Re: Bestiality in Prax?

From: Chris Lemens <chrislemens_at_vuNg4G-Qrc9TfDF7dVdrsUoEILxujSrD0NUUa59NxwqFs24vZDFZiewHejRzdSN_>
Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2012 18:10:20 -0000

Sorry about the messed up formatting of the last post. Here's readable repost.

Andrew asks:  

> I keep running into the question of whether humans and morokanth can interbred.

I think not.  

> My thinking on this is that yes, they can. Waha's Survival Contest established two
> broad categories, people (those who eat meat) and herd beasts (those who are eaten
> as meat). Since the morokanth fall into the category of people/meat eaters (they are
> fully sentient, they worship Waha and Eiritha, etc), it seems to make sense that if a
> morokanth copulates with a human, the act would be considered 'normal sex' rather
> than bestiality, whereas a human or morokanth copulating with a gern would qualify
> as bestiality.

This set of categorizations is certainly an important magical one, but it just defines Morocanth as people vs. animal. Dwarves, elves, dragonnewts, trolls, and newtlings are people too, but it is still improper to have sex with them and you can't produce children with them. (Pavis, of course, proves that outlander perversion backed with defiling magic has consequences.) Likewise, you wouldn't try to mate your bison with a high llama and expect anything to come from it on the basis that they are both eaten in the covenant.

Andrew later points out that the tribes generally don't mingle with each other in any case. This is certainly true. Praxians generally mate and raise children only within their own tribes. There are exceptions. There are some children among the sun domers and the Oasis folk. But I would say that all the peoples of Prax have very strong and differing notions of beauty that dramatically reinforce in-group mating patterns through sexual selection. That is, a nomad's bastard among the Oasis folk is unlikely to have children with anyone because they just don't look right to either group. Without this, there's just no way to explain why there aren't pygmies born to Bison women, from interbreeding with impala men. And that would really mess up my mental images of the tribes as looking very different.

> The Storm Khan of the Block is the husband of the High Priestess of Eiritha at the Paps,
> and in the early 16th century, the High Priestess is a morokanth. Given the importance
> of fertility rituals to the Praxians, it seems likely that these two copulate at some point
> (in other words, it's not just a simple ceremony, but on some level a genuine union).

I don't think this is a genuine union. As Oliver notes, perhaps they use stand-ins. And perhaps Prax is less fertile when you they do so. But I think it is simply not necessary. The holders of these offices are usually genuinely married long before. Their official marriages are typically ritual.  

> And given the magical ecology of Glorantha, it seems to me that a human/morokanth
> union would be fertile (although the offspring might or might not be).

Better evidence would be the Elstorana who was the "daughter of Waha" had sons who were khans in each of the tribes, including the morocanth. But that's so long ago, and the Praxians' memory of and access to their own mythology has been so badly damaged, that I don't take that literally.

> Given that culturally taboo actions in Glorantha often lead to chaos, and given the powerful
> importance that Praxians attach to the distinction between people and herd animals, this
> suggests that for Praxians, bestiality might be considered a chaotic act, something that gives
> rise to broo or its own special form of chaos. Perhaps there is a chaotic spirit associated with
> bestiality, the way that Urain is associated with kinslaying among the Sartarites.

Broos are associated with Thed, protectress of goats or chaos herds or something, and with rape. Way back before time, no one knew the difference between people and animals. Unless something happened since then that defines bestiality as especially bad, I would not connect it with chaos. The covenant defines categories of eater and eaten. A beast that eats eaten or eater is polluted. (So, not adding bison into the bison feed, like modern ranchers do for cattle, sheep, and pigs. Think mad cow disease as the likely outcome.) A person that eats a person is likewise polluted.

> On a related note, some time ago, there was a debate about the chaoticness of cannibalism
> and whether it produces ogres. If I remember the debate correctly, the general conclusion
> tended to be no. But I think, given the powerful importance of the eater/eaten distinction
> for Praxians, that in Prax cannibalism might be understood as chaos, because it collapses the
> fundamental distinction established by Waha to enable survival (the same way that
> Urain/kinslaying collapses the social bonds necessary to prevent violence among Sartarites).

There is some value to this approach, but I'd be guided by MGF. I'd certainly let the players think that one bite of human meat turns you into an ogre. But if that's so, then you definitely want rumors of Morocanth ogres. ("They only pretend to turn people into gern, you know.")  

> But what about the Cannibal Cult, which commits cannibalism but is not 'objectively' chaotic?
> I think that perhaps normal Praxians (that is, non-cannibal cultists) consider the Cannibals
> chaotic. Or perhaps the Cannibal Cultists heroquested to establish their practices as
> sanctioned by Waha and therefore not chaotic (I seem to remember something about them
> claiming that Waha had allowed their rituals, so perhaps they have a myth/quest for it).

I think there is a different story about the cannibal cult. I think they are a pre-Waha group. They do not act contrary to the covenant. They never took part in the covenant, so would not be bound by it. My thought is that they are the ultimate expression of the hunter cult that Foundchild personally led up until the time he disappears. When Waha appeared, from their perspective, they simply didn't join up with the losers who were unable to feed themselves. They stuck to their true, traditional ways. Waha was the weird innovator.

Oliver asks if they might be sin eaters. I don't think so. I think they are simply such awesome hunters that they can hunt anything. I think that they do eat wild animals and herd animals, too. It's just that people are also on the menu and they like variety.


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