Tribes of Asher
There are countless tribes in the deserts and mountains of Asher; this is but a smattering of the major ones.
The tribes are generally broad associations of families with a totemic name, almost always an animal. Beneath those broad clan associations - many of which are very distant - there are individual bands or septs.
Desert tribes have existed on Yathrib for a very long time. While some tribes claim that their oral history dates back to the planet's discovery, it seems clear that many of the tribes were founded during the Ukar Wars, when people fled to the wild places to avoid Ukari raids. While some returned after the occupation, others remained behind, forming a core of the tribes. A second great influx occurred at the Fall, when the millions of stranded refugees literally began stripping the civilized parts of the planet to its bones. The tribes fled to the deep desert or high mountains to avoid the chaos, and some few of the stranded pilgrims ultimately swelled their ranks.
- 1 Eastern Clans and Tribes of the Great Desert
- 2 Clans and Tribes of the Mountains of Moab
- 3 Clans and Tribes of the Ubari
- 4 Other Clans and Tribes
Eastern Clans and Tribes of the Great Desert
The Great Desert has perhaps the largest group of tribes and clans; they range in the far west to Chemosh, though most of them cluster around the Mountains of Moab, the Citadel of the Changed, or the various coasts. These five tribes are the major players in the eastern part, though some western clans such as the Hyena Tribe - often allied with the Sathraists - or mountain clans like the Hawk Tribe and Ram Tribe also have bands in the eastern part of the desert. Some of the Ubari tribes have septs across the Joyeaux as well, including most notably a smattering of Tortoise and Rat tribesmen. The Tortoise tribesmen are all converts, while some of the Rat septs still reject the Kurgan faith.
The Wolf Clan is a loose confederation of tribes that is perhaps the most dominant of the desert clans; they tend to live most of all off raiding coastal settlements, and many Wolf Clan tribesmen journey over the passes each year to serve as mercenaries either for the Known Worlders or the Kurgans. Others take service with the Sathraists, returning in the fall to their tribes rich with booty. The natural haunts of the Wolf Tribe are south, almost to the Wild Coast, though they raid up the edge of the mountains even to New Rukh.
While the Vulture tribe has an ancient history, it was reinvigorated several hundreds years ago when it absorbed a core of armsmen from fallen Maleband. As a consequence, it has a particular dislike of many Known Worlders, who the tribe calls 'Betrayers', though few Vulture tribesmen have converted to Sathraism or Kurganism. Some bands of the Vulture Tribe have spent too much time close to the Citadel of the Changed, and have shown some evidence of mutation, though other septs rigorously cleanse such taint when it arises. All the Vulture Tribes tend to cling to inland oases, raiding out from there to the edges of civilization.
Named after the desert fox, the Fox Clan keeps to the eastern edge of the desert where it meets the Mountains of Moab, raiding the goat tribes and - particularly - trading, often ranging as far as Bassem Mroue and back in desert caravans. The Fox tribe has always had a particularly friendly relationship with Avenal, and they provide informal security for herdsmen bringing their flocks to the fair at Malefaux.
The Antelope clans are the 'herder success story'; originally an amalgamation of goat tribes, they banded together to create a strong defense against the raiding clans. Now, they range mostly north of New Rukh where wadis feed the River of Joy, keeping their herds while raiding goat tribes and Kurgans in turn.
The most feared of the desert tribes bar none is the Moon Clan, who raid from unknown places in the desert. They take no animal for their totem but rather the cold and unfeeling moon, and they take slaves or ritually kill many they come across. The crescent-shaped cuts they carve in their defeated foes are feared, and it is said they can follow a man with the moon mark unnerringly - sometimes, they will mark a man and let him go, only to descend upon the encampment he takes shelter in out of the night.
Clans and Tribes of the Mountains of Moab
While all of the mountain tribes have bands in various different parts of the mountains, each of the three main tribes have an area that is where their strength is. Additionally, there are a number of Wolf Tribe and Fox Tribe septs in the mountains, as well as the inevitable goat tribesmen.
The Hawk Tribe is strongest in the southern part of the mountains of Moab, and one of its chieftans - Derok the Lion - is a de facto baronet in Helborg. There is a long rivalry between the Hawk and Ram that sometimes spills into the Vale.
The Ram Tribe - strongest between the High Pass and the Pass of Arrows - is one of the older mountain clans, and were the chief rivals of the lords of the Altamont when they first conquered the tribes. Now, some of the Ram septs have struck up an uneasy alliance with Comstock, serving as guards and outriders for his mines, and perhaps selling him slaves.
The Bear Clan commands the mountains north of the Pass of Arrows, though it is a Bear Tribe chieftan who is always the right hand of the Altamont lords who rule the mountain clans. They have had heavy predation from the Kurgans and are now much reduced from their days of glory; some of the Hawk tribe have been speaking of supplanting them.
Clans and Tribes of the Ubari
The Ubari desert stretches from the eastern side of the Shining Gulf to the Pearl Cities. Once, it was home to a vibrant collection of tribes and clans, but over the last hundred years they have all converted to Kurganism. Those bands who have been unwilling to convert have been driven out of their clans and into the arms of the outcast tribes. Some septs of the Wolf Tribe and Antelope Tribe have crossed the Joyeaux to the Ubari over the generations as well; like the major clans, they have converted.
The first tribe to convert to the Kurgan faith, the Tortoise tribe has long made its home near Iskandretta. Its chieftan saw a vision of the Caliph following a battle with Kurgan invaders and adopted their faith, and has been the forefront of their desert allies since then.
While the Falcon tribe took longer to convert than the Tortoise clan, they are now staunch advocates for the Kurgans. Many of the Falcon tribesmen have intermarried with Kurgan nomad clans, and there are several Falcon bands that have moved off-world to the Kurgan planets. The Falcons tend towards the northern parts of the desert, and some of them have intermarried with the al-Gesar. Indeed, the al-Gesar steeds are raised in Falcon clan herds.
The Rat clan was the last of the Ubari tribes to convert to the Kurgan way, and that only after a fifteen-year campaign to hunt them down. Still, they pride themselves on being survivors, and so a decision of the clan elders was made to join the Kurgan faith, at which point all those elders who voted in opposition were put to the knife. The Rat clans tend to cluster around the southern costs; many of them have trade with Tyche.
Other Clans and Tribes
The Lion Tribe is no more. Once the dominant tribe of the Great Desert, their encampment was hit squarely by the Citadel of the Changed, and the tribe disappeared in the chaos that followed. Now, their name is a watchword for puissance and honor among the clans, but no one still bears their moniker.
The Jackal clan is unlike the other tribes; highly insular, they wander all of Asher largely as traders and tinkers, though they have plenty of raiding of their own. They are called thieves and bandits even in the company of thieving and banditing tribesmen, but seem to revel in that designation.
The Goat Tribes
Many of the nomad herders do not have the protection of a warrior tribe, and rather insultingly they are called the goat tribes by their more powerful fellows. Without any central organization, the goat tribes are often prey to raiders or even slavers, and even when they have been able to get independence of their own - as with the Antelope Clan - they they turn and begin raiding their fellows.
Tribesmen or even whole bands who commit crimes may be exiled from their tribe, particularly when they have already fled to avoid more serious punishment. Such criminals become outcasts - matrud - and may group together in short-lived bands to raid and break the law as they please. Sometimes, an outcast tribe may survive for several generations before it is finally punished for the sins of its fathers.
In the Ubari, this practice has been somewhat upended. As the Ubari tribes converted to Kurganism, many fled to the embrace of the outlaw tribes. While terrible atrocities occured, a central core of faithful outcasts has begun to form in the Ubari. They have taken to calling themselves the Lion Tribe after the long-dead clan, but so far have not been recognized by any other tribe.