First off, for many years I have moderated The Clan RPG on yahoo (now accepting new members!). I even run the website. I play the leader and Mog-ur (among others) of Bron's Clan.
About 5 yrs ago or so, we held a Clan Gathering and different members got to play different clans (I think lessthan09sheep made most of the clans to begin with). Anyway, I played Nord's Clan (<-- that's the new, updated version), which was an influential clan from the north that helped introduce some changes into our area. Nord's Clan was huge with over 50 members, some of obvious mixed blood ('deformities', to the clan, and they shouldn't have been allowed to live). Now we're about to kill off a bunch of old, stale characters and introduce new members who will move to our clan from Nord's Clan.
So this is my history of that clan.
The leaders of Nord’s line held a rich and fertile land far to the north. They lived in a rocky coastal area where good caves could often be found. The founders of the cave were blessed to find an uninhabited and very desirable cave located on a large strip of land between two rivers.
It was actually two decent-sized caves, and both had their own entrances. The larger cave had a large, sunny entrance that opened to the south east, and the slightly smaller connection had a decent doorway hole that people could easily fit through on the northern side close to the nearest river. The land that the cave sat upon was a nice chunk of at least three miles wide between the rivers, which served as natural boundaries to the north-east and north-west.
The main threat of the area came from the south, where land was quickly being overrun with those known as the Others. With the clan’s land located between two rivers, they enjoyed a very rich harvest from the surrounding forests. The Others were increasingly pushing into their little ‘peninsula’ of sorts, and were known to have settlements on the other sides of the rivers. The clan was constantly at war defending its cave and the surrounding hunting lands, part of which included prime mammoth grounds on the far side of the eastern river.
Stan was the leader before the leader before the leader before Nord. He took his position as leader under unfortunate and inauspicious circumstances. His mother’s mate had died after a mammoth hunt, when his ankle was crushed and the wound turned septic. Another hunter was killed during the first battle Stan led defending the cave from an Others attack – and the Others had been growing diligent in their quest to pick off the clan members. Stan found himself leading a clan with only five men – two of which who, while respected Elders, could not hunt and had to be cared for. Not counting himself, Stan had two hunters to support his clan – the Second in Command and the mog-ur.
To make matters worse, the hovering presence of the Others was causing problems even within the cave. The clan was experiencing an unprecedented number of deformed babies being born. So many babies were given up to the forest that the clan was not increasing the number of hunters, and therefore securing their future. According to Yil, the cave’s mog-ur, the men’s totems were so busy battling those of the Others in an attempt to protect the land, that their totems were weakened and tired all the time. The same battle the men were fighting physically was being fought in the spirit world as well, and the totems were often unable to fully force the females’ totems into submission. This was causing deformities, and the omens and Yil’s meditations consistently told him that the problem would not be resolved as long as the war with the Others continued to drag on.
Stan took heart when his own mate’s totem was finally defeated, because at least the leadership of the clan could be secured. He was dismayed and utterly heartbroken when the child of his own hearth was born with undeniable deformities – a weak, mewling boy child who could not hold his head up and had almost no discernable brow ridges. Stan avoided his mate’s gaze, blaming himself for not being able to squelch the Others attacks, and left the cave.
Yil followed him, finally catching up near the western river where Stan was sitting and drinking (and mostly berating himself for not grabbing a water skin or a spear). Yil sat beside him on a large rock, and they looked across the river in silence. There on the other side, both further west and again an arm-span north, they watched twin curls of smoke dance into the sky. They were new camps. More Others.
“I have failed,” Stan said quietly. “We will not have another leader. Our clan will die when one of us dies, or Greg, and no one is left to protect our women.”
“The totems have been speaking to me, brother. They don’t want us to give up. They promise me that it doesn’t have to be this way.” Yil’s movements were passionate, and his eyes pleaded as he looked at Stan. “Keep the child. Yes, keep the child. Your totem has told me every night for the last moon. We have to live, Stan. It’s a male child, and the totems favor him. See if he can live. If he can live and contribute to the clan, then we’ll carry on.”
“And if he can’t? How will he hunt, with arms like that? Can’t raise his head…” Stan’s shoulders fell. “It isn’t fair to keep someone alive in that condition. What kind of life is that? How could I be a good leader and mate a woman to such a man, condemning her to a life of holding his head and feeding him gruel, changing his swaddling but little hope for children of her own?” Stan shook his head. “That’s not life.”
Yil nodded gravely. “It is a hard choice. I can only tell you what Horse has impressed upon me in dreams both waking and sleeping. Ask your totem for a sign of your own, but I really think that if we honor the totems’ will – and his will speak soon enough, I guarantee – that they mean us to carry on. I have never doubted their messages to me. We are still the Clan of the Cavebear, and this is still our cave.”
It gave Stan something to mull over, at the very least. Yil left Stan alone, and he didn’t return until nearly noon the next day. Yil ordered the medicine woman to wait on Stan’s word, and Stan’s mate nervously nursed the child. The whole clan waited uncomfortably, feigning daily life, until the leader’s arrival home. Yil never pressed, but he and Stan’s mate Clara both noticed the extra weight to the leader’s amulet.
“Keep the child,” Stan signed carefully, so that all can see. “If he can survive, we will pray to the totems and do our best to dedicate him as a hunter of the clan.” Stan swallowed deeply and looked into his mate’s eyes despite her current state. He shook his head sadly. “This child can never be leader of the clan.”
Clara nodded and looked away, but finally allowed herself to trail a finger on the baby’s cheek. She honestly didn’t think he would make it, and her heart broke for the child. She swore it would never be for lack of anything on her part.
The child indeed grew stronger. He was named Thorc and dedicated under the protection of the Cobra. Stan and his clan breathed easier, and after Thorc took his first steps, Stan announced that if babies continued to be born with abnormalities, he could not guarantee the life of each but he would consider each situation and allow the test of seven days if indications of life looked good. His medicine woman was skilled in childbirth, and he allowed and honored her input as well as Yil’s.
Slowly but surely, the clan’s future began to look a little brighter. When Clara’s second birth brought a perfectly healthy baby boy, the clan truly began to live again. The future leader was named Kouk in honor of a former leader whose clan had been especially prosperous. Both male and female babies were allowed to live, and soon their numbers had increased significantly.
Thorc grew into an able hunter, and he was still young when he was declared to be mog-ur’s acolyte. Thorc had clan memories, and something more. He had an uncanny ability to sense changes in energies, not just among his clan but also when dealing with the Others. It was almost as if he knew how they thought. By the age of six, young Thorc was self-consciously whispering his strategic input on the men’s defense against the increasingly horrific raids by the Others.
Yil was shocked at the boy’s plans, because they made so much sense but had never occurred to either him or to Stan. Thorc had a knack for setting traps that began bungling the attacks, and the traps were often deadly themselves. While it was still several years before he was physically ready to become a man - it was part of his illness - Thorc was basically leading the defenses of the clan – and eventually attacks, as well.
Before long, Greg, Stan’s Second, began to suffer from weakness of breath when he exerted himself for too long. Stan and Yil were vicious when the clan was threatened, but there were several close calls that could have lost either one of them. Thorc insisted – and in private he begged and pleaded – that the women begin helping to defend against the attacks. Rocks were collected and carried to the top of both caves, and protective walls were made to shield women so that they could safely push rocks and boulders down on the attackers. Every able person, including women and older children, were taught the location of traps and how to avoid them, take them apart, and set the up elsewhere if needed.
By the time Kouk assumed leadership with Thorc as his mog-ur, the clan was in a relatively stable position as far as people not dying all the time. The Others were no longer making direct attacks on their cave, although assaults in the territory (especially along the east river and the mammoth lands across from it) were still bothersome. But more boys gradually took their manhood and contributed, and the clan’s quality of life vastly improved. Kouk never tried to take more land than what had been the clan’s in the first place, but he was diligent in keeping river and mammoth ground rights, and the Others slowly began to move away. The clan occasionally saw their people riding odd crafts down the rivers, but the Others themselves began to honor their territory as the clan at last began to thrive.