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Familyby Geoff Gander
Family structures in Mogreth differ greatly from those in Taymor and the Shimmering Lands – a fact that is hardly surprising given the reptilian (and amphibian) ancestry of the inhabitants. Males and females in the middle and lower castes mate to produce offspring; the decision to stay together over the longer term is more a function of economic necessity and the need to ensure the children’s survival during their first years than any notions of romance. The former reason is especially true in the cities and larger towns, where there are few natural hazards that might endanger children.
Female lizardfolk produce clutches of 4-8 eggs every 1-2 years, whereas troglodytes might produce up to ten, and frogfolk almost 20 annually. Those in higher castes tend to lay smaller clutches, as they are better fed and almost all the young survive, as there are fewer biological imperatives to reproduce in large numbers. Those in the highest caste might only lay one egg per year, if that – much like the long-vanished Carnifex masters, whose low reproductive rates are known even to the commoners. As a result of this phenomenon females derive added status by laying fewer eggs, and offspring from small clutches are widely believed to be more resilient and somewhat blessed. A commoner laying only one egg is a cause for celebration, as the hatchling will surely lead a glorious life. On such occasions, called “egg-blessings”, the female’s neighbours and family shower her with gifts. The social benefits of this elevated status sometimes leads females to secretly dispose of some of their eggs, despite the severe penalties if they are caught.
In the lower and middle castes, eggs are tended communally in designated crèches (segregated by race and caste), where mothers take turns tending them all by insulating the eggs in mud and straw and keeping the chamber warm using stoves scattered throughout. Conditions are identical, albeit more rustic, in rural regions. By custom, adult males are forbidden from entering crèches. When hatchlings emerge, they are smelled to identify the mother. Frogfolk lay their eggs in brackish ponds (or indoor pools designed for this purpose in urban areas), where they are guarded until the tadpole-like hatchlings emerge. Upper caste lizard man eggs are tended by dedicated servants, as the mother is generally regarded as too important to perform these duties.
Youth are raised according to their caste. Among the lower and middle castes, the young are cared for as a group by their community, which extends beyond blood relatives to include adults living in the same neighbourhood and occupying similar professions to their parents. Even so, all children know their nest-mates and parents instinctively. Frogfolk are notably different in this respect, as tadpoles belonging to lower and middle castes are tended collectively. Separation according to class occurs at physical maturity. Thus, the young develop greater affection for their siblings and cousins than for their parents. Upper caste lizard men (and frogfolk, to a lesser degree) raise their young in a remarkably similar manner to their regal mammalian counterparts: Children are cared for by servants until they reach adulthood, and may not see their parents for months at a time, depending on the latter’s responsibilities. As a result, familial bonds are developed and sustained on the basis of duty, and not love.
Slaves in Mogreth are forbidden to reproduce. Males who are caught in the act are castrated on a first offence, and executed should they show interest in females afterwards. Females known to be pregnant are also executed, as they are seen as requiring too much upkeep. Nevertheless, illicit relationships between slaves occur far more often than the authorities wish to believe. Open-minded (or rebellious) members of the upper caste have been known to conceal pregnancies, and the resulting offspring, of favoured slaves, and in some cases arrange to have the children sent away to safer havens. Some of these, not coincidentally, have ended up in lizard man communities known to oppose Mogreth.
Thee attitudes discussed above are often absent in lizard man and troglodyte communities outside of Mogreth, as those folk have either never been under the sway of the Carnifex or their lizard man successors, or they discarded those practices long ago.