Written by: Verona Lorgsval
Images by: Lita Menges
The Villainous Archetypes of Gor
I recently completed my magistrate’s course and was discussing out of character (OOC) drama with the assembled group. I relayed a recent fabulous and gory role-play in which I was eaten by a Kur, and mentioned that my role-play big sister in Gor is a serial killer, a comment which elicited gales of laughter. As I spoke with other “villains” of Gor, we realized that all too often players don’t understand how to actually be a villain. It was at that point when it hit me – people need to be taught how to break the law in Gorean role-play.
Here is a brief look at the villainous archetypes in the Gorean books. This is by no means a complete list, nor does it mean that every group mentioned in this list are always bad.
Port Kar, in particular, is notorious for thieves, muggers, cutthroats, pirates, she urts, urt hunters, smugglers and many other forms of riff-raff. The life expectancy of a criminal in Second Life Gor can be measured in minutes. Death for criminals is all-to-often swift and certain. Keeping this in mind, work out arrangements for an extended trial with the magistrates or IM your favorite hero and ask, “so now what?”
Be prepared to eventually die, don’t get hung up on OOC comments and react badly if the RP doesn’t go the way you want. Instead, use loud Gorean gestures, have fun with the scenario and laugh at yourself. In 24 hours you’ll be reborn with the added reputation of being a fun player.
Gor author John Norman consistently portrays free women as tragic characters at odds with themselves. He uses free women as literary devices to illustrate the joy and contentment of slavery. The free woman’s position is precarious and often dependent upon her social and family ties. If you want to be a nice free woman then by all means, be one. If you want to be a trouble maker; however, take a long hard look at yourself and determine a good reason within the role-play reason to remain free. Very little tolerance is afforded trouble making free women in Gor, so if you do get into trouble, do not go OOC and demand, “no rape, no shaving, no force collar, no branding, no death.” This occurs far too often and will only make people angry, and no one will want to RP with you. If you break the rules, be prepared to suffer the consequences. If you are unable to deal with rape and violence, be nice, and you will not be bothered.
If a free woman is a twisted tragic figure at odds with her inability to embrace the slave within herself, then the female outlaw who believes herself a man’s equal is even worse off. From Tarna to Sydney, there are female outlaws and mercenaries mentioned in John Norman’s books; however, they are noted because they are so rare and their presence so odd. Inevitably they are brought from Earth by the Kur to fulfill an unknown purpose, and while Tarna is the exception that proves the rule, these women are already slaves. It is simply just a cruel joke, by their masters, who find amusement in watching these woman believe they are free as they are laughed at behind their backs. In the end, they are always collared.
John Norman used female outlaws to show how distant from the natural order Earth has become. Gor, as defined in the books, cannot evolve along the same path as Earth. As illogical and ludicrous as it seems the Priest Kings forbid it. Mass communications, nations, radios, telephones are not allowed to be developed and the greatest equalizer on earth, gun powder, is strictly forbidden. Gor is suspended in an eternal quasi-Neolithic condition in which women, who are clearly described in the books as being half the size of men, are subjected to the whims and mercies of the male gender.
Of course, GM meters in Second Life do not reflect the practical results of sexual dimorphorism, and weapon makers do not make women’s weapons that reflect lighter damage. A Gorean man should be able to down a woman in three or four strokes while by contrast it would take thirty to forty strokes for a free woman to best a man. The simple fact of the matter is that the weapons and meters do not reflect the basic physical differences as defined by John Norman in the books. Perhaps when they do begin to take into account physical differences and reflect them accurately, female outlaws, panther girls, Taluna, and even female mercenaries will be more accepted. Until such a meter is developed, combat between warriors and outlaw women must be role-played accurately. If not, then do not look to participate in By the Book Sims (BTB) and remember that you are not BTB Gorean.
Spies and Agents
There exist clandestine groups in the Gorean books that are agents of the Kur or the Priest Kings, and even agents of the various cities. They sneak into a city or an area pretending to be someone they are not and can be disguised as any caste … even kajira. In Explorers of Gor (1979) an agent of the Kur poses as a paga slut. Despite being a spy, she did in fact wind up as a paga slut after completing her mission. However, being an agent or spy, will occasionally place players in situations where their characters must play roles that are radically different than their identities. In this situation, it is one of the few acceptable reasons to play with an alternative avatar (alt). Why? Second Life Gor is a small place, and profiles are checked. Those not privy to the RP may assume that the player behind a spy or agent is causing drama. People will become angry, and it’ll interfere with the RP.
Create an alternative avatar, but you must leave clues to your identity. Use the exact same skin, hair color and shape on all of your various avatars. Remember, it is not plausible for you to grow six inches and gain twenty pounds of muscle as you bounce from your character avatar to another. If you are female and pretending to be a slave, make sure your free woman also wears a brand. She can of course possess manumission papers stating she is free, they may or may not be forged, and that is up to your role-play. Leave clues to your true identity with your role-play, for instance, be a wig maker who moves entirely too gracefully and well to be just be a maker of wigs or perhaps a gardener who seems a bit too interested in digging holes or that new city kajira who is entirely too nice to the First Sword.
Some items to keep in mind when playing a spy or agent:
- Do not be perfect, leave clues to your true identity or purposes.
- Make sure you keep careful track of your role-play to avoid falling into your usual role but if it happens, play it off as your character’s mistake.
- Avoid characters who know your character intimately and will recognize you. If you happen upon them, shoot them an IM informing them OOC who you are and what you’re doing before deciding together how to RP the situation. Perhaps your character will be caught, or maybe their character will want this leverage over you for their own purposes.
- Again, if the differences between your spy avatar and your main avatar are too stark, you cannot expect people to take you seriously, and it will be assumed you’re using an alt to cause OOC trouble.
- Remember the role-play of a spy is about lying. If you choose to keep fellow players in the dark about your true identity during OOC chat, do not delude yourself into believing they will think it is okay simply because you’re playing a spy. People will be hurt by this role-play, particularly if you gained the OOC trust of a city officer to get the in-character (IC) information you need. There is no way around this betrayal.
Assassins are the silent, dark death bringers of Gor. No other role in SL Gor captures the attention of a city faster than that of an assassin. Within seconds after your arrival by boat at the city gate, an IM will be sent to the city group, “There is a killer at the gate.” By the time you take two steps off of the boat, you’ll receive at least twelve copies of black caste rules; one from the sim owner, two from the on-duty moderators, three from nearby warriors and six from miscellaneous citizens. You may or may not get an IM from a mod looking for OOC confirmation on the validity of your hunt, depending on city laws. Soon you are so buried in paper work that it would make even the most dedicated scribe blanch. And through all this, you must somehow role-play stealth, cunning and deceit until you find your quarry. If you are after a well known character, you will quickly realize it’s probably easier to take out a real world political leader.
Say that you accomplish your mission, in accordance with your caste codes and the sim rules regarding assassins, and you dispatch your target with efficiency, then you will be buried in IMs complaining, “No fair, I did not get my half hour of role-play!” Throughout which you must stiffen your very real life feelings, and be gracious with the paperwork and continue role-playing your caste. Although not as necessary as that of a spy, it may be expeditious to have multiple avatars (as disguises) while on a hunt – to kill is hard. Think long and hard about these alts, they are discouraged, and quite possibly not an option if you are famous.
In the books, Kurii are the ultimate enemy of the Priest Kings waging an intergalactic plot to destroy them with thousands of space faring ships in the asteroid belt waiting to take out the Priest Kings. On Gor, Kurii are divided between those from the steel worlds and those that have reverted back to their wild nature.
The Kur tribes are small but tenacious groups, and are faced with cities that have kill on sight laws, even if the role-play rules necessitate no killing without a half hour of role-play. If you want any kind of terror role-play it is very hard to find as a Kur, and requires quite a bit of coordination to facilitate.
If the life span of a Gorean criminal can be measured in minutes then the lifespan of a Kur in Second Life Gor is measured in milliseconds. In Second Life Gor there are Torvaldslanders that move to hunt kurii. To the point a Kur, even before he has finished rezzing, would be killed. Kur in Second Life often have to log off OOC so that they are not killed the second they log on. To have an extended Kur role-play with someone is a rare and precious thing, and it is seldom that Kur characters receive any role-play outside of their own groups.
The new GM for kurii has made it exponentially harder to kill kurii, and for that there has been some criticism, but in the books it is nearly impossible to kill them due to their size, strength and redundant organ systems. Yet in Second Life Gor it is a sport to hunt them alone or in groups, to role-play taking their hides.
No other archetype in Gor is as loathsome and as despised as the Caste of Initiates. In John Norman’s Gor books, they are portrayed as manipulative, lacking honor and pure unaltered evil. Even the Kur in their quest to rule Gor demonstrate more honor. The Caste of Initiates derives its power from the superstition of the lower caste. In the world of Gor the lower caste has many more members than the upper caste, and there is just enough uncertainty in the upper caste that they cannot be sure that the Initiates are harmless and their power is smoking mirrors. If the lower castes are in awe of the Initiates then the slaves are downright terrified of them. Even barbarian slaves who have had earth upbringing and beliefs in God are terrified of the Initiates.
Initiates are the highest caste in Gor, forbidden to touch women. The Initiates hide behind the superstition that they can control the blue fire, and apparently the Priest Kings oblige just often enough to sow those seeds of uncertainty. The Initiates’ greatest adversary is knowledge, which is part of the reason why the Caste of Scribes is the second highest caste. Members of the Caste of Scribes have been known to possess the third knowledge. Used by John Norman as a literary device speaking out against the evils of organized religion, he portrays the White Caste as a corrupt organization preying upon the fears and ignorance of a world where technology is limited. The Initiate reigns supreme in manipulation and politics.
Of course, this description is a generality and not absolute. There are good and decent Initiates in Second Life Gor, running festivals and performing ceremonies, just as there are Kur that manage to avoid death as soon as they log on.
These are but some of my general observations on the villains of the Gorean books and how they are played in second life. In the upcoming months I will work on a series of classes to help people learn how to more fully role-play these roles. If you are interested in performing their roles in games, there are groups that will help you out, particularly for kurii and Assassins.
When contemplating playing a villain, take a hard look at yourself … do you have the fortitude to deal with the drama? You need to be very easy going, with a thick skin to deal with much of the anger that will be directed at you. No matter what villainous role you choose, take into account sometimes people will associate who you are in character to who you are out of character. Try not to take OOC anger towards your character too much to heart.
Remember, just as laughter heals all wounds, a bit of cheesy, light hearted RP can dispel tension and OOC drama and allow others to get to know you beyond your character. A bloody, gruesome death creatively done is cheesy and it is Gorean and it is fun. If we are laughing at the end of the role-play, then we as villains have done our job.