A lineage of descendants of an ancestor. A bloodline is collectively responsible for the actions of its members. Bloodline is much closer than Kin or Clan.
Short for "Ernalda's Bushel". The amount of food which feeds one person for one year. Also used as a term of monetary value.
A farmer or herder, or anyone with equivalent status of a free and prosperous man.
The elected leader of the clan - a position of great respect but his powers are essentially limited to persuasion.
Chieftain or King
An elected leader of a tribe - his powers are not much more than an individual clan Chief except that he and the Council of Elders settle disputes between the clans and can call on the fyrds (and the fyrds alone) of each clan.
The smallest group of Orlanthi, they are kin, several bloodlines. Generally exist in groups of 500-1500.
Clan Ring
The nobles who make up a clan's leadership. (The First Ring)
The lowest free social class, covering people from stickpickers to gardeners, craftsmen, and poor farmers.
Council of Elders
Elected by each clan in a tribe, these men help run the tribe.
Oldest wife of the stead.
Heortlings revere and respect the elderly because they have lived through so much, remember things no one else knows, and harbor a power gained from knowing so many people who are now dead.
A petty god, often without an individual name or personality.
The clan militia, which defends the tula. This is expected to be any male in the right age to bear arms, almost half of the male population! Or about a fifth of the total population, perhaps including a few women (followers of Vinga) as well.
Fem. gyrda, pl. godar. A god-talker.
Actually the fire- and thus cookingplace, but often used as synonym to group persons, house, and home in one entity: one family plus housecarls and dependants and belongings.
A unit of land, loosely defined as enough to support a family plus household, or the land one plow team of six oxen can manage. (About 50 hectares in RW measuring. May be less in fertile areas, may be much more.)
A free man in free service to another. Most commonly these are in administrative roles, courtiers, or bodyguards and private militia.
Kin, Kinship
Kin is the adverb meaning being related to or the noun relative. Kin are all relatives by descent or marriage. In common use under Heortlings its meaning is expanded to Kin's Kin, eventually containing perhaps hundreds of persons. (A clan)
Any conflict that involves kinsmen on opposing sides.
The member of the clan ring whose job it is to make sure the clan obeys the laws of Orlanth and the clan's ancestors. Obviously a thane.
The formal meeting of all adults of a clan or tribe.
The gods or creatures of Chaos.
Smith specialized in copper and bronze.
A lunar renegade or convert.
These are footmen who can quickly arm themselves to respond to enemy aggression. They follow normal occupations in the tula, but are additionally paid for having their gear at hand at any time. Their main duty is to deal with situations that are too quick for the fyrd to muster in response.
Along with the weaponthanes, the short-call warriors also stand ready to guard traders, emissaries, and explorers.
A poet or other traveling high entertainer (as opposed to jesters, jugglers, and other low entertainers).
A Heortling settlement, like a hamlet or small village. Usually a farm complex.
A poor person who collects wood for a living. Also a synonym for any person of very low standards.
Someone with a leadership role, like the head of a household, a god-talker or a chief's weapon thane.
Enslaved either through war or purchase. Only a few clans keep thralls. Children are freedmen.
Thunder Brothers
The sons of Orlanth are collectively known by this name. All of them are great adventurers and Heroes, and often a Heortling society chooses one of them as their patron.
A group of clans united under a Chieftain and a Council of Elders. The rules and laws governing the relations of each clan in a tribe vary wildly and any clan may leave of its own free will.
The lands claimed by a clan, tied to it by their wyter.
The head of the weopan thanes, the clan's fyrd, and the short-call.
Weapon Thane
Professional soldier payed in food, goods, and armament who in return protects the clan from threats.
The worth, in coins, of a man's life.
Fate, doom.
A daimon or lesser god who protects and is worshipped by a clan, tribe, or other community (then usually called guardian). Often this is the spirit of a being that was significant in founding this community.

The Heortling way

Read also: ISS1102 pp144

What your father told you.

We provide Recognition, Participation, Protection, Direction, Justice, and Revenge.
Heort's Laws

Talkative, simple, passionate, deep-hearted, direct, untroubled, unreflective, violent, restless, imaginative, stubborn. Such are the Heortlings. These barbaric farm folk have saved the world at least once, and perhaps they will do so again. Yet do not waste breath musing on such things, for action, not idle speculation, is the Orlanthi Way. Take up your spear and walk with them across the sacred tulas of the land.

Violence is always an option, thundered Orlanth, Lord of the Storm.
There is always another way, whispered Ernalda, Queen of the Earth.

Who Are We?

Orlanth learned from his mistakes. That is his greatest power and gift.

We are Orlanthi, born in hardship, formed by story, strengthened by adversity, made invincible by freedom. We are a tribe of the longhouse, of the field, of the great forest, of the battleground. We are a people whose sons and daughters will endure as long as the winds shall blow.

We are the People of the Storm, the men and women of Thunder. Renowned in all the worlds, we are the tribe of Orlanth and Ernalda. We are many, and we are strong. We are a rich people, for we know the secrets of the earth. We are a proud people, farmers and herders, warriors and peaceweavers. We live in steads and villages and hunting camps, but can also build cities and fortresses, and sky steads made of wind and lightning. We are of many clans.

To be Orlanthi is to throw off your kilt and pants and run naked in a hailstorm. To be Orlanthi is to stand alone against an overwhelming foe and know they shall never pass. It is to hold your youngest child in your arms and feel tears of beauty course down your cheeks. To be Orlanthi is to understand the thrill of stealing past a hostile clan to take the great bull in a cattle raid; to dance with laughing earth goddesses as the first green shoots appear through the plowed mud of your field; to walk in fear and wonder along the sacred paths of the Godtime.

The Lunars have come with their scimitars and strange gods. They have conquered our land by treachery, so that only our rivers run free. Servants of the Predark, they ban true worship and offer us instead the mask of their twisted Red Goddess, the lies of their Seven Mothers, and the wind of their false Thunderer, Doburdun. They might as well blow on dead embers: they will be vanquished soon, and the freedom wind shall blow again. We will cleanse our land, for they have nothing that we want.

We are Orlanthi. To understand who we are, you must know two things. You must know the land that formed us, our Mother. You must know the story of our tribe, which is the story of Orlanth.

We are born of Thunder, wise in the ways of the Storm. We are a proud people, descendants of Vingkot, children of Heort, oath-kin of Sartar. We make mistakes, but we are always responsible for our actions, and we never give up. If we make harm we fix it, because that is Orlanth's Way.

In generations past we built great wonders - cities and palaces and roads. We will do so again. For now, we have our steads, our herds, and the great forests where we hunt. In these, we are content.

We are a free people - nobles and thanes, cottars and carls, kings and priestesses, stickpickers and godar. We seek courage, wisdom, generosity, justice, honor, glory, and freedom. We live by the strength of our limbs, and we succeed by the blessings of our kin. We are all naked at birth, and we follow our wyrd as the winds may blow, to be warrior, crafter, cattlewoman, or skald. We all have mud between our toes, and even a king must sweat and groan before the plow.

How Do We Live?

We live at Mahome's Fire. If a stranger wishes to understand us, they have but to spend a season at one of our hearths. A household hearth is never empty, never silent, never still. All of life passes before Mahome's sacred fire. Old men and women drowse for days before the coals, covered in children or cats, guarded patiently by the clay goddesses and ancestral idols that sanctify the hearth. The hearthmistress oversees her sons' wives as they attend to the day's baking, teaching them songs of lust and healing, sharing the wisdom of her years. Wide-eyed infants are passed from breast to breast to be suckled by their mothers and aunts, all under the protective gaze of the first alynx. Children wrestle and make merry, laughing and screaming without censure, cattle-boasting and playing at priestess and king as they pose their clay dolls and carved wooden herds amidst the rushes on the floor.

The senior men bend in quiet conversation, planning the next harvest or the next moot, scheming how the progress of a lawsuit might bring favor to them all, occasionally glancing to their wives for agreement or guidance. A young weaponthane polishes his armor while flirting with a seed priestess who weaves a dye-bright tapestry on her loom. A Bevaran sews the wound of a cursing thane who was too slow on the practice field. Apart from all the bustle at the hearth, curled in the storage racks under the rafters, a cattle-boy cradles his grandfather's sword and dreams of first love and first herd.

As darkness gathers, the young men and women come in from their fields and herds, laughing and swearing as they scrape the mud and cow dung from their boots. Odaylan kinsfolk arrive from the upland hunting camps to sample the exotic pleasures of the stead. The evening meal is served, and with it song, story, and boasting. The hearth is crowded - a hand of hands or more! - a boisterous, loud, argumentative, joyful crowd all competing to be the center of attention.

By the light of the flame they pass the sweet thick beer. All relive, through the skald's gift, the eternal stories. As the night progresses there is music, dancing, and wrestling. The men are stirred easily to sudden passion, bursting into tears, striking at kinsmen, proclaiming their courage and valor. The women watch, speaking less, though when they give voice their words are sharp and well directed.

Finally, the night draws to its conclusion. Children curl against the nearest body and couples retire to the sleeping platforms by the wall or the hammocks stretched from the posts. Guests curl about the hearth or share the crowded sleeping platforms of kin. As the stead sleeps, cradled to Mahome's breast, the star-watch draw cloaks about themselves and prepare for a chilly night on the palisades.

Where Do We Live?

We live in Kerofinela, the center of the world. Everything that is important occurred here, and everything that is going to be important will occur here, too. In fact, if anything important occurs anywhere else, it is because it is contributing to something that is happening here.

Here is the first mountain, Kero Fin, the Mother of Mountains. Here is the First River, the Engizi River, where the first water fell from above and flowed to the sea. Here was the first fight, when Orlanth defeated Sh'hakarzeel, and sent it fleeing eastward. Here Orlanth and Ernalda wed, with their families and friends sitting on either side of the Dragonspine. Here Vingkot made the first tribe, Hantrafal burned the first sacrifice to the gods, and Durev and Orane settled the first homestead, with its pigs and barley and longhouse and grain hut. Vingkot's children lived here, Heort lived here, and Orlanth began and ended the Lightbringer's Quest here.

The Four Great Mountains mark our land. Of course, Kero Fin is greatest, because she is the Mother of Mountains. Kero Fin is the tallest mountain in the world. We can see her from anywhere, even as far away as the Choralinthor Sea. Kero Fin is the mother of Orlanth, and they are together in the center of the world. Lowlanders call our land Dragon Pass.

Three great mountains form a triangle around Kero Fin, and we Heortlings live within. These three are Spider Mountain, in the north, where Engizi falls; Arrowmound, among the Skyreach Range in the southwest; and Stormwalk, a distinctive spiral-shaped peak among the Storm Mountains to the south. Many other important mountains are nearby, of course, but these are the great ones.

Spider Mountain used to be called Conquest Peak or Blackorm Mountain, because Orlanth dropped it on a dragon that threatened Vingkot and Barntar. Later, the demon called Cragspider rescued the dragon, and it is now her thrall. Everyone fears Cragspider, a demigoddess also called Fire Witch, Troll Goddess, Darkness Monster, and Daughter of the Spider. Spider Mountain stands beneath the great Skyfall of Engizi, which is a hole in the sky. Engizi is an ocean that rains downward continually from the black clouds that hide the wound, into the deluged Lake, where trolls go fishing.

Arrowmound is always snowcapped, and stands among several similar peaks of the Skyreach Range. When he drove off Jagrekriand, Orlanth heaped up this earth and stuck his lightning arrows into it, ready to be grabbed and hurled with deadly force. On Arrowmound, Jarani got Justice from Orlanth the first time. Here, too, Heort got Justice from Jarani. We still go there today to get it. Arrowmound was one of the places that the Lightbringers stopped when they went on their great quest. The winged nar sylla people, also called wind children, live on its steep slopes.

Stormwalk was a rock monster, a foe of our ancestors, until mighty Storm Bull grabbed it by the head and twisted it into a spiral, whose shape is visible from any distance. Upon its slopes, Orlanth tamed the Storm Bull to be his follower. Upon its peak Hendreik the Untouchable hid in splendor, though if you walk up it around the spiral you find only ice and snow, and perhaps the stead of gigantic men all frozen solid at dinner. Urox raised the other Storm Mountains to prevent a fight between his friends Tada and Vingkot. Followers of the heropath of Gorangi Vak can tame the ferocious zarur sky bulls that live on the top, gaining powerful flying mounts.

Quivin Mountain is a large, steep peak that rises north of the Storm Mountains, from which the Sambari Pass separates it. Orlanth leapt from this mountain into the sunset to kill the Fire King. It is the mountain that Vingkot leapt upon to prove his worthiness to be king. Down its slopes came the first blue sheep of ancient times. Within its valleys, King Sartar established once-proud Boldhome, capital of the Kingdom of Sartar.

The Engizi River is also called the Creekstream River because its three main sources are the Creek, the Stream, and the River. It used to empty into the Marzeel River, but the Pharaoh diverted it several centuries ago. The waters now flow through the New River and empty into the Choralinthor Sea through the lands of the Esrolians.

Who Lives Near Us?

Four-ways and other strangers surround us. You must beware of foreigners, for they worship strange gods, and cannot be trusted. All of them are less than whole, and most of them are our enemies. Their stories are twisted, and lack the power of our own myths. They have nothing that we want.

Esrolians look like us and call us cousins, but long ago their grandmothers grew greedy, and they no longer follow the true ways. They have nothing that we want.

Aeolians look like us and call on Orlanth, but they worship another, distant god who is really Nothingness. They have nothing that we want.

Tarshites are a fallen people, who have surrendered their lands and breaths to the Shepelkirt, the Red Moon. Their rain is weak, though they love Ernalda. They have nothing that we want.

Lunars are evil. They are less than human; they do not gift, they are not free! They cannot breathe the soul of our land. They are our greatest enemies, and they try to enslave us and turn us from our gods. Their own goddess seeks to claim Orlanth's place as Master of the Middle Air. They have nothing that we want.

The horse-spawned Grazers have strange gods and raid out of season. They neither plow nor reap, but the Feathered Horse Queen holds the sovereignty of Kerofinela. They have nothing that we want.

The nomads of Prax are cowards and thieves. They are barely human. They sleep beneath their animals, and do not wash. They have nothing that we want.

We do not want the world, or great empires, or fine cities of stone. We want only our own lands, our cattle, and the freedom of the winds. This is our hope for our children. It is our way, and to defend this way we will fight and we will die. We are the true people. We are the People of the Storm, and we can become the Thunder.

Your Stead

Your hero grew up in a large household with about 35 men, 35 women, and 70 children. Grandpa and grandma are the bosses, but your father sees to the fields and cattle, and your mother rules over the hearth and pantry, the garden, and the other animals.

Your household's stead is really a small village. It has one large longhouse, ten smaller residences nearby, and another ten farther out. It has the normal complement of other buildings, including five large cattle barns, other animal and food storage buildings, a mill, and a sacred Loom House.

Your aunt and uncle are the family's godar, and live in one of the near houses. You have an uncle who is one of the clan's five weaponthanes, off living with the chief. Your hamlet has 18 fyrdmen available in case trouble starts, but all of the men and women know how to use weapons if they have to wield one.

When you go to Orlanth's ceremonies, you go to the Wind Temple. It is near the chieftain's stead, out past the plowed fields on the highest rise on the tula. During the ceremonies, the men go into the center of the circle formed by the women, who stand along the edge of the rise. When you go to Ernalda's ceremonies, you go to the clan's Earth Temple. As is the way with Ernalda, this is out in the fields for the Esrola Rites, in the Loom House for the Mahome rites, and in the other women's places for the other goddesses. Your clan also has shrines to the ancestors, Hedkoranth (your favored Thunder Brother), and several other deities.

Your hamlet has a herd of about 250 cattle, including the 48 oxen that make up your six plow teams. Of these cattle, about 80 are the clan's, and the rest belong to your bloodline. You also have 500 sheep, 30 alynxes, and many pigs.

Every year you send the equivalent of 65 cattle to the clan in taxes. 50 go to support the chieftain, his household, and the clan ring. The other 15 go to support the tribe. Because of your holdings, your stead sends 10 cattle, 35 sheep, and 800 bushels of barley each year, along with 25 spearheads and 5 swords from the forge on your stead. Since the coming of the Lunars, your taxes have doubled, and you have less for your family. If something does not change soon, your children will starve.

Your Clan

Your clan consists of about 1200 people, divided into six blood­lines. Of these, 500 are adults (half men and half women), 600 are children, and 100 are old, weak, holy, or otherwise unsuitable for the fyrd, the clan militia. A patriarch heads each bloodline, and is counted among the clan's thanes. Each bloodline has its own stead, herds, plow lands, lesser houses, and the like, as assigned by tradition and the clan chieftain. Your bloodline has about 200 people, divided among 15 hearths in three large steads that are essentially small villages, or hamlets.

An equal holding supports the clan priests and godi, and about that much again is the Chief's Share, which he holds for the clan. The tula encloses everything within a fifteen by twenty-five mile area, ranging from some riverside right up to the top of the nearby highland border with another clan. You, and everyone in your clan, know every byway and secret path through the tula, and you never expect to go beyond it except perhaps on a cattle raid or when seeking a wife.

Usually your chief has the biggest and wealthiest stead. The inner members of the clan ring live on their own, smaller steads, but all of the weapon­thanes (plus their assistants) live on the chief's stead. The chief's stead also houses the clan market­place, as well as the redsmith, potter, carpenter, and all of their storehouses, although a wise chief may just as well judge to distribute importan functions onto separate steads.


Strangers are enemies until proven otherwise. Every Orlanthi is obliged to report strangers to their chieftains and thanes immediately. The chieftain alone is the proper person to speak to strangers and decide if they should be killed. Of course, the chieftain's household and companions may speak for him, and usually begin the rites with strangers who might be friends.

Hospitality is sacred to the Orlanthi, for Orlanth made the first hospitality. By using the ritual greeting, he transformed a stranger into a friend. All Orlanthi know the Greeting Rites. They are used whenever Orlanthi meet who do not know each other. Many minor variations exist, but all of the versions are similar enough that any Orlanthi can recognize. Other cultures do not have this rite, but can submit to it. The ritual greeting is always used during formal meetings between Orlanthi who know each other, since it constitutes a binding agreement between the host and his guest.

The ritual greeting combines Orlanth's protection and welcome at the same time. It consists of a series of questions whose answers, if correct, are a binding oath empowered by Orlanth. Anyone who enters into the questioning is under Orlanth's scrutiny and power. If the stranger speaks a lie during the rite, the questioner knows this before the stranger has a chance to act.

Orlanth speaks a typical version in the myth. The story shows how the stranger reveals himself to be of increasingly close kinship and/or successively more important status, hence deserving to be closer to the questioner.

Questioner: Are you friend or foe?
Answer: Friend. [and this is why]
Questioner: I am (questioner's name and title), what is your name?
Answer: Stranger's name. [and status or deeds]

A pause ensues as the questioner tries to remember if he has heard of the stranger, to let his truth magic work, and to see what his companions have to say. If no lies are detected, and no one knows a reason why the stranger ought to be sent away, he is welcomed.

Questioner: You can have my hospitality. I offer you water.
Answer: I will not steal from you, fight you, or say bad things about you.

At this point, the host has met all hospitality requirements. If the stranger offers any insult or violence to his host, Orlanth's wrath will fall on him. Normally the questioning goes on, because generosity is a virtue. In practical terms, the questioning is broken off at this point as the watchmen or guards bring the visitor - no longer a stranger - to the chieftain. Of course, the chieftain may recognize this person before the series is over. Even so, the stranger will continue to identify himself so that everyone knows who he is. This is a combination of boasting and news reporting.

The chieftain has no obligation to offer more than water: generosity is a virtue, but the chieftain must always look out for the clan's collective welfare. Thus, most guests sleep under their own blankets and receive water, and perhaps leftovers from the chieftain's hall as well. This is the Beggar's Portion, and there is no shame in that, for beggars are one of the eighteen recognized professions. However, when a known but unwelcome person shows up, the questioner might stop at this point and offer his guest water as a feast. This is an insult, for he is treating his known guest as a beggar.

The Eighteen Occupations

These are high king (warlord), overking (prince), noble, priest, thane, skald, weaponthane, farmer, hunter, herder, fisherman, craftsperson, gardener, merchant, low crafts such as charcoal burner, low entertainer, beggar, thrall.

The rankings in this list are commonly accepted as being from highest to lowest status, although local needs determine the precise setting of the Four Providers: farmer, hunter, herder, fisherman.

Heort's Laws

Heort’s Laws describe what ordinary support is in Orlanthi society.

Recognition: A place in society.

Participation: A share in the work of the clan and a share in the proceeds of that work.

Protection: Against dangers: strangers, enemies, hostile gods and spirits, disease, hunger, chaos.

Direction: Heortling society has clear goals, being part of society gives direction.

Justice: Fair and non-violent settlement of disputes.

Revenge: “Violence is always an option”

Your Wyter

Your clan has a wyter, as do all clans. In the Vingkotling Age, Thoraval was a great farmer, and his people followed Barntar and Gustbran. When war came, however, he reforged his plow into a sword and followed Vingkot against the Dara Happans. He was a great warrior, but never forgot his roots, and when he had the chance he stole magic powers from the sky gods to help his people. When he returned to farming, the Aldryami tried to grow a forest across his stead. Althogh he had taken weapons from the Dara Happans, he met the Plant People in peace instead of war, and they taught him more magic to help his crops. Your clan is friendly with the Aldryami to this day.

Thoraval died defending Vingkot from Sky Captains at the battle of Mahomestead. His people, your ancestors, survived the Long Dark because of what Thoraval taught them. When Heort came, they chose to be a Peace Clan, and so gained further blessings on their crops. But they and you have never forgotten that a clan without warriors soon becomes a clan without people.

The wyter protects your clan from enemy magic, and blesses the clan with its power and luck. Without the wyter, your clan would not exist today, and so you sacrifice to the wyter on your founder's day and during the Sacred Time. These sacrifices strengthen your wyter, so that it can defend your community.

Your wyter's magic is unique, different from that of any other clan. Your wyter's blessings aid your crops. Your wyter gives your warriors aid as well, and can help the most when you resist your traditional foes, the Dara Happans. Without its magic, you would have fared far worse when the Lunars came to the land.

Since the Lunars have come, times have been difficult. Although in past generations heroes from your clan have traveled to the Other Side and brought back god treasures, no such quest has been successful in decades.

Physical Manifestation: Clan Ring, made out of bronze and silver, which your chieftain wears on his arm.
Communication Manifestation: All bronze on the tula becomes warm to the touch.
Wyter Abilities: (based on statistics given in Your Clan above.
Awareness: 10w2 (Recognize Aldryami, Vigilant for Imperial Enemies)
Defense: 10w2 (Hide from Imperial Enemies)
Blessings: 10w2 (Early Spring Growth, Grow Vegetables, Melt Ice, Tame Bull).
Transitory Abilities: None.

Terms and Colloquial Idioms

He rides the Storm - He is lucky.

The Chief blows your way - The chief shares your opinion.

Maran breathes - [light] earthquake

He is as staunch as Heler - He is of utmost loyalty

Red-Turner - Lunar convert