Probably the biggest social conflict among the Sartarites is between the roughly 30k “townspeople” and the 140k “tribesfolk”. One way of seeing the distinction is with cults. So for example, among the rural tribes, about 70% of the population belong to Orlanth or Ernalda. The next biggest cult (at 5% of the population) is Yelmalio, largely concentrated into Sun Dome Temple and the Vantaros tribe. After that, you get Humakt, Storm Bull, and Seven Mothers, at 3% each. After that, it is basically 1% per cult.
So for the tribes, it really is just Orlanth and Ernalda. Like rural areas everywhere, the rural tribes are conservative and traditional.
But in the towns, Orlanth and Ernalda make up only 40% of the population. The next biggest cult is Issaries at 12% of the population and the Seven Mothers at 11% of the population. Chalana Arroy, Lhankor Mhy, and Humakt are each 6%, and Yelmalio is still at 5%. There are twice as many Issaries cultists inside the towns than in all the rural areas combined.
So the towns are going to be far more diverse – although Orlanth and Ernalda are the most important cults, they are a plurality of the community and not even a majority. Another interesting thing – there is a community of 2k dragonewts and many Demi-birds just 10 km from Boldhome.
And yet the townspeople provide most of the leadership, the economic engine, and the larger temples for Sartar. They are not a hermetically sealed community – they OVERLAP with the tribes. They are kin, share the same temples, and provide disproportionate portion of the magical heft of the Kingdom.
Well ironically, the townsfolk are often even more “hill folk” than the tribespeople. Boldhome is the highest elevation settlement in Sartar.
Should we expect basically everyone to still be at least lay members of Orlanth and Ernalda though, or is even that gone in the towns? if you are an initiate of Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, Lhankor Mhy, or Storm Bull, you are an associated cultist of Orlanth. That’s a step higher than lay member.
An associated cultist gets some Rune Magic from the god. A lay member does not.
So an associated cultist participates in the mysteries, a lay member is on the outside.
Nochet’s cult numbers are VERY different. But there are probably more than 6000 (!) Issaries cultists in Nochet alone. That’s more than in all of Sartar.
I don’t view this as being an analogy to Red States and Blue States. To begin with, this is on a small and human scale. Oakton Village is about as rural tribes folk as you get in Sartar. But even then there is a town about 12 km away. Another town about 22 km away. And a city about 25 km away. The city has scribes, healers, and merchants from foreign lands. Oakton does not – not because you hate scribes, healers, and merchants, but because your community is basically farmers and herders.
Again, the basic reason that the 7M people don’t get the boot is they are there. They submit to the conquerors, agree to pay their taxes. If they get in a dispute with outside groups, they can appeal to the city council or the Prince.
A few things to keep in mind:
- We are dealing with relatively small population groups. In all of Sartar there’s about 170k people, or the size of a medium sized city. They are scattered over a lot of area, with no real central government. Each group is set up to be able to defend itself and its interests.
- The Sartarites are polytheists. They acknowledge the existence of many other gods other than their own tribal deities and favoured gods. Most Sartarites dislike the Seven Mothers, but acknowledge their existence of powerful deities.
- The Seven Mothers are not the Red Goddess. They are associated with her, of course, but aren’t the same thing. And unlike the Red Goddess, they are not associated with the Chaos Rune.
- The main warrior cults have a strong sense of honour. Killing noncombatants or surrendered enemies is very dishonourable. The Humakt cult gets EXTREMELY angry about this, and they might treat you as a combatant if you start doing that. The Orlanth cult agrees with Humakt on this one. So does Yelmalio, Yelm, and Polaris. And here’s another important one – so does Yanafal Tarnils.
7M initiates are not chaotic. At least that is what the Storm Bull cultists say. What other means do you have to determine that? Yes the senior priest of a temple can cast Chaos Gift and THAT can certainly permanently taint you with Chaos. But most initiates don’t have that ever cast on them.