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stefoid

Orlanthi gender roles and sexual mores

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Hi, Im going to run a dragon pass campaign where the players are Heortling refugees going to settle there.  

I know that there is a viking-like tradition of women fighters with Orlanthi, but Im wondering if that is 100% the case?  Also, what are the attitudes to homosexuality in a clan?

Would it be too far from canon to have a clan that was historically against female warriors and against homosexual relationships?  I ask because it could be a nice source of friction within the a clan.  Not as the main focus, but as one of the things going on that could come to a head over time.

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Yes women fighters are in Orlnathi tradition there also a specific cult for them which is vinga, she used to be seen as a daughter Orlanth, know i think she is more often seen as an aspect of Orlnath. 

The best stuff I have read on the sexuality of the Orlanthi is in King of Dragon Pass, but to my memory I cant remember specifics regarding homosexuality.

My instinct would be that Glorantha is more liberal the RW history.

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The Orlanthi have several somewhat accepted roles for non-standard sexual behavior. Vinga is of course the butch daughter of Orlanth, protector and fighter, the role for women in the Orlanth cult. Heterosexuality isn't necessary in this role. Then there is Nandan, the role for males in Ernalda roles. Heler stands for sexual mutability, up to physical gender changes as the mood demands (in especially magical people), but any kind of sexual orientation can be found in this cult. Yinkin is known for rampant sexuality, not necessarily about crossing gender borders, but almost anything goes. Humakt accepts anyone, regardless of gender, so do the Lightbringer cults Issaries, Lhankor Mhy and Chalana Arroy.

Note that it might be considered "straight" to interact with some of these above in their adopted sexual role even if the person bearing that role doesn't have the gender for it.

Overall, the Orlanthi care about marriage, but not so much about sexual activities as long as they don't contradict marriage (e.g. sexual activity in cultic activities doesn't count against marital vows, but many such are forms of the lightest form of Orlanthi marriage.)

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12 hours ago, stefoid said:

Would it be too far from canon to have a clan that was historically against female warriors and against homosexual relationships?  I ask because it could be a nice source of friction within the a clan.  Not as the main focus, but as one of the things going on that could come to a head over time.

Use a clan which includes fairly orthodox Yelmalians - in the Yelmalio cult these things are pretty much a controversial issue, up to having geasa specifically prohibiting such activities.

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Now, in general Orlanthi are very open and very into sex. That means sex with members of whatever gender or sexuality (of which there are, if I recall correctly, 4 and 7), as long as it doesn't break the few sexual taboos that they do have (no sex with animals, chaos, married people or non-adults). Beyond that, the Orlanthi are actually sexually active people.

However, all of this can very easily be considered untrue, if you want it to be for your game, because there really isn't much of an "Orlanthi" culture. Most clans don't really care for some abstract, overreaching cultural heritage. Well they care for it a bit, but most of them are more concerned with following the traditions and customs of their own clan and it's ancestors.

So, want a clan where men(or women) having sex with men(or women) and Helerings is frowned upon? Then yeah, such a clan could easily exist. You'd have to figure out a reason why they are like that, of course, but it's not really beyond the realm of possibility. A connection to Yelmalio, as Joerg suggests above, would be a good way to go. Hell, even being an Elmal-centered clan would be more than enough, as Solar cults and culture are generally a bit less into the hanky-panky as much as Storm and Earth are.

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While in general the Orlanthi are pretty tolerant, they are also very diverse. Which would include a few clans being intolerant. But there would be a mythical reason for this.

And it would also affect their clan and personal magic in quite strange ways. There are myths of Orlanth taking female form and role - if these myths are rejected then associated magic would also be unavailable. For example, maybe Barntar magic could be weak as Barntar is often seen as a slightly effeminate form of Orlanth.

YGWV!

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FWIW, this is the canon on Orlanthi sexual mores:

Sex and Marriage
“Sex is easy. Marriage is hard, and the Gods bless the sworn bond.”
Heort’s Laws

Orlanthi religion celebrates sexuality as the cup of life. Ernalda is the goddess of women and of sex, and has many lovers and husbands among the gods, although Orlanth is first among them. Orlanth and his half-brother Yinkin had many amatory adventures with countless goddesses and several gods. The fertilizing rain that makes agriculture possible is thought of as the corporeal love of Orlanth and Ernalda. Orlanth even has a female incarnation, Vinga, who is worshiped by women who wield Orlanth’s magic. Heort’s Laws recognize four sexes (female, male, neuter, and hermaphrodite) and at least six genders (female, male, vingan, nandan, helering, and none).  Unmarried sex between adults is not frowned upon regardless of the sex or gender of the parties.   
Because sexuality is so open, the marriage oath is significant. Marriage among the Orlanthi is a mutual bond between participants and their clans. The class of the marriage and its terms are carefully negotiated between the parties and their families. Since marriage is sanctified by divine oath, violating that oath is dangerous. 

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 I think the big problem would be that although Homosexual behavior is accepted, men and women are for the most part expected to have children.  Children in a Bronze age society are needed for economic reason and you need to carry on the family name. Sometime we forget how important children are in a pre industrial society . Perhaps you could have a pair of gay men find a pair of Lesbian for child bearing reason?

  And if Gay marriage is allowed in a Clan how does it effect inheritance? If a man takes a husband and dies , doe his Husband inherit the land and cattle or does it go to his brother and sister or his Husband? And if the husband is  allowed to keep it until his death what happen if he takes a husband?

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There is a way around the marriage rites. A lot of the fertility festivals include a period of divine licence even for married couples, not necessarily restricted to the re-enactors of the rites. A good marriage will use these opportunities to make children within wedlock, an infertile marriage (including homosexual relations) will take this as an opportunity to overcome their biological restrictions.

In Orlanthi society there are no (non-ritual) marriages within a clan, except for widows (who are from another clan in most cases) remarrying in order to stay with their children. The person who joins the marriage partner's clan will bring a dowry which is used by the pair while the marriage lasts, and when it ends the person from outside of the clan will be re-imbursed this dowry from the host clan. It doesn't really matter which sex the mobile partner of the marriage had, or which sex the clan member had.

Whenever a household (formed by marriage) is dissolved, the household property is distributed according to the dowry, the (few) personal belongings of the involved clan member, and the hosting clan, whose council might re-distribute the accumulated wealth to other households in the clan. While a former carl is unlikely to become a stickpicker due to a divorce or widowing, massive loss of available wealth might be a consequence of a separation.

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48 minutes ago, TRose said:

 I think the big problem would be that although Homosexual behavior is accepted, men and women are for the most part expected to have children.  Children in a Bronze age society are needed for economic reason and you need to carry on the family name. Sometime we forget how important children are in a pre industrial society . Perhaps you could have a pair of gay men find a pair of Lesbian for child bearing reason?

This is not a problem. Marriage is primarily about land, wealth, children, and a certain social aesthetic. It is business as much as it is religion, maybe more so. So one could be married AND have lovers of any sex. So you do not have to choose one or the other.

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Thanks everyone, great stuff.

FWIW, I think I will drop the clan issues with homosexualtiy as it doesnt seem to fit at all.  And I will move the resistance to female warriors from being a clan heritage thing to being a personal issue of the new clan chief.

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Another thing to consider that might make it little more nuanced than sexism is that this clan difficulties with female warrior's stems from a myth that is specific to their clan.  

Perhaps one of their ancestors witnesses a dispute between Vinga and another deity that results in the clan having a tradition against allowing women to participate in war.   This also means the heroes can attempt to ameliorate the situation by learning this myth, and reexperiencing it through a HeroQuest.

 

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A further possibility is that a particular clan might have "Peace Clan" type of ritual reason not to have women fighters.  That would be rather different in look'n'feel from the Elmal-clan type of dynamic of more gender-stereotyping all round.  (Presumably many craft and agricultural tasks are also gender-normative to a similar degree that fighting is.)

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From a more temporal standpoint, what effect does the prominent role played by women in the Lunar Empire have on traditional Orlanthi societies and the Orlanthi view of women? If your arch nemesis is led by a female deity and six other 'mothers', if your cities are assailed and conquered by unstoppable female heroines, if the children of Umath are under attack by persuasive, female missionaries and if Lunar garrisons have large numbers of female soldiers with their boots on Orlanthi necks, might there not be a reaction against strong female martial roles? This might be further exacerbated by the possibility that powerful bodies of women, being eminently more sensible than similar bodies of men, might be more inclined to coexist with invaders and bide their time rather than trying to jump into self-destructive violent resistance always? Just as there was a reaction in Esrolian society against patriarchy and male-storm runic power, might there not be a more local reaction against female-harmony/stasis power and female martial-storm prowess?

As for homosexuality, when a population is under stress and needs to reproduce as fast as possible to recover heavy losses and resist invaders, traditional Orlanthi open-mindedness to homosexual lifestyles might be eclipsed by an imperative to reproduce as quickly and efficiently as possible. Such biological under-currents often have a substantial effect on how societies behave and adapt when conditions deteriorate and priorities change.

Cheers and good gaming.

Evilroddy.

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Not sure Ernaldans would so easily accept to be treated as "reproduction machines". And Orlanthi men would be foolish indeed to try that, in a context where Lunar occupiers would be all the happier to defend traditional women's rights... In a new way.

But should Ernaldan women embrace the idea of breeding a new generation of fighters, well, thet can (and do) have children without husbands. So, after the 1602 conquest, maybe polyandry and bed-husbands returned, to compensate for the casualties in men.

By 1621/27, the demography should be more balanced, though.

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Patrick:

The revenge of the cradle is a common terrestrial theme, why not Glorantha? Isn't reproduction and fecundity what the Ernaldans are all about? Bless Crops, Bless Animals, Bless Births, Twins and more? I get your point but wonder whether a desperate people under occupation or threat of occupation would, even from a Gloranthan gestalt. I have no idea what the answer is which is why I asked the questions I did. I like your point about population recovery by 1621/27 but given the daily lethality of Glorantha would a rapid population recovery have occurred so quickly?

Cheers and good gaming.

Evilroddy.

Edited by Evilroddy

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