The Mission


      Clanspeople form the the overwhelming majority of the population. They often beseech tribes for help against brigands.
      Tribesmen start as tenderfeet, boys trained in skirmishing but unfit for battle, grow into chasers, the equivalent of infantry and at high risk of death, before maturing into hunters. As implied by the title of the latter, tribesmen spend the preponderance of their time not at war but prowling the forest in search of prey, whether that be beasts or brigands. Experience with killing adds to tribesmen's prowess. Older individuals may progress to the high rank of gesith, if they can distinguish themselves sufficiently.
      Members of tribes (particularly males) tend to be significantly taller than other peoples, unless the latter are involved in fishing (and thus have a more nutritious diet than is typical). Also, tribesmen are more muscular than others, save some guardians.
      Tribesmen adhere to the Rules, which dictate decorum, discipline, and domination. Stoicism and perseverance form the lifeblood of a tribesman. The benefits of tribal society are security, order, and high morale. The detriments are a dearth of liberty, cleverness, and acceptance of new ideas.
      Female members of tribes are slaves, though extraordinary types (the equivalent of royalty) do exist. Despite their status, females do know how to defend themselves and, in some cases, can affect the outcome of a conflict.
      Brigands are initially children with high levels of violence and mortality. Clashes are as clumsy as they are common. Brigands are infantile in their decision making and often display incredible stupidity. The success of their incursions depends on surprise alone.
      Unless experienced, brigands often quarrel among themselves. A band of brigands will brawl with another for any reason whatsoever. Melees need not always be deadly, for brigands are cowardly and have a poor understanding of pugilism. Usually, they live either within or near a clan to which they belong. Brigands can re-disorganize into mobs for brief riots, especially against unrelated clanspeople who form sustained defiance.
      Brigands detest tribesmen and try to kill them if their party is small and weak. Notably, some foolish brigands even attack strong tribesmen; the former usually end up dead.
      Traders generally begin as young clanspeople, kids who are incapable combatants but excellent runners. They must find trinkets, e.g. amber, only locally until an established trader takes them under his or her care. Then, they learn stick fighting and, on rare occasions, archery. As traders find new gewgaws and more places to deal in them, they grow in ability. Too, as they spar with other traders using the staff, their vulnerableness diminishes.
      Traders abide by the Code, which demands stealth, resourcefulness, and honest negotiation. Reputation and concealment are the sine qua non of a trader. The pluses of trading culture are freedom, ingenuity, and openness to alternative ways of thinking. The minuses are an absence of protection, a central organization, and an esprit de corps (particularly for traders who are not part of a company). Not lionhearted, traders will go to great lengths to avoid or escape assault. They are keen on evading tribal tracking. Only under clamant circumstances (and without their packs and wares) will traders work with a tribesman. They are averse to one and dread more.
      This fear has a solid foundation. Tribesmen will think of an unencumbered trader as merely the clansperson he likely is. So, their working together is possible, but unlikely. What is certain is that tribesmen will see a trader with merchandise as a miscreant, a poacher -- at least as bad a brigand -- and will treat him accordingly.
      Guardians are typically veteran traders who have established their own exchange. They gain in potency by attracting new traders to their emporium, demonstrating proper management, and, most important, discovering and inventing novelties. They are responsible for storing and accounting for goods, for calming contentious traders, and for organizing physical contests among them (to settle arguments and to entertain).
      Guardians supplement the Code with their own restrictions. Guardians are secretive to a fault, and their nature, while affording security by obscurity, usually prevents them from creating more than a modest market.
      Guardians are not necessarily sedentary. Some guardians have significant muscular development owing to their being engaged in various arduous activities (e.g. hauling lumber).
      The only possible way a guardian could work with a tribesman is if one of them has duped the other: either via disguise or, if a guardian, by his or her using magic (quod vide).
      Ambitious guardians who expand their marts quickly or to a large size will eventually attract the interest (plunder) of a tribe -- thus ending their careers and their lives.
      Antiheroine is a trader, but her true goal, revenge, is -- for the foreseeable part of her existence -- unattainable. What is possible, in a variety of ways, is finding a home, whether it be with a clan or a crew of traders or guardians, from which she can scheme. She is austere, self-centered, and spiteful, so none of these people will be eager to work with her. Compounding her troubles, she speaks either dialectual Kurgan (see below) or none at all. Therefore, she is at best hard to understand (at least until she gains some fluency in standard Kurgan.)
      Antiheroine, while aware of both the Rules and the Code, follows only the latter. She is a tough bargainer, incurring a blend of jealousy and irritation among her counterparties. She hates tribesmen and will never willingly go near them. She is arrogant and misanthropic toward everyone.
      She is good with the staff and masterful at archery. She has additional, unarmed, but highly effective defensive skills.


      The language of tribes, and by extension of the land, is standard Kurgan. Some clanspeople and brigands speak it and/or semi-intelligible dialects (such as Gibberish and Blatherskite). These are impossible to understand without experience, and even with it they are cumbersome means of communication for non-native speakers.
      Influenced by Kurgan, the endemic languages are still spoken among clanspeople and brigands.
      Finally, foreign languages (e.g. Gobbledygook) are very rare, unrelated to either Kurgan or aboriginal languages, and known only to such as, say, a singular tribesman or a tiny minority of traders.