Musings on Humakt

From: Chris Brown <>
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 12:30:01 +0100

Here are a few of my rambling thoughts on Humakti and their place in society.

This is my first posting here so be kind :) all IMG and YGMV of course.

Firstly I must say that I do not believe all Humakti *completely* sever their ties with their kin. There is much variation in the degree of severance from individual to individual and clan to clan but IMG an orlanthi all will perform some form of severance upon initiation (even if the less serious still pop home now and then to visit their mum). More dedicated humakti will undergo complete severance perhaps leaving the clan, perhaps just moving to a new lodge, possibly changing name.
I dont think they are regarded as being dead however, Humakt wasn't (was he?) but who they were prior to initiation may be.

So what do they now do these severed men, bereft of the most important connections for an Orlanthi.
I don't really believe that the cult of humakt as an organisation exists to take them in. Sartar & orlanthi in general are too fractious to support such an entity. Given the relative rarity of Humakti it would not be very prevalent and in any case they never struck me as being very chummy. I see Humakti coming together to train and to fight but that's it . Mercenary company yes, Major temple somewhere ok, a large pan-sartar surrogate family is somewhat unlikely.

So Joe Humakti severs himself from his kin what does he do. He has several options

Join a warband, the most popular option I imagine. If his clan/chief can support another housecarl then he could swear himself to that honourable profession. Legally I think this would make the clan and specifically the clan chief (his 'Father'?) responsible for his actions and for supporting him legal.

He could also join the warband of the Tribal King who no doubt maintains a somewhat larger band.
Whether such a band is the Kings in person or more responsible to the 'office' I suspect varies somewhat from tribe to tribe. Humakti would be popular choices for filling out the ranks of the tribal warband as they are severed from their kin so are more likely to be neutral in tribal politic matters plus without kin they will be happier moving with the king.

Of coarse Joe could leave his clan/tribe for a different one entirely. Swearing to another clan/tribe far from your kin would not be something most Orlanthi would do but Humakti don't have kin. Plus importantly another clan may be wary of accepting some wandering stranger into their midst. Who knows why he is wandering about far from home, probably outlawed for some crime and will bring dishonour (and potentially expensive legal trouble) to the clan he joins. But with a Humakti willing to swear to you on the other hand you know what you are getting (probably)

The same applies to mercenaries.
Clans may hire fighters for short term situations (the next raid on those perfidious Black Oaks) especially if they are shorthanded. But would you trust your life to a man who fights for coin rather than honour! At least if he is Humakti you can trust his word and know he is there for the fight. I suspect that a large number (maybe an orlanthi all) of the mercenaries in sartar are Humakti.
A lot of humakti who leave their clan may work as mercenaries till they wish to settle down somewhat and find a clan to take them in.

Most of these swords for hire will wander alone or in very small groups. There are several reasons for this.

First who's going to hire a large warband. Even in wartorn Dragon Pass most clans are not going to be able to hire large warbands. Tribes might but I doubt there are enough inter tribal wars going on to keep large bands in continual employment. In the past the King of Sartar may have hired them but again only if he was expecting trouble. (or they might have joined the household of death, they cant all have been kin of the king can they?)

Second, especially now the luners are in control, large roaming bands of mercenaries will be frowned upon. Worse would be large bands being built up in one place. Who knows what trouble they might cause or be put to.

Legally I think if they are in a mercenary company then the company takes the place of kin with the captain or whatever as father figure. Individual Humakti are on their own and so somewhat vulnerable to legal shenanigans. But no one in their right mind is going to mess with one lightly, ok you can call lots of kin etc to back you up legally but you don't want them swearing dire oaths by humakt and demanding trial by combat, they may just get it. And if it is thought that you treated them dishonourably then they (or their friends) may be back to obtain justice in a more sharp and pointed manner. They may have to move on to avoid your kin bringing them to justice but you will be in front of a more final judge by this point. Hope someone speaks for you there.
If mercenaries are hired then I suspect that the hirer is responsible for/to them.

Speaking of mercenaries does anyone have any info on the Scots-Norse Gallowglas (?) from the western isles (of Scotland) who fought as mercenaries in Ireland. Chain hauberks, big axes and a fearsome reputation. Generaly hired out by the clan and if 2 clans who traditional hated each other turned up on opposing sides of a battle then carnage was guaranteed!
It just occurred to me that it they may be a good source for ideas on how mercenary groups operate in a tribal society.

Chris Brown

Chris Brown
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End of The Glorantha Digest V8 #83

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