The Highlanders are a clannish people living primarily in the Tamaraith Highlands, Vale of Erryn and the Wildlands. They live in small family groups of twenty to forty people. The clan chieftains live in small fortified keeps. Clans can have as many as 5000 individuals.
Tattoos are used by the Clans to show social rank, clan affiliation, military rank etc. Clan members receive their first tattoo when they come of age. Outside of the Highlands it is unusual to use permanent tattoos and a variety of semi-permanent dies are used instead.
On the left cheekbone is the highlanders clan symbol. Bards and priests, because of their clanless nature, use either a harp or the symbol of their god respectively. Priests and bards are not marked until after their apprenticeship. If they fail in their craft, they will wear a clan mark.
Alongside the clan mark is the clan rank. Normal clansmen bear no mark. Elders have a blue triangle pointing downwards. Chieftains have a red dot surrounded by a yellow ring and the chieftains immediate family just have the red dot. Priests use a series of blue dots to denote rank and bards use green dots.
Warriors are marked for military rank and experience on the right cheekbone. Each battle he draws blood earns the warrior a red cross and black dots denote rank.
Coming of Age.
At the midsummer festival of their fourteenth year, young clan members come of age. Prospective warriors are marked accordingly, priests and bards are taken to their respective schools.
Clan Military Structure.
The clans are led into battle by their clan chief, or his eldest son or daughter. They have no formal attack strategies, preferring to swamp their enemies in a horde, honour and personal bravery are deemed more important. Warriors decorate themselves in garish colours and markings, covering all unexposed areas. Berserkers will often go into battle naked, painted from head to foot. Hair and beards are often caked in lime and mud to make it stand up and offer a more frightening experience. Both men and women fight side by side, the clans make no differences between the sexes.
Bards are the most important spell users in the Tamaraith. Clans keep no records or histories, relying on the bards to remember it all. Bards are expected to perform a two year apprenticeship at a bardic college, followed by a minimum of ten years as a journeyman. During this time the bard is expected to journey the lands, gathering lore and knowledge. After this period they are free to become true Bards. They can then dedicate themselves to a family or clan or continue their wandering. The chief bard of a clan bears the title Master Bard. The chief bard of a royal clan is a Royal Bard.
Bards are free from almost all laws. They may go anywhere, speak to anyone and do as they wish. They also act as magistrates in all disputes. Wherever they go, bards can expect free food and lodging, thought the bard should not expect more than the family can give.
There are seventy six living clans, of these there are twelve royal clans. The royal clans can trace their lineage back to the last king of the Tamaraith who was killed by the Elder dragon Rothgar. The Kings Sword, the symbol of sovereignty, was lost with his death and the clans will not crown a king without it.
Clan members will always receive preferential treatment from members of their own clan. Name is passes by both the male and female line. Inter clan marriages do happen but the married couple must decide which clan they are part of.
Tamaraith believe that Gwrien, Phaedra, Orloth and Balor are the major powers of the heavens. They also give prayer to the five other lesser deities - Erryn, Falenn, Druwyn, Danyth and Raeth. These five are great Tamaraith heroes who fought against the Elder Dragons in the second age.
Tamaraith are a tall race, averaging 6'2", women are generally a couple of inches shorter. Hair colour is blond, red or brown with blue or green eyes. They are generally tough and muscular and in good health.