Thursday, July 21, 2011

7K - Sexuality in the Seven Kingdoms

A very interesting, yet typically underdeveloped, aspect of any society is it's attitude towards sex.  This attitude flavors so many other situations, and can be the fodder for a wide range of story hooks.

Each of the Seven Kingdoms has a different attitude towards sex and sexuality.  This ranges from extremely permissive but debauched to extremely repressive.

The pleasure dens of Davrakotia are famed for their orgiastic deviance.  Prostitution is not only legal, it is a thriving industry.  It is claimed that you can find a brothel to satisfy any kink you might have, and no one has yet volunteered a story of making a request that was too depraved to be fulfilled.

Citizens of other kingdoms tend to assume that all Davrakotians are therefore endlessly open (and probably perverted) when it comes to sex.  This is, of course, ridiculous.  The average citizen is satisfied with a simple heterosexual relationship.  There is little stigma for experimentation in your youth, but it is generally assumed that any decent person will eventually grow up, settle down with a nice person of the opposite gender, and produce a passel of children.  A man in his forties who carries on a homosexual relationship would be viewed as hopelessly immature.

Davrakotians place an extremely high value on fidelity within the marriage.  In many of the more rural areas, cheating on your spouse is considered a capital crime.  In any area, it is considered grounds for immediate divorce, and the guilty party is usually ostracized.  It is worth noting, however, that unmarried individuals, even those in a relationship, are typically not held to the same standards.


The people of Linnea have an extremely egalitarian view of sex.  Anything that two consenting adults agree to is acceptable.   Bisexuality to one degree or another is the norm.  Sexual fidelity is entirely up to the individuals involved, and is not enforced by the community.  Group marriages of as many as six people are not considered bizarre.

The law does have some very strict ideas when it comes to non-consensual sex, though.  Rape is, in nearly every case, a capital offense.  Killing your rapist or the rapist of a loved one, even years after the event, is considered justifiable murder and carries no penalty.  Sex with a child is considered abhorrent, and will also usually result in castration or decapitation, especially for multiple offenses.  Interestingly, prostitution is also considered illegal, immoral, and deeply depraved.


The attitude towards sex in Heilgrund is largely similar to what we would expect from medieval Europe.  Sex is only considered proper between one man and one woman, preferably within the bounds of a marriage (or at least engagement).  The sexual act itself is considered unclean, and is hidden away with similar acts, like defecation or illness.  The legends of Heilgrund are the ones most likely to equate chastity with purity and holiness, rather than simply with youth.

Of course, the recent brutal occupation has forced something of a change.  Many women have been forced into prostitution to survive.   Arran and Davrakotian mercenaries, along with Iskandrian administrators, have brought their own tastes and values to every social class.  The age of sexual repression may be over, but it has brought an age of guilt and shame.


The land of Arras is known as a free-wheeling party.  Indeed, the people are lusty and uninhibited, feeling no shame in the act of sex, nor emotional baggage from casual partnerings.  A youth's coming of age ceremony involves a ritual (private) taking of his or her virginity.  Afterwards, the youth is encouraged to spend the next year bedding as many young lads or lasses as are willing.

However, these attitudes are not completely open.  Arrans view homosexuality as a serious perversion, on the same order as pedophilia and incest.  To accuse an Arran man of being gay is an insult that must nearly always be satisfied in blood.  (As an odd twist, in many cities in other nations Arrans are quite famously gay.  Most who cannot, or will not, suppress their true desires emigrate to these ghettos where they can love whom they wish.  As these bohemian emigres are the Arrans that people in those cities know, that is what they assume all Arrans are like.)


Tsoi is a land of deep repression in most aspects.  And, indeed, it is rare to hear the Tsoiani even acknowledge that sex exists.  Public displays of affection are deeply frowned upon.  Prostitutes are accepted as a necessary evil, but must be very discreet in their advertising. 

However, the Tsoiani are also firm believers in personal boundaries.  If your neighbor wants to wear dresses and have sex with his goats, that is entirely his business.  Again, so long as he is discreet, there is no problem.  Unfortunately for some, this also extends  to the treatment of slaves.  If a woman wishes to purchase a dozen eight-year old boys for her pleasure, that is her right.  While a slave may claim compensation from the courts for physical injury, being forced to take part in sex acts is "fair use."

Is Ka'ander

The Iskandrian sexuality is difficult to properly explain to typical American audiences.  That is because individual acts are not prohibited, per se.  Instead, every sex act is seen to have a person who is dominant and one who is submissive.  For instance, in an act of oral sex, the one using his or her mouth to give pleasure is considered submissive, regardless of the respective genders.  Penetrating a partner is always seen as dominant, and being penetrated is always seen as submissive.

In any situation, for a person to put themselves in a submissive stance to someone of a lower social standing is considered perverse.  As a note, Is Ka'ander is highly patriarchal, so women are always considered below men of the same class.  It is perfectly acceptable, and expected, for a wife to perform oral sex on her husband.  It is shameful and deviant for a husband to perform oral sex on his wife.  (As you might imagine, negotiating homosexual relationships gets either extremely awkward or extremely easy.)

The nearly universal exception to this rule is slaves.  Slaves in Is Ka'ander are not even considered to be human beings.  In this context, they are almost more like masturbatory aids than partners.  As such, a master (or mistress) may engage in whatever acts strike his fancy.   

As is true of nearly every other aspect of Iskandrian life, these generalities only scratch the surface of a complex system of mores and standards.  A foreigner attempting to woo a noble of Is Ka'ander should know that she will likely offer up at least three grave insults in the first conversation.


Given the rather unique political nature of Amazza, the sexual climate is unsurprising.  In a land ruled exclusively by women, lesbianism is the only legitimate form of romance.  Naturally, women also use male slaves for their pleasure, and to father children.  Romantic relationships with men, though, are simply not allowed.  At least, not officially.

Many women do take a fancy to a particular slave, and form an emotional attachment.  These slaves, called amandi, are typically given prominence in the household, being put in charge of the other slaves.  In many cases, they are even given some responsibility for the house accounts.  Of course, it is never a true marriage, because the amandi cannot leave, or even openly disagree with with his mistress.  But, many Amazons point out that this isn't much different than the life of a wife in Kingdoms like Tsoi and Heilgrund.

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