King of Dragon Pass and Thunder Rebels presented Sartarite tribal assemblies as pretty standardised events, like some small town city council meeting. However, in truth there’s little difference between a Sartarite tribal assembly and the militia mustering.
Able-bodied adults are required to perform labor or military service on behalf of the clan. Service is typically owed to the clan chieftain, who in turn owes it to the tribal king, and on to the Prince.
Representatives of the clans meet in assembly with their king and tribal council. This coincides with the militia gathering, and the clan militias often attend the assembly. So if you want to think about what happens at the tribal assembly – you have the militia mustered, led to the assembly place by their chiefs. The militia – along with any other free members of the tribe – meet in assembly with the king and the tribal council, who offer sacrifices to Orlanth Rex and the tribal guardian (wyter). Disputes are raised and resolved, but a big part of what happens is a ceremony showing the connection between the assembled people and their tribal leaders. The assembled people then do their militia service or labor for the benefit of the tribe. What is important is this is the one time of the year all the free members of the tribe can assemble AS the tribe – it is a sort of political ceremony, that reinforces their communal identities as members of the tribe.
If you assume every free member of the Colymar tribe shows up, that’s a little over 6100 people. I personally imagine it normally about half that or less.
As these are Orlanthi, the assembly meetings vary wildly in nature and decorum. Sometimes the assembly has the real power, sometimes the tribal king has the real power. Sometimes the assembly is raucous and uncontrollable; sometimes it is just a rubber stamp. Sometimes the assembly threatens to kill the leaders; other times they tolerate no dissent. Sometimes the assembly tells the leaders no; more often the assembly and the leaders are in some sort of agreement. Sometimes votes are counted; more often it is based on shouts and spear-waving. During the reign of King Kallai Rockbuster, the Colymar assembly tended to follow whatever the king wanted. They’d gather, show off their weapons, and cheer on the king. During Leika’s first reign, it was more unruly and confrontational. There were more obvious divisions within the assembly, and they were more vocal. Ultimately a faction ended up forcing her out and exiling her in favour of Kallai’s son Blackmor. In Leika’s second reign she is much more cautious about the assembly and careful coopts it.
But remember, the assembly always includes hundreds, maybe even thousands of armed militia. And most of the time, they vote by banging their weapons. So they are not a group to take lightly. And meanwhile you also have the women of the community – the priestesses, the wives, the mothers, etc. I suspect that they ululate in support or opposition, and urge on the warriors one way or another. And meanwhile the tribal council are typically some of the most magically powerful members of the community. In short, I can imagine that most assembly meetings are ceremonial, but when they go bad, they can quickly go VERY bad.
I used to serve as a Special City Attorney for a number of small municipalities. Needless to say, the idea of doing those meetings in front of hundreds, maybe thousands, of armed men, and with proud women pushing them on, would be challenging! And keep that in mind when it comes to tribal politics.
Which is why these Orlanthi leaders need to demonstrate their martial bona fides – if they successfully lead these warriors in battle they are more likely to follow them. And show up with armed retainers and priests.And the importance of giving out gifts! But of course that means you need to have gifts to give out. Which is a big resource the Prince has – plenty of goods and money!
Now keep in mind that city assembly meetings are like this as well. And potentially more contentious. So you can see what the Princes of Sartar have to deal with! and that means that Orlanthi politics are as turbulent as their gods.
So these assemblies are part religious ceremony, part market and law court, but at their core is a big event where the tribe displays itself as a tribe.
Now Sartar as a whole doesn’t have that happen very often. Arguably Kallyr did that in Sacred Time 1625 with her Short Lightbringers Quest. She doesn’t muster the “nation” again.Argrath likely has to confront a mustered Sartarite “nation” in 1627 when he arrives in Boldhome, and again in 1628 when he prepares to march into Tarsh.
The Orlanthi have very few slaves. But they do have a fair number of “semi-free” people. Mainly tenants, labourers, and other folk without strong kinship alliances or property.
This is a person who is not property but is not a full free member of the community. A client of another person is typically semi-free as they are not independent of their patron. They are bound to their lands or professions, or work somebody else’s land, livestock, or workshop and are usually unable to leave without permission of their lords. They do have some legal rights and are protected by their patrons.
If you have a courtyard 200 meters square, you could gather every Orlanth initiate in Sartar, and give them room to clang their weapons and shout.
City Court in New Pavis is big enough for 2500 people to assemble beneath the Pavis Temple. The People’s Square in Boldhome is big enough for every Orlanth initiate in the kingdom to assemble outside of the King’s Court.
These assemblies are not necessarily intended for participatory democratic meetings!
Orlanthi assemblies are not some kind of Athenian democracy – they are where the community gathers, with weapons, and their leaders find out if they have support.
This is why Orate is an Orlanthi cult skill.