Saturday, 3 April 2010

the mother wolves

The Mother Wolves are a close-knit sisterhood who dedicate lives and souls to a deity of war and slaughter. They are always well-armed and armoured.  Famed for battle-howls that chill the blood their lust for carnage make them greatly feared.  Membership includes and is not limited to fighters, barbarians, avengers and warlords.  In spite of their reputation, a Mother Wolf is as smart as ever and can function within society if their duties do not compromise them.  For them, the war never ends.  Many of them were torn from their lives by war's impartial brutality and they embrace it.  This has led to training that emphasises endurance, vicious bloodlust and an informal code of honour.

Avenge my death tenfold.
Blood demands blood.
Duty to the deity.
Loyalty to the Mother Wolves.
Surrender is death.
The leader shares the spoils.

They do not advertise the code, acting on it's dictates instead of debating with outsiders.  Failure to fulfill their duties inspire dreams of helplessness and bouts of psychosis inspired by the deity.  These often tap into painful memories.  Betrayal of the deity compels other Mother Wolves to hunt and kill the traitor.  In some cases where the other Mother Wolves were already slain, monsters (hags, rakshasa and werewolves) were sent to avenge the slight.

The lowest rank of the sisterhood, over a lunar cycle a prospective claw undergoes scarification, starvation and isolation in the wild to carve out softness and stitch in place fury.  Those who fail go mad from horror, die of thirst or are killed in combat.  Those who succeed share blood with the Mother Wolves who induced them and are uniquely suited to what follows - a career involving increasing carnage.  The claw is still capable of reason yet their need to kill isolates them.  Newly-returned claws must take care to avoid being outlawed or punished for murder.  Those who manage to keep themselves hidden enjoy notoriety among her sisters, not just for her skill but also for the intelligence they can gather.  Some troubled towns after the untimely death of a respected matron have been torn apart by a pack of scarred warriors looking for revenge.

Requisites: Endurance and Intimidate skills, Toughness feat.
Benefits: A claw gains the following.

  • +1 bonus to Intimidate checks
  • +1 bonus to Endurance checks to resist hunger or thirst.
Duties: A claw must kill three times in combat every lunar cycle and if asked, assist a fang (see below) in helping to initiate other claws.

The next rank is what bards evoke when they speak of Mother Wolves - a howling virago in bloody armour, killing indiscriminately.  The prospective fang is taken on a raid or battle led by an eye (see below).  If they kill nine times during the battle or raid, either bringing proof or being witnessed by a sister, they must then run a gauntlet of six fangs armed with clubs.  If she survives, she shares blood with the gauntlet members and the eye.  New fangs often seek out battle, realising their duty makes living in civilisation difficult and often become bloody-handed reavers, banding together with others to make their territory perilous, their screaming howls sometimes attributed to those of monsters.

Requisites: Hold claw rank for a lunar year.  Participate in initiation of two claws.  Defensive Mobility feat.
Benefits:  A fang gains the following bonuses.
  • +1 bonus to Intimidate checks.
  • +1d6 damage bonus against opponents granting combat advantage.
Duties:  A fang must kill six times in combat every lunar cycle.  They must also initiate a claw every lunar year and may call on the help of other claws. 

A prospective eye must be chosen by a heart (see below) to fight in a battle or raid.  They must kill twelve foes in battle and bring proof or be witnessed by their sisters. If the battle or raid is successful (at the DM's discretion), the eye walks a gauntlet of twelve fangs armed with clubs.  If they survive this, the heart will give them a new scar and declare them an eye.  The resulting celebrations are riotous, often fuelled by the spoils of war and assure the deity of their devotion. 

The eye's duty to kill takes them into war.  Little else satisfies sustained slaughter, soldiers seldom draw attention and sometimes honour.

Requisites: Hold fang rank for a lunar year.  Participate in initiation of two fangs.  Devastating Critical feat.
Benefits:  An eye gains the following benefits.
  • +1 bonus to Intimidate checks.
  • +2 bonus to Perception checks when in combat only.
Duties:  An eye must kill nine times in combat every lunar cycle.  They must also command at least six fangs and their attendant claws once a lunar year in a battle or raid.

An eye desiring to become a heart has a relatively simple objective beyond the usual service and initiation of others. All they have to do is start a war and have it acknowledged by their deity. This acknowledgement may take various forms, from angelic accolade to visions conferred by the deity themselves and the sudden painful appearance of a scar over the sternum.

Once the heart is known as such, they get no extra privilege or help from the deity and must take the reins of leadership for themselves. While loyalty within the Mother Wolves is fierce, the rivalry between hearts and prospective hearts as to who leads is something that enemies are quick to capitalise on. Nobody dares to ask if this serves the will of the deity.

Requisites: Hold eye rank for a lunar year. Participate in initiation of two eyes. Start a war.
Benefits:  A heart gains the following benefits.
  • +1 bonus to Intimidate checks.
  • +2 bonus to Will saves.
Duties: A heart must kill twelve times in combat every lunar cycle.  They must also command at least two eyes and their attendent Mother Wolves once a lunar year in a battle or raid. The heart will often send the eyes out to fulfill their own duties as part of a wider campaign.

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