(#27, Version 4.0)
Goreans are fun loving people. They embrace life and spend plenty of time engaged in various forms of entertainment. Entertainment follows caste lines in many cases. Castes are commonly segregated in some areas, though many times only by Low and High Caste. Some forms of entertainment are also cultural in nature. This scroll shall describe many forms of Gorean entertainment, from games of death to simple children's games.
Arena Contests: Numerous cities have arenas that are very similar to the arenas of ancient Rome. In Ar, they have their Stadium of Blades. In these arenas, all forms of combat games are enacted. The types of games are limited on my your imagination. Many of these contests of arms are to the death. They most often involve criminals and poor mercenaries. Red Caste Warriors rarely participate in such games. Prizes of gold and/or amnesty are offered to participants. Men fight with various weapons in various types of matches. Men may fight in iron hoods, unable to see. Many men battle with cestae or hook knives. The cestae may bear spikes or blades. Slave girls may fight each other, sometimes with steel claws attached to their fingers. Beasts are also common in arena battles. They might fight each other, men or even armed slave girls. The battles do not have to be fair, only entertaining. Slave girls commonly fight only for amusement as they are not specially trained for the arenas. There are large training schools though warriors and beasts. An arena may even be flooded for sea battles, the water filled with marine predators.
In Tharna, prior to the revolution depicted in Outlaw of Gor, they held games called the Amusements of Tharna. They were gladiatorial games. The men of Tharna had to attend the Amusements at least four times a year or take part in them. One game they played was the Contest of Oxen, where men were yoked and chained together in teams of four. Each team was chained to a block of granite weighing about a ton. The teams would race towing the blocks. One man would sit on the block as the driver and wield a whip. The yokes were made of silver from the mines. In another game, the Battle of Oxen, the men wore yokes fitted with steel horns about eighteen inches long. They then had to fight each other to the death using the horns to gore each other.
Some combat games are less formal such as the stable bouts. Essentially these are slave fights that are little more than bloody brawls. They are mostly watched by the low castes. Your hands are wrapped in leather so as to not break your hands. You can kick your foe but no holds to the death are permitted. You will fight with occasional rest periods that help make the fight last longer. Combatants are divided by weight class and there is always much shouting and betting at these events.
Tarn Racing: Numerous Goreans prefer tarn racing to gladitorial combats. In Ar, fans wear faction patches in varied colors such as blue, orange, green, red, gold, yellow and silver. These patches are sewn on the left shoulder. Women of High Castes wear silk patches while women of Low Castes have crudely stitched, dyed rep-cloth patches. The average racing fan of Ar will usually stay to the last race on a day of racing.
A typical tarn racing track is a large, open padded ring suspended over a net. The tarns start out on perches and must finish on the same perch. The track is one pasang long. The two sides would be about 1700' long and the measure at the corners under 150' wide. The track is like a narrow, aerial rectangle with rounded ends. The course is determined by twelve rings hung on chains from great supporting towers. Six rings are rectangular and six are round. The large rectangular rings are three on a side and the smaller round ones are set at the corners of the dividing wall. The tarns must pass through all of the rings. Other types of tracks exist as well.
Tarn racing is a special skill. There are training schools to teach the needed skills. Special racing tarns are also used rather than war or draft tarns. These tarns are smaller, lighter and sleeker than other types of tarns. It is so light that two men could lift one. Its wings are broader and shorter, permitting a swifter take off and a capacity for extremely abrupt turns and shifts in flight. It cannot carry a great weight and lacks the stamina of other tarns.
Tharlarion Racing: Select breeds of tharlarions are used in races like tarn racing. The city of Venna is famed for its tharlarion races. Little information is given in the books concerning these races but they are likely similar to horse racing though probably much more violent. As in tarn racing, the racers may likely be able to attack each other. This would make the racing similar to chariot racing of ancient Rome.
Hunting: Hunting is a popular pastime on Gor. Men travel to the northern forests, the mountains of the Voltai, the jungles near Schendi and other areas to seek game. Gor teems with wildlife and there is little scarcity of game save in relatively populated areas. Even free women, especially in cities near the northern forests, have been known to engage in hunting. Hunting is often done with spear and bow. Traps are sometimes used and Goreans will never leave a trap set that they do not intend to return to. Each animal has its specific methods by which it is commonly hunted. Some hunters wear a camouflage outfit of green, mottled and striped irregularly with black. Others wear hunting leathers.
In the Voltai range, larl hunters use the Gorean spear. They proceed in single file as they travel. When a larl is encountered, the first man in line is supposed to cast his spear and then drop to the ground, covering himself with his shield so the next person can throw his spear. The person in the last position must stand his ground if the larl is not dead by then and face it with his sword alone so the others can escape. The First Spear is usually the best spearsman and Last the worst. Larls are extremely dangerous predators.
Palestrae: Each city usually has a number of palestrae, gymnasiums. It is here where men of various castes can exercise, work out and engage in contests of various sorts. Sometimes different palestrae compete against each other. They develop rivalries and try to out best each other. Some games they engage in include hurling the stone, hurling the thonged javelin both for distance and accuracy, races of various sorts, jumping, and wrestling. Many of these games are similar to games that the ancient Greeks performed in their Olympics. There are also meets and local championships. Teams may be put into age brackets. You can win awards such as fillets of wool of the hurt dyed different colors, like Earth ribbons. Champions might even receive crowns woven of the leaves of a Tur tree.
Baths: These are important social centers on Gor. Some are private but most are public areas. For a fee, they are available to all free persons. They are segregated by gender, even if only by time of day, though this does not preclude slaves of the opposite sex. Male slaves usually clean the baths. Weapons are usually not admitted into the baths. Most Goreans share tubs. The baths may also have scented pools, massage rooms, steam rooms, exercise yards, recreational gardens, art galleries, strolling lanes, arcades of merchant, physician courts, reading rooms, music rooms and more. They are more than simple bath houses.
Commonly, the baths are large, shallow round tubs of clay and covered with porcelain. They are mounted on open-bricked platforms, each platform about a yard high. There are fires under the bricked platforms to keep them warm or hot. A tub is about seven feet wide and eighteen inches deep. The more complex and fancy baths are heated by vents and pipes from subterranean furnaces.
There are numerous ways that the baths are used but there is a common way. The first tub is used for a time, soaking and maybe sponging. Then you emerge to apply oils to your body. The oils are rubbed well into the skin and then removed by strigil. There are various forms of strigil though they are usually metal and almost always of a narrow spatulate form. One then takes a second tub that consists of clean water to remove the dirt and oils. You can do all this yourself or have it done by one of the bath girls.
Bath girls are slaves at the public and private baths. They wear a chain and plate collar. The plate gives their name and cost. They wear towels with nothing beneath them. While swimming, many wrap a long broad strap of glazed leather about their heads like a turban. The bath girls are there for the pleasure of men. Sometimes the girls will pretend to swim away from the men and try to escape but are easily caught by the men. This is done on purpose as most girls could easily avoid the men if they wished. They become excellent swimmers.
The Capacian Baths in Ar are considered the finest on Gor. The girls there cost from one copper tarsk disk up to a silver tarsk. They have many different pools, differing in shape, size, décor, temperature and scent of the water. They include such as the Pool of Blue Flowers, Pool of the Tropics, Pool of Ar's Glories, pool of the Northern Forests, and the Pool of the Splendor of the Hinrabians. The Turian baths also come highly recommended.
Paga Tavern: A paga tavern is a combination bar, restaurant and brothel. Paga taverns exist primarily for the pleasure of men, but such pleasures range widely. Men go there to relax or be sociable. They often play Kaissa there. Some taverns even have special tables with a Kaissa board inlaid on the table. They may wish to watch slave dances. It is also a place where men can learn a lot about a city and hear the latest news. A new visitor to a city can learn much at a paga tavern about his new surroundings. A paga tavern is much more than just a place where men go to fur kajirae. Many patrons may never make use of a kajirae in that manner.
A tavern commonly has a number of low tables of various sizes. A man can remain by himself at a small table or party with his friends at a large one. Men sit cross-legged on the floor at these tables. There may be a sandpit in the paga tavern for slave dancing or battles by the men. There is an area of curtained pleasure alcoves where men and slaves retire for sex. There is often a kitchen area, commonly separated from the main area by swinging doors or a beaded curtain. These are easy to negotiate by a girl carrying something. Curtains are used more often than the swinging doors.
The men are served by the paga kajirae, slaves who are a combination waitress and prostitute. For the price of a cup of paga, a man is also entitled to the use of one of the servers. He may take a girl to one of the pleasure alcoves for sex. He may keep that girl for as long as he desires or until the tavern closes at dawn. For each cup he purchases, a customer may have a different slave.
The pleasure alcoves are often small and their entrances may be circular, about twenty-four inches in diameter. They are commonly stacked in levels and reached by narrow ladders fixed into the walls. A typical alcove has curved walls, and is about four feet high and five feet wide. It is lit by a small lamp set in a niche in the wall. It is lined with red silk and floored with love furs and cushions. The furs are usually about six to eight inches deep. An alcove will usually contain chains, rope and a whip. You may also request any special equipment you may desire such as hook bracelets. Some taverns may have different types of alcoves but most are fairly similar.
Free women are not permitted in most paga slaves though they are permitted entrance in a few. In some taverns, even families are permitted entrance. In such taverns, efforts are made to promote modesty and decorum. Men in these places try to restrain themselves so as to not offend the free women. Most free women though would rather not attend such establishments. They do not wish to see their men fawning over such lascivious kajirae.
Girl Catch: This is a popular game played in a variety of ways on Gor. It can be informal or very formal. In the basic game, a slave girl is hooded and belled. She is then let loose for hooded men to seek and capture. It is forbidden for the girl to stand still for a certain interval, commonly a few Ihn. She is under the control of a referee who uses a switch to encourage her to move and to mark her position. Slaves try to hone their evasive skills in this game and some girls get quite skilled at it. In another form of the game, it requires one hundred men and one hundred women. The object is to capture as many women as possible and place them into your Girl Pit while protecting your own women. In these large games, free women often play.
Games: Goreans enjoy a wide assortment of games. Many games encourage the development of desirable traits in young boys such as courage, discipline and honor. Other games encourage audacity and leadership and still others teach them about the nature of women and slaves. These games encourage them to manhood and mastery. They also play many games of guessing. For example, they play a cups and pebble game, similar to the "shell game" of Earth. Three cups are used and a pebble is hidden under one of them. The cups are mixed up and you must guess which has the pebble. A good sleight-of-hand expert can ensure you never win. Dice, cards and game boards are prevalent. Cat's cradle is a popular game in the north, especially in the villages and in Torvaldsland. Even panther girls enjoy it. In cat's cradle, you try to create intricate patterns with string.
Dice games: There are numerous forms of dice games played on Gor. Many games are commonly played with from one to five dice. The knucklebones of a verr are usually used to create dice. They then have their marks painted on them. This is done to try to make sure that they are fair. Scooping out numbers on the side may not be fair as the amounts scooped out may not be equal so the dice will not roll fairly. Some though do try to scoop out equal amounts. Some cities make these type of dice and sell them in sealed boxes. The dice have supposedly been cast 600 times and their results were close to mathematical probability. Loaded dice are used by some unscrupulous people.
Each number on a die is called by the name of an animal though not all of these names were given in the books. "Larl" is the maximum high on the die rolled, basically a six. An "urt" is the lowest value, a one. A "verr" would equal a roll of a four. A "sleen" exists but it is not stated what value it represents. There are two unknown animal designations as well.
Kaissa: This is probably the favorite board game on Gor. The word "kaissa" is the general Gorean word for "game." But, when used without qualification, it means only one game, Gorean chess. It is played similar to Earth chess, the object being to capture one's opponent's Home Stone. Almost all civilized Goreans, of whatever caste, play Kaissa. There are many clubs and competitions. Most libraries have many scrolls on strategy and techniques. Education Scroll #20, Kaissa, goes into much more detail on this game.
Zar: This is a board game common in the Tahari. It bears some similarities to the Earth game of checkers. Zar uses a Kaissa board but the pieces are placed only on the intersections of the lines. Each player has nine pieces, of equal value, which are originally placed on the intersections of the board's edge closest to the player. The corners are not used in placement. The pieces are commonly pebbles, sticks or bits of verr dung. Pieces move one intersection at a time unless jumping. One may jump an opponent's pieces or one's own. A jump must be made to an unoccupied point. Multiple jumps are permitted. The object of the game is to effect a complete exchange of the original placements. The first person to do so wins.
Stones: This is also known as guess stones. It is a guessing game where a certain number of stones are held in the hand, usually two to five, and you must guess the number. You get a point for a correct guess and you can then try again. If you guess wrong, your opponent gets a turn. The game ends when one person reaches a set number of points, usually fifty. There are many variations of this game. It may also be done by guessing even or odd number of stones. Any small objects may be used such as stones, beads or even gems. There are even intricately carved and painted game boxes containing carefully wrought "stones" for the affluent enthusiast. The game is not simply an idle past time. There are numerous psychological subtleties and strategies involved. Tournaments are held and certain people are known as champions at the game. Entire estates have been known to change hands over a game. Goreans enjoy gambling in all games.
Entertaining: Goreans are very sociable people and enjoy giving dinners and having parties. At such parties, it is an honor to sit above the bowls of red and yellow salt. At some fancy banquets, slaves may change their costume, jewelry and even chains to match the courses of each meal.
Library: Most cities have a large public library containing thousands of scrolls. The scrolls are carefully organized and catalogued. These libraries are open to men and women of all castes. Even slaves are sometimes given permission to enter a library. Many literate Goreans will spend time in these buildings learning a variety of topics. Most libraries are constructed to be beautiful, comfortable and functional.
Art: Art is taken seriously on Gor. It is considered an enhancement to civic life. Goreans love beauty and their songs and art are paeans to that glory. Many artists do not sign or identify their works. They feel that the art, its power, its beauty, is important, not the creator. Many artists seem to regard themselves as little more than vessels or instruments, the tools, by which the world, with its values and meanings, expresses itself and rejoices. The artist tends not so much to be proud of his work as to be grateful to it, that it consented to speak through him. The focus of the artist tends to be on the work of art itself, not on himself as the artist.
Pace of life: Gorean life in a city is not fast-paced like the cities of Earth. People might close their shops and flock to the high bridges to watch a beautiful sky. Goreans do not like to be pressed in their tasks. Two ahn for lunch is not uncommon. Though the average working day is ten Ahn, the amount of time at actual work is much less. Stopping an ahn early is not uncommon.
Public gardens: Most cities have a number of well-cultivated public gardens. They commonly have many winding and secluded paths. They are usually always in bloom. The gardens often have benches to sit and relax. They cater to the Gorean love of beauty and nature. They often a quiet, relaxing area.
Restaurant: There is no precise Gorean expression for a restaurant. There are public dining halls, paga taverns and cafes but no specific restaurant.
Shopping: Haggling is the rule in the markets on Gor. There are no fixed prices. There are few stores of a general nature. Their place is taken by bazaars and markets. Most people must go to a variety of specialty stores. Many items are sold close to where they are made. Most shops do not have windows. They usually are open to the street or have counters open to the street. At night, they are shuttered or barred. Expensive stores may have a narrow door commonly leading to an inside court with awnings at its sides under which goods are displayed. Free women often enjoy spending their time perusing the wares in the local markets.
Music: Music is popular on Gor but there are some major differences from music on Earth. There is no written music on Gor. Melodies are passed down to children or students. Much of Gorean music is very melodious and sensuous. On Gor, there are also a number of musical instruments both familiar and strange to Earth. There are no bowed instruments on Gor. Of the other instruments, czehar musicians have the most prestige. Prestige is then ranked by flutes, kalika, drums and then the miscellaneous instruments. There are both single and double flutes. Flute music is very important in theater. The name of the flute player usually appears on theatrical advertisements immediately after the major performers. The flute player is often on stage and accompanies performers about, pointing up speeches, supplying background music and such.
Musician's and Singer's Caste: "A handful of bread for a song" is a common invitation extended to caste members. They do not live well but never starve. "No musician can be a stranger" thus by custom, they are freely permitted within almost any city. Also by custom, they are not supposed to be enslaved for it is thought that he who makes music must like the tarn and Vosk gull be free. They are thought to be a happy caste, loved by many.
Poets Caste: Poets are considered craftsmen who make strong sayings. They are seldom deterred by illiteracy. Some great poets have been so among the Tuchuks and Torvaldslanders. Poetry is rarely written down. Instead, it is memorized and sung about the fires. Like Musicians, they may travel freely and are rarely enslaved. The role of the Poet is to celebrate battles and histories, singing of heroes and cities, singing of love and joy. They remind people of loneliness and death, lest they should forget they are men.
Theater: Theater is very popular and consists of major forms and minor forms. Major forms include sophisticated comedies and serious dramas. Minor forms include low comedy, burlesque, mime, farce and story dance. In major forms, most roles are masked. Women are not allowed on stage so their parts are played by men. Women's voices are thought not to carry as well as men. But due to the superb acoustics of most theaters, this is likely more an issue of tradition and jealousy. Many masks also have built in amplifiers. Women do though play in minor forms. These women are usually slaves. Masks are not worn in most minor forms. In farces, players may or may not be masked, depending on the roles.
In minor forms, there are certain stock characters known to most audiences. These include such as the Comic Father (with a Turian accent), the Pedant (usually a scribe), Timid Captain, Young Lovers, Golden Courtesan, Desirable Heiress (soft accents of Venna), Pompous Merchant, Wily Peasant, Saucy Maidens (Bina and Brigella), Chino (the servant of the Comic Father or Merchant), and Lecchio (the servant of the Pedant).
There are many theatrical conventions where the audience suspends their disbelief or makes assumptions. Carrying a tarn goad and moving a certain way implies riding a tarn. A kaiila crop or goad and specific movement implies riding a kaiila. A branch can stand for a forest, a bit of wall for a city. Standing on a box or table may be a mountain or battlements. Sprinkled confetti may be snow. A walk about a stage may be a long journey. Some crossed poles and a silken hanging can indicate a throne room or tent of a general. A black cloak means a character is invisible. A banner carried behind a general can indicate a thousand men.
Most theater seating is on a first come, first serve basis, except for certain privileged sections. Audience participation is common in the lower forms of Gorean theater. It is actually welcomed and encouraged. The audience may even throw fruit and things at the actors. Fights have broken out in the audience between those who approve of the play and those who do not. The Theater of Pentilicus Tallux is a great theater in Ar. It lends itself to large-scale productions. It can easily handle one thousand actors. Given the strength of its stage, even tharlarion and wagons can be used on it.
Holidays: Gorean cities celebrate numerous holidays and they vary from city to city. Other holidays are celebrated in numerous cities but the date of the holiday may vary. Some holidays are religious ones, others are simply excuses for festivities. The birthday of the Ubar/Administrator is often a city wide holiday.
Kajuralia: This is the Holiday of Slaves, or Festival of the Slaves. It occurs in most northern cities once a year except for Port Kar. The date differs from city to city though many cities celebrate it on the last day of the Twelfth Passage Hand. In Ar and others, it is celebrated on the last day of the fifth month, the day before the Love Feast. This is a common name for the Fifth Passage Hand, occurring in late summer. It is the greatest period for the sale of slaves. Slaves are permitted to tease and play tricks on free persons without fear of discipline. A slave says "Kajuralia" after doing such a prank. It is similar in some ways to the Earth holiday of April Fools.
Carnival: The Twelfth Passage Hand, just before the solemn Waiting Hand, is often a time of great festivities. It is the time of Carnival. Theatrical troupe, carnival groups, are common at this time. They often consist of rogues and outcasts. Such persons are denied the dignity of the funeral pyre and other forms of honorable burial. These troupes must petition for the right to perform in a city. Sometimes the actresses must be "tested" by the officials before a license is granted. Bribes may also be required to get licenses. Bribes are not really secret and there are even scales to determine the amount of the bribe dependent on the size of the group, number of days, etc. Licenses usually run for five days though sometimes only for a night or specific performance. Licenses are commonly renewable, within a given season, for a nominal fee. Troupes may include men on stilts, fire swallowers, jugglers, clowns, acrobats, dancing sleen, magicians, tight rope walkers, mimes, animal trainers and more.
Carnival time is also a time for people to don masks and bizarre costumes. There are even costume contests and parades. These masks and costumes allow an opportunity for jokes and pranks. They also permit incognito assignations between free people. Some free women even go as far as to masquerade as slaves and run naked through the cities.
Game of Favors: One game played during Carnival time is Favors. In the basic version, free women are given ten light scarves. Each group of scarves is unique to the woman. The free women then pass out the scarves that grant kisses to the recipient. The first girl who dispenses all of her favors and returns to the starting point wins. This gives free women a valid way to flirt during this specific time.
Sardar Fairs: Four great fairs are held each year on the plains below the western slopes of the Sardar Mountains. These fairs are free ground for the competitive cities of Gor and provide almost the only opportunity for people of all areas to meet peaceably. The Merchant Caste effectively arranges and administers the Fairs though they are nominally under the direction of a committee of the Initiates. But, the Initiates are simply content with its ceremonies and sacrifices. They are pleased to delegate to the Merchants. The Fairs are supported by booth rents and taxes levied on goods exchanged.
The fair of En'Kara occurs in the spring and is the first fair of the Sardar cycle. The Fairs are governed primarily by Merchant Law. It is also a crime against the Priest-Kings to bloody one's weapon at the fairs. The prohibition against violence does not extend to slaves. In addition, no one may be enslaved at the fair though slaves can be purchased.
The various Castes use the fairs to exchange information with each other. Usually, each caste holds its own convention to meet. The Fairs are common ground to settle territorial and commercial disputes. Political negotiation and intrigue are secretly rampant. The commercial facilities are the finest on Gor save for those of Ar. Loans are negotiated but usually at usurious rates. Various contests are held such as wrestling, racing, feats of strength, and skill with bow and spear. Choruses and poets compete in theaters. Almost anything is available for purchase.