Written by: Verona Lorgsval
Images by: Lita Menges
The Gorean Saga
Gor, often called the Counter-Earth, is the alternate reality setting of a series of novels written by John Norman. Taken as a whole, the books are often referred to as the Gorean Saga and has been alternately described by fans as erotica and science fiction.
Gor is a harsh cruel world populated mostly by humans abducted from Earth from different places and times in history, thus Gorean culture tends to reflect a patchwork of historical periods in Earth’s history. Viking, Classic Greek and Roman influenced civilizations, among others, are represented on Gor and ruled over by an insectoid race of aliens known as the Priest-Kings, who are locked in an interstellar war with another alien race called the Kurii. This conflict between star-faring species provides the backdrop against which the human population of Gor lives and struggles.
Technology on Gor is limited by the design of the Priest-Kings, presumably for their own protection against their human subjects. This prohibition against technological progress primarily concerns weaponry, mass communications and transit. The result is that while there is space travel (accessible to the Priest-Kings and Kurii), there are no cars, buses or mass transit of any kind; there are electric light bulbs but no telephones; books are mass produced but computers are prohibited from being developed; even something as simple as a ballpoint pen is foreign here, in favor of the quill and parchment. Most importantly, there are no guns or advanced weaponry. The sword rules on Gor, making it a violent world where cities vie for resources and dominance as nations are not allowed to exist. Gor is harsh, Gor is unfair, and in Gor, men are superior.
The People of Gor
Free men are the masters of the Gorean universe – they are the top dogs. Free men are, in every conceivable way, superior. This fact is clearly laid out and defined as absolute in the Gorean books. The free man is the administrator of the city, and, in times of war, he becomes Ubar. He is, by the definition of Gorean natural law: stronger, smarter and more responsible. He is a fighter, a hunter, a bowman, and he flies great big huge birds of prey called tarns. The free man is the ultimate alpha. In John Norman’s books, all Gorean men are Masters and know well how to handle women. This is one of the primary philosophical concepts of the Gorean Saga, but one which is often abused in role-play and leads to Gor’s tattered and somewhat undeserved reputation. Free men accept the lion’s share of responsibility for running a city and a community within the books. When actualized well in role-play, a well-rounded Gorean free man is a lively and colorful part of any sim.
Free women simply put … are free. They are the women of Gor who are not slaves, are the bearers of the next generation, and are a thousand times higher in status than slaves. Free women are the daughters, sisters and relations of free men but never a wife as there is no such institution as marriage on Gor … only free companionships. A free companionship contract on Gor lasts one year, and when you can live forever, one year to create a child is not very long at all. Free women wear veils and robes of concealment to hide their hair, faces and figures. However, free women can also be rich ladies of means and Ubaras and are able to stand before men, express their opinions, own property, have jobs and even sit on the city’s council. In the end however, they are not men but merely related to free men, and their value is based less in their innate abilities as much as their familial connections. The books describe them, as a general rule, as the free man’s inferior in both strength and intelligence.
In contrast, the reality of Gor as a role-play community is somewhat different, as most women stay on one sim and accomplish the bulk of governance and sim maintenance. The majority of sim owners in SL Gor are, in fact, women. This affords Gorean free woman in SL, as well as all virtual platforms, with more opportunities to be a magistrate, serve on the high council, act as an ambassador, work as a slaver, train as a physician or perform any role she desires.
The third element of Gorean society are slaves. Gorean slave girls are beautiful, naked, dominated and deliriously happy women. Suffering en masse from a profound case of Stockholm Syndrome, they have found happiness and joy in total submission. Within the Gorean books, slaves strive to be most pleasing to their Masters, often coming to physical fights with one another over rivalries. Originally, slaves are either kidnapped from earth by slavers or were formerly free women captured in a raid or a war. They are generally kept naked or in very revealing outfits and are considered a precious treasure that the men of Gor enjoy talking to, dressing up and using to satiate their lust.
There exists a tremendous rivalry between female slaves and free women. Free women despise female slaves and are jealous of them, and in turn, slave girls are terrified of free women and the power they may wield over them. There are male slaves in Gor as well, but most of them are beasts of burden tasked with hard jobs like rowing boats, working in mines and pulling siege equipment. There are a few silk slaves that are male, trained to please free women, but they are rare.
There are some women who rebel against the roles chosen for them, they are self proclaimed free women called panther girls or Talunas. These women run from cities, collars and companionship matches and choose to live in the forests away from men. They’re considered outlaws without a home, and if captured are almost always enslaved. They are the only women encountered on Gor who can fight using bows or spears, and they are outcasts. In virtual Gor, many sims will not admit panther girls or Talunas, as, in the books, they do not raid cities. For the most part, they are shy and live in hiding in the great northern forest, or, in the case of Taluna panther girls, in the jungles of Schendi.
The Cities and Society of Gor
The Priest Kings decried ages ago that no nations may form on Gor, so the inhabitants of Gor live in cities surrounded by a violent, harsh wilderness. At the heart of each city is a Home Stone. The Home Stone is usually a plain rock upon which was lit the first hearth fire of the city. The Home Stone is what the citizens of the city swear upon, and by swearing upon the Home Stone, they pledge their lives and liberty to defend it and keep it safe. Home Stones may be stolen in raids, and when that occurs everyone in the city strives to recapture it. Men and women will fight to the death to defend the Home Stone and will often refer to their city as their Home Stone.
Another pillar of Gorean society is caste. Gorean society is divided into a rigid caste system listed here in descending order: Initiates (priests of the Priest-Kings), scribes (scholars, teachers, lawyers, magistrates), builders (architects), physicians and finally warriors. Representatives from these castes will make up a high council which runs the city. Within Second Life and virtual Gorean communities, the vast majority of role-players are high caste, but there exist many lower caste options which offer opportunity for a rich and deep role-play experience, including metal workers, merchants, leather workers, farmers, bakers, vintners and more. You can always find a role that you love in Gor.
Within Second Life, you’ll encounter three kinds of Gorean schools of thought. Each current is reflected in the sims in which they’re practiced. They all have their good and bad points, and depending upon what you want to get out of your Gorean experience, these philosophies will dictate the kind of sim you wish to join.
Of the role-playing sims, there are two basic kinds, the first of which is called “by the book” (BTB). This is Gor as it was written. It is an often savage world that pays strict adherence to John Norman’s description of Gor. In BTB Gor, women simply are not strong enough to wield a sword or a large weapon, so only men are warriors. Free women instead use daggers, poisoned pins and all slave weapons. Slaves are limited to slave weapons which include: rocks, rotten fruit, dishes, brooms and frying pans, though keep in mind it is against the law for a slave to strike a free person and most sims will not allow them to fight. Also, peasant and lower caste women have access to weapons that are not allowed to city or high caste women, and the sims that have female farmers will have women using pitch forks, sickles and scythes. The logic being, if you can swing a scythe at a sheath of wheat, you can swing it at a man.
The second type of role-play sim is called GE or “Gorean Evolved.” The GE sims are based upon the speculation that Gorean philosophy and society will evolve in the future with the introduction of new ideas from earth. They are the sims which will allow female mercenaries and warriors as well as other “innovations” such as same sex pairings. The perceived “anything goes” attitude amongst the GE Goreans will sometimes rankle a BTB purist. The more in-depth low caste role-play and court room drama found in BTB role-play takes a back seat here in GE to the constant raiding and fighting. GE sims are often wild and woolly with constant raids, rapes and collarings.
The third type of Goreans are the life-stylers. These Goreans are to some degree attached to the BDSM community and many of them claim to be Gorean in real life. Of the sims which cater to life-stylers, Ko-Ro-Ba is by far the most gorgeous and amazing, featuring elaborate rituals, sweeping tournaments, gorgeous dance competitions and just sheer beauty.
A Cautionary Conclusion
While only scratching the surface of Gor, this primer’s purpose is to explain “what is Gor” to outsiders. There is so much more to see and explore, so many roles to play and beauty to be experienced. A word of caution; however, though Gor is an exciting and diverse world in which to role-play, its base storyline creates a unique opportunity for predators. If you wish to role-play a slave girl, define your boundaries and define them well. Anyone who does not respect your limits and boundaries is a potential predator and should be avoided and reported to the sim’s admin. Role-playing a slave requires a huge amount of confidence and a strong, positive self-image. If you feel weak or vulnerable, chose a role that will not put you in a place of total submission to others who may take advantage of you. Remember, you’re only role-playing a slave, you are not anyone’s property in real life. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be able to avoid the predators more readily.