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The Ironskull Clan (Giantblooded)


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The Ironskull Clan


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An Ironskull warrior who has shaved off their

beard, likely as a result of losing an Honor Bet. 


"Aah, is worthy opponent! Battle will be legendary!” - An anonymous Ironskull warrior charging, unarmed, towards a Troll.


“Woah, hold on now, fellas… Over there, see those big figures, way over there? No, no, they’re not monsters, they’re the folk we came to trade with. Don’t worry, I’ve dealt with them before… Just don’t make yourselves look too imposing, that gets them excited.” - Barnaby Meadowgate, Gorney merchant, travelling with his caravan guard.


“Yes, the Ironskulls... I always hear those men from the warmlands speaking in awe of our size. Hah, if only the weak fools travelled just a bit deeper into these lands… What is that saying, you are what you eat? Well, those Ironskulls eat plenty of bear.” - Alvis Radulfr, Giantblooded smith. 


History

The origin of the Ironskulls is known fondly by its clansmen and clanswomen, often sung in low grumbling tones during times of celebration. It goes that the remains of a massacred Giantblooded tribe, whose name is long-forgotten, found themselves deep in the tundras of the Giantblooded islands, away from the migration paths of most other clans. The region they found themselves in had an unusually high population of polar bears, and before long the forlorn Giantblooded found themselves commonly preyed upon by the massive beasts. They hid in fear, praying to Anomalous for salvation- and one day, it came. 

When out on a desperate hunt for food to sustain themselves, the group was attacked by a massive bear, easily weighing over a ton. Sure that the beast would be their end, they stood ready with their spears to meet this end with bravery. As the beast went to strike at them, a large figure suddenly appeared between them- the Giantblooded could not see his face, though the size and strength of the man was very much apparent. He proceeded to grapple the bear, laughing jovially as he strained against the beast. Within a minute, the man had pinned and exhausted the bear. After finishing the beast with a powerful headbutt, the figure stood there triumphantly, before vanishing. As the Giantblooded stood in awe over the corpse of the massive bear, they came to the conclusion that the mighty figure was Anomalous himself. Interpreting this as a divine sign of the true way, they decided that to truly defeat the bears which hunted them- they must become as bears themselves. They took the corpse of the giant bear as a gracious gift, feasting on every edible part of it to increase their size. Over the course of many years, the clan grew, as did their people, and they conquered the bear-infested region. Though they eventually began to return to the nomadic ways which are commonplace among Giantblooded, they often returned to this region, treating it as a holy site for their Clan.


Religion

Ironskull shamans are much like those of other clans, performing such rituals under the gaze of Anomalous, who they often refer to as “The Mightiest” (A common battle-cry for Ironskull warriors is ‘The Mightiest!’), as painting clan members and asking boons of their patron god. The might of Anomalous is venerated even by Ironskulls filling the most domestic roles of their society, driving even Ironskull traders, cooks, and caretakers to boast might in whatever way they can. 


One Ironskull ritual stands out the most- in the effort to gain the true size and stature of the bears Ironskull warriors hunt and contest themselves with, they often reach weights of 380-480 lbs., even over 500 lbs. in extreme cases. As Ironskulls reach these enormous weights, they soon find that the internals of their bodies can ill support such mass. The Rite of The Mighty Heart provides a solution to this. The Ironskull in question is made to go out and kill a polar bear in the same manner Anomalous did in song- pinning it, and finishing it with a headbutt. The corpse is then taken to the shaman’s home, where the Ironskull will lay beside it. After nearly 48 hours of tedious and excruciating prayer and ritual, Anomalous will gift the Ironskull with the heart of the bear, along with enhancing their other organs to allow them to maintain their massive bodies with greatly decreased health risks. The massive bodies still have their own downsides, however, and a wise Ironskull warrior still holds conservation of stamina above all other priorities in combat. 


Culture

A foreign visitor to the Ironskulls will often leave with a description of a strange society- one made up of fur-clad warrior-strongmen who are more than happy to boast themselves as giants among men as they look down at you with amused glee. 

Newborns of the Ironskull clan are raised in an environment as rich in compassion as in competition. Caretakers will impart wisdom upon infants as often as they stoke rivalry amongst others their age, hoping to drive Ironskull children to seek might at an early age. Those who shy from this path are looked down on with pity, and forced into less strength-reliant roles. On the other hand, the children who demonstrate the most strength or the most drive to become stronger are forced to become warriors and hunters, trained in combat from an early age, and usually given larger portions of food.


Trial of The Bear:

When an Ironskull comes of age, their rite of passage is forced upon them. In the middle of the night, older Ironskulls will take the youngblood into the middle of the tundra, and abandon them there. They are expected to hunt a bear and beat it to death, unarmed, before returning home with its body and consuming it. Even the weakest of Ironskulls are usually able to best a cub or a black bear, though stronger Ironskull youngbloods may be expected to conquer a grizzly. If an Ironskull were to return from this challenge without a dead bear, and especially without any telltale wounds, they may face banishment from the clan. It is extremely common for Ironskulls who have passed the Trial of The Bear to frequently go out into the wilderness just to complete it again, finding the act of fighting bears both thrilling and a great thing to gloat about when shouting at their rivals. Eventually an Ironskull will become so proficient at wrestling bears that they seek out new ways to challenge themselves while doing so, such as wrestling bigger bears, fighting multiple bears at the same time, or doing so while wearing nothing but a loincloth.


Honor Bets:

An Ironskull will never refuse a contest of strength- to do so, or to fail at such a contest, would be a shame to their name. An Ironskull prizes their past feats of strength as the highest form of honor, and lying about such feats is seen as taboo. During disputes, rivals in the Ironskull clan may challenge each other to Honor Bets, where one proposes a challenge of strength, usually of great difficulty. Along with the challenge, they also propose the punishment for losing the Honor Bet, which is usually something simply embarrassing, such as being forced to shave off hair, ask the shaman for a tattoo of a weak and skittish animal, or perform some foolish act voluntarily. If both rivals lose or win the Honor Bet, they are expected to come up with a different challenge.


Ironskull Hierarchy:

While body size is arguably one of the greatest values of the Ironskulls, they are also fond of big hearts. The Ironskull clan is led by Jarls, who are chosen by members of the clan based on their strength and the compassion they show to other members of the clan. When the clan splits into separate groups, each will have a Jarl, and these Jarls will strive to protect their kin as they watch over their activities and lead them into battle. Ironskull shamans are to be respected as much as the Jarl they follow, and often act as their advisors, though mostly in the spiritual sense. 


War Culture

The Ironskulls, despite being one of the smaller clans among the many found in the islands where Giantblooded reside, still prove themselves to be a great threat in raids against other clans and non-Giantblooded. While most battles with Ironskulls are the result of resource disputes, the Ironskulls may stoke some conflicts simply because they desire to challenge themselves against outsiders. Though most Ironskull forces begin battle with rudimentary tactics, they soon devolve into a boisterous skirmish of big, hardy shock troops, all aching for a challenge. Most Ironskulls attempt to only utilize their bloodrage in battle as a last result, as- despite the great benefits, they often find themselves far more vulnerable after doing so, suffering massive fatigue due to their equally massive bodies. A veteran combatant could simply outlast an Ironskull in combat, waiting until they are exhausted and vulnerable to be gravely wounded, if they don’t find themselves grappled and squeezed to death first. While this does drive some Ironskulls to try and win fights as quickly as possible, most enjoy the thrill of combat too much to help themselves, and they may even go easy on opponents if the Ironskull thinks their foe is at a disadvantage. 


Oath of Arms: 

It is an unspoken oath among every Ironskull that they are their own weapons, and to use conventional weaponry outside of hunting is seen as unorthodox at best. When an Ironskull is trained in combat, they are trained to wrestle and bludgeon their enemies into submission with their own bodies, utilizing strength, size, and unarmed skill to their greatest potential. When an Ironskull warrior goes into combat with armed opponents, they bring heavy and thick tungsten bracers which completely cover their forearms. They are trained to utilize these heavy bracers for deflecting and absorbing blows, along with subsequently disarming opponents. An Ironskull is awarded these bracers upon completion of the Trial of The Bear, though they may request any other ‘weapons’ the Ironskull may utilize with approval, be it a horned helmet or a large round plate of metal covering their belly. Ironskulls going to war will commonly utilize kandzi- heavy, bladed, tungsten gauntlets meant to function like bear claws. Despite their views of weaponry, Ironskulls will still don heavy suits of armor in times of war, be it heavy layers of bear hides, thick metal plate, or a mixture of both.

 

 

 

 

 

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