Death and other Bad Deals

From: Andrew Larsen <>
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000 18:31:53 -0500

> From: "John Hughes" <>
> Subject: Re: Humakti

    Just as I thought. One person says yes to my Humakti questions, the other says no.

    Overall, I liked the systematic nature of your response, although it seems rather extreme. Idon't think that Humakti severence is the same thing as being legally dead. That opens up all sorts of problems. For example, what's to stop a Humakti from committing crimes? If someone is legally dead, how can they be prosecuted for something? How can a dead man pay wergild? And if death is as important to Humakti as you say it is, why don't they go all the way and commit ritual suicide?

> How do humakti act? Again there's a range of interpretation, from the
> 2-dimension 'kill everything that moves' slicer and dicer to the 'prepare
> yourself to die properly, and understand the gift'

    In what way is death a gift in Sartarite culture? One might make that argument in a culture that views the afterlife as a paradise, but is the Sartarite afterlife really that much better than the present life?


>> 1) Are Humakti legally related to anyone?

> They're *severed*. Not only that they're *dead*. We've held his funeral,
> we've burned his effigy and personal effects. He doesn't speak at the moot,
> though the elders will certainly listen to him beforehand. He isn't
> encouraged to have anything to do with planting or herding, and its major
> bad ju ju for him to ever sit at the same hearth as a pregnant woman. He and
> the other humakti have their own small lodge to the west of the stead
> hearths. Broddi was married once, but divorce was automatic on his *death*.
> The trauma associated with his being called by humakt - his wounds, his
> madness, his screams in the night - would probably have been enough to
> bring about a divorce anyway.

    Again, this seems too extreme for my tastes, but you certainly do a good job of applying your approach to all elements of society.  

> Broddi's only kin now are his kaylings, his cult-brothers and sisters.
> The cult acts as a bloodline for purposes of law cases and weregild. Yes you
> can take humakti to court, but you think *very carefully* about doing so.

    I like this idea of the cult being the new kin for Humakti, but it doesn't really work within your system. If the person is dead to everyone else, why is he alive to other Humakti? Presumably Humakti would have more interest in treating their fellows as dead, not less.     

> However, to remain within acceptable Heortling society (and the cult does,
> just) it *must* be accountable. If a humakti kills stupidly or wantonly, she
> will be called to account.

    Within the legal framework of Sartarite society, how do you hold a dead person legally responsible for anything? It's a nice theory, but I just can't see a legal system accepting this as a principle. It creates too many problems.

>> 2) Can they inherit property from a relative?

> He's dead and severed. No.
>> Can they will property to
>> a relative?  My thought is that they can if they make formal arrangements,
>> but that they are not considered default heirs or to have default heirs in
>> the absence of any formal arrangement.

> Yip, and this was carried out when he *died*, i.e. when he was claimed by
> Humakt. All kin are now *former* kin.

    How does he keep any property when he dies? If he's dead, what kind of property rights could he possibly have? I suppose he could undergo a ritual burial which involves his grave goods being dedicated to him, but how can he lay legal claim to anything acquired afterwards? And how would he be taxed? I'm sure that many governments might like the idea of taxing the dead, but it creates enormous problems.

    On to Julian's responses:

> From: Julian Lord <>
> Subject: Re: Humakti
> Andrew Larsen :

>> 1) Are Humakti legally related to anyone?

> A wife or child of a Humakti remains kin even IF their husband
> or father has severed himself from his bloodline, IMO

    This seems to violate previous statements that Humakti cut themselves off from family ties. Why would Humakti make exceptions for their immediatel family? One major point of death is that it respects no relationships at all.

> Also note that a Humakti could join another clan/bloodline even after
> having performed the ritual (most probably through marriage).
> And he could start his own bloodline/clan.

    How can you have a bloodline of people who aren't related to each other? Like John, you're being consistent, but it still seems to violate what has already been published. And doesn't the cult discourage its members from marrying or having children?

>> Can they will property to a relative?

> Of course, if they have one. And to a non-relative, even though such
> arrangements would be much frowned upon (unless to King, Hero Band,
> Clan, or the like), and might not be executed or considered legal.

    If they are severed, they aren't legally related anymore, so it ought to be the same thing as willing something to a total stranger. It would have to be specifically arranged, with no assumption of inheritance rights.

>> 3) Let's say that Joe Humakti and Bill Orlanthi are brothers.  Bill is
>> killed in a dispute by John Uroxi.  Is Joe obligated to avenge Bill by
>> starting a blood feud?

> There is no such *obligation* anyway, except in some of the more
> bloodthirsty War Clans, Hero Bands, Criminal Rings, etc... IMO

    In a system that acknowledges blood feuds, there is very much an obligation for a member of a family to avenge the murder of a relative. That obligation is what makes blood feud work as a deterrant system. If I know that your brothers are obligated to avenge your murder, I'll think twice about killing you. On the other hand, if I think that maybe they will and maybe they won't, there isn't much of a deterrant.

> However, Joe would have the legal right to start such a blood feud only
> if Bill hadn't severed himself from his kin. If he had, then Bill now belongs
> to Humakt, as he himself wanted to...

>> Likewise, if Bill kills John's brother, can
>> John kill Joe to get vengence?

> John can do what he likes in any case.

    Laying aside the fact that John's a Uroxi, who tend to act as they please, John only has a legal right to kill Joe if Joe's relationship to Bill is legally recognized. Otherwise it's murder. Again, on the functionality level, the system works (so far as it does) because I am a legal target for vengence from your relatives when my brother Peter kills you. Granted, your brothers will get more satisfaction killing Peter, but I'm a valid target if Peter leaves town. Therefore, I'm going to pay some attention to Peter and make sure he doesn't kill you, especially if I know he's got something against you.  

> But, if Bill had Severed himself from Joe, killing Joe for something Bill did
> would be murder. John might do it anyway ...

    That's my whole point.

> And John could even be unaware that any ritual Severance ever occured,
> and might make an honest mistake.

    Presumably there is an Orlanthi saga that deals with exactly this tragedy.  

> Even so, Joe and Bill's sister Mary Vingan would be perfectly entitled to
> start her own blood feud against John, and Bill might involve himself too,
> for good measure.
> Starting blood feuds against the brothers of fanatic Humakti Death
> Lords is probably a bad idea. All Orlanthi tend to forget about the letter of
> the Law when their brothers are murdered, even IF the murderer's an Uroxi
> berserker like John...

    But if the Humakti is Severed, he doesn't really have any brothers. Granted they might be inclined to avenge him, but presumably he takes his Severence seriously and won't track down his brothers' killers.

> From: Alex Ferguson <>
> Subject: Re: Mostali Paper

>>> Supporting evidence:  "Bad Deal".
>> I don't follow you.  What is this a reference to?

> Dwarf settlement of that name, and an Openhandist one, to boot. I think
> the best description is Elder Secrets, which expresses very much that
> sentiment. (It's also been mentioned in this very thread.)

> From: "Nick Brooke" <>
> Subject: Bad Deal

> "Bad Deal" is the name of the openhandist dwarf trading town in the Nidan
> Mountains. Even when the dwarfs think they're being generous and openhanded,
> it looks like a bad deal to everyone else. Source: Genertela Book.

    Many thanks.

Andrew E. Larsen

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