parenthood, as it is likely there are several partners, or at least potential partners, involved, so exclusivity would be difficult.

A temp-le-child's parentage might be common knowledge, or the subject of gossip, but once the child has been committed to the temple, it belongs to the temple and parentage is not longer important.

Of course, one, or other, parent might claim the child later on.

On 5/23/2022 at 7:09 PM, JRE said:

But I think it is a choice. I also agree that in that case more than two parents will be accepted. So you may have one birthmother, and three parents (of diverse genders), and the child could be the child of all four of them. Or three and the gods I think the Orlanthi are sophisticate enough to accept that sometimes the numinous rides you, but sometimes you ride the numinous, and you are still yourself. These children will remain with the clan, as they are blessed, even if some of the parents will later return to another clan. I also expect, specially in magic rich conditions, that there will be more partners than the attendants from the clan, so there will always be mystery parents, or even mystery mothers, with the children appearing at the temple 40 weeks after the ritual.

In my opinion, children born to polygamous parents might know who their birth mother is, or they might just be raised as being children of the family. Similarly, children born to polyandrous families might know who their father is, but also might just have several fathers. It depends on the kind of family and the rites. 

A child born to an Ernaldan who takes a Yelmalian husband, while her Orlanthi husband is away, might know that they were conceived while the Orlanthi was away, so has the Yelmalian as a father. They might also take after one of the fathers, so parentage might be obvious. However, that might not actually matter, they might be seen as the child of two fathers.

On 5/25/2022 at 9:13 AM, JRE said:

Another touchy matter, and one that has been discussed in the Forum several times. I suppose we can agree that Earth genetics do not need to apply in Glorantha, though most people expect that children resemble their parents (no matter how many there are, as discussed earlier). There are also good cultural reasons (avoiding kinstrife) to minimize sex among family except in codified ways. So my own take is that incest does bring the risk of dreadful consequences (at least among the Orlanthi), but this is a magical effect, not a biological one, and may bring monster children, succubus (lust spirits) and other negative effects. As a magical effect, I would propse it does not limit itself to biological links, but it means any sex within the bloodline may bring up this effects, so, extending it, also non-reproductive sex may cause a magical backlash. So fooling among brothers or sisters, or lusting on your step-mother, could have serious effects, or be a plot driver, which is what mainly matters for us.

Incest is normally taboo, so breaking that taboo causes problems with offspring.

However, certain bloodlines might benefit from incest, as it means the sacred powers in the bloodline are not diluted.

On 5/25/2022 at 9:13 AM, JRE said:

As a magical effect, and taking the bloodline idea to the limit, you could have sex with your birthmother if she is not in your bloodline (you joined your father clan, or she returned to her clan and left you) without it being incest, and in this model, without consequence. I suspect that is the explanation for all the family sex among the Orlanthi gods, and it may be a matter for ribald tales. If Velhara is not in Orlanth's and Yinkin bloodline, it is ok for them to have sex and children with their sister. 

I don't think that follows, really.

Orlanthi, in particular, know their bloodlines very well. They know who their parents are and where they came from. They often also know who their aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and siblings are. Even though they come from other bloodlines, or clans, there is still a knowledge that they are closely related and therefor taboo.

In a family that is both polygamous and polyandrous, sharing multiple mothers and fathers, two siblings might not be genetically related, as they don't share a mother or father, but sex between them would still be taboo.

Don't forget that Lords of Terror has a Chaos Deity of incest, so, from that point of view, incest is seen as Chaotic.

Having said that, many of the ancestral lines of deities is incestuous. The Water deities married their siblings. Gata bore Genert, who fathered the Land Goddesses on his mother and the Grain Goddesses on his daughters. Gata was Aether's mother and wife, she was also grandmother to Orlanth and Ernalda, so they were first cousins. So, incest among the deities was commonplace and acceptable.

23 hours ago, JRE said:

We have the life (Voria, Ernalda, Asrelia) and the death triad (Babeester Gor, Maran Gor and Ty Kora Tek). We could propose the step from the first to the second face is sex, rather than motherhood (or rejected motherhood, in the case of Maran Gor), but we all know Babeester is no virgin, and I would not expect Orlanthi to require Voria initiates to remain virgins either. So here what makes cultural sense collides with the game needs. Not to change anything, just pointing out an area where PCs may be exceptional. I would make the change in status comes with the pregnancy, not the birth, as that allows the sharing of secret knowledge and magics before childbirth.

In my opinion, Voria is the virgin, the innocent one, the girl who has not yet had sex, Ernalda is the mother and Asrelia is the grandmother, the crone, who is past childbearing age. Although there is a natural progression from Voria to Ernalda to Asrelia, I don't think there is a similar natural progression from Babeester Gor to Maran Gor to Ty Kora Tek. Instead, there is a progression from Voria to Babeester Gor, Ernalda to Maran Gor and Asrelia to Ty Kora Tek, none of which really involves sex.

 

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Several answers.

I would play a curse could decrease a power rune so the total is no longer 100. An infertility curse, in my opinion would decrease your Life rune to 0, while not affecting the Death rune. It makes a significant curse, specially for Ernaldans, as it should be. My aim is to make magic more commonplace in normal life, and sex is a primary motivation for humans.

As for infanticide, my argument is that with contraception and in extreme cases abortion, infanticide should be rare in Glorantha, except in areas with limited magic or touched by chaos. Which is a big but welcome difference with earth, and that is good for me.

I would not consider Apple Lane as a typical example of anything, so I would not make many conclusions on distribution of Uleria or Third Eye Blue from Apple Lane.

Incest. My point is that the example of biological incest you mention is not indicated in the sources, but is an extension of Earth incest practices, which would not necessarily be true in Glorantha. I propose a mental exercise, if genetics do not work, endogamy would still be avoided, but what is direct family is different. And may be even more different in other cultures. In the same way that sex with a non-related person in the bloodline may magically activate chaos penalties or curses, sex with a relative not in the bloodline or Clan may magically be all right. Trying to think outside the box.

 

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As I write more, and see the replies, I am now thinking we have a situation of decreasing magic in the world, probably starting at the Sunstop. So some of my suggestions may have been true at Dawn (menstruation and menopause induced by magic, rather than normal biological processes) but as magic wanes, they are overtaken by mundane processes, so that in the Third Age only an exceptional Ernaldan such as Queen Bruvala can delay menopause through magic. 

That means we can have all of a continuum of effects, as needed for the game, from the purely biological to the purely magical. That also could allow us to forget biology when there is a lot of magic, such as Moonson's descendants endogamy. 

I still think we need to break some more Earth's preconceived notions to explore Glorantha better, if only to show us some of those preconceptions we are not aware they exist.

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3 hours ago, JRE said:

I am now thinking we have a situation of decreasing magic in the world, probably starting at the Sunstop.

I'm not sure that's really correct, the magics of the GodLearners and the EWF seem to be far greater than what happened in the First Age and the magics of the end of the Third Age with the Lunars and Argrath are clearly world-shaking as well. I would think any competent Ernaldan priestess can heroquest to delay menopause and/or conceive at any point up to joining Asrelia/Ty Kora Tek

 

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On 5/28/2022 at 4:50 PM, JRE said:

I would play a curse could decrease a power rune so the total is no longer 100. An infertility curse, in my opinion would decrease your Life rune to 0, while not affecting the Death rune. It makes a significant curse, specially for Ernaldans, as it should be. My aim is to make magic more commonplace in normal life, and sex is a primary motivation for humans.

 

Danger: PEDANTRY ahead...

Do keep in mind that power runes can not go above 99 or below 1

... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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