Ydra Marriage And Family

Yddrlings organize themselves in large, loosely-related groups known as clans which regularly wage war against and make peace with one another. Marriages are only recognized between members of different clans. There are many types of marriages in Ydra, only some of which are expected to last beyond a given period of time; while they are not necessarily heterosexual they are only recognized between two people of the same species. Couples who are joined in anything but the most fleeting of unions are expected to add children to their lineage by means of either birth or adoption.

The basic social unit of Ydra is the household, which includes a single adult or married couple, any children they might have, siblings of the head of the household, and decrepit older relatives. One's extended family is generally quite large, encompassing any living relatives (be they related by blood, marriage, or adoption) across multiple generations. Observing one's family ties is one of the primary tenets of Yddr culture, and one's responsibilities to one's kin include caring for the old or bedridden, growing the family's numbers with more children, and avoiding serious conflict between family members (known as "kinstrife") which may lead to intra-family murder (known as "kinslaying").

Clans in Yddr culture make up a higher level of familial organization. Each is composed of multiple families, and most extended families are linked by adoption and marriage with many nearby clans. A clan is ruled by a chieftain or council of elders and is usually focused in a single area; they are the fundamental governing bodies in Ydra and regularly make alliances with, and war against, one another. Titles of nobility most often attach to clan chiefs or prominent elders, though this is not a requirement and titles are sometimes bestowed for personal economic or military achievements as well. Significant settlements such as Kungesvald are usually home to multiple major clans and representation from dozens of minor ones.

Ydra is a predominantly human region and tends to assume human as the default species, but Yddrlings can be of any sentient breed so long as they accept Yddr law and adhere to local custom. Many non-human Yddr families associate themselves with a larger clan, trading children of marriagable age back and forth with families in other satellite clans. Most locally-rare species are adopted into a clan instead of coming from an established family. Being non-human is not much of a social issue; being without a clan is far, far worse.

People without a clan can marry or be adopted into one legally, though they are viewed with suspicion and have a harder time than others when it comes to matters of social mobility. Like bastard children, they tend to be picked last when the wealth and titles are being handed out, and more often than not tend to be used as scapegoats. Neither outcasts nor foreigners are recognized as possessing clans.

Marriage is a normal part of Yddr society and the vast majority of Yddrlings who reach adulthood will be wed at least once in their lives. Most unions are at least partially arranged by picking from a pool of valid applicants, and while spouses generally don't mind one another's company they are not expected to be madly in love with each other. Marriages themselves can be either long-term or for a set period of time; multiple short-term unions are both accepted and common whether with several people or the same person. While a union can only legally consist of two people at a time, the genders and gender roles involved are irrelevant; marriage is not recognized between different species. A marriage must involve people from two different clans, though it is legal for clan members to marry the clanless.

Weddings are festival events overseen by a clan elder or godsman. They involve dancing, feasting, and assorted feats of skill, and weddings are often used as opportunities to negotiate trading agreements or future marriages. Members of both spouses' clans are expected to make a showing and it is viewed as an ill omen if one or neither attends; it differs from clan to clan if one person is without attendants due to being foreign, orphaned, an outcast, or otherwise cut off from their family. A wedding involves oaths to various gods depending on the type of marriage it commemorates:

  • Shes and Manene are invoked for typical political unions and cover most weddings; an oath to them is an unspoken plea for stability, integrity, and fecundity.
  • Isengrim and Grisindr are invoked for mystical unions or couples that expect a great deal of conflict or challenges to their authority.
  • Roghasoldarian and Jaloschian are invoked for unions based entirely on love or fidelity; known as the Dread Lovers, their approval is not sought lightly due to the terrible price failing them is said to bring.
  • Vadai and Terian Rose are invoked for extremely ephemeral unions or those performed out of great obligation to clan and family.

Whomever has the lower social status joins the higher-ranking partner's clan; in the event both are of equal esteem, their clan membership is determined by clan elders. The lower-ranked of the two partners is expected to bring a dowry, usually in the form of goods but sometimes cattle, children, or raw coin. Small dowries are acceptable but risk offending Nesh if they are kept modest more out of greed than need. Marriages may involve members of any social class, though it's considered to be in bad taste to marry a thrall.

If one joins a new clan due to marriage, they are viewed as a full member of their new clan, though unions that are explicitly temporary negotiate whether or not the outside partner returns to their home clan afterwards. If after joining a new clan someone's partner dies, they remain in that clan unless it was negotiated that they'd return home after the marriage ended. These people are valid marriage material within their new clan; some clans require the nearest single relative to take up the marriage slack, but this is hardly universal. It is considered to be in poor taste for the same person to marry back and forth repeatedly between two clans.

Yddr names are usually patronymic, with children being named for their fathers, though they may opt to trace the mother's lineage instead in cases of birth without a husband, adoption by a single mother or pair of mothers, or when the mother is considered to be particularly influential (especially due to skill in battle). Yddrlings may also go by epithets or by the terms "of the family [name]" or "of clan [name]." One does not change their surname when marrying unless they wish to go by the name of their new clan.

Children are considered to be of the same social standing as the more prestigious of their parents, though they don't actually possess any particular rank (such as the title of thegn or jarl) unless they inherit it from a parent. They remain at the same social status they were then they were born, even if one or both parents later remarry. Children are also considered to be full members of their birth clan even if one parent later returns to their home clan. Children born outside of a marriage are considered members of their mother's clan but are counted last in terms of succession and inheritance, and are sometimes overlooked entirely. It is not unusual for a noble to adopt their own bastard children in the interest of securing a valid bloodline; both mothers and fathers are known to do this.

Marriages are expected to grow the clan. In the case of same-sex unions or situations where one or both partners cannot conceive, adoption is a valid — and expected — alternative. Adopted children are often held to a higher standard than biological progeny, but are otherwise considered valid heirs and family members. Adopted children are counted as blood children in terms of lineage. This can even apply to off-species children, though they must be sentient; a human can adopt a goblin but not a horse.

Finally, it is possible to be disowned by one's parents (usually for bringing shame on one's family or similar crimes), or even outcast from one's clan entirely; the latter is reserved for serious affairs like oathbreaking or kinstrife.

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