Re: Re: tribes and clans in Tarsh

From: Greg Stafford <Greg_at_...>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 16:44:34 -0800

I would like to help channelize this discussion. There is a lot of right information here and I'll offer a quick synopsis from my pov to help identify some truths in these things before they are issues.

At 12:41 PM 1/19/2001 +1300, you wrote:
> The Tarshites are Heortling Orlanthi (even if they are overlaid with
Alakoring traditions) and so would retain the Heortling clan traditions. Yes this is true, as long as we can say "Heortling-like" clan traditions. Please understand tall the clans are different in ways that are apparent to them (and to the story) but are invisible in game stat terms.

>Hence Tarshite clans are Sartarite clans.
Some are still very much like the typical clan. Those in the lowlands have been changed by the king making laws that have, in effect, altered the system.
The urban populations have different centers of collective power. Many clans have been simply destroyed or entirely enslaved, some in their ancestral lands and others shipped off to nowhere.

>As for the importance of the tribes, the Lunar replacement of
>the tribal kings with nobility complicates the picture immensely.
The central kingship managed to make the Orlanthi-style kings become appointed positions, even using DH legal terms.

>One could say that the tribe is really the Kingdom as a whole
>as is the case in Lankst and Aggar, and was in Tarsh before
>Yarandros's time.

That was essentially the High King model, comparable to Sartar.

The kingship is a DH type, heavily Lunarized. They don't even use the word king, probably something like khorz.

>>I think you're downplaying the Alakoring ancestry way too much.
>I'm only parroting what Jeff Richard corrected me upon a
>week or so ago. Even if Alakoring was the greatest hero since
>the inventor of sliced bread, I doubt that he would have
>tampered with the clan to the same degree as he did with the
>tribes without it being somewhere noted, Thunder Rebels

Alakoring didn't change the clan structure, just enhanced the tribal one.

>>Now would that be the traditional Heortling patrilineal clan, the
>>traditional Heortling matrilineal clan, or the traditional Heortling
>>cognatic descent clan?

All such delightful variants as john offers to us are legitimate, as far as it is useful to play with them, if you wish to do so in your game. It suits the Gloranthan paradigm to a T because it will delight us all into the Nysaloran realm of uncertainty.
Let us be aware that such a path is for its own sake and most importantly: for your story.
Such variance and color being noted, I do support the Report on the he Orlanthi.

>John, the philosophy on clans that I am using comes from the
>report on the Orlanthi.
> "Orlanth had the first clan. We will have clans, like Orlanth".
> -Heort's Laws.
> The clan is the basic operative social unit. Smaller units,
> whether bloodlines or households, and larger units, whether
> tribes or Kingdoms, all come and go. But the clan is
> steadfast. It may prosper or diminish, but it does not change
> its requirements or definition.
> King of Sartar p250.

>Guided by this, I wrote up the "Who should I trust? Who should
>I distrust?" section (Glorantha: Intro p147) as being a statement
>applicable to Orlanthi in general. Had I known that (or somebody
>had told me) that clans were not universal among the Orlanthi,
>then I would not described the clan as prominently as I did.

We do have to know "what everyone knows." Something like the clan system exists in Orlanthi lands, even though it may be later altered by local conditions (becoming Aeolians, for instance, or serf-like Tarshite lowlanders.)

>>The other big factor is trade and the wide circulation of coinage. If Tarsh
>>is the richest kingdom in the Empire, and has long-established trade routes,
>>then it's a society that is quite comfortable with the use of money and
>>abstract wealth, and with relationships of trust and mutual profit that are
>>*not* based on kinship.
>Which contradicts the examples of the Lunar Empire and many real
>world nations that do organize themselves by clans based on kinship
>(fictive or otherwise)?

Everyone belongs to something. An essential reality of Glorantha is that people are naturally members of a larger community of some sort. The clan system is one, and it is the essential system for the Dragon Pass area and way farther north (into Saird). [Beyond that are places where the Darkness population was largely converted to be Orlanthi by the Lighbringers in the Dawn Age. They'd have had different kinship systems, but they are far out of the region covered in this discussion. Mine anyway.]

>>Money kills clans, as I noted in an earlier post.
>If it kills clans, then why not families, tribes or cities? Also
>the very nature of the wereguild implies understanding of money
>and value in Sartar.
>>Out of interest, whence your figure of Tarsh population as 90% rural?
>Standard pre-industrial demographics. Look at KoS p234 for a
>gloranthan document quoting this fact.

Blame me for this. It always my default number for agricultural areas. It is based on:
too much detail study about carrying capacity ad nauseam, opposed by
what would make a good setting to raise thousands of armed warriors for the burning and sacking of cities,
settled by the simplicity of decimal system.

Greg Stafford
Issaries, Inc. 900 Murmansk St., Suite 5; Oakland, CA 94607 Phone: (510) 452 1648 Fax: (510) 302 0385 Publisher of Hero Wars, Roleplaying in Glorantha See our site at: <>

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