Worldbuilding Social Dynamics – marriage, tribes, classes and castes

Worldbuilding Social Dynamics – marriage, tribes, classes and castes


Welcome, guys! Welcome, welcome, welcome!
This is our first ever World Anvil worldbuilding Theme of the Month live stream,
so we’re super hyped here we have Guy Sclanders with us today! I’m
gonna be introducing him properly in just a minute!
We have Dimitris and, of course, I’m here! The noisy one! and we are gonna be going
live every week at this time, 8 o’clock on a Sunday GMT, and we’re gonna have
interviews, we’re going to have discussions and round tables like we’re
gonna have today, and that’s all gonna be on the worldbuilding theme of the month. Now this month our theme, and that’s for the whole of January 2019, is social dynamics in worldbuilding, so that’s obviously a pretty serious topic, that’s pretty wide and
that could mean a lot of things. But today we’re going to approach it via
social anthropology, specifically relating to kinship, how different people
understand relationships and of course, how those relationships lead to a wider
social and cultural grouping within your world. So that’s a lot of serious stuff!
Let’s take a break for a minute and talk to our guest, the incredible Guy Sclanders. Just to introduce him quickly because he is too modest to say all of
this himself, he is originally from South Africa, he is an award-winning tabletop
role-playing game GM, and he’s also – if he looks familiar –
he is the face of the incredible worldbuilding… Sorry! the incredible
role-playing channel How to be a Great GM on YouTube. So if you haven’t checked
that out yet absolutely go and check it out! Guy how are you doing?
I’m great, thank you! How are you doing, Janet?
I am very good! I’m very hyped it’s slightly
nervous, so let’s see what happens! [laugher] So it’s pretty early there for you isn’t it?
Yeah 5:00 a.m. 5:00 a.m.
But that’s fantastic! When we’re talking role-playing it doesn’t matter what time of day it is
it’s always good I love that attitude! And, Dimitri how are you doing?
I am doing quite well! I’m trying to get the plague away with a lot of tea!
So okay more tea for that man! excellent so let’s dive straight into
this because I have so many things that I want to ask Guy!
Yeah, social dynamics what’s your first sort of impression of this
topic? That it’s a very heavy topic to talk
about! You know and… and I think that they’re the
thing with social donors when you look at and what does that mean there’s more
to it than just what are the what are social dynamics I think you have to look
at the how is it gonna work in your world, and why should you care about it
in the first place. So I think that that’s important is to bear that in mind,
and say well, you know, there’s there’s many anthropologists out there who have
written on social dynamics and how big a tribe should be, and when it is
no longer a tribe and you know, there’s theories as to scale bringing about
certain things… and – and then when you tie that back to fantasy or to science
fiction you start to realize well, hang on a moment – there’s a lot of space where
we have encounters with peoples with races and things, where this information
can actually be quite useful in terms of shaping how those people respond to our
heroes, our characters invading their their social space if you like… So lots
to talk about. Yeah, absolutely! I thought we could start with the
smallest kinship group because that’s a great place to start when you’re talking
about social dynamic units so I thought we could start start with marriage and
extending that to dynasties and how family groups work in different worlds.
So have you seen any interactions [sound effect] I have apparently lost the ability to talk … have
you seen any interesting examples of that in in fiction or maybe in real life? I don’t think we need to go much further than real life because the it’s almost
stranger than fiction! When you look at at marriage specifically, I just – off the
top of my head there are three major marriage points which I think create
some very interesting role-playing opportunities and the two of them are
from South Africa and one of them is from from the UK. The UK one the very first one is and and it was misrepresented and all that kind
of stuff but with the marriage rights… there was that horrid law that the
English used to use against the Scots “prima nocta” which was the Lord was
allowed to sleep with a bride just before her wedding day regardless of
whom she was which I think if you.. I mean,, imagine if you have your hero and
it’s they their big day and the next minute the Lord arrives and says “well, I’m
taking your your bride-to-be to to… to have my way with her,” I think that that on
its own sets up all kinds of stories and… It’s a really interesting story! You know, I never heard about that! It was a very strange custom that was brought in to do dominance really I
think over the people to say well you have to submit even in one of the most
sort of sacred moments, you- you have to submit. You couple that with something
like what happens so you take that extreme where you’ve got the, the
oppressor kind of forcing their social norms or their social control
mechanisms if you like on a small population of people, switch it around,
and you go to the Zulu people in South Africa. Their system is polygamous –
one chief, many wives. The trick there was that the in order that it was a wealth
or is a wealth system rather than anything else it’s not necessarily about
true love and that sort of thing although it is maintained that the
man who’s marrying six wives or twelve wives loves each of them specially and
just has more room for more love… that’s the the romantic side of it. The
practical side of it is each wife has to be paid for – there’s a term called “la
bola” and “lavalla” is where the the husband-to-be pays the bride’s family
a significant amount of cattle or whatever the currency might be, in
exchange for the bride. So like a dowry? Like a dowry, yes, correct. So if you have
lots of wives, it means you must be exceptionally wealthy because you’ve
been able to basically… not buy, but you’ve been able to pay for a lot of
wives and like… Also it’s worth mentioning there – sorry to jump in – but
it’s worth mentioning that you also you have enough money to maintain those wives and to
feed them, and to feed any progeny that might come from them, which means your familiy is large so you must be wealthy. Absolutely, absolutely… and what was interesting there was a
chief who was he was a either he was Irish or he was from the UK… he moved out
to South Africa, he moved into the Zulu culture. If you like he became a chief
and he had a hundred and twenty three children to give… That’s a lot of babies! That’s a lot of loving going on that’s not tribal that’s making your own your own dynasty rather then
that real making your own dynasty – so you have that and then, on the flipside… and
there were these German settlers who moved out to South Africa to do forestry
and they were 200 kilometres so what’s about a hundred miles from any
civilization whatsoever. Usually it was groups of twelve men or so who would go
out to to establish these logging camps because there was very good quality
yellow wood in in South Africa in this particular stretch superior and they
would write a letter home to Germany saying we’ve established our little camp
base of twelve men. Send wives! and so what the families would do back in
Germany would then be to basically go around saying would anyone like to move
to South Africa it’s lovely weather it’s full of dangerous wildlife it’s a
million miles from nowhere there’s war all the time but it’s great it’s lovely
you get you get a nice log cabin and you get good food you get yes you you
you get a nice tan and but the woman used to do it because they realized that
these men were out there and they were putting themselves out to – to better
society I suppose – so what would happen is twelve woman would be selected, put on
a ship, sail for three months down to South Africa, get off of the ship, be met
by one man from the the logging camp who would take them on a specially designed
wagon and the wagon had… had… it was an open-topped four wheeled wagon and the
sides were designed to allow them one to sit on the sides of the wagon looking
outwards okay as the wagon arrives at the logging camp the twelve loggers
would form lines on either side of the wagon track and as the wagon was wheeled into the logging camp they’d walk up to the wagon and they’d pick a wife off of
the seat and that was the entirety of the marriage ceremony. You were now
married for life and you go well, thats… [laughs] And people say we don’t need feminism… You have to say though, German efficiency! on its prime right ? Absolutely and and I
think what makes that story a little bit more romantic is that those families
that were established it was an 1860s 1870s… those families are still in that
region and the lineage is still there from those original original unions but,
divorce was not an option because if you got divorced you had a hundred mile walk
through extremely dangerous territory back than there is town so yeah anyway
so those are three I thought very different looks at the marriage space
from a social perspective and it if you apply those two narratives in any shape
or form it creates these moments of really? Is is is that it I have one more
for you if you like it’s one that I had… This was one that came from the
Amazon and it was particularly used in small tribes where
the the tribe wanted to avoid jealousy but because they’re so insula so
isolated from anybody else there any way that you would meet another tribe would
be by accident there were no giant moots of all of the Amazon tribes coming here
as one might might sort of think or as has been posited in films and things… No hope for the gene pool…
Right right so what they would do to avoid jealousy was at
the end of every year your marriage contract basically was zeroed, all the
women gathered in the center of the village and all of the men had to choose
a new wife so you cycled out so if this year you didn’t get the one that you
wanted you just wait until next year and hopefully you’d then get the wife that
you wanted but you only had her for a year. I think this was true as well you
didn’t get the husband you wanted one you had to stick it out for a year and
then you could you could sort of swap out and and try and get somebody else
and that idea is is I think to our modern sensibilities yeah well that’s
interesting but imagine now if you have that and you
apply that to elves and it’s not every year but it’s every hundred years the
elves now say well we’ve been together for a hundred years we know each other
we’ve we’ve had enough time so now we sort of get together and we cycle
ardently we’ve married somebody else and if you have that sort of ceremony in the
background or it’s something that’s taking place I think that could be quite
an interesting interesting add to your will and it’s literally just by looking
at the different ceremonies across the planet that we as humans do
in general signify something much bigger than just a ceremony yeah ceremonies are
effectively what happens after years or centuries of cultural cultural growth in
a society and they signify effectively what this culture puts weight on
importance to and I think that is something that you know it cannot be
overstated enough like – if you are in a first environment you normally think
that ceremony will be much simpler but in fact it becomes something so
important that becomes much more complex and much
more intricate effectively because they need to signify the importance of what
is happening at this point… Sorry, Guy, go ahead! I was gonna say that if you look at
at modern-day Western thinking that whole idea of the the two income family
or at least the one income family and the wife being at home doing all the
cooking and cleaning and raising the children all that sort of thing that
that you could argue was necessary a long time ago just from a safety
perspective and and and that sort of thing. I mean it doesn’t matter who stays
at home that I don’t think makes the difference but nowadays you look and you
go well you can be on your own and survive and and live a happy life
and raise children… You don’t need those those rigid social pressures anymore so
I think that’s that’s an interesting way of looking at how these dynamics work
here in Japan the dynamic works very differently which I read necessarily go
into but and it’s because of cultural pressure keeping it that way rather than
what individuals want yeah absolutely there’s a lot of interesting things to
be considered well as well in terms of like who is allowed to have children who
is supposed to have children and who are is not allowed to have children because
of course today we think that having children is a right and a basic human
rights and that’s fine but that is not true in all societies and that is not
true all the way throughout history. So that could also be a big source of
conflict in your world if you have a character who desperately wants to have
a child and is not allowed to or a chair it’s character who has to have a child
and does not want to which um is actually still an issue today for a lot
of people again because of social pressure and and all sorts of other
things that’s definitely something that you can put into your world building
it’s a it’s a very easy thing at its concept but it’s something that will
bleed out very widely throughout all of your social dynamic structures
essentially. Right absolutely and I mean when you when you look at children as a
a component if you if you examine elves I mean I go back to elves because
traditionally elves are long-lived creatures I don’t know of hand of any
literature where elves are not long-lived Terry Pratchett’s elves live
forever in their little elvish dimension Tolkein’s elves live until they they take a
boat ride somewhere generally speaking elves live for a very long
time… It’s in the blueprint! It’s in the, kind of it’s in the blueprint yeah
unless you change that which is absolutely fine but then you need to
establish it upfront… So with elves we’re the age of maturity is 115 years give or
take as is sort of working of Dungeons and Dragons, you go, well then does that mean
that the reproductive cycle is only every hundred and fifteen hundred years
or so because traditionally that’s what happens… you you you you you you have
these these cycles of reproduction and when we look at at tribes, again I go
back to South Africa and we have the Khoisan who are a semi-nomadic nomadic
now but there are hunter-gatherer tribe of people who were relatively untouched
by modern civilization and they’re… the wives that went well the women and the
men have no choice they can’t give birth I mean it’s tragic but they can’t so…
anyway so the women can give birth, but the shape of their bodies is slightly
different because… and their cycles are different as well, they can only really
give birth every two years… and that’s just enough time span for the first
child to be able to walk and be weaned yet and be weaned so that then the
second one can come into into play… but also the shape of their hips has changed
slightly as well it’s it’s a wider hip and in in again, in sort of the
Victorian era it was seen as a strange curiosity where you had these these
woman who had very large hips very heart-shaped hips as opposed to the
European woman at the time who were wearing whalebone corsets to try and
achieve the same sort of thing and the reason for it is because you can quite
literally hold child on those hips a lot easier when
you are walking significant distances every single day should happen so
children have a huge huge impact on on your evolution and and going back to the
elves if an Elvish woman only has to reproduce once every hundred years what
does that mean in terms of of the cultural norm again does it become this
amazing ceremony and and for that I think one of the greatest long-running
explorations of that in social history are the Vulcans from Star Trek and and
so you look at how they handle Pon Fa… is this incredibly personal thing they
don’t share it with other Vulcans because it’s so extreme that if you
don’t know what pon farr is if you’re not a big Trekkie fan like like clearly
we are yeah what it means is that the Vulcans only ever mate once every seven
years traditionally they’re supposed to mate with their spouse whom they only
have one of and and they basically get together for as long as this very
serious process but if they don’t mate if they don’t manage to get to their
partner and have their intimate connection and and park that thought
just put a pin in there we’re going to come back to something about intimate
connections but if they don’t they become these wild savage animals only
bloodless yeah bloodlust and the killing of something is is able to release that
yeah and so the show throughout all all of these iterations in perpetuity has
always dealt with how do these people deal with that now what’s interesting
about Star Trek is that it really is a tribal show it’s about a group of twelve
Shore in the background there’s 300 600 extras that are supposed to be
but they really are bland NPCs they’re very seldom developed it’s a cool little
group of 12 officers or 10 officers that we look at so it’s a classic example of
how you take these social doughnuts you turn them on their head and you say well
what if you can only have sex once every 7 years or what if you you have to have
three wives and each wife has their own husband plus your husband because that’s
also something that Star Trek looked at with dr. Fluxx
was these more complicated models which could theoretically exist and which
we’re starting to see you know with polyamory and that sort of thing in
today’s society becoming more of a scene we’re seeing how we as humans are also
trying out different combos of tribe building if you like so I think that’s I
think it’s quite interesting to see that so so coming back to that pin what I
like is when you are creating a world when you’re creating an environment and
you’re bringing in rituals and you’re bringing traditions and things with the
the Vulcans for example there are many things that the Vulcans do there’s the
live long and prosper symbol which as everybody knows was invented by no more
because he needed a way to say goodbye to Kirk in one of the episodes and so
he’s just at that because other people couldn’t do it so it was a bit of a jibe
at them but they took it further so in in the film the search for Spock Spock
is going through the pon farr in a much shorter timeframe because of science or
Star Trek magic if you like and alien and exactly right
and what they did was they came up with a calming ritual that was used during
the pon farr which then was used for the rest of the series and it was very I
thought it was a beautiful little moment in the film because it felt so human it
felt so real and that was the the actors I’ve got hard fingers but the actors
would would sort of stroke their fingers up and down and up and down and around
on the ears making use of Vulcan physiology and life
but by adding that ritual in it made it feel as if it was something that was
real that existed and wasn’t just lip service oh here’s a cultural thing
sexier in seven years and then that’s it there was it was developed was fresh now
with a few little details not not homes and homes in terms of
stuff just enough to to give us a sense that
it was real a sense that these things were happening in the background and
that they were part of a bigger culture and I really appreciate I think that’s
something that you touch a lot guy as well in your videos when it comes to how
far you should expand in this kind of things and as you are saying for your
camping videos it’s better to when you create a culture or you create
essentially a tradition touch on the things that people will see more about
this culture and you don’t have to expand and write everything about it
like live long and prosper pon Fahr definitely the idea of as a species they
used to be Unger aggressive and now they trying to you know become more
essentially intelligent and more serene as people this is enough to effectively
give bro a broad brushstroke essentially on a culture that you can expand if you
need to any people want to Sicily play the character or anything like that I’m
guessing completely correct rather give don’t give too little because then it’s
not enough to pique someone’s interest just give just enough and that’s always
the art it’s just how much do you give for people to go oh that’s interesting I
want to know more and that’s where you want your audience you want your
audience to always been saying I want to know more rather than oh god would you
please stop really admitted you know Tolkien was was was a great author and
and and and yeah a lot of the rings of courses and hobbitses completely changed
how I look at fiction but he did overdo it on the songs I have never read all of
the songs in the Lord of the Rings back to back I say yes okay it’s a song fine
moving on twelve pages let out god it’s another song I love the human that
somebody he has given us at some point ago Tommy
who actually talked him into the gold anvil so his books would be more about
the story and less about the gold I obviously I referred to Tolkien as
patient zero of well build of weld builders disease in my youtube videos he
absolutely is and I have some very uncomplimentary things to say about Tom
Bombadil singing just drives me berserk and actually one of the things I wanted
to say which is is sort of related to that is that when you are deciding these
these cultural quirks whatever they might be it’s worth taking a minute to
consider how you’re going to show them so you don’t have to tell them and that
goes back to show Dotel you don’t want to give somebody an article which is
like the cultural anthropologists guide to your Snorks or your smells or
whatever you’ve created what you want to do is come up with a couple of really
like concise tells which will or rather concise shows if I’m going to go with my
own terminology which will give your players or your readers or whoever is
using your world’s a hint of that that they can then explore rather than
shoving in a primer in their face essentially absolutely and I think
something not to to to labor the point but when you’re saying show don’t tell
it’s use one of the five senses don’t tell exactly you know whether it’s
sagebrush that gets burnt in front of the bridal groom or as it rose petals is
it bits of rice that a thrown rather than bits of polystyrene for
environmental reasons as confetti you know whatever it is if you engage one of
the senses it makes and you engage it for some kind of bizarre reason when you
look at traditions I mean that’s a whole different video altogether just to see
where those came up from you’re like well some of these things just don’t
make any sense at all and at all so yeah absolutely there’s one other thing I
want to touch on and I realize we have been talking about Mario’s identities
for quite a while already and that is that depending on the life length and
the childhood length of your species that’s going to affect the parent-child
relationship because a child that grows up in two and a half years
gobbling kids for example I don’t know but I would imagine they are going to
have less of a maternal or paternal bond than a child who’s been in the care of
their parents for 125 years as elves are I can see that 125 years being a very
long time if you have a difficult elf teenager I know that was five years of
trauma a hundred years I think by the end I’m surprised that elves aren’t
actually all psychotic cannibalistic Marauders of death yes
maybe he may be under something I mean that’s why everyone loves loads take
Ratched I mean he was he was brilliant from that from that perspective of
making commentary on social stuff yeah and if you look at goblins you take it a
step further and you say well mum and dad are probably or fighting or at least
dad is there’s a sense Magic the Gathering had the Goblin matriarch and
the goblin matron who were women who were assigned specifically to look after
the Goblin kids whilst everyone else was out and about doing goblin esque type of
things as well like we’ve seen these chains happening during the Second World
War like this is the reason that we see people that are like the suffragettes
coming up because if we’ve them in our earth war somebody has to have you know
things happen and run the country sensibly and that is the women yeah
correct great I mean yeah in the 1912 movement and and and it wouldn’t
necessarily gone very far if there wasn’t as he said World War one which
said well there’s no one to work factories so woman you have to you have
to step up and and and do that you know there was a there was a another thing to
think about with regards to children anyway is that there are some species
that lay eggs how do they look after their young do they look after the young
so they just lay the egg and they leave and there’s so many different natural
ways of looking after one’s children when I say natural ways I mean you have
the seahorse where it’s the male who tends the children they get ball
the COS male looks after them and there’s others where the eggs are laid
and they just left to their own devices and and that you look at ad implications
there above social creatures have been taken out of their space as well and the
imprint that they have it does make some interesting interesting decisions from
you as the world builder of you know we often talk about dragon eggs get stolen
away but dragons are intelligent creatures and they’re social creatures
generally speaking do they imprint and take on human characteristics which
would be interesting or do they maintain that sort of trakone Ian sense is there
a longing for that and and we have seen that it played out many times in fantasy
and science fiction where the individual has been removed from their space raised
by others and then there’s a longing to go back to try and find their origins
and then there’s either a joyous reunion or they realize that it’s so culturally
different to what they expected it to be that it’s actually not for them and they
go back to their family so yeah I mean you can pick any aspect of the nuclear
unit and pack it and look at it and go well that that’s interesting that makes
more sense I mean the Spartan approach to raising children men you know boys
were taken off and looked after by men girls were looked after by women and it
wasn’t necessarily the parents are responsible for different different way
of looking at it completely sure no absolutely and as you say there is
there’s so much in there that you can unpack and that you can start to UM
start to try to vary in your world and then consider the impact of that how
that’s going to bleed out on to other things and how that’s going to bleed out
into society in a wider sense so let’s move beyond the family unit and talk
about um what is technically called fictive kin so this is like blood
brothers godparents these kinds of relationships where you’re not a blood
relation but you there is a there is a formal relationship between you and you
are away family right right right yeah and I
think that the blood-brother approach is more something that we can use in in
fantasy and in fiction then perhaps godparents hmm yeah and the only reason
for it is that if you look at the origin of godparents the the idea that well if
mummy and daddy died these people are gonna look after you
why mommy and daddy likes his eye well because it’s you know when the
institution came into being I’m not entirely sure but I think it was
somewhere around the 17 or sixteen hundred’s when you had play going on so
he had all these orphans running around well hang on a moment let’s bring in
this this concept that there are these divinely appointed alternatives should
the main should the main leave you look at then you go yes okay that’s that’s
that’s one way that the society dealt with orphans and and and the like again
I go back to looking at South Africa and in South Africa during the the 90s and
as as we called them but apparently this didn’t go very far around the world we
call them the naughties which was 2000 to 2010 as well yes right
okay so so there we go so anyway you know during that period HIV was ravaging
the country and so your parents the parents of children often just died on
mass so you what happened was you had these kids who were eight nine ten
somewhere around there who had no parents and so siblings had to step in
or the community had to step in to help raise these these kids and that’s a bond
mechanism as well is is you know how does there now affect those children how
does it affect them in terms of their own family structures and things I look
here in Japan at how their approach to raising children works and the issues
that come out of that so when you then look at something like
Blood Brothers or I don’t to say conflict induce things because Blood
Brothers often is not necessarily that it’s just you’ve been with this person
for a very long time and you’ve got a very close also battle brothers and that
kind of battle brothers correct sort of experiential brothers survivor guilt
where all the survivors have got this this this this bond it is something to
explore and I think it’s it’s more interesting to explore as the player in
a game or as a as the main character in the game where they are unpacking these
things and trying to to figure out who do they support and who don’t they
support and then the betrayal that happens around that and I think one of
the the classics of that is Captain America and Bucky you know who they are
effectively bred Blood Brothers I suppose and then there’s the
brainwashing and and all that kind of stuff and Winter Soldier comes in and
then it sort of switches around so that’s an example of taking that and
then running it as a thread in amongst everything else that’s going on I think
that’s the important thing is that you can explore these kinds of social
dynamic relationships you can explore them as a central theme or you can have
them as a secondary theme sort of running in the background supporting or
guiding or punctuating moments within your main story I think absolutely and I
think you mentioned something very important there which is that um social
dynamics as a whole and our relationship to others and again your character’s
relationship to others is a great way to leverage
conflict because um and and again either as part of a main theme or as part of a
side theme it’s a great way to create conflict it’s a great way to spur on
your characters and I know that you yourself have mentioned the fact that
when you create NPCs it’s very important to create NPCs that you’ll your
characters really love they’re really likeable because then when you kill them
off it has a massive impact and again that’s where these kinds of social
relationships come from these interesting because we serve in fact two
types of of kin we have the king is enforced upon you like for example a
godfather or godmother or for example your stepfather and you have the king
who you choose to be bonded with and there are two different really important
dynamics in fact for in general life and was it like from the medieval times you
would see that in different countries and different cultures the all idea the
holiday of the King was quite important because it affected also lineage and you
see in many royal families for example that there is a separation between who
is king and who is blood and who is in fact family but we see also that in so
many cases because this bonds can become really strong and can become really
important that you see people who are keen like for example bastards which are
legitimized or friends or battle brothers which in fact become members of
the family almost like becoming adopted by the family and you see them coming
into the into the tree and growing from the same family family tree and this is
God you create it easily the super structures of large families like the
Hapsburgs or for example like the Tudors and major families which grew and have
royalty royalty coming out of them effectively in specially in Germany for
example absolutely it’s also worth mentioning that on the relationships
that we don’t consider to be family of an art considered family in other
cultures so a great example of this actually is in Greek culture is the comb
borrows I saying that right Dmitry yes that’s correct
yeah so the combine us is the the couples that is like the best man and
the best well then the maid of honor I suppose at your wedding but they are
then bonded to you and they have a responsibility to teach you how to be a
good couple to teach you how to be nice to each other to teach you how to
succeed as a couple and they are then also the god parents of your children
and it is a formal social bond it means something very very specific another
great example of the fact is that um so I am British American and Dimitri is
Greek and we got married and so I have a set of Greek in-laws and Dimitri has a
set of British American adults that’s really easy it by Greek law our in-laws
are now related to each other by English law they are not and so these are also
interesting things to explore when you’re doing a well building what kind
of relationships can you follow lies or D formalize and how do codes of honor
both legal codes of honor and social codes of honor extends to different
members of the family to different degrees so are your fifth cousins bound
to you by honor as your first cousins are for example this is this is all red
leads well building goals because this defines how big the social unit is this
defines how um how extended your code of honor needs to extend so if somebody
kills your fifth cousin do you have to exact vengeance are you allowed to exact
vengeance or is it something that you’re not related to at all right I think the
other question is do you even have such a thing as fifth cousins
right I think that’s one of something that I think it’s all over the West I
stand to be corrected but you can have your fifth cousin once-removed twice
removed thrice removed yeah and you go well hang on how does that work well if
you trace the tree all the way back in the new branch out and you come down
then you go further out that’s how you get twice removed third cousins right
you know who lives a really long time the elves you know it has to be really
good at heraldry the elves absolutely absolutely correct but any long-lived
species needs to needs to do that and and with that goes along the lines of
inheritance and we know that that is a major issue as well sometimes women just
can’t inherit so it doesn’t matter how closely related you are sorry it goes to
the first son or the second son or the third son or the seventh son of the
seventh son is you know always a sorcerer so yeah each of these topics could be a whole
topic on its own in terms luring and deciding and discovering and I think
that when you look at science fiction as a genre oftentimes they will choose one
aspect and then really explore that if you look something like sliders or
Stargate or stock for example they go okay let’s look at a society where
everyone is is related to everybody else and so when you when you attack one
person you’re attacking the entire society how does that work how does that
how does that sort of survive and that’s where you you you when you when you’re
talking that sort of scale you’re looking at well that’s what an ant or
bee colony is you’re not attacking just one end you’re attacking every anyway
jumping ahead so absolutely we are getting to a point where we need to
start taking some questions so before we do that guy any final thoughts on this
topic and the fact that we didn’t get through all the rest of the topic prepared guy a lovely document with all
sorts of aspects that we could talk about like we were going to get on to
talk about social groups and clubs and societies and how you can use my books
let’s have a quick word on that guy what can you tell us about that sure look I
mean society’s social classes castes and all those kinds of things they are they
are there are furthering of societal control oftentimes that’s where it stems
from is how do we control beyond our our group there was a certain anthropologist
who came up with a thing called Dunbar’s number which is the size of you as an
individual how many people can you have that you’re intimate with versus how
many people that you kind of know about versus how many people you you have in
your circles and those numbers often times because I there are a whole lot of
books that you can read if you’re really really keen on looking at anthropology
and and how a lot of these things these things came out there’s a book called
Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond which
is seminal work in terms of anthropological shifting and moving over
the world and where sort of things came from and why certain cultures seem to
dominate and others didn’t and looking at the cultural things but you know they
talk about well your good number is somewhere between twenty and thirty year
you’re sort of close group or and a hundred is your broader group and 300 is
your biggest group I don’t know if that’s completely true anymore because I
think what social media where you have much bigger reach to to connect with
with people and to form pretty good bonds with them anyway so it’s late or
where these numbers but effectively when you start to have giant groups of people
that are no longer vested lis interested in each other
that’s just my neighbor over there I don’t care if they live or die you then
have to start bringing in cultural requirements that the social contract so
I can’t just go and rape my neighbor’s wife because I don’t know them I can’t
do that I have to actually go through the formal bit whatever so that’s where
it starts to get very interesting is what are the rules that started to come
into being to keep those societies functioning and then ultimately track
those societies in the space that they’re in and that require major
upheaval in order to change and that’s a whole different whole different kettle
of fish altogether absolutely and that’s that’s one of the hallmarks or something
like a like fish out of water fantasy or portal fantasy which is that you have
somebody who goes into a social situation where all the social rules are
different and then they have to negotiate that and of course it’s a very
nice way for the learning curve for the reader or for the player as well so to
learn through the eyes of this fish-out-of-water how things operate how
things function um I’d like to take a moment to talk about social excuse yes
we have been a play house this week do we try are both getting over a cold
so apology for the the coughing and bronchial
sounds on this end but yeah so I want to take a moment to talk about social
strata that is castes and classes first of all of course these are these are
very different the one from the other caste is much more about sort of social
pigeonholing and a much more tied to profession and is much more rigid
whereas class or social status is much more tied to birth and wealth and you
can you can climb to a class but you can’t climb through a through a caste so
have you seen interesting interesting models of these either in fiction or in
real life well fiction obviously is is replete
with with these different things and usually when I’m reading whatever I
happen to be reading at the time I’m usually reading a fiction book and a
nonfiction book at the same time so I can kind of go do I want to forget about
my worldly problems and you read the fantasy or do I want to learn about
history because it’s at the time and the caste system when you look at the car
system of India which which is a very easily accessible car system because it
was very rigid it was very entrenched and and is still there till to a large
degree there’s a lot of remnant caste system in place but what was interesting
was when the social experiment was applied to where you took the cast away
what happened and once again I think it’s it’s it’s it’s a testament to to
how complicated South Africa is as a country but that’s where that happened
was in the eighties British Empire was bringing people from India bringing the
cost-based people to saw they ever get to work on on farms and and like but
when they arrived in England in South Africa the cost was was destroyed
literally as they stepped off of the ship the the the caste system was gone
because there was no one from the Indian culture to
to be present and so there we go to guard it so people were stepping off the
boat and realizing oh we can we can abandon our caste we no longer need to
be put into these pigeon holes as you say we can do what we want so so they
change their space they move themselves into the merchant aisle band if you like
so when you look at the surnames which often help dictate where you set the
cost structure the surnames are are almost invariably muddly already a Naidu
or a Singh or a governor and when you look at the phonebook of South Africa
those are the names that are associated with that with that population I mean
it’s how that we’ve got a significant populace it’s the biggest Indian
population outside of India but they abandoned this their caste system and as
a result in between 1875 and 1900 which is when they were sort of bringing all
of these migrants across that population had the highest suicide rate ever
recorded because everything was destroyed there was no car system there
was no religious sort of practices that were really allowed there weren’t a lot
of women or children that were brought over because they the the a whole bunch
of reasons it was take your world rip it away and see what’s left and people just
lost their way they were an excruciatingly ly bad circumstances and
then they had nothing to hold on to so very interesting to see what happens
when the costs and gets taken away which explains also why when in India the
caste system was kind of abundant in fact people continuing following it and
they still do in many locations in the years because yeah it is so engrained
into the culture and so important for them that gives them meaning and gives
essentially for many people the reason to be who they are correct and and a lot
of times you go you know the the the cost system is there because sometimes
as an outsider well that’s a silly system I mean that’s just daft that you
can’t do what you want to do based on your surname or based on your skin
colour or based on your hair colour or as Gattaca that film was with Ethan
pork looked at based on your DNA you couldn’t do certain things because you
weren’t weren’t likely to be qualified so there’s an example of science fiction
exploring the caste system at a level that as as humans we might very well get
to you know looking at at a system from the outside often one has contempt for
it because you haven’t been part of it but once you if you have been part of it
to lose it is sometimes like losing a limb used you just don’t know how to
operate without it you haven’t you haven’t sort of adjusted to it and
interestingly enough the new sci-fi series oval which is III enjoy oval it
for Halloween I’m not gonna get anyway although the show where they arrived on
this planet where people could vote you you could be up voted or down voted
liked or disliked and if you were disliked you were eventually basically
executed if enough people thought that you were a bad person you were simply
executed if enough people thought they were good person you were elevated up
through the ranks and your your car system was based on on how many people
like too much and if you look at social media oftentimes we go well oh my post
got 10,000 likes I must be an influencer though or I must be at this or must be
at that and you go well where are we heading with that when you go to – at
which convention it’s like all those the beach witches because they’ve got
thousands you know so they have this perceived elevated status exactly the
same as a person who has less less we use less likes they just happen to be
more popular anyway so that car systems I think are always going to be there
because we like as as a species to differentiate as Isis we’re also very
well ingrained into the idea of hierarchies I mean we came from a system
of hierarchy there is a leader no matter what this leader is male or female does
really matter but we tend even if we were left all alone
to create those structures and we have many movies that in fact explore the
idea what happens if you live 50 children in the Nile
what’s gonna happen and you know the sociological studies that have happened
in any occasions like the experiment in Germany or any other interesting like
experiments with an interest Rajic a search like that always so hierarchy who
will evolve and will be created even if you know nothing was there to begin with
yeah are you muted Janet thank you pardon thank you it’s worth mentioning
that while societies often fall into hierarchy we also as creators hierarchy
and these kinds of systems are a very convenient way to organize social
structures and also a very convenient way to convey our social structures so
even if they’re not as rigid in our world as we describe them to be it’s a
very easy way of conveying that kind of information and it’s very it’s very
attractive to creators and that’s one of the reasons I think that you see it so
much in well building and so much in fiction of all kinds I would like to
mention briefly that there is a sensitivity issue involved in things
like casts and classes that these are real-life problems that people still
struggle with today as you mentioned with the Indian caste system for example
and that you you never know who is gonna be reading your work you never know who
is going to be playing in your at your table so it’s it’s very good to be very
sensitive with this kind of thing as well that’s that’s just the vital thing
I would say about that I think yeah the the the safest approach if you want to
call it safe I think it’s also the more decent approach personally is that when
I look at cultures from across the world for inspiration it’s never with a this
is this you know there’s what a silly idea it’s always a case of that’s an
interesting idea let’s see why they do that ok that’s why they do that that’s
interesting how can I incorporate it into my space if you go in with an open
mind looking for the curiosity is looking for the reasons behind why these
things exist it’s a I think you have less prejudice than going out while it’s
just a silly old old-fashioned idea no it’s an idea that as you say is still
viable it’s still valuable too all personally invested by a lot of
people so rather just say that’s interesting how can I take that how can
I unpack that how can I incorporate that I don’t necessarily agree with it I
don’t necessarily disagree with it I actually have no personal involvement
I’m using it to create a space and being respectful of it as well fantastic now
we do need to stop some questions for some questions and we’ve got some great
ones I don’t think we’ll be able to cover all of them but I will be doing
questions in week 4 of January as well so that’s again Sunday 8:00 o’clock GMT
I’ll be running a stream specifically for questions so keep them coming in
let’s start with the bourgeoisie Punk who asks what are your thoughts on
plants societies like a divergence or the Maze Runner etc where new cultures
are created or formed intentionally like small groups of people instead of
develop over time well I think they’re more a function of necessity than
anything else and when you when you look at at divergent divergent is a wonderful
example it’s very similar to Harry Potter you have your houses your clients
call them call them watch will online gaming when I used to do it when we used
to game using pidgin it was a lot of fun because you belong to a clan and you had
your clan tags which were very prim they are still prevalent to this day where
you have these these societies sort of things happening so I’m not sure exactly
what the question was though with that I did I miss his no so what do you think
about them they say well I think about them I think I think that when you when
you introduce anything into your into your world or world whatever the case
might be introducing the clan idea in the case of the Maze Runner it was it
was to show that there is an alternative so it was being used as a tool to say
alright here’s a band of people they’ve got together this is what they’re doing
this is what’s going to move them forward when you look at divergent and
convergent and ex-virgin whatever the last one was
it was about saying okay so you got these different costs you’re these
different these different clans as you say and then of course you’ve got that
the people who transcend those and in divergent I mean the interesting thing
was the family members went to different houses and I quite like that because it
set out some interesting options in terms of what they work against each
other would they work with each other Yunis another classic example of
different houses so so it’s it’s something’s definitely used and I think
there’s so much to explore especially the small units Lord of the Flies
Goulding’s work is a good example of clans forming in an isolated system and
the different styles that result in in conflicts absolutely and I think that
one of the important things to consider this is if it’s manufactured or if it’s
left to develop by itself that’s an important concept
I think the stressors on society and the stresses on the society that you’re
dealing with are also an important concept so what are the conflict points
are they in a safe location are they in a dangerous location that’s going to
affect how the groups form but based on the priorities of surviving in the
culture that that exists only thing in fact that in terms of constructed or
plant societies something very interesting to explore all of which is
why they came to be I mean when you have to essentially reboot the society
something quite tragic happened and some decisions weren’t made because of
specific reasons like you don’t say okay let’s recreate the world and let’s do it
like that because you know I woke up one day it was like that the mask you’ve
been reasons for the event is a very good example for example why separate in
these houses why separate in this car through guai the structures are
different why do you need different people in different locations and also
in divergent we also saw the factors guys had very very well is that they
separated families which easily means that they almost on purpose wanted to
destroy that very fundamental construct of the family which is needed
effectively in terms of growing kids and making them Cecily making them more
important to go into their divergent classes and
the original facility rolls effectively and when you look at that if you if you
if you try and unpack why would you try and break up the family unit because I
think globally the mentality is your family unit is is very important and
people lament the fact that families are no longer these traditional models if
you look at what happens when you take away the family and you raise the
children in an institution or in a clan based space what you’re effectively
doing is you’re removing individuality because the family unit might say you
must wear a dress of this length when you go out clubbing or however it might
be you have a free space to rebel and sneak out the window wearing a long
dress and the punishment it might be slightly severe but it’s family so it’s
still going to be couched with that within that space hopefully of love once
you’re in an institution or however and you are just a number that individuality
gets gets suppressed heavily because you you you just can’t you buck the system
you get put in isolation you get re educated and you get shipped back out
again so it did create some interesting spaces when you try and take these
things apart and look at what they could possibly influence individuals
absolutely well we have had quite a talk there I’m afraid we don’t have time for
any more questions now as I say we will look at those in week four so make sure
you tune in week four to get your questions answered um I would like to
thank guy who has been just a fount of inspiration today thank you so much for
being with us today sorry Dimitra you were saying some time we’ll just think
thank you as well it was amazing really it’s been such a pleasure and Wow all I
can say is that South Africa seems like such a rich cultural place
it really is I mean there’s so many different cultures that came together
and that are still there and and evolving and changing learning how to
work together so it does give you a very interesting look into a very big world
problems in a very small space absolutely
well that is all from us today Janet yes I would like to let the people
know that we will be making a podcast out of this and there will be an Emmy a
and a ma as well so your questions are not lost we’ll keep them all of them and
we will make announcements for the next streams and Janet will be going through
the questions with you and we might have guy to see some again soon enough on for
the show right yeah absolutely if you if you’ll have me back I know I tend to
talk too much say all right well if you want more tips from guy if you want more
information and more inspiration make sure you check out his youtube channel
which is gonna go get posted in the chat right now or if you are a GM or a
budding GM and you want to learn about how to complete how to create epic
campaigns then you need to check out his book the complete guide to epic
campaigns I have to say I I did some of the editing on this book it is a
stunningly good it is such a good route and I am NOT a GM I am a writer and I
found it incredibly inspiring for writing and for creating scenarios for
that as well so really there is something for everyone in there if
you’re a well builder if you like creating settings and you like creating
plots that is the book for you go check it out you can get the hard copy or you
can find it on Drive Thru RPG and the links for that should be coming into the
chat as well just before we go we’d like to give a quick shout out to mais Arcana
which is a live-action D&D collective they really are astonishing and were
sponsoring them right now so we’re obviously we’re extra excited about them
they really are fantastic so if you like live-action D&D you check them out they
have three different shows they are all wonderful and all unique um thank you
everyone for joining us today it’s been such a pleasure to have you all with us
thank you so much for your questions which have been really really
interesting and informative so with that all you have to say is good
of your hammer and no Robles you

13 Replies to “Worldbuilding Social Dynamics – marriage, tribes, classes and castes”

  1. The second I heard "who's allowed to have children" my mind went here: http://haddixbooks.com/book/among-the-hidden/

  2. Honestly I feel like the more likely group to need to keep track of those massive families and heraldry and such are the dwarves. Strict, clan based, honor bound, lawful societies. Elves are very chaotic in many portrayals, and far less hierarchical.

  3. One thing about the child being raised by the institution rather than the family is that it depends on how large the institution is. I've heard of a system used by some small tribes in which once a child was weaned (ie: no longer reliant specifically on mother's milk, since that kinda requires the mother's presence in societies without alternative baby milk sources) they'd be raised as a group.

    This can go very badly for individuality, like the old British boarding schools, or, for a dark example, Canadian Residential Schools. (For those not familiar, these were institutions aboriginals were sent to to have their own culture replaced with "proper Canadian culture" and were designed to be abusive even without all the pedophiles and psychotics gravitating to it.

    However, in small enough groups, like the children in a clan of 30-40 people, it's a good way to promote social interaction. Older kids learn to care for, teach, and help younger kids, and younger kids learn to be comfortable in a very social environment at a formative age.

    I have a kobold character who I decided was raised in this sort of system – with egg laying creatures, the parental bond is often much less, whereas the bond to the local population of their species is critical to long term survival (at least for communal species. I'm not saying he's completely lacking in personality disorders – he is, in fact, rather megalomaniacal in his ambitions to recover his clan from slavery, conquer the entirety of Undermountain and form a long standing alliance between the great kobold nation he would found there with the Waterdhavian authorities on the surface. These are not the ambitions of a being who has a poorly developed sense of self importance. (We're running through the official Waterdeep adventure books opposite our DM's self-made world, since he's busy and sometimes needs more time to plan his own stuff, so my lawful evil kobold paladin with 6 strength is not meant to be taken all that seriously.)

  4. For anyone on this thread, I'm putting together an Eberron group for play and world building using World Anvil. Please let me know if you are interested.

  5. Rewatching the video:
    Guy mentions about the “marriage contracts” in the amazon. Arthur Clarke used something like that in Childhood’s End. Couples could sign marriage contracts for a set period of time and renovate them if they want to.

  6. Thanks, already by 15:00 I was doing some re-writes. Had all the general sexual customs for each race, and major faction, but not why did they have those I just went' eh sounds good' thinking of the why do they have these customs added a lot more to them and made me change some completely.

  7. Volcan's long live and prosper salute is not a jibe – it was taken from the Jewish priests' blessing

  8. The social dynamic can differ from hamlet to town, from town to borrow, etc. How and where can we record the specific social dynamic of a specific hamlet, town, burrow, etc?

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