As I’m working on the background of my first PF 2e character, a Pahmet dwarf who trained as an Ouat monk at the Tar Kuata monastery in southern Osirion, I’m trying to understand how the various background material on the Pahmet, the Ouat, and Tar Kuata all currently work. I think the following are all correct, but I’d appreciate corrections or other thoughts as needed.
Tar Kuata is a monastery of Irori with people of various ancestries, though probably mainly individuals from Garund, both north and south of the Barrier Wall. BTW, is the Barrier Wall the new, official name of the Brazen Peaks, or are the Brazen Peaks just the more eastern portion of the Barrier Wall? I think the later is the most likely interpretation.
In a couple of 1st edition sources, the overall leader of Tar Kuata is said to be a Garundi human, while the leader of the Ouat monks who reside there is a dwarven woman named Menka Helg. Everyone at Tar Kuata is a follower of Irori, but only dwarves can be Ouat. In theory, you could have a non-Ouat dwarven follower of Irori in Tar Kuata or elsewhere in Golarion.
What seems to really distinguish the Ouat is not only are they followers of Irori, but they actively and explicitly reject traditional Dwarven culture. Their shaving of their heads is given as one example of this. FWIW, I would think that they’d also shave their beards if they really wanted to go all in on rejecting traditional Dwarven culture. It would seem that most Ouat are Pahmet dwarves, but I don’t see any reason that a non-Pahmet dwarf couldn’t travel to Tar Kuata and join the Ouat order.
The Lost Omens Character Guide continues the problematic practice of referring to the Ouat as a caste. This is something that I believe goes back to an unfortunate early reference to the Ouat which described them as pariahs who do jobs other dwarves don’t want to do. Fortunately, most of this has been retconned away. However, “caste” seems to have stuck around, and I don’t think it’s an appropriate word at all. First, “caste” implies something that one is born into. I don’t see any evidence that one is born into the Ouat. Instead, it seems to be a choice. So, I think “Ouat order” is a much better term than “Ouat caste.” Second, as I understand it, “caste” is a very, very politically loaded term with many negative cultural and social implications in South Asia. I think Paizo should be extremely wary of using the word “caste” in any of its campaign material because of its political, social, and culture history and its current (mis)uses. In fact, Paizo might want to seriously consider removing the word all together.
So this is where I currently am with my understanding of this topic. As usual, I’d appreciate any and all comments, thoughts, corrections, additions, etc.
If you go down that path we shouldn't use peasant, Noble titles of any type, the words god, goddess , or even religion or politics in any form. Everything has some negative implications some where on the world.
I would argue that this is a red herring. Our choice is not binary - either to say anything or to say nothing. We have the individual and collective responsibility to determine which terms and labels are problematic and whether or not to use them given the way they potentially directly and indirectly effect other human beings.
I choose to exercise my best judgement based on what I know and what I learn from others, and in this case, I think "caste" is a word that is best to be avoided. However, I will freely acknowledge that South Asia is not my area of expertise, and my judgement on this matter may be incorrect.
I was a little afraid that my general comments on "caste" might derail the discussion I hope to see on the central topics of my post. However, I felt that what I had to say was important enough to justify this risk.
I don't see what other actual point there is to this thread besides complaing that Ouat are called a caste?
Our choice is not binary - either to say anything or to say nothing.
You're literally saying using the word caste is "problematic" and appropriately should be avoided or spoken of euphemistically. How is that not binary "don't say it"? Yeah, responding to and dicussing caste is "non-binary" and can highlight negative aspects you reject, or support it if that's your angle, or even question it's strict relevance, that has nothing to do with avoiding the word.
The idea the word caste should be absolutely avoided because it is divisive or can have negative connotations seems ridiculous.
The people most opposed to caste certainly use the word caste to indicate what they oppose and fight against.
You can't seriously fight "that unfortunate thing we refuse to speak of directly".
Like you would be talking to literal Communists dedicated to destroying Hindu caste system amongst other social inequities,
and you would respond "maybe let's just not say that word, we have individual and collective responsibilities to determine..."?
If you didn't notice, there is outright racial (species) slavery in Golarion, I'd say that is pretty unfortunate too. Is avoiding that word better too?
Whether Ouat are literally born into a Hindu-style caste (which is just one usage of the term, and covers both high and low status) or join it by some other means,
whether you think that situation is unfortunate (VS some unspecific non-caste alternative social order?) is not a reason to avoid the word itself.
Maybe there is something regrettable about the Ouat (and/or other Osirioni castes) and their historical origin, so what, there is bad stuff in the world.
If this is too much for you to handle, maybe don't use Ouat in your game if you don't like them being a caste.
EDIT: I mean, it could be actually interesting to ask "are Ouat a literal inherited caste (possibly of low-status exploited origins), some of whom have carved out niche as mystic ascetics"? Is caste membership non-hereditary but dependent on individual actions? (which still may allow for low-status exploited caste identic including but not limited to mystic ascetic niche of some members) Ouat monks themselves having low/subjugated social status is also valid possiblity, contrasting to usual "high status/power" assumption often enjoyed by PCs. OK, that gives deeper background and even social conflict aspect to them and broader society. "Let's not talk about that, let's just avoid anything remotely not nice" just isn't really way to get deeper into setting... It's removing uniqueness towards your non-problematic comfort zone that doesn't demand a response, everything is just nice and ok and therefore you are too.
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