Today we continue our exploration of the Central Continent in Critical Hit by examining the Seven Clans Total Control Area. Its territories are flanked by Diamond Throne and The Sage Coast and its southern edge borders the Freelands.
The Seven Clans Total Control Area gets its name from the clans of animistic peoples that, according to legend, came together to fight off a great evil. Most of these clans remain to this day, although visitors are often surprised to find that the Seven Clans are actually nine.
Of the original Seven Clans five remain:
The Clutch of Storms
The Clutch of Storms has always been first among equals, one of the few named characters in the Seven Clans Litany is Tempest Wing, the matriarch or the Clutch of Storms. Before the War of Talons The Children of Condor acted as the raid leaders and strategists for the Seven Clans, a position that, despite the current peace keeps them in high regard.
Members: The Clutch of Storms is very tradition oriented, a youngster is just as likely to make a point by quoting the litany as any elder. Indeed some accuse Condor’s children of living in the past, but as it stands, between political clout, military presence and cultural inertia it is difficult to oppose The Clutch of Storms.
Bright Ones: A Shaman from the Clutch of Storms is doubly regarded, since shamans are the keepers of the old traditions. Shamans of this clan are very likely to consult the spirits, even for seemingly trivial decisions, reasoning that The Seven Clans are what they are because of spirit guidance, which is a gift that is wasted if not used. Other bright ones are not rare, however, usually calling on Condor spirits or other sky spirits subservient to their patron.
The Thrashing River Ghosts
When people from Diamond Throne’s lands think of the raging Seven Clans barbarian they are thinking of the Thrashing River Ghosts. If Condor’s children are the strategists and generals, then the children of Crocodile are the shock troopers and wartime specialists. Needless to say the current peace has not sat well with this clan. Lands controlled by the Thrashing River Ghosts are usually dotted with arenas, archery ranges and training grounds, as the clan continues to train its citizens as though war would break at any moment.
That said, the temperament of the clan is not one of warmongering, it is simply that of specialists with little to do. As such some of the clans young adults have taken to adventuring to hone their skills.
Members: Those who join or are born into the clan place a great deal of pride in their trophies and deeds. Even if their clan insignia is not visible someone wearing a pair of boar tusks as earrings is likely to be a Thrashing River Ghost. Needless to say this clan supports a high number of hunters, mercenaries and adventurers.
Bright Ones: The Thrashing River Ghosts are deeply immersed in tradition, and unlike other houses where Bright Ones are given free reign, Shamans and Wardens must undertake several tasks for the clan before they’re allowed to go their own way. This does not usually bother the young heroes though, since the tasks often involve perilous missions that are likely to bring them much honor and glory.
The Nest of Shadows
Legend says that it was originally the children of Snake who took it upon themselves to unify the clans. If that is not in fact the case, then it’s not hard to see why people would believe that. The Nest of Shadows spends a lot of resources trying to improve the lives of the people in their lands. This house makes it its business to spread literacy, knowledge and good health across the Seven Clans’ lands.
Of course the children of Snake are also warriors, but they are much more reactionary than other clans, placing most of their resources into defense. This is something that has payed off in modern days, as the more bellicose clans have had to scale back their raiding parties, the Nest of Shadows simply continues to fund its border guards and wall-builders.
Members: As a clan that emphasizes education and health its prominent members are often well spoken and intelligent. Warriors within the clan are much more likely to achieve honor and glory by demonstrating intelligence, rather than physical prowess.
Bright Ones: The Nest of Shadows places a lot of importance on the health and well being of their people, as such primal healers and exorcists quickly find themselves exalted to a very high status. Bright Ones of the Nest of Shadows always favor (or perhaps more accurately are always favored by) snake spirits, which suits them fine since snakes are very adaptable and dangerous creatures.
The Lodge of Howling
Although most agree that the Clutch of Storms is probably the oldest clan, many claim that the first Bright Ones came from the Lodge of Howling. Indeed the children of Wolf are regarded as the foremost spirit-speakers and mystics in the Seven Clans and few are willing to dispute the claim. Wolf’s children are widely thought to be blessed with an uncanny ability to interpret omens, a talent that has guaranteed the clan’s stability. That is not to say that soothsaying and prophecy is The Lodge of Howling’s only talent. Indeed their borderguard is infamous for its speed and accuracy with a bow, and although not as well-regarded as the Clutch of Storms, their shamans are often consulted when dealing with more esoteric or problematic spirits.
Members: The Lodge of Howling boasts a fairly diverse group, but berserkers and impatient warriors often find themselves stuck when dealing with the clan’s patient and often eccentric elders. Conversely even if not touched by the spirits, thinkers and investigators find their path within this house to be much easier.
Bright Ones: Just as Wolf has his pack so too are Bright Ones of the Lodge of Howling expected to travel together, at least for a time. They often take it upon themselves to travel to the sacred groves in their lands, making sure that all spirit activity remains safe for the populace.
The Walking Devil-Bears
Legend says that it was Bear who taught humans to stand up straight, so that they could have a vantage point and better see their enemies. So too do Bear’s children cast their eyes out towards their neighbors. Indeed when people meet a member of the Seven Clans outside of their lands it is quite likely that they are speaking with a Walking Devil-Bear. The clan’s imperative to keep an eye on their neighbors has pushed them out into other lands and as such they are a little more cosmopolitan than other clans. For example, they are a lot more tolerant of temples to the Pentatheon on their lands.
Members: Devil-Bears can advance in their clan’s hierarchy in many ways, making for a rich and diverse clan. Battle strategists, warriors, diplomats and merchants can all find a foothold in this house’s plans. However, xenophobes, and intolerant tribesmen find it difficult to advance in a clan that is so focused on foreign affairs.
Bright Ones: The spirit touched will travel to other lands, that is always a given. So those that belong to The Walking Devil-Bears often have an advantage, either having ventured outside of the tribelands before or at least having heard first-hand accounts from their clanmates. Obviously contact with bear spirits is very common and druids of this clan are very fond of transforming into enormous bears.
The Get of Talons
Once a very martial clan that mostly eschewed spirit magics for personal training. They suffered great losses during the war of talons. Most of their members, holds and shamans were absorbed into the Clutch of Storms. Others simply left the Tribelands.
The Red-Wristed Ones
A clan led by very driven elders, they began trafficking with dark entities in order to accumulate power. In the end their patron spirit left them and the other lodges chased them off their lands. No one knows what exactly happened to them after that.
Humans form the vast majority of the population within the Seven Clans Total Control Area, although some orc and elven blood is present in the ruling clans they are by-and-large entirely human. Tieflings, dragonborn, dwarves and other humanoids are rare, the clan structure is difficult to penetrate and since it is so central to their society it leaves other humanoids somewhat disenfranchised. That said, there is little hostility against other races within the tribelands, although staring is still likely to occur. The clans recognize elven bands as sovereign entities, and historically have had fewer conflicts with them than other nations. That said, the odd dispute over game or territory is not uncommon. Curiously, non-humans can rise to prominence among primal magic users. A tiefling druid or elven warden will be treated with the same (or in some cases even more) reverence than a human.
Magic and Religion
The people of The Seven Clans have worshiped the spirits of the land since time immemorial. Their entire society is built around shamanic practices, and as such those with the ability to channel the primal spirit essences quickly find themselves in positions of responsibility. The cultural focus on shamans, plus the very real power that spirit magic provides assure that other magics and faiths have a very hard time taking root.
The most important text in the nameless animistic religion of the Seven Clans is known as The Litany. This document serves both as a record of the ancient conflicts of the original clans as well as a guide to the correct actions of warriors, shamans and even merchants. The pervasiveness of the Litany in the Seven Clans Total Control Area is unquestionable, so much so that tribespeople often find themselves at a loss for proverbs and sayings when dealing with outsiders.
Arcane magic is regarded as weird at best and as demonic at worst. That said, several clans are quickly reassessing their stance on the arcane arts, given the Bronze-Turtle Advocates’ recent success. The only church of the Pentatheon that has any considerable presence is Melora’s, with a few priests of Corellon making regular rounds throughout the major cities. The vast areas of wilderness within the continent have allowed a few worshippers of Grumsh to take root, a problem that many elders feel should become a higher priority for the tribal council.
Next week we will discuss “The New Clans” that have come into prominence in the Seven Clans Total Control Area in the past century.
Art by Rodrigo Lopez