Of Councils, Castes and Clans
The Kalgoran society knows a system of hierarchy unique to its tribe. Like all other tribes, bloodlines hold some significance, but the actions of an individual matter the most to reputation. Where most Orcish tribes would simply place their trust in one’s ability as they display it, those of Kal’gorah hold extensive trials to educate and maintain the amount of professions among its people. Through a system of societal castes, all members of the tribe are taught the common ways of their elder’s profession, allowing the tribe to grow beyond the occupation of ruined settlements and aiding them in forging their own cities and dominions. These families often create larger clans by forming together, to maintain their family’s traditions and so prevent themselves from failing their trials, ever seeking new members to marry into their clans. Leaders are chosen from among the highest rank of each of the castes, seated at the council and led by the Chieftain of the Dominion.
The Castes of Kal’gorah
The caste system of the tribe is determined by birth first and foremost; each newborn is taken into their family’s caste and taught the profession of their clan until they come of age. There, upon their 15th winter they will undergo a trial to determine if they will stay in their current social standing or be lowered to another one. Any may take a trial of their choosing upon their coming of age, but it is often one that can not be done without the aid of a mentor, and so it is much more likely that those taught within a caste will succeed, while the only ones to successfully pass from lower castes would be the ones with exceptional skill, or those tutored under the prospect of an arranged marriage.
Regardless of which Caste a member of the tribe enters, it is often a position held for life. To change castes past the coming of age is possible, but carries great risk with it, for the trials involved in changing one’s caste past the first trial are as arduous as they are dangerous.
The top of the caste system consists of the Shamanic clans of the tribe. The Shamans are considered by all in the Tribe to be its rulers, championing wisdom, judgment and spiritual guidance as their contribution to the tribe. From birth, they are taught the vast histories of various orcish clans, including a great many oral histories that may not be written down. Expected to intricately know of the tribe’s origins and hardships, they are taught every detail until they can recite each of the stories without fail. They are taught how to speak and how to judge, and how to conduct the rituals necessary to maintain the tribe’s prosperity and good fortunes by honoring the spirits of the land. Many take up an Artisanal profession as well, as few born into a shamanic clan are fit to take part in its trials, and it is much more common for one born in a shamanic caste to choose tutelage under an artisanal clan instead.
Past their coming of age, a Shaman can most often be found in the temples of the Kalgorah. There, they form the backbone of the tribe, teaching younger shamans, overseeing the trials of the tribe’s adolescents, judging its criminals and offering guidance to those who are troubled within the tribe, aiding them where necessary. Those who find themselves bound to spirits commune with the land, forming the bridge between the world of the spirits and the wishes of the tribe, ensuring both prosper together. It is among the Shamans of the tribe that the Chieftain is chosen to lead for life. This shaman joins the leadership council and stands at the head of all matters that concern the tribe as a whole, and Shamans are often revered as a whole for their place in society.
Just below the Shamans, the Artisans of Kal’gorah make up the second caste of the tribe. Members of this caste are more numerous than the Shamans, consisting of skilled laborers and specialized workers. They form the lifeblood of the city’s commerce and pride themselves on precision and mastery of their respective crafts. From the day they are strong enough to hold a tool, they are taught by their elders to use it to make what is necessary for the tribe. Learning all the tricks of their trade and the most common forms of their crafts, it is the task of the Artisan to build upon the ideas of their forefathers, a task in which they take great pride..
After their coming of age, their work has them overseeing the laborers of the tribe in the construction of the city, as well as establishing themselves for their unique crafts and conducting and managing trade within the lands of the tribe. Artisans are often in strong competition with others of their craft to create something to call their own with which to expand their businesses. From newer medicine for the sick to better ploughs for farmers, the Artisans labour and innovate for the good of the tribe and are rewarded for their efforts in turn. Artisanal goods made by a member of the tribe may not be remade by another unless the creator allows for it, or it is judged to be necessary to further the prosperity of the tribe, and Artisans are often respected for the intricate weapons and tools they make.
The third layer of the Kalgoran Caste is made up of the warriors of the tribe. Acting as the tribe’s blade against would-be conquerors, they consist primarily of those who have taken to a life of fighting. Honing their skill with their chosen weapon, they pride themselves on their strength and discipline. Those who grow up in the Warrior caste often know the harshest lives, taught to test themselves again and again, whether at the blades of their elders or the animals in the wilds around the tribe.
After their trial, they can most commonly be seen around the walls of the city where they maintain the city’s defenses, or honing their craft in contests against other warriors in one of the dueling grounds around the tribe’s domain. Warriors are often taught to seek ever greater foes, whether among their own or in the lands around Kalgorah.
Making up the largest group within the castes, the workers are the fourth and bottom layer of the tribe. Working arduously and often tirelessly, they provide the tribe with the very base of its needs. Stonemasons, Miners, Farmers, Woodcutters and other simple, yet essential labors are practiced in loose clans, though more importance is placed on family than a larger whole. The ones within these groups pride themselves on their endurance and strength of will, competing in contests with each other only when their honor is on the line.
After their first trial, workers can often be found in their places of work, prospecting and harvesting from the land as they labour in the days to meet the needs of the tribe, and feasting and drinking in the nights when the work is done. Workers often live without the stresses of ever pushing themselves, considering a hard day’s work to be a craft to master all its own.
Outside the caste system live the Pariah; though they remain members of the tribe, they are not a true part of its society. They often live day by day, picking up the work no others would want to do in return for coin. Some rare Pariah take pride in their work, fashioning themselves as peddlers and grifters, but most prefer to keep their heads low- for to be an outcast is a punishment, all too often the results of crimes committed by the Pariah or their ancestors. Pariah are not allowed to participate in trials, not allowed to marry, and may only attend festivals as servants or with the express permission of a Shaman.
Relations between Castes
The difference between the various castes and their rigidity often means that there is dissent among the different groups. Though much is done to mitigate this difference within the laws, leadership and culture of the tribe, there are an equal amount of customs that shape the stark differences between them.
While Shamans are generally revered universally and given the respect deserved by the tribe, their stance on peaceful isolation and their stance against expansion outside the needs of the tribe often puts them at odds with Warriors who often seek to fight strong opponents and achieve merit in their efforts. Though this creates dissent between the two castes, Warriors tend to be taught the necessity of peace and the avoidance of war, while Shamans will often create opportunities for warriors to fight by declaring contests of strength, hunts and expeditions in which the Warriors may compete.
Oftentimes, Artisans find themselves at odds with Workers who they often look down upon, although unity within the Worker caste equally often repays this aggression by refusing to work for said Artisans. Similarly, a Worker may consider an Artisan to be arrogant and greedy, though such notions are often met with a challenge for the Worker and Artisan to switch trades for a day. This challenge often humbles both parties to the work of the other, though the contest slightly favors the skilled worker, as the work of a Worker tends to be simple and monotonous.
Warriors tend to be at odds with Artisans for the same reasons Workers oppose them, though in these instances the situation is reversed; Artisans may collectively choose to deny the Warrior’s repairs, making it difficult for the Warrior to properly practice their craft. As such, the Warriors often begrudgingly respect the Artisans even through such prejudice, recognising their necessity and ensuring they remain untouched in spite of their sneers.
Though the castes are often separated by their virtues, each recognises the necessity of the other in their daily lives. Disputes between the castes are often settled peacefully first, only escalating to a duel when neither side can agree, and though tension rises and falls with the stresses placed upon the tribe, the laws remain sacred to all that seek to avoid becoming Pariah to the tribe.
Outsiders are those considered to never have been part of the tribe. Those who come from outside of the Kalgoran dominion are not part of the castes, and until they choose to become a part of the tribe are treated as such. Outsiders are still considered as capable as the castes they would be part of within the tribe, provided they are considered such by those they speak to. Foreign kings are revered as one would a Shaman, and given the same respect. Craftsmen from outside are given respect becoming of an Artisan within the clan, and Farmers from foreign lands greeted as kindly as one would the Workers of Kalgorah.
In spite of this respect, their rights are no different from those of Pariah when it comes to the work within the dominion; foreigners are barred from the workstations and the temple, unable to participate in the trials of the tribe, and unable to attend the festivals of the dominion unless approved by the Shamans of the tribe. They are not allowed to trade, though exceptions exist within those considered worthy by the tribe. Regardless of their limitations, Outsiders are not subject to the dismissal experienced by the Pariah; in all their actions that go against the wishes of the tribe they are asked cordially to refrain, and educated as one would a child in the tribe, with the threat of violence only suggested as a last resort to the unruly few.
The Leadership of Kal’gorah
The Leadership of Kalgorah lies just above the castes of its society. Though day to day decisions are made by the Shamans, there are matters that affect the tribe as a whole, which can not be judged by a shaman alone. To decide on these, the Kal’gorah gather in a Council known as Oru’kal to deliberate on the best choice.
The Oru’kal is made up of a body of the most important members of the tribe. It consists of eight positions: The Chieftain, chosen among the Shamans; five Councillors, chosen among the Artisans; the Warchief, chosen among the Warriors and the Taskmaster, chosen among the Workers. Each receives a single vote, but the weight of the vote is determined by the Chieftain. As such, while seeming outwardly lead by a council of its tribe, the council functions only in an advisory capacity, with the Chieftain ultimately making each decision. Even so, the council is an important ground to debate on matters of the tribe, and those within it are respected as trusted advisors to the Chieftain.
The head of the tribe, the chieftain is to be a wise and experienced leader ready to bear the great burden of leading the tribe to the future. They will often be the head of important trials, ceremonies and special events of the tribe. They work with the Council to create laws, coordinate events and oversee trials. They are chosen by a vote among all the Shamans of the tribe, set to lead for life. Though they answer to the Council, they also have the sole right to lead the tribe; should they choose to, they may ignore the advice of their Council. Ultimately, they carry the weight of the entire tribe upon their shoulders.
The advisors of the tribe, these highly respected individuals are often the masters in their craft and the heads of an Artisanal clan. Their role is to advise the Chieftain on all matters of the city and commerce, form laws with the Chieftain, conduct events, and act as judges for the tribe’s trials. They are chosen through merit once every year at varying times, in a contest of craftsmanship between every Artisan choosing to participate within their respective crafts.
Five councillors exist within the Council:
The Councillor of the Loom, chosen among the tailors and leatherworkers.
The Councillor of the Hammer, chosen among the blacksmiths and weaponsmiths.
The Councillor of the Shield, chosen among the armorers and siege engineers.
The Councillor of the Saw, chosen among the woodworkers and carpenters.
The Councillor of the Mortar, chosen among the alchemists and doctors.
Chosen as warriors, generals and great duelists, these individuals of high honor serve as the tacticians for the Chieftain on all matters involved in the field of combat and weaponry. The warchief will oversee tribe duels in the arena, coordinate events and manage the training of the tribe’s guard and troops, always preparing for the eventuality of war. They are chosen through combat, with the strongest warrior of the tribe replacing the previous warchief every year at the end of winter.
Among the Workers of the tribe, a Taskmaster is chosen every year. They are concerned with the needs of the people and have the important task of overseeing the happiness of the workers and the tribe as a whole, as well as ensuring the material demands made by the council remain reasonable. The Taskmaster is generally the most amiable and caring among the Workers, chosen by popular vote among the tribe’s workers in an election once every year.
The Clans of Kalgorah
As Kal’gorah grew, different people from former tribes collected under its banner. They had been tribes in their own right once, and their practices often matched poorly with one another. Though all could agree on the appeasement of the spirits, the purpose with which their tribesmen worked and the laws and peaceful coexistence they would abide by, some held fast to their own personal traditions, philosophies and practices, not wishing to share them with others in the newfound tribe. To signify these divides and their importance, the clans were created so that their practices would not be lost.
Existing as extended families, a clan shares a name under their founder. They form communities within Kal’gorah of their own and under the oversight of the Council, reporting their activities and keeping careful records of those they initiate with the aid of the Shamans. They are allowed to hold their own private rituals and initiations so long as these abide by the laws of the tribe, and achievements made by its members are often shared with the clan as a whole.
Clans of Kal’gorah abide by strict rules set by the tribe. These laws, known collectively as clan law, exist to ensure the autonomy within the clans doesn’t clash with the tribe’s authority. Under these laws, clans enjoy authority over members of their clan, capable of punishing them under circumstances for breaking their creeds.
There are only two ways one may enter a clan after its founding, regardless of one’s origin and stature within the tribe. The first is to be born into a clan, or to have been raised by it before one speaks their first words. The second is to marry into a clan under the understanding that children must be born from the union in the clan’s name. Because clans often stake their reputations on those they initiate, it isn’t uncommon for a clan to conduct its own initiation rites. As such, initiation varies wildly from clan to clan, with some only celebrating a marriage and others often subjecting neophytes to gruesome hardships.
A clan is always led by a single person, often the head of the family and its oldest living relative. This leader, known as the clan elder, holds ultimate authority over the clan in the eyes of Kal’gorah. Regardless of how the clan is ruled internally, when it comes to matters between a clan and the tribe, the elder acts as speaker for the clan. Outside of such matters, clan leadership tends to vary, though in most instances the elder remains an important member of the clan.
Clans have varying philosophies, often resulting in leading lives in which they inhibit themselves or otherwise forbid certain things. To organise these philosophies, and to enforce them among their members, each clan knows a scroll of creeds. Creeds are absolute rules with absolute consequences for breaking them. Oftentimes, the punishments are harsh; though the tribe forbids maiming that inhibits work and death as punishments for breaking creeds, there are few rules in place to stop clans from acting on their own clansmen. Every law a clan has is to be known and accepted by the council of Kal’gorah before being recognised as a creed.
On rare occasions, clans may have issues with one another. Be it unpaid dues, or more personal quarrels, these conflicts can quickly escalate into feuds. Within Kal’gorah, there are two ways to deal with this strife among clans. The first is a duel for the clan’s honor, in which each clan provides a champion and duel for their honor. The second, more common among Artisanal clans, is a contest between craftsmen.
Many minor clans exist within Kal’gorah. Oftentimes, these clans may be little more than families. More notable clans are common knowledge among the tribe. They are listed here, with descriptions and scrolls where applicable.