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TerryTee

Wergild amongst Orlanthi peole

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Reading Kingdom of Heros at the moment, but these questions arises from time to time.
Orlanthi seems to be big on wergild (wergelt?) and some sources even supply reates for cottars, carls and thanes. But how does that work when people are 'just' injured? Most communities have easy access to healing magic, so an injury is normally gone quite quickly. Is it really assumed that an injury that be healed is so offensive (or something similar) that half the wergild is expected?

Same thing goes for duels (like in Kingdom of Heros). Will death or injury that results from a duel really result in wergild?

 

Thanks,

-Terry

 

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Weregeld is compensation to the clan taking the damage, in part replacing the lost provider, in part salving the insult to the clan.

If a slain clan member is resurrected on behalf of the perpretrator, the fact that the clan member was killed doesn't disappear. Neither does healing a wound (or even re-attaching a limb) purge the deed. I guess that wilful intent is assumed in dealing these injuries, and that's part of the fine.

(Writing this makes me wonder whether there are instances of or at least stories about a high-ranking clan member getting himself killed on purpose so that his struggling kin can survive their dire need... though with the difficulties of claiming a weregeld even when bringing a high-ranking witness, this is far from a workable way. You'd need to find an opponent well-known for his honor and generosity.)

 

IMO a duelist had best deposit the weregeld for his opponent with the referee of the duel before stepping into the ring. It is a powerful display of confidence in his prowess, too.

There ought to be circumstances which don't require weregeld. Legal champions dueling for a verdict of divine fate, for instance, but then, these duelists tend to be Humakti anyway.

 

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25 minutes ago, TerryTee said:

 

Same thing goes for duels (like in Kingdom of Heros). Will death or injury that results from a duel really result in wergild?

 

 

Good question. We had a Humakti-sanctioned duel in our RQ:G game last night and our warrior killed Branduan Hodirson. Now the GM has this threat of having to pay wergild looming over us.

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29 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Weregeld is compensation to the clan taking the damage, in part replacing the lost provider, in part salving the insult to the clan.

It is, of course, also a deterrence.

30 minutes ago, Joerg said:

(Writing this makes me wonder whether there are instances of or at least stories about a high-ranking clan member getting himself killed on purpose so that his struggling kin can survive their dire need... though with the difficulties of claiming a weregeld even when bringing a high-ranking witness, this is far from a workable way. You'd need to find an opponent well-known for his honor and generosity.)

Realistically, I wouldn't be surprised to see significant deviations from the numbers we see in the texts. That's usually how things go IRL, especially when there's no central authority around.

Granted, it can be a gamle. If a powerful clan uses its power to bully a weaker clan into not claiming full weregeld, other, neighboring clans might use this as an excuse to not honor their own weregeld obligations to the first mentioned clan. If the weaker clan can ally itself with another clan, it might even form the basis for a feud.

There's a lot of room for scummy "politics" in here, and I fully expect any one clan to be full of stories about various cases where someone didn't do things right, and how it offends them. Like suburban families quarreling over who is not following the bylaws of the Houseowner's Association properly: mostly simmering under the surface, but possibly erupting should power balances shift, or particularly egregious cases come to light.

36 minutes ago, Joerg said:

There ought to be circumstances which don't require weregeld. Legal champions dueling for a verdict of divine fate, for instance, but then, these duelists tend to be Humakti anyway.

Woops. Didn't mean to quote this section, but now I can't seem to remove it. But at any rate - this seems accurate.

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On 4/11/2019 at 1:24 PM, GianniVacca said:

Good question. We had a Humakti-sanctioned duel in our RQ:G game last night and our warrior killed Branduan Hodirson. Now the GM has this threat of having to pay wergild looming over us.

I'd argue that participants in a Humakti Duel don't need to pay weregild, as the death was an honourable one under Humakt's rules. 

Of course, if the duel is to first blood and one died, that might be different, or if either party cheated, or if the loser's family is very powerful, or if the winner is disliked by the clan, or ...

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On 4/11/2019 at 12:56 PM, TerryTee said:

Orlanthi seems to be big on wergild (wergelt?) and some sources even supply reates for cottars, carls and thanes. But how does that work when people are 'just' injured? Most communities have easy access to healing magic, so an injury is normally gone quite quickly. Is it really assumed that an injury that be healed is so offensive (or something similar) that half the wergild is expected?

I imagine in those circumstances, you're expected to pay the wergild anyway, which they will then gift to the healer in thanks.

This is one of the ways healers can support themselves, since they don't have the spare time to farm and if they're Chalannan then they may not be able to hunt or similar.

If it's just something healable with battle magic, then in the words of Thunder Rebels: "If the wound be not serious, there is no need for justice." While no longer canon, that saying would still hold weight.

You don't need to pay for something that's not serious, but of course maybe you and they would disagree on what's serious, which would be a matter for your clans' rings.

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Wereguild [Blood Gold] is the custom of compensation for those who were killed or injured in the various fights that happen in Orlanthi society.

The rates quoted in the books for ransoms are often a good indicator as to what their wereguild will be.

As to when someone is only injured, the compensation is adjusted depending on the extent of the injury. A permanent wound can result in full compensation if that wound bars a citizen from making a living. However, it is not unusual for the wereguild to be the price of healing a major wound... Did you accidentally cut someone's leg off? Then you might be held liable for the price of a Regrow Limb spell.

Dueling is another matter. If duel happens because of somebody's hot temper, then both parties might be liable for wereguild depending on the results of the duel. If a duel is the result of a clan feud, or to settle an argument between clans, then no wereguild is awarded. Actions in declared wars or cattle raids never result in wereguild, and it is considered crass to demand it.

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Historically, wergeld (compensation) evolved in a wide variety of cultures (modern Afghan society still uses it, and there are a few vestiges of it in Saudi law) that lacked a strong central government that could impose punishment for crime. It was up to the victim or more precisely the victim's family to avenge an injury done to them, generally by inflicting a reciprocal injury on the offender's family. Wergeld emerged as the alternative to the violence, and it was based in the notion of paying the victim('s family) for the loss inflicted on them. Different body parts and types of injury merited different levels of compensation (in the earliest English law code, a bruise that can't be covered by clothing is worth more than a bruise that can, because it injures the victim's pride and reputation, for example. So the injury isn't just physical). A major element of the size of the wergeld is the degree to which the injury might incapacitate a person or reduce their ability to function--the loss of a limb would be compensated more highly than the loss of a finger. Compensation for a death pays the family for the loss of the deceased's productive capacity (and related issues). 

Understanding the logic behind this system helps address some of the issues that have come up in this thread. 

1) There is no compensation for the death of a Humakti, because the Humakti has no family who can claim the wergeld. 

2) A wound that has been healed (such as a Chalanan re-attaching a severed limb or resurrecting the victim) merits much lower compensation because the productive capacity is restored. However the moral aspects of the injury (loss of honor and reputation) can't be healed that way, so some compensation could still be demanded. 

3) The main reason to pay compensation is that the offender fears violent retribution from the victim('s family). Uroxi are typically unafraid of their opponents because they berserk at will, so Uroxi generally refuse demands for compensation. (In Norse sagas, this is one of the things that characterizes berserkers. Being badass warriors that intimidate everyone allows them to get away with all sorts of bad behavior.) Similarly, a clan with a high War rating is going to be less willing to offer compensation to a clan with a low War rating, unless that second clan has strong allies. Peace clans need War clan allies in situations like this, unless the Peace clan has a high Magic rating and can respond to violence with things like Blast Earth magic to destroy the War clan's food-producing abilities.

4) Laws dictating compensation aren't set in stone (because there is no central authority strong enough to enforce the law). Instead, they probably act as points for a starting point for negotiation about how much is owed. "Orlanth's law says that Swen is owed a cow for the ruining of his arm. Our healer wasn't able to fix the injury, so we demand that the full price be paid." "Nonsense! Everyone knows that Swen's a lazy drunk who can barely plow a furrow. Orlanth's law is for a true hardworking carl, not a layabout like Swen. We'll offer one sheep instead." "One sheep! That's outrageous! Swen has four children to feed, not mention his wife. Three sheep." "We'd pay three sheep if Swen's kin were men we fear. But his brother is a Lhankor Mhyte who can't pick up a blade without cutting himself and his father's so old he runs into things when he tries to walk. Two sheep and you'll thank us for our generosity." 

 

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Bohemond's explanation is very succinct and useful, as it explains not just the how, but the why as well. Once you get the underlying logic, it's easier to implement it into a story, I'd imagine.

EDIT: I don't know if Orlanthi use third-party witnesses/arbitrators in restitution negotiations, but in those RW cultures that do that, the third party might be entitled to some minor share of it (probably a fixed size, so as to not make them biased in making the restitution as large as possible). The conclusion of the negotiation might also be marked by a common meal - sharing a meal is almost universal cultural language for "no hard feelings" (even if it's only for pretend - optics matter).

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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It's important to realize also that the system doesn't attempt to be 'fair'. Each family looks at the issue from the standpoint of their own injury, and in the absence of any central authority to impose justice, there is no one trying to be objective about 'who started it'. So witnesses are not necessarily intended to be impartial in a modern sense, just truthful. 

Also, intention doesn't play a role in the law itself. To the law, it's irrelevant whether Swen was drunk when he stabbed Hrolf or if Swen tripped and stabbed Hrolf by accident or if Swen pulled his knife in anger and tried to kill Hrolf. In all three situations, the issue is not how or why Swen injured Hrolf, but the fact that Swen inflicted an injury on Hrolf. Intention might have played a role in the negotiations around the compensation, but the law itself doesn't seem to have cared about the intention. Indeed, in some cultures a doctor who kills a patient while trying to save the man's life with an operation is just as guilty of killing as someone who intentionally stabs the patient with a sword. 

Questions about fairness as an element of justice are much more of a modern concern than they were to the people whose cultures spawned this system. 

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4 hours ago, Bohemond said:

Also, intention doesn't play a role in the law itself. To the law, it's irrelevant whether Swen was drunk when he stabbed Hrolf or if Swen tripped and stabbed Hrolf by accident or if Swen pulled his knife in anger and tried to kill Hrolf. In all three situations, the issue is not how or why Swen injured Hrolf, but the fact that Swen inflicted an injury on Hrolf.

one of the many tricky aspects of "Nobody can make you do anything". The Orlanthi generally reject the concept of blaming external factors.

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Thanks for lots of good input.

Seems like stuff that can be healed with battle magic (spirit Heal as we play RQ3) often will not lead to wergild.

As for compensation for an injury from a honour perspective, I'm uncertain. My first thought is at demanding payment for a (low cost) healable injury may seem whiny and cause the injured party to loose face even more. But of course,  circumstances will vary widely.  

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1 hour ago, TerryTee said:

Thanks for lots of good input.

Seems like stuff that can be healed with battle magic (spirit Heal as we play RQ3) often will not lead to wergild.

As for compensation for an injury from a honour perspective, I'm uncertain. My first thought is at demanding payment for a (low cost) healable injury may seem whiny and cause the injured party to loose face even more. But of course,  circumstances will vary widely.  

Historically, there were two scales when considering weregild: the level of injury and the loss of ability to make a living and the level of insult and loss of reputation.

Now, the injury gets whole lot more nebulous in a world where magical healing is available, but the Orlanthi are a simpler people than the Esrolians or Dara Happans. If you injure a person [and the gender makes no difference; among Orlanthi keeping a house and tilling a field are held in equal esteem], you are bound to attempt to make right your error as Orlanth did during the Lightbringer's Quest.

If you unjustly injure a man but immediately heal him, you still are held liable for the injury because you shouldn't have hurt him in the first place! Certainly you won't pay as much as if you cut him and left him to die, but you will be held to account for your actions before the clan ring. This is done to keep the hotheads [of which Heortlings have more than their fair share] under some kind of control. No man wants to be hauled up before the clan ring time and again because he pulls his sword too casually... he might find himself indentured to the family he injured all through Earth Season harvest time [and thereby not be able to help his kin harvest his own crops] if he makes too big a habit of it.

My point here is that just because there is magical healing doesn't mean than offense was not committed. Now, a lot of this will depend on reputation, popularity, and clan ring's attempts to put the matter to bed without hard feelings, but the essential justice and social controls are still present.

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9 hours ago, Wrestlepig said:

one of the many tricky aspects of "Nobody can make you do anything". The Orlanthi generally reject the concept of blaming external factors.

'No one can make you do anything' is certainly true.

But you'd better be ready to accept the consequences, and among Heortlings those who refuse to take the consequences are held in disrepute. Kill a man and refuse to pay weregild? You better be ready for outlawry then. And very few clans are willing to protect an outlaw, and even if they do protect him that outlaw is essentially imprisoned within his clan's lands. If he leaves them, he can be killed out of hand.

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On 4/11/2019 at 1:56 PM, TerryTee said:

Reading Kingdom of Heros at the moment, but these questions arises from time to time.
Orlanthi seems to be big on wergild (wergelt?) and some sources even supply reates for cottars, carls and thanes. But how does that work when people are 'just' injured? Most communities have easy access to healing magic, so an injury is normally gone quite quickly. Is it really assumed that an injury that be healed is so offensive (or something similar) that half the wergild is expected?

Same thing goes for duels (like in Kingdom of Heros). Will death or injury that results from a duel really result in wergild?

 

Thanks,

-Terry

 

One thing to keep in mind is that wergild or ransom or life price is not a "punishment" for a crime. It is the amount you pay to compensate the injured person's kin and settle any issue they have with you. So Killer Korol kills a semi-free tenant of the Orleving. He pays 250 L to the Orleving clan to compensate them for the loss to production, honor, reputation, etc. After that is considered "resolved and over". Later Killer-Korol encounters the Orleving thane Deseneros and gets annoyed with people fawning all over him. Korol insults Deseneros, Deseneros insults Korol - next thing you know, there is an informal duel and Korol nearly kills Deseneros. Realising that he can't afford Deseneros' life price after killing that herder, so he casts Heal Wound and heals the damage.

But Deseneros and his kin still feel that their honour and reputation was damaged. They also think that Korol and his Varmandi kin have shown that they are rabid dogs. They claim that Korol and his kin still owe 500 L for the injuries and are willing to fight over it. So Korol decides to go to Boldhome to ask the Prince to meditate between the clans. He knows he will have to pay SOMETHING, but certainly less than 500 L. But that's better than a feud between the clans.

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To kill a man and refuse to pay weregild can be a powerful statement, though. While it does equate to a certain level of outlawry, it can also be part of a strong war clan policy to remind the other clans how powerful the party perpretating the deed is. Provided that the killing itself was done within what is considered honorable, and that the cause for killing this individual was tied to upstart behavior of the slain.

Storm worshippers are bullies. This is somewhat mitigated in the Orlanthi culture by the influence of Ernalda, but then Ernalda herself can also have a vicious streak and a long memory for insults. While there are myths where Ernalda is eager to show her loaded Storm husband another way, there are other incidents where she releases that loaded weapon to get the better of long-standing foes, as in "The Making of the Storm Tribe" where she tricks her old enemies of Darkness into attacking the assembled bunch of violent leaders and their followers. Two flies with a slap - storm guys united, dark folk beaten.

 

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28 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Storm worshippers are bullies. This is somewhat mitigated in the Orlanthi culture by the influence of Ernalda, but then Ernalda herself can also have a vicious streak and a long memory for insults. While there are myths where Ernalda is eager to show her loaded Storm husband another way, there are other incidents where she releases that loaded weapon to get the better of long-standing foes, as in "The Making of the Storm Tribe" where she tricks her old enemies of Darkness into attacking the assembled bunch of violent leaders and their followers. Two flies with a slap - storm guys united, dark folk beaten.

 

Storm worshipers are not bullies.

They are violent, yes. They are boastful, yes. They certainly prize physical strength. But their culture has specific protections for those who are not warriors [that is to say, 'weapon-thanes'] and one major commitment of all who take up arms is the protection of the clan. Praxian nomads are more bullies than Heortlings are [and Praxians are not bullies, either]. Heortlings value all kinds of wisdom and every adult is free to speak their mind. Every household contributes to the defense of the clan, not through coercion [as with Lunar conscripts] but for the common good.

Now, Zorak Zorani, those guys are bullies.

It would also be useful to remember that there are several cultures that worship the Storm Pantheon, just as there are several who worship the Earth. An Ernalda initiate from Esrolia looks and acts very differently than one from Sartar [Heortling culture] or the Paps [Praxian culture]. So too are Heortlings different than Vingkotlings or Solanthi.

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1 minute ago, svensson said:

Storm worshipers are not bullies.

They are violent, yes. They are boastful, yes. They certainly prize physical strength. But their culture has specific protections for those who are not warriors [that is to say, 'weapon-thanes'] and one major commitment of all who take up arms is the protection of the clan. Praxian nomads are more bullies than Heortlings are [and Praxians are not bullies, either]. Heortlings value all kinds of wisdom and every adult is free to speak their mind. Every household contributes to the defense of the clan, not through coercion [as with Lunar conscripts] but for the common good.

I expected some outrage like this, but I stand with my original statement. Might makes right, and those niceties that you cite only pertain to others of their peer group. Orlanth cultists feel no qualms whatsoever deliverin death and devastation on Darjiinians or Dara Happans, and Praxians (Storm worshippers of a different bend) have no such qualms visiting similar devastation to their Theyalan neighbors.

Umath did institute hospitality, which is the temporary extension of personhood to outsiders visiting his camp.

Without intermarriage to other clans, those clans would be as much outsiders as everyone else, but most Orlanthi would think twice about going off to kill their sisters' offspring. The initial interaction with the durulz of Duck Valley shows exactly how civilized Orlanthi were. The duck hunt of 1613 instigated by Fazzur exploited that weakness in Orlanthi character, too.

Orlanthi show loyalty to sworn friends and oath brothers - like Orlanth and Heler (although that has lots of sexual undertones, too), and they accept adoption through marriage like Beren/Elmal (and the other four Vingkotling husband kings). These people become kin.

The people who aren't kin aren't protected from Orlanthi power play. Orlanthi tribes are hard to establish and to maintain, and when central authority breaks away, any semblance of respect for some other former members of the tribe is blown away.

Vadrus is the embodiment of this kind of Storm behavior, but Orlanth himself used to be one of the Vadrudi, and only Ernalda's wiles and influence imposed the measure of civilization on him and his people that ultimately made them the pinnacle of human civilization at the Dawn.

1 minute ago, svensson said:

Now, Zorak Zorani, those guys are bullies.

Disorder is never far from Storm. Orlanthi outlaws and Praxian outlaws quickly end up in Vadrudi territory - the Praxians have Gagarth, the Wild Hunter, as patron of their asocial elements. The Barantaros rebel band that grudgingly followed Kallyr was effectively a Vadrudi-style hero band, too.

Storm Bull within Orlanthi culture is another collection of sociopaths barely contained within their kinship rules. The same goes for Eurmali.

Zorak Zoran or Vorthan (the Fronelan cult worshipping the war god associated with the Red Planet, known as Jagrekriand by the Orlanthi and as Shargash by the Pelorians) is another barely contained deathbringer cult without the veneer of honor that is associated with Humakt (and not all expressions of Humakt).

Likewise, Orlanth can be very ugly viewed from other perspectives. In Esrolia, this is Kodig, one of the three (or four) Bad Men of their myths. (But then he is a fair match to the ugliness brought about by their Grandmother despots.) Harald Smith (aka @jajagappa) created Orlantio as much of a trickster god in his Imther myths.

And that Hero Wars era stuff about Bad King Urgrain? That's Orlanth, too.

The Yggites and their overseas descendants among the Wolf Pirates are an example of a Vadrudi society.

1 minute ago, svensson said:

It would also be useful to remember that there are several cultures that worship the Storm Pantheon, just as there are several who worship the Earth. An Ernalda initiate from Esrolia looks and acts very differently than one from Sartar [Heortling culture] or the Paps [Praxian culture]. So too are Heortlings different than Vingkotlings or Solanthi.

Earth worship doesn't necessarily come with moderation, either. The Dawn Age Pendali of Seshnela were a hybrid culture, led by mixed descendants of the lion hsunchen Basmoli and the resident Earth Priestesses (demigoddesses), and their warfare against the Malkioni of Froalar's lease (from one of the sons of Pendal) was terrible. The Solanthi participating in the Lion King's Feast of 1616 were led by a distant descendants of these, and a typical Orlanthi leader of his homeland: Greymane. And the Serpent Brotherhood of the Hykimi in the Great Forest (of Ralios, Seshnela and Fronela) was earth-influenced, too. That didn't make the Pralori rule over the neighbors of Tarinwood and Pralorela any less brutal. "Wait, these aren't storm worshippers!" No, although many descendants of these groups now are Orlanthi, and they all were worshippers of the Land Goddess, which made their conquests possible in the first place.

The Kingdom of Tarsh was founded with the cooperation of the Shaker Temple and subscribed to its blood rites. Sorana Tor may have been a pleasant to look at goddess or demigoddess, but she was the avatar of Ana Gor, the deity of human sacrifice. The Illaro dynasty (from which Phargentes and Moirades are descended on their non-Lunar side) took this to the extreme, until Hon-eel channeled those activities elsewhere (the Corn Rites).

The influence of Sartar and his peacemaking was another mitigating factor on the Sartarites, who may be some of the nicest Orlanthi you are likely to meet. Yet, when irated, his surviving grandsons waged a very brutal and successful war of assassination against the leaders of Nochet.

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Wait a minute, Joerg, 'I disagree and here's why' is not 'outrage'.

Sure some of us are going to disagree with each other, that's normal. But I am in no way angry or frustrated with you.

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34 minutes ago, svensson said:

Wait a minute, Joerg, 'I disagree and here's why' is not 'outrage'.

Sure some of us are going to disagree with each other, that's normal. But I am in no way angry or frustrated with you.

Fair is fair. Perhaps "outcry" would have been the better phrase - for all my practice writing English, this isn't my native language.

I do think that there is some emotion in that response, though. "I am not roleplaying a bully." "These aren't murder-hobos."

In my opinion, getting into the mindset of a Bronze Age character needs to shed some of the mindset you were brought up with. A certain way more pragmatic approach to death, including the character's own. Different standards for e.g. charity - try and convince an Orlanthi clansman that giving charity to a complete stranger can be expected of him. "But that's not my kin!"

One of the interesting things in playing Vampire - the Masquerade was to identify with the monster in you, while keeping it in check. In a similar way, this applied to any fantasy game that has you wielding weapons. Playing a Humakti means playing a fanatical professional killer, a taker of lives. Playing an initiate of Orlanth means that you have to bluster and bully when appropriate, and there are plenty situations where bullying is appropriate. Playing an Ernaldan may mean to be manipulative, scheming and mean when the situation demands it. Being like your deity means being less human, and that often translates as being less humanitarian, too.

This style of gaming is not for everybody, agreed. Many a group of players requires the knowledge that they are the good guys in an absolute moral sense. Such moral absolutes aren't exactly part of Glorantha, though. But MGWV, YGWV.

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Fair is fair. Perhaps "outcry" would have been the better phrase - for all my practice writing English, this isn't my native language.

I do think that there is some emotion in that response, though. "I am not roleplaying a bully." "These aren't murder-hobos."

In my opinion, getting into the mindset of a Bronze Age character needs to shed some of the mindset you were brought up with. A certain way more pragmatic approach to death, including the character's own. Different standards for e.g. charity - try and convince an Orlanthi clansman that giving charity to a complete stranger can be expected of him. "But that's not my kin!"

One of the interesting things in playing Vampire - the Masquerade was to identify with the monster in you, while keeping it in check. In a similar way, this applied to any fantasy game that has you wielding weapons. Playing a Humakti means playing a fanatical professional killer, a taker of lives. Playing an initiate of Orlanth means that you have to bluster and bully when appropriate, and there are plenty situations where bullying is appropriate. Playing an Ernaldan may mean to be manipulative, scheming and mean when the situation demands it. Being like your deity means being less human, and that often translates as being less humanitarian, too.

This style of gaming is not for everybody, agreed. Many a group of players requires the knowledge that they are the good guys in an absolute moral sense. Such moral absolutes aren't exactly part of Glorantha, though. But MGWV, YGWV.

I don't think the Orlanthi as a general rule are any more bullying than anyone else. They are an "honour culture" which means they place a high value on behaving in accordance with a martial code, but I think you are just as likely to find a "bully" in Nochet or Glamour as Boldhome. 

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Virtually no premodern culture is going to adhere to any kind of "universal humanism", and so in their dealing with an out-group will emphasise their own group's interests in a very obviously biased - and to our modern eyes, deeply "hypocritical" manner, imho. "It's all right for us to steal cattle, but it's bad when others do it", is essentially a moral code to many groups worldwide, historically (and also presently, but that's another topic).

I will agree that the Storm people are less squeamish about being open about this, and perhaps due to Umath setting the example of the action-oriented, heroic disturber of order, is more open for things to get shook up, but they also have traditions and laws (such as they are).

Anyway, this is a bit of a pointless quibble - I think it fair to say that Orlanthi society is probably more used to low-intensity violence and endemic warfare than say, Dara Happa or Seshnela, but then so is probably Prax too. With no central authorities in place, and with a less heavily stratified society, people are more used to carry the threat of violence - retributional or preventational - with them in their daily lives. Whether this translates to whatever our individual understandings of the word "bully" means is... I mean, take a pick.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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4 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Whether this translates to whatever our individual understandings of the word "bully" means is... I mean, take a pick.

Ok - my definition of a bully is that of the guy or gal who perceives those not strong enough to resist them as victims he or she can exploit to their breaking point, and who gathers a bunch of only slightly weaker like-minded thugs to support that stance. What follows is at least two out of extortion, overt violence and a process of social annihilation of the victims until they face unexpectedly hurtful resistance.

In Orlanthi society inside of a kinship group these activities are closely monitored and restricted. Outside of the kinship group, everything goes.

2 minutes ago, Jeff said:

I don't think the Orlanthi as a general rule are any more bullying than anyone else. They are an "honour culture" which means they place a high value on behaving in accordance with a martial code, but I think you are just as likely to find a "bully" in Nochet or Glamour as Boldhome. 

No argument about that.

Nochet is shock full of Orlanthi, as the Esrolian culture is just a variant of the Orlanthi or Theyalan one, with Orlanth still the most frequent male cult even without the Heortling population of the Sarli district. The other main warrior tradition, Kimantor, has as much a tendency to loom and intimidate with its Darkness tradition. And every larger urban center attracts or creates the dredges of society.

Glamour doesn't really have a native culture. It started as a population of zealots and opportunists following the reborn Red Emperor to his new, magical city, and then it attracted dissidents against the local powers from all over the Empire in order to gain some political and magical support at the imperial court, balanced by the envoys of those in power (who may have plotted to replace their cousins or siblings ruling their places). Power games and intrigue permeate the city of Glamour, which means that of course you will find bullies there.

The nature of Dara Happan patriarchy is based on a similar principle, agreed. The inheritance of disowned and brutalized horse warlords returning to their neighbors of old in a most dejected state after losing their world order, and now desperately adopting their chieftainhood as an ersatz imperial wisdom before emerging at an opportune moment when an outside force provided an unexpectedly strong resistance to their regime of terror. The Carmanian bull shahs that preceded the Red Emperor were storm bullies, and left their impression, too. Alkoth of the Shadzorings was the epitome of bullying. So was Daxdarius.

Gloranthans aren't racist. They are fiercely tribalist, even the "We All Are Us" Lunars. Gloranthan civilization soars when the definition of "us" is expansive, and it collapses when it becomes exclusive. The Orlanthi (at least the Heortlings) have a weird anti-cyclical pattern in this throughout the three ages of History, becoming exclusive about two or three centuries early and being swallowed by the new kid on the block, only to resurge at the end of that power's cycle.

 

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12 hours ago, TerryTee said:

Seems like stuff that can be healed with battle magic (spirit Heal as we play RQ3) often will not lead to wergild.

As for compensation for an injury from a honour perspective, I'm uncertain. My first thought is at demanding payment for a (low cost) healable injury may seem whiny and cause the injured party to loose face even more. But of course,  circumstances will vary widely.  

I don't think so. If you break my arm and it gets healed, you've still demonstrated that I'm not good at defending myself. The thing that deters violence in a society like this (one without a strong central authority that enforces the law) is the threat of violence vengeance. So if you've shown that I'm weak or cowardly, others are going to start aggressing against me because they think they can. So even if the physical injury is healed, the moral/reputational injury remains and I need to demand compensation (or inflict a reciprocal injury) in order to discourage others from aggressing toward me. Not demanding compensation is the thing that will harm my reputation. 

The absence of a law-enforcement mechanism changes cultural expectations in ways that modern Westerners have a lot of trouble wrapping their heads around. In the Icelandic sagas, men who ignore injuries without demanding compensation are subject to ridicule. If you want to see how this works, read the short tale "Thorstein the Staff-Struck" Almost everything that happens in the story is about reputation and communal goading of two men who really don't want to fight each other. Bjarni doesn't want to fight Thorstein because Thorstein is a much better warrior and Bjarni doesn't want to be responsible for Thorstein's invalid father, while Thorstein doesn't want to fight Bjarni because Bjarni is way more important politically (and killing him will create a host of new problems for Thorstein). Despite this, the community basically forces them to fight by ridiculing both of them until violence occurs. The duel at the end is bizarre until you realize that they are both looking for a way out of the violence, because if either one gets killed, the survivor has new problems on his hands. 

"Violence is always an option" means that once violence has started, a violent response is culturally expected. "There is always another way" means that there is an alternative way to resolve the problem, but ignoring the offense is not that way (unless you're a Chalanan). 

Edited by Bohemond
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The important thing to remember is why you pay wergild – you do it because because you want to avoid having violent trouble with someone. It's a way to "pay them off". If you're a successful War Clan, you likely just don't pay – what are they going to do, fight you? That's what you're already doing! If the opposing clan is too weak or too far away to be a problem, there's little need to pay wergild – those guys aren't a problem! Of course, things change when there's a superior power doing the judgement – when your clan and another clan settle things, it's just negotiation, but when the Prince of Sartar says "this is my judgement, abide by it or else", the situation changes a lot.

All of this means that wergild isn't a fixed and static thing – when your very powerful neighbours say "Borkal besmirched our clan's honour, pay up or else", you may just have to pay them regardless of whether this seems fair. Relationships of power are nine-tenths of the law. Because violence is always an option. 

Edited by Akhôrahil
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