Following a worldwide catastrophe, industrial civilisations have crumbled taking down with them all global communication networks. With no access to oil or electricity, humans have gone back to nature and lead a self-sufficient existence in small groups that eke out a living in an inhospitable landscape. Illiteracy has again become the norm.
Before the events of this story, the Clan was one large extended family, living in self-imposed isolation on a mountainous territory. The Clan consisted at all times of between 130 to 140 people, including 52 workers, aged between 18 and 60, and approximately 30 retired workers and 50 children under 18.
Their long history spanned several hundred years during which they strictly implemented a zero population growth policy thanks to a contraceptive potion inherited from their early days. The Clan’s Chiefs allowed only enough births to replace worker numbers. Outsiders could not become part of the Clan, and no Clan member had ever left the Clan.
The founders of the Clan – often referred to as ‘The First Twelve’ – decided that stable numbers were the key to their survival in their wild environment. They postulated that their territory could only feed and sustain about a hundred people: enough to work and replace each generation, but not so many that resources would become stretched.
They also came to believe that certain mental or physical qualities were necessary to best perform specific tasks. They assumed that these qualities ran in families.
Therefore, the Clan’s Chief chooses the parents of each child to be born so that he or she may inherit the qualities required to eventually replace a specific worker. Children are trained from a young age for their intended job by the very worker that they will replace. Every time a worker retires, the child born to take their place enters the workforce as an apprentice.
Men and women are interchangeable and will take up any vocation for which they are conceived, regardless of their gender. Women fight, and men raise children indifferently.
Unplanned children are very rare, one or two per generation at most. They are called the Surprises and raised for a broader skill set so that they can support different workers on a temporary basis. They also replace workers on a more permanent basis when someone dies before their appointed replacement is old enough to take over.
The Clan had 11 vocations, each with three key skills or attributes.
Chief: (Intelligence – Memory – Compassion) One Chief and an Apprentice. The Clan Chief makes the decisions for the Clan. He or she enforces Clan laws, chooses a mother and a father for each child depending on their intended vocation. The Chief also records and safeguards bloodlines, and has ultimate responsibility for the welfare and work appraisal of each member of the Clan. A cross between general, judge and human resources director.
Singers: (Memory – Intelligence – Creativity) – The three Singers are the guardians of the Clan’s oral traditions. They memorise and perform all of the Clan songs that records the history of the Clan. They advise the Chief on the interpretation of Clan’s rules. A cross between lawyer, journalist, historian and musician.
Teachers: (Compassion – Patience – Intelligence) – Four Teachers care for and educate the children under 18. A cross between teachers and foster parents.
Makers: (Creativity – Practicalness – Intelligence) – The four Makers are designers and craftspeople. They invent and make everything from tools and weapons to clothing, houses and everyday items. A cross between inventors, designers and artisans.
Keepers: (Compassion – Practicalness – Patience) – The five Keepers breed, train and look after the Clan’s birds.
Healers: (Memory – Compassion – Creativity) – The three Healers are the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, therapists and dentists to the Clan.
Gatherers: (Practicalness – Memory – Diligence) – The five Gatherers pick fruit, nuts and plants, collect eggs, forage for wild foods, and gather natural materials like firewood, wicker, and grasses for cordage.
Farmers: (Practicalness – Strength – Diligence) – The seven Farmers farm the fields for oats, rye or corn. They grow vegetables, breed and shear the sheep and keep chickens, ducks, and silkworms
Cooks: (Practicalness – Creativity – Diligence) – The four Cooks butcher the meat, preserve and stock food, and prepare meals for the Clan.
Hunters: (Practicalness – Intelligence – Strength) – The four Hunters hunt for rabbits, birds, deer or bears to provide food and fur, and they protect the Clan from dangerous or nuisance animals. They’re also in charge of aerial surveillance and defence of the Clan’s territory.
Guardians: (Strength – Practicalness – Diligence) – The nine Guardians guard and defend the Clan’s territory, manufacture and maintain the Clan’s weapons. They accompany and serve as bodyguards to those who work outside the Territory.
Clanspeople come of age at 18 in a special naming ceremony during which they choose their patronymic or matronymic name, a compound of their mother’s or father’s name with the suffix ‘born’. At the end of the ceremony, they are officially introduced into the workforce and become Apprentices in their particular vocation. At age 21, they become fully-fledged workers.
Exceptionally gifted workers may be given the honorific title of ‘Master’. Masters take on a supervisory role for the other workers of the same vocation. They are entitled to a separate house.
Workers retire between 55 and 60, depending on their health and the availability of their replacement. Retired workers continue to serve the Clan as Helpers, either in their original vocations or in any other capacity they choose.
Infant mortality is high. One-third of children do not live past the age of five. Life expectancy at five is 55 years. Some Clanspeople die of accidents or diseases but most die of old age. Death in childbirth has been virtually eradicated by strict rules regulating which women can bear children. Women will normally have their children between 20 and 25. Only women with wide enough pelvises are allowed to breed. Clanswomen are fit and slim, and although many will take up to a month to recover from childbirth, very few die. When faced with the choice of saving a mother or a baby, it is Clan rule that the Healer will always save the mother. Women who become depressed after childbirth are not called upon to breed again.
Stringent precautions are taken to promote good health. Water is systematically boiled whether for washing food or cooking. The Healers impose frequent bathing and hand washing adequate clothing for any weather and regular health checkups. These combined with natural sleep patterns, a varied and nutritious diet, all-day physical activity and a strong sense of belonging and usefulness, keep Clanspeople healthy and strong.
Clanspeople believe in good hygiene, hair and oral care, regular clothes washing and thorough cleaning of dwellings and particularly kitchen and kitchenware. Healers are allowed to quarantine sick people, no matter what their illness is. The sick are then looked after by the Helpers until they either die or get better to avoid contamination of workers.
Plants are the main source of medicine, with extensive use of herbal recipes, mostly as a preventative measure rather than curative effort.
The Clan farms several fields for crops such as wheat, rye or oats.
Clanspeople have a varied and wholesome diet of grains, game meat, fish, eggs, mutton or lamb, potatoes, carrots and various greens either foraged or grown, as well as mushrooms, apples, berries and nuts.
They make cheese and butter from ewe’s milk and cook oats, acorn or rye flour into porridge or gruel. They favour soups, stews, roasted meat, boiled or sautéed vegetables and sandwiches made with flatbread cooked on hot stones or twisted bread dough roasted on sticks. They have re-invented the art of preserving food by drying, curing or smoking and thus eat three solid meals a day all year round.
They drink milk, or infused leaves such as sage, nettle, thyme or mint and a tea made from chopped greasewood. They eat little sweet food apart from fruit, beetroot and wild honey. They think it strange that Outsiders should drink alcoholic beverages, but they distil a type of vodka for cleaning wounds.
Clanspeople wear woven or knitted wool fabric, leather or furs over silk underclothing. They favour layers with leggings and vests worn underneath leather trousers and knitted or woven tunics.
Woollen knee socks are held in place by leg wrappings and leather shin pads. Hunters, Guardians and Farmers strap leather arm braces over their shirt sleeves, and wear thick belts or waistcoats to gather their shirts round their middle to free their movements. In winter, Clanspeople keep warm with knitted scarves, mufflers or cowls, fur hoods or shoulder capes. As Hunters and Guardians may be away from the Village for days at a time, they each own a travelling cloak made of oiled animal skin and lined with rabbit fur at the neck, hood and cuffs. The cloaks are large enough to double up as sleeping bags or tent material if need be.
Boots, gloves and hats are made of tanned animal skins and lined with wool or fur.
Clothes are the property of the Clan and are designed to be worn by men or women interchangeably. Belts and arm and leg wrappings are worn to adjust garments to the size of the wearer. Women may at times wear dresses or longer tunics, especially during the warm summer months.
Clanspeople live in the 11 Lodges that circle the Fire Pit and the Village Square. Each vocation has its own lodge where workers sleep and keep their tools and possessions. Children live in dormitories inside Teachers Lodge until they are 18 then move into the Lodge corresponding to their vocation. The children of the Master workers may live in their parent’s house although this is a rare occurrence. The retired workers and the Surprises live in the Great Lodge with the Chief.
In addition to the Lodges, the Village consists of a large bath house with several separate bathrooms, two sets of latrines, a wood store, a grain store, a food store and five bird sheds. The Village is nestled against the tallest mountain of the Clan’s territory. It is surrounded by fields dedicated to farming or grazing as well as by allotment-type vegetable plots maintained by the Farmers.
The buildings are mostly made out of wood although some are reinforced by stone walls and abutments. Roofs are made of shingles.
Sanitation is provided by a mountain stream that runs through the Village and brings fresh water and flushes sewage into an underground drain system. Recycling and up-cycling is one of the Clan’s strictest rules and waste is kept to a minimum and fully biodegradable.
The Clan breeds giant birds descended from condors and eagles that they ride for travelling long distances. The Clan’s territory is not accessible on foot. This has been key to preserving the Clan’s isolation.
They are about 20 birds. The Chief, the Master Healer and each Hunter or Guardian has his or her own bird. The rest of the birds are available to anyone who needs to travel to carry out their work.
Birds are trained from chick-hood to carry people on their backs and are taught simple commands. They wear a leather saddle and harness with bridle and reins around their head and beak.
These exceptionally large birds are omnivores and eat a range of small animals, but also grains and vegetables.
Clanspeople do not eat either the eggs or the flesh of their birds. Dead birds are cremated and their ashes scattered in the wind at a special ceremony attended by all Clan’s members.
The Clan’s territory consists of three mountains surrounded by thorny hedges ten to twenty feet tall imply called the Hedge. It includes several woodlands oaks, pines and cedars as well as orchards and grasslands. The river that forms from the different streams cascading down the mountains provide fishing for the Clan. The river ends near the Hedge in a spectacular 50ft waterfall. The Clan’s territory is teeming with wildlife from deers to rabbits and wild birds.
The climate is temperate with four distinct seasons, and the temperature vary from 15°F (-10°C) to 90°F (30°C).
It is surrounded by a plain area, called the Lowlands, and further out by a semidesert called the Wastelands that stretches for hundreds of miles in every direction. The landscape is dotted with patches of grass and small woodlands due to fresh water springs rising from the ground. Strong winds sweep the plains, and the vegetation is sparse with mostly bushes and grasses.