Note: These are the major Clans of the Grellken. They have the most influence and the most power (for the moment) but they are far from the only Clans. Players may choose to have their characters come from a Mercenary Clan of their own making, if they wish. Those who want to have their characters come from one of the listed groups below, may do so — however, they cannot be direct heirs to the rulership of that particular Clan.
Beware that Clans rise and fall with the ages however — countless are the Clans whose lineages have been completely wiped out from Midworld by petty dispute or brutal warfare.
“Blood and Glory to the Bloodscreamers!” – common Bloodscreamer warcry
Basic: A Clan of cocksure, competitive warriors, feared and hired often for their strength and reputation.
Symbol: A blood-red roaring lion. Bloodscreamers line their hoods, helms, pauldrons, mantles and/or collars with red fur, feathers or cloth. They also carry trophies from those they defeat.
History: The Bloodscreamer Clan has clawed its way into prominence through sheer strength and tenacity. They claim no honored lineage, no legendary hero as their own — their only legacy is victory and their only requirement for entrance is success.
Despite their standards, the Bloodscreamer Clan is one of the biggest Clans among the Grellken. Several Clans, including the Bloodflayer and the Steelclaw Clans can claim Bloodscreamer heritage in their pedigree. They often boast of their hundreds of patrons, satisfied customers who ordered death and destruction and got what they wanted in Bloodscreamer fashion.
Key to their size is the Bloodscreamer Festival, which acts as a massive celebration of the first such Festival from over four hundred years ago, initiated by Sulik the Blood Lion and Talia Ragescreamer. The Festival’s ceremonies and rites vary from year to yaer, but such is the bloodshed and dismemberment suffered by all that participate that only Trolls and Minotaurs can impress the Clan or even survive the carnage.
Current: The Bloodscreamers are currently in service to several Kingdoms , particularly the deep pocketed Labyrinthium’s League of Guilders, Gotterdammerung’s Nibelung and the Riverfolk’s Golden Fleet, performing bloody raids and massacres at their employers’ behest.
The utter destruction of several Free Tribes and the consumption of every inhabitant are attributed to the Bloodscreamers, although whether the act was whim or a mission is largely unknown. Those who employ these Grellken, usually know enough to point and leave them to their own devices rather than outline any rules of engagement.
Despite their reputation however, the Bloodscreamers are far from savage, unthinking brutes. When presented with a target, they conduct their affairs with callous precision until the fulfillment of the objective — it is the debauched post-victory celebrations and feasts that give them their bloodthirsty reputation.
Leadership: Drakka is a Troll, the current Chieftain-General of the Bloodscreamers and a Warrior-Priestess of Oyala, made strong by her two favorite past-times: dueling and feasting. To further compliment her might and skill, she is the holder of Grellken’s Fang, a powerful yet cursed spear said to have been held by Grellken himself — she took it from the previous leader of the Bloodscreamers after a brutal, bone-crushing duel but before viciously feasting upon his innards.
Not content to be powerful, Drakka’s wit is said to be on par with her strength. She uses the reputation of the Bloodscreamers to her benefit, appearing savage when it suits her and displaying knowledge when it is to her benefit.
Drakka’s greatest concern lies mainly with her Clan: despite their strength, she feels that the constant internal competition and duels may serve to fracture it. She knows of the Clan’s history, especially of the departure of several powerful warriors who sought to build their own Clan after tiring of Bloodscreamer ceremony.
Whatever changes she attempts to bring to bear, she expects to be viciously opposed by her Elder-Captains who seek to maintain Clan tradition, as it builds strength among the ranks as opposed to seeding dissent.
“Ignite! Explode! Burn before the Firerunners!” — Firerunner warcry
Basic: A Clan of witch-doctors and mad alchemists, possessed of clever lores and a reputation for accidental self-immolation.
Symbol: A cauldron wreathed in flames or a flame-tongue. The Firerunners wear pieces of fire-blackened metal on their person, sometimes as armor and other times as mere ornamentation. Many armor their hands or eyes as a precautionary measure when they pursue volatile crafts.
History: The Firerunners claim that they are the descendants of Tulken the Thinker, but no one believes them. The first mention of the Firerunner Clan is during the Compact of the Clans, when they set their own warriors alight to charge into Orcus’ ranks.
The oral histories of the Clan place great emphasis upon that time as well, claiming the Elegba himself mounted the Akanu, Chieftain-General of the Firerunners, and whispered powerful secrets in his ears. He invented many of the Clan’s signature alchemies and brews immediately afterward, including a cauldron that he wanted to be cooked in when he died (which was shortly after).
The Firerunners then became known as alchemists and brewers without peer, their services prized by the other Mercenary Clans. Those who warred against the Firerunners often found that they fought against warriors augmented with elixirs and alchemy — and they often fought with fire, which most Trolls dread to face.
Current: The Firerunners have only recently grown into prominence. Not only are they brilliant in the crafts of alchemy and brewing, but they use these crafts heavily in their battles. When Firerunners enter the battlefield, expect the large-scale use of fire and other elements — not just from the spellcasters but also from the braves. Entire villages are quickly gutted, fortified keeps are set ablaze and armies are burnt to cinders.
To add to their expertise in crafting and war, these war-eaters also possess a proficiency in trafficking with non-Grellken — a skill that is born from having to deal and placate their militant brethren on a regular basis through the centuries. While far from genteel, the Firerunners present themselves with a disarming cunning that promotes the necessary caution and fear in their employers that often warrants them the job. The Iron Kingdom often finds use of them, especially because of their manners.
Despite their prosperity, tragedy has recently struck the Clan: their magical cauldron has been stolen and its guardian had disappeared with it. The whereabouts of their sacred relic has eluded mundane and magical means of inquiry. Thus, as the Firerunners travel across the land, they secretly seek out the cauldron, not merely because it belongs to them but also because of its deadly accursed nature.
Leadership: A wizened old Troll, Raka-kish the Half-burnt is the Chieftain-General for the Firerunners. Named so for the massive amounts of unhealing scars upon his face and body, Raka-kish is believed to be a spellcaster of prodigious personal power. Some place him as a Witch while others whisper that he traffics with Sorcery and the Shetani.
Unhinged yet cunning, Raka-kish is beloved for his irreverence yet feared for his unpredictability. Those who call him “enemy” are attacked from unexpected angles. Those who call him “friend” can expect laughs from him or genuine wisdom.
Raka-kish’s current goal is the retrieval of Elegba’s Cauldron. Some in the Clan believe that he prioritizes a different objective, the capture and execution of the Cauldron’s former guardian — his ex-wife, Galda Firerunner.
“In the end, all were silent before the Laughing Tree” — from the old story, “the Sage beneath the boughs”
Basic: A Clan of spies, subterfuge and silent killers who value information even more than food or gold.
Symbol: A dark blue tree upon bright grey. These Grellken also like to wear headdresses with blue leaves or dark blue feathers. Bird-skulls are also favorite ornaments, owing to their current Chieftain-General.
History: The origins of the Laughing-tree Clan is shrouded in mystery and myth. The Laughing-tree was once called Yorumba in the ancient language of the Trolls. Some scholars claim that the Laughing Tree was a Troll sage blessed with madness and insight by Ansi. Others claim that the Laughing Tree was a term for a specific kind of tree favored by hangmen.
The oral histories of the Laughing-tree’s lorekeepers reach only as far as several hundred years ago to a Clan that hid so well from Orcus’ hordes that they lost themselves in the aethereal realms. After harrowing trials, their return several decades later came at the perfect time to avenge themselves against the tyrant.
The Laughing-trees have retained many of the secrets gained during that otherworldly jaunt as well as a different philosophy from the other Mercenary Clans. To a Laughing-tree, knowledge, especially secrets, can be worth more than battle, coin or even food. Those who seek to join the Laughing-trees are often surprised at the depth of the Clan’s knowledge of even the most insignificant applicant… as well as their weaknesses.
Current: The Laughing-trees are often hired in small numbers as covert operations (assassination, sabotage, etc) or as skirmishing raiders. In larger-scale assaults, Laughing-trees use advanced tactics to deceive and outmaneuver opponents (e.g. hiding their true numbers/location, poisoning the enemy’s food supply, etc).
These Grellken also commonly undertake reconnaissance and information gathering missions. Indeed, the Clan itself is a storehouse of secrets — and they are willing to peddle these to the highest bidder. The Laughing-trees are also not above blackmailing a target to extort them for currency or more secrets. It is believed that the Riverfolk’s Golden Fleet and several other factions are currently at a cold war with the Laughing-trees.
In fact, it is rumored that the Laughing-trees are attempting to gather the information necessary to extort the major powers of Midworld for currency and power. As for their true intentions and the current goals, the officers and leaders of the Clan are largely silent.
Leadership: Elizu the Reader, sometimes called the Vulture-Witch, is the Chieftain-General of the Laughing-tree Clan. Never seen without her feathered bird-skull mask, Elizu is a mystery even to her own people, having challenged, defeated and consumed the previous Chieftain-General immediately after he promoted her into a Elder-Captain position. Some Laughing-trees believe that she is originally Ixian, for she displays a learned knowledge and a quiet demeanor befitting those peaceful people.
Despite her supposed origin, Elizu is no less deadly than a true daughter of Grellken. Shadowy spirits are said to guard her and spy upon her enemies. Those who wish to face her in comand have to contend with her skill and her twin feathered axes, if they don’t die of “mysterious circumstances” beforehand.
One of the ways to curry favor with Elizu is with books and tomes — not only does she accept these as payment, but she also places great value on those books whose topics most would consider too trivial or too arcane to be precious. Some claim that this is more than mere bibliophilia: the Vulture-Witch is looking for a specific and hidden piece of forbidden lore.
“Attack the Longhorns and be shattered!” — common Longhorn taunt
Basic: A Clan known for its bravery, its wisdom and its attention to discipline.
Symbol: Three crossed black spears over red, all facing upwards. Longhorns often have charms and rings adorning their horned helms (or horns if they are Minotaurs). They also like to stripe their horns red and black.
History: The Longhorn Clan is over two hundred years old, an offshoot of the Bloodscreamers that craved more structure and order in their ranks. Grakash the Minotaur was a staunch admirer of King Grellken and sought to emulate his virtues. Eventually, Grakesh and her followers founded the Longhorns, naming it after the Clan’s favored tactic: the spear hedge. In the course of their task, they established a reputation of clean-cut professionalism and discipline that impressed many an employer.
Over a hundred fifty years ago, Grakash left the reins of the Clan to her grandson, Pollus — a warrior of great skill and honor. Instead of consuming her, Pollus asked his grandmother to continue to lend wisdom to the Clan. She accepted.
After several successful campaigns, disaster struck. A hundred years ago, Pollus took a significant portion of the Clan to a mission in the jungled islands to the south and never returned. Grakash ruled in his stead for a while then tried to step down — but her Elder-Captains would not let her do so. Honored by their choice and unable to say no, Grakash continued to guide the Clan. In her capable claws, the Longhorns returned to a position of prominence and influence among the Grellken.
Forty years ago, horrible news reached Grakash’s ears: Pollus was alive, but he became a tyrant and a brute, betraying all that he once stood for. Furthermore, he now worked for the King-slayer, the ruler of the Labyrinthium. All couriers sent to him met grisly fates.
Grakash had no choice but put a price on the head of her grandson. No one has yet to succeed.
Current: The Longhorns are favored by employers for escort missions and missions of defense. The spear hedge, the shield wall and other such tactical formations and maneuvers are this Clan’s specialty. Each Longhorn is trained since initiation to read their comrades and work cooperatively with one another.
This respect for their own fellows extends in part to those they ward. When tasked with protection, a Longhorn will even give up their own life to ensure the safety of their target. Because this devotion has not gone unnoticed, the Longhorns have over a dozen standing bodyguarding contracts at any time — however, all Labyrinthium have been blacklisted from ever employing the Longhorns.
Their hatred toward that accursed Kingdom and what they did to their kinsmen is a thing of great legend. A good way to employ a Longhorn is to tell them that their opposition comes from the Vicious City or even works for the King-slayer. Many of these Grellken would leap at a chance to avenge their fallen comrades.
Leadership: A minotaur of great age and sharp tongue, Old Mama Grakash is the Chieftain-General of the Longhorns. Her age has weakened her and slowed her, but her wisdom and wit are sharper than ever. She has seen over two hundred years of bloodshed and battle, learning from every skirmish and every melee. To face her in combat is to face someone whose knows how to counter almost every trick in the book.
Many warriors and leaders seek out Grakash for her wisdom and her experience. Some have even called her “the Teacher of Heroes”, a title that she openly mocks. For her own part, Grakash is most willing to guide her students toward paths of honor and skill — a matter that she considers a meager penance for the shame her grandson had placed upon her family.
“White-mambas never surrender! White-mambas never die! — a White-mamba warcry
Basic: A fearsome Clan steeped in dark necromancy and fell relics.
Symbol: A four horned minotaur skull in a circle of bones against dark green. White-mambas often carry bones and fangs as ornamentation and even armor.
History: The White-mambas believe that their Clan was the brainchild of a small Necromancer cabal who became Chosen of Grinning Samad. This cabal of Trolls joined the Grellken Clans and eventually formed their own. Some rumors say that their acquisition of followers and warriors was through the use of forbidden magic that stole the will from a person’s soul, leaving them a soulless puppet.
Those who hear these rumors may find some credit to them: the White-mambas fight without registering pain or fatigue. However, the true cause of their prowess is more from necromantic augmentations as well as the rigors of their brutal training, designed to the purge the flesh of weakness. Warriors that would seek to stop Trolls and Minotaurs from rising up again are often horrified to witness their killing blows birth horrid undead instead of ending resilient warriors.
Through the centuries, the White-mambas have become a magocracy. Their Chieftain-Generals and Elder-Captains are almost all Necromancers and/or Samadi Priests. Furthermore, those who seek to challenge the authority of their sorcerous supervisors often find a fate worse than death — an afterlife as a mindless necromantic minions. Therefore, few seek the upturn the current regime of sorcerer-priests.
Current: The White-mambas’ distinctive strategies have earned them the revulsion of many the war-eaters and prevents them from getting contracts in certain Kingdoms (Gotterdammerung, mainly), but it also gives them immense success. The fell magics of their necromancers and their forbidden relics have also ensured that they turn their fallen enemies into temporary allies.
This feat of necromancy is normally beyond the means of Samadi Priests and most sorcerers. However, it is believed that the forgotten cabal that formed the White-mambas have within their possession the ability to create and bind strange skull censers that enthrall dead foemen. Those who have stolen these relics are often corrupted and slain by the vile powers within them, suggesting that the White-mambas have a means to prevent themselves from being killed by their own weapons.
There some that believe that the Labyrinthium’s Qabbalim has infiltrated the White-mambas to ferret out these secrets. Whether these infiltrations are truth or paranoia is unknown, but many who visit these Grellken unannounced and unasked for are only seen again as rotting undead servitors.
Leadership: Pale Gruul is the Chieftain-General of the White-mambas and the Kor of its Samadi priesthood. Like most followers of Samad, this Troll indulged in the vices of strong drink and even some recreational drugs. However, his greatest passion is torture — he likes taking captives in war or simply abducting passers-by and subjecting them to a slow and painful demise, often taking days until he grows bored of them and kills them, adding their bones to his set of Bone-reaver plate armor and their flesh to his Tome of Ordeals.
Young for his position, Gruul’s ascension was only a few years ago but he has quickly adapted to his mantle. He runs the Clan as well as his predecessor, keeping to old traditions and stubbornly refusing change. Some claim that he has even begun to look like his old mentor, though with the white face paint that the White-mambas wear, it is difficult to tell.