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Daily life expenses in Sartarite cities


Joerg

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This started  as a reaction to https://basicroleplaying.org/?app=core&module=system&controller=content&do=find&content_class=forums_Topic&content_id=17979&content_commentid=276001 but drifted off-topic while I was typing, so why not make it a new topic.

 

According to the Starter box, citizens of the Sartarite cities don't seem to buy their basic food piecemeal. They pay their real estate tax (which gives them citizen status) and receive their dividend from the city granaries, butcheries etc. according to their tax status. This will allow additional food for a certain amount of dependents and/or guests, the latter probably for a limited time.

 

The granaries are in the domain of the Earth cult(s), with milling or baking or brewing the job of associated guilds.

There is a bakers' guild in Jonstown which processes the granary grains for these food stipends for citizens, in a way not dissimilar to the navy bread distribution in Byzantium. It is a top-down distribution organized by the Rex, delegated among others to the Earth temple and the bakers' guild. (New Pavis has a similar food distribution scheme, with less grain and more meat in the distribution.) The bakers will receive some guaranteed excess grain for this service, and/or payment either in coin or in tax deductions.

In addition to this, bakers, inns and similar food service industry will be able to buy extra resources from the granaries etc., probably at rates dictated by the temple or negotiated by the appropriate guilds. This bread will be sold like on the market, and probably also on a stall in the market.

Effectively this is the same as in the clan village where the local granary divides out the grain for consumption, the main difference being that non-citizen residents need to purchase their food like in our modern economy as they aren't subject to hospitality laws.

So what about residents without citizenship?

Some may be guests (enjoying the hospitality) of resident citizens, guilds, temples, or the tribal manors, and receive their sustenance from the high status dividend of their hosts. Same with contracted labor. This includes e.g. the students at the Lhankor Mhy temple, mercenaries residing in the bunks of a hiring hall (paying the hall for the hospitality benefits?), or the caravan personnel of visiting merchants.

Then there are the drifters, taking occasional day jobs to get some coin to be spent on food, drink, or (temporary) housing, or company. People like Olav Dickin's Son, the narrator of the Griselda tales. Little different from visiting adventurers unaffliliated with any citizen group or guild, really. Unlike in a rural village, such intruders free from any hospitality obligations are tolerated in the cities.

This might include tribal refugees from the countryside (e.g. after a foraging military force passed through) who outstayed their reasonable hospitality at the tribal manor or their temple, or those who would rather claim kinship to a dog than to the factor at the manor.

Adventurers hiring the service of a trainer may expect that trainer's hospitality wrt utilitarian bed and board, or they may have made their own arrangements with resident (hopefully citizen) kin or local inns (in order to upgrade the accomodation).

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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11 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

Surely your local Seven Mothers temple has a kitchen that feeds all comers with tasty vegetarian food for free.

Hearts, minds, and bellies. (Besides, the Bat likes a bit of meat on its snacks.)

Hardly for free - at the very least, you have to listen to the sermon while the soup is dished out. And you are really really really expected to clear the table, wash your bowl etc. afterwards.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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22 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

Surely your local Seven Mothers temple has a kitchen that feeds all comers with tasty vegetarian food for free.

Hearts, minds, and bellies. (Besides, the Bat likes a bit of meat on its snacks.)

one of the more interesting things we've learned about early cities such as in Sumer is that collective society was not at all like life later on. One of the most significant things about urban life in early Mesopotamia (which changed later on in Assyria) is that it truly was communal. We find private areas, but none of them have stoves and seem to have been for younger couples. Society was organised not around families but around temple communities. The temple and its bureaucracy were the absolute organising agent for daily life. The civic leader, who was usually also the head of the priesthood, ran the daily life of the community and was at the top of the civic bureaucracy. This individual was called the ensi "leader of the ploughed lands", which in later times was just a term for king.

People ate in mess halls that doubled as sleeping places. These are what are known later as "bars", actually. Women brewed beer, which at the time was thick porridge with an alcoholic content that ensured it wouldn't give you waterborne disease. The importance of this role is underlined in the many Gilgamesh stories, where the "barmaid" - an entirely incorrect translation - is the person responsible for civilising Enkidu. People would drink stronger drink and enjoy entertainment. There is also evidence that sexual activity happened in these areas as well.

The important bit is that food was collectively held and cooked. There were no private kitchens and few private sleeping areas.

There were separate individuals in charge of the military, the lugal "big man". The lugal was a war-leader. This was a separate and independent structure that was responsible for city defense and for raids.

In later times, the terms ensi and lugal both are translated "king", but in earlier times their roles were extremely different.

So why am I mentioning this? In later periods, wealth created independent, family-based patrilineal lineages and lifestyles began to change. Assyrians in particular had brought in a different social model and it sort of fused with the older system. I think in many ways this is a good way to understand the Big Houses of the Lunar Empire. They create social structures similar to that of the smaller original city-states and their central temple on a much much larger scale.

Edited by Qizilbashwoman
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24 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Hardly for free - at the very least, you have to listen to the sermon while the soup is dished out.

Well, your mention of Olav Dickin's Son almost tempted me to tambourines and Guys and Dolls, but I resisted. And my first thought was of Sikhs, not the Sally Army, anyway.

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46 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

one of the more interesting things we've learned about early cities such as in Sumer is that collective society was not at all like life later on. One of the most significant things about urban life in early Mesopotamia (which changed later on in Assyria) is that it truly was communal. We find private areas, but none of them have stoves and seem to have been for younger couples. Society was organised not around families but around temple communities. The temple and its bureaucracy were the absolute organising agent for daily life. The civic leader, who was usually also the head of the priesthood, ran the daily life of the community and was at the top of the civic bureaucracy. This individual was called the ensi "leader of the ploughed lands", which in later times was just a term for king.

People ate in mess halls that doubled as sleeping places. These are what are known later as "bars", actually. Women brewed beer, which at the time was thick porridge with an alcoholic content that ensured it wouldn't give you waterborne disease. The importance of this role is underlined in the many Gilgamesh stories, where the "barmaid" - an entirely incorrect translation - is the person responsible for civilising Enkidu. People would drink stronger drink and enjoy entertainment. There is also evidence that sexual activity happened in these areas as well.

The important bit is that food was collectively held and cooked. There were no private kitchens and few private sleeping areas.

There were separate individuals in charge of the military, the lugal "big man". The lugal was a war-leader. This was a separate and independent structure that was responsible for city defense and for raids.

In later times, the terms ensi and lugal both are translated "king", but in earlier times their roles were extremely different.

So why am I mentioning this? In later periods, wealth created independent, family-based patrilineal lineages and lifestyles began to change. Assyrians in particular had brought in a different social model and it sort of fused with the older system. I think in many ways this is a good way to understand the Big Houses of the Lunar Empire. They create social structures similar to that of the smaller original city-states and their central temple on a much much larger scale.

It is worth pointing out, though, that the Epic of Gilgamesh (and probably the Bilgamesh poems unless they significantly antedate Ur III) postdate this state of affairs- they were composed when lugal, ensi, and en had become hierarchical titles. I think it might be worth looking at this as a "primordial", "green-age" state of affairs which Lunar society may attempt to recreate (pulling out the Entekosiad and expanding the premise of what its T&Js mean) but which must struggle against the Curse of Buseryan, he who babbled the thoughts of humans with writing so that they could never again build a ziggurat tall enough for the Sun to descend herself into the world, but instead could only rest upon it as a footstool.

(Note for the unwary reader: that entire "Curse of Buseryan" is something I extemporized just now from a mix of Snow Crash, Symphogear, and the Torah. Please, for the love of Sedenya, don't go haring off looking for Gloranthan sources on this.)

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

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10 hours ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

One of the most significant things about urban life in early Mesopotamia (which changed later on in Assyria) is that it truly was communal. We find private areas, but none of them have stoves and seem to have been for younger couples... The important bit is that food was collectively held and cooked. There were no private kitchens.

This aspect of everyday urban life is, of course, featured in Chris Gidlow's superb book Citizens of the Lunar Empire. If you want a meal, generally you'd pop downstairs to the corner Bar for a tasty hot snack, or to the Bakery for fresh bread. 

Quote

The shrine [of Mahome, a charcoal stove at the back of the Bar] is the sacred hearth for the insula. Most of the apartments do not have their own kitchens or fires. Only the four on the first floor (which have concrete floors above the brick vaults of the shops) have them... So most inhabitants either eat from the Bar or the Bakers.

Unwary visitors of Sumerian origin are urged to refrain from overt sexual activity in Jomes' Bar.

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11 hours ago, Joerg said:

receive their dividend from the city granaries, butcheries etc. according to their tax status.

Organising that kind of rationing system seems to me to require a implausible level of literate bureaucracy. At a clan level, everyone would know who is taking what. In a city large enough to have several butchers, who would check they are not taking their share from both? Or just sending two household members to the same one?

Surely what the city Rex would do in such a situation is seek guidance form Issaries. Who might advise them to allocate each household head a number of hard-to-reproduce physical tokens representing their right to the share of the guild's produce. These tokens would be handed over to the butcher, brewer or weaver in exchange for the goods, ensuring they are only taken once.  Call them 'guilders'.

Of course, the downside of the existence of guilders as objects is that allows those who acquire them illicitly to be served, bypassing the obligation to render appropriate service to the city before taking your share . A household head might, by not spending the expected amount of peripheral household members, hoard guilders. This hoard would then give them the power to demand service from others who lack guilders, without reference to the community.

 

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28 minutes ago, radmonger said:

Organising that kind of rationing system seems to me to require a implausible level of literate bureaucracy. At a clan level, everyone would know who is taking what. In a city large enough to have several butchers, who would check they are not taking their share from both? Or just sending two household members to the same one?

maybe there are enough LM scribes for that. Maybe as a citizen, you must go in these delivery area and not another one to eat (and the manager knows who you are).

and you have too all these loyalties, oaths and others (and the judgement of the gods, after all everyone is at least lay member - or about - of Orlanth / Yelm / Moon / any local leader god)

 

but yes the outlaws, travelers and strangers should have some way to eat I believe. Maybe the same for those who want / need to eat more than one ration.

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6 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

Maybe as a citizen, you must go in these delivery area and not another one to eat (and the manager knows who you are).

This explains why lunars/guilders are what seems to uneducated modern eyes such implausibly large denominations. You hand the bar owner your token and say some ritual   words  This is now where you are eating this week; he will make sure all his staff know that.

Of course, uncouth foreign visitors with more lunars than sense might well change where they eat every meal.

 

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30 minutes ago, radmonger said:

Organising that kind of rationing system seems to me to require a implausible level of literate bureaucracy.

Really? Each household has their own container for their ration that gets filled by the keepers of the granary. Bureaucracy achieved.

 

30 minutes ago, radmonger said:

At a clan level, everyone would know who is taking what. In a city large enough to have several butchers, who would check they are not taking their share from both? Or just sending two household members to the same one?

The container is delivered by the evening, and gets filled alongside all the others.

Other than in Pavis (which has less grain than most cities), meat is a special boon distributed widely only on special days, if at all other than as the communal feasts after sacrifices. All non-sacrificial butchery will be done at the meat market, except for further processing which may go to the workshops away from the butchering site.

 

30 minutes ago, radmonger said:

Surely what the city Rex would do in such a situation is seek guidance form Issaries. Who might advise them to allocate each household head a number of hard-to-reproduce physical tokens representing their right to the share of the guild's produce.

Such as clay vessels with the household's sigil/symbol, to be filled again and again.

 

30 minutes ago, radmonger said:

These tokens would be handed over to the butcher, brewer or weaver in exchange for the goods, ensuring they are only taken once.  Call them 'guilders'.

Why exchange tokens when you can run a tab? Other than Boldhome, a Sartarite city has less inhabitants than an average tribe has members. If you have been a resident for some time, anybody unknown to you will be a transient or a brand-new immigrant, and you will recognize quite a lot of the transients too if they are regular visitors. You might not know their names.

 

30 minutes ago, radmonger said:

Of course, the downside of the existence of guilders as objects is that allows those who acquire them illicitly to be served, bypassing the obligation to render appropriate service to the city before taking your share . A household head might, by not spending the expected amount of peripheral household members, hoard guilders. This hoard would then give them the power to demand service from others who lack guilders, without reference to the community.

Thrift with grain might allow the household to brew its own beer, provided they find a place where they can securely cook the mash, and possibly sell/barter that for other amenities.

In the end, a salary of consumables is a good idea. (The term "salary" is the salt ration given to soldiers or other followers for their service, to be exchanged for other necessities, or to be used as ingredient.)

Coinage exists, and will be used for special transactions, like e.g. ransom, individual training, the purchase of weapons, armor, or the ingredients for a private feast. Or for your personal sins and foibles, like drink beyond your allocated nourishing beer.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

The container is delivered by the evening, and gets filled alongside all the others.

While that sounds like a viable system, surely that requires households to bake their own bread and brew their own beer? Wheras the Jonstown book talks about bakers and brewers guilds.

Maybe you could deliver the grain to the household, who delivers it to the bakers, and then wait around for it to be baked. but that's not going to work for beer.  Much simpler to ship the grain straight to the relevant guild, and instead deliver a guild token to the household. And then it is handing in the guild token that gives them the right to take their daily bread. Freshly baked on the premises, perhaps with some sauce or even cheese.

Note that this is all based on David Graeber's theories on the origin of money, which I understand count as academically supported if not uncontroversial. Even if it didn't exist in the real bronze age, it could in Glorantha. 

if so, Sartar would count as the wizard that did it.

 

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3 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

This aspect of everyday urban life is, of course, featured in Chris Gidlow's superb book Citizens of the Lunar Empire. If you want a meal, generally you'd pop downstairs to the corner Bar for a tasty hot snack, or to the Bakery for fresh bread. 

Unwary visitors of Sumerian origin are urged to refrain from overt sexual activity in Jomes' Bar.

Exactly!

In addition, communal meals are also a feature of many bronze age dense societies. I've long imagined the Orlanthis of Kerafinela have a longhouse clan structure. It's honestly impractical to have a million hearths doing the cooking and baking, which is an immense amount of effort, instead of arranging a large meal once or twice a day and everyone managing their own snacks or special cookery (catch a personal rabbit for a luncheon in the wild, grab some cheese and bread for the fields). Communal effort is far, far more efficient than every single household arranging individual meals.

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Glorantha is a Bronze Age world that has metal coinage.

Which clearly shows that our world's Bronze Age doesn't apply 1:1 to Glorantha, with the first metal coinage we know about the cast and possibly marked lumps of electrum (a 1:1 gold/silver alloy) introduced in Iron Age Phrygia to pay the mercenaries (who had been paid in naturals before).

Mesopotamia had baked clay exchange tokens like the ones you advertise above before the Bronze Age collapse, no idea how early that came up. Other prestigious luxury items like gemstones may have served as portable and exchangeable wealth before, after all diplomacy always involved an exchange of gifts.

 

For the urban food distribution I suggested a model where the bureaucracy would be served without a paper trail by using containers assigned to each recipient. (Which is a principle still used for waste removal in modern European society, btw...)
 

12 minutes ago, radmonger said:

While that sounds like a viable system, surely that requires households to bake their own bread and brew their own beer? Wheras the Jonstown book talks about bakers and brewers guilds.

Maybe you could deliver the grain to the household, who delivers it to the bakers, and then wait around for it to be baked.

Details. You could deliver grain to the baker or the miller, who would retain a certain portion of the grain as payment for the service, and deliver a product equivalent to the reduced amount of grain to the carrier. Of course, you can only trust a guild baker to demand and return the appropriate amount.

Baking requires an oven, which used to be an edifice on its own made of as little flammable material as you can get away with. Rich households may have their own on-site production facilities. In Rome, street vendors selling pastries paid resident bakers for using the bakers' ovens in preparation of their food.

 

12 minutes ago, radmonger said:

but that's not going to work for beer. 

Yeah, obviously you don't wait around for the next batch to be finished unless you can spend the waiting time drinking the previous batch. Which you as customer probably wouldn't mind doing. So why not exchange the grain intended for future beer for already finished stuff?

 

12 minutes ago, radmonger said:

Much simpler to ship the grain straight to the relevant guild, and instead deliver a guild token to the household. And then it is handing in the guild token that gives them the right to take their daily bread. Freshly baked on the premises, perhaps with some sauce or even cheese.

The container is the guild "flatrate" token for a measured amount of reward. Much like your public transport ticket for the month or the year that you present when entering the subway. So yes, maybe the measured amount can be split into a general grain allotment or a specific bread or beer allotment. We are talking basics here, not social gatherings with luxuries or excess amounts (those you have to give coinage for, or run a tab), and possibly with seasonal adjustments as new harvests come in or the winter slaughter provides a temporary surplus of meat.

 

12 minutes ago, radmonger said:

Note that this is all based on David Graeber's theories on the origin of money, which I understand count as academically supported if not uncontroversial. Even if it didn't exist in the real bronze age, it could in Glorantha. 

 

 

12 minutes ago, radmonger said:

if so, Sartar would count as the wizard that did it.

Clacks appear to be the oldest form of coinage, created by the Mostali, possibly for when they had to part with some of what they think of as rightfully theirs. Wheels may have started as valuable votive offerings before becoming a means of wealth transfer. Silver pennies followed and became the cognitive base unit of currency. Bolgs are tricky.

All of that had long been in practice when Sartar arrived among the Quivini tribes. That leaves imposing a metal currency on daily transactions, rather than running tabs (leaving the accounting to the vendor) or exchanging favors.

I don't remember which financial historian/theorist suggested that the introduction of obligatory coinage use in transactions took the control of wealth away from the communities running tabs and favors on one another, putting that into the hands of the ruling classes. I read that a few years ago, as part of criticism against corporate control over resources. Basically, you turn a society based in mutualism into one ruled by sovereign decree.

Something like this has been happening to Orlanthi society, usually to be reset in a great upheaval. Both the priestly elites of the Second Council and the Kingdom of Orlanthland did something like that, and received backlash. Part of the backlash against the excesses that resulted in the Third Council was the introduction of the Orlanth Rex model which now put the power into the hands of the king rather than the priests. In the Sartarite model, the Rex is in control over the foreign trade volume, not so much limiting the clans and tribes but still cutting them out of the new business model. So yes, some sort of loss in mutualism may have been involved in the establishment of the Sartarite city confederations (based on the model of the city administrations the settlers of Dragon Pass left behind in Belintar-occupied Hendrikiland six generations earlier).

Perhaps more decisive may be the different size of the economical unit in a city, compared to the rural clans. While RQG lets the player characters roll for the economic success of the household, which (at least for the semi-free or cottar class) is responsible to provide the rent in the shape of a certain amount of the harvest, the overall economical unit is the clan whose earth temple administrates the agricultural and pastoral yield and keeps an eye on the other two primary professions (hunters and fishers) for food distribution. Individual hides may suffer from local calamities like flooding or fires when neighboring hides escape that, but usually an entire stead/hamlet or town will share the effects of rain and sunshine on the harvest. It is a situation similar to comparing individual martial efforts with the outcome of a battle.

In the cities, the economic unit appears to shrink to the individual and their dependents, until they join a guild, which then replaces the function of the clan. As you and @scott-martin correctly point out, the individual urbanite (household) becomes the steadholder or even clan chief of their economic unit in interaction with other urbanites, but other than the wealthiest "nobles", few urbanites have the means to create hoards of resources on their plots. Space inside a city is valuable, a scarce commodity "ownership" of which gives you political agency (citizenship). The exact terms of "ownership" between the major earth temple (say Clearwine or Greenstone) via the Rex, the guilds or tribes, and finally the urban household may be multi-layered and opaque.

So yes, as a visitor or resident of a city without having a citizen cover for your stay (like a guild-master you're apprenticed to, a temple where you are staff or member in good standing, or the tribal king extending a certain or even unlimited period of hospitality to a tribesperson), you are firmly in a cash society, and none of this idea about dividend applies. You may take temporary jobs or short-term service to be given a share of the city food dividend rather than cash, or you can beg for charity or dumped leftovers, or steal.

Note that there are minimalistic forms of Orlanthi hospitality that offer you little more than access to the water from the well and a place to spread your blanket on that may apply in non-urban places you visit, too. Entering a city more or less means accepting this limited hospitality of the (yet anonymous) city rex.

You may play on your Cult of Geo membership, but while that is a convenient form to give drifters some immediate access to the base necessities to survive, it is another mutualist agreement. You are welcome to take a meal or two without providing more than some goodwill work, but normally and in the longer term you are expected to bring something to the pot luck, or donate cash to the food funds.

 

We have some ideas about the urban system in Esrolia, we know that Kethaela has residual Malkioni influences from the Slontan domination re-awakened by Belintar. Pinging @jajagappa for the role of the earth temple granaries in Nochet and other cities...

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

It's honestly impractical to have a million hearths doing the cooking and baking

It still is. It is all a capitalist plot: divide and rule sell microwave ovens. I have tried screaming this at passersby in Hyde Park, but will they listen? Still, come the revolution [mutter mutter] …

Must dash: those nice men with the loooong-sleeved jacket are coming.

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A potential factor for consideration here is that there's quite a lot of flexibility of interpretation of what forms Orlanthi societies can take. Is a clan a unit of 1-4 villages that take up a contiguous patch of land? Is a clan a collection of a (home)steads with a central "town" area that holds the sacred precincts? Is a clan centered in a single village with outlying (home)steads and urban representatives in towns and cities? Is a clan a group of people spread out across a number of proximate settlements where they live with people from other clans? 

The assumptions between and within texts vary between the first three, with the fourth not explicitly excluded. And in turn, urban settlement patterns are of course going to be built atop these rural settlement patterns. Is a "market town" specifically a junction point between clans, or is it a concentration of people where it's convenient for access? Does a "natural" city develop from clustering homesteads, from villages merging, or from the construction of particular multi-clan structures and the economic development of certain services? 

How far does the clan structure reach? Are there bloodlines without clans, or truly clanless people? What's the status of outlaws, or of cultists of Humakt and Babeester Gor who have "severed" their kin ties, if that's still a factor in your Gloranthas? Should we read "house" in Esrolia or the Lunar Empire as license to give them house societies, a la Levi-Strauss? Or nascent class-based societies? 

Sartar itself feels like it must or ought to be unusual, since the Dragonkill obliterated most of the humanlike relationships to the terrain and then Sartar itself is the product of settlement, of attempting to transform or eliminate the relationships the "nonhumans" of Dragon Pass and the Pony Breeders had. Its cities are all planned ones in origin. I could well imagine a vast gulf once you cross the Deathline between northern Heortland and southern Sartar, or perhaps a borderland between the two settlement patterns. 

These are mostly food for thought, of course. 

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1 hour ago, Eff said:

Sartar itself feels like it must or ought to be unusual, since the Dragonkill obliterated most of the humanlike relationships to the terrain and then Sartar itself is the product of settlement, of attempting to transform or eliminate the relationships the "nonhumans" of Dragon Pass and the Pony Breeders had.

The way you tell it — or maybe this cup of tea is just too strong — it sounds like a set-up for Orlanthi exceptionalism and the recolonization of Dragon Pass as manifest destiny. If I shake my head, maybe it will go away. (I may still be stuck with Columbia as wyter of the USA, though, however wrong that is.)

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1 hour ago, mfbrandi said:

The way you tell it — or maybe this cup of tea is just too strong — it sounds like a set-up for Orlanthi exceptionalism and the recolonization of Dragon Pass as manifest destiny. If I shake my head, maybe it will go away. (I may still be stuck with Columbia as wyter of the USA, though, however wrong that is.)

That's certainly one interpretation, one which might be difficult to avoid if you spend too long looking at old Grazelander chits. My own interpretation swerves off in an entirely different direction, though, because I interpret the relationships with the terrain as necessarily bilateral social ones in Glorantha, through nymphs, genii loci, dryads, dragons and giants also being mountains, and so on. 

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

"I just read an article in The Economist by a guy who was riding around with the Sartar rebels, I mean Taliban," -Greg Stafford, January 7th, 2010

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2 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

The way you tell it — or maybe this cup of tea is just too strong — it sounds like a set-up for Orlanthi exceptionalism and the recolonization of Dragon Pass as manifest destiny. If I shake my head, maybe it will go away. (I may still be stuck with Columbia as wyter of the USA, though, however wrong that is.)

Since Europeans didn't originally live in America and flee it due to a bloody apocalypse, it doesn't really come off similar to me.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Eff said:

A potential factor for consideration here is that there's quite a lot of flexibility of interpretation of what forms Orlanthi societies can take. Is a clan a unit of 1-4 villages that take up a contiguous patch of land? Is a clan a collection of a (home)steads with a central "town" area that holds the sacred precincts? Is a clan centered in a single village with outlying (home)steads and urban representatives in towns and cities? Is a clan a group of people spread out across a number of proximate settlements where they live with people from other clans? 

I am fairly certain that there are clans with non-continuous settlement (plus claimed wilderness) areas, if only by loss of a former settlement or area to a rivaling neighbor. That said, the central town with outlying farms or hamlets seems to be pretty standard, with a town shared at least in part with a neighboring clan or a non-aligned temple being possible but rather odd.

Having clan kin in the confederate city or in Boldhome should have become the rule for all but the most backward clans or tribes (cough Varmandi cough).

Jeff's presentation of the Culbrea included several severely undersized clans that would be hard put to combine into much more than a hamlet.

All of these have their own clan temple(s) to their main deities - usually Orlanth, Ernalda and possibly a third one. Some clans may be hosts to an independent temple, like Uleria's at Apple Lane.

A "symbiotic clan" sharing several villages with people from other clans but no main village of their own probably is something closer to a cult (Geo's) or a (possibly non-urban) guild.

 

5 hours ago, Eff said:

The assumptions between and within texts vary between the first three, with the fourth not explicitly excluded. And in turn, urban settlement patterns are of course going to be built atop these rural settlement patterns. Is a "market town" specifically a junction point between clans, or is it a concentration of people where it's convenient for access? Does a "natural" city develop from clustering homesteads, from villages merging, or from the construction of particular multi-clan structures and the economic development of certain services? 

A market town is a place where people from further than the immediate 5 mile hex meet on market days to exchange goods and possibly services. It usually should have something like a caravanserai, or at least comparable services.

Naturally grown cities usually originate as royal seats and/or major temples with followers from other clans taking residence with the king's clan and/or the temple population. There aren't really any such cities in Dragon Pass, as the pre-Sartar cities usually occupy urban ruins from before the Dragonkill which occupy the best defensible places near trade routes and water resources, adopting those ancient structures even if little more than the foundations are left of the place. Old Wind might qualify as such. The trade posts in the Grazelands might, too, with the Issaries market the temple attracting people from surrounding communities.

Clustering homesteads are limited in size by the time it takes for the resident farmers to go to their fields and back, possibly carting home the harvest. Communities with a strong fisherman population are a natural exception as fanning out by boat widens the radius significantly, even without high sea fishing with absences similar to trappers going into further wilderness.

 

5 hours ago, Eff said:

How far does the clan structure reach? Are there bloodlines without clans, or truly clanless people?

After a clan disintegrates, there will be bloodlines and isolated individuals left without a clan. If there are cities within reach, such bloodlines often relocate there, with some founding guilds or integrating into existing ones and others starting some form of underworld organisation.

Otherwise, there are a few Orlanthi terms for unaffiliated people. One is outlaw or bandit, a different one is a Wanderlore pilgrim (the term which described Sartar the hero at the time of his arrival in the Quivini region).

5 hours ago, Eff said:

What's the status of outlaws, or of cultists of Humakt and Babeester Gor who have "severed" their kin ties, if that's still a factor in your Gloranthas?

Usually, these severed cultists are followers of some local grandee, affiliates of independent temples or sacred bands, or members of mercenary bands. People who are outlawed just far enough away from the point of outlawry may enter service with a local bigwig, too, or join a temple band or mercenary group, or they can form their own gang operating as part-time mercenaries, part-time bandits. (Foraging mercenaries are hard to tell apart from bandits, anyway.)

Alebard and the people at his tower appear to be clan-less, or possibly a group of people from various clans away from their kin. The tower might be regarded as an independent temple under Colymar aegis.

5 hours ago, Eff said:

Should we read "house" in Esrolia or the Lunar Empire as license to give them house societies, a la Levi-Strauss?

Oddly enough, that kind of "kinship"/professional group is called something else in Esrolia: Land of 10k Goddesses, the Hall.

 

5 hours ago, Eff said:

Or nascent class-based societies? 

Orlanthi society has been class-based since the first tenants (e.g. from failed tribes, like the Nalda Bin) or captives of war worked on land of the demigod nobility in the Storm Age. With the Sword and Helm Saga the pan-tribal royalty was no more, but tribal royalty remained tied to bloodlines, as the direct lineage from Korol to Heort documents. In a way, King Heort became high king also because he fulfilled the criteria of primogeniture. Sure, he had carried I Fought We Won, but with that pedigree, how could he have failed?

 

5 hours ago, Eff said:

Sartar itself feels like it must or ought to be unusual, since the Dragonkill obliterated most of the humanlike relationships to the terrain and then Sartar itself is the product of settlement, of attempting to transform or eliminate the relationships the "nonhumans" of Dragon Pass and the Pony Breeders had.

I wonder whether that was so hard, as other than the Esrolians, almost all Orlanthi south of the Crossline had ancestors from north of the Crossline. If you look at the Dawn survival sites, the only Dawn Heortlings south of that line are the Garanvuli, one of the first Dawn survivor tribes to fail within History. The Hendriki formed out of some of their remnants, but they grew through external marriages, and then Lokamayadon's reign pushed quite a few individuals, households and even clans southward, leading to the Hendriki king Aventus who created the Foreigner Laws for all those immigrants to Heortland.

Oddly enough, among those groups who fled Belintar's take-over seems to have been a higher proportion of Hendriki-descended or at least Hendriki-tradition clans than the general make-up of pre-Belintar Heortland had.

 

Groups like the Varmandi (who seem to have been drawn to the Greenstone Temple as soon as they crossed the Crossline) or the Red Cow (with their Ulanin heritage) would have had their immediate link to the Earth, much like the Clearwine temple called to Hareva.

 

5 hours ago, Eff said:

Its cities are all planned ones in origin. I could well imagine a vast gulf once you cross the Deathline between northern Heortland and southern Sartar, or perhaps a borderland between the two settlement patterns. 

These are mostly food for thought, of course. 

 

Edited by Joerg
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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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7 hours ago, Joerg said:

Clacks appear to be the oldest form of coinage, created by the Mostali, possibly for when they had to part with some of what they think of as rightfully theirs.

Clacks are the least valuable of currencies, ranking only above bolgs. But the Mostali are by far the richest society, in material goods at least.

Even though they don't trade often, what they do trade is of immense value. For clacks to remain so cheap, it must be widely known they never accept clacks in payment.

One possibility is that dwarfs don't treat clacks as currency at all. Instead, they are a means of tracking work to be done, something like a kanban board. When a job needs a variety of components made, the master artisan puts the right number of clacks on an engraved brass board . Each Mostali who wants to participate in the job takes a clack from a square of their choice, one within their skillset and available time. That way, exactly the right number of things are made, with no waste or duplication, and no time wasted discussing who should build what.

To an outsider it looks like workers being paid for their work. What they never see is the workers returning the clacks along with the finished components.

The human use of clacks as a subdivision of guilders is not based on any formal authority, let alone magic. Sometimes it is just a convenient way for a guildmaster to keep track of who has and hasn't handed in their guild token this week. Instead of having to tell everyone on staff someone has paid, hand out 10 clacks in return for their lunar. This has about the same legal status as the German system where, instead of slowing things down to take payment,  they mark your deckle with how many beers you have had. You are trusted to settle the bill at the end of the night (or sometimes next day).

You are not supposed to be able to take clacks form some outside source, like a dwarf ruin, and use them this way. But I suppose a person of low morals might get away with it, in a big city.

source: nothing I know of contradicts this.

 

Edited by radmonger
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On 1/26/2023 at 9:03 AM, Nick Brooke said:
On 1/25/2023 at 10:48 PM, Qizilbashwoman said:

One of the most significant things about urban life in early Mesopotamia (which changed later on in Assyria) is that it truly was communal. We find private areas, but none of them have stoves and seem to have been for younger couples... The important bit is that food was collectively held and cooked. There were no private kitchens.

This aspect of everyday urban life is, of course, featured in Chris Gidlow's superb book Citizens of the Lunar Empire. If you want a meal, generally you'd pop downstairs to the corner Bar for a tasty hot snack, or to the Bakery for fresh bread. 

My Mum remembers her Dad going to the bakehouse with a Sunday dinner, for it to be cooked, then she'd fetch him from the pub later so he could take it back home for the family to eat.

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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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On 1/26/2023 at 9:41 AM, Joerg said:

Hardly for free - at the very least, you have to listen to the sermon while the soup is dished out. And you are really really really expected to clear the table, wash your bowl etc. afterwards.

Bread.   Is potato.

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