Jane's Glorantha: Sun County society

A question was put to the Glorantha Digest a while back about Sun County society and how it worked: in particular, how it would fit the Pendragon feudal system. Here's what I said at the time:

Sun County is a theocracy. It is also officially a meritocracy. All official, formal titles are governed by these two factors and no others: so you will never find a formal title which means "son of other important person".

That being said, several other factors muddy the waters.

  1. Education is provided by one's parents and neighbours. If they are ignorant, poor, or morally degenerate, your chances of getting a good education are low. Thus, this "meritocracy" is heavily biased in favour of established families.
  2. Sun County is xenophobic. It has also been surrounded by, and periodically ruled by, nomads, for centuries. Thus some Sun County natives are of pure Sun County blood, but most will have at least some nomad ancestry. There is considerable (though unofficial) bias against anyone of nomad descent.
  3. In theory, the lands worked by each family are allocated by the Count, and can be changed at his whim. In practise, it is more economic for land to be worked by those who know it and have grown up there. They may even have a relationship with the local spirits that would not be available to other families. Thus, each family tends to stay on their traditional lands. They have no legal right to do so, so "hereditary rulership" can never be an official title. But it does happen.

Thus the Goldbreaths, mentioned as an ancient and noble family, are a family with pure Sun County blood and unquestionable moral principles (Jovian being a recent exception). The lands they have worked for generations produce the mysterious "black gold" that makes them extremely wealthy. Being wealthy, they can afford to educate their children well: spear training rather than toiling in the fields gives one a much better chance of making Rune level.

Solanthos on the other hand is partially of nomad blood, and does not have the wealthy background. He found it much harder to get to the top, and marrying money certainly helped.

When we look at levels in the middle, like village "rulership", the authority will be, first and foremost, the local Yelmalio priest. For martial matters, the senior warrior resident will be the authority (probably a retired Templar, and probably the one out of those available who retired with the highest rank). In other matters (such as which field to plough when), authority will go to the man who has demonstrated the best knowledge of the local fields. He will probably be from a family who has lived in the area for generations, and the knowledge by which he is judged is actually that of his wife. (Ernalda is the crop deity, not Yelmalio). Looking at that last point, I'd guess that while women go to their new husband's house, they probably don't travel far from their homes to do so. Inbreeding will be common.

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