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(#68, Version 5.0)
"I gazed down upon the city. In such places came together the complexities and the poverties, the elementalities and the richnesses of the worlds. In such places were to be found the rare, precious habitats of culture, the astonishing, moving delights of art and music, the truths of theater and literature, the glories and allegories of architecture, bespeaking the meanings of peoples, man-made symbols like mountain ranges; in them, too, were to be found iron and silver, and gold and steel, the chairs of finance and the thrones of power. I gazed at the shining city. How startling it seemed. Such places were like magnets to man; they call to him like gilded sirens; they lure him inward to their dazzling wonders, bewitching him with their often so meretricious whispered promises; they were symbols of races. In them were fortunes to be sought, and fortunes to be won, and fortunes to be lost; in them there were crowds, and loneliness; in them success trod the same pavements as failure; in their plazas hope jostled with despair, and meaning ate at the same table with meaningless. In such places were perhaps the best and worst that man could do, his past and future, his pain and pleasure, his darkness and light, come together in a single focus." (Mercenaries of Gor, p.256-257)
The City-State
"The cities of Gor are numerous and pluralistic. Each has its own history, customs and traditions." (Slave Girl of Gor, p.108) Hundreds of cities exist on Gor though many of them were never named or described in the books. We have the names of some Gorean cities, such as Talmont, Cardonicus and Piedmont, but little or no description of them. We also have partial descriptions of some cities but do not have their names. For example, in Tarnsman of Gor, there is reference to the Twelve Tributary Cities of Ar. These twelve cities were conquered by Ar and their Home Stones were kept within the Central Cylinder of Ar. None of these cities are named and their locations are also unknown. Their Home Stones are eventually returned to them but we never learn any further information about them.
Some of the Gorean cities are collectively known by certain labels, such as the High Cities or the Tower Cities. These two terms are not explicitly defined in the books but we can speculate as to their meanings. The Tower Cities most likely refer to those Gorean cities that primarily consist of cylinder buildings, those towering structures common to many of their cities. This would include such cities as Ko-ro-ba, Ar, Tharna, and many more. The High Cities are more difficult to define or categorize. Cities that are specified as High Cities in the books include Ar, Ko-ro-ba, Treve, and Thentis. This term may thus refer to the most important cities on Gor but that is only supposition. It does not refer to altitude as only two of those cities are mountainous cities.
Gorean cities are generally considered "city-states," similar to those of the ancient Greeks. The Greek word for "city-state" was "polis" and our English word "politics" derives from this Greek term. On Gor, a city-state consists of not only the city itself but also whatever surrounding territory that city can exercise its control over. Gor does not consist of countries or nations such as exist on Earth. Cities, not nations, are the important political divisions on Gor. Much of Gor consists of unclaimed territory, land upon which no one currently extends their influence. In addition, exact territorial borders do not exist on Gor. Territories are dynamic, expanding and shrinking over time, dependent upon the fortunes of the different cities. Goreans do not bicker over exact borders.
The cities of Gor are fiercely independent of each other. They often war upon one another, raiding caravans and engaging in small raids. Yet, full-scale wars are rare. It is unusual for cities to ally together though there have been some significant exceptions. In Tarnsman of Gor, about one hundred cities united, under the leadership of Master Assassin Pa-Kur, to attack Ar. That might have been the greatest alliance ever seen on Gor yet it did not last more than a month or so. The "Jason Marshall" trilogy mentions two other important alliances, the Salerian Confederation and the Vosk League, that continue to exist. The Salerian Confederation saw the alliance of four cities on the Olni River. The Vosk League saw the alliance of nineteen towns on the Vosk River.
Cities are vitally important to Goreans, far greater than the average Earth person considers his own city or country. "For the Gorean, though he seldom speaks of these things, a city is more than brick and marble, cylinders and bridges. It is not simply a place, a geographical location in which men have seen fit to build their dwellings, a collection of structures where they may most conveniently conduct their affairs." (Outlaw of Gor, p.22) A city is considered to be almost a living entity, one with a past, present and future. "For them a city is almost a living thing, or more than a living thing. It is an entity with a history, as stones and rivers do not have history; it is an entity with a tradition, a heritage, customs, practices, character, intentions, hopes. When a Gorean says, for example, that he is "of" Ar, or Ko-ro-ba, he is doing a great deal more than informing you of his place of residence." (Outlaw of Gor, p.22) "The Goreans generally, though there are exceptions, particularly the Caste of Initiates, do not believe in immortality. Accordingly, to be "of" a city is, in a sense, to have been part of something less perishable than oneself, something divine in the sense of undying. Of course, as every Gorean knows, cities too are mortal, for cities can be destroyed as well as men. And this perhaps makes them love their cities the more, for they know that their city, like themselves, is subject to mortal termination." (Outlaw of Gor, p.22) Cities instill great loyalty and pride within their citizenry. As many Goreans rarely travel, their city may be the only location they ever truly know.
Home Stone
The heart and soul of each city is its Home Stone, a concept that is said to be difficult for those of Earth to fully comprehend. The closest analogue on Earth would be a country's flag though that analogy is lacking in many respects. In simplest terms, a Home Stone is a stone. It can be any type of stone, of any size, shape, color and material. It can be very plain, intricately carved or even adorned with rare gems. "How does a city obtain a Home Stone?" I asked. "Men decide that she shall have one." Said Tab. "Yes," I said, "that is how it is that a city obtains a Home Stone." (Raiders of Gor, p.251) Some cities, like Ar, have ancient Home Stones while others, such as Port Kar, have only possessed their Home Stone for maybe twenty years. A city's Home Stone is most commonly kept at the top of the highest cylinder in the city, though it will be well defended. A city can not be completely destroyed if its Home Stone still survives. When the Priest-Kings destroyed Ko-ro-ba, Matthew Cabot retained the Home Stone so the city actually still survived and could later be rebuilt. The theft of a Home Stone is considered a great glory as it will ruin an enemy city.
Goreans devote intense loyalty to their Home Stone. They support and defend those who share that Home Stone with them. Even rivals and enemies who share a Home Stone would work together against any threat to that Home Stone. "Yet for these stones, and on account of these stones, these seemingly inauspicious, simple objects, cities have been built, and burned, armies have clashed, strong men have wept, empires have risen and fallen." (Magicians of Gor, p.485) Goreans stand when they discuss their Home Stone because it is considered an issue of honor. If a man failed to stand, he might even be killed for his offense.
For more information on the Home Stone, see Scroll #23, The Three Pillars of Gor.
To become a citizen of a city, and thus claim its Home Stone as your own, is more than a matter of birth. When you reach the age of intellectual majority, you must actively seek citizenship and its concomitant rights. The actual age of one's intellectual majority is never stated in the books and it may vary from city to city. Circumstantial evidence in the books indicate that it may commonly be around 16 years old. Each city has its own requirements for obtaining citizenship but there are some commonalities. Most citizenship ceremonies include an oath of allegience to the city that includes either the touching or even kissing of the Home Stone. This will likely be the only time in one's life that one gets to touch the Home Stone. In some ceremonies, there may also be a sharing of bread, fire and salt. There may also be prerequisites to this oath. You might need some existing citizens to vouch for you, citizens who are not related by blood to you. You might also need to pass certain tests, likely concerning such matters as the history and laws of the city. In addition, you might also face questioning concerning your worthiness to be a citizen. If you meet all of the requirements, then you may receive the laurel wreath and mantle of citizenship, with all of its concomitant rights. The Gorean word "civitatis" means "of the city of" and refers to someone being a citizen of a city. For example, "civitatis Trevis" essentially means that one is a citizen of Treve.
You do not automatically retain your citizenship throughout your life. "Citizenship, or its retention, on other than a nominal basis, in some cities, is contingent on such things as attending public ceremonies, such as an official semi-annual taking of auspices, and participating in numerous public assemblies, some of which are called on short notice." (Dancer of Gor, p.302-303) Citizenship is considered more a privilege than a right. Citizens are considered to owe allegiance to their city and thus certain duties are owed to that city. Political apathy is not permitted. Another duty is that the citizen must work in his Caste, though this duty applies more to men than women. "A man who refused to practice his livelihood or strove to alter status without the consent of the Council of High Castes was, by definition, an outlaw and subject to impalement." (Tarnsman of Gor, p.46) This applies to women as well though more often the latter part rather than the former. In general, such outlaws are first exiled from their city, or flee on their own, and then will face impalement if they dare return to their city. Being an outlaw is not an envious life. You are cut off from all support structures, you have few if any friends, and must strive hard simply to exist. Few Goreans willing opt to become outlaws.
It is possible to change your citizenship and swear loyalty to a new Home Stone. But, this is a rare matter on Gor. One's loyalty to your Home Stone is very strong and even if one objects to certain aspects of your city, the loyalty remains. In addition, many Goreans do not travel much so they have little contact with other cities. To move to a new city would mean a separation from your relatives and Caste members. Such a separation runs contrary to the common norms of Gor. When someone does change their citizenship, it is often because they are fleeing some negative consequence in their original city. For example, someone fleeing creditors may change citizenship as many cities offer protection from foreign creditors.
A family can disown one of their own members through an oath of disownment. This is an irreversible ceremony and is not invoked without careful consideration. The victim loses all ties to their family and Caste. This ceremony exists within many cities and it is also part of the Warrior Caste Codes. For example, in Hunters of Gor, Marlenus disowned Talena according to the rites of Ar and also his Caste Codes. To do so, he placed one hand on the hilt of his sword, the other on his city medallion, and swore the oath of disownment. It may be possible for a member of the Warrior Caste to simply swear upon the hilt of his sword to complete this oath of disownment without the need of the city rite. It is unknown if other Castes have similar oaths of disownments in their Caste Codes.
The Gorean books do not provide statistics for the human population of Gor and they provide few statistics for the populations of any of the cities of Gor. Census taking does not seem to be performed in Gorean cities. We do have some estimated figures for the city of Ar and we can try to extrapolate from those figures the populations of other cities as well. As Ar is considered to be possibly the largest city on Gor, we can assume that all other cities have a smaller population than Ar. Ar is thought to contain two to three million citizens. It also contains about a quarter million other free residents, non-citizens. Finally, there are about a quarter million slaves, a higher percentage than the normal Gorean average. In most cities, only 2% to 3% of the female population are slaves. 10% of that number would constitute the average number of male slaves. There are some exceptions such as Ar and Tharna. In Tharna, after the revolt against the Silver Masks, nearly all of the women in their city are now slaves.
There are a limited number of governmental forms in the Gorean cities. The cities may be led by an Administrator, Ubar, Ubara, Tatrix or Regent. The Administrator is the most common ruler of Gorean cities. The Administrator is a civil executive who rules for a predetermined term of office. He rules in conjunction with a High Council. Dependent on the city, the High Council may either elect or appoint the Administrator to his position. An Administrator must commonly be a member of a High Caste and may be a man or a woman. Lara once ruled Tharna as its Administrator. In the myths of the First Knowledge, the Low Castes are taught that if a member of the Low Castes ever comes to rule a city, then that city would meet great misfortune. Thus, it is very rare for a Low Caste person to ever rise to the position of Administrator. Kron, a Metal Worker, is one of the exceptions. He rose to eventually become the Administrator of Tharna, upon the abdication of Lara. Administrators wear a brown robe of state, a very simple and humble robe.
The High Council usually consists of only members of the High Castes and they are elected to their position by members of the High Caste. Like Administrators, Council members are elected for a specified term of office. Low Castes do not possess a right to vote. Despite this disenfranchisement though does not mean the the opinions of the Low Castes are simply ignored. Of all the Low Castes, the Merchant Caste has the greatest influence on governmental matters, such as elections. Like on Earth, money can purchase power and influence on Gor. In addition, those seeking political office realize that the Low Castes need to be appeased or there can be serious trouble. Thus, such men will try to seek the favor of the Merchants and other Low Castes. For example, they might host gladiatorial games, tarn races or feasts to acquire a better reputation with the common people. This favor seeking will continue past the election period, intended to continue the appeasement of the common man.
There are two basic types of dictatorial monarchs on Gor, the civil and the military. The civil monarch is the Tatrix, a female ruler who does not belong to the Warrior Caste. She rules absolutely within her city. A Tatrix is not elected to her position but instead simply assumes power, supported by loyal followers. Tharna, Corcyrus and Port Olni were all once ruled by a Tatrix. The military monarch is a Ubar, a man, or a Ubara, a woman. The Gorean word "Ubar" literally means a "war-chief" and it is part of the Warrior Caste Code. The term is also sometimes used rather loosely as well, almost slang to refer to a masterful person. For example, a slave may sometimes refer to her Master as her Ubar.
Many wrongfully assume that a Ubar only seizes power during wartime. In fact, a civil crisis can also lead to the ascension of power by a Ubar. "In such times, of course, in the light of the failures and ineffectuality of an inept civilian administration, it is not unknown for military men, seeing what must be done, simply responding to the imperatives of survival, to take power and attempt to instill the will, the discipline and order without which catastrophe cannot be diverted." (Mercenary of Gor, p.264) During a war or crisis, the Ubar rules absolutely. They can make or change any law that they wish though they are still subject to their own laws. Ubars wear purple robes, a color long associated with royalty on Earth. Their robes are far from simple or humble. The territory claimed by a Ubar or Ubara is often referred to as a Ubarate.
According to the Warrior Caste Codes, the Ubar is supposed to relinquish his position once the war or crisis has ended. But that does not always occur. This can lead to two different situations. First, the Warriors that supported the Ubar may choose to withdraw their support of the Ubar and might even kill him. Second, the Warriors might instead choose to continue to support the Ubar and he will remain in power. Marlenus, Ubar of Ar, assumed power during a Valley War. When the war ended, he refused to step down but his Warriors and the people of Ar supported him so he remained as Ubar. Some Goreans consider such Ubars to be tyrants, absolute rulers with megalomaniacal objectives.
A Ubara is a female member of the Warrior Caste who may either be the Free Companion of a Ubar or who assumes power on her own. For example, Talena, daughter of Marlenus, became the Ubara of Ar in Magicians of Gor. Being Ubara is the highest position that any woman can attain on Gor, a position as high as any man can achieve. "To be Ubara of Ar was the most glorious thing to which a woman might aspire. It meant she would be the richest and most powerful woman on Gor, that armies and navies, and tarn cavalries, could move upon her very word, that the taxes of an empire the wealthiest on Gor could be laid at her feet, that the most precious of gems and jewelries might be hers, that she would be the most envied woman on the planet." (Hunters of Gor, p.300-301)
A Regent substitutes as a ruler of a city while the true ruler is away for some reason. For example, when Marlenus left Ar to make a punitive raid against Treve, he appointed Gneieus Lelius, High Councilor and First Minister, as Regent of Ar. The books do not specify the powers of Regents and whether they possess the same power as the absent ruler or whether there are some restrictions on their powers.
A city ruler may possess certain regalia indicative of their position and power. This could include a crown of Tur leaves, a medallion bearing a replica of the city's Home Stone, or a signet ring bearing the city's symbol. The regalia bestows great power on its wielder, even if they are not the actual ruler. For example, Marlenus gives the signet ring of Ar to Verna, a panther girl ruler and tells her the power it will provide to her. "With that, he said, you are safe in the realm of Ar. With that you can command the power of the city. This is as the word of the Ubar. With this you can buy supplies. With this you can command soldiers. Any who come upon you and see this ring will know that behind you stands the power of Ar." (Hunters of Gor, p.301)
A city government will possess a bureaucracy of civil servants such as ministers, councilors and much more. These individuals occupy positions and such positions do not form Castes. For example, the guardsmen of a city do not form a Caste of Guardsmen. They simply occupy a position within that city. A city may have Ambassador to handle their foreign relations. Such Ambassadors are considered to possess diplomatic immunity and are thus immune from hindrance or harm while they are in a foreign city. Heralds, special messengers, possess a similar immunity. Heralds wear a gold slash on the left temple of their helmet to denote their status.
Official Matters
City Flag: Cities will possess their own flag and colors. Unfortunately the books give very little information on the flags of Gor though they do mention a couple city colors. For example, the color of Cos is blue.
City Anthem: Some cities have an official anthem that is sung during official and/or public events. The subject matter of the songs may vary though commonly they may detail special military victories, commemorate important historical figures, or sing the general praises of the city. These songs may be revised if important new events occur.
Gorean Foot: This is a Gorean unit of measurement that is ½ inch longer than an Earth foot. At the Sardar Mountains, there is a metal rod used to standardize the length of the Gorean Foot. Each city possesses their own official metal rod that standardizes the measurement within their city. This rod would have originally been calibrated with the rod at the Sardar. Any Merchant can get his own personal metal rod calibrated against the city's rod.
Weight and Stone: A Weight is a Gorean unit of measurement equal to about 40 Earth pounds. A Weight is comprised of 10 Stones, another Gorean unit of measurement, and each Stone is equal to about 4 Earth pounds. At the Sardar Mountains, there is a metal cylinder used to standardize the measurement of the Stone. Each city possesses their own official cylinder that standardizes the measurement within their city. The cylinder would have originally been calibrated with the one at the Sardar. Any Merchant can get his own personal metal cylinder calibrated against the city's cylinder.
"There is a saying on Gor that the laws of a city extend no further than its walls." (Outlaw of Gor, p.50) This is not fully accurate as each city does extend its hegemony over a certain territory outside their city walls. The laws of one city generally do not extend to the jurisdiction of another city. For example, your own city will provide you protection against creditors fom another city. Tarn, tharlarion or infantry patrols often monitor the tenuous borders of a city's claimed territory and either question, detain or kill non-citizens trying to enter their lands. Goreans are generally xenophobic and in fact the Gorean word for "stranger" is the same word as the one for "enemy." Context is used to differentiate between the two terms. "Goreans are not unaware that there may exist such things as familiar enemies and friendly strangers." (Savages of Gor, p.242) Trying to enter a city, without specific permission, is often considered a capital crime, punishable by impalement. Guards monitor the various gates into the cities and often question intended visitors. In some cities, a citizens approaching his own city may make a hand gesture, a "sign" of the city. It seems likely that this "sign" is only known to citizens.
There are two primary court systems in the cities of Gor, that of the civil government and that of the Initiate Caste. Each of these court systems possesses their own buildings to handle their legal matters, such as a Cylinder of Justice. The areas of their jurisdiction are sometimes vague though the Initiates claim supreme authority in all matters. The amount of actual involvement of the Initiates in each city will vary depending on the Caste's power in that specific city. They obviously have a stronger hold in some areas than others. For the most part, they will definitely claim jurisdiction in any religious related matter. They will ignore petty matters that they feel are beneath their worry.
In a city, you are most likely to encounter the legal officials of the civil government, be it the forces of the Ubar or Administrator. These legal officials are commonly referred to as magistrates and there are a variety of different types of magistrates. As legal matters appear to fall under the purview of the Scribe Caste, lawyers being a subcaste of the Scribe Caste, it seems likely that most magistrates also belong to the Scribe Caste. Magistrates often wear special robes and fillets, ribbons, to denote their office. They may also carry a wand of their office and some of those wands may carry concealed blades. Some of the different types of magistrates on Gor include aediles, archons, praetors, prefects and prefects. These terms are ancient Greek or Roman terms though their meanings have changed some on Gor. Executioners are another type of magistrate and other types may exist as well. The books do not explicitly describe the duties or differences between most of these magistrate types. Magistrates do appear to be able to act as ex officio witnesses who can certify the legality of certain matters. They also appear able to act as judge and jury in certain matters as well.
Merchant law is the only common law that often extends among many different cities. This permits commerce to exist much more easily on Gor. There are even Merchant magistrates who administer and enforce Merchant law. These magistrates belong to the Merchant Caste and not the Scribe Caste. They wear white robes, trimmed with gold and purple. Merchant law does not cover all aspects of commerce. For example, patents and copyrights only exist on a city level and do not extend to other cities. Thus, many manufacturers, writers, and other creators may keep their materials in code to prevent theft and copying.
For more information on the law, see Scroll #2, Laws and Legal Principles.
Caste System
Each city has its own Caste system in place and each Caste is tied to one's Home Stone. Unless you are an Assassin, you cannot have a Caste unless you belong to a Home Stone. There are no worldwide Castes on Gor. The Warrior Caste of Ar is separate from the Warrior Caste of Ko-ro-ba, the Scribe Caste of Turia is separate from the Scribe Caste of Treve. Each Caste in a city is governed by its own High Council, possesses its own Caste Code and has its own training and/or apprentice program. Though such matters are likely very similar from city to city, there will be some differences as well. Almost the only time that the Castes of different cities meet to discuss general Caste matters is at the four Sardar Fairs. At the Fairs, Caste members of different cities will often meet to share information. This is especially true of those Castes that invent items such as the Physician and Builder Castes. The Scribe Caste also meets at these Fairs and often try to pass rules of standardizations but they are mostly rejected.
"I have little doubt but what the caste structure contributes considerably to the stability of Gorean society. Among other things it reduces competitive chaos, social and economic, and prevents the draining of intelligence and ambition into a small number of envied, prestigious occupations." (Fighting Slave of Gor, p.211) The Caste system has a vital role in the proper functioning of a Gorean city. One's Caste is much more than simply one's profession. Your Caste provides certain privilieges as well sich as Caste Sanctuary or charity. Your social life often revolves around your Caste as well. Caste members become very close to each other and the welfare of the Caste takes priority over the individual ambitions of its members. This sense of loyalty is very strong, nearly as strong as one's loyalty to one's Home Stone.
For more information on the Caste System, see Scroll #23, The Three Pillars of Gor, and Scroll #32, Castes of Gor.
Each city generally mints its own coinage, the mint often housed within the city's Central Cylinder. ".., a coin is a way in which a government or ruler certifies that a given amount of precious metal is involved in a transaction. It saves weighing and testing each coin. The coin, in a sense, is an object whose worth or weight, in standardized quantities, is certified upon it, and guaranteed, so to speak, by an issuing authority." (Kajira of Gor, p.12) Coins are created, by hand, one at a time. A warmed piece of metal is placed between the two halves of a die. Each half of the die is etched with a word, letter, symbol or picture. Most commonly, one half of the die has the initials of the city of its origin and the other half has the image of a tarsk or tarn. A hammer then strikes the die cap, impressing the etchings into the soft metal. The metal will then be removed and allowed to cool into hardness.
Each city also sets their own currency exchange rates. These rates are not standardized across Gor and thus vary from city to city. But, there are certain coins from certain cities, that are respected and most other cities will accept them as legal tender. Such coins include the gold tarn disks of Ar, Ko-ro-ba and Port Kar, and the silver tarsk of Tharna. The currency of most cities includes the tarsk bit, the copper tarsk, the silver tarsk and the gold tarn. The tarsk bit is the lowest valued coin. A copper tarsk is worth about four to twenty tarsk bits. A silver tarsk is worth about ten to one hundred copper tarsks. A gold tarn is worth generally ten silver tarsks. There is also a double gold tarn, worth twice a normal tarn disk. Business can also be conducted by notes, letters of credit, drafts and checks. Paper currency does not exist on Gor.
Most cities maintain their own calendars, often naming the years according to the name of the city ruler. For example, it might be the seventh year of the Administrator Hector of Thentis. A number of cities though have adopted the calendar system of the city of Ar. Ar's calendar is denoted "Contasta Ar" which means from the founding of Ar, over 10,000 years ago. It does not maintain its calendar according to its rulers. Most calendars are calculated from vernal equinox to vernal equinox though some cities, like Turia, calculate their calendars from summer solstice to summer solstice. Most cities have their own names for the months of the year though they generally agree upon the names of four specific months, conncted to the equinoxes and solstices. These include En'Kara (the vernal equinox), Se'Kara (the autumnal equinox), En'Var (the summer solstice) and Se'Var (the winter solstice). Again, some cities have adopted the names of the months used by Ar.
Within each city, there are often time bars that are rung to signal each Ahn. An Ahn is the Gorean equivalent of an Earth hour though it is longer than an hour. An Ahn is generally about 72 Earth minutes long. There are 20 Ahn in a Gorean day, and that day is the same length as an Earth day. In most cities, the Ahns are all of the same length. Yet, in some cities, the length of an Ahn varies. In those cities, they assign ten Ahn to the daytime and ten Ahn to the nighttime. Thus, the length of each Ahn will vary according to the season. For example, during the summer, a daytime Ahn will be longer than a night time Ahn.
Each city also celebrates its own list of holidays each year. Different cities may celebrate the same holiday at different times. The Planting Feast of Sa-Tarna is a complex holiday celebrated by most Gorean cities, including Ar. It is celebrated early in the growing season, timed to occur when all three moons are full, and it is basically a prayer to insure a good harvest. Kajuralia, also known as the Holiday of Slaves or Festival of the Slaves, occurs in most northern cities once a year except for Port Kar. The date differs from city to city. In some cities, it is celebrated on the last day of the Twelfth Passage Hand. But, in Ar and other cities, it is celebrated on the last day of the fifth month, the day before the Love Feast. The "Love Feast" is the common name for the Fifth Passage Hand. It occurs in late summer and is the greatest period for the sale of slaves. This Hand is also a time of great feasting, tarn races and games. In many cities the Twelfth Passage Hand is a time of carnival, just before the more sober period of the Waiting Hand. Some cities also celebrate a holiday on the birthday of the city ruler.
City Construction
Only free people are permitted to construct cities on Gor, although Port Kar was an exception. Port Kar was almost completely built by slave labor. Construction is normally limited to the Builder's Caste. Unfortunately there is not much information given on this Caste or construction matters on Gor. We do know that Goreans possess advanced technology in the the field of architecture. Many city buildings are cylinders, some as tall as one thousand feet. This would be roughly equivalent to a one hundred story building on Earth. Girders, frame steel and timber iron are used to construct these cylinders. These materials are created in the iron shops of Gor. Granite is also a common construction material. There are quarries in different areas of Gor that provide this granite. There are even quarry galleys that help transport granite via a river or Thassa. The spring time sees the highest prices for granite as it is the busiest time of the year for construction. A typical granite building stone is a rectangular piece, six inches by six inches by eighteen inches. Brick is another common construction material, created in large kilns within the cities. In Ar, the Hinrabian family own a major kiln business that provides many of the bricks used in Ar. In the cities of the southern hemisphere of Gor, flat, narrow bricks are very common in building construction. Wood, an inexpensive construction material, is used in many cities though it is more prone to the dangers of fire. The northern forests of Gor are the primary source of timber throughout much of Gor.
City Walls & Gates
Nearly all of the cities of Gor are walled cities, walled to protect the city from attack. The height, thickness and number of the walls will vary from city to city. For example, the city walls of Ar might be thought to be the grandest of walls of any city on Gor. Ar has two exterior walls. The outer wall is about three hundred feet high and the interior wall, about sixty feet away from the outer wall, is about four hundred feet high. Each wall is thick enough so that six tharlarion wagons, side by side, could pass down the wall. In addition, there is a guard tower spaced about every fifty yards on the wall. The walls of Ar and Ko-ro-ba are painted white. This is done so that the sun's glare will reflect off the walls and make it more difficult for attackers to see. At night, beacon fires will be lit on the walls to serve as markers for returning tarnsmen.
Each city will have a number of gates that provide entrance into the city, the exact number varying city to city. Most cities have at least one, though sometimes more, sun gates. A sun gate is open only from dawn to dusk. At night, it is much more difficult to enter or exit a city. Some cities do have night gates for such evening entrances and exits though such gates are scrutinized carefully. Some cities may also have additional gates such as secret gates or restricted gates. For example, Ar has about forty public gates and an additional number of other gates. There is also a secret entrance into Ar through a Dar-Kosis pit outside of the city.
City Streets
The length, width and makeup of streets within a city will vary considerably. Street surfaces are commonly either dirt or cobblestone. Most streets do not have a sidewalk or curb. They often slope gently from each side to a central gutter. Some streets are very wide while others are too narrow for a wagon to travel down. Many city streets do not have an official name. They thus often acquire unofficial names and different people may know a street by different names. A street might be named according to who lives or works on the street. It might also acquire its name from a famous incident that occurred on that street. A long street might be known by different names at different points on the street. This makes it difficult for strangers to travel around in a city. Thus, they must ask directions to locate a certain street. People generally will only ask someone of their own sex for directions. Free women would not ask questions of a strange man and also would not answer the questions of such a man. Slaves though, of either sex, may be asked concerning directions. When streets do have official names, a street sign will commonly be painted onto a building corner, a few feet above the ground. Street signs are not placed onto poles. In some cities, it is illegal for non-citizens to make maps of a city or transport a map out of the city.
City streets are often kept very clean, usually cleaned once a week. Many streets are cleaned by the residents of the buildings facing the street. They are responsible for the maintenance of their own street. The larger streets, plaza and squares are maintained by state slaves. Where the streets are too narrow for wagons, porters or carts must be used to transport goods to the buildings in those areas. On other streets, the use of wagons is limited to certain times, generally at night and the early morning. This is done so not to interfere with foot traffic during the day. The narrow streets, because of the closeness of the buildings, are generally kept in shadows during the day. At night, many small streets are dark. Some of the major thoroughfares may be lit by tharlarion-oil lamps or torches, maintained by the state. Other streets may be lit, but if so, are maintained by the residents of the buildings on those streets, similar to the responsibility for cleaning the streets. Many people, traveling at night, will carry their own torches or lamps.
The largest streets in a city are often adorned with trees, plants, flowers, fountains, artwork and more. They are made to be attractive as Goreans love beauty. Most city fountains have two basins, an upper and lower one. Any resident may gather or drink water from these fountains but there is a restriction over who can use the upper basin. The upper basin, often the deeper of the two basins, is restricted to free people only. The lower basin is for slaves and animals. On many streets, there will also be tharlarion or slave rings, to tether such beasts while the owner wanders the city. There are public gardens in many cities, and they are often maintained so that they are in bloom all year round. Such gardens will have numerous paths winding through the lush vegetation, some providing more private and intimate areas.
City Districts
Certain sections of the city make up specific districts or neighborhoods. These areas are often united by common businesses or types of neighborhoods. Two common districts that exist in many cities are the Street of Brands and the Street of Coins. Despite being known as "streets" these most often refer to an entire district. The Street of Brands is the merchant area concerned with the institution of slavery. Slaves, slavery equipment and any other slavery related item can be obtained in this district. The Street of Coins is the district where various forms of banking occur such as money changing and loans. Other districts might be residential areas, maybe very poor areas or very rich ones. Cities sometimes have rather markedly different districts very close to one another. For instance, some expensive paga taverns may be near an area of sleazy insulae and tarsk-bit brothels.
Many Gorean cities possess a multitude of tall cylinders, joined by numerous bridges. Thus, the cities become in essence tiered cities, divided into several levels. The higher levels are generally set aside for the High Castes and the wealthy. The bridges are very colorful and beautiful. Most of these bridges also do not possess safety rails and can be very narrow, some only three feet wide. When the highest bridges may be one thousand feet high or greater, this can pose an intimidating situation. "Let those who fear to walk the high bridges not walk the high bridges." (Outlaw of Gor, p.248) The bridges also serve a purpose in making it easier to defend the city. By blocking off a bridge or two, you can isolate cylinders and limit the movement ability of invaders.
City Buildings
Thousands of different buildings will exist in each city and this scroll will not address every type of possible building. It will address many of the different buildings that were mentioned within the novels. Such information will give you a better understanding of the composition of a Gorean city, including its differences from the cities of Earth.
As many Goreans are illiterate, many of these buildings need a way to identify their function to such individuals. Thus, they often hang signs outside their buildings with pictures to identify the type of business. For example, a sign may have a paga goblet, thus indicating a paga tavern. A sign might have a hammer and anvil to indicate a Metal Worker, or a needle and thread to indicate a Clothworker. The exact name of the establishment is more likely to be known through word of mouth.
Central Cylinder: The largest cylinder within a city is most often its Central Cylinder, so large that it nearly forms its own community. The cylinder commonly has a huge entrance, large enough for a number of tharlarion to enter side by side. This cylinder includes the bureaus and agencies that help run the city. The city ruler also resides here and has his offices here as well. The High Council will have offices and meet in this cylinder. This meeting room may be referred to as the Chamber of the Council. In the Chamber, Council members will sit on stone benches, separated into five tiers. The wall behind each tier is painted a color to match the High Caste that sits on that tier. The highest Caste, the Initiates, has the bottommost tier. In the center of the room will be a throne for the city leader. No Council member or visitor is permitted to be armed within this room. Other city Councils are also likely to have offices and meet in the Central Cylinder as well. This Cylinder is likely to be located close to the middle of the city and often very large and important streets lead to it.
Caste Cylinders: The books mention specific cylinders exist in some cities for the High Castes of Initiates, Physicians and Warriors. Little details are given on these cylinders though it does appear that they include dormitories for caste members, offices, training areas and more. It would seem logical that such cylinders also exist for the Scribe and Builders Castes, the remaining two High Castes. It is less certain if individual cylinders would exist for any of the Low Castes. If so, they would likely be for the more important Low Castes within a city such as the Merchant Caste.
Baths: A number of cities contain private or public baths, similar to the baths of ancient Rome. Gorean baths are often important social centers. Most of them are public and you just pay a small fee for entrance. They are segregated by sex so that free men and women do not use the same baths at the same time. But, slaves of the opposite sex do not face such segregation. Both female and male slaves work in the baths, the male slaves often being the ones who clean the baths. Bath girls may be rented by a man similar to the use of a paga kajira. Weapons are generally not permitted within the baths. The larger and more encompassing baths will include many additional rooms and services such as massage rooms, steam rooms, exercise yards, recreational gardens, art galleries, strolling lanes, merchant markets, physicians, reading rooms, and music rooms.
Brewery/Distillery: Many cities will contain breweries and/or distilleries to make their own paga, wine or other alcoholic beverages. Each city's products will have their own distinctive taste. For example, diverse cities such as Ar, Tyros, Ko-ro-ba, Helmutsport, Anango, and Tharna all brew their own brands of paga. Ta wine is not restricted to Cos. Other cities actually create their own Ta wines though Cosian Ta wine is still considered the best.
Brothel: Some cities contain brothels and such brothels also vary considerably. Some are simply places one goes for sex with slaves. Others bear little difference to a paga tavern. The cost for entry into a brothel may be as little as a tarsk bit or as expensive as several gold tarns. Brothels are not very popular on Gor, paga taverns being the general preference. Some people mistakenly believe that free women willingly work as prostitutes in some of these brothels but the books do not state that. The books do mention that some men, as punishment or a joke, might capture a free woman, keeping her bound and gagged, and then force her to work for a night in a brothel. The next morning, the poor women would be set free, naked, onto the streets. Such women are not willing prostitutes.
Carnarium: The plural form of this word is carnarii. These are refuse pits, kept outside the city walls. They are for the dumping of waste and garbage from the cities. Male slaves usually collect the garbage from within the cities and carry it to the carnarii. Certain companies exist that provide these slaves to a city. It is unknown what is ultimately done with these refuse pits. They may simply be buried in time or there may be methods used to eliminate the refuse.
Cylinder of Documents: In some cities, this cylinder would be a place where legal and official documents are kept. It is assumed that this Cylinder is well protected against the threat of fire as such a disaster could devastate those city records.
Cylinder of Justice: This cylinder would be the location for the civil legal authorities within a city. There is also the possibility that the civil authorities would share this cylinder with the Initiates who would use it for their own legal proceedings. Prisoners might be kept here, especially those awaiting trials. Trials, before judges and/or juries, would be held here. Court documents and legal scrolls may also be maintained here. Executions, mutilations and other punishments might also be enacted in this cylinder. For example, in Ar the top of their Cylinder of Justice contains a fifty-foot high impaling spear.
Inn: Inns are not common on Gor though a few exist in most cities. An inn is a place where someone can rent a room for a night. Visiting merchants, foreign delegates and certain other travelers have need of such rooms. You cannot rent a room at a paga tavern. An inn may also provide food and drink with your room. The average price for an inn room, including food and paga, is about two to three copper tarsks a night. Some inns let you share a common lodging room with other visitors while the wealthier travelers will obtain their own private room. Such wealthy men may also bring their own food or even their own cooks.
Paga Tavern/Café: A paga tavern is a combination bar, restaurant and brothel. In the southern hemisphere, cafes often take the place of paga taverns but are essentially the same type of entity. 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. Men may wish to watch slave dances or other men duel in the sands. 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 enjoy kajirae. Certain paga taverns do permit free women, and even children, to visit. Such establishments are obviously run much more modestly than a normal paga tavern.
For more information, see Scroll #8, Paga Taverns.
Casino: Some paga taverns and cafes may have gaming tables for gambling. It is unclear if any businesses exist strictly for gambling, such as a casino. It would be possible and even likely due to many Goreans enjoying games of chance and gambling.
Insula: The plural form of this word is insulae (an ancient Roman term). Insulae are tenements, rentable apartments. They differ from inns in a few ways. Insulae are often rented for long terms than inns. Inns are also maintained in better condition. Insulae are considered to be cheap and quick to construct. They are built of wood and brick and are infamous for their proneness to fire problems. Because of this, insulae often can not obtain fire insurance. Room ceilings are often low, allowing the insulae to stack additional levels in less space. City laws often limit how high these insulae may be so space is at a premium. Stairways are also narrow, helping to conserve space. At the bottom of the stairs is a central vat for waste. The insulae residents will pour their own waste pots into this central area. Eventually the vat will be taken to the carnarii. By law, the central vat must remain covered. This is not always done. In addition, some of the lazier insulae occupants are not too careful in ensuring that all of their individual waste pots gets into the central vat thus this can be a disgusting area. Insulae often also have poor ventilation. Some insulae do not permit animals or slaves to be housed there while others have either basement kennels or slave rings in a yard. Insulae are not comfortable places to live but their cheapness is attractive. Most charge only a tarsk bit a night and they are popular for secret affairs and rendezvous.
Public Nurseries: These buildings are where very young children are educated. The basics of the First or Second Knowledge will be instilled here, dependent on the Caste of the children. The basics will be disseminated in story form to the children.
Library: Most cities have a library where thousands of scrolls are kept, all organized and catalogued by members of the Scribes Caste. These libraries are open to all castes, both High and Low. The libraries do not restrict information to the Low Castes. A Low Caste person could actually learn the truths of the Second Knowledge within a library. But, with illiteracy being very common, especially with the Low Castes, few such persons would ever learn those truths.
Palestra: The plural form of this word is palestrae (an ancient Roman term). These are basically gymnasiums for men. A city will often contain several different palestrae and these different palestrae will sometimes compete against each other. They rarely compete against palestrae from other cities. At these competitions, they will engage in various events such as hurling a stone (similar to a shot put), hurling a javelin both for distance and accuracy, various running races, high jumping and wrestling. These competitions resemble the ancient Greek Olympics in some ways. Contestants will generally be separated into age brackets. Winners will receive prizes, often wool ribbons of varied colors. The ultimate champion of the tournament will often receive a crown of Tur tree leaves, like a laurel wreath.
Gladiatorial Arena: Some cities enjoy gladiatorial combat, similar to the ancient Romans, and have a special arena for this entertainment. For example, Ar has a Stadium of Blades for such battles. Most of the arena combats are to the death. Thus, most of the combatants are slaves, criminals or poor mercenaries. Members of the Warrior Caste rarely enter the arenas. Successful arena combatants can win money or even their freedom. These combats are very popular with the Low Castes so men trying to earn the support of the people will host arena games. Some men, involved in pending litigation, may even host a game to help induce their jury to side with them. The games can be expensive so they are most often hosted by Merchants, Initiates, Ubars, and Administrators.
There is much variety in these arena combats. Men will battle with a wide assortment of weapons. They may battle each other or vicious animals such as larls and sleen. Both Outlaw of Gor and Assassin of Gor discuss some of the different types of combats that might be fought. Even slave girls might be forced to battle in the arenas, armed with steel claws attached to their hands. Some arenas might even be flooded to enact a sea battle. At this time, the water would also be filled with marine predators. As these gladiatorial games can be a major business, some cities contain training schools to educate such combatants.
Tarn Racing Stadium: Some cities enjoy tarn racing, similar to the chariot races of the ancient Romans, and have a special stadium for this entertainment. For example, Ar has a Stadium of Tarns, for such races. Tarn racing is generally more popular than gladiatorial combats and the audiences for each event are often quite dissimilar. Tarn racing teams are divided into factions, often denoted by specific colors. For example, in Ar there were factions divided into blue, orange, green, red, gold, yellow, silver and steel. Racing fans commonly wear a patch on these clothes to indicate the faction color they support. New factions can be created but it is an expensive and risky venture. Racing rules indicate that a new faction must win a significant portion of races during two racing seasons or lose their ability to remain a faction.
A tarn racing stadium will include not only a racing track but will also contain cylinders holding tarn cots, offices and dormitories of the various factions. Special racing tarns are used for these events. They are very light birds, cannot hold much weight and lack the stamina of other tarns. Thus riders generally need to be small men, like Earth jockeys. Racing tarns also have broader and shorter wings than other tarns and this permits them to make a more rapid take-offs and maneuver better within close quarters. Though permitted, few racers would use any other type of tarn in the races except for racing tarns. The typical tarn racing track is an open padded ring suspended over a net. The track is one pasang long is is shaped like a rectangle with rounded ends. The two straight sides are about 1700 feet long and the rounded corners are about 150 feet wide. The track is divided by twelve rings, each hung from a supporting tower. The six rings on the straight sides are rectangularly shaped. The six rings in the corners are round. Wooden tarn heads, kept in the middle area enclosed by the track, are used to make the number of laps that have been completed. The tarns start on perches and must race through the rings along the path of the track.
Tharlarion Racing Stadium: Some cities, especially in areas where the domestication of the tarn does not exist or is much rare, enjoy tharlarion races. The city of Venna is famed for its races. Special racing tharlarions are bred for this purpose and they are commomly larger and more agile than normal saddle tharlarion but smaller than draft or war tharlarions. Some famous breeds of racing tharlarion include the Venetzia, Torarii and Thalonian.
Slave Pens: Both public and private slave pens exist in most cities. They are essentially a place to board your slaves when you must leave the city for a time and you do not want to be accompanied by your slaves. The private pens are considered better, by owners and slaves, though they do cost more. The private pens may also be able to train your slave while you are away for an additional fee.
Slave Lockers: In some cities, there are slave lockers where an owner can keep his slave for a temporary time. The idea is similar to the lockers you see in Earth gymnasiums, bus depots, etc. An owner places a coin in a slot, often a tarsk bit, and receives a key to a specific locker. He then places the slave in the locker. The door of the locker is perforated so the girl can receive air. These lockers may be stacked together. Obviously a girl cannot be left for too long in these lockers as she has no food or water.
Slaver Houses: Each city will contain a number of Slaver Houses, complexes containing a multitude of buildings and employees engaged in the business of slavery. The larger Houses will contain such facilities as baths, kitchen, laundry, commissaries, storerooms, medical facilities, library, records room, wardrobe and jewelry chambers, tarncots, training rooms, recreation rooms, pens, kennels, chambers for processing, private sales rooms, and offices and quarters for staff including Metal Workers, Bakers, Cosmeticians, Bleachers, Dyers, Weavers, and Leather Workers. In some Slaver Houses, any free woman who visits must possess a special license. They must also remain in the company of a free man who is responsible for her. Part of the rationale for this is to prevent a slave from trying to escape by pretending to be a free woman. An additional reason is to protect the sensibilities of the free woman and prevent her from seeing certain aspects of the Slaver House which free women are considered better off not knowing.
Theaters: Most cities will have one or more stages for theater productions, and some of these stages may be quite elaborate. The types of theater on Gor vary from sophisticated comedies and serious dramas to low comedy, burlesque, farce and mime. Many roles are masked. In the more sophisticated dramas, all of the parts are played by men as women are not permitted on the stage. It is believed that the voices of women do not carry as well as a man. But, as most theaters have excellent acoustics and some masks have sound amplifiers, this is not a real problem. In the lesser forms of theater, women are permitted to take on roles though primarily slaves are used. Most theater seating, except for certain privileged sections, is not reserved in advance. You simply show up on the night of the performance and sit in any available seat. In the lower forms of theater, audience participation, comments and criticisms are encouraged. One of the most famous theaters on Gor is in the city of Ar. The Theater of Pentilicus Tallux is a vast structure and its stage could easily hold one thousand actors.
Temples: Initiates exist in nearly all Gorean cities and thus there is at least one temple to the Priest-Kings within each city. Temple styles vary widely, some being quite ornate and luxurious while others are very simple. Temples are constructed so that they are oriented to the Sardar Mountains, the home of the Priest-Kings. Temples do not contain chairs or benches, except for the Initiates, as Goreans are supposed to stand during religious services. Weapons are not permitted within the temples. A white rail divides the temple into two main areas. One area is for the worshippers and attendees to stand in. The other area is a sacred section for only the Initiates and anyone who has been specially anointed. At the altar area, there will likely be a depiction of the symbol of the Priest-Kings, a large golden circle. There are no actual representations of the Priest-Kings as they is considered blasphemous. Depending on the wealth of the temple, the symbol may or may not be an actual circle of gold. Some temples will also have choirs of young boys, and these boys stand outside the white rail. The boys are bald and have been castrated so that they will have lovely soprano voices.
Tarn Cot: These are buildings or structures to house tarns. Numerous buildings might possess steel projections on their exterior walls that act as perches for tarns but that is generally a temporary measure. Long term boarding is commonly done with tarn cots. Tarn cots vary in their construction and may be small or very large. Some cots are simply wire cages where the tarn is locked to a perch. Other cots fill large cylinders and have hundreds of perches on the walls. Again, the birds are commonly locked to the perches. The roof may have a portal that can open and close and allow the birds access to the sky. When the portal is closed, the tarns are sometimes allowed the fredom to fly around the interior of the cylinder.
Homes: The typical Gorean home is a simple place, without the clutter of a lot of furniture. The rooms are often circular rooms and possess about a seven-foot ceiling. Any windows are very narrow, so that a man cannot pass through them. Most entry doors will have locks, generally highly ornate and set into the center of the door. Spiral staircases are common in multi-level dwellings. The floor may be covered with rugs, furs or even tiles. If the house contains a garden or courtyard, it will commonly be located within the cylinder and not outside of it. Some private homes may contain a keep, constructed for personal defense. Such a keep is generally a round, stone tower. It will contain adequate supplies of food and water to withstand a short siege. The more wealthy or important the residents, then the more secure the keep will be constructed. Obviously wealthy Goreans live more luxurious lives. Their homes contain more artwork, fancy rugs, elaborate furniture and much more. Some wealthy Gorean men have a Pleasure Garden within their homes, a special residential area for their slaves. This would be like an Earth harem. Though the slaves there are often pampered with many luxuries, it can be a lonely life, especially if you are one of many slaves in that Pleasure Garden. Such a kajira may not see her owner for weeks if not months at a time. Not all Goreans own their own homes. Some live in dormitories within their Caste cylinders such as the Warrior or Initiate Castes. Others rent rooms in insulae, especially those with limited income.
Merchant Shops: A myriad of different merchant shops will exist in each city. There are few stores though that sell general items. For the most part, stores specialize in certain items. Though that may be more time consuming than being able to shop in a single store, many cities congregate the various shops together and/or have public markets. Most items are created very close to where they are sold. This allows merchants to better examine the quality of the products they sell. Few shops have windows and they are commonly either open to the street or have counters open to the street. At night, shutters will be closed and locked to protect the store. The more expensive stores will not be open to the street. Instead, there will be a door leading through the store into an inner courtyard where the wares will be displayed. Haggling is the order of business in the markets as the prices are not fixed. Thus, markets are noisy and fun places, busy with the constant hustle of commerce. Slaves may visit merchant shops but if they are unaccompanied by a free person, they must wait until all the free patrons have been waited upon.
Items manufactured within a city, and considered to be worthy, may be stamped with the official city seal to authenticate the origin of the goods. For example, the goods of Ar are considered to be of excellent worth so that the seal of Ar is important to many. Other cities are known for the quality of specific products so that their city seal is important on those items. But, these stamps can and are sometimes forged so a buyer must be careful of which Merchant he buys from.
Some of the Caste types that own Merchant shops in a city may include Bakers, Bleachers, Cloth Worker, Cosmeticians, Dyers, Leather Workers, Metal Workers (including precious metals like silver and gold), Potters, Rug Makers, Saddle Makers, Tarn Keepers, Tharlarion Keeper, Vintners, Weavers. Other craftsmen with shops might include carvers, varnishers, table makers, gem cutters, jewelers, carders, tanners, makers of slippers, toolers of leather, glaziers, and weapon smiths. There might also be curio shops that sell a variety of unique and different items. You will also find produce markets, selling a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats and other food items.
Grain Cylinders: Cities often have large storage cylinders for grain, especially to protect against the possibility of a siege.
Siege Reservoirs: These large cylinders contain stores of fresh water. Like the Grain Cylinders, Siege Reservoirs are a defense against the possibility of siege.
Public Kitchens: There are no "restaurants" on Gor as we know them. People may get food at a paga tavern or inn. There are also public kitchens where people can go to eat though these are more functional than social places.
Public Laundry: This city service is provided to any citizen and slaves work at this facility. Free women generally have to do very little work at home unless they want to. Such public facilities allow them to have the work done by slaves.
City Workers
Slaves are used for much of the labor within a city though there are certain activities that slaves are not permitted to work on. Slaves that are owned by the city are called "state slaves." Female state slaves may all have to wear a similar mode and/or color of dress. For example, in Ar, female state slaves are garbed in gray. Female state slaves may be used in the public kitchens, laundries, to tend children, to serve at official feasts and dinners, for cleaning and a myriad of other tasks. State slavery is considered an undesirable position, especially because it is one where the sexual needs of the slave are often ignored. At times, the kajirae may be loaned to city guards, workers or male slaves. But, this is not the norm. Because of this deprivation, state slaves often bring in a good price when sold to a private party.
Male work slaves are usually used on merchant ships, mines, great farms or as porters on wharves. Within the cities, male work slaves are commonly chained together while they work. A slave work chain might have up to one hundred men on it. Within a city, male slaves will perform either heavy work or unpleasant tasks, such as emptying the city's waste vats. Male slaves though will not be used for road construction, siege works, raising walls, or the construction of public buildings. Those tasks are reserved for free men.
There are two groups of free men that often do such types of work: the free gang and the free chain. A free gang consists of men, skilled or semi-skilled, who work under a general contractor. The contractor rents the services of these men to various cities. The gang may travel around in wagons, working in numerous different locations. A free chain consists of criminals. Instead of going to prison, the men are "sold" to the owner of the free chain. For the length of their prison sentence, the men must work for the free chain. As the men are obtained cheaply, the chain can be rented out inexpensively. These men are kept under strict discipline and the work master does have the legal right to kill the prisoners. Some of the work masters have a lengthy series of rules for the men on the free chain. If they violate any of the rules, then time will be added onto their sentences. Less scrupulous work masters ensure that such men are always guilty of some infraction, thus guaranteeing a longer sentence.
Miscellaneous City Items
Accent: Though nearly all cities speak Gorean, many cities acquire their own special accent. This accent can often be used to discern the city of origin of someone speaking.
Script: Though most cities use the same common script, there are differences among the cities in how they write. Though the formation of the cursive letters is fairly standard, the differences are in such areas as letter size, letter spacing, linkages between letters, length of loops, nature of end strokes, and more. Thus, like the accent, one's script can often be used to identify your city of origin. The peoples of the Tahari region, though they speak Gorean, have their own script, called Taharic.
Graffiti: Graffiti is common in Gorean cities, especially in the areas of the markets and baths. The graffiti can range from crude sexual comments to fine poetry. Would-be poets may post their works and others will then comment on it. Men might rate bath or paga slaves, adding comments to the ratings of others. Graffiti is not commonly seen as a city nuisance.
Public Boards: These boards are official areas where news and messages can be posted. They are most often located in the main plazas or squares in the city. There are two main types of these boards: state boards and privately owned boards. State boards are only for official city announcements and news releases. Privately owned boards sell space so that anyone can post advertisements, messages or anything else they wish. Heralds, criers and sign carriers can also be hired for advertising or to publicize a message.
Art: Art is taken very seriously on Gor and is considered an enhancement to the city. Thus, cities will often commission artists to create statues, murals, friezes and other art objects for the city. Such items will often commemorate important people or events in the history of the city. The beauty of a city is very important to its citizens.
Insurance: Certain types of building insurance are available within the cities. Though only fire insurance is specifically mentioned in the books, other forms of insurance may exist as well. Insulae often cannot obtain fire insurance because they are considered too high a risk.
Pace of Life: A Gorean city is not commonly like the fast-paced cities of Earth. The pace of life is much slower, more relaxed. Though the general Gorean work day is ten Ahn, about twelve hours, it is a much more leisurely shift. For example, two Ahns for lunch is not unusual and Goreans often leave early as well. In addition, a break during the day, even a lengthy one, is not uncommon. Goreans might close their shops simply to observe a beautiful sky. This would tend to reduce the amount of stress in the lives of Goreans and be more conducive to good health.
City Defenses
In case of emergency, such as a natural disaster, an imminent attack or some other major danger, cities often have alarm bars. These are hollow metal tubes that are struck by hammers to warn the citizenry. It is unknown whether certain signals delineate certain types of emergencies. For example, there could be one type of signal for an imminent attack while another signal concerned a city fire. Multiple alarm bars might be placed in different sections of the city to ensure that everyone hears the sounds.
Fire within a city can be devastating but the cities have fire wagons that handle such matters. A fire wagon would be equivalent to an Earth fire truck though it is unknown how such a wagon handles fires. Fire wagons, possibly pulled by tharlarion, race through the streets to a fire. To facilitate their movement, many buildings at intersections have rounded corners so the wagons can turn quicker. Fire wagons may bring their own supply of water to help combat the fire. It is unknown if they possess any chemical mixtures to fight fires.
The worst disaster that can affect a city though is to be attacked and conquered by a foreign city. Thus, cities make preparations to enhance their chances of defending against such an invasion. The city walls are one important aspect of this defense. Some cities also have moats surrounding their cities. The danger of aerial attacks is very real because of tarnsmen so tarn wire was invented to handle such a threat. Tarn wire consists of very thin wires that are stretched over a city. If a tarn strikes one of these wires, the wire will slice the bird, possibly amputating a wing or even its head. Most cities will not place these wires in place unless there is a clear threat. A city's Warriors are also a key component to the city's defenses. They must be brave and skilled, able to repulse the efforts of the attackers.
To effectively attack a city often requires siege weapons, created and manned by trained siege engineers. Siege engines are used to topple walls and gates, to attack the defenders and to place attackers into the city. Catapults, onagers, springals and ballistae are used to launch stones, missiles, flaming oil and more at a city. A giant chain grapnel can be fired by one of these siege engines. Once it attaches to part of the city walls or gates, the engine can pull back the grapnel and destroy parts of the structure. Siege towers, with battering rams, can be used against a city's gates. Attackers may dig tunnels and try to bypass the city walls though the defenders are likely to dig their own tunnels to engage the attackers. Successfully attacking a city though is a difficult task, often requiring the attacker to outman the defenders by at least three to one.
An attacker could attempt to besiege a city but that is rarely effective on Gor. Most cities contain adequate supplies of food and water to outlast a lengthy siege. Usually, the attackers will run of out supplies before the defenders.
The most successful method to conquer a city include trickery or bribery. It is said that the legendary mercenary captain, Dietrich of Tarnburg, has captured more cities with gold than iron. "More gates are opened with gold than iron." (Magicians of Gor, p.188) "It is sometimes said that any city can fall behind the walls of which can be placed a tharlarion laden with gold." (Mercenaries of Gor, p.101) "I can take any city," said Marlenus, "behind whose walls I can get a tarn of gold." (Hunters of Gor, p.140) The city of Turia, a city that had never been conquered before, was captured by the Wagon Peoples in Nomads of Gor through trickery. The city of Ar was captured in Magicians of Gor by Cos through bribery and trickery, a number of citizens of Ar willing to betray the city to the Cosians.
If you conquer a city, you often claim the spoils of war, the usual fees collected by a conqueror. The assessment of these fees is meant to remove any potential future threat the conquered city will ever be. The following is a typical set of such fees though it will vary depending on the desires of the conqueror. The population is disarmed and possession of a weapon is made a capital offense. All of the officers in the Warrior Caste, and their families, are impaled. A thousand of the most beautiful free women are given to the conqueror's highest officers as slaves. Thirty percent of the remaining free women will become slaves for the troops. Seven thousand free men will become siege slaves. All of the children under twelve years old will be randomly distributed to the other free cities. This seems to support that adoption does exist on Gor. Any slaves in the city will belong to the first man to recollar them. As can be seen, such fees devastate a conquered city.
For more information on war, see Scroll #12, Warrior Caste.
Outside the City
Roads: The cities of Gor can be reached via a system of roads, often kept in very good condition. On these roads, Goreans will commonly stay to the left of someone passing in the opposite direction. This allows a person to keep their sword arm, commonly the right arm, to the other person. Wagons commonly travel down the center of the road except when passing. This usually leads to a set of ruts in the middle of the road. Most roads are not traveled at night as it is considered too dangerous. Important roads often are marked by cylindrical pasang stones. These stones will be inscribed with the symbol of the closest city and indicate the approximate number of pasangs to reach the city. There are three primary types of roads: great road, secondary road, and tertiary road. The great roads are commonly built next to major cities and are often military roads. They are built very solidly of stone, meant to last for quite some time. These would be similar to some of the best roads of ancient Rome. Secondary Roads are most often graveled roads though sometimes they may be paved with logs or plated stone. They can be difficult to pass during rainy weather. Tertiary roads are minor roads, simple dirt trails. Inclement weather can often make these roads impassable. Some cities deliberately fail to properly maintain their roads in order to inhibit the ability of other cities to reach it. For example, Besnit is one of those cities.
Villages: A number of villages will be located in the vicinity of a city. The villages often provide the city with needed food such as meats, milk, fruits, vegetables and grains. The villages may be tributary to the city though it is more common for the village to remain free. The Peasant Caste is a proud Caste, protective of their freedom and independence. If the village does supply food to the city, whether it is tributary or not, the city will help defend that village. This is a traditional matter, not an actual obligation, followed by nearly all cities. But, if a city fails to protect such villages, it is unlikely the village would willingly provide them with their produce.
Farms/Orchards/Ranches: Beside the agricultural lands owned by the villages, there are also independents who may own fields, farms, orchards and ranches. Bosk, hurt and verr ranches are common. Bosks are commonly raised for milk and meat while hurts and verrs are raised primarily for their wool. Ka-la-na and grape orchards are common for winemakers. Sul and Sa-Tarna fields are also usually located near cities.
Mines: Mines, for various metals such as silver, iron and copper, are located in hilly and mountainous regions. Such mines are valuable assets and disputes over their ownership are common on Gor. Tharna is said to have some of the greatest silver mines on Gor though other cities, such as Treve and Argentum, do have silver mines, though not as valuable.
Villas: Not everyone wants to live within the city though they do want to remain in close proximity to it. They also do not want to live in a small village either. One option is to live in villas located within a few pasangs of the main city. For example, in the Fulvian Hills near Ar, there is a major villa region. There are also villas located near Lydius.
Dar-Kosis Pits: Some cities have Dar-Kosis pits located outside their walls. These pits are meant to permanently house the contagious victims of the dreaded Dar-Kosis. The pits are commonly built like wells though they are quite large, about 100 feet deep and 200 feet wide. There are caves dug into the walls of the pits, the living areas of the infected, and usually a cistern in the center of each pit to provide water. There are Dar-Kosis pits located outside the walls of Ar.
City Expansion
There are numerous ways for a city to expand its territory, power and influence. A city's military might can be used to conquer other cities. For example, Ar was able to conquer twelve other cities, becoming more like an empire than a simple city-state. But, conquering other cities is a difficult task, requiring the use of vast resources. And it is often unsuccessful. There are easier and more efficient ways to expand.
Cities can try to spread their influence through commerce and financial support. For some time, Ar, Cos and Tyros attempted to financially influence the towns of the Vosk River, vying for control of the river. This type of influence works best if your city possesses a resource that is needed by another city and which it would be difficult for that city to acquire on its own.
Colonization of new lands is another common method for cities to expand and there are two main types of colonies. The traditional colony actually becomes a separate entity from the main city. They are often formed when the main city becomes overpopulated or there is a serious political division within the city. The colonization is carefully planned and before the colonists even leave the original city, they will have formulated a charter, constitution and laws. The colony will acquire its own Home Stone, thus acknowledging its own independence. Though the colony is independent, it will still retain some ties to the original city such as trade. The other type of colony is more an outpost than a true colony. These outposts retain close ties to the original city and are not permitted to acquire their own Home Stone. They are simple an extension of the main city. For example, Port Cos, on the Vosk River, was a traditional colony formed by citizens of Cos. Ar's Station, also on the Vosk River, was only an outpost, an extension of Ar.
When a colony, outpost or other new community is formed, they must first claim their new land. To do so, requires the yellow stake of claimancy. To claim this new land, one must place a yellow stake into the ground during the morning. Next, one must remain there and defend that stake until sunset. If you are still there at sunset, and no one has contested your claim, then the land becomes yours and your Home Stone can be placed there.
"There are good fellows in all cities." (Magicians of Gor, p.240)