Orlanthi warrior priest chiefs, not godi

From: s.lucek@ic.ac.uk
Date: Thu 30 Jan 1997 - 19:21:14 EET


Orlanthi warrior priest chiefs, not godi
                                         

Re: David Dunham
                 
> Orlanthi culture survived because it is *flexible*.
I quite agree.

> And to some extent, it *hasn't* survived.
Yup, but down and not out.

Re: Joerg Baumgartner
                      
> Priests don't adventure, they warp the wind, call clouds to ensure rain,
> teach spells (teaching one adventurer a spell costs the priest a full day to
> recover that Spellteaching spell

In the real world, violent cultures (or ones in danger) breed priests for war
(I probably should add a usually or often here). The Vikings culture (on the
mainland Scandinavia, not Iceland) are one example of strong military war

chiefs who are also priests. Even a religion which preaches pacifism
(Christianity), when threatened produces warrior priests to defend itself
(Pope Leo iv, the Archbishops of York in the War of the Roses, etc.). The
Orlanthi culture in Sartar, in the lead up to the hero wars, has been geared
for war, responding to invasion from the north for some time. Also I think that

there is a lot of inter clan and tribal conflict (like mainland Vikings). Thus
I think that many priests would be primarily war leaders. The advantages of
divine magic in battle / raids are too important for a clan / tribe to miss out

on. So I think you would have quite a few warrior priests. Brave, proven
adventurers might well have many advantages when considered for such a post!

One source of possible confusion is my usage of the word priest. I mean a
general 'rune level' person. So in fact, my 1 rune level per 200 population
might be even more stringent limit than some out there think. It is not just
people who cast namby pamby spells over crops, but the rune lords as well. So 5
rune levels per clan really does seem to be spreading them a bit thin.
Especially if disaster strikes, and a few are cut down!

Why I do not like the idea of godi:
                                   
On mainland Scandinavia, the chiefs, who because of the Viking love of
independence, started off as simply war leaders and had actually reduced
political powers in the hope that they would not dominate too much, gradually,
under external pressures on the tribe (largely the expansion of tribes leading
to conflict), became political leaders as well. The chiefs were also the
priests of the Viking gods.

Iceland was different. One of the oft cited reasons for the colonisation of
Iceland was to escape the oppression of the rising powers of the kings (Harald
Finehair in Norway - so called because he vowed never to wash his hair until
he conquered the whole of Norway, and it was only when he had done so that
everyone realised he actually did have fine hair. A marvelous little story I
think!). On arriving in Iceland there were no real external threats, and so the

system developed there was radically different. The chiefs had greatly reduced
powers, the priest element was removed from them, and given to the godi. Though

there were chiefs, each person could pick and chose which chief would represent
them, and (as far as I can remember) the chiefs had a largely legal role. Later
on this changed, and the chiefs became great leaders of men, but this seems to
occur when the Norwegian crown was trying to force its lordship over Iceland.
Sounds like people uniting under a strong leader to meet an external threat.
(And gross simplification from me. I think it was more like infighting which
lead to the consolidation of power in a few hands (the advantages of strong
leadership in times of trouble), which created more rivalries. In this mess the
King of Norway had the opportunity to step in.)

In Glorantha, I envisage that the 'rune levels' are the leaders of the clan /
tribe. They are (usually) the chiefs and elders. The society orders itself
along the lines of the pantheon. As rulership is modelled on the gods, so it
seems natural to me that the rulers are infact the direct representatives of
the gods, i.e. rune levels. Godi conjures the Icelandic tradition. The Godi
represented the gods, but were removed from political leadership. Perhaps I am
just ignorant, and godi (the singular for godi is something else isn't it?
Goda? Or is that a cheese? Is this the real reason I do not like the word?) was
a name used through-out Viking culture, and not only in Iceland.

> One tribal wapentake/folkmoot per year at most
                                                
Tribes are fairly small, a few thousands. I cannot remember area of the tribes
in any of the maps (anyway the scale varies on all maps published! The map

from the RQiii trollpack agree in scale with King of Sartar (KOS) if you
substitute miles for km!) Some years ago I did some work with population
figures, and the map scales in KOS seemed (if I remember correctly) to be
believable. One tribal moot per year, which was the Icelandic tradition, seems
o.k. if the tribe is spread over a vast area, like the whole of Iceland, but
for such small areas of Sartar tribes, where everyone is within a day or so
travel, means that it is quite plausible for tribes to meet more often. As
well as the big Thing once a year, Iceland was split into four smaller regions,

each region meeting more often (4 times a year? But I cannot really remember
how often).

Tribal cults
             
I was deliberately over emphasising my point (trying to be contentious, to get
maximum response). I think that the 'rune levels' will have a lose network
across the whole tribe. Individuals will group together (as much for friendship
as anything else), and 'rune levels' of different clans might group together.
These groupings would help offset the problem of 'rune levels' being spread too
thinly (there is not a large enough selection of divine magic) within the clan.

There is still lots of scope however for lots of inter clan or family
feuds, indeed with lots of coalitions, there is perhaps more scope for
intrigue! As a last word, I think the exact nature of the cult (clan v's tribe)
will vary very much, from one region, or even tribe, to another. It is just
everyone seems to emphasise clan cults, whereas a tribal network has advantages
but seems overlooked.

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