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[TSOY] Return to Oran

Started by oliof, November 30, 2007, 03:32:04 PM

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What follows is a back translation of my current vision of Oran, inspired by Clinton and Eero elsewhere on this forum. Onno Tasler helped a lot with making this Oran, so he gets additional credit

Oran is one of the lost colonies of Maldor, where many folks settled that needed more space than the crowded citadels of the mainland could offer. The Settlements in the steppes were smaller and more roomy, and the architecture less monumental as in core Maldor. The colonists with the strongest urge for freedom merged with the horse clans of the steppes, who made the wildest and strongest horses their trusty companions. Even at that time, more women stayed in the cities and cared for children and trade, while more men went out in the steppes to live among horses or buffalos. This divide was not by force, and both tasks were held in high esteem.

When the Sky Fire endangered Near, the Oranids were the first to seek shelter in the hills at the outskirts of the roof of the world, which are riddled with cave, while the horse clans withdrew into the deep canyons of the mountains. Because of the natural protection, the Oranids were the first who could return to their old way of life and rebuild their society. But one generation was enough to turn old habits into a complex network of customs and beliefs. While life before was divided between the sexes for convenience, now an almost religios fervor built a nigh-impenetrable wall between woman and man.

Now women are matrons of the cities, while men roam and reign the steppes. No man enters a city unbidden, and no woman would dream of  going country-side without a male companion. But this short description is misleading, since the laws of the Oranids describe the divide in greater detail. With a strict separation like this, no culture could survive for a generation; a lot of little laws describe what is city - female domain - and what is steppe - male domain. Apart of that, there are borders, like the twilight between night and day. Here, both sexes can enter freely without transgression the habits of Oran. One example are graveyards; else women couldn't ride on the great winged horse to the great plains beyond Near. Children are exempt from all these rules, since they haven't been initiated to womanhood or manhood yet. The same is true for visitors from other cultures that have not partaken in the initiation rites of Oran. They are free to ignore the many rules and laws for grown-ups, but on the down side, they aren't always taken seriously by the initiated Oranids, which can lead to complications during trade negotiations or on diplomatic missions, if no oranid adcovate is leading the outsider's talks.

Oranid society not only divides the space of living, but almost all other matters of daily life by "female" or "mail" providence (and "children" providence), for example types of musical instruments, tools, colors, and so on.

Some oranid scholars see parallels between this trinity and the philosophy of three corner magic, where female is a night aspect, male a day aspect and children are the twilight. In this interpretation, day and night are not seen as good and evil, and while there are a number of interesting parallels, this model ist not without fault, of course.

The Matrons of Oran

Orans cities and towns are run by the matrons, which are the family heads of the clans and families. They decide on commercial and family matters and lead the discussions when there are conflicts between clans. If there is a dispute about water rights, land or herds of horses or buffalos, their task is to come to a conclusion without bloodshed. Often, such disputes are settled by contests where proxies for each clan vie for victory. The most popular contests are horse races, and often they take on the form of great festivals, where women and men intermingle freely. It's usual that the members of other clans place high bets on the outcome of these contests, and thus men have lost whole herds and women risked valuable passages.

The Horse Lords

Most oranid men live near or with the animals whom they adore more than most other things in the world. Men have romantic relationships with the women of the cities, but that is more an art form and not too important for daily life (see below). It is said that a true Oranid sleeps better on horse back than under a stone roof, and another proverb says oranid men are only dead when you manage to cut him from his saddle.



In centuries, the oranids have bred superb riding horses that are known for their elegance, speed and endurance in all of Near. There are also rumors that some oranids can talk to their horses and share their strength. Another prominent skill of the Oranids is their skill with bows and srrows. One other classic contest to settle a clan dispute about watering holes is shooting at a dozen targets from horseback on a full gallop. Most often, such a contest is lost if the shooter misses one of the targets.

The cities are mainly fed through mixed farming, while the horse clans hunt buffalos and antilopes. Once a month there is a fair where the horse lords trade animals for tools, metal objects and food. Most of these fairs take place at trading posts near the cities. The tradesmasters often are old men who don't feel like wandering around with the herds anymore, but can't stand to stay in the cities either.

Pillars and Lovesongs
Architecture is the defining art form in the oranid cities, and the matrons show their generousness for the plain folk in donated public buildings, but adorn their cities with pillared domes as well. The cities' wells are crowned with lovely statues and sculptures. Here you see life-like representations of horses and riders, but also mythical creatures like the winged horse which carries all Oranids to the afterlife. The cities near the roof of the world, most of which have ore mines, also sport intricate  ironworks.

The horse lords are known for their long sagas and nigh-endless love poems, which they write in lonesome nights and dedicate to their beloved ones.

Traditions and Beliefs

The oranid culture is formed by the traditions that took on extreme forms during the time of shadows. All aspects of life are conducted according to the proverbs of the ancient matrons, which are interpreted by their spiritual daughters. The division by sex is one defining factor, and men and women can only meet under certain circumstances or at certain places. When they turn fourteen, the kids are initiated, and most important for becoming a woman or man is knowing all the tules. For instance, women choose men to share their bed for the first time, after all, a man may not enter a house without being invited first. Similarily, taverns are open to both sexes, but you cannot expect much privacy there. Secret love affairs often take place on graveyards, and this is called "visiting the great uncle" or "visiting the great aunt".



Oranid men spend a lot of time with their herds on the steppes, and during this time, sexual relationships between men or between women are common. The oranids claim that true love is possible only in relationships with at least one woman, and a sexual relationship is only for the satisfaction of bodily needs if between men, with no romance involved. For outsiders, this is even stranger, as children can choose to become a man or woman regardless of their biological sex during initiation. In Oran, they are seen as members of their chosen sex, and all rules apply for them accordingly.

Religion in Oran is mainly defined by following the rules and laws of society. Follow them, and you are a good person. Who doesn't follow them learns quickly what it means to be an outcast who isn't protected by the laws of the matrons and the horse lords.

In the steppes, some clans follow the old nature-based spiritualism of the clans, who see living spirits in all things living. This is not as refined as the spirit belief of the Qek, but they believe all living beings have a soul to honor.

Other species in Oran

In the cities, only few members of the other species reside. Now and then, the bigger cities suffer from ratkin infestations, but those are fought restlessly. The Goblins of Oran live in small packs on the steppes and seldom show civilized behavior, but there is at least one pack that lives with a herd of wild ponies. Elves are a rare sight, even in the cities, but stories tell of an oranid citadel in the outskirts of the roots of the world which is lead by an elfin matron with an iron fist. This is also the area where you get most of the stories about the barbarians enslaving elves beyond the mountains.

Eero Tuovinen

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Thanks. Please note that this also includes instant amazons.

Eero Tuovinen


I never detailed Oran in the Finnish version too much, mainly because it was the flagship "minor culture" for my wanderer rules and I didn't want to spell out anything much about them. This is all good, though, and easily mined for my own games.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Oh, I am missing keys and abilities for Oran at the time, as well as the obligatory intro fiction.

I have the following secrets:

Secret of the Love Song (for a given woman)

Characters with this secret may refresh instinct instead of reason when they recite  love poems dedicated to their loved one to an audience.

Secret of Animal Companionship (a certain animal)

Some of the horse lords seem to meld with their animals, as if they were but one being. Characters with this Secret get a bonus die for all ability checks that are connected to their animal.

Secret of the Silken Tongue

Oran women are known for the destructive power of their words. They can cause harm in vigor through diplomacy/sway checks.



I know a long time ago I promised you some crunchiness from my homebrew version of Oran. I certainly don't want to hijack a thread which is uniquely yours and really quite good, but if you'd like, I can post some of that stuff here. Eero called for some crunchy stuff, and I have a smattering of Abilities and Secrets, and probably a Key or two, which might dovetail nicely with your ideas.

If you're comfortable with it, I'll include it here. Otherwise, I'll start a seperate thread. Let me know, either way. I just don't want to intrude on your ideas without getting the thumbs-up first.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)