It’s a fact of life in Rasenna that many people marry for reasons other than love. Some even have long and passionate affairs for reasons other than love. With the public understanding that a marriage bed might be a cold place, courtesans have a well-established place in Rasennan culture.
Realistically, the word “courtesan” can refer to a wide variety of prostitutes, from just a few social classes above a common street harlot to the mistresses of princes. The profession is of course reliant on its patrons, and so courtesans have emerged to tend to the needs of men and women from a variety of wealthy backgrounds. A courtesan has no actual obligation towards fidelity toward one patron, but most are quite willing to be persuaded toward such. The most skilled and educated must in fact be courted by a potential patron, and if he (or she) proves generous and interesting enough, then the courtesan will typically enter an exclusive arrangement as a mistress or cicisbeo. The overall faith of the Seven-and-Twenty does not condemn prostitution, though a few individual gods’ priesthoods make some minor protestations.
The arrangement of the male courtesan and the female patron takes on an extra element of delicacy. Rasennan husbands are sometimes surprisingly willing to look the other way when their wives take lovers — as long as no bastard children are born from the pairing. Thus, male courtesans who have been alchemically sterilized (without losing their sexual potency) can charge a higher price for their favors. Low-class male prostitutes, those without the means to afford such alchemy, are scornfully referred to as “cuckoos.” A Rasennan man is unlikely to want to raise a cuckoo’s chick, unless of course he is incapable of siring a child himself and wishes to cover up the matter.
Naturally, these arrangements are most common among the human population of Rasenna. Some dwarf and elf courtesans are known, though it’s said that only a fleet’s ransom could woo one to take a patron outside its race. Halflings are reputed to have their own arrangements of courtesan and patron, though as with most aspects of halfling culture, they’re secrets that no outsider can easily unearth. Half-elf courtesans can fetch tremendous prices, given that there are so few outside House Iluni, and that the Iluni try so hard to make honest spouses out of any attractive, unaffiliated half-elves they may meet.
These arrangements, needless to say, are products of the upper class and the urban Rasennan environment. In the rural portions of the county, precious few people have the resources to keep a lover who doesn’t actually do any work. The local peasantry may be impressed by the beauty of a courtesan who rides by on a country excursion with her patron, but she may as well be a six-winged sphinx for all that they can relate to her.
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