– from The Song of Conas Mac Gadhar, describing the Atavism of Riastradth
Living in the deep forests and steppes of the north-west are the Phelan, a proud race of wolves who are cousin to the Bisclavret. The Phelan have customs and ways of life very different from other Calabrese – many speak their old language of Berla Feini, and few have given up their old ways of worship in favor of these new gods. Phelan society is dominated by the folk known as Druids, who serve as mediators between the mundane and the spiritual worlds. Of all the folk of Calabria, the Phelan have the most accomplished Atavists.
The noble titles of the Phelan are not hereditary; successor are chosen among the worthy. As can be imagined, there are many squabbles and feuds over power and wealth. The Phelan are united mostly by their dislike for all other factions on Calabria, especially the Bisclavret who have forsaken the old ways in favor of avarice and greed (by Phelan reckoning, anyway.)
Note: Tuath meaning Clan, na meaning Of
The Northern Clan: Tuath na Cell
The youngest of All the Clans, the Cell earned their status during the night of Seiscthirwhen King Foirteamhail was sworin in on a dark Imbolic night. While the lands of the Iargul and Reeoil enjoy lush countryside and plentiful game, the forests of the Cell run colder, and their plains are sparse and unforgiving. Perhaps the result of their isolation from other peoples of Calabria, the Cell are the most distrustful of outsiders and the most practiced in howling and Atavism.
By Phelan law, the chieftain must be pure of body, mind and spirit, without any physical deformities, crippling injuries, afflictions of madness, or unforgiven crimes. The Cell take this law very seriously….since they prize the arts of battle above all else, it is hard to find someone who has not suffered some disfigurement at the hands of others.
Queen Morfessa currently sits upon the Cell throne, as she has not only proven her skills to lead many capaigns against their foes, but as a testament to her ability, she is unscathed by the horrors of the battlefield.
There are those who say that nowhere else in the world can be found warriors more dedicated and skilled than the assembled forces of the Cell. People who think the Aos Daoine are the “gentler” class of folk have never seen the gifted folk of the Cell, assembled with bravest Fianna in the front lines in their finest arms with their Fools who foad the troops into battle-frenzy, and the Druids raining down fire and ice to smite their enemies.
The Southern Clan: Tuath na Deasich
Founded many years ago by Phelan who were fleeing the Strife between Iargul and Reeoil. Under the charismatic leadership of Finias Cantaireachd, a new clan was formed by folk too young to inherit the distrust and enmity of their ancestors. the Daesaich have had the most exposure to the rest of the Calabrese, and thus most likely to be understood and to have good relations with the rest of the islanders. the Deasaich are cousins of the BIsclavret, although they do not like to talk about it_ many years ago, the Bisclavret declared themselves a Noble House outside of Phelan Law.
Recently, the Bisclavret have been building coastal towns at the mouths of the minor rivers that drain into the Deasaich lands and into the sea. While the Bisclavret have eyes moving northward, the Deasich’s defenses would make Military victory costly, but not impossible.
Instead, the Bisclavret spend their time building Ports and sailing ships, which is still more profitable.
The Methods by which the Phelan choose their heirs may be different, but succession among the Deasaich is stranger still. When the king or queen is no longer fit to rule, a great Singing Contest is held, wherein all Deasaich are eligable. Each singer preforms an origional song that is ruled to be “the best” is appointed king. (Or so the story goes — more likely the nobility vote on whom they think will be the best ruler, and the song is a formality). Twelve years ago, King Uscias played the lyre, won over the hearts of the nobles, and claimed the throne.
It is hard to go anywhere in Deasich lands without meeting a musician or a wandering Bard. Farmers hum to themselves in the fields, smiths whistle while they work, and even grim warriors sometimes sing out their battle cries.
Bisclavret Spies claim warriors and Fianna are to be found everywhere, behind almost every bush and tree. In truth, Daesaich has the least able-bodied warriors of any of the Phelan clans, and lazy Bisclavret nobles are trying to justify their high taxes.
The Western Clan: Tuath na Iargul
Spreading across the west coast, the lands of the Iargul were the first settled by the Phelan, and thus the oldest. Roads have deep furrows here, surrounded on one or more sides with earthen bulwarks as the roads have been repeatedly dug out.
Many a Phelan has taken a pilgrimage to Cathair Murias to stare off the cliffs, to meditate on the endless sea and to ponder their humble origins. Iargul’s western coastline is not gradual–rather its lush greenery and exposed stones right up to a sheer drop before a rocky shore. The rest of the landscape is a mixture between closely guarded farms and forsaken bogs and “broken land.” The dense population has largely exhausted hunting and game animals in the area. However, there is no lack for meat, as the cumalai bred here are largely agreed to be the best of all around. Drays, rouncies, and coursers can also be found, though they hardly have the quality of Triskellian mounts.
For hundreds of years, the Druids of Iangul have held councel not only with the king of their clan, but with all Phelan people, serving in almost every learned capacity: as doctors, historians, Although the Brehona are still regarded as the voice of the law, the people of Iargul will often consult a Druid for spiritual advice before seeking out legal advice.
Most of the people of Iargul are trained in the Fighting arts, but they are far removed from the constant strife that plagues the Oirthir or the Cell. However, the Druids have magicks well suited for the art of war, and any war party would have at least one with them, often two or more.
The Eastern Clan: Tuath na Oirthir
The Oithir have settled furthest inland of any of the Phelan, since the Bisclavret declared themselves a separate people. All Phelan agree that the territory this clan controls is the most fertile in their entire demesne. Many outsiders agree, too, and as a result this land is witness to most of the border-skirmishes and battles that the Phelan must fight against the Noble Houses of Calabria to defend what is theirs.
When the Bisclavret openly denounce the Phelan they are referring to the Oithirr in particular — either it is the frequent border-raids, or it is the resentment that such good land “goes to waste” when presided over by “primitive” Phelan. The Doloreaux are only slightly less beligerent, possibly because of their empathy with the pantheistic practices of the Phelan. The folks of Triskellian only rarely concern themselves with the Oirthir, since they live many leagues away. Even more seldom does any Avoirdupois venture far enough west to encounter with Oithir, or any Phelan at all. It is rumored that the Oithir are on good terms with the Doloreaux’s long-standing enemy the Chevernise, but nothing has been proven.
Of all the lands controlled by the Phelan, the lands of Oithir are the most desired. The forests grow thick and lush with stout wood, next to fish-stocked rivers. Indeed, the people who live here might enjoy an easy life…were it not that they were bordered on the northeast by the Doloreaux, and Southeast by the Bisclavret, two noble houses eager to expand territory.
By his keen wits and his skilled advisors, King Esras holds dominion over Oirthir as did his father, and father’s father before him. His greatest difficulty is keeping a large population of Fianna in line — in theory, these warriors represent the standing forces to keep out the foreign warriors; in practice, when left to their own devices they form bandit-gangs and prey outlanders. Like any good king, Eras stands behind his subjects. When strange nobles come to his door to protest roving bands of Phelan who rob their border-towns and carriages, he is quick to deny any knowledge of such activity…and then is quick to add he has clear proof of outlanders attacking his own “peaceful” subjects.
Nowhere else in Phelan lands can one find greater evidence that these wolves believe that “the gods are everywhere.” Standing stones, carved trees, and revered wells can be found everywhere. Perhaps the lushness of Oirthir’s territory that has inspired them to give so many offerings to the spiritual world. Despite all these trappings, Druids are rare. The few that are present are usually from othe Clans, as the Oithir devote little time to “academic” persuits. Oithir has the largest standing army. Most are Militia– farmers who train in the arts of war when they can. Many are Fianna, the “warrior-knights” who are full time fighters — and since they do not support themselves with honest work, they often turn to banditry.
Oithir lands are some of the most choice in Calabria. Frequent rainfall keeps the land green and lush. The summers are often nice, although high humidity is not unknown. Warriors of Oithir have been known to use the fog of the Valleys to mask their numbers.
The Central Clan: Tuath na Reeoil
The noble Reeoil clan lay claim to a Large patch of land, more or less in the middle of Phelan territories. From here the king holds sway over the lands extending eastward nearly to the shores of Storvhindlen Lake (known as Grannos to the Phelan) and westward toward the Coast., ending a few leagues from the ocean at a roughly-defined border with the Iargul clan who holds sway over the actual coastline.
Their northern border is much more definate– tip of barren land that seperates the Wildenlands from the rest of Clabria, known as the Giant’s Road and the Scar. These lands are not quite as wild and desolate as those of most of the other clans, though still untamed by the standards of Triskellian and Bruges. Small clearings dot the woods, providing a home to several small villages, Many of those have marked paths leading from them to their closest neighboring settlement. It is still easy to get hopelessly lost in foul weather, but one may blunder on in the hopes of stumbling across a village in a few days.
Taken from page 24 of the Phelan role play book
To the Phelan, the world of the Mystic and the World of the Mundane are the same. Everything around them is an expression of life and creation. While the Phelan are apt to speak of “gods and goddesses,’ these terms have a different meaning for them. Gods have no faces or images, they are personifications of natural forces and coincidence. The icons of folk such as the Doloreaux or the Chevernaise are alien to the Phelan who usually see such things as crass and missing the Point.
As the world is full of omens and spiits, it is necessary for someone to work as an intermediary between the mundane and supernatural worlds. This role falls upon the Aos Daoine, also known as Druids. Trained in the Secret ways by Oral tradition, the Druids take note of the omens that the uninitiated may miss. It is commonly accepted among the Phelan that folks are often born with a kind of destiny known as Geis.
While the druids believe that there is a “life-force’ to the world, like the Penitents of S’allumer do, they do not agree that one needs to echew material goods and passions to “rise above” needy concerns, nor do they acknowledge an after-life or sanctification. The Phelan believe that one lives in this world and no other, some may reincarnate and live again, but most folk will not. Their religious festivals are a mixture of righteous awe in the face of nature and a vivacous passion for living.
Names of the Phelan
Taken from pages 52 and 53 of the Phelan Ironclaw Roleplay book
Most folk have a surname, or second name that tells of their relation, combined with a word that describes the descent. The word Mac means “son of” so Beagan mac Kennocha would mean “Beagen son of Kennocha.” The word Sen means “daughter of,” as in Jilleen sen Isibeal. Usually boys take the surname of their father, and girls the surname of their mother, but there are exceptions.
Every Phelan belongs to a derbfhine , or an extended family that traces descent to a common ancestor. the modifying word Ua, grandson” or “granddaughter of,” would go in front of such a name. For example, Lugiad mach Uathac would expand to “Lugiad, son of the grandson of Thach,” meaning Lugiad takes pride in tracing his line back that far. Among other things, one’s derbfhine determines whether one can claim nobility.
A name can be combined with the prefix Gil- or Kil-, or with the word Giolla , meaning “one who serves.” For example, Gilroy means “one who serves Roy.” Phelan locals may refer to an outlander by the cause they serve, such as Corcoran Giolla Bisclavret , meaning “Corcoran who serves the Bisclavret.”
A – Aedammair, Aideen, Ailionora, Ailis Aine, Airmid, Aisling, Alma, Ana, Andastre, Anu, Aoife, Artis
B – Banba, Beare, Becuma, Berrach, Bevin, Binne, Blaire, Blaithin, Boann, Brenda, Briana, Brid, Bryg
C – Cahan, Caillech, Cairech, Caireann, Caitriona, Caolinn, Casidhe, Ceara, Celach, Cessair, Ciar, Cliona, Clodagh, Cochrann, Colleen, Conchobarre, Cori, Criedne, Cuimhne
D – Dairene, Darby, Daron, Dealla, Dechtire, Deirdre, Delaney, Delbchaem, Derry, Dervil, Devnet, Doireann, Doirind, Doneele, Donnfhliadh, Druantia, Dubh, Dubhessa
E – Eabha, Eachna, Eadan, Earlene, Eavan, Ebliu, Edana, Eibhilin, Eilinora, Eilis, Eithne, Elatha, Elva, Emer, Ernine, Etan, Etaoin
F – Fand, Fedelm, Finnsech, Fionnabhair, Fionuala, Flann, Flidais, Fodla, Fuamnach, Geileis, Fianait, Fidelma, Finnsech, Fionnabhair, Fionnuala, Flann, Flidais, Fodla, Fuamnach
G – Geileis, Glenna, Gobnait, Gormlaith, Grania, Granuaile
I – Isibeal
J – Jillen
K – Kacey, Kaitlin, Keara, Keavy, Keelin, Kennocha, Kerry, Kevyn, Kiley
L – Labhaoise, Laoise, Lasair, Liadan, Luiseach