The fictional Clans of BattleTech were originally the self-exiled remnants of the Star League army, after Amaris the Usurper brought about the downfall of the Star League. General Aleksandr Kerensky led his forces beyond the Inner Sphere because he believed that a terrible war was brewing between the Great Houses; a war that even the once mighty Star League army was powerless to stop. The exiles evolved into a warrior-based civilization that would sweep through the Inner Sphere like a whirlwind 250 years later.
- 1 History
- 2 List of clans
- 2.1 Clan Blood Spirit
- 2.2 Clan Burrock
- 2.3 Clan Cloud Cobra
- 2.4 Clan Coyote
- 2.5 Clan Diamond Shark
- 2.6 Clan Fire Mandrill
- 2.7 Clan Ghost Bear
- 2.8 Clan Goliath Scorpion
- 2.9 Clan Hell's Horses
- 2.10 Clan Ice Hellion
- 2.11 Clan Jade Falcon
- 2.12 Clan Jade Wolf
- 2.13 Clan Mongoose
- 2.14 Clan Nova Cat
- 2.15 Clan Sea Fox
- 2.16 Clan Smoke Jaguar
- 2.17 Clan Snow Raven
- 2.18 Clan Star Adder
- 2.19 Clan Steel Viper
- 2.20 Clan Widowmaker
- 2.21 Clan Wolf
- 2.22 Clan Wolf-in-Exile
- 2.23 Clan Wolverine
- 3 Culture
- 3.1 Bloodnames
- 3.2 Clan Honor
- 3.3 Castes
- 3.4 Wardens and Crusaders
- 3.5 Trials
- 4 Ranks
- 5 Language
After months of deliberation, Aleksandr convened most of the Star League forces still loyal to him (over 80%) and departed the Inner Sphere. After years of traveling, the massive flotilla of Star League refugees came upon five marginally habitable worlds, the so-called Pentagon Worlds due to their near-pentametric relation to each other. There Kerensky's followers tried to forge life as they knew it once again, and for a time it seemed the Star League would still exist, far away from Terra, although this was not to be. Within a year, cracks were beginning to form along faction lines and soon the Pentagon Worlds were at war: an eerie parallel to the carnage unfolding concurrently in the Inner Sphere, a conflict now known as the 1st Succession War. At this, Aleksandr prepared to gather the precious few troops still loyal to him, when he suffered a massive stroke and as his dying wish, Kerensky left the reigns of the Exile Star League in the hands of his son, Nicholas. Kerensky's son took 800 of his best warriors and 600 civilian families away to a planet known as Strana Mechty ("land of dreams" in Russian) where he forged a new order. This order was known as the Clans. Those who possessed exceptional military skill became the breeding stock of what would become a hereditary ruling class. They embodied the pinnacle of combat prowess, and were put through a variety of competitive and selective processes with each generation to produce virtual supersoldiers. They were charged to protect the weak and powerless, but primarily to take back the Pentagon Worlds and some day, the Inner Sphere, where they, the Clans, would reinstate the glorious Star League.
In the beginning there were twenty clans, each with forty warriors. Over time, three clans were Absorbed (Widowmaker, Mongoose, Burrock), two were Annihilated (Wolverine and Smoke Jaguar), one was Abjured (Nova Cat), another was split in two (Wolf), and two eventually merged with Inner Sphere nations (Ghost Bear and Snow Raven, respectively). Today, the Clans as they are known are almost wholly unrecognizable compared to their forebears. Taunted by fate and corrupted by power, many Clans have fallen into darkness, although a few still dwell in the light.
List of clans
Clan Blood Spirit
One of the smallest of Clans; isolationist but with some elite warriors.
Principal enemies of the Clan Blood Spirits. The Burrocks were Absorbed by Clan Star Adder in 3058, when it became known that the Khans of the Burrocks had been secretly dealing with members of the Bandit (Dark) Caste for nearly a century. The Burrock Absorption was interrupted by an unexpected invasion by the enraged Blood Spirits, resulting in severe casualties to all three Clans involved.
Clan Cloud Cobra
Founded by Windham Khatib, the so-called Pope-in-Exile, the Cloud Cobras are the center of religious activity in the Clans. Khatib formed the beginnings of the Clan religious movement known simply as 'the Way' which focuses on finding common ground between all religions.
A tradition minded Warden Clan bearing cultural stylings of the ancient Terran Native Americans, the Coyotes were once among the most powerful and largest of Clans, having exclusive control of five worlds and partial control of many others in the Kerensky Cluster. Inventors of the OmniMech (among other things), Coyote scientists are renowned for their brilliance. Today, they are a shadow of their once resplendent Clan.
Clan Diamond Shark
Clan Diamond Shark is the only clan to ever change it's Kerensky-given name. Originally called Sea Fox after a marine mammal, the Sea Fox was wiped nearly to extinction by a vicious predator purposely introduced to the ecosystem by Clan Snow Raven to disgrace them. This prompted the clan to alter their name to that of the predator, the Diamond Shark. They were a reserve Clan during the invasion and only captured one Inner Sphere world, Nyserta, before being defeated on Tukayyid. Nyserta was then lost to the Ghost Bears, leading to a renewal of Warden sentiments in the Clan leadership. This Clan is mercantile in its dealings, an intermediary between many Clans and advancer of scientific and mercantile breakthroughs. A predominantly Warden clan, the Diamond Sharks are known for their liberal attitudes, toleration of freeborns, caste intermingling, and free-thinking ways that are unparalleled in the Clans. Clan Diamond Shark changed its name back to Sea Fox in 3100
Clan Fire Mandrill
A fractured Crusader clan. The Fire Mandrills are divided into a number of Kindraa (Kindred Associations) based upon Bloodnames. Unlike the Cloud Cobras, this factionalism has cost the Fire Mandrills much and are often hard-pressed to deal with outsiders due to their internal strife. The Kindraas are: Kindraa Sainze, Kindraa Faraday-Tanaga, Kindraa Payne, Kindraa Mattila-Carrol, Kindraa Beyl-Grant, Kindraa Kline, and Kindraa Mick-Kreese (Goulet).
Clan Ghost Bear
Powerful Clansmen, the Ghost Bears are known for their conservative nature and their strong sense of family. They joined the original Clan invasion in 3050 and seized some forty worlds from the Free Rasalhague Republic and Draconis Combine. They won a minor victory against the ComGuards at the Battle of Tukayyid and bode their time since. During the Great Refusal on Strana Mechty, the Ghost Bears abandoned their Crusader beliefs and embraced the Warden Faction, leading them out of the Trial of Refusal being waged by the Inner Sphere. They subsequently relocated to the Inner Sphere, abandoning all their Clan holdings save for their enclave on Arcadia and their posting on Strana Mechty. They are a now a permanent feature of the Inner Sphere and have remained tranquil, save for a brief war with the Draconis Combine following the latter's attack on their capital, Alshain. Currently they have merged with the InnerSphere faction Free Rasalhague Republic to form the Ghost Bear Dominion. It was the first true merger between a Clan and an Inner Sphere nation where the citizens treat the Clan Warrior caste as the rulers but the ruling warriors give free reign to their Rasalhague citizens. The Ghost Bear Khan holds the main power and there is Prince voted by the people to control all matter concerning the population.
Clan Goliath Scorpion
Staunch Wardens, the Goliath Scorpions value precision over brute force, while believing strongly in visions and quests. They take Necrosia, based on the venom of the goliath scorpion to aid in these visions. This Clan believes in looking to the past in order to rebuild the Star League, piece by piece. They are fiercely devoted to Clan Wolf. Many claim within the Clans if not for their visions and quests they would be an extremely powerful force to be reckoned with. Their unique organizational scheme within their touman (even more detailed than the Jade Falcons) and knowledge of the old Star League Defense Force strategy and tactics would make them a well-oiled engine of destruction. It was their Heartvenom Cluster (Cateran cluster formation with Command Trinary, two Specialist Trinary, Battle Trinary, and Striker Trinary) trained Wolf's Dragoons before they left the Inner Sphere and made them an elite unit capable of handling any operation. Goliath Scorpion was also the first clan to begin development of Battle Armor. Early designs were based on underwater mining suits. Clan Wolf then perfected these early designs, which led to the production of the Elemental which became the prominent Battle Armor for the Clans.
Clan Hell's Horses
A mixed Clan led by Crusaders, but with a large Warden makeup, the Hell's Horses are unusual for their heavy use of conventional (non-'Mech) forces and their beliefs favoring men over machines. Passionate and brave, the Hell's Horses succeeded where others thought they would fail. Their toleration of freeborns is a rarity among the Clans, especially among Crusaders. Though they did not participate in the invasion, they were given three worlds by Clan Wolf along their border with the Ghost Bears, the Hell's Horses sworn enemies. The Hell's Horses attempted to invade the Ghost Bear Dominion while the Bears were busy fighting the Draconis Combine. The retaliation cost the Hell's Horses much, the three worlds given to them were lost and the Hell's Horses had to pull back from the Inner Sphere. After a tentative peace with the Ghost Bears, the Hell's Horses launched a successful invasion of Wolf and Jade Falcon occupation zones. Their plan to transplant their entire population, much like the Ghost Bear's shift was discovered and eventually led to the Clan civil war that separated the Inner Sphere Clans from their homeworld brethren.
Clan Ice Hellion
A fierce Crusader Clan renowned for their swift assaults, Clan Ice Hellion often grasps for prizes beyond their reach. Nearly destroyed twice by civil war, the Clan has never been as unified as their brothers. After failing to win a place in the invasion and having been defeated in the Great Refusal on Strana Mechty, some push for a return to the Inner Sphere while others wish to expand their holdings in Clan Space. The Ice Hellions attempted a foray into the Inner Sphere but were beaten off.
Clan Jade Falcon
The strictly traditionalist Crusaders of Clan Jade Falcon have long resented and been envious of Clan Wolf for their strength, holdings, and (most of all) possession of the coveted Kerensky Bloodname. The Jade Falcons participated in the initial invasion and seized many Lyran worlds from the Federated Commonwealth. Achieving a draw with the ComGuards on Tukayyid, they schemed and plotted to undo the Truce. They were nearly destroyed by their Refusal War with the Wolves in an attempt to do just that. They lost many warriors and both of their Khans in subsequent politicking. Their new Khan launched a daring strike at Coventry in the Lyran Alliance and managed to restore the Jade Falcons' strength by winning possession of other Crusader units in the Harvest Trials. The Jade Falcons beat the Com Guards during the Great Refusal on Strana Mechty and then pushed the Steel Vipers out of their Occupation Zone; after that, they seized (and lost) several more Lyran worlds during the FedCom Civil War. They still eye Terra and have not given up all hope of claiming it. In 3132, seeing an opportunity caused by the collapse of the HPG network, the Falcons have made an incursion into the Republic of the Sphere.
Clan Jade Wolf
A short-lived Clan, the Jade Wolves existed briefly between the Absorption War between the Wolves and Jade Falcons, and when Khan Vlad Ward returned his Clan to full active status as the Wolves.
The Mongoose home planet of Shadow was also where the clan's name originated. The name was adopted from the animal that killed the dangerous Venom Worms which were a great threat to humans, and as such endeared the mongoose to the clan. No longer in existence. Absorbed by Clan Smoke Jaguar for attempting to use their words of Nicholas Kerensky to sidestep a Grand Council ruling that ran against them. Being then deemed unfit to rule, by the Grand Council, the Council called a Trial of Absorption. Already weakened by a conflict with the Star Adders, Clan Mongoose fell before the Smoke Jaguars and their genetic legacies were acquired by the Cloud Cobras. Approximately 11 genetic legacies were acquired by Cloud Cobra, but the exact number cannot be confirmed due to the disarray Clan Mongoose was left in after the Trial of Absorption by the Smoke Jaguars. This also left the Bloodnames of the Mongoose Touman in Cloud Cobra's hands, although insufficient records has left the legacies of Mongoose Touman identities questionable, even to the present day.
Clan Nova Cat
A Warden Clan, the Nova Cats are known for their mystic ways and are governed by visions. They ignored such visions when they joined the attack on the Inner Sphere and shared the Smoke Jaguars invasion corridor. They were defeated on Luthien, then on Tukayyid. This caused the Nova Cats to heed a new vision that encouraged them to join with the Draconis Combine and the Inner Sphere against the Smoke Jaguars. They joined with the new Star League in driving the Jaguars out of the Inner Sphere and joined them again on Strana Mechty during the Great Refusal. For this, they were Abjured by the other Clans and forced to leave Clan Space under fire and resettled in the Irece Prefecture of the Draconis Combine. The abjuration often shrouds the Nova Cats' previous fame as excellent marksman (they often competed with the Goliath Scorpions to see what Clan had the best sharpshooters), and as the developers of the Extended-Range Laser technology used by all Clans.
Clan Sea Fox
Original name of clan Diamond Shark. Clan Sea Fox and Clan Snow Raven had a falling out, and in response Clan Snow Raven created the Diamond Shark, a predator designed solely to hunt and kill the Sea Foxes in Strana Mechty's oceans. After most of the Sea Foxes had been killed, Clan Sea Fox petitioned the council to change its name to Clan Diamond Shark. Several Sea Foxes were preserved by the Clan and placed on other worlds, where they flourished. As a result, Clan Diamond Shark has recently changed its name back to Clan Sea Fox in 3100. Clan Diamond Shark has since its inception relied heavily on its Merchant caste, giving them more power than most clans. Though many believe them to be weak because of their democratic attitudes to their lower castes, the Diamond Sharks maintain one of the largest and most elite militaries among the clans. After the Jihad, the Diamond Sharks were forced to move to the Inner Sphere along with many of its fellow Clans, changing its name back to Sea Fox. Having few worlds of their own, Clan Sea Fox is a nomad trader Clan who all reside on giant ArcShips and CargoShips roaming throughout space.
Clan Smoke Jaguar
Clan Smoke Jaguar is easily the most violent and aggressive of all the Clans. They are, however, not as brash and headstrong as Clan Jade Falcon; they are quicker to battle, but are also quicker to think before acting. This made a deadly combination, and Clan Smoke Jaguar was quite a strong Clan, however Clan Smoke Jaguar didn't have the immensity of the larger Clans or the autonomy of Clan Ghost Bear to support its claim. As such, Clan Smoke Jaguar was dangerous in combat, but never a serious contender for the Il-Clan (ruling Clan).
Clan Smoke Jaguar joined Clan Jade Falcon in the campaign for the Clan Invasion. They were amongst the first Clans to launch into the Invasion, although they did not rush headlong into the battle like Clan Jade Falcon did. The Jaguar's deliberated on the situation for a time, choosing not to invade Lyran Commonwealth territory, closest to the Jaguar's, as the Falcons had, but rather to cross to the other side of the Outer Rim and launch an offensive against the Draconis Combine. The Jaguars penetrated deep into the Inner Sphere, but as mentioned before, they did not have the autonomy to maintain proper defence. A lot of claimed territory was lost when the Draconis Combine turned on the offensive. Clan Smoke Jaguar was in great peril, however Clan Ghost Bear soon followed the Jaguars into Draconis Combine territory. With a new threat, the Draconis Combine was forced into a defensive stance once more, and Smoke Jaguar returned to the offensive with the combined might of Clan Ghost Bear.
Clan Smoke Jaguar and Clan Ghost Bear came very close to Terra(Earth), however when the Clans were defeated at The Battle of Tukayyid and Clan Ghost Bear greatly weakened, they turned their attention to driving a straight line to Terra, leaving Clan Smoke Jaguar to handle the Draconis Combine on its own. Without the protection of Clan Ghost Bear, and with little improved autonomy, Clan Smoke Jaguar was forced to take a defensive stance once more, and the Clan was also weakened from Tukayyid. Although they did not concede any territroy, they gave the Draconis Combine time to recuperate from the shattering offensive. When the war between Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Wolf was over, Clan Wolf retreated towards the Outer Rim, leaving the remaining Clans to defend the abandoned worlds, causing the Clans, including the already wounded Clan Smoke Jaguar, to spread its forces paper thin. When the Inner Sphere reformed the Star League in the face of the Clan threat, they launched the biggest Inner Sphere offensive against the Clans. Operation Serpent, led by General Ariana Winston of the elite Eridani Light Horse mercenary brigade; secretly attacked the Smoke Jaguar homeworld of Huntress. Meanwhile Operation Bulldog led by Prince Victor Steiner-Davion attacked the frontlines forcing the Smoke Jaguar to fight a two front war. When Bulldog got to Huntress, they found Operation Serpent a success; however General Winston had died. After the annihilation of Clan Smoke Jaguar, Victor led the new Star League to the seat of all clan power, Strana Mechty to stop the clan invasion once and for all.
Clan Snow Raven
Founded by Stephen McKenna (a distant relative of the famous James McKenna who hailed from the Terran Hegemony), the Snow Ravens are a complicated Clan that have taken a unique path due to several catastrophes in their early history. Famed for their heavy use of naval assets as well as their conniving and efficient nature, the Snow Raven Clan, despite being mistrusted and misunderstood by other Clans has nonetheless risen to power as one of the more powerful Clans in the past decade.
Clan Star Adder
Considered to be one of the most powerful Home Clans (a Clan that did not participate in the Inner Sphere Invasion), the Star Adders can now also be considered to be among the most powerful of all the Clans, rivaling even an Invading Clan like Jade Falcon or Ghost Bear and even surpassing Clan Wolf in terms of raw military power, thanks largely to their relatively easy absorption of Clan Burrock. However, despite essentially having the strength of two Clans at their disposal, the Star Adders are still considered to be somewhat lacking when compared to an Invading Clan in terms of raw materials and industrial potential since they can only rely on their Clan Homeworlds holdings while the Invading Clans have the vast resources of their conquered Inner Sphere worlds to draw upon. While the Star Adders espouse a Crusader philosophy, they stress the need for inter-Clan cooperation and a tolerant attitude for freeborns that is more commonly found among Warden clans. Strategists rather than tacticians, the Star Adders are unusual for their meticulous nature, though their successes speak for themselves. With their Absorption of the Burrocks, they gained an incredible boon as other Clans were falling in size and stature.
Clan Steel Viper
A perplexing Clan that is overall considered Warden, but is home to some of the staunchest Crusaders and anti-freeborn warriors in the Clans. They have a brutal training course and a strange belief that the Star League will be re-established through cooperation with the Great Houses. Regardless of this, they participated in the invasion force, shared the Jade Falcon's invasion corridor, and were defeated on Tukayyid. They were eventually forced out of the Inner Sphere all together by the Jade Falcons.
Once absorbed by Clan Wolf for a brutal crackdown on dissenting merchants that proved their inability to rule. During their Trial of Refusal against the Absorption, the Widowmaker Khan slew ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky, which lead to a grueling trial of Absorption that spelled the end of the Widowmakers.
The chosen Clan of Kerensky, the pre-Refusal War Wolves had always been a dominant force in the Clans since their beginning. They Annihilated the Wolverines, Absorbed the Widowmakers, and proved themselves expert warriors. They also perfected the Elemental body armor. They led the Wardens in the Grand Council and were the only Clan to oppose the Invasion in 3050. Although they lost a Trial of Refusal against the motion to invade the Inner Sphere, they participated in it nonetheless and soon outdid all other Clans in seizing more worlds and at a faster pace than any other Clan. Their holdings were mostly taken from the Free Rasalhague Republic and the Lyran half of the Federated Commonwealth. Their capture of Rasalhague cemented their leadership in the Invasion and after the original ilKhan died, a Wolf Clan Khan replaced him. The Wolf ilKhan orchestrated the Trial of Tukayyid and Clan Wolf was one of only two Clans to prevail, the other being Clan Ghost Bear who were awarded a "marginal" victory. Nevertheless, the Wolves were the ones who helped convince the other clans to adhere to the terms when the Trial was lost. They all but destroyed themselves in preventing the Jade Falcons from breaking the truce by instigating a Trial of Refusal (of a scale never before seen outside of a Trial of Annnihilation against an entire Clan that this particular Trial of Refusal would be forever referred to as the "Refusal War") against the Jade Falcons. As a result of this war, the Wolves were split into two factions, the Crusader Wolves led by Vlad Ward and the Warden Wolves led, into self-imposed exile, by Phelan Kell. The latter left Clan controlled space and went to Arc-Royal in the Lyran Alliance and guarded the border against any Clan incursions. The other Wolves remained, despite an initially successful Jade Falcon attempt to Absorb them that was effectiviely made moot with the creation of the Jade Wolves, an offshoot of Clan Jade Falcon made up of captured Wolf warriors who were "absorbed" into the Jade Falcons. The Jade Wolves later changed their name by dropping the "Jade" part and simply going by "Wolf", effectively usurping the name of the original or pre-Refusal War Clan Wolf. These Crusader Wolves rebuilt their strength and have declared themselves the only Crusader Clan not bound by the Crusader's defeat during the Great Refusal. Once the Fifteen-Year Truce of Tukayyid expires in May of 3067, the Wolves will be on the prowl once more. As with the original incarnation of Clan Wolf, the Crusader Wolves consider the planet Tamar as their capital. It was the scouring of Tamar that made the Clans realize that they too would come under attack by the Word of Blake fanatics and had to fight back. During the Jihad the Wolves leapt across Jade Falcon borders to assist worlds under attack.
The Warden faction of Clan Wolf was led into the Inner Sphere by then-saKhan Phelan Ward during the Refusal War with Clan Jade Falcon. After this break-away faction of Wolves were Abjured by the Grand Council, Khan Phelan Ward lost his Bloodright to the Ward surname. However thanks to one of his final acts as ilKhan, Ulric Kerensky created a new Bloodname Kell. Clan Wolf-in-Exile settled on Phelan's original homeworld of Arc-Royal where his father, Morgan Kell, was the Grand Duke. Clan Wolf-in-Exile provided a strong defense for the newly-formed Arc Royal Defense Cordon against future Clan Jade Falcon incursions, most notably fighting alongside Lyran Alliance troops during the FedCom Civil War. During the Jihad the Wolf-in-Exile forces took in Wolf's Dragoons whose home planet, Outreach, was annihilated by the Blakists.
The Wolverines were among the most vocal critics of Nicholas Kerensky's authoritarian rule over the Clans. Official Clan histories state that they were Annihilated for espousing anti-Clan sentiments, such as democracy and independence, but the reality is somewhat different. Many Clans were suffering internal strife at the time of the Clan Wolverine incident, and Nicholas saw that the Clans as a whole were on the brink of rebelling against his authority. The Wolverines served as both object lesson and common enemy against whom the other nineteen Clans could unite.
Clan Wolf carried out the Grand Council's sentence against Khan Sarah McEvedy and her Clan. What started out as a Trial of Absorption became a Trial of Annihilation when Clan Wolverine used a nuclear weapon on Clan Snow Raven's genetic repository. Later investigation strongly suggested that some Clan Wolverine members - predominantly civilians and second-line troops had been able to flee. Officially put down to bad bookkeeping, the whereabouts and disposition of any survivors remains unknown.
See: Wolverine Treachery
Clan society has developed entirely separate from the Inner Sphere, and has a number of quirks.
Bloodnames are one of the more unique institutions of the Clans. When the Clans were founded and their breeding program started, surnames were done away with (after the first generation of warriors), and an ordeal called a Trial of Bloodright was established to allow eligible warriors to win the surnames of the original warriors that founded the Clans.
The surnames were termed Bloodnames, and were traced matrilineally through mitochondrial DNA. Being a descendant of a person with a bloodline gives the person eligibility to enter in the trial rather than the right to use the surname without winning a trial. Each Bloodname can be held by a maximum of 25 warriors at any one time. Some Bloodnames have fewer than 25 holders, due to a process called a reaving.
When a clan takes a bondsman who is then reinstated as a warrior, the warrior is still eligible for competing for their bloodname, or may already have a bloodname. This has caused most bloodnames to spread to other clans from their original clan. However, some clans have declared some of their bloodnames exclusive, not allowing them to be claimed by warriors from other clans that have a legitimate claim. For example, Clan Wolf claims exclusive control over the Kerensky bloodname.
Examples of Exclusive Bloodnames:
- Kerensky (Clan Wolf),
- Schmitt (Clan Blood Spirit),
- Zalman (Clan Steel Viper),
- Pryde (Clan Jade Falcon),
- Kell (Clan Wolf-in-Exile),
Examples of Non-exclusive Bloodnames:
Although any form of surname outside the warrior caste is frowned upon, the scientist caste secretly assigns surnames to people who make great scientific contributions. The surnames are after great historical scientists (Newton, Watson, etc.) and have nothing to do with the persons genealogy.
The Clans as a whole adhere to a fairly strict honor system, encapsulated in a set of rules known as Zellbrigen. While some Clans are far more strict and conservative than others, all Clans follow this concept of Honor to some extent. Among other things, this code exhorts personal ability and efficiency above all. It formalizes most combats and many decision-making processes into a set of Trials, such as Trials of Position to earn rank, Trials of Possession to claim a resource held by another, and Trials of Refusal to legally refute the order of a superior officer or ruling body. It also encourages proxy battles and token fights in the form of a bidding process to minimize the forces involved in combat, and duels to minimize actual fighting while again emphasizing individual combat prowess. The Clan Honor rules also discourage any type of involvement of non-combatants in combat, and strongly discourage wasting resources (such as urban areas, factories, and starports) in combat.
The Inner Sphere's typical lack of adherence to honor, and willingness to go to almost any lengths to win, are the primary reasons the Clans declared them to be "Barbarians". Many Clans now refuse to follow the rules of honor against Inner Sphere foes, or even against the "rebel" Clans (Wolf-in-Exile and Nova Cat) that "betrayed" the Clans as a whole by defecting to the Inner Sphere.
- "Five, Nicholas proclaimed, was the foundation
- Upon which our true society was to be built.
- Laborers to till the land, to do the tasks:
- They shall have our undying gratitude,
- For they are the muscle behind us all.
- Merchants to buy and sell with fairness:
- They shall have our commerce and respect,
- For they are the bones upon which we are built.
- Technicians to build and fix the machines:
- They shall have our admiration,
- For they are the fingers with which we grasp life.
- Scientists to create and discover:
- They shall have our awe and our attention,
- For they are the mind of our society.
- And above all, the Warriors who protect:
- They shall have our cooperation and worship,
- For they are the blood and soul of us all."
- - The Remembrance
Clan society is based on a strict caste system. Births between members of two different castes are frowned upon. Any children born are locked into that caste (i.e. the child of two technicians will become a technician) unless they do not qualify during training. The five castes are the Warriors, Scientists, Merchants, Technicians, and Laborers, with the Warriors being the most prestigious. Among other things, the Warriors act as the military, police force, and rulers of the entirety of Clan society. The only Clan where a different caste is held in esteem comparable or possibly even greater than the Warriors is Clan Diamond Shark (formerly Clan Sea Fox), where Warrior-Traders are fairly common and Merchants are now the de facto rulers.
Castes are further broken down into sub-castes. So within the warrior caste are the infantry sub-caste, mechwarrior sub-caste and fighter pilot sub-caste among others. This is important for the warrior caste since each sub-caste requires different attributes and hence different gene-pools.
Washing out of a caste will usually mean demotion to a lesser caste. This is usually the case with warriors but can happen to others, for example a scientist caste child with learning difficulties. This demotion fulfils the clan ideal of reusing or recycling all resources and avioding waste. The demoted person is supposed to embrace their new caste, and usually do with exceptions.
The warrior caste is the most powerful of the castes, however the pros of this power is countered by the harsh environment the warriors have compared to the other castes, one reason for the other casts not rebelling is because they see how tough the warriors life is. The vast majority of warriors proudly trace their lineage directly to the 800 Bloodnamed. Each looks like the product of the genetic breeding program. Clan MechWarriors are robust, with lightning-quick reflexes and quicker intelligence. Fighter pilots are thin, their heads disproportionately large and with far-seeing eyes. Elementals, the Clan infantry, are huge, unusually strong soldiers possessed of grace and speed far exceeding what is expected of people of such intimidating size.
The warrior caste's eugenics program is a completely alien means of reproduction. It seems cold and analytical, making no allowance for the passion and love we consider necessary to a full life. Warriors, however, gain great comfort and strength from their sense of belonging to the sibko, and from their unbroken lineage to Kerensky's 800. Each warrior's lineage is recorded in his codex, a copy of which is electronically stored in a band worn on his right forearm. A warrior's career, from his first sibko test to his dying oath, is recorded by the codex and analyzed by his Clan. If a warrior's deeds are judged worthy, his genetic material helps create the next generation. Failure means the termination of his or her line. It is little wonder that the drive to excel overshadows all other considerations.
Seldom do freebirths, those not born from the eugenics program, win a chance to join the warrior caste. Those who do are usually consigned to garrison and paramilitary police units, with little hope of advancing to a level where their genes would be incorporated into the warrior pool. This attitude does change from clan to clan, some being very oppressive and exclusive and some embracing freeborns more. The few freeborns that excel enough to be included into the eugenics program are necessary for introducing new material into the gene-pool.
The attrition rate for warrior training is extremely high throughout the entire training program, with slightly under a tenth graduating as a warrior. All drop-outs however are delegated to lesser castes. If they are clever enough they will become scientists, otherwise each sub-caste will have a lesser caste they are usually placed into. For instance, mechwarriors, pilots, and cavalry are often assigned to the Technician caste, because of their familiarity with the equipment; infantry are more often assigned to the Labourer caste.
The scientist caste has two responsibilities: continued technological development and genetic control of the population. The warriors' eugenics program naturally occupies a place of prime importance in their work. Assignment to the scientist caste is considered a high honor for civilians because it literally holds the future of the Clans in its hands. This caste is also responsible for educating and testing all freebirths.
The scientists caste is under control of the warrior caste, but it is usually allowed to operate without much interference or meddling, giving members of the scientist caste a freedom not seen in any other caste, including the warrior caste.
The merchant caste is powerful because it controls all commerce within the Clans. The merchants' economic power is held in check by the warrior caste's monopoly over JumpShip travel.
Though merchants own their own vessels, explicit laws require that all vessels carry warriors for protection and long journeys are allowed only with a naval escort. This arrangement effectively prevents merchants from gaining too much power.
The merchants still feel free, however, to indirectly criticize the warrior caste for the way the merchant caste's affairs are handled. Indeed, many suggest that the impetus for the invasion of the Inner Sphere originated in the merchant caste, which was eager to pursue new monetary endeavors. The merchants are the most rebellious of the lower castes, though some have suffered severe punishment for their protests. The Clan Widowmaker merchants, for example, precipitated an internal dispute with the warrior caste that ultimately led to the whole Clan's annihilation.
The technician caste is less defined than the others. In general, a member of the technician caste is responsible for the upkeep, repair, and operation of complicated equipment, including everything from a cyclotron to an agribot to a BattleMech. In fact, a technician's status in Clan society is directly related to the caste he is supporting. Thus, technicians assigned as support for a BattleMech Star are much higher in status than technicians assigned to maintain agribots, even though the two groups possess the same skills.
The laborer caste is both the largest and lowest-level caste in the official Clan hierarchy. This caste farms the fields, operates the factories, and provides all basic services. In short, it is composed of the common citizens, except for bondsmen.
This caste is not recognized by Clan society, yet it exists. Referred to as either the dark caste or bandit caste, it supports the failures of Clan society, the unwanted, and the rejects. The dark caste has no voice in Clan affairs because their group is not sanctioned.
Clan literature is filled with stories of malcontents who fled to the bandit caste and came to unsavory ends. Bandit caste atrocities are the stuff of legends, but it is difficult to believe that the caste is strong enough to be more than a minor nuisance to the Clans.
Warriors who fail to test up or who grow too old to be of service sometimes slip away to this caste, as do scientists whose discoveries are deemed counterproductive to the Clans.
It is unknown whether the Clans allow the Bandit Caste to exist or not, but the caste serves two purposes. First, it is incentive to children to excel in their caste's profession to avoid needing to join the Bandit Caste if they are not deemed useful to the clan. Lastly, it provides an enemy, although a somewhat weak enemy, for the Warrior Caste to sharpen its skills against when a Bandit Caste settlement becomes strong enough to become enough of a nuisance.
Wardens and Crusaders
The Clans have adopted one of two philosophies. Some are Warden, believing their duty is to protect the Inner Sphere from outside aggression or from some internal disaster that warrants their intervention. Others are Crusaders and believe their destiny is to reclaim Terra and the Inner Sphere by force, re-establishing the Star League under Clan rule. The Clan Civil War separated the Occupation Zone clans from the Homeworld Clans.
Nicholas was determined that civil war would not claim his new society. Instead of banning warfare, which he considered part of human nature, he decided to control conflicts through regulations and rituals. Thus, the Six Trials of Combat were established.
Most trials begin with a ritual challenge called a formal challenge called a Batchall, where the challenger declares his/her name, the type of trial and other parameters depending on the type of trial. In most trials, the challenger and the challenged then perform bidding for the forces each will use in the battle. Each bid is less than the previous bid, causing both parties to keep undercutting each other until they reach the minimum amount of force. This is partly because to win with fewer forces is more glorious, but also minimizes the military waste created by the trial.
The trial is fought in a circle of equals. The circle is an area that the combat occurs in while peer warriors encircle the perimeter. During the trial no warrior can enter the circle of equals. The circle is usually a circle or sphere that has a radius of about five to ten meters for melee combat, two to five kilometres for ‘mech combat and about a hundred kilometres for aerospace combat. The circle of equals ensures no non-combatants are caught in the conflict, and in larger battles, there is no collateral damage to surrounding building and equipment.
In individual trials, such as a personal conflict between two warriors, there is no batchall. The warrior who is being challenged will decide if the fight will be augmented, meaning that two mechwarriors will fight in their mechs, or un-augmented, meaning a person to person fight using no weapons. The warrior who calls the challenge is allowed to choose the location of the fight. This may take place anywhere from a parade ground to a dropship. One example was when Phelan Ward, of Clan Wolf (a bondsman taken in battle, formerly known as Phelan Kell of the Kell Hounds) fought un-augmented against an elemental. He called for the challenge to take place in zero-g aboard a dropship in orbit.
Trial of Grievance
When disputes arise between individual warriors that neither they nor their immediate superiors can resolve, both warriors must petition to have their differences heard by the Clan Council (or the Grand Council if the opponents are Bloodnamed or hold important rank). Until the council rules, the disputants are bound by Clan law to avoid any unnecessary contact. This may be carried to the point of one transferring to another unit. If one takes aggressive action against the other before the council rules, or if he disagrees with the council's decision, he or she has committed a breach of Clan law punishable by expulsion into a lesser caste or out of Clan society entirely.
If the issue is not resolved by the council, the parties may then call for a Trial of Grievance. The rules governing the trial are many and strict. If the combatants are MechWarriors or fighter pilots of different weight-class vehicles, the council must make the contest more even. Often, a vehicle type that is mid-way in size is chosen, and the disputants have several weeks to become accustomed to their new vehicles. If the disputants are from different branches of the warrior caste, then some kind of a middle ground, such as fencing with Medusa whips, is chosen. If the combatents are completely different from physical form (such as an Elemental VS a Pilot) then they have to completely forget the trial of grievance.
The trial itself is judged by members of the council, who ensure that trial and combat etiquette is strictly heeded. A Circle of Equals is defined, anything from ten meters in diameter for a hand-to-hand trial to more than 100 kilometers wide for an air duel. No one but the combatants may enter the Circle of Equals unless invited, and leaving the Circle before the contest is ended is a shameful defeat. All trials are defined as to the death, but they usually end before either combatant is killed, the definition is supposed to dissuade Trials of Grievances being declared unnecessarily.
This system of decisions and regulations is designed to outlast the anger that sparked the trial, and that is usually the case. Some records indicate, however, that sometimes the anger between two warriors, or two sets of warriors, outlasts even the Trial of Grievance, degenerating into what we would call a feud. The most notorious and well-documented failure of the grievance trial system involved the Nicholas Pride sibko and the Blue Devil sibko of Clan Smoke Jaguar. The Blue Devil warriors maintained a grudge for several generations, based on an imagined slight during a Smoke Jaguar Council ceremony.
More commonly than a formal Trial of Greivance is the informal version. These usually involve single low-ranking warriors over issues that are not considered important. Immediately after the Batchall, the two engage in negotiations, which are themselves quick. The trial is immediately fought in an ad-hoc circle of equals simply drawn in the dirt. This informal procedure is illegal in clan law but not enforced, since to force all disputes to be formally resolved would cause to much of an administrative burden.
Trial of Position
Trials of Position are used to determine career advancement. There are three types of these trials.
A potential warrior's life in their sibko can be regarded as a series of Trials of Position.
The students demonstrate their current skills and those who aren’t at the level they should be at that time fail the trial. Failure at any of these trials causes the student to wash-out. They will leave their sibko and join another caste.
These trials are usually written exams during early childhood with possibly some practical demonstrations. Later in their development, the trials can be mock battles with sibkin, with instructors or mock battles between sibkos.
When somebody mentions a Trial of Position, they rarely mean this type since this is only applicable to schooling/training.
At the completion of military training, cadets must pass a final Trial of Position in order to enter the Warrior Caste called The Blooding. The trial involves a live-fire duel with warriors who will be the cadet’s peers if they defeat their opponent. This practice is done in the Inner Sphere but usually with simulated fire, although some severe factions of the Inner Sphere do this with live but powered-down weapons. The blooding is the only training battle that involves fully-powered weapons.
The use of live weapons for what is essentially an examination seems barbaric and wasteful of human life to those outside the Clans. An accident can easily cut short a promising career or life. It is one of the best examples of how little regard the Clans have for individual life in their quest for social supremacy. However the clansmen, who believe the cause is worth everything and the individual is worth nothing, see this as an issue of rationalising waste. This waste is justified since some cadets, though extremely brave throughout their upbringing, may shirk or not be able to think and react well under live-fire. The clan idea is that it is better to discover this in an artificial battle rather than during a real battle where their comrades' lives may be in jeopardy.
Each trial involves two cadets and six opponents in the one circle of equals. For each cadet is a set of three opponents, each opponent fighting one at a time in sequence. Defeating an opponent earns an imaginary kill. While an opponent’s cadet is engaged they will stay neutral, fighting only when it is their turn. If a neutral opponent is hit, either directly or accidentally, then all opponents become active and the trial becomes a free-for-all and the assignment of opponents on cadets is waived. Hence the opponents can engage any cadet and a cadet can defeat any opponent for a kill and a cadet can even earn a kill by defeating the other cadet in a free-for-all. There are also some other infractions by the cadets that can cause a free-for-all. Since the last thing a cadet wants is a free-for-all, cadets will try to ensure nothing happens that causes one and hence the free-for-alls are rare.
If a cadet doesn’t score a kill they are assigned to another caste and cannot retry the trial (with one exception). If they score a kill they are assigned the lowest rank of their sub-caste and for every kill after that they are moved up one rank. The first of their opponents will be a warrior of the lowest rank and each opponent after that is one rank above the previous, meaning that each opponent is a peer of the rank they are trying to achieve. Each successive opponent is also harder since the cadet will retain the damage sustained from the previous opponent. In ‘mech battles, the first has less tonnage, the second equal, the third more tonnage.
The maximum number of kills is four. Excepting a free-for-all, the only way to achieve this is to beat your three opponents and the other cadet surrenders one of their kills for you, this has only been achieved by Natasha Kerensky.
A warrior may be required to repeat this Trial later in their career if their continuing ability to perform is in question, as it was with Natasha Kerensky.
Most promotions are assigned by a commander without a trial, but sometimes a Trial of Position is held to determine if a warrior is ready for a promotion to a higher rank.
A rarer case of this is that if a commander has endangered their unit unnecessarily through incompetence or otherwise that they are severely unfit for duty, a subordinate can challenge the commander to a Trial of Position. This is similar to a Trial of Grievance except the command of the unit is a prize of the trial. The trial needs some concrete evidence of great ineptitude before a subordinate can make the challenge and is otherwise frowned upon. If the commander wins, he/she is guilt free. If the subordinate wins, the subordinate gains the commander's rank and unit and the commander is investigated. This practice is rare though and only occurs in extreme circumstances.
Trial of Bloodright
Trials of Bloodright determines the assignment of Bloodnames. Being a descendant of a bloodnamed warrior gives a warrior the right to participate in the trial to earn the bloodname (and due to the clan eugenics program, there are a lot of potential warriors for a particular bloodname at any given time).
By clan law, at any one time there are up to 25 active warriors with the same bloodname (there can be less due to reavings). When one dies, a Trial of Bloodright is held to determine who should replace the bloodnamed warrior.
The trial involves a single-elimination tournament of one-on-one combat duels. 32 candidates are chosen to compete for the bloodname, so a candidate can only win a bloodname by winning all five duels. The nature of the duels depends whether they are fighting for an elemental bloodname, mechwarrior bloodname or an aerospace bloodname.
Each member of a bloodname nominates one warrior for the trial with the head of the bloodname nominating the rest to form 31 candidates. A 32nd slot is given to any potential bloodname holder who isn’t nominated but wishes to compete for the bloodname, these warriors then have a single free-for-all battle to win the 32nd slot called a Grand Bloodname Melee.
Once a warrior achieves a bloodname, they may not participate in any other Trials of Bloodright; their bloodname is permanent and they can only have one. Hence some ambitious warriors may decline a nomination for a Trial of Bloodright if they hope to earn what they believe is a better bloodheritage.
A bloodname can be cut short one member through a process called a reaving. A reaving, if successful, cancels a Trial of Bloodright, which in turn ensures there is no replacement for the old member. A reaving is called if there is a perceived taint or weakness of a bloodname, however usually their reasons are political.
It is initiated by an accusation by a third party (usually another bloodname). The Clan Council then investigates and discusses the merits of the accusation and holds an internal vote over whether to proceed with the reaving or not. If the vote is in favour of the reaving, the reaving can then be cancelled by a Trial of Refusal, where the members of the bloodline fight the accusers for the right to hold the Trial of Bloodright.
Trial of Possession
This trial is to allow Clans to perform raids on each other while minimizing the military assets wasted in raids and eliminating collateral damage and danger to non-combatants.
Trials of Possession are between Clans over particular assets. The challenged can demand something of equal value that they will get if they make a successful defence. The prize can be anything from a piece of equipment (a ‘mech or a dropship), a quantity of material, an installation, a piece of territory, an entire planet or even just genetic material.
A circle of equals is created at a destination that serves as a proxy for the location of the prize. This proxy can even be on another planet. The circle of equals place is usually equivalent terrain to the location of the prize. It is always away from any assets that could become collateral damage and ensures no non-combatants are caught in the fighting.
This trial is needed to allow the Clans to compete for resources without quick unannounced raids, which will involve innocents and will damage surrounding assets and may even damage the prize that is fought over. Also the pre-battle bidding will reduce the amount of military force expended for the battle.
Trial of Refusal
The Clan council makes many decisions and laws using an internal vote. After a vote, the council member can challenge the decision to a Trial of Refusal. A council member with a losing vote fights a member with a winning vote. The forces applied in the trial depend on the importance of the decision.
The ratio of forces involved in the trial reflects the vote. For example, if the vote was won 2:1, then the winners can field a force double that of the losers. However after the pre-trial bidding, the ratio will be closer to even. The council members involved in the trial are determined by internal bidding. The member of a losing vote with a bid lower than the rest of the members with losing votes fights in the duel with their bid. Ditto for the members with the winning votes.
When the Comstar vessel was captured before the invasion of the Inner Sphere, a member of the Comstar crew asked what prevented a council member from casting a vote on the side they disagreed with if they knew it would lose so that, when they demanded a Trial of Refusal, the council member could bid an extremely low force that would definitely win the bidding but could not possibly win the trial. The suggestion that a warrior might consider this course of action was met with shock and frozen silence. One Loremaster refused any further interviews, and another prohibited the comstar officers from any contact with the warriors of his Clan. Such a breach of honor is clearly unthinkable.
An interesting variation of the Trial of Refusal is the Absorption Right. The Grand Council can vote to allow one Clan to absorb another, but only by a unanimous vote (excepting the Clan being absorbed). The council then determines which Clan will benefit from the Absorption. Naturally, the Clan to be absorbed would demand a Trial of Refusal. The Clan chosen to absorb the weaker Clan may also be challenged by others in a Trial of Refusal even before battling the Clan to be absorbed. The resulting trials can last for years. Wolf won the right to absorb Widowmaker in 2825, for example, but had to defeat three other Clans for that right.
The absorbing clan is usually much stronger in assets than it was before, but usually militarily much weaker due to the difficulty in subduing an entire clan, not to mention after winning several Trials of Refusal before that.
Trial of Annihilation
A Trial of Annihilation is the most extreme punishment the Clans can declare. It goes beyond the question of right and wrong. A Trial of Annihilation virtually guarantees that the warrior will die and that his genes will be eliminated from the Clans' gene pool. This trial can only be invoked by a unanimous vote of the appropriate council, and only for the most heinous crimes against Clan society.
Trials of Annihilation have been declared against warriors, Stars, and even Clusters, but only twice has an entire Clan suffered this ultimate punishment, and only one at the hands of the Clans themselves, (Clan Wolverine). This clan is known only as the 'not-named-clan' since saying its name out loud is punishable by a Trial of Grievance. The other Annihilated Clan, Clan Smoke Jaguar, was eliminated by the Star League Defense Force in 3060. Their destruction was swiftly followed by the Great Refusal on Strana Mechty, which both validated the Annihilation in the eyes of the Clans, and ended the Clan Wars with the Inner Sphere binding the Clans against invasion by honour.
The origin of the Stars
Nicholas Kerensky decided to do away with the old military rankings and organised the Clan military using units called Stars. Because (at least in Kerensky’s culture) normal stars are usually drawn with five points, the military Stars would consist of five units called Points.
The Points would be designated the numbers 1 to 5 and ranked on superiority, with 5 being lowest and 1 being highest. Point 1 is the most superior of the Points and hence the Point Commander of Point 1 is usually the Star Commander.
The strength and size of Points differ depending on the units that it is made of. A Point is either 1 ‘Mech, 2 Tanks, 2 Aerospace Fighters, 5 Protomechs, 5 Elementals/Battle-armored Infantry, 25 standard foot infantry, or can mean a section or work-crew on a Navy vessel. Hence a Star is either 5 ‘Mechs, 10 tanks, 10 Aerospace Fighters, 25 Protomechs, 25 Elementals, or 125 infantry.
Ranks and Units
|Star Commander||Star||5 Points|
|Nova||1 ‘Mech Star and 1 Elemental Star|
|Star Captain||Binary||2 Stars and/or Novas|
|Trinary||3 Stars and/or Novas|
|Super Nova||2 ‘Mech Stars and 2 Elemental Stars|
|Star Colonel||Cluster||4-5 Binaries, Trinaries and/or Super Novas|
|Galaxy Commander||Galaxy||3-5 Clusters|
|Point Commander||Commands a section or a work crew on a vessel|
|Star Commander||An executive officer or a department head on a vessel|
|Star Captain||Commands a dropship or a jumpship|
|Star Commodore||Equivalent to a Star Colonel, commands a squadron of dropships or jumpships, or a single warship|
|Star Admiral||Equivalent to a Galaxy Commander, commands either a major warship, or a star of warships|
In Clan Coyote and Clan Hell’s horses, commanders of a Nova have the rank Nova commander, which is one rank higher than Star commander; and commanders of a Super nova have the rank Nova captain, which one rank higher than Star captain.
The rank the warrior holds is used as their title unless they hold the lowest rank (for example, Star Commander Zane). If they are warriors, they have a title denoting their sub-caste. E.g. a warrior who pilots a vehicle will be called ‘crewman’, and aerospace pilot will be called ‘pilot’ and so-on (for example, Mechwarrior Aidan). Since the lowest Mechwarriors are Point commanders, they have the title of Mechwarrior instead of Point commander even though they have a Point commander rank.
Military command higher than Galaxy commander rests with the clan council. Each caste of a clan is governed by a caste council. The warrior caste council is also the clan council which rules the entire affairs of the clan and clan law. This council is self elected and is almost always made up of bloodnamed warriors.
When the clan requires military action above the small scale skirmishes that are Trials of Possession, the clan council becomes a Kurultai (War Council) and it elects from within a council member to become a Khan. The Khan (though having much more influence) can’t interfere with clan laws/society; that is still in the hands of the council. He/she is however commander of the entire clan’s military assets, including the touman (see below), and becomes the top of the military hierarchy that doesn’t exist without a Khan.
The first act of the Khan is to select a saKhan (junior Khan) from amongst the clan council members. The saKhan’s duties aren’t specifically defined. He/she is the second in command, performing any duties the Khan requires (like bidding or leading a campaign) but can’t do him/herself and enjoys a heightened status within clan society. The official term for the senior Khan of a clan is kaKhan, though this is rarely used (Khan with no prefix usually means the senior Khan).
When the clans face a time of crisis or all need to coordinate their efforts towards a common objective, each clan forms a Kurultai and the Khans from each clan then form a Grand kurultai. The Grand kurultai then internally elects a Khan to become the ilKhan who serves as an arbiter between Clans during the time of crisis, acting with the power of the Grand Council. The ilKhan enjoys wide-ranging but not absolute power, as he answers to the Grand Council. The ilKhan may not interfere with matters that are internal to a specific Clan. When the Martial code is in effect, however, the ilKhan may operate virtually unhindered.
Each clan has one of each of the following:
- The Loremaster is the keeper of Clan laws and history. The position is honorable and politically powerful. The Loremaster plays key role in inquiries and trials, where he is often assigned the role of Advocate or Interrogator. To determine who replaces a retired or deceased Loremaster, candidates engage in a one-on-one melee elimination tournament. The winner then sits a 'Forum of Law' where he/she is asked questions about Clan Law and Lore. If he passes he becomes the next Loremaster. If he fails the second place winner sits the Forum of Law and so on until one passes the Forum.
- The Oathmaster is a counterpart to the Loremaster in Clan tradition. That position is similar to that of an Inner Sphere sergeant-at-arms, but it carries a greater degree of respect. The Oathmaster administers all oaths, and the Loremaster records them. The position of Oathmaster is usually held by the oldest Bloodnamed warrior in a Clan (if he or she desired the honor), and is one of the few positions not decided by combat.
The Clans typically speak a dialect of Terran English; however, they disdain and avoid the use of contractions and similar practices in speech, with the exception of the ritualised contractions used specifically by the warrior caste.
Words and phrases from their dialect include:
- A warrior captured but then accepted into his new Clan as a warrior.
- The Batchall is the ritual by which Clan warriors issue combat challenges. Though the type of challenge varies, most begin with the challenger identifying himself, stating the prize of the contest, and requesting that the defender identify the forces at his disposal. The defender also has the right to name the location of the Trial. The two sides then bid for what forces will participate in the contest. The subcommander who bids to fight with the least number of forces wins the right and responsibility to make the attack. The defender may increase the stakes by demanding a prize of equal or lesser value if he wins. All batchalls and bids are closed and finale when the phrase "bargained well and done" is spoken by both members of the bid.
- The history of the Bloodnamed warriors of a particular Bloodright is called the Bloodheritage.
- The Bloodcount is the number of active Bloodrights associated with a particular Bloodname, and thus is the number of individuals that may hold that name at any given time. Traditonaly, this number is twenty-five, but it may be less in the case of inferior Bloodnames or Bloodheritages found useless or unworthy. In some cases, the Bloodcount has been known to drop as low as five. The process for reducing a Bloodcount is known as ‘Reaving’, and the process for increasing it is called ‘Propagation’, both of which demand an associated trial. A Bloodcount may also be reduced by Abjuration, or by decree of the ilKhan.
- Bloodname refers to the surname of each of the 800 warriors who stood with Nicholas Kerensky during the Exodus Civil War. The right to use one of these surnames has been the ambition of every Clan warrior since the system was established. Only a maximum of 25 warriors, depending on its Bloodcount, are allowed to use any Bloodname at one time. When one of the Bloodnamed warriors dies, a special Trial, called a Trial of Bloodright, is held to determine who will assume that Bloodname. A contender must prove his Bloodname lineage, then win a series of duels against other competitors. Only Bloodnamed warriors may sit on the Clan Councils or are eligible to become a Khan or ilKhan. Bloodnames are determined matrilineally, at least after the original generation. Because a warrior can only inherit from his or her female parent, he or she only has a claim to one Bloodname.
- A specific Bloodname lineage is called a Bloodright. Up to twenty-five Bloodrights are attached to each Bloodname. A Bloodright is not a lineage as we define the term because the warriors who successfully hold the Bloodright need be related only through their original ancestor. As with Bloodnames, certain Bloodrights are considered more prestigious than others, depending largely on the Bloodright’s history.
- A woven cord worn on the wrist to indicate the wearer's status as a bondsman. The color and highlighting indicate the Clan to which the wearer is bound and the capturing unit.
- The person that takes a Bondsman and is the primary determiner of when a Bondsman has fulfilled his Bond obligation.
- A prisoner taken during combat, of any caste or rank. Considered a member of the Laborer caste until freed or promoted back to active service. Custom indicates that any prisoner remain a bondsman for at least a token amount of time, even high-ranking and Bloodnamed warriors. Some Clans do not free bondsmen to certain castes, especially the Warrior caste.
- Ritual suicide to prevent becoming a Bondsman. The person performing Bondsref must have the permission of their Bondholder and perform said act before taking a Bondcord, otherwise the performer is considered Dezgra and their genes won't be used in the Clan breeding program.
- Someone or something that is either outside acceptable Clan culture or that challenges it.
- "Circle of Equals"
- The area in which a trial takes place. The area can be anywhere from a few meters across for personal combat, or thousands of kilometers across, or even span several worlds for large scale trials. A contestant that voulantarily leaves or is forced to leave the area is considered dishonorable or weak, and is disqualified. The area can be of any shape, though it is traditonaly a circle.
- The Codex is each warrior's personal record. It includes the names of the original Bloodnamed warriors from which a warrior is descended. It also records background information such as a warrior's generation number, Blood House, and Codex ID, an alphanumeric code noting the unique aspects of that person's DNA. The Codex also contains a record of the warrior's military career.
- A Contract is an agreement between the commanders of two units that allows the commander of one to include the units of the other in his bidding for rights to a battle or trial. During the invasion of the Inner Sphere, Cluster commanders within Galaxies frequently made contracts to allow greater, and often more extravagant, bidding, while still maintaining a good mix of Battlemech, Elemental, and fighter combat units.
- The lowest acceptable level of force that can be bid to take a military objective. To force a rivial to bid below Cutdown is considered to be either a mark of craftiness or just plain underhanded, depending who is asked. To win a battle with a force that is below the accepted Cutdown is considered to be a mark of superior skill.
- Adjective referring to the disgraced state of the subject, such as a unit that disgraced itself in battle, or a person or unit without honor. Units or persons marked as dezgra are not considered worthy of zellbrigen, so normal clan rules of combat can be suspended when facing such opponents. Also the noun referring to a ritual by which a unit is marked as Dezgra and punished.
- The leader of a Cloister.
- "Founder, The"
- The name the Clans use when referring to Nicholas Kerensky.
- Pejorative version of "Freeborn". Considered an insult and curse.
- A person born naturally, a person not born into the Clan genetics program.
- Victorious Clan warriors sometimes extend the courtesy of Hegira to defeated opponents. Hegira allows the opponent to withdraw honorably from the field without further combat or cost.
- A DNA sample taken posthumously from a warrior who died honorably in battle. Considered by custom superior to previous samples taken, and more likely to produce superior warriors.
- "Great Father, The"
- The name the Clans use for Alexander Kerensky.
- The spoils of battle taken by warriors. Includes Bondsmen as well as any military supplies, lands, or equipment taken.
- The unit which provides a Khan's bodyguard.
- Specific to Clan Fire Mandrill. Denotes a specific set of Bloodnames that have banded together for mutual protection. There are a number of these, each of which is in competition for resources, power, influence, and prestige with the others. This competition, in effect, creates a model of the Clans in miniature.
- "Martial Code, The"
- The Martial Code is a set of rules governing Clan actions during a time of war. It is designed to minimize the political maneuvering that normally prevails duing Grand Council meeting, and forces the participants to concentrate on the matter at hand. When in effect, this also gives the ilKhan a wide range of powers, such as the right to dismiss any charges brought before the Grand Council he or she deems frivolous.
- A term of respect for a person of higher rank.
- A shortened term for powerless, denoting the vulnerability that a warrior feels when forced to fight without his accustomed weapons. For example a heavy 'Mech pilot using a light 'Mech or an aerospace pilot fighting an elemental in melee combat. In other words, the feeling of taking a test you haven't studied for.
- Used to query the subject's agreement, but specifically with an expected affirmative answer ("Aff"). Often used rhetorically.
- Used to query the subject's agreement, but specifically with an expected negative answer ("Neg"). Often used rhetorically.
- This term refers to a particularly gifted warrior on his or her way to high position.
- A promise or oath that reflects on the swearer's honor is considered a Rede. Breaking a rede is considered extremely serious, and is sometimes punishable by death.
- "Remembrance, The"
- The Remembrance is an ongoing heroic saga detailing Clan history from the time of the Exodus from the Inner Sphere to the present day. The Remembrance is continually expanded to include contemporary events. Each Clan has a slightly different version reflecting their own opinions and experiences. All Clan warriors can quote whole verses of this marvelous epic from memory, and it is common to see passages from the book lovingly painted on a warrior's vehicle or armor.
- A Clan council may cast a veto, or satarra, to settle or postpone disputes between castes within their jurisdiction. Satarra is invoked only when negotiations seem at an impasse and/or threaten to disrupt the work order of the Clan. It seems to be more a ritual than an act of legislation.
- A Clan epithet.
- A word uttered only in the most sacred and respective of manners. The origin is Hebrew, but it works like "Amen". It is found in Psalms as Selah. It is a way of saying 'so shall it be'.
- A group or "batch" of Trueborn people born from the same genetic makeup; also the smallest element used for early training above a single person. Usually separated only by death until testing decides final placement in Clan society. Bastardized form of "SIBling COmpany".
- A Clan epithet.
- An epithet referring to a cute, monkey-like mammal native to the Clan Homeworlds that the lower Castes keep as pets.
- Surkai is the Right of Forgiveness. The Clans honor uniformity in thought and belief above all else in their society. When warriors disagree, when a Clan disagrees with the Grand Council, or when a member of one caste offends a member of another caste, surkai is expected. It is a matter of pride that the offending party freely admit his wrongdoing and request punishment. Those who show great surkai are held up as examples to others for their willingness to accept the consequences of their independent thoughts. Those who do not show surkai when it is expected of them are viewed with suspicion.
- The Rede of Forgiveness, or surkairede is the honour-bound agreement between the majority and any dissenters. According to the surkairede, once a dissenter accepts punishment for having disagreed with the majority, he should be allowed to resume his role in society without suffering any further disgrace for having spoken out.
- The term used for the fighting arm of a Clan.
- Used by freeborns to insult a trueborn in the same way they use the name freebirth.
- A member of the same sibko or a respectful name.
- A lab-raised result of the Clan selective breeding program, coming from gene pools modified to accentuate positive attributes and eliminate negative ones.
- The body of rules defining dueling behavior and honor in combat.