Orlanthi Friendship


Despite (or perhaps because of) the importance of kinship ties, friendship is greatly valued in Orlanthi culture, and many stories place greater importance on friendship than kinship. One has no choice in kinship, but friends are chosen – to be rich in friends (as Sartar was) matters more than the strength of one’s kin. “Friendship” for the Orlanthi is not casual acquaintanceship. It is a personal, reciprocal bond of loyalty between two or more individuals of roughly equal status who share roughly the same interest or goals. Friends are committed to each other by mutual obligations, and can rely on each other help. One’s loyalty to one’s friends is a key part of the Orlanthi concept of honor – violation of friendship is considered highly dishonorable, even impious!

Honor dictates that an Orlanthi remain loyal to their friends, even against their own kin. Obviously, this can be the source of tragedy – but it is also a great source of strength.

We put a lot of emphasis on kinship ties with the Orlanthi – as we should – but it is also important to note that many of the greatest Orlanthi were mightier in friends than kin, starting with Orlanth himself.

But Orlanthi friendship – like so many Orlanthi customs – is a two-edged sword. One must remain loyal to friends, even when they are wrong. So pick your friends carefully!

Love can work perfectly well as the Friendship passion as well, as I suspect that the Orlanthi are quite openly emotional about their friends.

As an aside, to be accounted the “friend” of a Prince or king is a very weighty position in Orlanthi society.

The exchange of gifts and favors among the Orlanthi is a reciprocal and highly ritualised process. Gift-exchange is often a key part of friendship. It is subject to three rules: the obligation to give, to receive, and to reciprocate. Reciprocity is not balanced – the person with the highest status is obligated to offer the most valuable gifts or favors.When someone seeks to ask for a gift or favor, one must first make an initial gift. This could be a gift, or also a pledge of service or support.

So think about this next time your Orlanthi character “gives” someone a weapon or pledges their support. This is the sort of thing that the Honor and Loyalty passions are all over!

Gift-exchange is deeply tied to Orlanthi concepts of honor. Violating the rules of gift-exchange is considered as dishonorable as cowardice or breaking one’s word.

And one way of tying player characters to a powerful figure (like a tribal leader, warlord, priest, or even the Prince) is to give them gifts they can’t repay. Give them horses, weapons, herds, community support, even magic items! As gifts. And when they say they cannot possibly repay this, just smile.

Because the position of Prince requires that kinship connection – the prince needs to be a descendant of Sartar. But to be a successful Prince requires friends as well. More than strong kinship ties.