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 A brief introduction to Gor

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raychel-SG
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PostSubject: A brief introduction to Gor   Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:29 pm

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE PLANET GOR

by _Marcus_ of Ar

Gor is a world not unlike Earth, though slightly smaller in size. It possesses three moons, and due to its different mass and size the world of Gor has a lighter gravity field than its counterpart, our Earth, making feats of seemingly superhuman strength into everyday occurances. Upon Gor a man can jump higher, lift more weight, and throw rather heavy objects with great speed and force. It is therefore quite understandable why Gor is a deadly place where single combat is swift and lethal. Despite all of this, Gor is a beautiful (if savage) planet, unspoiled by pollution and the terrible environmental damage caused by Earth's industrial age. The air is cleaner, the sky is a more brilliant shade of blue, and the whole planet is basically an unspoiled paradise. Gor exists, according to the "Sun Shield theory," in the same orbit as the planet Earth, and circles the same sun... It is therefore placed in such a way that the sun always obstructs direct view of it from Earth, though some Medieval Earth astronomers have theorized about its existence in ages past. It is postulated by those Goreans who have an understanding of such things that the Priest Kings actually utilized their super technology in the distant past to move Gor to its current orbit from one of the "blue galaxies," and that the Priest Kings use their high tech methods to conceal the planet from prying Earth eyes. If men of Earth believed in such a planet, it would be fairly easy to reach Gor...after all, one would only have to launch oneself into space in a space station, break Earth orbit, and wait. In six months, Gor would round the sun and come to the space station's current position. Because this has never happened, or been attempted, it is a fairly good assumption that Gor has not yet been discovered by the inhabitants of its sister-planet.

THE PRIEST KINGS

The Priest Kings are a race of super intelligent, insectoid beings with a highly evolved society and technology, who are rumored to reside in the rocky Sardar mountains in the northern hemisphere of Gor. It is their technology which controls the planet, even to its rotation and location in space. Through a millenia-long sequence of experimentation they have slowly selected and transplanted certain species of life to the planet, among them the species of Homo Sapiens, or man. For hundreds of centuries every part of the process of evolution was carefully controlled by them, including the cultural development of the transplanted humans. These humans, as well as all other life on Gor, were presumably transplanted to the planet by the Priest Kings through use of "the Silver Ships," disk-shaped vehicles which could make the long trip to other worlds and stars. These journeys are known as "Voyages of Acquisition" and it is unknown how frequently the Priest Kings authorize them, or to where. What is known is that many items of modern Earth culture periodically appear on Gor, supposedly from "Barbarian Lands," among them modern inhabitants of Earth who are brought to Gor at the Priest King's whim. Many of the slaves on the auction blocks of Gor are such people, kidnapped and brought to Gor against their free will. Because if this, Earth is widely regarded as a "slave planet" by those Goreans who know of its existence.

THE FLAME DEATH

The Priest Kings maintain a fairly tight net of control over the planet Gor, and have highly developed surveillence devices which allow such control. They are known to recruit human agents to serve their often incomprehensible schemes, and can even implant such humans with mind controlling devices when necessary. It is difficult to violate their rules and remain undetected. Those creatures who displease them are occasionally subjected to "The Flame Death," and are destroyed in an otherworldly flash of blue colored fire, reduced to ashes. This is a highly effective deterrant to those who would challenge the authority of Priest Kings.

CULTURES

The Priest Kings have picked and chosen the human inhabitants of Gor, seemingly at random. Each such new arrival brought with him or her the various cultural trappings of his/her home on Earth, resulting in a strange and wondrous cultural mish-mash among Gor's human inhabitants. Basic Gorean society seems to be built upon the foundations of Ancient Greece, and the City-State is the primary political structure upon the planet. Civilized Gor is a planet of walled cities, each in constant conflict with the others. Large Empires or alliances are discouraged by the Priest Kings, and so warfare among humans tends to be a relatively small-scale affair, usually involving mere thousands instead of hundreds of thousands. Warfare, however, is allowed to exist since it provides an effective means of capping the planetary population. Some of the other human races and cultures found on Gor include the Wagon Peoples (a Gorean variant on ancient Mongol Horsemen), the Torvaldslanders (a Gorean variant of the Norse Vikings), the Red Savages (a large population of formerly Native American Indians who now live in the vast untamed wildernesses of Gor), the Tribesmen of the Tahari (A Gorean Arabic culture), The Red Hunters of the North (A Gorean eskimo culture), such small tribes as the Alars (who seem similar to the Huns of Earth), and the Tribesmen of the Southern Forests (A Gorean variation of black African tribal culture). Many of the languages, manners of dress, weapons and customs of these peoples can be traced directly back to Earth, and have been assimilated into Gorean culture over the centuries.


TECHNOLOGY

The Priest Kings have carefully restricted the development of human technology in certain areas, while allowing it to flourish unchecked in others. The most carefully restricted areas are weapons technology, communications technology, and transportation. The areas of medicine and basic physical comforts have been allowed to compete with, and in some cases surpass, equivalent areas of study upon Earth. No weapons are allowed to exist upon Gor beyond the complexity of a crossbow or catapult... Personal armor is not allowed in any form, nor are complex chemical weapons, including, of course, gunpowder. The Goreans have wisely adopted these restrictions into their own cultural codes, and use of banned weapons and armor is universally regarded both as sacriledge against the Priest Kings and a measure of personal cowardice on the part of the user. Medicine, however, is highly advanced... it would not be unusual for a Gorean Warrior to sustain a serious sword or spear wound, only to find himself upon a highly modern Gorean operating table, lit by electric illumination globes. So advanced is Gorean medicine that diseases are rare upon that planet, and "Stabilization Serums" have been developed which allow each relatively wealthy Gorean to possess a virtually limitless lifespan. Because of this, as stated above, warfare is a VERY important means of controlling Gorean population levels, particularly among the upper castes. Nevertheless, because of the lack of communication and the restricted modes of planetary travel, such technology remains well beyond the reach of the average Gorean.

GOREAN CULTURAL NORMS

Because of the odd mixture of cultures so abundant on Gor, certain customs and practices have been adapted and accepted by most of the inhabitants of the planet as the "status quo" of Gorean society. Gorean society is, for the most part, strictly caste-oriented. A person is born into a particular "caste," or trade, and remains within the confines of it for life, abiding by its accepted laws and rules. Each caste has its codes of conduct, and by violating those codes a caste member effectively relinquishes his or her rights to be considered a law-abiding participant of Gorean society. Such a person is typically branded outlaw, and is shunned by those of his or her family and caste. Among the principle "traditional" Gorean virtues are strength of character, loyalty, skill and ability in the appropriate trade dictated by your caste, and love of personal freedom within the boundaries of your social position. Both men and women are expected to show their emotions outwardly, for all to see... the sight of a Warrior openly weeping at his loss of a comrade is not uncommon... in fact, such openness is expected. The only emotion which is actively repressed by Gorean culture is that of pity. To pity another openly is considered both a sign of weakness and a personal insult. Gorean caste codes are typically rather detailed and a bit harsh. Gor is a cruel world, and Gorean society mirrors that fact.

SLAVERY

Perhaps the most commonly misunderstood social institution upon Gor is that of human slavery. A sometimes cruel practice, though seemingly a necessary one on Gor, slavery takes many varied forms in Gorean culture. The psychological effects of such imbonditude are well understood by Goreans, even taken for granted. To the Gorean school of thought, slavery is not bad; it is a part of life. Few people are born to slavery upon Gor; most who are slaves upon that planet are slaves because they were actively enslaved. Goreans feel that to be enslaved is to be humbled, to be forced basically to acknowledge the fact that someone who was stronger than you exists, and has stripped your freedom from you. Women, being smaller and less physically adapted to warfare and self-protection, are naturally the beings most often enslaved upon Gor. There are male slaves as well, but they rarely last long. Most Gorean males will not suffer slavery for very long before they die resisting or are worked to death in the attempt to subdue their spirit. Females, on the other hand, are generally treated better and require less effort to subdue than males. This is also true because most Goreans regard beautiful, intelligent women as a highly valuable commodity for trade purposes. They are treated as what they have become, according to Gorean law: someone else's property. In effect, most Goreans tend to believe that if you are a slave, you deserve to be one. Either you were too weak to remain free, or you did something foolish to lose your freedom. Slavery, upon Gor, is a long-established institution and is not merely psychological... it is a fact of life, and has the total weight of all Gorean custom and practice to support it. To be a slave on Gor is to be totally enslaved, and there is simply no avenue of recourse to one who is no longer free. Gorean slavery is then, in effect, total slavery. Only free persons are protected under Gorean law, and only free persons have any say in the dealings of Gorean government and civil administration. To the Gorean way of thinking, this state of affairs is perfectly acceptable and even proper.

GOREAN POLITICAL DIVISIONS

The most often utilized political division and structure upon the planet of Gor is the free City-State, similar in most respects to the famed city states of Ancient Greece. Each city state considers itself to be an island amongst enemies... competition for territory and agricultural product is high, and each city considers its citizenry to be a separate people. Simple terminology like the names of the Months of the year, for example, and even the measurement of years themselves, varies from city to city. During times of peace, most free cities of Gor are governed by a democratic ruling council made up of notable citizens culled from the five High Castes, and ruled overall by an elected city administrator. During wartime a Ubar, or military ruler, is often chosen; occasionally the Administrator and the Ubar are one and the same. The Ubar is customarily expected to relinquish all power once the present crisis has been averted, and allow the administrator to resume his duties. This sometimes does not happen, in which case the city-state in question remains indefinitely under a condition of martial law. The offending Ubar might be dethroned by force, or a coup d'etat might be staged to wrest the reins of government from the Ubar and his supporters and return control to the civilian government. Certain cities upon Gor are governed by a female ruler, a Tatrix or Ubara, as the case may be, though only occasionally is an entire Gorean city ruled by a gynocracy. Typically the female ruler serves in much the same capacity as the city administrator or Ubar would. Outside the great walled cities, however, there are as many political systems upon Gor as there are upon her sister planet Earth. These odd alliances, leagues and hegemonies control various portions of civilized Gor... some consist of simple tribal groupings, while others may grow beyond that, expanding even to the brink of Empire; typically the major city-states will take action to halt such an external amassing of power long before it becomes a threat to their own sovereignty, however.

CITIES

Many of the great Gorean City-States date from antiquity; of the largest and most ancient, Ar in the north and Turia in the south immediately come to mind. Nevertheless, despite their massive wealth and influence, as well as their superior armed forces, both of these great cities has fallen to invaders; Turia to an invading horde of Tuchuk warriors in the summer of 10,119 C.A, and mighty Ar herself to a monumental force of Cosian warriors and mercenaries twenty years later. Like most Gorean settlements, these two huge cities are (or were, in the case of Ar) surrounded by a set of high defensive walls of stone, designed to repel attack from invasion. In addition, certain northern cities such as Ar have created and maintain a "zone of devastation" beyond the territories directly controlled by the city, a wasteland some 200-300 pasangs wide over which an invading army cannot easily cross. Inside the walls a typical Gorean city is comprised of many hundreds (or thousands) of small flat-roofed, multi-storied structures, shops and houses, apartments and public buildings. The greatest of all structures in a city, however, are her cylinders... huge, towering monoliths, cylindrical in shape, sometimes rising as high as a thousand feet into the air. Many of the higher cylinders are connected one to another by means of a series of foot bridges. These bridges customarily have no handrail or safety guards, and are rarely traversed by the faint of heart. Each Gorean city literally bristles with cylinders and outthrusting tarn perches to accommodate the needs of her warriors and citizenry. Each city also commonly possesses a "Street of Brands," a particular district of the city environs in which can be found the houses and pens of the city slave traders. Most of the inhabitants of any major Gorean city dwell either within the lofty cylinders, if they are wealthy enough to afford such, or within an apartment of one of the city's many insulae, or inns. Certain of the wealthiest citizens of a Gorean city often dwell in personal holdings, well-fortified villas typically located on the outskirts of the city, though occasionally existing within the city walls. Each such villa is designed to be a virtual fortress in the event of enemy attack. Also nestled amidst the many structures of a Gorean city are pleasure gardens of infinite variety, walled away from unwanted visitors, in which the wealthy free women of the city pass their hours in gossip and idle play. It is also typical for a city to possess several public bathhouses of varying size and quality to serve the needs of her citizens. Water is transported throughout the city through a series of well-engineered aqueducts, and all trash and daily waste is removed to a series of carnariums, or waste pits, beyond the walls, where it is composted and buried. News about matters of public importance is distributed to the citizenry through means of a series of "public boards," large notice boards normally found near the city center or marketplace. Stadiums and arenas are also to be found within the larger Gorean cities, in which her champions may do battle in gladiatorial games or airborne tarn races. It is customary, in some Gorean cities, for the citizens to possess a small chit-like token called an ostrakon, which they carry upon their person, and which proves their citizenship. The widespread practice of counterfeiting such ostraka often precludes their general usefulness, however. Citizenship is a very important part of Gorean culture... to be without it means that you have no recourse in the legalities of the Gorean social system. Bereft of a city to call your own, you are automatically categorized by other Goreans as being an outlaw, and therefore an enemy.

This, then, is a brief introduction to the Planet of Gor, the Counter-Earth of John Norman's invention.

I wish you well,

_Marcus_

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