Skip to main content

Chigan: Society


Chigan is a large and extensively subdivided region, so despite a number of shared ideas and practices, individual realms host a great deal of cultural diversity. Chigan societies are relatively “flat” with regard to social classes. Though people range from street beggars to royalty, and some families command greater wealth and power or better reputation than others, there are no formal, much less inheritable, class or caste differences. The ruling classes hold their position on the strength of their wealth and collective personal influence, not by holding titles. So while it may be difficult, it is certainly possible for one to start out destitute and become fabulously powerful. To put it another way, there is status, but status is not by itself inheritable and the range of status levels is fairly small.

There are a few exceptions connected to particular offices and professions. In some of the more stable monarchies, the ruler is regarded as semi-divine and must be protected from the profane and impure. This usually means that the ruler, despite having considerable theoretical authority, is a semi-prisoner in a royal palace and must rule through a palace bureaucracy which holds the real power.

The sexes can’t be called equal, strictly speaking, but they do have some kind of parity. Many Chigan societies are matrilineal and matrilocal. That is, one reckons descent through a line of mothers and grandmothers, and when a couple marries, the man usually moves in with his wife’s family. When a family outgrows its residential compound and some members of the household must move into a new dwelling (typically sisters in younger generations along with their spouses and children), it is generally thought of as the house of the most senior woman in the group. Professions may be reserved for one sex or another, or at least exhibit a strong gender bias. For example, in one valley, men are expected to be farmers while women are merchants or craft professionals, while in another women control banking but men control trade, and in yet another doctors are male while scholars are female, and so on. The specifics, though, vary widely from realm to realm. Foreigners violating those norms are regarded as odd or a little crazy, but are excused on the grounds of being ignorant barbarians who don’t know any better, and widows and widowers are accounted free of any such restrictions. Most warriors are male, but there is an active tradition of woman warriors as well. A monarch is as likely to be a king as a queen; in the vicious game of Chigan politics, winning is what matters most. Monasteries are usually single-sex and the few which aren’t have strictly segregated facilities. However, men and women are equally likely to become monks, and both will have no trouble finding a monastery to take them.

Chigan societies recognize a complex scheme of life stages, ascribing proper activities and relationships to each. Generally speaking, infants are treated very indulgently, but those old enough to walk and speak become subject to strict discipline and, often, demanding education. By mid-adolescence, young people should be marriage prospects, though most spend four or five years “on the market” before marriages are arranged for them. Adolescents and younger adults take on more responsibilities within the family and whatever enterprises it carries on (and young adults are expected to start having children as soon as they’re married), but only when they approach middle age do they generally take on oversight of the family and its business. At an advanced age, people are expected to go into partial retirement, spending more time in virtue-building activities and advising people of late middle age or younger.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dungeon Fantasy RPG PDFs to Backers!

It is, at long last, out! Sort of! PDFs of the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game have been released to Kickstarter backers. I don't think it'll be generally available until next month, but since it's in the wild in at least a limited way, I feel I can talk about this a bit more like a customer than someone involved in the project.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG is a complete fantasy tabletop roleplaying game. It's based on GURPS 4th edition rules, but it's a stand-alone game, requiring no other books, or even prior knowledge of GURPS. I've already made some general comments elsewhere (I got an advanced peek for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I was called on to write some follow-up material coming out later). I'll expand on that here.

For those unfamiliar with GURPS, it's a point-buy system rather than randomly rolled, class-and-level, or life path, and pretty much everything in play boils down to "try to roll a target number or less o…

The Occasional Dungeon: Overview

In order to get some more GURPS out there and play with some maps, I started toying with something. I've worked up a large map ("ground level" is below; I may need to poke around with image hosting to keep enough maps at the proper scales) of a dungeon complex. From time to time, I'll post magnified excerpts from the map with details in GURPS terms, with specific reference to Dungeon Fantasy (that is, mostly stocked with things from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables and the Dungeon Fantasy Monsters volumes, but occasional pointers elsewhere). They may prove useful to somebody somewhere under some odd set of circumstances.


This dungeon is set in a fairly steep, rocky hill. The natural caves underneath it have long been home to a variety of creatures, natural and otherwise, but pretty much all horrible. There's also a large natural cavern accessible through a very large opening at the top of the hill where the surface caved in. It has been home to a number …

Silk Road Miscellaneous Comments

GURPS Hot Spots: The Silk Road is, at long last, out, after languishing for some months behind the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game. There's a more substantial bit on this forthcoming, but I've got some other thoughts that didn't make it into that, so...


The Silk Road is something of a departure from previous Hot Spots volumes. Instead of a single city, it covers a large, more vaguely defined, and much more culturally diverse region. In the pitch I sent to SJ Games, I described it as being more like GURPS Conan than any of the previous Hot Spots. It's more about trends and areas than specific people and events. And I think that actually makes it a much better setting for setting adventures. It's more of a sandbox (indeed, the Taklamakan desert is one of the world's biggest sandboxes) where the GM is relieved of the weight of specific historical events. And the specific nature of this region and its time make it easy for anybody from that time (or, at least, any …