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Robin "RoM" Mitra

Ginna Jar on a Lightbringer clan ring

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A lightbringer clan ring holds seven seats for the respective lightbringers. While five of them are easily associated with an individual deity, Ginna Jar is represented by the heads of the households. But how does that work on the clan ring? There is just one seat for Ginna Jar. Do the households take turns? Do they have one representative for all of them?

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Okay, I'm taking my examples here from both the KODP game and the Riskland Campaign in the Dorastor book for RQ3. As with every 'theo- philo- sophical' discussion on this board, your mileage will vary.

As I understand it, Ginna Jar represents the 'spirit of the people': the collective wisdom of the clan wyter, the lessons and experiences of the 'quest' that keeping and holding the clan lands has given the whole. So if a steadholder is on the Clan Ring as representitive of Ginn Jar, they are usually someone of uncommon perception and wisdom. They'd be a person of thoughtfulness and experience with a well-run steading and a healthy family. They wouldn't necessarily have to an elder, but they'd have to be widely respected. For one fantasy example, a Samwise Gamgee type as portrayed in the epilogue chapters of LOTR. He's seen and done some pretty big things, but his principal cares are his family, his community, and the land.

As to who specifically that would be really depends on the nature of the clan and its needs.  A basic guide is who the clan worships as their main deity, and the influence of the other Lightbringers. Is the clan strong with Issaries? Then someone who can negotiate well without making insult for feud may be selected. A War clan might have a thane, or at minimum a battle-tested fryrd-warrior, in that role. In a patriarchal farming clan, it might be a well-thought-of Barntar initiate who works hand in hand with the Ernalda priestesses.

Any of that making sense?

Edited by svensson

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Since Ginna Jar is sometimes referred to as the Lightbringer's Wyter, then anyone who worships the clan Wyter could probably work. Another possibility would be for the position to be taken by the clan chief - the high priest of the Wyter - though then you'd have to have someone who isn't the chief fill in for the Orlanth role which could cause trouble.

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2 hours ago, svensson said:

As I understand it, Ginna Jar represents the 'spirit of the people': the collective wisdom of the clan wyter, the lessons and experiences of the 'quest' that keeping and holding the clan lands has given the whole. So if a steadholder is on the Clan Ring as representitive of Ginn Jar, they are usually someone of uncommon perception and wisdom. They'd be a person of thoughtfulness and experience with a well-run steading and a healthy family. They wouldn't necessarily have to an elder, but they'd have to be widely respected. For one fantasy example, a Samwise Gamgee type as portrayed in the epilogue chapters of LOTR. He's seen a done some pretty big things, but cares his family, his community, and the land.

This sounds like the kind of person you'd like as a tiebreaker, too.

Someone from a minor lineage, whose political interests aren't overly entangled in established feuds, for example.

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1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

This sounds like the kind of person you'd like as a tiebreaker, too.

Someone from a minor lineage, whose political interests aren't overly entangled in established feuds, for example.

And isn't likely to start any feuds either :)

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2 hours ago, svensson said:
3 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Someone from a minor lineage, whose political interests aren't overly entangled in established feuds, for example.

And isn't likely to start any feuds either

A stickpicker or shepherd boy can start a feud all on his own, and so can a spiteful bride of mediocre standing. While it is always possible to exile such trouble-makers, elevating anyone to the clan ring will raise their status to that of thane for at least as long as they hold that office. And yes, that includes the trickster.

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

A stickpicker or shepherd boy can start a feud all on his own, and so can a spiteful bride of mediocre standing. While it is always possible to exile such trouble-makers, elevating anyone to the clan ring will raise their status to that of thane for at least as long as they hold that office. And yes, that includes the trickster.

Absolutely, though the clan may not entirely appreciate a trickster in the Ginna Jar seat given the vagaries of Luck and a trickster's conduct. The Ginna Jar seat is supposed to represent clan traditions, wisdom and leadership through good counsel [whatever 'good counsel' means to that clan]. Since the Eurmal already has a seat within Orlanth's Ring, the clan may wish a more common person at that seat to represent cottars and carls rather than the troublemakers. Of course, none of this prevents a Eurmali from holding the seat. Tricksters have a habit of filling in the odd roles of society that others cannot fill.

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Sure, any clan fielding two tricksters on the clan ring will be in serious trouble. And the Eurmal seat is optional in the Lightbringers' Ring, IIRC.

I am not quite convinced that Ginna Jar is the spokes-entity for the ancestors, though. It is the entity that represents the community as is, with its current goals, likes, and dislikes, rather than what it was back when the clan was founded. Not just the voice, but the spirit of the sum of the population.

It takes a rather strong character to take such a role. Right now I picture someone like Speaker Bercow in this kind of office, and yes, a person driven by precedent and tradition, but applying it to the current situation.

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My question was actually not so much about the Who they would appoint (I am sure that is open to much debate and power brokering) but more about the How. SKoH says on a Lightbringer clan ring Ginnar Jar is represented by the heads of households. Now there are many households but only one seat on the ring. How do they do that?

Would they simply choose one household and thereby ignoring that Ginna Jar is the community rather than an individual? Would they form a ring of households and send a spokesperson from among them to the clan ring? Would they take turns by season or year? Would they have other ideas how to represent a community on a single seat?

Edited by Robin "RoM" Mitra

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In the end, the ring positions are filled with individuals. There is a possibility that the Ginna Jar position might be a different delegate every session of the full council, though. Possibly decided by a vote among the family heads, possibly by lot, possibly chosen by the clan wyter. Possibly a medium speaking directly for the clan wyter.

In the end, the chief is representing the entire community most of the time. The Ginna Jar position should only be filled when all other positions are present, possibly through a summoning rite re-enacting that stage of the Westfaring, producing the spokesperson that takes that position.

That summoning might be as simple as the pre-decided spokesperson picking up the piece of clan regalia representing the Ginna Jar position, but it could happen that that piece of regalia chooses its bearer in the course of that rite.

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Clan shaman maybe? Someone in touch with spiritual matters who isn't part of the main hierarchies and serves simple needs of folk?

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37 minutes ago, EricW said:

Clan shaman maybe? Someone in touch with spiritual matters who isn't part of the main hierarchies and serves simple needs of folk?

Far from every clan has a shaman. A clan spirit talker wouldn't be much more appropriate than whoever leads the ancestor rites (no idea whether in the Daka Fal manner contacting individual deceased ones' spirits or in a much less personal, ancestors as an almost anonymous group entering ceremonies as a divine manifestation, as per HQ publications and King of Dragon Pass). The clan wyter usually communicates only with the clan leader, the Ernaldori should be quite unusual with their arrangement.

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8 hours ago, Joerg said:

A stickpicker or shepherd boy can start a feud all on his own, and so can a spiteful bride of mediocre standing. While it is always possible to exile such trouble-makers, elevating anyone to the clan ring will raise their status to that of thane for at least as long as they hold that office. And yes, that includes the trickster.

That's fine, but my point was that they were unlikely to be a part of an already existing... maybe "feud" is the incorrect word, since that's a term for an inter-clan conflict, but rather I meant an intra-clan... cleavage. If you will.

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We know that ring members don't have to actually worship the god they speak for--an Ernalda healer can represent Chalana Arroy because she understands at least some of the goddess' concerns and can stand in for her. I think it's the same here. The Ginna Jar seat is given to someone who speaks for the heads of the households. In practice, I think that means one of the most prominent heads of household is given this seat and is expected to know what the other heads of households think about an issue and therefore be able to stand in for them and voice the concerns that headmen and headwoman have. While a rotating seat is possible, in think it is more likely that one headman/woman holds the seat long-term but talks regularly to their 'constituents'. 

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11 hours ago, Robin "RoM" Mitra said:

My question was actually not so much about the Who they would appoint (I am sure that is open to much debate and power brokering) but more about the How. SKoH says on a Lightbringer clan ring Ginnar Jar is represented by the heads of households. Now there are many households but only one seat on the ring. How do they do that?

Would they simply choose one household and thereby ignoring that Ginna Jar is the community rather than an individual? Would they form a ring of households and send a spokesperson from among them to the clan ring? Would they take turns by season or year? Would they have other ideas how to represent a community on a single seat?

The 'head of household' can be many things. In a traditional rural Orlanthi clan, I would think that would be the steading holder. In a more urban area, that might mean 'household' as we would define it on Earth, i.e, the head person of all those who live within a single family home..

Do they rotate places on the Clan Ring? My inclination is 'no'. Once a person is selected for the Ring, the serve until they quit, retire or die.

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12 hours ago, Robin "RoM" Mitra said:

Now there are many households but only one seat on the ring. How do they do that?

Summon the ancestors and let them decide!  After all, most bloodlines descend from certain select individuals early in the clan founding.

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12 hours ago, Robin "RoM" Mitra said:

Would they simply choose one household and thereby ignoring that Ginna Jar is the community rather than an individual?

Odds are it's a role/position that the Clan Chief, probably in concert with the leader of the Ernalda cult, will decide upon and fill.  They'll decide on what keeps the best harmony and balance in the clan by assessing which bloodline/household may best support them, or best keep the intra-clan peace, or whatever the current need is. They'll likely consult the wyter and the ancestors to help determine this.

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49 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Summon the ancestors and let them decide!  After all, most bloodlines descend from certain select individuals early in the clan founding.

Presuming heredity works the same way in Glorantha as is does on Earth, that would be one seriously inbred clan! It must be really tough to be a war clan full of hemophiliacs... :lol:

Ok, seriously, most clans rely on adoptions, marriages, fosterage and so on to mix up the gene pool. Instead of the clan ancestor spirits, it seems to me that the best way to select the Ginna Jar [if the clan can't do it by itself] is to ask the clan wyter instead.

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2 hours ago, svensson said:

Ok, seriously, most clans rely on adoptions, marriages, fosterage and so on to mix up the gene pool. Instead of the clan ancestor spirits, it seems to me that the best way to select the Ginna Jar [if the clan can't do it by itself] is to ask the clan wyter instead.

In a patrilineal and patrilocal clan (one where descent is counted through male descent and where wives are brought in from other clans, and sisters are married off to other clans) there isn't a huge amount of ambiguity with who the ancestors are, no inbreeding needed. The same goes for a matrlineal and matrilocal clan, of course.

Where it gets sorta ambiguous is in other kinds of descent reckonings, such as ambilineal (a person can choose which parent they emphasize in their ancestry) or bilateral (both parents' lineages are equally important) descent.

As you rightly point out, most kinship trees are heavily modified, however, and often in the RW they usually end up becoming a kind of "legal fiction" after a while. I suspect the Orlanthi work a bit similarly. That's not to say that they don't value blood-relations, but at the end of the day, descent and ancestry are first and foremost matters of law and mutual recognition as opposed to some intrinsic essence.

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Why does Ginna Jar have to be a person? Maybe we're overthinking it, perhaps Ginna Jar IS the clan wyter. A symbolic something associated with the Wyter placed on a seat. An invitation for the Wyter to make its presence known via mystical signs or whatever if it has anything to contribute to the meeting.

Edited by EricW
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4 hours ago, EricW said:

Why does Ginna Jar have to be a person? Maybe we're overthinking it, perhaps Ginna Jar IS the clan wyter. A symbolic something associated with the Wyter placed on a seat. An invitation for the Wyter to make its presence known via mystical signs or whatever if it has anything to contribute to the meeting.

Because it's been repeatedly stated that a Lightbringer clan ring has seven people sitting on it, and that odd number is important for the sake of tie-breaking.

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1 hour ago, Leingod said:

Because it's been repeatedly stated that a Lightbringer clan ring has seven people sitting on it, and that odd number is important for the sake of tie-breaking.

As argumentative as Orlanthi are, the last thing you want in a council is a tie vote! :)

As to the 'why not just use the wyter' question, the wyter is not an ancestor-type spirit. It doesn't speak directly to petitioners. It doesn't have a personality or a voice. A wyter is a spirit of the clan's collective wisdom and experience, not the ancestor spirits of the clan founders. Those are separate beings which can be contacted with the right rituals and a skilled shaman. Not all clans have a shaman that knows those rituals. But the wyter is contacted through worship of the clan's main deity and reverence for 'those who came before us'.

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Quick follow up.

Yes the clan wyter can be asked question and it can give answers, but only in a nebulous way. Since it doesn't have a personality, it doesn't have opinions. Its answers are based on how the clan has handled the question over the clan's lifetime. This is great for questions of run-of-the-mill importance, but the wyter is the wrong being to ask when something outside the clan's traditions and experiences needs addressing.

So in this specific question... A Balanced clan who worships Orlanth as their main god [pretty much the KODP game vanilla clan] has two equally respected people who could fill the vacant Ginna Jar seat on the Clan Ring. Because the ring is missing a member, there is a hung vote in the ring for who should take that seat. The decision is made to ask the wyter who would best fill the role. The Ring gathers the clan and reverently removes the wyter totem from its niche in the Orlanth temple. Two sticks are driven into the ground before the wyter totem and scarf or kerchief from each candidate is laid atop one stick each. The clan Lawspeaker then beseeches the wyter to express which candidate would best fill the role for the benefit of the clan. A stiff breeze picks up [Orlanth reference there] and each scarf flies off its respective stick, but one scarf sails off into the air while one flutters to the base of the wyter totem. The candidate whose scarf the wyter 'selected' becomes the Ginna Jar seat holder.

Edited by svensson
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2 hours ago, svensson said:

As to the 'why not just use the wyter' question, the wyter is not an ancestor-type spirit. It doesn't speak directly to petitioners. It doesn't have a personality or a voice. A wyter is a spirit of the clan's collective wisdom and experience, not the ancestor spirits of the clan founders. Those are separate beings which can be contacted with the right rituals and a skilled shaman. Not all clans have a shaman that knows those rituals. But the wyter is contacted through worship of the clan's main deity and reverence for 'those who came before us'.

Hauberk Jon is said to be the wyter of Jonstown - is it possible that there can be a bit of an overlap between ancestors and wyters? Ie. not all wyters are ancestors, and not all ancestors are wyters, but both CAN BE the other?

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The Lightbringer Clan Ring is quite constrained in who may take each role. To make a stupidly exaggerated example to illustrate the point: if the Orlanth role is taken by a female Ernaldan, then the clan will be substantially weaker in magic, in internal respect and in external politics because the position holder has negative depth and identification in the role. If there is no Issaries worshiper in the clan (relatively common), then the choice gets restricted to the best trader. Etc. for the healer, the loremaster. The Flesh Man role and the Ginna Jar role can be handed out to politically important people, regardless of their religious affiliation (and to a lesser extent the Eurmal role too).

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