Clans are the largest and probably most important constituent parts of the M’rowan Commonwealth. Roughly the equivalent of sovereign states on Earth, the clans carry out a number of functions in the political life of the Commonwealth and for their members. The clans organize the government administration and defence forces (such as they are among the M’rowans), manage the economies, provide for education and (again, such as they are) social services, and constitute an important part of any M’rowan’s identity and cultural background.
With a few exceptions, clans are governed by an Ar’rizztu-Ka’i, a ‘patriarch’ or ‘matriarch’ who either received the position through appointment by their predecessor or (rarely) through a successful leadership challenge (see below). Usually, the actual powers of any Ar’rizztu-Ka’i depend on a combination of tradition and their level of support in the clan; an Ar’rizztu-Ka’i who overestimates how much they can get away with will soon face deteriorating support and suthority, and eventually leadership challenges. Thus, most Ar’rizztu-Ka’i-ax rule with a loose hand, preferring to seek consensus and set out broad policy and strategic objectives, rather than govern in detail and through coercion.
A M’rowan child becomes an adult and a full member of the clan through a ceremony which requires him or her to show skill in a certain ability, such as hunting an animal, building a tool, performing a work of art, etc. The child must demonstrate that it is capable of contributing to the clan in some way.
It is possible, if very rare, to change one’s clan membership. The exceptions are the Azi’dra-Chari, all of whom by tradition belong to Clan Cha’ezh. Thus, a member of another clan who becomes a Keeper must change to Cha’ezh.
The M’rowans do not have courts or prisons. Criminal punishment is carried out by the clans, and usually involves the loss of support or privileges for a certain period of time depending on the severity of the crime. The most serious crimes can involve banishment from the clan or enslavement. The death penalty is virtually unknown due to a strong taboo on killing inside the clan, dating from the time when the clans were small hunting bands where every member counted.
Unlike in smaller groups, challenges of clan leadership are never resolved through the Aza’i’razzht, as the M’rowans recognize that leadership at this level requires more than just combat ability. When a leadership challenge is raised, both the challenger and the challenged leader must seek out and present a certain benefit to the tribe, such as new resources, discoveries, allies, etc. The offered benefits are evaluated by the clan Keepers who, at least in theory, stand above clan politics.
Challengers are allowed to receive assistance, but only from within their own clan; to accept support from other clans in such a contest would be practically treasonous. Since the challenged leader, on the other hand, is allowed the use of all the existing resources of the clan in obtaining the required advancement, the vast majority of challenges fail. Most M’rowans see no problem in this – change of leadership should only happen in the rarest of situations and only if the deposed leader was demonstrably incompetent.
Clan origin myths
Each of the clans has its own origin myth, which not just explains how and for what reasons the clan was founded. Usually, they contain a set of fundamental principles which are important for the clan and serves to distinguish it from other clans.
While the historical accuracy of most of these myths is of course questionable, that is somewhat beside the point; their function is to provide a common identity and cohesiveness for the clan members. In this way, they serve as a quite powerful uniting factor for the otherwise highly individualistic and fractious M’rowans.
(Individual origin myths are found under the specific clan’s entry)