The Sisterhood of Hurriat
Mystagogic Matriarchy of Fallen Sun
The Sisterhood of Hurriat is a nation occupying the Island of Hish, off the coast of Fallen Sun, the Outer Continent. It also covers several smaller islands and even has some colonies on the mainland. The most notable feature about Hurriat to outsiders is that it is ruled by a conclave of women, and that intermixing between genders is carefully controlled by the state.
Hurriat is ruled by The Sisterhood, an all-female mystic cabal. The Sisterhood is under the rulership of three women: one who is yet to reach menarche, called Girl-Sister; one who has gone through menopause, called Wise-Sister and one who is in her fertile time of life, called Mother-Sister. In practice, Mother-Sister is in charge since Girl-Sister lacks the experience and Wise-Sister the energy to govern a country, but all three women are important for various mythological reasons.
Each of the three Sisters is chosen from within the ruling body of women by majority consent. Girl-Sister is retired upon reaching menarche, Mother-Sister upon reaching menopause and Wise-Sister upon death. The vacuum is soon filled by a new candidate. Since these events can occur at different times it is very rare for a younger Sister to move straight on to the role of an older Sister. The three ruling Sisters, and the highest members of the Sisterhood, are found in the capital city of Kisbullah. Elsewhere, representatives of the Sisterhood tend to follow the triumvirate pattern but do not always follow the strict divisions concerning menstruation.
The Men of Hurriat belong to a wide variety of Brotherhoods, broadly similar to craftsmen's guilds. The Brotherhoods are divided according to profession, thus there are the Brotherhood of Masons, the Brotherhood of Carpenters, the Brotherhood of Cattle Farmers and so on. These are further subdivided by region, but Brotherhoods feel closer ties through their profession than through their locality. Organisation within these Brotherhoods is variable - it is one area that the Sisterhood leave up to the men to organise. Thus some may have a very structured heirarchy whereas others may be a loose anarchy. Within each Brotherhood, the men are encouraged by the government to engage in contests of skill to see who gains the right to father a child on one of the Sisterhood women (a man who has done so earns the honorific title Father). The state also encourages the use of state-sponsored sacred prostitutes, the Chesu-Akuli. This segregation of the genders means that in Hurriat society there tends to be more emotional affection between members of the same gender than between different genders, something that can sometimes become a full romantic and/or physical relationship. In Hurriat society this is considered normal, although the Sisterhood prefer to discourage this between men.
Once every month representatives of the Sisterhood select men from each Brotherhood who represent the best in their crafts. These men are taken to the capital city of Kisbullah where they are allowed to sleep with women of the Sisterhood. This is considered a great honour, and the monthly contests are hard fought amongst ambitious men. The men are then sent back to their towns or villages.
When the child is born, if it is male it is sent to the Brotherhood of its father to learn his craft. There is little in the way of paternal kinship - all men of the Brotherhood are considered brothers to their peers and sons or fathers to their older or younger brethren. If the child is female the Sisterhood conduct an augury using the afterbirth. A poor augury means that the girl is sent either to become a Chesu-Akuli or an Akuli-Li'Ah (see below). A good augury means that the girl is adopted into the ruling Sisterhood.
The name means alternatively "Women who are no better than Men" or "Keepers of the Mystical Power". To be Chesu-Akuli is to be both exalted and demeaned at the same time. They are a mixture of state prostitute and tantric magician rolled into one.
A girl who has been augured as Chesu-Akuli is taken to one of the many Temples of Consummation that are scattered around the country. Here, the Matron of the temple will school her in the art of tantric sex magic when she is old enough. Men will come to the temples and pay to sleep with a Chesu-Akuli. Roughly half of their payment goes to the upkeep of the temple and the other half is fed back into the country as tax money (depending on the honesty of the Matron). The magic learnt by the Chesu-Akuli makes her skillful in the art of love, but more importantly for the Sisterhood she is able to channel the creative energies produced in lovemaking towards projects decided by the Sisterhood. Thus the Chesu-Akuli are the pillars of Hurriat. Through their direction of magical energies they are able to direct crop fertility, provide support for armies, help the economy and so on. Because the creative energies are focused outwards this also acts as a form of contraception - for a Chesu-Akuli the resultant "child" is the magical effect. A more mundane but just as important side-effect of the Chesu-Akuli system is that it grants the men who lose the Brotherhood contests a sanctioned outlet for sexual desire.
The Chesu-Akuli are rarely allowed to leave their temples and, if they must do so, are required to wear a full veil that covers all but their eyes. Their sanctity is protected by an order of sacred guards, the Akuli-Li'Ah. These are all women whose fate has been augered at birth, same as the Chesu-Akuli, and are equally as tied to their temples. Akuli-Li'Ah are sworn to a life of celibacy and trained in a range of combat techniques, mainly defensive and often unarmed.
Hurriat is a largely isolationist nation. The Sisterhood fears that too many outside ideals may disrupt the unusual foundations of their society. As a result their efforts in warfare are more defensive than offensive. Although the Sisterhood directs the conflict, it is men (of the Brotherhood of Warriors) who do the actual fighting. They have infantry and chariots (but no cavalry) armed with spears or heavy two-handed swords. Slings and javelins are used as missile weapons.
The Sisterhood was never part of the a'Keshamite Empire, although it appears to have been in existence at the same time. Thus they do not follow the All-Seeing One but instead worship the Three Spider-Web Sisters, a difficult religion full of symbolism and metaphor. The Three Spider-Web Sisters are quite widespread figures on the Second Continent, in most places worshipped as just more Faces of the All-Seeing One. They seem to predate the religion of the All-Seeing One, though, and can be found in various forms as folk tales or spirits throughout the land. They may have been the inspiration behind Jiban knot-writing used by the Imbata people.
According to the myths, the Three Spider-Web Sisters were "born in a spiders web". The three rulers of Hurriat seem to correspond with characteristics of the Web Sisters, and recurring elements in Three Spider-Web Sisters mythology are: the web representing the world, or fate, or the interconnectedness of things; the discovery of fire and iron; dream and illusion; a vengeful attitude of the Web Sisters, the number eight, change and healing.
Hurriat presents a strangely alien society that is still ultimately a human one. Adventurers visiting Hish for some quest goal or other will face obstacles of a social nature, making a change of pace from more violent conflicts. Of course, it is quite easy for someone from outside Hurriat to invoke the ire of the Sisterhood and precipitate a violent conflict anyway.
Despite the unusual society, most characters from Hurriat don't require much in the way of new rules. Clerics of the Three Web Sisters can choose from an array of sometimes contradictory domains; Chaos, Community, Creation, Darkness, Death, Fire, Healing, Knowledge, Law, Luck, Madness, Magic and Trickery.
The Chesu-Akuli usually just have levels of Expert, with the Profession (courtesan) skill. At the GM's discretion they may require a Chesu-Akuli feat for the magical focus, or perhaps this is a side effect of their initiation and Hurriat society overall. The presence of the Chesu-Akuli allow the Three Sisters to cast spells as a 20th level cleric each, regardless of their actual classes and levels. Again, this is a factor of their place in society.
Akuli-Li'Ah usually have levels of monk and commonly use the quarterstaff or kama as weapons. The kama particularly has a symbolic role to denote an Akuli-Li'Ah's status and even those who don't fight with them will carry them.
There's not really a need, as far as Hurriat goes, to use a specific set of rules for the use of tantric magic. The mere presence of the Chesu-Akuli system is enough to provide magical energy to allow spellcasters in Hurriat to use magic. Whether this be arcane, divine, or both, is open to question; most spellcasters who don't directly worship the Three Web Sisters assume that their magic is powered by the Chesu-Akuli. It may even be that the whole set-up is an elaborate lie, or mistake, and the Chesu-Akuli don't need to prostitute themselves at all. However, the Three Sisters rulers are able to wield magic far greater than their natural abilities allow, so they at least rely on the Chesu-Akuli.
A typical group of player characters will have little desire to learn such practices for themselves. Performing a ritual properly requires two willing participants of opposite gender and requires at least half an hour of uninterrupted activity - not very useful in an adventuring situation.
The Empire of Splendour used to have its own version of tantric magic, nearly two thousand years ago, until Emperor Radiant Prudence banned it as immoral. Known as Sam-Aun magic, it was never widespread, but Radiant Prudence's edict caused all temples devoted to it to be closed down, and all practitioners banned under pain of death. There are ancient ruins in the Empire that are rumoured to have been the site of evil practices and wicked cults. Adventurers expecting the usual skulls-and-demons decorative motifs may be surprised to discover instead erotic carvings and obvious symbolism involving pillars and caverns. Such ruins, however, may well have attracted the attentions of creatures like succubi and other demons of desire.
Female Human Mnk3: CR 3; Medium Humanoid (human); AL LN
Abilities Str 12 (+1), Dex 15 (+2), Con 14 (+2), Int 10 (+0), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 8 (-1)
Initiative +2; Speed 30 ft.
Armour Class 13 (+2 Dex, +1 Wis) touch 13, flat-footed 11
Saves Fortitude +5, Reflex +5, Will +4
Hit Dice 3d8+6; hit points 19
Base Attack/Grapple +2/+3
Melee Unarmed Strike +4 (1d6+1)
Melee Kama +4 (1d6+1)
Melee Unarmed Strike Flurry +2/+2 (1d6+1)
Melee Kama Flurry +2/+2 (1d6+1)
Special Attacks Flurry of blows, stunning fist (DC 13)
Special Qualities Evasion, still mind
Skills Diplomacy +2, Hide +5, Listen +7, Move Silently +8, Sense Motive +7, Spot +7
Feats Combat Expertise, Deflect Arrows*, Dodge, Stunning Fist*, Weapon Finesse*
Possessions Kama (2)
(c) 2011 The Creative Conclave.