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Jon Hunter

The 'Tone' of Prostitution in Glorantha

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An odd one I know,  I got half away through writing up Cyriels organisation in Elkoi and I had decide he ran a number of girls to 'service' the troops rotated through Elkoi.

Looking at his other trades, and the situation it was going to be a bit grim.  Slaves and captured Balazaring girls, abusive, harsh and something to appal the pc's.

A tone and view of prostitution that would resemble the film 'The whistleblower'

However I paused because my players didn't pursue there dealings with Cyriel, but also comparing this to the fleeting mentions of prostitution and the worship of Uleria produced so far I felt it was almost 'ungloranthan'.

What do I mean by that?

Well it feels like prostitution as far I have encountered it to date in Glorantha has always been seen as consensual, part of cult worship and even venerated in some circles. In the truth a liberal Utopian view of prostitution, far removed from indentured servitude, modern slavery and forced labour.

Have these themes been explored and debated before? Have other people dealt with this in their games?

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It hasn't come up in my games, but it strikes me that a clear line can be drawn between the religious groups and even the sex worker with few job opportunities in a city (the latter even protected by the former in some places) on one hand and enslaved war prizes on the other.

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Following the sack of Trilus in a Balazar campaign I ran about 25 years ago, the characters (who had led the Dykenean force that did the dastardly deed) turned up to survey the remains and to ensure that rebuilding work wasn't going to pose a future threat.  They were greeted by a mother selling her pre-pubescent daughter's favours.  This caused a great deal of soul searching on behalf of both characters and players.  Prostitution can occur in any number of guises - temple service, effective slavery, a call-girl or boy, or - as in this case - as a means to survive by making a frightful choice in a frightful situation.

Don't pretty Glorantha up, it isn't always the uz who make it hell on earth. 

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Great but tough topic. For narrative purposes I might heighten the contrast between independent Uleria (a utopian and feminist tantric lifestyle) and people whose sex is exploited by pimps of one form or another. The pimps have a vested interest in alienating their people from any really effective religious framework because they want the "workers" (slaves) kept weak, dependent and easy to control. Uleria, on the other hand, is the center of all these wonderful rumors of cities of free women, sex as liberation, the power of love and so on. She's bad for business. And because this is Glorantha, if those oppressed sex slaves get a whiff of hope and a good enough opening, they're going to find their freedom. Maybe they go looking for Zoria. Maybe they build a new one right where they are. 

In the meantime I suspect that abuse is going to call various disease spirits, succubi and other demonic entities looking for an easy meal, so even if Cyriel isn't consciously flirting with Chaos his luck is going to get harder in the long run.

While the Empire turned a blind eye to slavery last time I checked, sexual slavery is probably a flashpoint in segments of "lunar" culture that emphasize women's liberation in particular. Hard to imagine the canon NPCs feeling strongly about it but depending on your narrative needs, a new 7M presence in Balazar could make life rough for pimps . . . maybe Coders sent to clean up the frontier in the light of developments in the south.

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31 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

While the Empire turned a blind eye to slavery last time I checked, sexual slavery is probably a flashpoint in segments of "lunar" culture that emphasize women's liberation in particular. Hard to imagine the canon NPCs feeling strongly about it but depending on your narrative needs, a new 7M presence in Balazar could make life rough for pimps . . . maybe Coders sent to clean up the frontier in the light of developments in the south.

Its one of those things that will definitely lead to player engagement with one of my groups of players, who just happen to be coder agents, who have been sent into replace the canon lunar officials after a coder clean up. It's definitely a sub plot I want to exploit at some point.

I'm used to playing WOD where 'icky' is part of the game and horror isn't always about monsters in the closet.

Its just seemed to jar with the treatment of prostitution to date in Glorantha. I guess we are now living and looking at a world that was created in the 70's, and we see some things differently than was common then.  

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Bats in the Vineyard! Greg's fiction hasn't shied away from institutional sexual violence, especially in periods of social upheaval, so we know the lozenge isn't exactly a theme park. But on the other hand a lot of the cults are aspirational, portals to experience that people thought over the years would be neat to explore or we can't get here on earth. Uleria definitely qualifies as the goddess of "sex positivity" with gag Crowley-reference spell ready to roll.

The way I fudge it is that particularly miserable people are rarely in actual cults because society shuts them out of opportunities and this is a self-perpetuating cycle. It also explains Chaos converts because if the normal social framework offers you nothing, you're going to be open to more radical alternatives. ("Nothing to lose.") A sex slave network structured around the slavery with a wing of sex would probably look a lot like Ompalam, a pyramid draining psychic resources like labor and magic points from wretches at the bottom. The "workers" enrich the pimp and are replaced as they wear out. It's a sad life but in Glorantha if they can somehow pray right they may find liberation. But it's so hard to pray right if your cult is taken away from you or you were born without any chance to find initiation at all.

Lunar pimps might bend the rules by coercing people into Seseine and charging for participation. Your coders might wrestle with that one. Either way, the people we know in Balazar are far from representative of the best the Lunar Way can offer, so it's going to feel good to get some fresh air in there, so to speak. 

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"Under the Red Moon" offers courtesan as an occupation and even has an immortal called Senthera as their patron.  On the other hand, would you want to work as a camp follower for the Lunar Army?  I wonder how much they charge for a Bat Sandwich? 

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My head is filled with lot of thoughts about prostitution in Glorantha.

I imagine a Glorantha in which the cult of Uleria could be at war with a gang in Pavis, then a newcoming lunar equivalent of Uleria allowing outsiders to commune with their priestesses in exchange of a small sacrifice to their godess (and a POW point in RQ), and, and... Tensions between Uleria and the Lunar equivalent escalating towards...

THANK YOU!

 

 

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In my Gloranthan games, Uleria and Teelo Norri provide prostitution services, Uleria as the goddess of Love and Teelo Norri because some of those rescued girls have to earn their keep somehow.

In http://www.soltakss.com/wives1.html, many of the cultures visit the Uleria Temple to control their lust, or to prevent them from unleashing their lust inappropriately, so it works as a release valve.

I would guess that there are different cults for people who become prostitutes by choice, often based on some Hero who was a prostitute and gained Heroic status through that. Concubines of Heroes or Deities could well be the basis of such cults. However, they would be local, or would be worshipped alongside the main hero, or where the hero is worshipped.

Slaves have historically been used in such manner, from times Biblical, Roman and beyond, there is no reason why it wouldn't happen in Glorantha, unless there are taboos against having sex with certain groups of people.

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We know it exists, as in the harlot of Alone or discussion in Pavis of prostitution with both temple girls and freelancers. Please bear in mind, there will be male prostitutes as well as female prostitutes. (Greg's writing has never IIRC shown any society having a prejudice against homesexuality.)

It might be worth starting with discussions of prostitution in Ancient Greece: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_ancient_Greece (slightly more applicable than Rome that doesn't have an extant equivalent)

There are going to be different classes of prostitutes: slaves, poor freelancers (generally folks without kin) and temple workers. Status (and price) is probably highest for the last, and one would assume that courtesans/hetaera are temple workers, perhaps of some renown.

Although slavery is less common in Orlanthi lands, war is going to produce plenty of folks who are destitute.

With large military garrisons it seems certain prostitution would thrive, so waves of Maboder survivors, destitute kin of those who fight in Starbrow's Rebellion, Dundealos survivors, or kin of those who fought at Iceland, or whose family or clan died in the Great Winter may well end up in the cities, where if they have no other trade, prostitution may become an option. They are being exploited, because they are vulnerable.

In addition, pimps serving the Lunars probably bring in prostitutes from Pimper's Block or Sambari traders making the run to Slavewal.

As most Gloranthan societies don't have strong sex taboos, it is unlikely that prostitution is illegal. The one exception would be the Brithini. It's possible that among the Malkioni that bleeds over into caste restrictions on sex, not sure. I'm not sure that Solar prurience is canon, but I suspect there is a 'class' issue in sex between commoners and nobility, but I would suspect sex with temple workers would be fine.

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1 hour ago, Ian Cooper said:

We know it exists, as in the harlot of Alone or discussion in Pavis of prostitution with both temple girls and freelancers. Please bear in mind, there will be male prostitutes as well as female prostitutes. (Greg's writing has never IIRC shown any society having a prejudice against homosexuality.

That's nonsense !  The Yelm Pantheon cults are deeply offended by the penetration of the Lunar vice of homosexuality into their respective divine spheres of influence, and they will be buggered if the Lunars try to ram their perverted agenda down good Yelmish throats !  Any rumors regarding homosexual activity in Yelm worshiping areas is just  jealousy and don't listen to what those prostitutes say, they can't be trusted, even to be discreet.

-Rupertos "Bury me in a Truth Rune shaped Coffin" Bendyurath 

Edited by Darius West
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 I remember seeing  a picture of a Troll Prostitute years ago who worked in a Lunar city  and reading  about a Human merchant who had sex with an Elf and got a disease called the Bumps. .

 So there might be a market for sex with non human but would it be considered Kinky and strange to have sex with members of other species ? Or maybe some men would have sex with a Trollkin girl cause she dirt cheap at only a copper?

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2 hours ago, TRose said:

Or maybe some men would have sex with a Trollkin girl cause she dirt cheap at only a copper?

so long as the John remembers that Trollkin are pretty much unable to not eat anything put in or near their mouths, it might work.

though it would take a pretty desperate/perverted man to find even the most comely enlo attractive... they are by their very nature immature in all the least enticing ways - screechy, easily startled or distracted, painfully stupid, and significantly deformed. A copper would be asking quite a lot... 

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2 hours ago, TRose said:

 I remember seeing  a picture of a Troll Prostitute years ago who worked in a Lunar city

Xenoma, a sacred prostitute of the Furthest Uleria temple.

There's going to be a distinction between Ulerian sacred prostitutes and non-sacred prostitutes, in terms of social status.

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3 hours ago, boztakang said:

though it would take a pretty desperate/perverted man to find even the most comely enlo attractive... they are by their very nature immature in all the least enticing ways - screechy, easily startled or distracted, painfully stupid, and significantly deformed. A copper would be asking quite a lot... 

A Bolg then.

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I had some Krarshti Assassin-Prostitutes in one scenario, they were very attractive, very cheap and cast Sweat Acid when they got jiggy, dissolving most hit locations. 

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Just now, Iskallor said:

There was an article about Duck Prostitutes in one of the Hearts of Glorantha.

Sounds like something from the Book of Drastic Resolutions

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On ‎1‎/‎14‎/‎2017 at 10:48 AM, boztakang said:a

so long as the John remembers that Trollkin are pretty much unable to not eat anything put in or near their mouths, it might work.

though it would take a pretty desperate/perverted man to find even the most comely enlo attractive... they are by their very nature immature in all the least enticing ways - screechy, easily startled or distracted, painfully stupid, and significantly deformed. A copper would be asking quite a lot... 

 Sounds like they would be perfect for those perverts who are into inflicting pain and domination then. And if the Enlo dies under such treatment, who really going to care?

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On 1/16/2017 at 0:59 AM, TRose said:

 Sounds like they would be perfect for those perverts who are into inflicting pain and domination then. And if the Enlo dies under such treatment, who really going to care?

Just bring it back as a zombie and all's good ...

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On 1/16/2017 at 7:45 AM, Iskallor said:

There was an article about Duck Prostitutes in one of the Hearts of Glorantha.

Where is that nest of scum and villainy?  Upper Drakesbottom? :)

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18 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

hmmm  this found a low I wasnt aiming or

This is Glorantha, baby!

If you want to look at hoity-toity Yelmic prostitutes in robes under silken parasols, then fair enough. If you want deep down and dirty Gloranthan stuff, then zombie trollkin prostitutes are where it's at.

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35 minutes ago, soltakss said:

This is Glorantha, baby!

If you want to look at hoity-toity Yelmic prostitutes in robes under silken parasols, then fair enough. If you want deep down and dirty Gloranthan stuff, then zombie trollkin prostitutes are where it's at.

I like deep down and dirty, but i use that for horror not cheap gags.

If you go back to my original question it was whether Cyriel using Balazaring slaves as prostitutes to service lunar troops fitted with a more liberal and positive view of prostitution that Gloranthas had to date. Thats grim stuff why because it reflects some grim realities in our world.

My position is that Glorantha to date has had a broadly positive and liberated view of prostitution, and hasn't dealt with the grimier side. After this discussion i'm absolutely convinced about how i need to write it, grim dirty, horrible, abusive and with a degree of social comment, and if that deviates from cannon sod it.

Edited by Jon Hunter
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1 hour ago, Jon Hunter said:

I like deep down and dirty, but i use that for horror not cheap gags.

 

And zombie trollkin prostitutes don't tickle your horror-bone?

 

1 hour ago, Jon Hunter said:

If you go back to my original question it was whether Cyriel using Balazaring slaves as prostitutes to service lunar troops fitted with a more liberal and positive view of prostitution that Gloranthas had to date. Thats grim stuff why because it reflects some grim realities in our world.

 

Oh, I thought that had been answered and we were just having fun!

 

1 hour ago, Jon Hunter said:

My position is that Glorantha to date has had a broadly positive and liberated view of prostitution, and hasn't dealt with the grimier side. After this discussion i'm absolutely convinced about how i need to write it, grim dirty, horrible, abusive and with a degree of social comment, and if that deviates from cannon sod it.

 

Absolutely right.

Glorantha has horrifically abusive stuff in it (Ogres and broos for example), but companies tend to shy away from going overboard for reasons of taste, decency and getting a bad reputation.

GMs, on the other hand, can do pretty much what they like.

 

 

 

Edited by soltakss

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