Clan Caste System
- Community Outreach - The Cauldron's Bear_cl4w and Krasnopesky Talk MechWarrior Online
- MechWarrior Online's Renaissance Is All Thanks To The Developers Putting Players In Charge
- Your BattleTech News Roundup For May, 2021
- Your BattleTech News Roundup For April 2021
- Why You Should Actually Trust BattleTech’s Mysteriously Short-Ranged Autocannons
- Read more →
The Clan Caste System is the basis around which Clan society is organized. Instituted by Nicholas Kerensky when the Clans were founded in the early 29th century, the caste system has remained the foundation of Clan society ever since.
Formation of the Caste System
|“|| Five, Nicholas proclaimed, was the foundation
Upon which our true society was to be built.
|— The Remembrance (Clan Wolf), Passage 67, Verse 26, Lines 21-37|
List of Castes
Officially, Clan society is comprised of five castes - Warriors, Scientists, Technicians, Merchants and Laborers. In practice, a sixth caste - the Dark or Bandit Caste - exists for those who cannot or will not fit into Clan society.
Castes are further broken down into sub-castes. For example, within the warrior caste are the infantry sub-caste, MechWarrior sub-caste and fighter pilot sub-caste, among others. This is an important distinction for the warrior caste, since each sub-caste requires different attributes and hence different gene-pools.
As "marriages" between members of a different caste are rare, most children born into the Clans will enter the same caste as their parents, i.e. the child of two technicians will become a technician. However the scientist caste, charged in part with Clan education, constantly assess each child's skills and aptitudes to determine whether an assigned caste is appropriate. Frequently this extensive testing merely reinforces their assignment and is used in directing the the child to an appropriate sub-caste, though children who perform better or worse than expected can be assigned to a new caste.
The warrior caste serve as the protectors and rulers of their Clan, and the efforts of all other castes are ultimately intended to support them. Within the warrior caste the main division is between trueborn and freeborn warriors, with the latter almost universally regarded as inferior to the former (though whether this is due to their genetics or the generally poor training they receive is a matter of debate). Sub-castes are defined by a warrior's battlefield role, with Mechwarriors, aerospace fighter pilots, Elementals and paramilitary police the only specialties universal to all Clans. Other specialized roles exist within some Clans, such as WarShip command staff, Armored vehicle crews, conventional infantry, and military intelligence operatives. In 3102, Clan Nova Cat created a new sub-caste, known as the Mystic Caste, purportedly gifted with psychic abilities.
Regarded as the pinnacle of Clan society, only Bloodnamed members of the warrior caste may be elected Khan and lead their Clan, and in most Clans only the Bloodnamed may participate on the Clan Council. Relations between the elitist warriors and their civilian castes differ between individual Clans; in some Clans warriors are viewed as "first among equals" and have good relations with their civilians, while in others the warriors rule draconically and mistreat the 'lower' castes, particularly merchants.
Despite their preeminent position the warrior caste is not the largest of the five castes: as of 3062 there were around 115,000 Clan warriors, or just .01% of the Clans' total population. Members of the warrior caste also had the shortest lifespan, with an average life expectancy of 45.2 years.
The scientist caste's primary responsibilities are to drive technological development and manage their respective Clan's genetic programs, with additional oversight of the education and health care systems. Sub-castes include doctors and teachers, although the most prestigious are those associated with the eugenics program. Many "test-downs" from the warrior caste sibkos, particularly MechWarriors and aerospace pilots, are transferred to the scientist caste.
Due to the importance of their role in any Clan's eugenics program, scientists have a great deal of unofficial power in most Clans, and are generally regarded as second only to warriors. A measure of this power is indicated by the fact that scientists are the only caste allowed - under specific circumstances - to overrule warriors. Another privilege tolerated by the warrior caste is the awarding of labnames to scientists credited with some notable achievement or skill, though these monikers are disdained by other castes and they are rarely referred to by such names.
Despite the scientists' wielding of considerable power within the Clans, the warriors have always enforced their own rule over Clan society, and on occasion have been forced to remind the scientists of their place. The one attempt by the scientist caste to displace the warriors - The Society's revolt during the Wars of Reaving - was brutally crushed.
As of 3062, there were 73,820,000 Clan scientists, or 6.41% of the Clans' population, and they were the longest lived with an average life span of 79.6 years. The head of a Clan's scientist caste is known the Scientist-General.
The technicians serve all of the other castes, maintaining machinery, weapons, computers and vehicles. Most technicians work with warriors, and make up the majority of crew members aboard DropShips, JumpShips and WarShips. Other sub-castes include computer programmers, armorers and electricians. Many "test-downs" from the warrior caste end up as technicians.
As of 3062, the technician caste had an overall population of 90,635,000, or 7.87% of the Clans' total population, and an average life expectancy of 62.7 years. The head of a Clan's technician caste is the Master Technician.
The merchant caste's role in a Clan is the acquisition or manufacturing of all materials and goods necessary for their Clan's survival; within the merchant caste is a wide variety of occupations, including artisans, machinists, and free-traders.
Unsurprisingly, those Clans with the strongest economies also tend to have the strongest toumans. Despite this and the essential role that the merchants play in their Clan's affairs, the warrior caste in most Clans treats the merchants with disdain and suspicion, or even outright hostility (particularly within Clans Widowmaker and Smoke Jaguar). Clan Diamond Shark is the chief exception to this rule, with the merchants at times gaining equal or even greater respect than the warriors.
One way the warrior caste maintains supremacy over the merchants is through interstellar travel. While the merchant caste controls their own nonmilitary vessels, including technician and laborer crews, they are often pressed into military service, with a warrior captain placed in command of the ship. Likewise, any vessel traveling outside Clan space is supposed to be accompanied by a warrior observer with the power to overrule the merchant captain's decision. Since the Clan's expansion into the Inner Sphere though, a lack of warriors trained for the task means the requirement is often ignored.
The merchant caste was the second-largest caste in 3062, accounting for 18.58% of the total Clan population with 213,976,500 members, and merchants enjoyed an average life expectancy of 71.9 years. The head of a Clan's merchant caste is known as the Merchant Factor.
The largest caste in population, making up two-thirds of Clan civilization, the laborers are also considered the bottom level of Clan society. The laborer caste encompasses miners, farmers, dockworkers, builders, and other providers of poorly educated but highly skilled labor. Despite their lowly status, the laborers are as essential as any other caste, and without their efforts Clan society would collapse utterly. Elementals who test out of the warrior caste are often reassigned as laborers, due to their enhanced physical strength and endurance.
As of 3062, the laborer caste had an overall population of 772,979,000, or 67.12% of the Clans' total population, but their life expectancy was little better than warriors' at an average of 57.8 years. The head of a Clan's laborer caste is the Senior Laborer.
Officially nonexistent, the Dark or Bandit Caste is the dumping ground (or haven) for malcontents, rebels or criminals who cannot or will not fit into Clan society. Forced to fend for themselves, some Dark Caste communities simply eke out a nomadic living on the margins of Clan society, while self-styled "Bandits" act as their defenders and conduct stealthy raids upon Clan enclaves and bases for supplies.
Clan Burrock maintained a parasitic relationship with the Dark Caste until that Clan's Absorption in 3059. For other Clans, Bandit Caste warbands or Dark Caste groups are simply targets to be exterminated. Some cynics have claimed that the Dark Caste is permitted to exist as a means of giving the warrior caste easy targets to practice on.
Escorpion Imperio Castes
Following their Abjurement from the Clan Homeworlds in 3079, Clan Goliath Scorpion migrated to Nueva Castile and established the Escorpión Imperio. While most of the population was assigned to one of the five traditional castes, some were placed within two new castes established specifically by the Imperio's new leadership.
Members of the support caste handle administrative duties within the Imperio, including supply, emergency services, and procurement.
More commonly known as the "grunt" caste, this new social strata was created for the majority of Castilian and Umayyad soldiers, who were considered unworthy of joining the warrior caste. Consisting primarily of conventional armor and non-battle armored infantry, the garrison caste performs security and police duties as well as assisting with planetary defense.
- Wolf Clan Sourcebook, p. 13
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 35-36, "The Caste System"
- Classic BattleTech RPG, p. 189
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 34
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 70-97, "The Clans"
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 36
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 41, "Scientist Labnames"
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 35
- Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 101
- Invading Clans, p. 50-51
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 76
- MechWarrior's Guide to the Clans, p. 72-73
- Classic BattleTech RPG, p. 81
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 28-29, "The Dark Caste"
- Wolf Clan Sourcebook, p. 15
- Interstellar Players 3: Interstellar Expeditions, p. 46, "Support Caste"
- Interstellar Players 3: Interstellar Expeditions, p. 47, "Grunt Caste"