Coarghydh Ethnographical Questionnaire

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Your conculture Ethnographical Questionnaire

Dr. Zahar’s Ethnographical Questionnaire was compiled by David Zahir to help in the description of concultures, and can be found in the files section of the Conculture group at Yahoo.


Questions of Place

Describe the geography of where your society calls home.

Describe the climate your society deals with. How severe are their seasons?

What kinds of natural disasters has this society gotten used to?

What are the most commonly-grown foods?

What are the most commonly-eaten meats?

What foods are considered exotic or expensive?

What forms of alcohol are common? Rare?

Is there usually enough food and water for the population?

What is this place's most abundant resource?

What is its most valuable resource?

What resource is it most lacking?

How do people travel from one place to another?

Are the borders secure? In what way?

How many people live here?

Where in this place to they congregate?

What part of this place do they avoid? Why?

What are the most common domesticated animals here? And what are they domesticated for?

What are the most common wild animals?

Which animals are likely to be pets? Which ones won't be?

Questions of Time

How far back does this society's written history go?

How far back do its people believe it goes?

What is the worst disaster they believe they've faced?

What was the best thing that every happened to them?

What in their past makes them feel ashamed?

What in their past makes them proud?

What are they afraid of happening again?

What are they hoping will happen? Do they think it likely?

What do they assume the future will hold?

How has this society changed? Do its current members realize this?

What are the most popular stories about the past?

Who in the past is the greatest hero? The worst villain?

Do people think the present better or worse than the past?

Do people believe the future will be better or worse than the present or past?

Questions of Sex and Family

How many spouses may a man or woman have?

Who decides on a marriage?

Can a marriage end in divorce? How?

Who usually takes custody of children if a marriage ends for some reason?

How is adultery defined? What (if any) is the punishment? Who decides?

How are families named?(g) What happens to orphans?

How are boy and girl children treated differently?

Are premarital relations allowed?

How does your society define incest? Rape? How do people react to these?

What, if anything, is considered a good marriage gift?

What secret vice is believed to be widely practiced?

What secret vice actually is practiced?

What sexual habits are widely believed common among foriegners?

How do people react to homosexuality?

How do the genders dress?

Is prostitution legal? How are prostitutes viewed? Is this accurate?

What professions or activities are considered masculine?

What professions or activities are viewed as feminine?

What inanimate or sexless things are considered male or female?

What is the biggest sexual taboo?

Does this society connect the ideas of marriage with love?

What does this society mean by the word "virgin" and how important it it?

Questions of Manners

Who speaks first at a formal gathering?

What kinds of gifts are considered in extremely bad taste?

How do younger adults address their elders?

What colors are associated with power? With virtue? With death?

If two men get into a fight, how is this supposed to be resolved?

If two women get into a fight, how should that be resolved?

When is it rude to laugh at something funny?

What kinds of questions cannot be asked in public? In private? At all?

How do people demonstrate grief?

What does this society do with their corpses?

What kinds of jewelry do people where? And when?

Who inheirits property? Titles? Position?

What happens to those suffering from extreme mental illness?

What are the most popular games? How important are they?

What parts of the body are routinely covered?

How private are bodily functions like bathing or defecating?

How do people react to physical deformity?

When and how does someone go from child to adult?

Questions of Faith

Is there a formal clergy? How are they organized?

What do people believe happens to them after death? How, if at all, can they influence this?

What happens to those who disagree with the majority on questions of religion?

Are there any particular places considered special or holy? What are they like?

What are the most popular rituals or festivals?

What do people want from the god or gods? How do they try and get it?

How do their religious practices differ from their neighbours?

What is the most commonly broken religious rule?(i) What is the least-violated religious rule?

What factions exist within the dominant religious institutions? How do they compete?

Are there monastic groups? What do they do and how are they organized? How do you join one?

How are those who follow different faiths treated?

What relationship do religious and political leaders have?

What superstitions are common? What kinds of supernatural

events/beings do people fear?

Questions of Government

Who decides whether someone has broken a law? How?

A military judge decides the fate of the accused.

What kinds of punishments are meted out? By whom? Why?

It depends on the crime. Murderers and traitors are beheaded. Other criminals will probably be shipped off the labor camps in the colonies.

How are new laws created or old ones changed?

By Yydghoanc Dharindal, the Grand Council. This is a body of councilmen (Dharingen) which votes to pass resolutions and has the supreme legislative power. Dharingen are elected into their positions on a cycle of every 6 years. Repeat terms are not allowed. New resolutions must be introduced by the High Councilman (Dharingen Lungar), who is elected at the beginning of every 6 year cycle by a vote of the Dharingen.

Is there some form of clemency or pardon? What is involved?

No. Disturbing the People's Peace cannot be forgiven.

Who has the right to give orders, and why?

Law enforcement is handled by the military, which is separate from the legislature. The General is chosen by the High Councilman, and the chosen general chooses all of their subordinate officers. Generals keep their offices for 14 years, then must leave office and be replaced by a new one. However, with this exception (as well as funding) the military is allowed to do whatever they see fit to improve the Republic's Welfare and to uphold The Law.

What titles do various officials have?

How are the rules different for officials as opposed to the common person?

The military judges who shall be punished and how. Really it just comes down to their discretion. A commander may choose to attack the legislature if he wishes, but this is not generally done as the legislature determines the military's funding.

How do government officials dress?

Is the law written down? Who interprets it?

Yes. It's interpreted by the enforcers.

Once accused, what recourse does someone have?

A lawyer may be hired to defend them before a judge, but this is not generally successful. If you don't have the right connections to get yourself out of an accusation, you're screwed.

Is torture allowed? What kinds?

Whatever the military chooses. Genital mutilation is the most common form.

How are people executed?


Who cannot rise to positions of leadership?

Getting elected or chosen for a position generally requires an aristocratic heritage. While it is theoretically possible for a commoner to gain power, you always see the same names in Government.

Is bribery allowed? Under what circumstances?

It's expected. Officers will often falsely accuse people in order to extract bribes from them.

What makes someone a bad ruler in this society? What can be done about it?

The Coarghydh do not expect any ruler to be good. They get in, grab as much money and privileges for themselves as they can, then clock out. Their only concern is to make sure the military doesn't come breaking down their door.

What are the most common or dangerous forms of criminal?

The law enforcement themselves.

Questions of War

Who declares war?

The head officers of the army.

Who has the power to declare conditions of peace?


What happens to prisoners taken in battle?

Executed, or sent away to the labor camps.

What form of warfare does this society use?

Enjoying large troop sizes, the Coarghydh military uses a lovely emulation of Stalin's strategy.

Who are the Elite warriors? What distinguishes them?

The officers, if that counts. They don't dirty themselves by going into combat. Pretty much the only people to see the front lines are the conscripts.

How does someone get command of troops?

Get chosen to be an officer.

Where do the loyalties of military units lie?

With their own interests. Most of them don't even want to be fighting.

Are there professional soldiers? Do they make up the bulk of the military?

There are hired mercenaries, but the bulk is made up of conscripts.

Has this society ever attacked another? Do they want to? What would make them do so?

Yes. The Coarghydh has conquered four empires of their own size, and many smaller indigenous peoples. It is a fantasy of the officers to launch a successful invasion of Dreoghendr. (The door to Hell, known to the Agyon as Meradion. The Coarghydh think the Agyon are demons, mostly because they look kinda like much bigger, smarter Drakes.)

Who are their enemies? Who's winning?

The main threat to the common folk is the wildlife. Drakes are small, unintelligent dragons standing about 7 feet tall with a 30-foot wingspan. They hunt in packs and will gladly attack human settlements. There's also the Imbeaonl, a large-bear like creature which will also raid the villages. Unless you live in one of the big cities the military is useless for dealing with them. In rural communities every adult needs to be reasonably skilled with a weapon to fight off the regular attacks, which makes them popular choices for conscription.

What do soldiers do when there's no war?

Harass the citizenry.

Questions of Education

Does this society have its own language? Its own writing?

How common is literacy? How is literacy viewed?

What form and value are books?

Who teaches others? How do they teach?

Who decides who learns to read or write?(f) Who teaches professions, like carpenter or scribe?

Are foreigners ever brought in to teach new skills? Who does that?

How do this society's doctors try to treat wounds and sickness?

Which medical assumtions of this society are wrong?

Questions of Art

What are the favorite artforms?

What are the least-favorite?

How respected are artists?

Do artists require official or unofficial protection?

What kinds of trouble are artists in particular likely to find themselves in?

How might a very successful artist live?

What forms of theatre does your society have?

How naturalistic or stylized is your society's art?

What shapes are most common in your society's arts, like embroidery or architecture?

Which artforms get the most and least respect?

What form does censorship take?

Who may not be an artist?

What qualities equal "beauty" in this society?

What makes a man or woman especially beautiful?

How do people react to tattoos? Piercings? Facial hair? Make-up?

Questions of sex and marriage

Is sex confined to marriage?

Or, is it supposed to be? What constitutes aberrant behavior?

Is there anything about this culture or religion in that culture that specifically addresses sexual conduct?

Are there laws about it? What about prostitution?

How old should someone be in your culture to be having sex?

What is considered too great a difference in age for a couple?

Do relationships allow multiple partners?

Should sex be a one-to-one experience? Or are groups allowed?

And, of course, what about homosexuality? Is it frowned on? Encouraged?

Questions of death and burial

What is their understanding of death and dying?

Do they cremate their dead? Or, how are dead bodies disposed of?

Is the family responsible for the body?

What part do the priests play?

Are there cemeteries at all?

Or, does everyone have a crypt in back with all the relatives in it?

Do people visit the dead? If so, how often and why?

Questions of suicide

What do people in this culture think about suicide?

Is it the greatest sin one can commit? Or is it a sin at all?

Is it the great and last comfort of a tormented soul?

Is it worse than murder?

Questions of Law, Justice and Police

Is there a civilian police force, or is law enforcement the province of the military?


Is the police force a nationalised one, or are there multiple regional forces?


How "military" are they? Are they usually/ever armed?

Always. Every city street corner has at least one soldier posted at all times.

What is the extent of their authority? Can they shoot you? Can they use magic? Can they torture or otherwise force a confession? Can they use telepathy?

Shooting? Yes. Torture? Also yes.

Are there individuals or groups who are above the law?

Pretty much every member of Government. They only have to answer to their superiors.

Is there a secret police?

Yeah, but they aren't so secret.

What is the role of police informants, if any?

Bringing the police information leading to the arrest and conviction of a criminal is given a large monetary reward, and any crimes committed in obtaining this information are forgiven. You're not only allowed to, but are encouraged to break into your neighbor's houses to see if they're doing anything illegal.