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Hollow Moon Cultural Biasby Sharon Dornhoff
Because the SoR isn't as restrictive as the SoP, and allows for flexibility in the activities (though not the recollections) of Materan cultures, characters native to the Hollow Moon aren't bound by as strict a set of "cultural bias" limitations as their Hollow World counterparts. Indigenous HM characters aren't totally free of restrictions, but at least there's a bit more rhyme and reason (I hope! ;-D) to where and when such factors come into play.
First of all, there's a lot of leeway for characters in the HM setting to adopt the practices of other cultures ... so long as those practices aren't directly offensive to the traditional ethics and values of their own people. Whereas Hollow World natives go so far as to refuse to wear ANY garments of another culture, a Hollow Moon native will only object to garb which would be considered very improper -- e.g. too skimpy, too cumbersome, too much like the opposite sex's dress, etc -- in his or her homeland. Likewise, a Materan doesn't reject a weapon because of its materials or design (so a metal dagger might be accepted in lieu of a stone one), but only if there's something about it that offends the Materan's ideals of what makes a proper warrior (such as spurning missiles as "cowards' weapons"). HM natives often make use of non-objectionable "out-culture" items, clothing, and gear when they're travelling outside their homelands; when they return home, they discard these foreign items and go back to the "right" way of doing things. And PC natives of the moon can do likewise, during their adventures in "strange lands with strange ways", so long as their use of foreign goods and ways doesn't directly violate the principles of their society.
Secondly, for those who DO go strongly against their traditional ethics -- say, by converting to an out-culture religion that's incompatible with their native culture's customs -- the penalty is not as great. HM characters who make such a break with custom are required to pay double experience points only to reach the level beyond their current level of experience, NOT for a full three experience levels. This isn't entirely the SoRs doing; rather, it's directly comparable to the 2nd Edition AD&D rule governing PC alignment change, which imposes a similar penalty on characters who vacillate in their moral/ethical conduct. In this case, the character's only stepping out of line with cultural standards, not alignment ones, but the mental uncertainty and deep personal distress that results from such a drastic rearrangement of one's beliefs is the same.
Third, as with the Hollow World, there are some cultures in the HM which are at a disadvantage when compared to others, due to their limited technologies and/or resources. To compensate, these vulnerable peoples receive the same sorts of "cultural advantages" -- i.e. game-balance "perks" -- as HW folk do. Such culture-specific (as opposed to species-specific) benefits for Materans work exactly the same way they do, in the Hollow World.
Finally, because there's so many non-human races in the HM -- and because some of the human ones have physical advantages over others (like Cynidiceans' infravision) -- there's several culture-related benefits and limitations that CAN'T be changed about a Materan character, even if he or she abandons his or her traditional ways*. When an ability or a weakness is inherent in a Materan race, irrespective of cultural practices, then a member of that race's dropping out of his or her culture won't alter that quality. Advantages and disadvantages that are lost if characters forsake their cultures will be listed separately from physical/racial ones, in upcoming "HM Cultures" posts.
[* - This is, of course, also true of Hollow World races; a Hutaakan shouldn't lose his or her stealthiness, merely by giving up Hutaakan culture, for instance! But the HW boxed set doesn't make enough of a distinction between racial abilities and cultural ones, so I wanted to make sure I defined which of the natives' abilities are race-specific explicitly, in the Hollow Moon, where there's a LOT of important non-(demi)humans. :-)]