- Teersa: "It may be hard for you to accept, Aloy, but the practice of shunning is, relatively speaking, humane."
- Aloy: "Oh, is it? Try it out for eighteen years, Teersa, and then let me know what you think."
The term outcast refers to members of the Nora tribe that have been exiled for breaking the laws or customs of the tribe. The main character Aloy is an outcast for much of her life, since being found abandoned as a baby; Rost is another outcast who raises her. Multiple other outcast characters are encountered in the game.
When a tribe member is accused of a crime, the High Matriarchs are called upon to judge and sentence them. The crimes of an outcast can range from minor infractions or fighting other tribe members, to crimes such as stealing or murder, and to breaking tribal law such as leaving the Sacred Land. The outcasts are then given a term for which they must remain in exile; this ranges from a few years to a life sentence.
As an outcast, the offender is banished from permanent settlements and forbidden from returning until their sentence has expired. They are expected to fend for themselves, without any help from tribe members or other outcasts. Tribe members are forbidden from speaking with outcasts, and similarly outcasts are also forbidden from speaking with other outcasts. However, some outcasts and tribe members either choose to ignore the law, thus risking to break the law themselves, or find clever work-arounds, as in the case of Grata: she appears to indirectly speak to other outcasts such as Aloy through praying to All-Mother.
Outcast children are rare but special cases, as with Aloy, whom was motherless and therefore cast out from birth. Outcast children must follow all the rules of a normal outcast, plus one clause that specifically applies to them: when an outcast child reaches maturity (around 18 years old), the child is allowed to join other Nora children in the Proving. If the child completes the Proving, the child is no longer an outcast and is made a Brave. Aloy is the only known outcast child to have completed (and won) the Proving.
Attitude towards Outcasts
The attitude towards the system of banishment in place of other punishments varies: some such as Teersa view the practice as relatively humane, as other tribes would resort to execution for certain crimes. Others such as Aloy believe it can be too harsh, as in her case when she was made an outcast for presumably not having a mother.
For the most part, tribe members adhere to the rule forbidding communication with outcasts, openly shunning them. For some, this is also an invitation to be hostile and violent towards outcasts; Bast throws a rock at Aloy's head and calls her 'no-mother' when they encounter each other as children. However, some are at least tentatively accepting of outcasts coming to their aid, as Olara, Thok, and Arana are with Aloy.
Even after an outcast is allowed back into Nora society, they may still face hostility. Resh and Lansra, for example, are antagonistic towards Aloy even after she is made a Seeker, and Bast openly mocks her on the night of the Proving. Still, others may be accepting, as Teb and Vala are to Aloy.
Among some outcasts, despite the tribal law prohibiting communication, there exists a sort of camaraderie; a willingness to help those who are in need, such as Aloy and Rost were with Grata. Even after he was received back into the tribe, Karst continues trading with outcasts.
The origin of the Nora practice of shunning is unknown, but given that it is a well-established custom it is likely to have been around for several generations, if not centuries.
In Ancient Greece, the Athenians had a practice called 'ostracism.' Citizens would write an undesirable person's name on a shard of pottery and place it in a large public container; if a citizen's name was written enough times, they would be banished from the city for ten years.
- Aloy (formerly, won Proving)
- Brom (formerly, term completed)
- Karst (formerly, term completed)
- Odd Grata
- Many of the outcasts use brown and white pigments in their face paints as opposed to the traditional blue of the Nora.
- Before Aloy, there has only been one other child outcast, a thirteen-year-old boy that was cast out after killing his mother.