The Atruaghin Clans
“Children of Atruaghin, bah, they’re just a bunch of savages! Not able to appreciate the difference between a cheap rug from a fine Dythesthenian tapestry. It is better to push further west, and reach the markets of Sind, where you will find better customers.” – Ahmed ibn Farouk, caravan master from Sulba, Ylaruam
The lands of the Atruaghin Clans cover three different regions: the Atruaghin Plateau; the forested coast of the Sea of Dread; and the rough, swampy terrains along the western banks of the Streel. The Plateau is a vast region of fertile grasslands and waterways in the west, where the Horse clan lives, more dry to the north-east, occupied by the Bear clan and covered by a forest in its south-eastern reaches where it is inhabited by the Elk people. The land is generally fertile, with the notable exception of the Bear clan lands, but it is not intensively cultivated and retains much more wildlife than any of the eastern lands of the Known World.
Few ways exist to reach the Plateau, which explains why the Children of Atruaghin have been able to keep their isolation from the neighbouring nations. A single trade route reaches the villages of the Bear clan from the Darokinian city of Akesoli.
The Atruaghin Clans have always lived in their current territories. They have never been interested in dealing with foreigners, and they have been ignored in turn by their neighbours for centuries, as these more powerful nations were locked in internal struggles, or worried by external threats.
Only the goblinoid hordes have scoured the clans-lands, in the legendary Quest for the Blue Knife, and even this event is so remote in time that only the historians of the longer-lived races remember it as anything but legend.
The Children of Atruaghin are divided into five clans, each identified by its totem animal. There are the Bear, Horse, Elk, Turtle, and the renegade Tiger clan. The tribes of the first three clans live on the Plateau itself, while the latter two clans have settled in the coastal areas.
The Horse clan is composed by horse-mounted buffalo hunters, whose most unusual trait is the absence of a spoken language, replaced by a silent form of body language. The members of the Bear clan tribes have more dealings with the merchants of Darokin than the rest of the Children of Atruaghin, and are prominent for their craftsmanship, especially pottery and weaving. The Elk clansmen are primarily farmers, favoured by the good climate of their lands, but they rely also on hunting and craftsmanship to survive, although their products are mostly for their own use. The Turtle clan, due to its tribes’ location, supports a large number of fishermen, and is known for its courageous whale hunters. The last clan, bearing the Tiger totem, is composed of renegade followers of entropic powers fond of violent games and practicing human sacrifices, bloody rites, and raids against the neighbouring clans.
The Children of Atruaghin have a limited technological knowledge, and are usually unable or unwilling to use or craft metallic tools or weapons. They don’t use armour, though customs vary wildly from clan to clan. Their masonry is usually limited, and most clans use either wood or clay in the construction of their villages. It is noteworthy that the Tiger clan enjoys a higher technological development, which gives them a vital edge over their more numerous relatives.
Government and Religion
There is no central government to bring together the Children of Atruaghin. Chiefs, advised by shamans, guide the tribes. However, each clan has its own traditions concerning the choice and powers of the tribal chiefs, and the role of shamans.
While the warrior Horse tribes are lead by the strongest fighters, Bear clan villages elect their chiefs, and practice a form of democracy. Turtle clan have a complex political form based on family honour, while the Elk clan is united under a Great Chief, selected by combat. The clergy rules the Tiger clan tribes with an iron fist.
The Atruaghin pantheon includes the stern hero, Atruaghin, and several other deities, each the patron of a specific clan. Shamans, who act as healers, advisers and loremasters, serve these Immortals. The Tiger clan has fallen long ago under the sway of the Entropic forces, and its cults are totally different from those of their cousins.
The Children of Atruaghin also believe themselves to be kin of certain animal species, which are taboo for them to kill, but which can provide help, both magical and mundane, to their human relatives. They have multiple totems of various degrees of importance, related to themselves, their tribe and clan.