The Dyed Men
You cannot lay low that which has already died.
Basic: The hand-picked guardians and champions of Baelor: trained killers and slayers without mercy, regret or remorse.
Symbol: The Dyed Men’s symbol is the Witch-Eye of King Baelor himself, a scarred dark eye with a burning red center over a field of green.
History: Before Baelor took the stone throne in Muirthemne, he traveled the length and breadth of Morread, fighting almost a hundred duels. Many of the men and women he fought were slain. But those who were worthy of life, who were creatures of honor and who had fought like demons in human flesh, he brought within an inch of death and claimed for his own. These were the first Dyed Men, the finest fighters in the land who owed him their every breath, their every blood – their life was not their own, so they fought as though possessed and were often blessed by Cruach with bloody victories.
Despite their fatalistic perception, the Dyed Men have grown in number rather than diminished. Stories of their fearlessness and their exploits have filled the ears of Morread’s sons and daughters. When coupled with a growing devotion and respect for the Witch-Eye and his own deeds, men and women of skill and renown flocked to Muirthemne to join the ranks of the Dyed Men.
If it were not for the trials involved, the Dyed Men would be three or four times greater in number. However, many aspirants are immediately turned away if they have not performed exploits of fame and valor. And the tasks and trials given to would-be Dyed Men are deadly enough to stymie all but the greatest in skill, in courage and in power.
But the Dyed Men continue to grow as the years pass and the fearsome reputation that precedes them and their dyed skins grows as well.
Current: The Dyed Men are the personal army of Baelor Witch-Eye and although they are relatively few in number, it is said that each Dyed Man is worth ten men on the field of battle. Half of Baelor’s Dyed Men are stationed in Muirthemne; the rest are sent across the face of Midworld itself, performing tasks and duties assigned by he who owns their very breath and blood.
Leadership: Baelor Witch-Eye leads his Dyed Men personally, giving them orders and tasks as befits their talents and skills. As a hardened veteran of adventuring and a hero of legendary stature, he has learned to quickly and accurately take the measure of those he deals with – likewise, he knows the strengths and weaknesses of those he commands.
That said, not even the Dyed Men know the full extent of the Witch-Eye’s plans. Oftentimes, they are sent to an area with the barest of instructions, only to be contacted later with precise directions to be followed to the letter… blood soaked violence is the typical result but not the only end. For a man that sprang from the very mud of Morread, Baelor displays the wisdom and the cunning of the greatest of generals and kings – more proof of his worthiness as King of the Bog Kingdom and more fuel for the fires of his subjects’ devotion.
Update: As of April 2017, Baelor and much of his retinue are either dead or in Solari custody. Magda Red-spear has taken control over the Dyed Men and the protection of the Kingdom.
The Coven of Maerla
We are the Eyes of the Witch-Eye.
Basic: The Druids of Maerla, also called the Maerlyn and the Grey-Crows, are the biggest coven in Morread. They serve the Witch-Eye but they have their own methods and motives of their own.
Symbol: A grey crow over a field of dark blue with a star in its beak.
History: Most of the Coven of Maerla are formed of those Druids that surrendered to the power of the Witch-Eye and exchanged their lives for servitude to his cause. Foremost of these is Maerla Grey-crow, the new Witch-Queen of the West, and the first to bend the knee to King Baelor.
When the battle for Muirthemne was lost, Maerla begged the Witch-Eye for his mercy when treating with her fallen brethren. Though a more than a hundred Druids were slain in war, several score Witches escaped with their lives with Maerla’s aid. Though there were many that still believed her largely responsible for the deaths of their friends, Baelor appointed her as their leader and tasked her with policing her Coven. The Witch-Eye himself was witness to a few necessary executions wrought by the new Witch-Queen during the consolidation of her Coven against would-be usurpers. Anything less than total obedience to Maerla and the throne was unacceptable to the Witch-Eye – he refused to let his moment of clemency become a point of weakness, to make the same mistake that King Bran had made.
The violence of the purgings have long passed and the Coven of Maerla now holds some of the most powerful Druids in the Bog Kingdom. This concentration of power attracts even more Druids to the Coven’s fold, transforming the once subservient Coven into a force to be reckoned with. Maerla and those of her inner circle keep a tight rein on the affairs of the Coven, but the rigor of their vigilance does not deter would-be Maerlyn from joining with the greatest Druids of Fir’bolg in serving the Witch-Eye.
Current: The Grey-crows are slow to show their power; usually resolving disputes and conflicts without violence and magic. But woe to those who mistake their hesitation for weakness for Coven of Maerla have gathered to themselves the teachings of Nuath and the harsh lessons of war. When they strike, it is with the swiftness of flame and the mercy of the night. Covens and Clans that have attempted to unseat the Maerlyn from their place at Baelor’s hand have only met with brutal defeat.
That said, the Coven of Maerla is more interested in diplomacy than aggression. Indeed, they have strong ties to the Graala of Morganna, the Setanta of Maerra and the Mardalla of Marda – offering sacrifice to these Goddesses and honoring their Chosen. The Coven of Maerla is likewise tasked with assisting the Witch-Eye or his Dyed Men in all matters, although there are those that say that the duty of the Maerlyn also involve reporting on the Dyed Men’s activities to the Grey-Crows’ inner circle. However, such rumors are likely gossip spread by the Coven’s enemies rather than the truth. After all, are not the lives of the Maerlyn completely given to the whim of the Witch-Eye?
Leadership: Maerla was known as Nuath’s right-hand and the only Druid with powers comparable to the Witch-Queen herself. She keeps the truth of her origin a secret, though what is whispered about her is mysterious enough.
Most Fir’bolg that know of Maerla’s past believe that she was born under omens portended by the Priests of Morganna; she was to be the keystone of a new Fir’bolg. Hearing these omens, Nuath herself snatched her from her clan and cast her kin into the grey mists of death – so that their secrets would forever be hers. Maerla was raised not among Fir’bolg but amidst the creatures of fog and shadow that dwelt in the depths of Morread; She would command these very creatures to rend clan and coven in her service to the Witch-Queen though Maerla herself was not too different from her monstrous allies. Maerla was believed to have been raised by Nuath and the very monsters within Morread’s mists, but her leadership has advocated communion instead of bestial antagonism. This cannot help but worry those who consider her their enemy – for it displays a willingness to think in the long-term and a diligence to minor details.
Why she follows Baelor Witch-Eye is not known for she and her King speak nothing of the subject. There is a close bond between the
two; the Dyed Men and Maerla’s Coven know for certain that King and Druid spend days and hours in solitude with one another. To all eyes, they behave only as Regent and Advisor, as ruler and counselor. Those who attempt to broach the topic of their relationship are greeted with stony silence.
Special: The Coven of Maerla is only the most prominent of the Druidic Covens of Fir’bolg. Players should feel free to exercise creative control and create their own Covens. It is the suggestion of the Rules Director that players who create their own Covens submit a profile of that Coven to the Rules Director and to Staff (for further use in plot if need be).
Note: The four listed Clans below are the Great Clans of the Fir’bolg, descendants of an ancient Hero or Heroine’s family and commitatus (warband). The symbols are also the colors of a Clan’s tartan.
These are not the only Great Clans in Fir’bolg but these are the four that have found prominence in recent history. As part of their backstory, a Player Character may belong to a Clan or a Player create his own Clan. Most Fir’bolg are not adherents to form so players are given greater creative liberties. It is the suggestion of the Rules Director that players who create their own Clans submit a profile of that Clan to the Rules Director and to Staff (for further use in plot if need be).
A Heart of Courage and a Soul of Faith- these are the virtues of a true son of Morread.
Basic: Clan Drustan is Clan of fighters feared for their prowess in battle and respected for their devotion to the old ways.
Symbol: A dirty white claymore over verdant green and fiery orange. Clan Drustan is associated with hounds.
History: Clan Drustan is one of the oldest Clans in the Bog Kingdom, its lineage reaches from even beyond the rise and reign of Connacht. The sons and daughters of the first Drustan, Drustan Daggerhand and his warband are also known for their adherence to the “old ways” of honor, of courage and of loyalty.
It was this devotion to the old ways that drew men to Drustan Daggerhand. In the dread marches of Morread, there are many red-handed killers, many men and women easily given to slaying quickly and without regret.
But Drustan was different. Those who knew him either feared him or respected him, for such was his brutality, his courage and his wisdom on and off the fields of bloody battle. He carved a clanhold from the mud and the stones, raising it up so that his blood and the blood of his warband would have hearths to warm their souls and their hearts.
Clan Drustan has lost three clanholds since Daggerhand, but they have yet to lose their forefather’s devotion to what he believed was right and just. It was this conviction that almost destroyed them during Nuath’s reign of tyranny and led them to join Baelor Witch-eye in retaking Muirthemne. While Clan Drustan does not fully approve of all of their new King’s methods, they stand beside him and give him their strength because they believe he can maintain order and unity across the Bog Kingdom. And perhaps, when true unity is achieved, the Fir’bolg can move forward, beyond the mud and the blood.
Current: Clan Drustan is not the strongest of the Fir’bolg Clans but it is one of the most prominent and influential. Sean Mac Drustan has Baelor Witch-eye’s ear in counsel and a great deal of Drustan men comprise the Dyed Men. What they lack in power, they make up for with contacts. Clan Drustan has ambassadors with every willing Clan, great and small, and Clan Drustan’s bloodline can be found in many other bloodlines because of the many alliances wrought by the inter-clan matrimonies.
Leadership: Sean Mac Drustan is the Elder-Patriarch of Clan Drustan. He is an old man, bent and gnarled from the press of years and the weight of wisdom.
It was Sean that gave Baelor his blessing and the strength of his fighting men. Two of Sean’s sons died in the re-taking of Muirthemne and the Elder has yet to fully recover from the loss. There are those that say that the head of Clan Drustan was blinded by his sorrows, although the rumors have yet to be substantiated.
Perhaps the greatest controversy among Clan Drustan is that Sean Mac Drustan has yet to appoint the heir to Clan Drustan’s leadership. And with the years advancing upon the old man, many in Clan Drustan are concerned.
Update: April 2017 — Sean Mac Drustan was slain in the final months of the 2016 year of the Wyrdic Calendar during an ill-fated attack on a Solari Sky-Gate. In this place was raised Magda Redspear, Dyed Woman of the King and a seasoned warrior that wields an ancestral sword of her Clan — the Blade of the Bloodhawk.
A serpent’s venom is only dangerous to the unwary and the foolish.
Basic: Clan Nemain is a Clan of Sorcerers (mostly Twilight Elves) with a lust for power shrouded by secrecy and deceit.
Symbol: A black cobra coiled around a bright green hand. Clan Nemain is associated with serpents..
History: Clan Nemain hails from the most remote reaches of Morread. Created by Shaedling sorcerers and druids escaping Nuath’s fury, their distance and their sorcery allowed them to withstand the forces of their enemy, even at the apex of the Witch-Queen’s reign. This Clan takes its name from the greatest of their numbers, a former Druid that turned to the dark arts to preserve herself from harm.
Until Baelor’s coming, Nemain of the Black Serpent and her kin were one of the greatest threats to Nuath because of their sorcerous prowess. Nemain Sorcerers and Druids would raze and pillage Nuathi strongholds and fade into the night. But only when their might was mingled with Baelor’s army did Clan Nemain’s power become more than a mere thorn in the side of Nuath’s Coven. Veterans of the brutal skirmishes in those wars tell tales of shadowed monstrosities tearing into goblins and bog beasts at the Sorcerers’ commands and how some Sorcerers even raised the dead of friends and foes to fight alongside them. There are those that even whisper of Shaedlings partaking in ghoulish feasts upon the fallen.
Despite their part in Baelor’s victory, there are few outside the Clan that do not fear or distrust it. The magics borne by Clan Nemain are the stuff of nightmares, say the folk of the Bog Kingdom – and Clan Nemain would have it no other way.
Current: The clan holdings of Clan Nemain are a blasted, barren landscape, riddled with treacherous snares and infested by lurking demons. They grant the necessary tribute to King Baelor and arrive in silent, shadowed gatherings when called by their liege, but they keep to their own secrets and shadows for the most part.
There are those who approach the clanhold of Clan Nemain, bypassing snare and demon in search of power. Clan Nemain is no longer entirely Shaedling in population. To the worthy, Clan Nemain opens its gates and imparts its wisdom. To the weak, Clan Nemain opens its gates and consumes its prey.
Leadership: Braenden Mac Nemain is the Patriarch of Clan Nemain, renowned and feared among his peers for his mastery of the sorcerous arts. It is said among his companions that he has a counselor whom he calls “the Dreaming Dusk”, who provides him with wisdom and secrets. Braenden ascended to the topmost ranks of his Clan through ruthlessness and cunning – and he has the Dreaming Dusk to thank. One can only assume that beneath his wing, Clan Nemain take unto his actions and virtues; only more bloodshed and terror can come of this.
To feast upon fear, to laugh in death’s face and to break one’s foes – these are the good things in life!
Basic: Clan Gohrrim is a Clan of Wild Elves known for its piety and its madness.
Symbol: A bright bronze henge upon a field of light brown and dark red.The battle-maddened boar is associated with Clan Gohrrim.
History: Clan Gohrrim has always placed its faith on two things: Cruel Cruach and Brute Strength. Because of this, Clan Gohrrim has kept a reputation for being battle-crazed, mouth-foaming berserkers. The clanhold of Clan Gohrrim lies near the border between Morread and the Chained Kingdom where they constantly battle not just the dangers of the bog but also the cold of winter and the assaults of Chainers.
Gohrrim is a Clan with a sordid past, even among the ranks of the Fir’bolg. Before Connacht, it was said that Clan Gohrrim were little more than murderers and raiders – plundering bogmen and Jotunbrud alike for bloodlust and greed. The Gohrrim also took captives, usually the best warriors or the weakest children, to sacrifice to Cruach upon bloody altars. While most Gohrrim no longer practice the Human or Elf sacrifice, rumor and speculation continue to follow this Clan regarding the practices of their less stable members.
Clan Gohrrim bent the knee to Connacht and his line after the First King of the Fir’bolg slew ten of their greatest champions in single combat – a feat only matched by Baelor who bested the 12 trials of the Cruacha. Gohrrim continues to render their talents in madness and might to the Witch-Eye’s cause and with the Gohrrim at his side, few Clans are willing to dispute the word of Baelor Witch-eye for fear that the Gohrrim be loosed upon them.
Current: Clan Gohrrim holds the fiercest, maddest fighters in the Bog Kingdom. Their home lies amidst the misty hills between Jotunbrud and Morread, a place which only those with the insanity that is typical to Gohrrim would dare raise a clanhold. Because of their proximity, the Jotunbrud take the brunt of Clan Gohrrim’s battle-madness as these Fir’bolg constantly make forays into the Chained Kingdom. There are reports that Clan Gohrrim has made raids upon villages that refuse to fly the Witch-Eye’s mark in their midst but these are unsubstantiated.
Leadership: The Elder-Patriarch of Clan Gohrrim is Connail Cu Gohrrim, an Elf as devoted to Cruach as he is mad, hence his other eptithet: the Laughing Blade. A Wildling with great, curved antlers and a thundering laugh, Connail is said to be beloved of Cruach himself, evading certain doom countless times and attributing his survival to the Cruel God’s hand. Those that fight with Connail would be wise to give him a wide berth; his battle-madness has slain more than a few allies and even one of his sons. However, the head of Gohrrim is less than concerned and less than guilty for his actions – he fervently believes that his battle-madness is a doom wrought by Cruach himself and whosoever falls to his blade was divinely decreed to die.
Hard ways for hard times.
Basic: A prominent Fir’bolg Clan that believes in results over method.
Symbol: Three red arrows crossed and pointed downward over a field of dark green and brown. Clan Machta is associated with the panthers of southern Morread.
History: When the Witch-Queen Nuath splattered the bloodline of Connacht upon Muirthemne’s grounds, she looked to the clans of Fir’bolg for allies to strengthen her hold upon the Bog Kingdom. Clan Machta was one such clan, mean and lowly despite their prowess and their skill at arms. Clan Machta had Clan Drustan as dire enemies and in the reign of Connacht and his bloodline, could never achieve the prominence that they felt they deserved. When Drustan’s fortunes dwindled, Machta’s fortunes waxed. Above Nuath’s goblins and spirit-beasts were the Machta honored by the Witch-Queen and her coven.
It was to everyone’s amazement when Clan Machta rallied under Baelor’s banner against Nuath. The Machta claim that they abandoned Nuath because of an ancient oath to Connacht who they had previously believed destroyed. Some say that Clan Machta was falling in favor with the Witch-Queen and struck first instead of falling further. Others claim that the Machta simply saw that Baelor was the future and could not be denied.
The Machta themselves were schismed by the sudden betrayal, but the division was resolved quickly though with much blood. In the wake of the upheaval, a new order was forged amongst the Machta and it chose to bring down the Coven of Nuath.
Current: Clan Machta are far from the right hand of Baelor Witch-Eye, but they are a clan given grudging respect and fearful glances amidst a shroud of suspicion. No one believes the word of Machta and the clan name has become a byword for those whose word cannot be trusted.
For its own part, the Machta have lived with this reputation in the past and care little for what others think of them. They are what they have always been: cunning, patient and deadly. The elders of Machta care for results not method. They have never truly adhered to what others thought was “honorable” or “fair”. Thus when their word is doubted and their actions are placed under suspicion, the Machta use the doubt and the suspicion to their advantage.
And a Fir’bolg with the true blood of Machta always has the advantage.
Leadership: Calder Cu Machta is the Elder-Patriarch of Clan Machta and a man famous for his skill with the bow and his cutting insight. He is the instigator of the schism within his clan during the Witch-Queen’s reign and he is responsible for killing dozens of Machta men, women and children to prove his point. An exemplar of Machta pragmatism, Calder’s counsel is one of the few that Baelor actively seeks (although only in rare occasion). Although the inevitable result of his advice is cruelty, bloodshed and sorrow, the effectiveness of his methods cannot be denied.