Monday, July 20, 2015

Marriage in the StarCluster

From a piece Albert Bailey has written for the some-time-in-the-future-forthcoming StarCluster 4, but which is equally applicable for all editions of StarCluster - on Marriage:

"Once the Cluster was settled, there was some movement back toward earlier Earth traditions, more so on some planets than others. On most worlds both "Earth" marriages and "Space" marriages are accepted and common. Among the spacefaring community, "Earth" marriages are a rarity. On nearly all worlds, marriage is a matter of personal contract arrangements and marriage contract law has become as intricate as corporate contract law. The main distinguishing feature of an "Earth" marriage is that neither party is allowed to marry another as long as the marriage contract is in force. It is common for such exclusive contracts to later be amended to remove this restriction. More rarely, such a restriction is latter attached. In addition to providing for the normal rights associated between spouses of sharing incomes and property, providing for authority in cases of medical emergency, acknowledgement of rights and responsibilities toward children, etc., these rights were frequently extended to provide for some degree of authorization even for spouses of spouses and even more distant marital relationships. These proved particularly important for children, assuring them relatives by marriage as well as blood.

While the form of marriages could be widely variable, over time some common forms and terminology arose. Terms for common forms of marriage arrangements are known as "primary marriages", "secondary marriages", marriages in abeyance, and finally "severed marriages". Primary and secondary marriages are marriages that are still active, where the spouses still see each other on a regular basis to enjoy each others' support and company. ("Tertiary marriage" is a joke term.) There is little legal distinction, but a primary marriages is normally thought of as the one associated with the person or persons living at your current main residence. Even where one has only one marriage, this may be regarded as a secondary marriage if the spouses do not normally cohabit. A marriage relationship may transition back and forth between primary and secondary over time, sometimes as often as seasonally. A primary or secondary marriage and can be transitioned to a marriage in abeyance either because they are separated by distance (e.g., no longer on the same planet), one or both are in hibernation or stasis, or have become emotionally distant; if conditions change, it may become a primary or secondary marriage again. Normally, a marriage can be transitioned to being in abeyance if either partner insists on it, though normally a period of time is required for disentanglement. Spouses who are no longer close (or who have even come to actively dislike one another) are expected to at least retain a marriage in abeyance if they have minor children, and there is considerable social pressure to maintain at least a civil relationship. On many worlds formal divorce (severed marriage) is not allowed in marriages with minor children except in extreme cases involving crimes such as spousal abuse, child abuse, or treason.

Another spouse of someone to whom you are married is normally referred to as your "wed-brother" or "wed-sister", and cordial relations are assumed, though jealousies are common. The spouses of a person may or may not also be married to each other. It is common for there to be several individuals who are all married to each other; these are known as "group" marriages. In group marriages, it is common to have more than one primary spouse. Depending on individual sexual orientation, in group marriages spouses may or may not be sexually involved; however, referring to someone as your husband or wife rather than wed-brother or wed‑sister normally implies that you are close and would prefer to share a room and bed. It is also common for person 'A" to be married to person 'B' who is married to person 'C', with no marriage between 'A' and 'C', and with 'C' married to someone else as well. These marriage ties form intricate interconnections throughout society and are known as "web" marriage. Individuals more distantly related through multiple marriages are known as "wed-cousins". Individuals in group marriages often have secondary marriages that join them into the web of relationships. This combination of group and web marriages form an important part of the social fabric. On some worlds, in conjunction with parent-child descendant relationships, they form almost the entirety of significant relations. In these feudal-like societies, friend and business relationships are shallow and insignificant without some form of blood or marriage bond. With advanced genetics, blood bonds are also frequently more complex, with children having more than two genetic parents. This is particularly common in many group marriages, all partners contributing one or more chromosomes to children born to the group."


  1. Thanks, Bonni! This is the way I have always played it, but I never pushed this because I have always felt the Cluster is really defined by the group playing it, and some people would be uncomfortable with this. OTOH, feedback from people playing it want there to be more definition from me, not less. So here, take this! :D