cult commitments (from stormsteads)

From: bethexton <bethexton_at_...>
Date: Wed, 03 Apr 2002 18:42:14 -0000

I brought this over here since it seemed the more appropriate list for this discussion

>Peter Larsen wrote:
>>At 12:02 PM -0500 4/3/02, Michael Schwartz wrote:
>>>Jeff Kyer wrote:
>>>As others have said, the religious 'obligations'
>>>INCLUDE your job if its applicable. What's so
>>>hard about that? ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>>And what if it is *not* applicable, Jeff? If time requirements are
>>to be introduced in any fashion, there need to be some *distinct*
>>differentiations between religious, social and occupational time
>>requirements. I would have thought *that* was obvious. Duh...

>I'm still perplexed by this argument, and I don't feel that
>Greg's response on the Hero Wars list has helped all that much. I
>find it really difficult to imagine our Barntar devotee taking 30%
>his produce and shipping it off to the Barntar temple, especially
>when there can't be more than one or so Barntar temples in all of
>Sartar. I can imagine that some of that extra produce is expended in
>religious ceremonies -- the first grain of the harvest is surely
>sacrificed to Barntar, whether by being baked into a special bread
>and eaten, burned, scattered to the winds, or whatever. However, a
>Provider Devotee should be a blessing to the community; they will
>give back more than they consume.
>As for a Dar initiate/devotee, what duties do you see that
>are not applicable? Dar is leadership; by leading the clan (or
>tribe), the initiate/devotee is expressing Dar. I'm sure there are
>some additional duties, but these must be tied in with leading --
>acting as Orlanth the Leader in ceremonies and quests, probably
>filling the role as Generic Orlanth in most clan-wide ceremonies and
>quests, making special personal sacrifices. They may take away from
>time considering the specific future of the clan/tribe, but they do
>enhance leadership as a whole. It's not like there is a temple of
>somewhere where the chiefs and kings send x% of their cash....

Here is somewhat how I viewed it. A Barntar initiate spends ten percent of his time and resources supporting the storm tribe. This is attending the major ceremonies, and providing sacrifices and support for the god-talkers. Note that large parts of the sacrifices are actually consumed or used--when you sacrifice a cow, the gods feast on the entrails and bones, the clan on the organs and meat. If you weren't supporting god-talkers this way, you'd be paying taxes to do so.

Another 20% of time and resources goes into being a Barntar initiate. A lot of this will have to do with doing as Barntar does, specifically clearing and ploughing fields, and probably harvesting too. Since Barntar is the great ploughman, his initiates probably take a leading role in these activities, and this would be part of his cult commitments. Even if he became a thane and didn't have to farm his own fields any more, he'd have to be out in the fields most of planting and harvest time, and betwixt as well, doing Barntar type things. Also, he has to put resources into procuring and maintaining oxen, procuring and maintaining a plough or ploughs, providing ale to the people during planting and harvest, persuading others to help clear rocks out of the field, and so on. Some portion of time and resources will also be actual prayer to Barntar, sacrifices specifically to Barntar and so on, but I suspect that prayer services to Barntar might also serve as lessons on ploughing to the youth, that sacrifices might be old ploughs or oxen that needed to be replaced anyway, and so on.

Note that much of the commited time and resources specifically to Barntar are things that a farmer who earns his living from his fields would be doing anyway. Now, if ends up having to make his living some other way, he still has to keep up these commitments, even thought they don't help him as much.

Now with a devotee this goes to another level. He probably spends all of Sea Season ploughing as much of the clans lands as possible. When he has an extra calf, he considers if he can use it to improve the clan's ploughs or teams. He's effectively obsessed with the activity. He'll also be learning Barntar's secrets, probably preparing to quest to bring back treasures or secrets from the other side, and so on. However he has very little time left over to take care of the store houses, deal with the milk cows, hunt down the rabbits that destroying the vegetable garden, or many of the other activities that a farmer needs to perform. So if he is in a supportive stead, he takes over more of the ploughing related activities, to everyone's benefit since he's an expert, and he probably brings in magical blessings, but he relies on kin for some of the other necessities. If he's wealthy, it will be expressed not in a huge herd or many arm rings, it will be in the plough team of the finest oxen anyone has seen, a plough with a blade made by a master smith, perhaps many plough teams so more fields can be tended, etc.

Of course, if the poor devotee is in a clan that has all of their oxen slaughtered and most of them turn to hunting to survive, the devotee doesn't have much choice, he still must put most of what he has into ploughing the fields, even if he has to pull the plough himself (and a few great Barntari heroes have probably managed to do this!).

In short, the way I see it, the time and resource commitments of being either an initiate or devotee are not onerous, if your chosen profession matches your religious calling. However when this doesn't match up, or if your god is not one who makes a commitment that the clan values, then it can get to be a problem. Since many heroes want to spend much of their time out on adventure, and their resources on improving their ability to succeed on adventures, the issue will arise and annoy players. So running a Barntari hero becomes difficult (beyond the limited ability of his magic to help in adventurous situations) This is where it is easier if you run a "one adventure a season" sort of campaign rather than a continuous time sort of campaign.

All this is how I view it. I make no claim that it is anything like right, cannon, or how any other moderately sane person would interpret it.


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