The Noble Clans
The Noble Clans are the twelve families from which spring the nobility of the Empire. Eight of the Clans, the Elder Clans, are descended from the Eight Tigers, the leaders of the first eight tribes of Imperials to swear allegiance to the Emperor. The other four Clans are the Lesser Clans, founded more recently. There are, in addition numerous Least Clans, very small, regional clans that are usually offshoots of the Lesser Clans, as the Lesser Clans were offshoots of the Elder; Least Clans include Immaculate Mantis, Red Hare, Sword Circle, and the long-lost Serpent Clan, exterminated during the long-ago Tiger-Scorpion War.
The Elder Clans
Crimson Tiger Clan
Crimson Tiger was the first of the Eight Tigers to swear allegiance to the Emperor. His clan was one of fierce warriors and swordsmen, and today, the Crimson Tiger Clan still possesses a reputation as a Clan of mighty fighters. The strongest clan in numbers, the Crimson Tigers recieved the onus of being the first clan to submit, and though they are a strong and proud Clan, they still possess a reputation as quick to submit and unreliable. Crimson Tigers are as often members of the Legions as members of the Imperial Authority, and the famous General Recrimination and Apology was a Crimson Tiger by birth, though he renounced his Clan near the end of his life.
The symbol of the Crimson Tigers is an angry tiger, claw outstretched; their banner is a crimson silk banner with wavy edges, hung from a long spear.
The Crimson Tiger Clan is the enemy of the Water Mask Clan, who they believe are underhanded and cowardly. Also, the Six Wasp Clan has declared that the Crimson Tiger Clan is an Unfriend, due to the Crimson Tigers horning in on the Six Wasps' shipping interests.
Great Eagle Clan
Great Eagle was the second to swear to the Emperor. He was a brilliant yet unstable man, prone to bouts of intense fury followed by periods of brooding, who, once he was taught his letters, wrote two-hundred-and-seventy-four scrolls of revolutionary ideas about the sciences, the Earth, the nature of the Gods, and magic. His clan was never very large, nor very powerful, but they made up for it in ingenuity, and they were always the most advanced Clan. Great Eagles have a well-earned reputation for both great brilliance and great madness. It was the Great Eagle scholar Twelve Sighs at Midnight who founded the Brotherhood of Wisdoms, who still serve the Empire as a sort of combination mad scientist's guild/labratory/scholarly brotherhood/et cetera.
The symbol of the Great Eagle Clan is a great white hawk, wings outspread against the golden sun; their banner is an extra-long, straight banner of grey silk, with golden tassels.
Great Eagles are wisely neutral, but they hold a certain disdain for members of the Unbroken Wheat Clan, who they consider to be peasant upstarts and simple dirt farmers.
Running was the third of the Eight Tigers, a practical man with a head for keeping order. He proposed the idea of the Code of Law to the Emperor, and he was made the first Magistrate. The Running Clan founded the Ministry of Law, and their ties to it are unbreakable. Many Running Clan nobles become Magistrates, and just as many join the Ministry of Law as simple workers. The Running Clan has never stood out very much, preferring to be stolid, practical folk working for the Empire's good, and they are, for the most part, content to stay out of the brightest of lights, though there is a young faction within that has called for the Clan to take a more visible role in the Empire's workings.
Secretly, the Running Clan is also tied to the All-Seeing Eye, the Emperor's secret police and spy network, and the bulk of All-Seeing Eye agents are from the Running Clan. This sinister side of the Clan is spoken of by no member, and the punishment among them for speaking of the All-Seeing Eye to outsiders is exile or death.
The symbol of the Running Clan is a black hand with the Imperial character for "running" in white on its palm; their banner is ochre, with crenelated edges, mounted on a simple staff of unlacquered wood.
Running Clan is the ultimate neutral Clan. They proclaim no rivalries or alliances. However, because the Running Clan refused a claim of no trial on certain important legal battles of the Advancing Shadow Clan, and because they frequently prosecute Whale's Rib Clan pirates, those two Clans have significant grudges against them.
Water Mask Clan
Water Mask was a clever, mischievious man, known for his sneakiness and pragmatism. He did not join the Emperor until it was clear that the Empire was inevitable. He, and the Clan begotten by him, had, and have, a well-deserved reputation as sneaky, treacherous, self-serving, and very clever. Due to underhanded, sneaky trade tactics, connections to the Moieties (OOC: the Empire's guilds), and various legally-questionable actions in the past, the Water Mask Clan is the richest Clan (despite also being a group of misers and stingy moneygrubbers). Water Masks are experts at avoiding prosecution, and if their was ever a Moiety for thieves, the Water Mask Clan is it.
The symbol of the Water Mask Clan is a blue-green circle with a blue lotus blossom in the center; their banner is a right triangle of black grass-cloth, posted on a blue-lacquered staff with a mask posted on top.
No Clan is Water Mask's friend. Their sneakiness and underhanded dealings have a tendency to alienate them from their noble compatriots. They are especially disliked by the Crimson Tiger Clan (who disdain their roguery) and Running Clan (who are becoming increasingly angry at their skirting of the Law).
Advancing Shadow Clan
Advancing Shadow was a bitter enemy of the Emperor, and his clan was the last to join. Advancing Shadow was a proud and vengeful man, and a mighty warrior (though not as skilled as Crimson Tiger), but in the end, his hatred became grudging respect, and though he refused to bow before the Emperor, he was accepted as one of the Eight Tigers. The Clan of Advancing Shadow are a people similar to their forefather, gloomy and prone to brooding, long-grudging and proud; they have ties to many of the Ministries, Legions, and the Brotherhood of Wisdoms, but there are very few in the Priesthood, as they are not a particularly pious folk. The Advancing Shadow Clan is also not a very urban clan. Most of Advancing Shadows are based in rural districts and wilderness areas, regions that suit their stormy temperament. Their Clan seat is not located in an Imperial Prefecture city, as most Clan seats are; rather, it lies within a forested district owned by the Clan.
The symbol of the Advancing Shadow Clan is three silver triangles; their banner is long and black, hung on a black staff with iron-shod ends.
The Advancing Shadow Clan is a rather unpopular one; it has significant grudges against the Running Clan, White Wolf Clan (who they despise), Crane Clan, and Unbroken Wheat Clan, all due to various "injustices" perpetrated by these clans against them in the past.
White Wolf Clan
White Wolf was a passionate, hasty young chieftan who leapt to join the Emperor when his friend Running bowed. White Wolf was an extremely pious individual, and even today, his Clan has strong ties to the Priesthood. White Wolves are passionate, emotional, and often rash, with a tendency towards blind faith and blind courage. They have a tendency to rush into situations which they might not have a way out of. The White Wolves are very influential in Northern trade, and much of the shipping in the Mountain and western North regions is run through agents of the White Wolf Clan.
The symbol of the White Wolf Clan is, understandably, a white wolf with sharp teeth and jaws spread wide; their banner is fan-shaped and dark red, and is hung on a red-lacquered staff topped with a pair of small bells.
White Wolves are looked upon well in the Empire. While passionate and zealous, they are also likeable and friendly to other clans. A notable exception is the Advancing Shadows, who the White Wolves have long despised.
Crane was the only female among the Eight Tigers, a woman renowned throughout the land as the most beautiful and the most graceful of all. Crane's people were the second most advanced clan, and though to Great Eagle's pride they never surpassed his clan in the arts, the Crane Clan did surpass, and does surpass, any other clan in grace, honor, and social skill. The Crane Clan is renowned as nobility among nobles, the upper crust of the upper crust. They are the masters of political intrigue, and in every sense of the word, they are refined, cultured, civilized, and graceful. Cranes are often calm, level-headed, unemotional, and calculating. There is a strong bloodline of beauty, especially in the central Crane, Black Crane, and Jade Crane families. The Crane Clan has a hand in every political bowl, stored favors from every Clan and many Moieties going back hundreds of years, agents in the Priesthood, the Brotherhood of Wisdoms, the Ministries, and even the Legions, despite the fact that they are not the most war-like clan.
The symbol of the Crane Clan is a white crane with a golden beak and golden legs; their banner is a straight rectangle of pale-blue silk, with yellow tassles, hanging from a black-lacquered staff.
The Crane Clan is both loved and despised- loved for being the arbiters of Imperial culture, hated for being a bunch of conniving bureaucrats who have a one-up on everybody. Many governors and officials of all kinds dread the coming of a Crane ambassador, though they, contradictorily, anticipate being graced with such a courteous and fashionable guest.
Dust Scorpion Clan
Dust Scorpion betrayed the Emperor, and everyone in the Empire knows that. Dust Scorpion attempted to slay the Emperor and the other Tigers, and everyone in the Empire knows that. The Emperor forgave Dust Scorpion, and all the Empire knows that. And for that Dust Scorpion, and all his clan, were incredibly bitter. Dust Scorpion's hatred was not the anger-tempered-with-respect that Advancing Shadow afforded the Emperor. Dust Scorpions' was the corroding despite of a man who both envies and fears his conquering enemy. Dust Scorpion's betrayal was forgiven, but never forgotten, and the Dust Scorpion Clan is infamous for being hateful, backstabbing, and vicious, a vile people who are part of the Empire only because they serve a distasteful but necessary role in the Empire. Dust Scorpions are the keepers of secrets, walkers in shadows, assassins and spies. They care little for duty, replacing it with loyalty as the pre-eminent virtue; loyalty to Clan and Empire, loyalty (tempered with hatred) to the Emperor, loyalty to their purpose. Dust Scorpions are usually seen as villains, or even as traitors- but from their point of view, their worst deeds have all stemmed from an unswerving sense of loyalty. Ironically, the most hated clan in the Empire is also popularly agreed to have the most beautiful people. There are rumors that the infamous Grass Spiders were originally an outcast family of this clan; certainly the two are similar, though the Dust Scorpions deny it vehemently.
The symbol of the Dust Scorpions is a grey scorpion with a tail curled to strike, the stinger and claws red; their banner is a blood-red right triangle, edged in black.
The Dust Scorpions are hated and feared, and likewise hate all other Clans. Only Advancing Shadows can even passingly get along with Dust Scorpions, those two Clans' viewpoints being somewhat similar. The Dust Scorpions' many incredibly illegal activities (including assassinations and perpetrating the economic collapse of the barbarian state of Atazk) have made them somewhat of a project for the Running Clan to focus on.
The Lesser Clans[/u]
Six Wasp Clan
The Six Wasps were a group of like-minded merchant-princes, centered in Red Coast, who banded together during the Tiger-Scorpion War to profit from the struggle. They did so well, in fact, and lent so much of their gathered strength to the Crimson Tigers, that the Emperor rewarded them by bestowing upon them the honor of being a Clan. The Six Wasps were the first Lesser Clan, and are among the greatest merchant powers in all the Empire. As the children of merchants, Six Wasps are born for merchantry, and their spice caravans and trading wagons are known across the land, and somewhat upon the Seas, though the Whale's Rib Clan is an overwhelming force to contend with upon the waves.
The symbol of the Six Wasp Clan is a black-and-yellow wasp within an orange circle; their banner is black, with red tassles, hung from a yellow-lacquered staff.
The Six Wasp Clan is the bitterest foe of the Whale's Rib Clan. These two clans have long warred over key trade routes, and over control of the Sea and the Islands. Whale's Rib pirates and Six Wasp traders are known to draw rangs upon a glance, and their volatile relationship does not bode well for the future. The Six Wasps also have an Unfriend in the shape of the Crimson Tigers, who have horned in on certain Heartlands shipping businesses that were formerly Six Wasp-owned.
Whale's Rib Clan
Whale's Rib was a notorious pirate and corsair, who sailed from Imperial enclaves on the Eastern Isles and terrorized the Seas for years before the coming of Dawn Breaking Swiftly Now, an Imperial woman of a Least Clan of that day, who tamed him, so to speak. Though Whale's Rib never gave up his sailing, and though piracy still sometimes fed their children, Whale's Rib became a legitimate shipping magnate and sea-tradesmen. The Whale's Rib Clan was an extremely minor Least Clan of the Isles for many centuries, though their pirates were feared, until they seized upon enough booty to buy a rather major piece of the sea-trade in the Empire. In the intervening centuries, the Whale's Ribs have become the consumate sailors of the Empire. The Imperial Navy is almost entirely staffed by Whale's Rib Clansmen, and the Seas are dominated by their swift ships. Whale's Rib pirates can be seen augmenting the clan's trade with a certain corsair flair. Whale's Ribs have a tendency to have sunny, optimistic dispositions, and are usually a few shades darker than the norm, due to the sunny climes and warm temperatures of the Sea and the Islands.
The symbol of the Whale's Rib clan is a breaching black whale with a white eye; their banner is fan-shaped, a deep sea-green, and mounted on a staff of carved driftwood.
Whale's Rib Clan relations are good. They are a happy, well-liked people, despite their piratical leanings, and their traders drive softer bargains than Six Wasp merchants. However, the Whale's Rib Clan has a certain grudge against the Running Clan for their prosecution of Whale's Rib pirates, and the competition between the Six Wasps and the Whale's Ribs has long been known.
Unbroken Wheat Clan