Monday, March 16, 2009

From the Attic: The Majestic Wilderlands: The Tharian Clans

The Tharians are primarily clan based. They originated as horse nomads on the Sea of Grass far to the west. Over the centuries they migrated through the broad Thygamus River Valley (north of Viridstan) onto the open lands between City-State and Viridstan.

Each Tharian holds allegiance to his or her clan first and is sworn to obey the dictates of the High Chief of the clan. Each clan are subdivided into Septs which in turn are comprised of 4 to 5 extended families. Each Sept is led by a Chief, and the head of each family is called a Elder. Under the rule of the Tharian Overlords the title of High Chief is synonymous with Duke, Chief with Baron, and Elder with Lord.

When they were nomads, Tharians primarily herded cattle and raised horses. They developed horse-raising into a high art and are known as the finest in the Wilderlands. Every free Tharian must own a horse and have the means to upkeep it. When a Tharian comes of age his Elder presents him with a horse and welcomes him into the ranks of the warriors. A High Chief or Chief can recognize a particularity gifted warrior and with his Elder's permission grant the rank of Housecarl and welcome him into the personal service of the High Chief or Chief.

Under the Tharian Overlords the Housecarl rank is synonymous with that of a Knight. A recent innovation is that Knights of a Tharian Duke will call themselves a Knight Banner to distinguish themselves from those knights in the service of a Baron. This stems from the tradition of the High Chief as custodian of the Sacred Banner of the Clan.

Instead of becoming a warrior upon accepting a horse, a Tharian may become a Bondbuyer. The Bondbuyers are merchants. They go out and trade for what the Tharian clan cannot make for themselves. They also serve as diplomats between the clans often purchasing bonds of loyalty with a trade of horses hence the name Bondbuyer. Those Bondbuyers with great age or wisdom are called Master Bondbuyers.

Tharian females are allowed to choose either route on their majority. Even marriage doesn't mean that a Tharian women has to stop being a warrior or a bondbuyer. However when a Tharian women gives birth to a child that women has to take care of the child until the child's majority. The managment horse breeding of Tharian breeds is dominated by the women of the clan.

In the City-State the Tharians make up much of the nobility, and the least warrior is the social equivalent to a squire and the bondbuyers are consider to have equal rank with the merchants of the guilds.

The Lars is the community of one's clan's ancestors. The Tharians believe that Veritas or the High Lord, has created a Lars for each clan to give souls a place to reside in when they pass on to the hereafter. The Lars watches over the Clan and gives it aid and wisdom through the Mystics. Each Clan has it's Mystics and their Acolytes. The Mystic communes with the Lars and leads the Clans in ceremonies to show the proper respect to the Lars.


The clan based based structure of the Tharians is the only influence of the Mayfair version of the City-State. I was impressed with the production value of that boxed set however when I read it it was apparent that it was in no way the City-State of Judges Guild. It was one of the few gaming products that I ever returned to the store to exchange for another product. Later when it was on sale I bought it again as it was so cheap.

It did go into some of the cultures around the city-state and talked about clans and sept. I took that and what I knew of history and spun it off as the foundation of Tharian culture.

I am pretty sure that none of my player ever played a Tharian. They were pretty much always background, antagonists or outright bad guy. There were several instances where my players were immersed in their culture. Once where a player confronted a Tharian Duke over the right to be with his daughter. That incident lead to a fall of an entire kingdom and the rise of a new power in the Wilderlands.

Another occurred when the players badly underestimated the power of the Lars (they are not gods so how tough they can be?) One player got to see his magery literally ripped out of his body and thus losing the ability to cast spells. Since the campaign had nothing but mages that incident made it turn in an interesting direction where a new form of magic was discovered.

The most important role of the Tharian is that they are the tension that underlies my campaign's plot over the past 20 years. Due to a combination of events and having skilled leaders; they came leaders of one of powerful nations in the Wilderlands. Especially after the collapse of the Virdistan Empire in 4436. (The present in JG products is set at 4433).

Their origins as Horse Nomads has done little to prepare them for being rulers over subjects of much older and more sophisticated cultures (Elessarians, Ghinorians, Viridians, etc). Thanks to Lucius the Great they created a system of laws that has mostly worked for a century but the cracks are now appearing.

Their philosophies, religion, and legend don't have a lot of answers on how to deal with the issues they are facing in the present-day Wilderlands. Because of this and other tensions many Tharians have turned from the old ways and are searching for answers elsewhere. Some have become hedonistic and enjoy their new found wealth. But more and more turning to darker gods that claim to have the answers to their problems.

The most popular is the god Set the ancient enemy of the goddess Mitra the patron of the Ghinorian people. A thousand years ago the Setites were involved in the overthrow of the Ghinorian Empire. And now they see an opportunity to use the Tharians as the tool to finish off the remaning Ghinorian colonies that escaped.

The rise of Set in City-State is the common thread across 20 years of campaigns.


leadjunkie said...

Your Tharians = Tharbrians (from the box set), I assume. I don't see this corruption of the name in the Mayfair material. Is this convention of your own making?

Robert Conley said...

Yeah, I misspelled it while handwriting a history back in the 80s and by the time I figured it out a couple of years later I said the 'hell' with it.

It wasn't until 1988 I had regular access to a word processor. (College, UNIX mini computer)