A Free Man is easily recognized by his lust for life. He recognizes beauty in the smallest things of nature and still sees the grand scale drawing of life. He is a Man who in his own home is a Ubar(war chief holding power) yet who understands the brotherhood of Mankind whether it is sword that separates or brings closure or the fields that He plows to sell his crop to the Merchant. He is not afraid of death so much as afraid of a life not lived prior to it. He relishes challenges posed day to day and formidably tackles them. In the land of roleplay Gor there is challenges with the environment, challenges with encroaching enemies, challenges with owning slaves and challenges in courting Free Women.
All Men are Ubars within their own Home. Free Men range in variety as well from the Peasant said to be "the Ox on Which the Home Stone Rests" as they support the land with its agriculture to the Initiate that is said to serve the Priest Kings living a celibate life and all that fall into the range between. Survival of the fittest was pretty much the standard fare of this magnificent land. The Warrior Caste protected its Home Stone pledging their allegiance to protect and letting swords set their limits. We have Men that have never had to wield a sword for their Caste yet willing to pick one up and use it to defend their Home Stone and their livelihood and for that they are an Ubar in their own Home.
Proud, viral spirited Men intent on living out their destinies. Passionate in their beliefs, passionate in their life, not afraid of hard work or that which it takes to reap the rewards. The world of Gor was built upon the backs of these Men. From the thinkers like Tarl, Samos and Marlenus to the Brute strength of the likes of Kamchak or the poetry of Hurtha; they all came together united in this land by one thing. All Men and proud of their existence as Men, the world as John Norman penned it. They didn't offer pity as it was frowned on, nor did they seek it themselves. Men glorious Men taking that which they wanted without enslaving themselves with hatred, pollution and the weakness that the society of Earth rained upon their counterparts.
The Free Man, as the Peasant was the Oxen that the Home Stone rested on ..so is the Free Man the Oxen that Gor itself rests on. They are Gor, They are what makes it continue to be Gor.
written by Sabina
A Free Woman is all that and then some, but most importantly in Gor she is a woman uncollared. She can be vibrant and alive or miserable and a shrew though she risks her neck if ireing the Free Man though her station in life is what keeps the lineage of Free going so it should be with great thought before this woman is enslaved. There is purpose to the Free Woman as she stands alongside the Free Man and bears his children into this world often running his Home as well as practicing a Caste.
There is a wide variety of Free Women from the beautiful Women of the South veiled heavily and in robes of concealment to the gorgeous Women of the North that wear the kirtle as well as the Outlaws, Panther girls, Savage Women and the Women of the Wagons People. Each Culture of Gor presents the Women and their duties differently. Some are kept within walled gardens hearing little gossip of the Men but through the whisperings of slaves. Some are quite visible and vocal, usually protected by their families. A Free Woman usually doesn't travel alone unescorted anywhere as she can quickly find herself at the mercy of a Free Man of another Home Stone. Most wear robes to cover their body and veils for face, for many a woman showing her bare belly to a man is in fact showing her want to be ensalved. Usually in their own Home Stone though they are protected as long as they follow said laws of the Home. The beauty of a wanton slave is only matched by the challenge of making oneself that is free to be so. It is why Free females do not travel without escort or protection. A Man's right to make what is within his grasp his in all ways as long as his steel can do it, so there is always the threat of enslavement. A Free woman wondering alone is meat on feet for the Man's pleasure in any way he decides whether for ransom or sex.
A Free Man's relationship with a Free Woman involves what is known as a Free Companionship. It is somewhat similar to a marriage on earth though it has a specified length of one year in a contract witnessed. It can be for political or financial gain and even sometimes for love. Free Woman may be or may not be submissive, if submissive she is really submissive only to One and usually her sexuality is expressed in closed quarters as she gives no reason to be enslaved.
A Free Woman is just that ..Free .in all her beauty and splendor as she moves through Gor. Freedom is a funny words at times as Free Woman are actually not free to do whatever they want, but have to follow the morality of the Home Stone they are pledged to and its subsequent laws.
written by Sabina
Marauders of Gor, the ninth book of the Gorean series, deals with the lands and culture of Torvaldsland, a land in the northern latitudes of Gor. Torvaldsland is based on the Vikings of Earth's history, circa 700 to 1100 A.D.
If the calendar of Torvaldsland is accurate, then the Voyages of Acquisition brought Vikings to Gor around 970 A.D.
Torvaldsland is a general area on the Gorean map, almost like a large country. It is not simply a specific city or town. The area is generally considered to begin near the end of the northern forests and continue northwards up to frozen wastes. The skerry of Einar, by the Torvaldsmark, is thought to mark the boundary of the Torvaldsland and the southlands.
The Torvaldsmark is a tall rune-stone, like a needle pointing to the sky.
Torvaldsland ends near the frozen sea areas, at the lands of the Red Hunters. The men of Torvaldsland though sometimes have different ideas concerning the boundaries of Torvaldsland. They like to claim that their boundary encompasses anywhere that their ships land. Their ships have been known to journey as far south as Schendi and Bazi and as far west as Tyros and Cos.
The largest town south of Torvaldsland is Kassau, located at the northern edge of the northern forests. It is most well known as the seat of the High Initiate of the north who claims spiritual sovereignty over all of the north including Torvaldsland. His temple is the greatest building in Kassau, towering above the wooden huts and merchant homes of the rest of the residents. The nearest other Initiate temple is hundreds of pasangs south in the city of Lydius. During the events of Marauders of Gor, Ivar Forkbeard and his group of raiders did sack and loot the temple, killing many of the Initiates. It is unknown if the temple was rebuilt to its prior glory.
Kassau is protected by a wall of sharpened logs with a defensive catwalk. The wall possesses only two gates. The larger gate faces the inlet to Thassa. The smaller gate leads south to the forest. Kassau has a population of about eleven hundred people. There are also a number of nearby villages that rely on Kassau as their market place. Their population would thus make the total area population at around twenty-three hundred people. The primary businesses of Kassau are trade, lumber and fishing. There are enormous plankton banks on the north of town where parsit fish are very common.
Parsit fish are silvery and striped with brown. They are a common food fish in the north. The white-bellied grunt is a large game fish that feeds on parsits and is also a common food fish in the north. The odor of the fish-drying sheds in Kassau carries far out to sea.
Lumber is a valuable trade item and is often milled and traded to Torvaldsland. In exchange, they often receive furs from the north. Kassau also trades to the north weapons, iron bars, salt and luxury items. These are usually brought from Lydius to Kassau.
In the legends of Torvaldsland, the founder and first Jarl, or ruler, of the land was Torvald. His ship was known as the Black Shark. The god Thor allegedly bestowed a special gift to Torvald in exchange for a gold ring. This gift was the Stream of Torvald. The Stream is actually a current in Thassa that moves eastward to the coast and then northward. It is similar to a wide river in the sea, several pasangs wide. The temperature of the water in this current is warmer than the surrounding water. This keeps Torvaldsland from becoming a frigid wasteland. The warmer waters allow agriculture to occur.
Due to the vast importance of the Stream of Torvald, the Torvaldsland calendar numbers its years from the time of this gift ftom Thor. The Spring Equinox is used as their New Year, like most Gorean cities. The Rune Priests are the ones who keep the calendars. As the events of Marauders of Gor begin, it is the year 1006. This year would equate to the normal Ar reckoning of 10,122 C.A.
There is a special mountain in Torvaldsland called the Torvaldsberg. It resembles a broad spear blade that has been bent at the tip. It is over four and a half pasangs in height, over seventeen thousand feet high. Legend says that the great Torvald sleeps within the mountain, waiting to rise until he is needed once more. During the events of Marauders of Gor, Ivar Forkbeard and Tarl Cabot found a cave opening into the mountain. It was located on a ledge just below the peak. The cave contained several rooms, covered in ancient runic lettering and pictographs (amongst them a horse). There was a central chamber containing a stone couch covered in black fur. There were also weapons and armor here, allegedly belonging to Torvald. But Torvald's body was not present. There were no bones, no remanants.
One of the weapons was a war arrow. It was over a yard long with a shaft almost an inch thick. It bore the sign of Torvald. When a war arrow is carried, all the men of Torvaldsland must respond, no matter what their situation.
This war arrow was later used to rally the men of Torvaldsland and the surrounding areas against an army of Kurii. One of the men who arrives to the call names himself Hrolf of the East. He is over eight feet tall, bearded, and carries a spear. He acquits himself quite well in the war against the Kurii and then tells the people that he will return the war arrow to Torvaldsberg. Just before he leaves, he speaks to Tarl and states that his name is Torvald. If true, Torvald would be over 1000 years old.
There is a Gorean legend that every thousand years the Priest Kings bring a warrior to Gor who will change the world. Was Torvald the last such warrior, prior to Tarl Cabot's arrival?
Torvaldsland itself is a harsh and rocky land with many cliffs, inlets and mountains. Its geography resembles the Scandanavian countries of Earth. Arable soil is rare, found in thin patches and extremely valuable. Thus, most of their farms are very small. Due to the rarity of good land, farms are isolated.communication between these isolated farms is often by sea in small boats. Famine is not unknown and in those times, people must subsist on bark, lichens and seaweed.
The growing season is about one hundred and twenty days. Sa-Tarna is their primary crop and is commonly sown in the fall, a month after the harvest festival. This allows the crop to develop a strong root system before the deep frost will temporarily stop its growth. Tospits, peas, beans, cabbage, onions, suls, fruit trees, and radishes are also grown though larmas cannot grow there.
Tospits, also called "seaman's larma," are important because they can be eaten while at sea to prevent certain nutritional deficiencies resulting in scurvy. This is vital to a culture that is often at sea.
There are few trees.
Ka-la-na and temwood will not grow there. Thus, those woods are very valuable. A hall constructed of ka-la-na wood would be seen as a great luxury. Torvaldslanders also raise certain animals such as milk bosk, verr and tarsks. During the summer, most of their bosk will be driven into the mountains to graze. In the winter, the animals will be brought back. Bees are also kept to produce honey.
In Torvaldsland, they enjoy alcoholic beverages such as ale, beer and mead. Mead is made from fermented honey, water and often spices. It is much preferred over paga. Their drinks seem to be of high alcoholic content. A common drinking vessel is the horn. As it has no base, it cannot stand upright. Thus, you must either drain its contents or pass it to someone else.
They have ice houses to keep matters cold. Ice is brought down from the mountains on sledges. The ice is then kept covered with wood chips.
The men of Torvaldsland are typically blond-haired, blue-eyed, tall and muscular men. Their hair is often long and may even be braided. Many are seven to eight feet tall, taller than the average Goreans of the cities and elsewhere. Most are raised on isolated farms close to the sea. Much of their early education is done through harsh games where they learn the essential skills of manhood. They learn to run, jump, swim, hunt, and wield the sword, axe and spear. They are also taught important rune signs, tallying, counting, addition, subtraction, and weighing. They become inured to the cold weather. They eventually become used to the labors of ship rowing and the ways of war. Most men are also very handy with their hands. But, it is not dignified for a warrior to be expert with letters. Such a task is considered to be beneath them. They are proud of their illiteracy or semi-literacy.
Torvaldsland does not have Home Stones or a Caste system. Nearly all the men are warriors, hunters and seamen. They are generalists which is essential to the survival of their people. They live by hunting, fishing, trade and raiding.
Though they speak Gorean in Torvaldsland, some of their dialects can be quite difficult to understand. The men commonly wear shaggy jackets, trousers of skin and wool tunics. More important or wealthier men may wear cloaks of scarlet or purple.
The free women of Torvaldsland do not veil themselves. They wear wool kirtles but theirs are not split like those of the slavegirls. Free women have much power in the north, probably more than the women of the south. A ring of keys or scissors on a belt signify an important mistress of a great house. All free women commonly carry a knife.
The men do not leave their house unless they are armed. While at home, their weapons are always close at hand. They are often hung on the wall behind their couch.
They will be hung a foot beyond the reach of their slave whose ankle would be chained to the couch. While out, they wear their cloaks so as to keep their sword arm, commonly the right arm, free. The men will wear a master belt. Pouches and other items such as a sword will hang from this belt. Even if unarmed, this belt will hold a knife. Luck signs may be carved into the leather of the belt. Some believe this belt received its name from the fact that it is sometimes used to discipline slave girls. Tarl thinks this is an unlikely origin.
A sword belt may also be worn, slung over the left shoulder. An axe belt is also common. It too is worn over the left shoulder and descends to the master belt. The axe is then slung over the left shoulder, so the axe head sits behind your head and to the left.
The Gorean word for axe is the same as the Earth word. The axe of Torvaldsland is a large, broad ax, with a single curved blade. It has a hammer-like back, of hardened iron. There are many tricks in the use of the axe such as feints, short strokes, using the handle to jab and punch, etc. The axe wielder generally only needs to land one blow to win a battle. In Torvaldsland, it is regarded as clumsiness to have to strike a foe more than twice with the axe blade. If you can maneuver behind the ax, you can meet it. That requires excellent speed and timing.
Raising your axe in your right hand is a salute in Torvaldsland.
Bows are common in Torvaldsland. They use a short horn bow, formed of pieces of split tabuk horn and bound with sinew. The bow uses short, heavy arrows. It lacks the range and power of the longbow and crossbow. But, at short range, such as within one hundred and fifty yards, it can administer a strong strike. It does have the advantage of being more manageable in close quarters than other types of bows and is easier to fire through an oar port on a ship. Thus, the raiders of the northlands prefer such a weapon while they are on their ships.
As for armor, the men of Torvaldsland use shields and helmets. Their shields are commonly wooden and round. Their helmets are conical with a nose-guard that can slip up and down. At the neck and sides of the helmet there usually hangs a mantle of linked chain. Such helmets may also have horns, similar to the helmets of the Earth Vikings. Bog iron is common in Torvaldsland but it is inferior to the iron of the south. Thus, bog iron is primarily used in the creation of agricultural tools. They prefer their weapons to be made of southern steel so they trade for such weapons or the iron to make their own.
One unique characteristic of warfare in Torvaldsland is the "Frenzy of Odin." This is essentially a berserker rage. It can affect only a few individuals or an entire unit. Essentially, it places a warrior into a fury so that he battles without concern for his own injuries. He will appear to be in a trance, his eyes vacant and possibly slobbering or drooling. After a battle, the person may need others to bring him out of the trance. The Frenzy can even affect people not of Torvaldsland. For example, Tarl Cabot was affected by the Frenzy just before a battle against the Kurii. The Torvaldsland warriors stood as a group and the Frenzy seemed to pass through them like a contagion. Tarl felt the Frenzy and could not prevent it from taking control of him. This would probably only happen when an entire unit is affected by the Frenzy and not just a few individuals.
The Thing, or Thing-Fair, is esentially a large tournament and fair in Torvaldsland. The men may participate in a wide variety of contests and can win talmits. A talmit is a headband and they are not always just prizes. Talmits may also signify different districts, officers and Jarls. They may be made from a variety of materials such as the skin of a sea sleen. Men often bring their slaves to the Thing.
Merchants and men of other castes from cities south of Torvaldsland may also attend the Thing.
Combat is prohibited at the Thing but men can still carry their weapons. This prohibition does not extend to duels. It also enables outlaws to attend. Each free man of Torvaldsland must attend the Thing unless they are a farmer who works his farm alone. Each of the men who attends must present to the Jarl hosting the Thing a helmet, shield and either sword, ax or spear in good condition. Each man must maintain his own weapons. The only exception is mercenaries who are in the direct hire of the Jarl. In that case, the Jarl supplies their weapons. Even those who cannot attend the Thing must still maintain their own weapons and present them at least once a year to the Jarl.
Some of the contests at the Thing include swimming, archery, singing, poetry composition, wrestling and rhyming games. They also must climb the mast, a fifty-foot tall pole of needle wood. There is a broad jump on level land and a walk of the "oar" that is actually just a long pole. There is spear throwing for distance and accuracy. Riddle guessing is popular. One such riddle in the books was "What is black, has eighty legs and eats gold?" The correct answer is the Black Sleen, the ship of Thorgard of Scagnar.
There is even a rough bat and ball game. In this game, there are two men on each side. The object of the game is to keep the ball away from the other team. No player can hold the ball for more than a referee's count of twenty. The player can throw it over his head and try to catch it himself. He can also throw the ball to his teammate or hit it to him with the bat. The bats are made of heavy wood and the ball is wooden as well. Being struck by a bat or the ball can be painful and injuries are common.
There are even beauty contests for bond-maids. The winner will receive a pastry while her owner will get a silver tarn.
It is rare for a man to win two talmits at a Thing. During Marauders of Gor, Ivar Forkbeard wins an unprecedented six talmits at the Thing hosted by Svein Blue Tooth.
Torvaldsland men also play other ball games including a hockey-type game. Legendary Torvald is said to have been quite skilled in that game. They also enjoy playing Stones.
The common hall is a longhouse, about 125 feet long. Instead of being made of wood, the walls are made of turf and stone. The walls may be up to eight or more feet thick. The hall is oriented north to south so as to reduce the exposure to the biting north wind. At the center of the hall will be a rounded pit for a fire. Ventilation is supplied by narrow holes in the roof so the hall is often smoky. The hall is essentially a single room that serves as residence, dining room and sleeping area. The kitchen area is separated from this main room by a wooden partition. The roof is only about six feet high so most of the men must bend and stoop to walk around.
Down the length of the hall, in the center, there is a trench dug about a foot deep and twelve feet wide. In this trench are set tables and benches. There are also wooden posts here that help support the roof.
The edges of the hall are the sleeping areas and stones mark off each person's area. Each area is about eight feet long. At the edge of the sleeping area some logs that have iron bands around them. The bands have chains and iron fetters, used to secure female slaves.
Windows are rare in these halls. If they do exist, they use the dried afterbirth membrane of a bosk fetus to cover the window.
Svein Blue Tooth possesses a true hall, fitting as he is the High Jarl of Torvaldsland. His hall is made of much valuable wood and is truly a marvel. The interior hall, not counting the rooms that lead into it or its balcony, is two hundred feet long, forty feet wide and forty feet high. No one need bend or stoop in his hall. On the western side of the hall is a long table. Behind this table is the high seat, also known as the "rightful seat." It is the seat of the Jarl, the master of the house. The seat is large enough that three to four men could sit in it. It is a great honor for someone to be permitted to sit in this seat with the Jarl. On each side of this throne are pillars, each eight feet high and eight inches in diameter. The pillars bear the luck signs of the Jarl's house. There are then long benches to either side of the pillars and on the other side of the table. Another place of honor is on the bench directly in front of the throne seat. This seat allows one to easily converse with the Jarl.
On the north and south walls there are other long tables with benches. There are bowls of salt on these tables to help differentiate the rankings of the men present. Those men permitted to sit "above the salts" are the ones with greater prestige and ranking. Everyone at the Jarl's table is considered to be "above the salts."
There is a fire pit almost the length of the hall down the middle of the room. This is where all the food is cooked. The sleeping area is also at the edges of the hall. Each man's shield and weapons are hung on the wall above his designated sleeping area. High officers have private sleeping rooms outside this main room. The main room is also decorated with tapestries and carvings, commonly depicting scenes of war, hunting or ship life.
The only mint within one thousand pasangs of Torvaldsland is in the city of Lydius. Thus, some jarls coin their own money. They stamp small rectangles of iron or gold with their seal. Ring money is also used but it is not stamped by a jarl. Many transactions in this area are done with pieces of gold or silver, broken off from any item. They do not care about the artistic beauty of such items. To them, they care only for its monetary value based on the type of metal of an item. Trading is done with the southlands to obtain certain items as well. Salt is an important trade commodity. It is often obtained from seawater and the burning of seaweed.
Raiding is their primary means though of acquiring wealth, traveling up and down the coast in their serpent ships.
The ships of Torvaldsland differ greatly from the ships of the south. Ships in the south are of carvel construction while the ships of Torvaldsland are clinker built. Clinker built ships are constructed with overlapping, flexible planking. Tarred ropes and tar serve as calking. The outside planks are also coated with painted tar to protect them from the ravages of the sea and from ship worms. Carvel ships are built with planking that is flush and does not overlap. Though clinker ships leak more, requiring more frequent baling, they are more seaworthy in the rough waters of the north.
In Torvaldsland, the custom is to bail your ship once a day if it needs it or not. Bailing is also known as "drying the belly of the serpent." A ship that must be bailed three times in two days though is seen as unseaworthy. Realistically, many of those ships are still used, especially late in the year after the ship has loosened some after months of being at sea. In the spring, these ships will be recalked and tarred.
The bailing scoop is a wooden tool with four sides. It is about six inches wide with a straight but rounded handle. You must check the scoop for snails so they are not thrown overboard. Snails are edible and are also good for for fish bait.
Torvaldsland ships are often not well suited for cargo. Their decking is loose though and can be removed to increase cargo space. To protect their cargo and men from rain or sun, a large boskhide may be hung over the deck. At night, the men will sleep on the deck in waterproof bags, sewn from sea sleens. Their ships also do not carry lateen sails but have a single, square sail. They cannot sail as close to the wind but they also only need a single sail. They simply take in and let out the canvas with the reefing ropes.
The clinker ships have a prow on each end, making it easier to beach them. It is also difficult to ram such a ship because of its small size and ability to rapidly reverse direction. On some of the lighter raiders, the tarnhead at the prow is hinged. This helps ensure more stability in rough seas by allowing the weight to be decreased from the prow's height. The tarnhead is always at the prow when entering a harbor, inlet or river. It would be a sign you came in peace if the tarnhead was hinged back as you entered a harbor, inlet or river. A white shield hung on the mast is another way to signify you come in peace. A red shield would signify more warlike intentions. When not at war, the shields of the men aboard are hung from the sides of the ship.
One common ship is known as a "twenty bencher" or a "serpent" ship. This means there are twenty benches to each side. These benches are for the rowers and there are two men to each oar. Their oars are longer and narrower than oars on southern ships, allowing the oars to sweep the water faster making the ship move faster. The keel to beam ratio is one to eight and is also designed for swiftness.
With a good wind, their ships can cover 200-250 pasangs in a day. Most northern ships do not have a rowing frame. Instead, the rowers sit in the hull, facing aft. Raiding ships are often painted with red and black in irregular lines. At night, such ships moving inland on a river would be harder to detect. These ships have two anchor hooks, one fore and one aft. They resemble grappling hooks and are attached to the ship by tarred ropes. They each weight about one hundred pounds. Some of these ships may have a small longboat tied up on the decking of the after quarter.
Torvaldsland sailors guide their vessels by a myriad of indicators. They note the direction of the waves correlated with the prevailing winds, the angles of the shadows of the gunwales falling across the thwarts, and the location of the sun and stars. Even fog banks, feeding grounds of whales and ice floes, in certain seasons, may be used to determine location. It is a matter of tradition and pride that they do not use a needle compass. They sometimes use a sextant but only in strange waters.
Each ship has a helmsman who seeks the best wind for the ship. He examines the waters ahead and also the sky. There is usually wind beneath clouds. He also tries to avoid areas of little wave activity. There is in addition a lookout whose function is to watch for other ships and any dangers. The lookout stands on a broad, flat wooden ring, bound in leather and covered with sea sleen fur. This ring fits over the mast at the top so he can see over the sail.
The mast is about thirty-five feet Gorean high. He can thus see out to about ten pasangs. The ring has a diameter of about thirty inches. The lookout does fasten himself to the mast. He reaches the ring by climbing a knotted rope.
After a successful raid, the men will celebrate with Victory Ale. A huge tankard, that may hold about five gallons, is filled with ale. The sign of Thor is made over this two-handled tankard. The tankard is then passed among all the men who drink heartily from it. Unlike most Gorean men, the men of Torvaldsland do not allow themselves to cry.
The Wagon Peoples share a number of characteristics with the Mongols of Earth.
The Wagon Peoples claim the southern prairies near the city of Turia in
the southern hemisphere. These prairies extend from the coast of Thassa to
the southern foothills of the Voltai Range. The Wagon People also claim the
lands to the north, up to the banks of the Cartius River, a tributary of the
Vosk River. These prairie lands may be called the Plains of Turia or the
Land of the Wagon Peoples, depending on who is speaking. The great city of
Turia sits in the midst of these lands and must continually deal with the
threat of the Wagon Peoples. The Wagon Peoples consist of four separate
tribes: the Paravaci, Kataii, Kassars and Tuchuks.
The Paravaci are the "Rich People", the wealthiest of the tribes.
During the time of Nomads of Gor, their Ubar was Tolnus. But, he betrayed
the Wagon Peoples and was later killed. It is unknown who is the current
Ubar of the Paravaci. Their standard is a boskhead-shaped banner made of
jewels strung on gold wire. The Paravaci sometimes wear jeweled belts on
their necks to incite envy in others and accrue enemies. The purpose is to
encourage attacks so the wearer can test his skills and need not tire
himself seeking foes. Their brand is an inverted isosceles triangle
surmounted by a semicircle, representing the head of a bosk. Like all of the
Peoples, they use the same brand for their slaves and bosk. A slave brand
though is only about an inch high and a bosk brand forms a six-inch square.
The Kataii are blacks and their Ubar is Hakimba. Their standard is a
yellow bow bound across a black lance. They also carry yellow shields. Their
brand is a bow facing to the left.
The Kassars are the "Blood People" and their Ubar is Conrad. Their
standard is a scarlet bola hanging from a lance. Their brands symbolically
represen this with three circles joined at the center by lines. They also
carry red shields.
The Tuchuks are known as the "Wily Ones" and their Ubar is Kamchak. The
Tuchuks are the primary tribe discussed in Nomads of Gor. Their standard is
four bosk horns. They also carry black shields. Their brand is four bosk
horns, resembling the letter "H." It is said that it is hard to outwit a
Tuchuk in a bargain. They hate to be fooled or made the butt of a joke.
The Peoples are primarily herders of bosk, living off their meat and
milk. They will not grow any food and will not eat anything of the earth.
They have no manufacturing and thus must often either buy, trade or raid for
what they need. They trade with Turia, usually acquiring highly prized metal
and cloth items for bosk horn and hides. They also trade items they obtain
from raiding. The only two things they won't trade to Turia are a living
bosk and a girl who once came from Turia. As no caravans, and few merchants,
travel to the Wagon Peoples, they must often journey to Turia to seek needed
They speak a dialect of Gorean so can be understood by most city
dwellers. They are very proud and generally regard city dwellers as vermin
living in holes. It is said the Wagon People are killers and that they slay
strangers. This is mostly true. A few merchants are permitted to trade with
them but for that priviliege they must receive a tiny brand on their
forearm. The brand is in the form of spreading bosk horns. This guarantees
safe passage for the merchant but only during certain seasons. Some
entertainers can also receive the brand. But, to acquire the brand, you must
first present yourself to the Peoples. If they do not like your merchandise
or are not pleased with your entertaining, they will deny you a brand and
simply slay you. The brand does carries some shame as it suggests that you
are a slave.
They do not have normal castes like most Goreans. Every male is
expected to be a warrior though there is no Red Caste among the Peoples.
This is true of most of the barbaric cultures of Gor. All males must also be
able to ride, hunt, and care for the bosk. After the primary duties of war,
hunting and herding, there are certain clans that specialize in other
duties. These clans include healers, torturers, leather workers, salt
hunters, camp singers, year keepers, scarers, and more. These clans are
still warriors but also have added duties.
They are the only Gorean culture to have a group of professional
torturers. The torturers are very well trained in the arts of detaining
life, detection and persuasion. They can be effective interrogators. They
always wears hoods unless their victim has received a sentence of death.
Only the victim will then see their face. They hire out to other cities,
mainly to Ubars and Initiates, and a few others similarly interested in
The Wagon People do not trust important matters to paper because paper
can be too easily destroyed. Most of the People have excellent memories and
have been trained since birth for such retention. Because of this, few can
actually read. Many of them use signs to signify their names and they also
place them on the collars of their slaves. They do have a large, complex
oral literature. This is passed down through the generations by word of
mouth and memorized anew by each new generation. These works may be recited
by the clan of Camp Singers, also known as skalds.
The Peoples use two different systems to mark time. The free women keep
a calendar based on the phases of Gor's largest moon. It lists fifteen
moons, named for the fifteen varieties of bosk. This calendar functions
independently of their other calendar that tallies years between each Season
of Snows. Their years are not numbered but are instead given names. They are
named toward their end, based on something that happened to distinguish that
year. Year Keepers are the clan that memorizes the names of the years and
some can recite several thousand consecutive years.
The bosk is said to be the Mother of the Wagon Peoples and they revere
it. The bosk is a huge, ox-like animal, with a temper to match that of a
sleen. It is a shaggy beast with a thick, humped neck. It has a wide head
and tiny red eyes. It possesses two long, wicked horns that reach out from
its head and suddenly curve forward to terminate in fearful points. Some of
these horns, measured from tip to tip, exceed the length of two spears.
There are fifteen varieties of bosk including the brown bosk, red bosk, and
milk bosk. It is indigenous to the plains near Turia though it is also
raised by people all over Gor.
The bosk herds form the vanguard and rampart for the advance of the
wagons. The herds are branded and composed of smaller herds watched over by
their own riders. The Peoples use basically every part of the bosk. They eat
its meat and drink its milk. They use their hides to cover their wagons.
Their tanned skins also are used for clothing. The leather of its hump is
used for their shields. Their sinews form their thread. Their bones and horn
are made into many different implements such as awls, punches, spoons,
drinking flagons, and weapon tips. The hooves are used for glues including a
waterproof glue. Their oils are used to grease the bodies of the Peoples
against the cold. Even their dung is used, dried, for fuel. Someone who
kills a bosk foolishly is either strangled to death or suffocated in the
hide of the animal he killed. If you kill a bosk cow with unborn young, then
you are staked out alive in the path of the herd.
The Peoples use domesticated prairie sleen, as shepherds and sentinels.
They herd the bosk and also help to protect their camps and track down
errant slaves. These sleen move raidly and silently. They will attack any
trespassers without provocation. They will respond only to the voice of its
master. When the master dies, the sleen is then slain and eaten.
Male youths must learn to wield the bow, quiva and lance before their
parents will consent to give them a name. This is because names are very
precious to them and they do not wish to waste a name on someone who is
likely to die. Until a male is considered worthy, he is known only by the
number of son he is. Thus he will be referred to as first son or second son
of such a father.
The Wagon People are a warlike people and often war among themselves.
Many years ago, the Kaiila Wars were fought among the different tribes of
the Wagon Peoples. The primary object of the Wars was the acquisition of
kaiila, the common mount of these peoples. The capture and acquisition of
slaves was almost an afterthought. But, the Wagon People soon realized the
benefits of having such women as slaves and the idea became much more
The Wagon People value courage above all else and this is reflected in
their Scar Codes. The scars are worked into the skin by needles, knives,
pigments and bosk dung over a period of several days. Some men have even
died in the fixing of such scars. Each scar has a specific meaning and all
the Peoples can read the scars. Most of the scars are set in pairs, moving
diagonally down from the side of the head toward the nose and chin. The
Courage Scar is a bright red scar and is always the highest scar on your
face. It is a prerequisite for all other scars. Without this scar, you
cannot pay court to a free woman, own a wagon, or own more than five bosk or
three kailla. Not all wear their Courage Scar visibly though, depending on
the circumstances though it would be very rare. They also have facial
tattoos but little is said if they possess meaning or not. Kamchak had seven
scars: red, yellow, blue, black, two more yellow, and one more black. The
books do not explain the meaning of these other scars.
The military organization of the Peoples is simple. They are broken
down into three different sized groups. These are the Oralu, Orlu and the
Or. This translates respectively into the Thousand, Hundred and the Ten. In
respect for the leader of each group, the Peoples will smote their lances on
their shield. They do it once for the commander of a Ten, twice for a
Hundred, three times for a Thousand. The commander of a Thousand is the next
level under the Ubar. Each warrior knows his place within his group so each
group works very well together.
During the day, the movement of these groups is dictated by drums, the
bosk horn and movements of the standard. By night, it is done with drums,
bosk horns and war lanterns slung on high poles carried by certain riders.
The lanterns come in different colors such as red, yellow, green, and blue.
When the bosk horns blow, as an attack occurs, the women cover the fires and
prepare the men's weapons, bringing forth arrows, bows and lances. The women
are also able to read the signals of the war lanterns. But, the women do not
fight. If the Peoples conquer a city, they usually destroy it completely.
They kill or enslave everyone, poison the wells, salt the earth, etc. It is
said that some cities still lay in ruins that were conquered hundreds of
A thousand years ago, united Wagon Peoples carried their devastation to
the walls of Ar and Ko-ro-ba. Luckily, both cities were able to stop and
push back the Peoples. During the events of Nomads of Gor, the Tuchuks
conquer the city of Turia that had never been conquered before. But,
Kamchak, Ubar of the Tuchuks, decides to return to its Home Stone to the
Turians. This is done obstensibly so the Wagon Peoples would always have an
enemy but may also have been done in part because Kamchak's mother was
Nowadays though, after the reunification of the Peoples under Kamchak,
as the Ubar San of the Wagon People, some matters have changed. The Wagon
Peoples rarely enslave their own anymore. They raid others for slaves and
have allegedly travelled as far north as Venna and even the Sardar. It is
said that a woman is not safe within a thousand pasangs of the wagons. A
strike against the cities of Ar and Koroba could occur again one day. This
poses some interesting story ideas for cross-city role-play.
The Wagon People use a variety of weapons in war and hunting. These
include the lance, horn bow, quiva, rope and bola. They rarely use swords.
Defensively, they wear conical helmets that are often fur rimmed and may
have a net of colored chains over the face with holes only for the eyes.
They also use small, round leather shields that are lacquered to a glossy
finish. The color of the lacquer depends on your specific tribe.
The three-weighted bola consists of three long straps of leather, about
five feet long each, terminating in a leather sack which contains a heavy,
round metal weight. If it is thrown low, with its about ten-foot sweep, it
is almost impossible to evade. It can entangle legs or even break legs.
Thrown higher it can lock your arms to your body. Thrown even higher, it can
strangle a man around the neck. A difficult cast to the head can even crush
a skull. A Wagon Person commonly entangles a foe and then kills him with the
quiva. It is also used to hunt tumits and men. A tumit is a large flightless
bird of the prairies with a hooked beak as long as a forearm.
The Wagon People use a horn bow, primarily from the saddle. It is a
small, double-curved bow about four feet long. It is built of layers of bosk
horn, bound and reinforced with metal and leather. It is banded with metal
at seven points including at the grip. A Wagon Person can commonly fire
twenty arrows in half an Ehn. The horn bow though lacks the range and power
of a longbow or crossbow. But at close range, it is a fearsome weapon.
The People use a Kaiila lance often when they are mounted. They are
black, cut from the poles of young tem wood trees. They are so flexible that
they may be bent almost double before they break. They are not couched but
are rather carried in the right fist. They are used for thrusting not the
battering ram effect of European lances. They can be almost as delicate and
swift as a saber. A loose loop of boskhide, wound twice about the right
wrist, helps them retain the weapon. It is rarely thrown in battle. Some
lances have a rider hook under the point to help dismount their opponents.
The quiva is the almost legendary, balanced saddle knife of the Wagon
Peoples of the prairies. It is about a foot in length, double edged, and
tapers to a daggerlike point. The quiva is used more as a missile weapon
than a hand-to-hand weapon. It is not necessary to throw it hard as its
sharpness and weight do the work for you. Most quivas are made in Ar and
sold in sets of seven, as there are seven sheaths in the kaiila saddles of
the Wagon Peoples. The quivas are almost always in the saddle sheaths. The
quivas are made differently for each tribe of the Wagon Peoples. Despite the
fact that they are manufactured in Ar, the quiva is almost exclusively a
weapon of the Wagon People. In the novels, Tarl Cabot is the only non-Wagon
Person who ever used a quiva. Tarl even creates a carnival act out of the
use of the mysterious quivas, a weapon known to few.
Their mount is the kaiila and their children are taught to ride before
they can walk. The Southern kaiila are different in some ways from the
desert kaiila or the kaiila of the red savages. The Southern kaiila is a
lofty, graceful and very agile animal. It can easily outmaneuver a high
tharlarion. It is carnivorous but requires less food than a tarn. Once a
kaiila eats its fill, it won't eat for several days. It normally stands
about twenty to twenty-two hands at the shoulder. They are fast creatures
and can cover as much as six hundred pasangs a day, about 420 miles. They
are commonly tawny-colored but some are also black. They are trained to
avoid the thrown spear and until it is proficient in this skill it is not
allowed to breed. Those who cannot learn are killed. A kaiila saddle is big
enough to hold a bound slave across it.
The free women of the Peoples are generally a dour lot. They wear long
leather dresses, their hair in braids and are unveiled. Slaves must always
keep their hair unbound. The free women do not receive scars. They cannot
wear silk as it is for slaves only. It is said that any women who loves the
feel of silk is a slave at heart. They tend to do many chores around the
camps such as cooking. They hate and envy female slaves. The free women also
do not fight in battle. Their function is to prepare the weapons of the men
and help read the war lanterns. All women wear nose rings, free and slave.
The bosk also wear nose rings though their rings are heavy and gold unlike
the tiny gold rings worn by the women. The Peoples regard ear piercing as
The Peoples are nomadic but settle on occasion in large camps for a
time. This becomes a City of Harriga, or Bosk Wagons. There are sufficient
wagons so it almost seems like a real city with streets and such. Their
wagons are brightly colored and most are square, each the size of a large
room. They are drawn by a double team of bosk, four in a team. The wagon box
stands almost six feet from the ground. It is formed of black, lacquered
planks of tem-wood. Inside the wagon box is fixed a rounded, tentlike frame,
covered with painted and varnished bosk hides. The wagons compete to look
the boldest and most exciting. The wagons are guided by a eight straps, two
for each of the four lead animals. The wagons are commonly tied in tandem
fashion, in long columns and thus only the lead wagons need to be guided.
In the Wagon Peoples, their slaves are commonly clad in a style called
Kajir. For slave girls, this means she wears four articles of clothing, two
red and two black. These include the Chatka, Curla, Kalmak and Koora. The
Curla is a red cord that is tied about the girl's waist. The Chatka, a long
narrow strip of black leather, fits over this cord in the front, passes
between the girl's legs and passes over the cord in the back. The Chatka is
drawn tight. Th Kalmak is a short, open, sleeveless vest of black leather
and is worn donned after the first two items. Lastly, the Koora is placed
on. It is a strip of red cloth, matching the Curla, and worn as a head band.
Slaves cannot braid or dress their hair so the Koora is the best they can
do. For a male slave to be clad Kajir means only that they must wear the
Kes, a short, sleeveless work tunic of black leather. They have few male
slaves except for some on work chains.
The Wagon Peoples enjoy paga and fermented milk curds. That is an
alcoholic drink made from bosk milk and drank exclusively by the Wagon
Peoples. The Peoples also have public slave wagons that are a combination
paga tavern and slave market. There is nothing else like it on Gor. Girls
can be bought, sold and rented there. They may also set up a curtained
enclosure for dancing girls.
The Wagon People revere the Priest-Kings but they do not worship them.
They worship the sky and beseech the "Spirit of the Sky." In their myths,
the rains came out of the sky and formed the earth, bosk and the Peoples.
The Wagon Peoples pray only when mounted and with weapons at hand. They pray
to the sky as a warrior to an Ubar. Free women are not permitted to pray.
The Peoples also hold bosks and the skill at arms as holy items.
The Peoples are fascinated with the future and its signs. Although they
may claim not to place store in them, they actually give them great
consideration. They often practice omen reading. Slaves were once sacrificed
by all of the tribes but now only the Paravaci do so. The hearts and liver
of slaves are now generally considered untrustworthy in judging omens. Their
haruspexes also sell amulets, talismans, philters, potions, spell papers,
wonder working sleen teeth, powdered kailiauk horns, colored magic strings
and other such things. Like most Low Castes of the cities, they believe in
Though the Wagon Peoples war among themselves, every ten years they all
gather together during what is called the Omen Year. It is actually a season
that occupies part of two of their regular years. The Omen Year lasts
several months and consists of three separate phases. First is the Passing
of Turia that takes place in the fall. During this time, the Peoples gather
and move toward their winter pastures. Second is the Wintering that occurs
north of Turia and south of the Cartius, the site of their pastures. Lastly
is the Return to Turia that occurs in the spring, or as the People call it
the Season of Little Grass. It is a time of truce, a time for trading.
It is near Turia in the spring when the Omen Year is completed. The
omens are then taken, usually over several days by hundreds of haruspexes.
They are trying to determine if the omens are favorable for the choosing of
a Ubar San, a One Ubar, a Ubar of all the Wagons, all the Peoples. There had
not been a Ubar San in more than one hundred years before Nomads of Gor. The
Omen Year was instituted more than one thousand years ago.
The sacrifices are performed in the Omen valley and the animals will
later be used as food. The chief haruspex of each tribe presides at the
central altar. There are hundreds of smaller altars in the grassy valley
where other haruspexes perform. The sacrifices last for several days and
consume hundreds of animals. A tally is kept from day to day. The first Omen
taken is always to see if the Omens are propitious to take Omens. At the
completion of the sacrifices, a final tally is taken to see if a Ubar san
will be chosen. At the end of the events in Nomads of Gor, Kamchak of the
Tuchuks is chosen to be Ubar San. He frees his slave Aphris who then becomes
his Ubara Sana.
The People love to gamble on almost anything. It is a great honor for a
woman to be a stake in such gambling. In spear or lance gambling, the weapon
is placed in the ground, point first, and you wait to see in what direction
it falls. The winner is the one the weapon falls toward.
They also enjoy a variety of games. In one such game, a lance is placed
about four hundred yards away. A slave girl is placed into a circle made by
a bosk whip. The girl must run to the lance, trying to avoid capture. Time
is judged by the heartbeat of a standing kaiila. The girl receives a
headstart of fifteen heart beats which will normally take her about halfway
to the lance. A man on a kaiila rider must then ride after her and use a
bola to capture her. He also has a binding thong to bind the girl when he
captures her. He must capture the girl, secure her and return her in as
little time as possible back to the circle. Some girls are specially trained
to evade the bola.
Another game is the lance and tospit with the living wand. This is a
very dangerous game where a slave holds a tospit in her mouth. The object is
for a rider to hit the fruit with his lance withoiut striking the girl. The
girl may either stand sideways or facing the lance. The Peoples even have
spitting contests, seeing who can spit the farthest. Some People play a game
with Turian slaves. They release them in sight of the city and let them run
for the walls. The People then chase them down using bolas.
Every spring the games of Love War are held between the Wagon Peoples
and Turia. The institution of the Love War is an ancient one. It is held on
the Plains of a Thousand Stakes located some pasangs from Turia. Judges and
craftsmen come from Ar to officiate at the games. They are guaranteed safe
passage across the plains and are very well compensated. Their fee is
sufficient to support a man for a year in Ar. The stakes, flat-topped, are
about six and a half feet high and seven to eight inches in diameter. They
stand in two lines facing one another in pairs, separated by about fifty
feet. Each stake in a line is separated by about thirty feet and the lines
extend for over four pasangs. The stakes are painted colorfully, trimmed and
decorated. Retaining rings are bolted on the stakes. In between each pair of
stakes is a circle of about twenty-four feet in diameter. The grass is
removed from the circle and the ground is sanded and raked.
About two hundred from each of the four Wagon People tribes attend the
games. Only the best warriors can compete and only the most beautiful women
can be used as prizes. Essentially, the Wagon People and Turians battle for
their women. A Turian woman and Wagon Person women are tied on opposite
stakes. The two men fight and the winner gets the other's woman. Though the
Turian women wear robes and veils, they may be face stripped at the request
of any of the Peoples. When men of the same side wish to fight for the same
staked woman, it is determined by rank and prowess. In alternate years, each
side gets to choose the weapon that will be used in combat. You can withdraw
after the choice of weapon and before your name is officially entered in the
lists. Each year, the overall winner varies. The overall winner is
determined by which side won more of the other side's women.
A few of the Peoples do travel to other
parts of Gor but not entire tribes. The Peoples do not accept strangers
easily into their lands. The few that are accepted are generally those that
get branded, the merchants and entertainers. Tarl Cabot is a major exception
in this regard and in many regards in the books. The Peoples act very
differently from city dwellers.
The Aretai are a major tribe of the Tahari, their vassal tribes are the
Arani, Luraz, Ravir, Tajuks, Tashid, Ti, and Zevar. The other major tribe is
the Kavar and is a foe of the Aretai. The war cry of the Aretai is 'Aretai
The Kavar is the other major tribe of the Tahari and is often at odds with
the Aretai. Their vassal tribes are the Ta'Kara, Bakahs, Cha,r and Kashani.
Their war cry is 'Kavars Supreme!'. Their mark is a blue scimitar facing
outward from the body on the right forearm. Weapons include the Weapons
sleeve dagger and scimitar.
The major tribes were ruled by Pashas. The Pasha often resided in a
Kasbah, the fortress.
The movements of the men of the Tahari are, during the hours of heat,
usually slow, almost languid or graceful. They engage in little unnecessary
movement. They do not, if they can help it, overheat themselves. They sweat
as little as possible, which conserves body fluid. Their garments are loose
and voluminous, yet closely woven. The outer garment when in caravan,
usually the burnoose, is almost invariable white. This color reflects the
rays of the sun. The looseness of the garments, acting as a bellows in
movement, circulates air about the body, which air, circulating, over the
body, cools the body by evaporation; the close weave of the garment is to
keep the moisture and water, as much as possible, within the garment,
preferrably condensing back on the skin. There are two desiderata which are
cruicial in these matters; the first is to minimize perspiration; the second
is to retain as much moisture, lost through perspiration, as is possible on
the body. Tribesmen of Gor, p. 73
The burnoose is the loose, billowing outer robes favored by the men of the
Tahari in caravan; it is a sleeveless,hooded desert cloak. This robe is
preferred by those wielding scimitars.
Usually it is of white in color to reflect the rays of the sun. The
burnoose is very loose and flowing to keep the wearer cool. Also, there is
the djellaba for men, which is a striped, hooded loose robe.
The kaffiyeh is the head covering of the tribesmen of the Tahari; it is a
folded, square cloth that is worn folded into a triangle and placed over the
head. It consists of two points at the side of the shoulders and one in back
to protect the back of the neck. Also, a head scarf/wrapped turban wound
around the head, much often a repcloth worn by lower class males; acts as a
cushion for carrying burdens on the head. The agal is a length of cord which
is used to bind the kaffiyeh to the head, usually several loops secure it.
Samos turned away from the girl. He indicated to me a man who sat at a far
end of one of the low tables. He did not drink wine or paga. The man, rare
in Port Kar, wore the kaffiyeh and agal. The kaffiyeh is a squarish scarf,
folded over into a triangle, and placed over the head, two points at the
side of the shoulders, one in back to protect the back of the neck. It is
bound to the head by several loops of cord, the agal. The cording indicates
tribe and district.
We went to the man. "This is Ibn Saran, salt merchant of the river port of
Kasra," said Samos. Tribesmen of Gor, p. 20
Men of the Tahari wore slippers rather than boots. They are cooler,
circulate air, and can be easily slipped on and off while riding.
Men of the Tahari often wore wallets that were visible, worn about the
waist. A smart man would also hide some of His money inside His clothing for
safe-keeping from thieves.
Traditions: "Let there be salt between Us" Salt is placed on the back of
ones wrist and is offered to another who takes it off with his tongue. Akin
to blood brothers.
Greetings/Farewells. A gorean man brushes his right hand's palm twice to
the other man's when both greeting and saying farewell. Before leaving, a
gorean male may often bow before turning and leaving the room.
"The noble Samos has been most kind," said Ibn Saran. "His hospitality has
been most generous."
I extended my hand to Ibn Saran and he, bowing twice, brushed twice the palm
of his hand against mine.
"I am pleased to make the acquaintance of he who is friend to Samos of Port
Kar," said Ibn Saran. "May your water bags never be empty. May you have
always water." Tribesmen of Gor, p. 21
Eating and the right hand.
I noted that Ibn Saran ate only with the right hand. This was the eating
hand, and the scimitar hand. He would feed himself only with the hand which,
wielding steel, could take blood. Tribesmen of Gor, p. 20
Men of the Tahari are often quiet and patient.
The walking chain is used on both Free Women and slaves. It is used to
The flahdah is a tree of the Tahari, similar to the leaning palm trees of
Seraglio: a slave kennel
Once she stole a date. I did not whip her. I chained her, arms over her
head, back against the trunk, to a flahdah tree. I permitted nomad children
to discomfit her. They are fiendish little beggars. They tickled her with
the lanceolate leaves of the tree. They put honey about her, to attract the
tiny black sand flies, which infest such water holes in the spring. Tribesmen
of Gor, p. 81
The desert kaiila is a mount used of the men of the Tahari. It is also
known as the 'sand kaiila' and is and omnivorous animal that is related to
the souther kaiila. It is a lofty, proud, silken, long-necked, smooth-gaited
animal and stands 20 to 22 hands at the shoulder. The kaiila reins are light
reins, plaited with 10 to 12 strips, thinner than a thread, of dyed leather,
but are very strong and durable. The caravan kaiila are pack animals and
mounts; these are more often and almost always belled so that the animals do
not stray to far and can be found in the desert winds when sometimes one
cant even see directly in front of them. Caravans are normally slow moving
and silent and the bells alert the people to passers where without bells one
may unknowingly pass another within yards without ever seeing that other
person. Normally only raiders ride without bells.
In caravans, at night, the animals, as well as slaves, are hobbled. With
the kaiila, a simple figure-eight twist of kaiila-hair rope, above the
spreading paws, below the knees, is used.
Birds: zadit (zad), it eats on insects.
including flora and fauna
The Tahari is a desert region that is also known as the 'Tahari Wastes.'
The deserts contain various oasis springs and deep wells.
Some Aretai strong holds: Oasis of Nine Wells, Oasis of the Battle of Red
The sand, struck by the sun, can reach temperatures on its surface of more
than 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Ony a foot or two below the surface, these
temperatures are reduced by more than fifty degrees. Because of the lack of
surface water, the nights, the sun gone, are cool, even chilly at times. The
nights often require a heavy djellaba or a blanket. Fires are often burnt in
the center of the nomads tents at night to keep their feet warm, though
often a Master would also have His slave girl at His feet to warm them at
In the Tahari there are constant winds; they blow from north or northwest.
It is a hot wind, yet without it, the desert would seem almost inbearable.
Though, sometimes dust storms emerge, blocking all from your view; many
times one has to shield himself for fear of being buried by it.
There are parts of the deserts where it is 'hilly.' These areas have much
scrub brush, large rocks strewn about, and dust and gravel underfoot. On the
shaded sides of some rocks and hills, brownish patches of verr grass grows.
Foods and Drinks
The major drink of the Tahari is bazi tea. This is a very aromatic tea of
the Bazi leaves; it is served hot and heavily sugared in three tiny cups; it
is similar to the orange pekoe of Earth.
Water is sacred in the Tahari. One of the worst crimes in the Tahari is
the destroying of a water source. Water is precious in the Tahari and not a
drop is wasted. It is regarded as an almost inconceivable crime, surely the
most heinous which might be perpetrated upon the desert. Such an act,
regarded as a monstrosity, goes beyond a simple act of war.
I lifted the bag, drinking deeply. I replaced the plug and put back the bag,
wiping my mouth on my sleeve. . . In sharing their water I had made myself,
by custom of the Tahari, their guest. Tribesmen of Gor, p. 143
Another drink of the Tahari is blackwine. The first slave summoned carries
For cooking, there are "boards of metal" that are placed over rocks, they
are 2' in length and exposed to the sun. These are used by nomad women for
Set on rocks, boards of metal some two feet in length, and six inches wide,
exposed to the sun, are sometimes used by the nomad women in frying foods.
Tribesmen of Gor
Decomposition in the desert is slow. Often it is hard to tell if a body
The conservation of body water is crucial, people of the Tahari move
rather slow when travelling in the desert and often wear white to reflect
the rays of the sun. A person sweats as little as possible.
Veminium oils are used in the deserts, where the desert veminium, a
purplish flower, are boiled in water. The vapor which boils off is condensed
into oil. This oil is used to perfume water. This water is not drunk but is
used in middle and upper-class homes to rinse the eating hand, before and
after the evening meal.
[the slave] had rinsed our right hands with veminium water, poured over our
hand, into a small, shallow bowl of beaten copper" Tribesmen of Gor, p. 61
The opening of the Tahari tent usually faces east so that the morning sun may warm it. This keeps the tent
a bit warmer for the Gorean night, which is often chilly.
Sereem diamonds and opals are rare stones in the Tahari and valuable for
Those of the Tahari depend heavily upon trade. Even animals of the Tahari
are rarely eaten because they are worth more as trade and transportation.
Imports: rep-cloth; emboroidered cloths; silks; rugs; silver; gold;
jewelries; mirros; kailiauk tusk; perfumes; hides; skins; feathers; precious
woods; tools; needles; worked, leather goods; salt; nuts and spices; jungle
birds-pets; weapons; rough woods; sheets of tin and copper; the tea of Bazi;
wool from the bounding Hurt; decorated, beaded whips; female slaves (of
which fair skinned ones gain the most profit)
Exports: mainly dates and pressed-date bricks
On a final note, remember that not all people of the Tahari are nomads,
most live in the oasis of the desert.
The Kasbah as defined by John Norman:
The Kasbah was often classified as a fort yet was also used for trade,
entertainment and as living quarters. The Kasbahs often had tiled flooring
that was covered by finely woven rugs. The rugs were so precious that not
only slaves, but also often the Free Persons would walk the rugs along the
walls of each room so as not to wear down the hand woven rugs covering the
central flooring of a room.
The Kasbahs were surrounded by a high wall to keep out invaders. In times
of trouble the walls were closed securely and locked even against the common
townsfolk living in the Oasis.
A Panther girl is a female warrior who hunts in the northern forests. Panther Girls are arrogant and haughty. They boldly wear the scant leather skins of their kills. They decorate their bodies with shells, teeth and other traded trinkets. Occasionally venturing down the Laurius River to one of many exchange points where trading can be done without fear of attack. These exchange points are ones of neutrality, and one where Free Persons are respected. Slaves are usually traded for arrows or candy. Panther Girls often have cravings for sweets, among other things.
It is often misunderstood that Panther Girls forswear their passion, their womanhood, but such is not the case. They feel their passion as strongly as any slave girl would, but they wield it where they will, and take as lovers whom they choose and when they choose. A Panther Girl can make a fierce frenzied partner, with scratching and biting. If a man is alone on a full moon, He must be careful, for that is when their hearts race fastest. It is not uncommon for a poor man to be enslaved by Panther Girls, his head shaven with the degradation (swath) stripe to show he has been taken by women. He is then staked out beneath the full moons of Gor, where the Panther Girls gather to dance and make raucous celebration.
The music is only drumbeats, or perhaps none but the racing of their hearts, and the yips and yells of female warriors as they circle the hapless kajirus. Finally one of the Panther girls will take him, will give him the slave rape of a kajirus. A Panther Girl takes pleasure where she will, whether with a Freeman, or even kajira. Many a Panther Girl has been known to have a fondness for the soft compliance of a trained kajira, or escaped slave.
Panther Girls themselves roam in bands most often, a solitary Panther Girl is more likely to be enslaved. It is said though, that any Panther Girl who becomes enslaved was truly a slave in her heart already.
Panther Girls come from all over Gor, women who flee unwanted companionships, or are banished from their hometown, or sometimes even escaped slave girls become Panther Girls. Their life is not an easy one, and the only way into a band of Panther Girls is to defeat one of the band first.
Panther Girls are adept with bow and arrows as well as spears, and some are handy with knives, such as the quiva, the slender daggers of the wagon peoples. A Panther Girl must know the forest like her own soul, must learn to hear the whisper of a storm coming, or the subtle sounds of warriors on the prowl for Panther Girl Slaves.
It is said once tamed that Panther Girls make excellent slaves, but even Marlenus himself having enslaved the greatest Panther Girl of all, Verna, freed her and offered to make her Ubara of Ar. She declined of course, choosing instead the freedom of the forest, of the open skies and the joy of the hunt.
There is little loved lost between Panther Girls of different bands. They fight for territory and prey. They are not opposed to killing off or enslaving one another. Other Band's Panther Girls and slaves are often ridiculed and abused until they are sold off at the exchange point. Panther Girls hunt almost anything and everything that ventures into their territory. It is not uncommon for a Panther Girl to capture: another Band's Panther Girl, a male who was looking to do the same to her, or an escaped slave who was seeking refuge in the woods.
Panther Girls prize spear heads, slave chains, nets, golden armlets, candy, etc., money means little to a woman who does not venture to a city. These are some of the things they look to trade their pelts and captives for.
If a Panther Girl is found outside of the Forests or South of the Laurius in Laura or beyond. She may be captured. Panther Girls do not leave the protection and security of the Forests without taking this risk. They are in fact outlaws and of the worst kind. Everyone, even the male outlaws, are out to capture them.
Spider People: Also known as the Swamp Spiders, these creatures are large, intelligent Spiders that live in the swamps north of Ar. They are large enough to be ridden. They construct Spider webs, vast networks of broad, elastic strands that form a structure about a pasang in width. The Spiders have a saliva or some similar secretion that loosens the glue on the webs. They use their leg hairs to smell their surroundings. They use translators and do not like to talk loudly. They will not harm rational creatures, even to defend themselves. But, females during mating are not gentle with male Spiders.
The city of Ar collects their webs to spin the Cur-lon Fiber used in Ar mills. They also hunt and kills many of the Spider People, leaving just enough to continue making some webs. As the men of Ar are rational, the Spiders will not fight them. The Spiders are mentioned primarily in Tarnsman of Gor. Nar is one of the Spider People who helped Tarl Cabot. Urt People: The Urt People are possibly a nonhuman race though they might only be a degenerate human branch. They have a narrow, elongated face with rather large, ovoid eyes. Their eyes adjust very quickly to darkness. They are narrow shouldered and narrow chested. They have long, thin arms and short spindly legs. They commonly walk or hurry, bent over, with its knuckles often dragging on the ground. This low gait keeps it inconspicuous among migratory urt packs. Urt People live with urt packs that provide them cover and protection. Urts seldom attack them, likely due to a pack odor that allows them to mix with the urts. Urt People are capable of incredible stillness and then sudden, bursts of movement. They commonly communicate to each other by hissing squeals, resembling the noises of urts. They can speak Gorean but do so as children, usually repeating what they say twice. Their Gorean, in some respects, resembles archaic Gorean. They rarely mix with civilized folk. They do learn quickly and some people even keep them as pets. They enjoy pit fruit.
Spider People: Also known as the Swamp Spiders, these creatures are large, intelligent Spiders that live in the swamps north of Ar. They are large enough to be ridden. They construct Spider webs, vast networks of broad, elastic strands that form a structure about a pasang in width. The Spiders have a saliva or some similar secretion that loosens the glue on the webs. They use their leg hairs to smell their surroundings. They use translators and do not like to talk loudly. They will not harm rational creatures, even to defend themselves. But, females during mating are not gentle with male Spiders.
The city of Ar collects their webs to spin the Cur-lon Fiber used in Ar mills. They also hunt and kills many of the Spider People, leaving just enough to continue making some webs. As the men of Ar are rational, the Spiders will not fight them. The Spiders are mentioned primarily in Tarnsman of Gor. Nar is one of the Spider People who helped Tarl Cabot.
Urt People: The Urt People are possibly a nonhuman race though they might only be a degenerate human branch. They have a narrow, elongated face with rather large, ovoid eyes. Their eyes adjust very quickly to darkness. They are narrow shouldered and narrow chested. They have long, thin arms and short spindly legs. They commonly walk or hurry, bent over, with its knuckles often dragging on the ground. This low gait keeps it inconspicuous among migratory urt packs. Urt People live with urt packs that provide them cover and protection. Urts seldom attack them, likely due to a pack odor that allows them to mix with the urts. Urt People are capable of incredible stillness and then sudden, bursts of movement. They commonly communicate to each other by hissing squeals, resembling the noises of urts. They can speak Gorean but do so as children, usually repeating what they say twice. Their Gorean, in some respects, resembles archaic Gorean. They rarely mix with civilized folk. They do learn quickly and some people even keep them as pets. They enjoy pit fruit.
These mysterious and all-powerful beings are Counter-Earth's gods, known to men below the Sardar Mountains, only as Priest-Kings. Their incomparable power inextricably influence the destinies of the cities and the men of Counter-Earth. The Priest-Kings know whatever transpires on their world and they control Gor with the terrible flame-death and their displeasure is universally feared.
Priest-Kings are not human. They are beautiful, tall, golden creatures. They are more than a yard wide, and standing, nearly eighteen feet high. Their height, however, may vary. They have six legs and a great head like a globe of gold, with eyes like vast, luminous disks. Priest-Kings stand with an incredible stillness and considering their size, they move with a delicate, predatory grace. They walk on four extremely long, slender, four-jointed stalks that are their supporting legs, or appendages, extremely high, almost level with their jaws, and in front of their bodies. In the ball at the end of their forelegs from which smaller prehensile appendages extend, there is a curved, bladed hornlike structure that springs forward. This happens spontaneously when the leg's tip is inverted, a motion which at once exposes the hornlike blad and withdraws the four prehensile appendages into the protected area beneath.
From their head, extend two fragile, jointed appendages, long and covered with short, quivering strands of golden hair. The Priest-Kings have eyes, which are compound and many faceted but they do not much rely on these organs. They are like our ears and nose, used as secondary sensors to be relied upon when the most pertinent information in the enviroment is not relayed by vision, or in the case of Priest-Kings, by scent. Accordingly, the two golden haired, jointed appendages protruding from their globelike heads are their primary sensory organs.
The Priest-Kings, like certain social insects of our world, communicate with one another through odor-signals. A slightly acrid odor tends to be a common property of all such signals, much as there is a common property to the sound of a human voice, whether it be that of an Englishman, a Chinese or a Gorean. Communication by odor signals can in certain circumstances be extremly efficient though it can be disadvantageous in others.
The Priest-Kings have little or no scent of their own which is detectable by the human nostrils, however, there is a nest odor by which they may identify one another, and that the varieties of this nest odor permit identification of individuals. The Priest-Kings themselves distinguish one another by scent and their own personal scent carry their Rank, Caste and Station wihtin the Nest as clearly as an officer in one of the armies of Earth might wear his distinguishing braid and metal bars.
Their appendages are not only sensitive to odors but, due to a modification of some of the golden hairs, may also transform sound vibrations into something meaningful. These appendages then, are not only a smelling but a hearing sensory organ as well. Apparently, hearing is not of great importance to them, considering the small numberst of hairs modified for that purpose.
Priest-Kings spend an inordinary amount of time grooming. They consider humans a terribly ugly and particularly unclean animal. The Muls, or the Slave of Priest-Kings, are not permited any fibrous body growth, except for the lashes of the eyes. Muls are kept barefoot, with shaven heads and are required to bathe twelve times a day, for sanitary reasons. Muls do not wear collars for it is not necessary to mark a distinction between free and slave within the Nest of Priest-Kings. In the Nest, all humans are slaves. Muls are clad in short, purple tunics that reflect light. Incidentally, purple is the color of the robes of a Ubar and the reason Muls wear purple is simple. It is a great honor to be the slave of a Priest-King. The greatest joy of Muls is to love and serve Priest-Kings.
The tunnels of Priest-Kings, the Nest, is a vast circular artificial canyon, lined with bridges and terraces. In the dephts of this canyon and on the terraces that mount its sides are innumerable structures, largely geometrical solids of various sizes, colors and iluminations, many of which are windowed and possessed of numerous floors some of which even tower high into the lofty dome that archs over the canyon like a stone sky. There are light bulbs within the Nest for the benefit of humans or Muls. Priest-Kings do not need light. As a matter of fact, Priest-Kings cannot stand in the sun.
There are three great holidays celebrated by Priest-Kings during the Nest Feast Cycle:
The Feast of Tola:
The Anniversary of the Nuptial Flight
The Feast of Tolam:
The Feast of the Deposition of the First Egg
The Feast of Tolama:
The Celebration of the Hatching of the First Egg
During these holidays, those of lower orders who labor for Priest-Kings are given surcease of their labors.
A creature lives in the Nest: The Golden Beetle. It is a great crime to kill one, even though these creatures kill Priest-Kings. Priest-Kings succumb to the Pleasure of the Golden Beetle. The mane hairs of the Golden Beetle lift like antennae emanating an exudate which is a narcotic odor, shocking to humans yet, the ultimate pleasure for a Priest-King. The Priest-Kings have few pleasures, but foremost, among their pleasures is death.
A collection of quotes from the works of John Norman concerning the nature and culture of the Beasts Kurri
In the doorway, silhouetted against flames behind them we saw great, black, shaggy figures Then one leapt within the hall. In one hand it carried a gigantic ax, whose handle was perhaps eight feet long, whose blade, from tip to tip, might have been better than two feet in length; on its other arm it carried a great, round, iron shield, double strapped; it lifted it, and the ax; its arms were incredibly long, perhaps some seven feet in length; about its left arm was a spiral band of gold; it was the Kur which had addressed the assembly. It threw back its head and opened its jaws, eyes blazing, and uttered the blood roar of the aroused Kur; then it bent over, regarding us, shoulders hunched, its claws leaping from its soft, furred sheaths; it then laid its ears back flat against the sides of its great head. no one could move. then, other Kurri behind it, crowding about it, past it, it shrieked, lips drawn back, with a hideous sound, which, somehow, from its lips and mien, and mostly from its eyes, I took to be a sign of pleasure, of anticipation; I would learn later that this sound is instinctively uttered by Kurii when they are preparing to take blood.
From Marauders of Gor, Page 203
It moved a switch on the box. It uttered sounds, low, guttural, inquisitive. It did not use human phonemes and so it is difficult, if not impossible, to convey the quality of the sound. If you have heard the noises made by great cats, such as the Bengal tiger or the black maned lion, and can conceive such noises articulated with subtlety and precision of a civilized speech, that will provide you with an approximation of what I heard. ~ "Our brain cases are larger then yours," it said. "Our anatomy could not well support a larger cranial development. In our history, as in your, larger brain cases have been selected for." "In what way?" I asked. "In the killings." It said. "Is the Kur a social animal?" I asked. "It is a social animal," it said," But it is not as social as the human." "that is perhaps a drawback to it as a species," I said. "It has its advantages," it said. " the Kur can live alone. It can go its own way. It does not need its herd." "Surly in ancient times, Kurri came together," I said. "Yes" it said. "in the matings, and the killings," It looked at me , chewing." But that was long ago," it said." We have had civilization for one hundred thousand years, as you would understand these things. In the dawn of our prehistory small bands emerged from the burrows and the caves and forests. It was a beginning." ~ "What do you put above all?" I asked. "Glory," it said. It looked at me. "can you understand that?" it asked. ~ "How is it that an animal without strong social instincts can be concerned with Glory ?" I asked. "It emerges, we speculate, from the killings." "the killings?" I asked. "Even before the first groups," he said, "we would gather for the matings and killings. Great circles, rings of our people, would form in valleys to watch." "You fought for mates?" I asked. "We fought for the joy of killing," it said, " Mating, however, was a prerogative of the victor." It took a rib bone from the lart and began to thrust it, scraping, between his fangs, freeing and removing bits of wedged meat. "Humans, as I understand it, perform all the functions pertinent to the continuance of the species." "Yes," I said, "that is true." "We have three, or, if you prefer, four sexes," it said. "There is the dominant, which would, I suppose, correspond most closely to the human male. It is the instinct of the dominant to enter the killings and mate. there is then the form of the Kur which closely resembles the dominant but does not join in the killings or mate. You may , or may not, regard this as two sexes. There is then the egg carrier who is impregnated. This form of Kur is smaller then the dominant or the non dominant, speaking thusly of the non reproducing form of Kur." "the egg carrier is the female." I said. "If you like" said the beast. "But shortly after the impregnation, within a moon, the egg carrier deposits the fertilized seed in the third form of Kur, which is mouthed, but sluggish and immobile. those fasten themselves to hard surfaces, rather like dark, globular anemones. the egg develops inside the body of the blood nurser and, some months later, it tears its way free." "It has no mother." I said. "Not in the human sense." It said. "It will however, usually follow, unless it itself is a blood nurser, which is drawn out, the first Kur it sees, providing it is either and egg carrier or a non dominant." ~ "the young receive blood in the nurser," he said. "When it is born it does not need milk, but water and common protein." "It is born fanged?" I asked. "Of course," it said. "And it is capable of stalking and killing small animals shortly after it leaves the blood nurser." ~ "But there are native Kurrii on Gor," I said, " or at any rate Kurrii who have reproduced themselves on this world." "Certain ships, some of them originally intended for colonization, carried representatives of our various sexes, with the exception of non dominants," it said "We have also, where we have known of Kurrii groups, sometimes managed to bring in egg carriers and blood nursers." ~ "Is there an order to your sexes?" I asked. "Of course there is a biological order," He said, "Structure is a function of nature. How could it be otherwise? There is first the Dominant, and then the egg carrier, and then the non dominant, and then , if one considers such things Kur, the blood nursers." "the female, or egg carrier, is dominant over the non dominant?" I asked. "Of course," he said." They are despicable." "Suppose a dominant is victorious in the killings?" I said, "What then occurs?" "Many things could occur," He said, " but he then, generally, with a club, would indicate what egg carriers he desires. He then ties them together and drives them to his cave. In the cave he impregnates them and makes them serve him." "Do they attempt to run away?" I asked. "No," he said, " He would hunt them down and kill them. But after he has impregnated them they tend to remain, even when untied, for he is then their dominant."
From Explorers of Gor, pgs369-370
Incidentally, there are many brands on gor. Two that almost never occur on Gor, by the way, are those of the moons and the collar, and of the chain and the claw. The first of these commonly occurs in certain of the Gorean enclaves on Earth, which serves as headquarters for agents of the priest kings, the second tends to occur in the lairs of the Kurri agents on earth; ~the chain and claw brand, signifies, of course, slavery and subjection within the compass of the Kur yoke.
From Explorers of Gor, pg12