Cultures of Arnâron: Dukaydor

When I started building Arnâron, I wanted to follow the Shakespeare & Dragons podcast where I could. That worked for a few episodes and then I spent a whole lot of time designing the physical setting. Now that I have the basics nailed down fairly well, I’m returning to the podcast.

Building the world itself as a physical setting is roughly equivalent with episode #12. So, episode #13 discusses designing cultures, and it’s next on my agenda.

In that episode, Paul uses a set of cultural attributes derived from material published by the Peace Corps. These attributes are:

1. Attitude Towards Age
2. Concept of Fate and Destiny
3. View of Human Nature
4. Attitude Towards Change
5. Attitude Towards Taking Risks
6. Concept of Suffering and Misfortune
7. Source of Self Esteem / Self Worth
8. Concept of Equality
9. Attitude Towards Formality
10. Degree of Realism
11. Attitude Towards Doing
12. View of the Natural World
13. Concept of Time

Personally, I added #14: “Attitude Towards Family”, because I think this is different enough between cultures to be a point one should consider.

Let’s look at a culture in the now-destroyed world Dukaydor to see what the people of Arnâron used to be like in those bygone days.

Attitude Towards Age: The society honored old people and considered them wise. This is based on the old traditions of experienced – old – storytellers passing on their knowledge to younger generations in a tribal society. While the reasons were forgotten to all but behavior psychologists, such old habits die very slowly.

Concept of Fate and Destiny: Destiny is determined at birth, but it is not a clear path. The route one takes in life is influenced by free will. Each person can therefore reject his or her destiny, but doing so will usually lead to unpleasant results. Destiny is mysterious and almost impossible to learn beforehand.

View of Human Nature: Humans are fundamentally benign, but some may turn “evil”.

Attitude Towards Change: The people value tradition, but recognize progress as necessary and beneficial. They will attempt to make new inventions fit with traditional values – in spirit, where traditions do not literally match with new inventions.

Attitude Towards Taking Risks: Taking risks is a necessary and important aspects of life – great rewards only come with great risks. Don’t give up if you believe in something – but make sure you do not bite off more than you can chew. If you fail trying, you have only yourself to blame; you probably deserve what is happening to you.

Concept of Suffering and Misfortune: The society feels a deep sense of justice: If you fail through your own fault – and it usually is your own fault – then you deserve to suffer. If you commit a crime, you deserve to be punished. Don’t whine over your misfortune, work to improve your situation.

Source of Self Esteem / Self Worth: Self-worth stems from one’s place in society, of one’s status and rank, and of one’s reputation among ones peers.

Concept of Equality: The society has tiers or classes, determined by ancestry. It is flexible, that is, a prson is able to improve his standing through his own actions. The “correct” form of government is monarchy.

Attitude Towards Formality: Respect your peers. Follow proper etiquette, especially to your superiors. Failure to do so is viewed as highly offensive.

Degree of Realism: Religion is important for many people, but in general it does not cloud their judgement of the natural world. Science and religion do not conflict; Science’s purpose is to find out more about the natural world, and religion’s job is to explain that which is inherentyl unknowable. Superstition is silly… but many people still yield to omens, which they see as signs of their destiny manifesting. Besides that, they have a fairly realistic view of the world.

Attitude Towards Doing: Practical view. Arts and crafts are related – if you create something useful, you can also make it look good. Religion doesn’t stand in the way of practical results.

View of the Natural World: The people in general follow a scientific view in explaining the natural world. Natural resources are to be used for the advancement of humankind. Why conserve that which is freely available?

Concept of Time: Structured view of time – time is the measurement of the progress of the state of the universe. Being on time is a virtue, but do not rush overly much. You have enough time before you die – and everybody dies, so why get worked up about it?

Attitude Towards Family Family is important both because it defines one’s place in the world, but also because it provides a home, security, a safety net. A person without an extended family is to be pitied.

This is just one example of culturesx from the era of Dukaydor, but it’ll serve as a basis for me when I work on several “modern” cultures. But that will have to wait for another day due to tiredness.

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