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Castes of Gor

Gorean society has a firmly established Caste System and almost all Free Persons belong to a Caste. The Caste system is a vital component of civilized Gorean society. In its most basic form, a Caste is your profession though there is much more involved than that. Your Caste defines your codes of conduct, generally limits those you interact with, sets your place within the Gorean hierarchy, and so much more. Your Caste defines much of who you are on Gor, far more than any job on Earth ever would.
There are three basic categories outside of the caste system: Priest-Kings, outlaws and slaves. Priest-Kings are the "gods" of Gor and live hidden away in the Sardar Mountains. A man who refuses to practice his livelihood or strives to alter status without consent of the Council of High Castes is by definition an outlaw. Outlaws belong to no city and usually live hidden in the forests, mountains or other isolated areas. Outlaws do not have identifying devices on their garb. Most cities will impale outlaws if they try to access the city gates. There are few outlaws on Gor as being cut off from Gorean society so to such a degree is a great onus. Slaves are considered property and have no status in the caste system. Any Caste they once had is stripped from them when they are enslaved.

There are also some peoples who do not fall into these three primary exceptions but are still outside the caste system. There are some people who have lost caste or been deprived of caste for various reasons. Some are born outside of the caste system. A few occupations are not traditionally associated with a caste, like gardening, domestic service and herding. There are also cultures and peoples on Gor without any caste system. But these peoples are traditionally considered barbarians and not a part of civilized Gor. These include such cultures as the Wagon Peoples, Torvaldslanders, Red Savages and the Tribesmen of the Tahari. All of these people are not considered outlaws though and are able to enter cities relatively freely.

Caste is primarily governed by birth. Children take on the caste of their father. If the mother does not share the caste of the father, there might be a problem if their Free Companionship ended. In this case, it makes sense that the children would remain with the father as the children belong to his caste. Caste is far too important a matter to let the children go off with someone not of their caste. If mother and father shared caste, then the children could go with either parent. The books though do not make clear what happens to children when a Free Companionship ends.

The Caste system has little upward mobility though the opportunity does exist. Changing your Caste is generally not an easy task. Free Companionship is one method for free women to change their caste. Normally, relationships remain within the same caste. But, if of mixed caste, the woman can keep her own caste or take her partner's caste. This can serve to raise her caste. Generally, a woman would not change her Caste to a lower one. Though her Caste changed, the woman could not fully practice her new Caste until she had been properly trained and met all other prerequisites. Another way for man or woman to change is their caste is through a showing or lack of ability. This can serve to either raise or lower your caste. To lower your Caste through a lack of ability, the High Council of the Caste would have to make that decision. To raise your caste or willingly change caste, the High Council of the city must approve the change, based on your qualifications for the new Caste and the willingness of the new Caste to accept you. Women are promoted and demoted by the same criteria as men though it varies from city to city.

To most Goreans though, it is unthinkable to alter their caste. Most Goreans are proud of their caste, even peasants and laborers. It is recognized that all, or at least most, castes perform necessary, useful or commendable tasks. Their skills are appreciated by others and not generally looked down on. Each caste views itself as special in some way. Each Caste has its place and worth in Gorean society. Metal Workers state: "Where would the dwellers of cities be without us?" (Dancer of Gor, p.293) This is a way of saying that their skills are essential for civilization. Even the lowest Caste, the Peasants, consider themselves the "Ox on which the Home Stone Rests." They are the ones that provide the food for all other Castes.

Despite this respect for the place of each Caste within Gorean society, Caste discrimination is very common. "Language and city, and caste, however, are matters of great moment to them, and provide sufficient basis for the discriminations in which human beings take such great delight." (Beasts of Gor, p.156) Entertainment and Free Companionships generally follow Caste lines. There are paga taverns that cater to the different Castes and a Peasant would not dare enter a High Caste tavern. Many Castes will not use the Long Bow because it is seen as a Peasant weapon and beneath higher castes. The Double Knowledge is a method of discrimination meant to keep the Lower Castes in their place. The Low Castes are generally not permitted to vote or be on the High Councils. The Castes are ranked from Highest to Lowest which alone signifies that some are better than others.

Castes are divided into High Castes and Low Castes. There are only five High Castes and include Initiates, Scribes, Builders, Physicians and Warriors. Each has its own color, respectively white, blue, yellow, green, red, which is also their ranking of order of importance. The High Castes elect the Administrator and Council of a city for stated terms. There are subcastes of some of these castes. For example, cartographers and lawyers belong to the Caste of Scribes. The Lower Castes includes all the other established castes. These includes such castes as assassins, bakers, bleachers, carriers of wood (woodsmen), charcoal makers, cloth worker, cosmeticians, dyers, goat-keepers, growers of rence, leather workers, metal workers, musicians, peasants, potters, saddle makers, singers (poets), smiths, tarn keepers, vintners, and weavers. There are many more castes and some subcastes. These castes are also ranked in order of their importance with peasants at the bottom of the ranking order.

Each caste has its own Caste Code to govern the conduct of its members. "The ethical teachings of Gor, …,amount to little more than the Caste Codes---collections of sayings whose origins are lost in antiquity." (Tarnsman of Gor, p.40-41) Unfortunately the books provide little details on the Caste Codes for each different Caste. Only the Warrior Caste receives any significant details on its Caste Codes. These Codes are vitally important to the Caste members and are generally followed by all. "It is the codes which separate men from sleen and larls," (Slave Girl of Gor, p.227) Failing to follow the Codes could lead to sanctions from your Caste.

Belonging to a Caste also gives you certain privileges. Charity is administered through the caste structure. Goreans do not favor begging and some even view it as an insult. When charity is in order, the caste or clan comes to the rescue. Caste Sanctuary, the protection of caste members in times of need, is another privilege. A Caste protects its own members and they form a cohesive unity. Caste rights are a matter of birth and you are entitled to them automatically, even if you never practice your caste work.

One commonly cannot practice a craft in a Caste until an apprenticeship is done though you might be able to do some subsidiary work in that craft without such practice. A Metalworker, who has not completed his apprenticeship, might be able to paint iron or transport it though he could not work the iron. An apprenticeship helps to guarantee the quality of the Caste's products and services. Thus a Caste will consist of full working members of the Caste, members in training, and non-practicing members. Women of a caste often do not engage in caste work. Women generally do not work in Castes where physical strength is required. For example, women of the Metal Workers do not commonly work at a forge and women of the Builder's do not supervise the construction of fortifications.

But, women do commonly work as Scribes and Merchants. There are even female slavers. Another notable exception is that of the Physician's Caste. The Physician's Caste though does restrict women in one way. The Caste will not permit a woman to practice medicine until she has first born two children. In many cities, at age fifteen, a woman of the Physician's Caste dons two bracelets. One is removed for each child born, and when both are removed, she is allowed to practice medicine. The reason behind this is that it is understood that professional women tend not to reproduce themselves. This would serve over time to diminish the quality of the caste. Thus, the rule helps to preserve the future of the caste.

The future of the caste is vitally important to Goreans. The welfare of the caste takes priority over the ambitions of specific individuals. The welfare of a larger number of individuals is more important than the welfare of a smaller number of individuals. Caste is crucially important to Goreans in ways that those of Earth cannot easily comprehend. The importance of the caste to Goreans cannot be underestimated. Thus, the logic behind this restriction on women in the Physician's Caste should apply as well to the Warrior Caste.

Why would the Warrior Caste allow women to risk their lives in combat? There would be more women dying in combat which would lead to fewer births. In addition, dead women could not raise their existing children. Goreans would not want their children to grow up with mothers. This would all diminish the quality of the caste over time. With the welfare of the caste at stake, Warriors would not permit women to engage in combat. In addition, women would not want to endanger the welfare of the caste so they would accept their role in the Caste. This may be one of the strongest single arguments against female warriors.

There are a number of key differences between the High and Low Castes. First, each learns a different type of knowledge concerning their world. The Low Castes learn the First Knowledge that is a simpler knowledge with a number of falsehoods and half-truths. They learn that the world is flat and are not taught of the existence of Earth. The High Castes have the Second Knowledge. They know about Earth and most of the true information about Gor though they know little of the true nature of the Priest-Kings. Most of them would have uncovered these truths on their own anyways. There is a Third Knowledge belonging to the Priest Kings, a knowledge of the many secrets of Gor.

The Low Castes are also very superstitious normally. They are reluctant to reveal their true names. They thus have both a use name and a real name. Often only close relatives know their real name. High Castes usually use their names freely though the Lowers believe they have use names. Knowing a real name supposedly gives one power, a capacity to use the name in spells and insidious magical practices. Many of the Low Castes believe in magic and that some people can read thoughts. They believe the stories of the wizards and monsters of Anango.

There is an accent that differentiates the High and Low Castes, though some of the higher artisan castes speak almostlike the High Caste. Illiteracy is common on Gor and is not taken as a mark of stupidity. Literacy usually follows by caste lines and many Goreans of the Low Castes cannot read. Even some of the High Castes, primarily warriors, may be illiterate. Some warriors feel that they should not be literate so they hide the fact that they can read.

The caste system is vital to the proper functioning of Gorean society. The caste system contributes considerably to the stability of society. It reduces competitive chaos, social and economic, and prevents the draining of intelligence and ambition into a small number of envied, prestigious occupations. By making each Caste important and instilling an attitude that the good of the Caste outweighs individual ambitions, people tend to remain in their Caste. Gorean society is not a battle over climbing a social ladder.

Caste of Initiates: First of the High Castes. The supposed representatives of the Priest-Kings. They are responsible for guiding the spiritual life of Goreans though their rituals and prayers to the Priest-Kings. Their white robes, their shaven heads and faces, and their refusal to eat meat or drink alcohol recognize them. Color: White.

Caste of Scribes: Second of the High Castes. They are the scholars, the writers and the historians. In their scrolls are almost all of the accounting, records keeping, and writing on Gor. They tend to be studious and serious, with an attention to detail and a passion for knowledge. Color: Blue.

Caste of Builders: Third of the High Castes. This caste includes architects, engineers, draftsmen, stonemasons, and many others, which concern themselves with the creations of the physical and engineering marvels of Gor. Color: Yellow.

Caste of Physicians: Fourth of the High Castes. This is the caste of those who concern themselves with the healing arts. Surgeons, apothecaries, medical researchers and health practitioners, are all member of this caste. Universally recognized as non-combatants during time of war. Color: Green.

Caste of Warriors: Fifth of the High Castes. This caste includes infantry, tharlarion cavalry, and tarnsmen. They have the strictest set of Caste Codes on Gor. Members of this caste comprise the military branch of Gorean Government. Although not strictly fitting into the caste system, the fiercely independent Warriors of the Wagon Peoples are generally acknowledged to be numbered among the Caste of Warriors. Color: Scarlet.

The Low Castes of Gor

Caste of Slavers: This Caste deals in human merchandise. Color: Blue and Yellow

Caste of Sailors: This caste includes several sub-castes, each with their own specialty. Color: Blue and Gold Caste of Pot Makers: They are involved in the production of containment vessels. Color: Brown and Green.

Caste of Saddle Makers: They produce the saddlery, harness, and tack used to manage all of the various riding and draft beasts of Gor. Color: Tan.

Caste of Metal Workers: They are concerned with the production of most metal items fabricated upon Gor. There is also a subclass for the blacksmiths of Gor. Color: Steel Gray.

Caste of Woodsmen: This caste is concerned with protecting and managing the vast resources of various Gorean forests claimed by a particular city or village. They are experts in various forms of woodcrafts and are forest hunters, forest marshals, and forest trackers of Gor. Color: Brown and Black

Caste of Poets: Those who concern themselves with the creation of the poems of Gor. Color Aqua and Red.

Caste of Torturers (Wagon People): Not a common Gorean caste, found only among the Wagon People. Color: Black and Red

Caste of Players: This caste is made of those who have dedicated their lives to the furtherance of the Gorean game of Kaissa. A rare caste but found and supported in almost any city. Members of this caste are granted blanket immunity to prosecution and slavery, and are highly regarded based upon there level of skill. They wear distinctive hooded robes in their caste color. Color: Checkered, Red and Yellow

Municipal Servants: Concerned with providing various public services to a specific city or village. Color: Grey

Guardsmen: This caste is responsible for patrolling the city or village streets, arresting those that disobey the laws and assuring the general well being of the citizens. They have no specific color, as they were the color of the city or village they work in.

Caste of TarnKeepers: This caste concerns itself with the care, feeding, and training of the Gorean tarn, the fierce winged saddle-bird of Gor. Color: Grey and Green.

Caste of Merchants: Those who are of this caste are concerned with the sale and trade of merchandise for a profit. There are almost as many sub-castes of the Merchants caste as there are products to be sold. Includes the Slavers. Caste Color: White and Gold.

Caste of Singers: This caste concerns itself with the performance of verbal entertainment set to music. Colors: Aqua and Red

Caste of Assassin: This caste is comprised of those who kill strictly for pay. Their existence has long been suppressed, though they still appear occasionally. They refuse to use poison to dispatch their enemies (they consider it the mark of an amateur) and are required by their caste codes to renounce all ties of friendship and family. In addition they claim NO homestone. Color: Black

Caste of Peasants: The lowest and most common on Gor, which is concerned with the maintenance, planting and harvesting of the vast lands surrounding most cities which have been divided into plots and set aside for agricultural use. They have rather strict caste codes, and are considered the masters of several forms of distinctive peasant weaponry, including the quarterstaff and the Great Bow, or "Peasant Bow." Color: Brown

Caste of Charcoal Makers: This caste concerns itself with the production of charcoal for use in Gorean forges and ovens. Color: Black and Grey
In your role-play, you should be proud of your caste and participate in Caste matters such as Caste leader elections. Goreans care about the future of their Castes. They place their personal desires below the welfare of their caste. If you are a Low Caste, remember the differences from the High Castes. Remember that you only have the First Knowledge and are likely illiterate. Respect those of Higher Caste than you. Follow your Caste codes.

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Gor is Gor, I know my place, you better learn yours.