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World and Inspiration

Looting the slain?

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by HappyHuman » 24 Jan 2019, 05:46


I'm very gradually working towards starting a Trudvang campaign with my group - we've got a fair bit of experience with Legend of the Five Rings, where it's complicated to take weapons/armor/other goodies off enemies because there's a cultural taboo about touching the dead.

How do you set the cultural rules about taking stuff off the dead?
Does it matter what kind of item you're talking about?
Does it matter if they were an honorable fighter or not?
Does it matter if you killed them or not?
Does it matter if you liked them or not?

Sorry if that's kind of broad, and I can ask some more specific things if necessary - don't want to make assumptions and then get flatly contradicted by one of the new sourcebooks. :roll:
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by Råttfångaren » 31 Jan 2019, 03:28


I don’t think this is addressed directly in the old sourcebooks so I can’t answer with definitive certainty, however I can say how I would approach the matter based on what is written about the different cultures. Hopefully this helps. 

First off, most wildfolk probably won’t have any qualms or cultural taboos about looting the dead, at least if they are hamingjes-followers since this religion basically is about killing people and making totems from their corpses. If they have no trouble desecrating corpses (or eating them), I think it’s fair to assume that they will loot them as well. Another reason why I believe this to be the case is because of the fact that most wildfolk can’t produce arms, armour or tools from iron and steel and thus if they have such items they are likely looted, bought or stolen. Killing and looting is probably preferable but I think they will take any item of value from any dead person if they want it enough.

Stormlanders believe that might makes right and this is a huge part of their way of life. If you aren’t powerful enough to protect what is yours then someone who can take it from you has the right to do so. What keeps people from stealing from and killing each other is probably fear of retribution. Retribution could come from the wronged person’s family, clan, jarl or even themselves if their anger is so great that they return from Dimhall. Now there are many raiders and sea-wolves in the Stormlands and these people no doubt loot the corpses of their victims. Based on this information I would say that a Stormlander would indeed loot their enemies if they did not fear the retribution of such acts (if one loots a family heirloom from a corpse the clan will surely come and demand the item returned). A stormlander that has overpowered a foe in honourable battle would probably not fear their retribution from beyond the grave, however if they looted a corpse that they merely found they might feel that there is a risk for such retribution. Looting the corpse of a friend probably depends on what the friend would think of it, would the dead friend want their friends to have their sword? If the answer is “no” then it would probably be considered dishonourable. Family heirlooms of course should pass to another family member if the current owner is slain. Stormlanders are however a practical people and need probably often outweigh qualms about looting if the risk seems small.

Mittlanders are special in that they have a very high respect for certain items that they deem important. Some items even become regarded as entities to be worshipped and respected, only to be used for one very specific thing (like a fabled spear that has slain many trolls and therefore should only be used to slay troll-kin). Using such an item for things it wasn’t meant for is highly dishonourable and some Mittlanders would probably slay someone for such a transgression. In that case looting the item could, I think, even be considered heroic since the killer liberated the item from misuse. However Mittlanders also value their heroes more than anything and disturbing a dead hero is probably one of the worst things one could do (I mean many Mittlanders won’t hurt lindwurms because of the small risk that it could be a transformed hero). I would say that if an item has transcended its wielder in fame, it could be claimed by a worthy wielder but if an item’s fame is directly dependent on its wielder it should be buried with them and not stolen. Although the circumstance would determine in the end, the feeling I get generally from Mittlanders is that they would be less likely to loot. However as with all cultures there will be unsavoury people that will loot as much as they please.

Dwarves consider themselves to be tasked with making sure that minerals from the mountain is used for its inherent purpose (determined by a thul). This means that they also protect items created from said minerals so that these are used for its true purpose. Dwarves will sometimes travel far and wide to return an item to its vault, on such adventures it is probable that the dwarves will even kill and loot to retrieve the item. I think it is also probable that dwarves would loot other things as they would reason that a sword for example isn’t meant to be buried but to be used in battle.

Uncertain about Viranns and Elves and this post is long enough as it is… Hope it is helpful and good luck in your campaign!
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