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Sharad9
2016-11-19, 04:03 PM
I am new on this site and have a world building idea that involves a matriarchal led empire, but am unsure how to justify this in the story since there are no real world examples. One thought was to make it a theocracy where priestesses have access to divine magic. This magic comes from the gods directly, which gives them a sort of heavenly mandate. Does this work as an in story justification? Are there certain ramifications that come with female led rule that I should know about?

raygun goth
2016-11-19, 04:28 PM
Check out the Iroquois Confederacy.

"In our society, women are the center of all things. Nature, we believe, has given women the ability to create; therefore it is only natural that women be in positions of power to protect this function....We traced our clans through women; a child born into the world assumed the clan membership of its mother. Our young women were expected to be physically strong....The young women received formal instruction in traditional planting....Since the Iroquois were absolutely dependent upon the crops they grew, whoever controlled this vital activity wielded great power within our communities. It was our belief that since women were the givers of life they naturally regulated the feeding of our people....In all countries, real wealth stems from the control of land and its resources. Our Iroquois philosophers knew this as well as we knew natural law. To us it made sense for women to control the land since they were far more sensitive to the rhythms of the Mother Earth. We did not own the land but were custodians of it. Our women decided any and all issues involving territory, including where a community was to be built and how land was to be used....In our political system, we mandated full equality. Our leaders were selected by a caucus of women before the appointments were subject to popular review....Our traditional governments are composed of an equal number of men and women. The men are chiefs and the women clan-mothers....As leaders, the women closely monitor the actions of the men and retain the right to veto any law they deem inappropriate....Our women not only hold the reigns of political and economic power, they also have the right to determine all issues involving the taking of human life. Declarations of war had to be approved by the women, while treaties of peace were subject to their deliberations."

Geddy2112
2016-11-19, 06:17 PM
There is always the drow if you need inspiration

Vizzerdrix
2016-11-19, 06:34 PM
King's Property-Queen of the Orcs is the first book in a trilogy that you may get some inspiration from.

Sharad9
2016-11-19, 07:15 PM
The Iraqoui's are too egalitarian for my purposes. To make things interesting, I was thinking in terms of a theocratic empire that saw its duty as uniting all of humanity under its banner in a hostile world. Sex and gender would play a big role in determining your future. Women would be considered the "smarter" sex, being more rational minded and creative and suited for positions of power and authority. Men would be thought of as emotional, passionate, aggressive. Their route to power would be through the military. Is there any media that I could look up that is similar to this? Could this work realistically?

Rainbownaga
2016-11-19, 08:00 PM
The Iraqoui's are too egalitarian for my purposes. To make things interesting, I was thinking in terms of a theocratic empire that saw its duty as uniting all of humanity under its banner in a hostile world. Sex and gender would play a big role in determining your future. Women would be considered the "smarter" sex, being more rational minded and creative and suited for positions of power and authority. Men would be thought of as emotional, passionate, aggressive. Their route to power would be through the military. Is there any media that I could look up that is similar to this? Could this work realistically?

Drow? (yours is far more realistic, but very simmilar).

80's and 90's sitcoms are full of alternate interpretations of modern society with the men being the heavy lifters and women pulling the strings and holding the real power.

As you have it there, there is no problem. Even non-magic religion or culture would be enough to keep everyone in their place so long as the matriarchs were good leaders.

ExLibrisMortis
2016-11-19, 08:30 PM
1) Take any patriarchy.
2) Flip sexes.
3) You now have a matriarchy. It's interesting because, despite the apparent differences between men and women, it's not really any different from the patriarchy.

(if you get really hung up on "men are physically stronger, they should be able to violently overthrow the matriarchal structure", remember: magic is a great equalizer)

You can also look at Tuareg society, or the Aiel society, which was probably inspired by the Tuareg.

Tetsubo 57
2016-11-19, 11:37 PM
My dwarves are a matriarchal culture. With a sex ratio running one woman for every four men they are a whole lot more rare. Each woman has at least two husbands, a 'hearth' husband that stays home and a 'world' husband that roams the world and makes an external income. The wealthier and more socially powerful women have more 'world' husbands. The real power houses having four or five. The number of children also affects social standing. Girls being worth more social capital. The dwarves also have a higher rate of male same-sex couplings than humans.

Bohandas
2016-11-19, 11:44 PM
(if you get really hung up on "men are physically stronger, they should be able to violently overthrow the matriarchal structure", remember: magic is a great equalizer)

Or, failing that, use gnolls

Friv
2016-11-20, 12:17 AM
One key to an interesting matriarchy is to use similar gender stereotypes to ours, but flip their importance and meaning. Men don't get leadership roles or learn magic, because everyone knows they're too flighty and passionate. Men are always thinking with the wrong head, the saying goes. They're fine to work the fields, craft goods or fight on the front lines, sure, but you want your generals, your merchants, and your priests to be wiser than that. Some men can push through those stereotypes, but they have to be careful - they aren't allowed to get mad, or to appear to have strong sexual appetites, or to enjoy themselves too much, because women will be quick to assume they're just another brutish boy. (And expect to get the word 'boy' thrown around a lot, because diminishing people by making them sound young is a fast and easy trick that your players will latch onto.)

Women, on the other hand, are allowed to get mad, and to openly leer at men, because everyone "knows" they're wise. They don't have anything to prove. They control the magic, they lead the armies, and they own all the property, because you can trust a woman with money not to waste it on whatever fancy passes her eye. Property passes through the woman's family because the child is born from them. Men don't generally inherit, and take the family name of the woman they are married to.

On the other hand, men are considered to be quite good artists and musicians, because they're so passionate. Women do that too, of course. But it's the one field where a man can excel and gain social status.

Jomo
2016-11-20, 03:21 AM
And although men can get ahead in the arts, they usually don't, unless they do a sexy dance.

I like the idea of doing a matriarchical society. It's not implausible. A few have existed in real life, and there's no reason a fictional setting can't have more matriarchical societies than real life. I'm thinking of putting matriarchical naming conventions in my next campaign.

Knaight
2016-11-20, 03:39 AM
That the society is a matriarchy on its own is a minor detail - it isn't in and of itself interesting. So fill in the rest of the politics exactly the way you would with anything else, making it interesting on its own even without the consideration of gender.

hymer
2016-11-20, 03:41 AM
(if you get really hung up on "men are physically stronger, they should be able to violently overthrow the matriarchal structure", remember: magic is a great equalizer)

Disunity is another reason it could be impossible or at least impractical. Brothers, sons and consorts are unlikely to stand blithely by while you overthrow their loved ones, who certainly don't deserve being overthrown in all eyes. And those guys in the military? The ones who reach top positions have done so in no small part by being particularly loyal to the existing order.
The culture would also be likely to have men see politics and administration as something incredibly boring. To be a real man, you must develop a huge physique, you must work out of doors with heavy implements, you must run like the wind and roar like an ox, you must wrestle other men in competitions and have loud social gatherings with other manly men where you celebrate these manly virtues and talk about how much you love your mother. Old age could be feared greatly among men, and dying before you become infirm is a blessing - another reason for military glory and taking on dangerous jobs.
And there could be some men who try to be as feminine as possible. They may go so far as getting neutered and dressing in women's clothing (if such a thing is seen as acceptable), and they will climb to some height in the matriarchal hierarchy, often attaching themselves to a female mentor or protector. But they can't (or at least don't) hold top positions, and most of the more visible positions are barred as well. This is all seen as progress for men.

Megaduck
2016-11-20, 03:44 AM
Go Read "A Brother's Price" by Wen Spencer.

Woman outnumber Men by about 10 to 1 and a lot of the novel is about the consequences of that.

Other then that there is always the old fallback of making women better at magic or the only ones capable of using magic.

Batou1976
2016-11-20, 06:20 AM
In my campaign/ novel's world, there's a male elven character who comes from an isolated matriarchal culture... but I'm definitely staying away from drow parallels as much as I can. In this culture, males aren't merely subordinate to the females; past a certain age, they're not a part of the society at all. Once boys reach adolescence (human equivalent of about 14 yrs), they are sent away, forcibly if necessary, to live a solitary existence for ever how long they can manage to survive on their own. There are women whose function in this society is to monitor the males and ensure they do not come into contact with anyone (and that no rogue females attempt unsanctioned contact).


I also think it's worth noting that in our own medieval and Renaissance period, men weren't the ones considered to be "out of control" with regard to sex; it was actually UNmasculine to be ruled by one's passions, even (perhaps especially) that one. It was women who were considered to be "thinking with the wrong head" all the time. :smallfrown:

thedanster7000
2016-11-20, 09:30 AM
Check out Rick and Morty for a semi-usable example.

Clistenes
2016-11-20, 11:08 AM
If that society is to perdure, they need the men themselves to support it. In our own world women were often the staunchest supporters of the patriarchal system, and the ones who attacked more viciously those females who tried to break the limits imposed by it...

In order to achieve that, you have to give the men a role in society with its own associated virtues and duties. They have to see their position under women an natural and to be proud of their contribution to the matriarchal society, the same way Roman matrons were proud to be virtous wives and exemplary mothers, and Japanese women were proud of their loyalty and quiet endurance.

If men are kept under control only through fear and punishment they will rise and kick the system. You need to make them believe that fulfilling their assigned roles is something honourable, satisfying and virtous.

A good example are the Rashemen from Forgotten Realms. Men tend to be chest-pounding macho Barbarians, proud to "protect" the Hathran Witch-Priestesses who rule the land as benevolent dictators. Men with an attitude for magic are isolated and forced to spend their life crafting magic items for the Hathran so they don't become powerful enough to be a threat to the Witches's dominance, but the Rashemi Barbarians don't feel slighted at all... rulership and magic is just seen as a female activity, while men are suposed to be good, obedient warriors.

Fri
2016-11-20, 03:10 PM
The Minangkabau People in indonesian are matriarchal. I think it revolves around their religious interpretation, so the males can do all kind of religious and clerical stuff, so the females do all the secular stuff, which means they have all the money, head of clan, property, etc. I know for sure that the females held all properties, and all males are basically considered "living on their mothers'/sisters' house." The females got most inheritence, will, etc. The culture is that after adulthood, the males are supposed to leave their house to find livelihood elsewhere, that makes the Minangkabau people famous as merchants and diaspora culture. But once again, the males hold all religious titles.

One of Indonesian founding father is a Minangkabau I think, and the museum in his hometown isn't mentioned as "house of x" but "house of x's mom" or something in that line.

You can wikipedia it for more specific I guess, since it's all just from the top of my head.

Amaril
2016-11-20, 04:49 PM
Patrick Rothfuss' The Kingkiller Chronicle (which I wish he'd get around to finishing one of these days) has a decently interesting matriarchy, in the form of the Adem. They're a highly isolated culture ruled by a warrior caste, the highest members of which are all women. In their philosophy, one of the most important concepts is what they call anger--in the usual sense of the word, as well as something akin to life force. They believe that anger is destructive if not controlled, and that while all living things have it, women are better at keeping it in check than men, making them more fit to be warriors and basically everything else because they can be more rational. They also don't have marriage, or any kind of monogamous pair-bonding; sex is purely the fulfillment of a physical need rather than an expression of any kind of affection, and they're unaware of the role it plays in conceiving children, assuming pregnancy happens spontaneously and at random. This further affects their view of men, since they believe that men are unnecessary to the continuation of life and have nothing to offer the world but destructive anger, making them ultimately superfluous and inferior.

Pex
2016-11-20, 05:57 PM
Whatever you do, don't go with the stereotype that's common in fiction of all types when females are in charge. Males are slaves, sperm banks for babies then killed, and/or food.

Cluedrew
2016-11-20, 07:02 PM
They also don't have marriage, or any kind of monogamous pair-bonding; sex is purely the fulfillment of a physical need rather than an expression of any kind of affection, and they're unaware of the role it plays in conceiving children, assuming pregnancy happens spontaneously and at random.The birthrate in that culture must be incredible. ... Yeah that's all I got. All the ideas I have, have been said already.

Jay R
2016-11-20, 10:48 PM
Asume a culture with no concept of sexual monogamy.

The only parent who is positive that a child is theirs is the mother. Therefore all inheritance must pass from the mother.

QED.

Katrina
2016-11-21, 12:26 AM
Also, check many of the cultures in the various "Compass of Terrestrial Directions" books from Exalted. The Realm itself is also Matriarchal. They actually put a higher standard on women because the Terrestrial Exalted pass their power down generations. The better Breeding a particular child has, the more likely the child will Exalt. While men can afford to "sow their oats" with women of low or no Terrestrial breeding because their biology says they can be ready to produce a child again within hours, women are expected to only breed with a Terrestrial of proper Breeding due to the long time pregnancy will take. That is the Realm's primary difference from a normal Patriarchy, but it makes the whole thing feel "real." The fact that men aren't really that repressed or oppressed and women are actually just expected to be more responsible makes sense to me. Of course, that model also requires that all Terrestrial are seen as "Special Snowflakes" already, due to the power inherent to an Exalt.

If you wanted to impose more role reversing changes, consider a Glass Ceiling and how such a culture would have one. What are the traditional gender roles of said society? I feel that playing around there will get you closer to what you might be looking for. For Example, there is a society in South America I believe ( I could be misremembering my Anthropology teacher's explanation), where the men are known to wear bright colors, go shopping and do many things considered female by Western thinkers whereas the women are the main money makers. Something about the female body being better at coping with pressure and the tribe making its main revenue on Pearl diving.

Alent
2016-11-21, 04:17 AM
Here's something I've thought would be fun for a variation on the usual Drow if I ever found the right game to run it in: Instead of an unstable Forgotten realms style Matriarchy that should have driven itself to extinction ages ago, Drow would be born exclusively female.

These Drow would worship a pantheon that consists of seven goddesses (Possibly with heavy Aboleth overtones), one of which becomes the male consort to the other six. At the end of seven years, that duty rotates. In imitation of their goddesses, their priestesses become males when their goddess is the current consort-god. The followers of the current consort-god have the option of making the pilgrimage to a temple if they desire children or wish to serve in the temple knights. At the end of the seven years, the consort-god returns to being a goddess, as does her clergy, and the next in line has their turn. The temple knights are required to remain male until their goddess' next turn as consort, at which point they have the option of retiring and becoming female again at the end of the seven years.

Each goddess' followers would live in separate parts of the cities, only mingling in the commons districts set aside for their trades and merchants. The Temple knights would live in garrisons, isolated from the general population. There are two types of garrison- a Temple garrison, which only contains the followers of one goddess and is mostly used to train new Temple knights, and then a commons garrison in which all the followers are mixed, with roles spread evenly to ensure that the departure of retiring knights would not negatively impact war potential. Retiring knights are typically rotated to a Temple Garrison to train their replacements before returning to society.

Each Goddess' high priestess anoints Matrons to act as local leaders and arbiters of the law, chosen from the population by the high priestesses during the apex of their goddess' femininity (Eg: 21 years after reverting to being a goddess, with 21 years remaining before she becomes consort-god again). The wisest of three of these matrons form a quorum that oversees the individual matrons. Laws are the domain of the high priestesses, who collectively rule the greater society in accordance with divine law, with the high priest excluded from participation. In the event the high priestesses of the six goddesses are split on a decision, the matron quorum of the patron-god are called upon to break the tie. Laws could be pushed back to the high priestesses if the majority of a joint Quorum of all 21 matrons felt they were unfair.

Notably, the Drow religion would feature some variation of Numerology where 7 and 21 are seen as feminine with significant religious value, odd numbers feminine, and even numbers masculine. Hence, a deadlock is masculine, a majority decision feminine, etc. For this reason the Temple knights always deploy their forces in even numbers, up to and including two high generals, believing war to be exclusively masculine. Outside of this, the detail is mostly trivia, but would be useful in creating artwork and puzzles.

Visitors of other races to a Drow city would likely be seen as curiosities- females would be allowed to roam the city as they pleased, save for the temples themselves, while men would likely be escorted to one of the common garrisons where they would strongly be discouraged from entering the regular cities and forbidden from entering any temple. Obeying these limits, they could stay and work in Drow society. The females of other races are often hired by Drow Crafting and merchant guilds specifically for the freedom of movement they enjoy, and men can always find mercenary work at the common garrisons. Anyone that stays long enough to be "part" of society would likely be objects of sympathy, and pointed to the "outsider districts" where their defective race's biological and clerical needs can be met without the interference of Drow law.

Larger Drow cities have outsider districts out on the outskirts, which are open but isolated from Drow society proper in exchange for the inhabitants freedom within the walls. These districts tend to have Drow run criminal undergrounds in them, which include "False temples", where low ranking and excommunicated Drow priestesses are sent to offer clerical services, which include granting a goddess' blessing to unborn children (A ritual developed for non-drows to guarantee a child is born female), the rite of youth (increasing lifespan in exchange for reducing fertility) and the rite of transformation (gender bender). These services guarantee that eventually, the outsider district will fully assimilate into the Drow society without threatening it, at least as close as is possible- the Drow do not have a concept of citizenship, as to the Drow it is an absolute truth that outsiders cannot become part of a goddess' kin. (Biologically, Drow aren't capable of hybridizing with other humanoids.)

The Drow's hostility towards other races would be determined by who was consort-god at any given time, with the most willing to push aggressively into new territories being their merchant goddess, who is preceded by their harvest goddess and succeeded by the Hunting goddess. (Who will probably inherit some of the Lolth spider imagery in this concept) This creates a constant pattern of conflict with their neighbors, with most of the conflict happening in the 14 years leading up to the Hunting goddess' turn, and very little open warfare- Nobody wants to go to war with the Drow while their army is in full out spider god mode.

This version of drow would probably not be very Xenophobic, erring to avoid open conflict, but have plenty of places where their expansionist trade cycle and cultural norms put them in conflict with everything around them. There's plenty of places where small tweaks or misunderstandings by the surrounding cultures would lead to war. Say, the Drow set up a trading post adjacent to a border city, where it slowly grows into a colony that begins trading with female merchants. If not stopped, it eventually becomes an integral part of the border city's economy, slowly shifting the balance of wealth until the city cannot survive without being part of the Drow Empire, becoming a low population, all female outsider district attached to a thriving Drow city over the course of generations.

Naturally, some races turn away Drow trade caravans, attempting to keep a large boundary between the two states to avoid their cities falling to this fate.

TL;DR: Drow who use magic to reproduce like sequentially hermaphroditic fish and aren't xenophobic men-hating slaver cartoon villains.

This needs more specific terminology and could probably stand to have a rewrite pass that rephrases everything to describe women rather than females because it's extremely dry. It also needs more immediate societal and religious history- deciding on if they were always this way or not, if the goddesses are really Aboleths that defeated Lolth and became worshiped after adventurers killed them, etc. I also never did decide on the entire pantheon's roles. It still needs work, but with that work it'd be usable.

It would also probably need a lower average level and more racially diverse underdark, or a surface population of Drow that have expanded out of the Underdark.

Frozen_Feet
2016-11-21, 05:02 AM
The birthrate in that culture must be incredible. ... Yeah that's all I got. All the ideas I have, have been said already.

Wrong. We actually have cultures similar in that respect; they got that way because they were not very fertile due to natural contraceptives in their food. The link between sex and babies wasn't made because pregnancy and babies were rare; hence, sex was not a big deal.

Stealth Marmot
2016-11-21, 05:17 AM
I am new on this site and have a world building idea that involves a matriarchal led empire, but am unsure how to justify this in the story since there are no real world examples. One thought was to make it a theocracy where priestesses have access to divine magic. This magic comes from the gods directly, which gives them a sort of heavenly mandate. Does this work as an in story justification? Are there certain ramifications that come with female led rule that I should know about?

A quote found by George-Kanentiio concerning the Iroquois tribe of Native Americans he is part of:

"In our society, women are the center of all things. Nature, we believe, has given women the ability to create; therefore it is only natural that women be in positions of power to protect this function....We traced our clans through women; a child born into the world assumed the clan membership of its mother. Our young women were expected to be physically strong....The young women received formal instruction in traditional planting....Since the Iroquois were absolutely dependent upon the crops they grew, whoever controlled this vital activity wielded great power within our communities. It was our belief that since women were the givers of life they naturally regulated the feeding of our people....In all countries, real wealth stems from the control of land and its resources. Our Iroquois philosophers knew this as well as we knew natural law. To us it made sense for women to control the land since they were far more sensitive to the rhythms of the Mother Earth. We did not own the land but were custodians of it. Our women decided any and all issues involving territory, including where a community was to be built and how land was to be used....In our political system, we mandated full equality. Our leaders were selected by a caucus of women before the appointments were subject to popular review....Our traditional governments are composed of an equal number of men and women. The men are chiefs and the women clan-mothers....As leaders, the women closely monitor the actions of the men and retain the right to veto any law they deem inappropriate....Our women not only hold the reigns of political and economic power, they also have the right to determine all issues involving the taking of human life. Declarations of war had to be approved by the women, while treaties of peace were subject to their deliberations."

A matriarchal society is not necessarily one of the dominance of one particular gender, or the view of one gender as being entirely subserviant (Seriously, forget the Drow forever). Just as most "patriarchal" cultures in D&D are fairly egalitarian (after all, adventurers are female without penalty), there is no reason to believe that a culture that had s matriarchal culture would be any more tyrranical or hateful.

However, the society would most likely instead look to women as their "milestones" and where their identity falls. As a society, a patriarchal culture will look to the "Man of the House" as the representative. A time is remembered by the rule of a King and a Queen is only usually remembered if she ruled unmarried. A Matriarchal society would probably follow a similar expectation where the leader of the house would be the woman, the society remember Queens more than Kings, and women would be the ones that carried the names of their families. Men in marriages would adopt the name of the wife in a traditional style.

If there were a cultural reasoning behind it, I expect it would follow the reasoning of the Iroquois tribe. Women are child bearers. Their capability of carrying and nurturing life within it would be chaerished and respected. In fact, you can expect that pregnant women would be among the most respected as they were in the middle of doing what no man could do, that being bear a child. Ironically, this may cause more pressure for a woman to bear children than a patriarchal society would, but doing so would bestow more respect and power for them.

The society would most likely have a focus on the aspects of child bearing and have more interest in the raising and nurturing of things, as it emulates the act of child bearing. A focus on growing food, raising livestock, and breeding creatures would all be seen as the most noble of professions. The farms that raised the healthiest wheat would carry more favor than the house with the strongest warriors.

The society would probably effectively function much in the same way a male lead one would, it just changes where the power comes from, not how well or how poorly it is handled or distributed.

Edit: Okay that quote was already used, but everything else still stands.

Lorsa
2016-11-21, 07:10 AM
The Iraqoui's are too egalitarian for my purposes. To make things interesting, I was thinking in terms of a theocratic empire that saw its duty as uniting all of humanity under its banner in a hostile world. Sex and gender would play a big role in determining your future. Women would be considered the "smarter" sex, being more rational minded and creative and suited for positions of power and authority. Men would be thought of as emotional, passionate, aggressive. Their route to power would be through the military. Is there any media that I could look up that is similar to this? Could this work realistically?

I think Brandon Sandersons book The Way of Kings can give you some inspiration. While not a matriarchy, women are the rational beings, and the only ones allowed to learn how to read, whereas the men are mostly good for fighting.

Cluedrew
2016-11-21, 07:46 AM
Wrong. We actually have cultures similar in that respect; they got that way because they were not very fertile due to natural contraceptives in their food. The link between sex and babies wasn't made because pregnancy and babies were rare; hence, sex was not a big deal.Never heard of those (real cultures) before, and obviously never that explanation for this particular culture. Thanks for the extra information.

Lord Torath
2016-11-21, 10:12 AM
I'd recommend the Exiles "Trilogy*" by Melanie Rawn. After a great magical war/catastrophe a thousand years or so ago, women who could bear healthy children came to power. Families gained power based on how many deformed children were born per 1000 births. Families with no deformed children were called Bloods (True Bloods), and became the ruling class. Families with 1,2,3, or 4 deformed births per 1000 became the lesser nobles.

*The first two books were published in the late 1990s. We're still awaiting the third and final book.

GungHo
2016-11-21, 12:06 PM
As others have noted, the one thing I would caution against is to turn the women into creeps via inverse stereotypes. I also think finding a way to invent new stereotypes because, dammit we need some stereotypes to make it work, is strange too.

Maybe the women are in power just because they're in power and that's the way it's always been. It doesn't necessarily have to be because they have babies, tap into Bene Gesserit cooter magic, or something else bizarre. They don't need to have gamed the system and created a reverse glass ceiling just to keep men out. Maybe there were kings, but somehow it converted to queens and it's worked fine since then. Maybe the society values things beyond being able to club things in the head or move heavy objects, but it doesn't need to be heavy handed.

Alternately, maybe testosterone isn't as big a deal in fantasy land and women are just as good at labor/fighting and the physical dimorphism that exists with humans isn't there, or there's enough magical helpers that it doesn't make a difference in how society operates.

Max_Killjoy
2016-11-21, 01:11 PM
In general, keep in mind that people will willingly go along with things that seem bizarre to us, because they grew up immersed in a culture that has certain expectations -- they will perceive it as natural, normal, and correct.

This is true for cultures in general, but it's something that's even more true in other times and in other places, outside of the present-day "west". Compared to many other times and places, we almost have a "culture of transgressing and questioning the culture" right now, so sometimes it's hard for us to see just how much the beliefs and expectations of the elders and ancestors are internalized for the typical human being across the time and space of history.


Trying to come up with an example in our own culture that's not too political and thus won't push the boundaries here... consider the expectation in many communities and families that everyone should go to college and get at least a 4-year academic degree of some kind. A young person growing up will always be steeped in the unspoken expectation of going to college, and will likely at least attempt to go, even if their dreams or talents might take them in another path. And if they don't go, or don't succeed, they'd be considered a failure, even if most people wouldn't say it out loud. They are, culturally, "swimming against the current" or "sailing against the wind" if they choose to go to a trade school or 2-year school, or not go at all.

And that's in our culture -- imagine what that's like in a time and place where tradition and a "cyclical" mindset, are favored over the linear mindset of modernity.


To tie this all back to the "matriarchy"... if everyone grows up with the women in charge and being told in spoken and unspoken ways that women are better at it and rightfully hold those positions, then most of the people are going to have that ingrained in their thinking. Even if a few people question it, most women and men are going to stand against them, because they're questioning the "natural order".

Flickerdart
2016-11-21, 04:42 PM
When thinking about how to do an interesting alternative to our current system, it's useful to think about the conditions that resulted in the current system, and what conditions are necessary to change it.

Men emerged as leaders early on when being stronger and more aggressive was a factor in attaining leadership. Men were also more expendable when survival was an issue, since only the number of women is the bottleneck on a society's ability to multiply. So men became warriors who could go into battle and knock some skulls, while women stayed home and tended to children (it's hard to "pass off" being pregnant or lactating to the man). Obviously, being the warrior made you powerful, because you could force your own people to do stuff for you, and bam! Male leaders. After that initial period, men reshaped society to perpetuate this power.

So how do we change these conditions to create a matriarchy?

The first option is the simplest - change the species! Mammals are rubbish for female dominance, but you could have an egg-laying species where women deposit the baby into a nest and then go off to knock skulls. Or a marsupial species. Or a species of r-strategists who give birth to many young, and whose young mature quickly. The less time a woman spends being a mother, the more time she has to fight. Now, these don't actually give the women an advantage, so you would have to add something extra. Perhaps the eggs are laid in secret locations the men do not know about; the women thus have a powerful bargaining chip in the form of "if you mess with me, I'll stomp on your children."

Theocracy is not a bad idea, either. Historically, the priestly caste emerged as a way of justifying the authority of the prince to his subjects. But priests can just as easily justify their own authority, and get rid of the need for kings altogether. This also gives you a societal upheaval in your setting's past that you can build on, which is always a fun thing.

Being the warrior is also not very useful for consolidating power if there is either too much war, or too little war. In a society with much war, or very deadly war, men will die before they are able to consolidate a power bloc. If men usually die by their 30s, women become carries of knowledge and tradition, and these are very powerful things for reshaping a society. On the other hand, if there is not enough war to justify a permanent warrior caste (perhaps resources are much too bountiful), the warriors do not gain enough prestige.

The ideal environment for this previous point is a land where there are many bountiful plants, but few mid-sized animals. The available fauna is either small herbivores (think squirrels) or large, dangerous carnivores who mostly avoid the villages if left alone. Hunters cannot feed their village with the small animals, and fighting the large animals inevitably leads to many of them dying. This society either abandons hunting altogether, or wastes many lives to acquire meat.

Physical strength is also not very useful if magic is a significant force. Not "study for ten years to levitate a feather" magic, but "being in tune with this sword makes up for my lack of muscles" magic.

One interesting thing is that women go through puberty earlier. If your society's age of majority is very low (think 12-14 years old) then pubescent girls would probably cope better in the short term than the prepubescent boys of their age. The boys would do well to hitch their wagon to successful girls, especially if there is no support whatsoever from their parents and this stage of life is crucial for acquiring resources and knowledge for the future.

Tiktik Ironclaw
2016-11-21, 08:07 PM
Mammals are rubbish for female dominance...

Tell that to spotted hyenas. :smalltongue:

Max_Killjoy
2016-11-21, 09:09 PM
Tell that to spotted hyenas. :smalltongue:

Or to elephants.

The Glyphstone
2016-11-21, 09:50 PM
I had to wrestle with a lot of the same questions when adding a matriarchal society to my own campaign setting. The full writeup is in this post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=20195060&postcount=50), but the Cliff Notes version is that it grew from a group of warring nomadic tribes where one tribe's chieftain happened to end up married to a woman who was a natural strategic savant and who was careful to only teach her secrets to daughters and daughter-in-laws. Many generations of gradual cultural conditioning later, it ended up a society with strictly defined gender roles. Men are strong in Body, being the bulk of the military, the craftsmen and artisans, and laborers. Women are strong in Mind, being the political leaders, priestesses, and majority of spellcasters.

Coidzor
2016-11-22, 03:05 AM
There's always a gerontocracy where the women are long-lived and the men invariably die in or before middle-age. This could be for biological, magical, or cultural reasons.

hymer
2016-11-22, 03:43 AM
The ideal environment for this previous point is a land where there are many bountiful plants, but few mid-sized animals. The available fauna is either small herbivores (think squirrels) or large, dangerous carnivores who mostly avoid the villages if left alone. Hunters cannot feed their village with the small animals, and fighting the large animals inevitably leads to many of them dying. This society either abandons hunting altogether, or wastes many lives to acquire meat.

Hunting large carnivores as a primary food source isn't feasible, but I don't think it's for the reason you give. Some humans used to hunt mammoths for a living, the Masai (IIRC*) kill a lion as a transition to manhood, and some people keep cobras as pets. There's no land animal that is itself too dangerous for humans to hunt them, because we can use tools, plan, learn and teach. The reason you can't subsist on the large predators in an area is that there's just not enough of them.

*edit: Turns out from a cursitory googling that the Masai have very sensibly given up on this tradition recently.

Grim Portent
2016-11-22, 04:59 AM
A matriarchal society I created for a homebrew setting I'm working on is semi-based on lion prides, with a solitary male living in a society where the majority of work is done by women.

The society is divided into clans, some of which are nomadic some of which are settled, with a loose bond that unites them against outside threats and in times of scarcity and turmoil. Each clan has just one adult male in it, very rarely 2 or 3 closely related males instead, and almost all all day to day matters of the clan are handled by one or more of the older women in the clan. Spiritual matters are handled by elderly women and infertile or (voluntarily) castrated males who chose a spiritual life rather than the one normally reserved for males.

The men are a form of tribe property in a manner of speaking. Having a pampered and well fed male is a show of clan status, so while the women who do the work and rule are generally athletic and unadorned outside of ceremonial occasions, the men are usually overweight, trending from pudgy to morbidly obese depending on how wealthy their clan is, and are often dressed in finery, heavily tattooed and painted, with braided hair and jewelry. Day to day they do very little unless their clan is in dire straits, as befits their place as a flabby ornament.

The male has 3 functions in the society in addition to being the aforementioned status symbol, they sire the clan's young, have full authority over when their male children are sent into the world to find their own clan (informed by religious traditions,) and have to fight other males who want to take their place in combat or be exiled. Due to the general nature of the landed males this tends not to go their way if the challenger is any kind of competent.

Exiled or unlanded males often band together in groups for ease of survival, with individuals coming and going as they please. Due to tradition they will not attempt to overthrow a landed male as a group unless closely related or risk being denounced by the priesthood and cast out or killed by the women of the clan they tried to take over. These groups often become mercenaries or bandits, usually a bit of both, working for wealthy clans or outside nations, or pillaging traders, clans and other targets they think they can take on.

Individuals who don't fit into their cultural roles, generally for reasons of sexuality or even just dissatisfaction with their people's way of life, usually leave the clans altogether to look for a place they can better fit in.

Cluedrew
2016-11-22, 07:37 AM
*edit: Turns out from a cursitory googling that the Masai have very sensibly given up on this tradition recently.I believe you have to go through school now to be considered a warrior. Which (whether it is true or not) is a wonderful adaptation to the changing world in my opinion.

Flickerdart
2016-11-22, 10:42 AM
Tell that to spotted hyenas. :smalltongue:


Or to elephants.

When hyenas and elephants form a priesthood, let me know.


There's no land animal that is itself too dangerous for humans to hunt them
In real life. What if the only animals worth hunting were dragons, for example? More intelligent than us, stronger than us. Content to live in the mountains and eat rocks, but for these pesky humans trying to bump 'em off.

Max_Killjoy
2016-11-22, 11:43 AM
When hyenas and elephants form a priesthood, let me know.


So the ability to form a priesthood... ties into "Mammals are rubbish for female dominance"... how, exactly?

:confused:

Satinavian
2016-11-22, 11:50 AM
In real life. What if the only animals worth hunting were dragons, for example? More intelligent than us, stronger than us. Content to live in the mountains and eat rocks, but for these pesky humans trying to bump 'em off.The problem is not that there can't be dangerous beasts. The problem is twofold :

- If hunting is so dangerous, it becomes not worthwile. Humans age very slow. It is a bad deal to trade a full grown human (and all the food he needed to grow up) for some animal meat. That means as soon as the danger is too high, it is not worthwile prey.

- Hunting predators for food is far less efficient than just hunting and eating hunting their prey. Which tends to be less dangerous, more plentiful (otherwise the predator could not be sustained) and more energy efficient (each step on the food chain means additional losses)

Flickerdart
2016-11-22, 12:25 PM
The problem is not that there can't be dangerous beasts. The problem is twofold :

- If hunting is so dangerous, it becomes not worthwile. Humans age very slow. It is a bad deal to trade a full grown human (and all the food he needed to grow up) for some animal meat. That means as soon as the danger is too high, it is not worthwile prey.
That alternative was already present in my post. Not having a hunter-group works just as well as having a hunter-group with a high mortality rate.



- Hunting predators for food is far less efficient than just hunting and eating hunting their prey. Which tends to be less dangerous, more plentiful (otherwise the predator could not be sustained) and more energy efficient (each step on the food chain means additional losses)
In this scenario, the prey would not be efficient enough to hunt for humans, but the super-predator would be able to do it better. Or the dangerous creature usually eats things humans don't (plants, rocks, etc).


So the ability to form a priesthood... ties into "Mammals are rubbish for female dominance"... how, exactly?

:confused:
I am equating a priesthood to (a particular stage of) civilization. Whatever animal relationships hyenas and elephant groups have, they are not societies.

Beleriphon
2016-11-22, 12:27 PM
The reason you can't subsist on the large predators in an area is that there's just not enough of them.

Never mind the fact that humans are large predators.

Max_Killjoy
2016-11-22, 12:44 PM
I am equating a priesthood to (a particular stage of) civilization. Whatever animal relationships hyenas and elephant groups have, they are not societies.


The connection I'm not getting is between "mammals are rubbish for female dominance" and "this society has a priesthood".

If mammals are "rubbish for female dominance", why are there multiple mammal species with social structures clearly framed around and controlled by the females?

What is it about "has a priesthood" that draws a dividing line between those species and a theoretical society of a mammalian species, that keeps the assertion that "mammals are rubbish for female dominance"? from being called into question by the existence of those species?

Leewei
2016-11-22, 01:05 PM
I was pondering this sort of thing for a farcical fantasy campaign idea. One of the races in this campaign is cat-people who speak in internet-inspired macros. ("Can haz sword?")

The cat-folk are led by the Great Lady, whom they also revere as a goddess. The twist is that the Great Lady is a human sorceress of advanced age who created the race in vats. (And still does, with some help -- the species is a sterile hybrid.)

Satinavian
2016-11-22, 02:54 PM
That alternative was already present in my post. Not having a hunter-group works just as well as having a hunter-group with a high mortality rate.Not hunting works (but then you don't need the dangerous to hunt carnivore), hunter with such a high mortality rate simply does not work. At least not with humans.


In this scenario, the prey would not be efficient enough to hunt for humans, but the super-predator would be able to do it better. Or the dangerous creature usually eats things humans don't (plants, rocks, etc).That is why we were talking specifically about carnivores. If they eat rocks and plants, we are back to hunting animals which are not predators. Which is fine.

Flickerdart
2016-11-22, 02:58 PM
Not hunting works (but then you don't need the dangerous to hunt carnivore), hunter with such a high mortality rate simply does not work. At least not with humans.
Humans are not necessary for this. The whole point is coming up with a reason why the hunter caste is weaker politically.



That is why we were talking specifically about carnivores.

We who? You've only been quoting my posts. And while I did originally mention carnivores, it's not a requirement. The only requirement is that these mega-animals are dangerous to hunt, to the point that hunters are few in number.


If they eat rocks and plants, we are back to hunting animals which are not predators. Which is fine.
A housecat is a carnivore. A rhinoceros is not. I would rather hunt cats than rhinos.

Stealth Marmot
2016-11-22, 03:12 PM
A housecat is a carnivore. A rhinoceros is not. I would rather hunt cats than rhinos.

MONSTER! *hugs housecat*

Coidzor
2016-11-22, 03:30 PM
Seems like if they're dangerous but not so dangerous that hunting is impossible, it'd just exacerbate the hunter->organization->leadership paradigm, unless you meant few hunters because they're only able to bring in sparse game and have to be in small numbers to not be of interest to nigh-unkillable megabeasts.

Anyhoo, there's always taking a page from Anglerfish and having males only exist into young adulthood, after which they become symbionts.

Tiktik Ironclaw
2016-11-22, 03:46 PM
The connection I'm not getting is between "mammals are rubbish for female dominance" and "this society has a priesthood".

If mammals are "rubbish for female dominance", why are there multiple mammal species with social structures clearly frame around and controlled by the females?

What is it about "has a priesthood" that draws a dividing line between those species and a theoretical society of a mammalian species, that keeps the assertion that "mammals are rubbish for female dominance"? from being called into question by the existence of those species?

Yeah, from a purely evolutionary standpoint, the sex that tends to be bigger and stronger becomes the dominant one, looking at human history. And from a theocratic standpoint, there are always goddesses (hence matriarchal drow, as negative a stereotype they may be). Like, with gnolls, instead of worshipping Yeenoghu, they could have some kind of raider goddess.

Corwin Icewolf
2016-11-24, 02:32 AM
As others have noted, the one thing I would caution against is to turn the women into creeps via inverse stereotypes. I also think finding a way to invent new stereotypes because, dammit we need some stereotypes to make it work, is strange too.

Maybe the women are in power just because they're in power and that's the way it's always been. It doesn't necessarily have to be because they have babies, tap into Bene Gesserit cooter magic, or something else bizarre. They don't need to have gamed the system and created a reverse glass ceiling just to keep men out.

Well, stereotypes are a big part of why the people who stay on top stay on top in real life. Tell people they're inferior enough times and they start to believe you. It may seem unrealistic to some that the men would put up with being second class citizens if there's not some stereotyping going on.

It seems like a female led society that had no issues like that would end up being named "the Mary suetopia land of females are always rightopia." Which is too long a name.

To the OP I would let the matriarchy thing be a minor detail, and build on other things about how the nation works. Matriarchy just seems interesting because it's not the way most of our real life societies work. It's a country ruled by women instead of men. And once you get past the "oMG women are leaders here" it's like "huh, it's not all that different" unless you do something else to make it different.

Satinavian
2016-11-24, 06:25 AM
Humans are not necessary for this. The whole point is coming up with a reason why the hunter caste is weaker politically. If you don't use humans or human-likes, you don't need this whole setup either. Just have the males age faster or anything like that.

My argument was that hunting that is that dangerous to drastically change life expectation for human likes in relation to gender is too dangerous to do anyway, so you don't have a high-death-rate-hunter caste as the norm occupation for one gender, you don't have a hunter caste at all.



We who? You've only been quoting my posts. And while I did originally mention carnivores, it's not a requirement. The only requirement is that these mega-animals are dangerous to hunt, to the point that hunters are few in number.


A housecat is a carnivore. A rhinoceros is not. I would rather hunt cats than rhinos.Because my other argument (food efficiency and prey population ) was not danger related and about carnivores only. If you say "Then lets take non carnivores" then obviously that arguiment doesn't apply.

LudicSavant
2016-11-24, 06:46 AM
Patrick Rothfuss' The Kingkiller Chronicle (which I wish he'd get around to finishing one of these days) has a decently interesting matriarchy, in the form of the Adem. Incidentally, the Adem are directly inspired by the Trobriand Islands culture IRL, right down to details like not believing that sex is the cause of pregnancy.

Max_Killjoy
2016-11-24, 09:40 AM
Incidentally, the Adem are directly inspired by the Trobriand Islands culture IRL, right down to details like not believing that sex is the cause of pregnancy.


It's fascinating how often a fictional culture or species will illicit reactions of "that's not realistic" or "that's not really possible"... and it will turn out to have been inspired by something very much real on our own blue marble.

PersonMan
2016-11-24, 12:43 PM
My argument was that hunting that is that dangerous to drastically change life expectation for human likes in relation to gender is too dangerous to do anyway, so you don't have a high-death-rate-hunter caste as the norm occupation for one gender, you don't have a hunter caste at all.

Which would fulfill the requirement of "hunter caste does not have large political power", since a non-existent caste can't gather political power, as far as I can tell.

"Beasties are not hunted" seems like it'd be your only necessary requirement here, and that's filled by "they kill you if you try" as much as it is by "they're not there" or "they are tiny and not worth it".

hymer
2016-11-24, 12:51 PM
"they are tiny and not worth it".

I just have to, sorry: People eat proverbially small shrimps, and various insects, beetles and bugs. Yes, I know, not every tiny thing can be eaten. But size isn't everything. :smallsmile:

And while I'm at it:


It's fascinating how often a fictional culture or species will illicit reactions of "that's not realistic" or "that's not really possible"... and it will turn out to have been inspired by something very much real on our own blue marble.

There's a trope (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RealityIsUnrealistic) for that! :smallsmile: Also this (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TelevisionIsTryingToKillUs) one.

Honest Tiefling
2016-11-24, 01:53 PM
Yeah, from a purely evolutionary standpoint, the sex that tends to be bigger and stronger becomes the dominant one, looking at human history. And from a theocratic standpoint, there are always goddesses (hence matriarchal drow, as negative a stereotype they may be). Like, with gnolls, instead of worshipping Yeenoghu, they could have some kind of raider goddess.

Yeah, I don't really think you need to move away from human tendencies (women are on average shorter with less muscle mass, long hair is effeminate, women tend to be paler, etc.) if you say that the god of this society just tosses lightning at any man (or woman! There were plenty of men who tried to argue for women's rights, so why not the reverse?) who makes enough of a fuss. That seems like a pretty simple and easy explanation if one wants to just have humans as-is running around. I think it is the less interesting option, but trying to get players to play along with world building is difficult at times.

But as a question, what is the purpose of this society? Is it a villainous group, or is it one the players will be in? Because if the former, you don't even have to nail down many details as the player's own nation might just make up crazy stuff about their enemies, especially if they don't speak the same language. I mean, think of Amazons, which was basically myths about a society with plenty of dudes that some Greek guys just sorta made up to emasculate their enemies.

I admit, I find it hilarious when player characters show up in foreign lands and quickly find out that some assumptions are fairly wrong.

Coidzor
2016-11-24, 02:25 PM
Yeah, I don't really think you need to move away from human tendencies (women are on average shorter with less muscle mass, long hair is effeminate, women tend to be paler, etc.) if you say that the god of this society just tosses lightning at any man (or woman! There were plenty of men who tried to argue for women's rights, so why not the reverse?) who makes enough of a fuss. That seems like a pretty simple and easy explanation if one wants to just have humans as-is running around. I think it is the less interesting option, but trying to get players to play along with world building is difficult at times.


I kinda love how the default assumptions many of us have for why women would be in charge of a society are either so convoluted we still have people arguing when they appear to just agree with one another... Or it requires D&D mustache-twirling levels of evil.

Max_Killjoy
2016-11-24, 02:51 PM
Yeah, I don't really think you need to move away from human tendencies (women are on average shorter with less muscle mass, long hair is effeminate, women tend to be paler, etc.) if you say that the god of this society just tosses lightning at any man (or woman! There were plenty of men who tried to argue for women's rights, so why not the reverse?) who makes enough of a fuss. That seems like a pretty simple and easy explanation if one wants to just have humans as-is running around. I think it is the less interesting option, but trying to get players to play along with world building is difficult at times.

But as a question, what is the purpose of this society? Is it a villainous group, or is it one the players will be in? Because if the former, you don't even have to nail down many details as the player's own nation might just make up crazy stuff about their enemies, especially if they don't speak the same language. I mean, think of Amazons, which was basically myths about a society with plenty of dudes that some Greek guys just sorta made up to emasculate their enemies.

I admit, I find it hilarious when player characters show up in foreign lands and quickly find out that some assumptions are fairly wrong.


The Scythians and their kin were much more egalitarian cultures than the Greeks, especially the Athenians, when it came to women -- and that part of the world is where the Amazons were said to live.

There were real, actual human cultures in various parts of the world where women held more or most political power.


The idea that it takes some sort of fictional contrivance or a non-human species to make a matriarchy believable... just doesn't hold up under the light of reality.

PersonMan
2016-11-24, 03:34 PM
I just have to, sorry: People eat proverbially small shrimps, and various insects, beetles and bugs. Yes, I know, not every tiny thing can be eaten. But size isn't everything. :smallsmile:

You don't hunt beetles, insects, shrimps, etc., though, do you? At least not in the 'this results in a caste of strong tough people armed with weapon-tools' manner.

hymer
2016-11-24, 03:52 PM
You don't hunt beetles, insects, shrimps, etc., though, do you? At least not in the 'this results in a caste of strong tough people armed with weapon-tools' manner.

Depends on the method of hunting, I expect. I only have personal experience with shrimping, and that is pretty good exercise. It doesn't teach you to hit with a weapon, but it does require balance and handling of various implements. It's not as good exercise as, say, persistence hunting, but better than sitting in a concealed hollow for hours waiting for something to come by so you can shoot it.
But I take your point.

In the end, I think what makes a fine warrior isn't hunting. It's having the time and inclination to train.

LudicSavant
2016-11-24, 04:52 PM
Incidentally, the Adem are directly inspired by the Trobriand Islands culture IRL, right down to details like not believing that sex is the cause of pregnancy.

It's fascinating how often a fictional culture or species will illicit reactions of "that's not realistic" or "that's not really possible"... and it will turn out to have been inspired by something very much real on our own blue marble.

Indeed, human culture is far more diverse than many people give it credit for.

Sadly, many people on the internet are largely unaware of cultures outside of their own bubble, and will say very silly things about the limitations of human culture. They will even make up all kinds of pseudoscientific explanations for why their culture's way of doing things is somehow inevitable... even if there are real cultures that don't do things that way.

Coidzor
2016-11-24, 06:39 PM
You don't hunt beetles, insects, shrimps, etc., though, do you? At least not in the 'this results in a caste of strong tough people armed with weapon-tools' manner.

The main thing is you really have to prevent organization, at least before power is consolidated, because once there's a framework and organizational hierarchy for one component of life, it's easier for it to spread and encompass other aspects.

Cluedrew
2016-11-24, 10:40 PM
The idea that it takes some sort of fictional contrivance or a non-human species to make a matriarchy believable... just doesn't hold up under the light of reality.Ha, he he... sadly, in the harsh light of reality, even proof of something's existence is not enough to make it believable. No is something unbelievable just because we can prove it doesn't exist.

As a story teller I am quite thankful for the latter. In other cases not so much.


Indeed, human culture is far more diverse than many people give it credit for.Yeah, this is why I almost never use different races (non-humans) in my settings. Why bother? Most settings don't have the variety of cultures (across however many races) that can be found on earth with one race. And I probably couldn't make a setting with that much variety anyways.

Honest Tiefling
2016-11-25, 02:14 PM
Or it requires D&D mustache-twirling levels of evil.

If someone said they were going to have a Patriarchal society in their setting, I wouldn't assume that was a good aligned culture either. (I'd actually assume it was meant as a acceptable punching bag for play characters, but then again, I play with weird people.)


The Scythians and their kin were much more egalitarian cultures than the Greeks, especially the Athenians, when it came to women -- and that part of the world is where the Amazons were said to live.

There were real, actual human cultures in various parts of the world where women held more or most political power.

But there's still no evidence of Scythian women running around raping men or burning bits off either. Trusting a Greek account of the Scythians is a bit like trusting an Victorian account of anyone not European. Emasculating or De-Feminizing other cultures is a well documented trend among bigots, anyway.

As for the divine retribution thing...That's true for Patriarchal societies as well. Kings (And Queens!...And probably a few female Kings.) ruled by divine edict, and messing with that was supposed to be a one-way ticket to Doomsville in many societies. Priests of varying religions have supported both men and women in power.

The post was simply meant to explain that an easy explanation is often best, especially if players won't listen to your world building. Also that changes to human biology don't need to happen if there's a simple explanation present.

DuctTapeKatar
2016-11-26, 12:50 AM
It would be interesting to see a campaign like this improve on some of the places that most others drop when writing societies like these. Who cares if they are based off of a real society? Although it is nice to have a base to start from, I feel that this conversation is exactly why we write them so poorly- either we write them too abusive, or we write them too perfect in their design.

The best way I see writing this is to first start with some interesting characters. It's nice to have a stage to stand on, but if your actors feel as though they are made from cardboard, then I doubt it'd be that good of a game. Make a fantastical hero, and then erect a statue in her name, then build the city around that, and then the kingdom around that, and see how it interacts with everything else. It doesn't matter if it has a realistic counterpart- as long as they feel that this society is more than the snippets of every cliche we already have, then your players shouldn't mind.