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Skip Navigation LinksWorld of San'Dora>Inhabitants>Mankind>Volkeralten>Machtig>Culture
Machtig The Vold Machtig Characters
Castes Culture Machtig Clans
Many think of the Machtig as nothing more than violent savages, but in reality they have a very complex and nuanced society, and a rich culture with many millennia of development behind it.
The Machtig are Nature worshipers, believing in the natural cycle of life, death, and rebirth. The try to live in a state of balance with the environment around them, practicing moderation in activities which might despoil it. The do not believe in any gods, holding deities to be evil spirits from outside the living world seeking to feed on mortals, whatever their aspect may be.
 Instead of Priests, the Machtig have Druids who act as their spiritual leaders and advisors. The Druids are an ancient sect, with deep and hidden lores stretching back many millenia, and they use portents both new and old to guide the Machtig. Due to their beliefs the Machtig have a very deep connection with the natural world and the primal elements, and this predisposition is reflected in many of their customs and even in the practice of Magic.
The Machtig don't need any special place to worship; anywhere that Nature is plentiful and harmony is maintained is sufficient. The Druids do erect and maintain circles and obelisks of standing stones from time to time by some direction only they know, and the oldest and greatest of these have some special significance to the Machtig, but they are mainly the purview of the Druids and most folk give them a respectful berth.
The Machtig believe that each persons fate is written when they are born and though it is possible to cheat one's fate, it is very difficult to do. They believe that when they die, their bodies should be returned to the elements, and that their spirits move on to rejoin the cycle of life, to be reborn again in the future or not, depending on the readiness of the spirit to move on to the next cycle of life.
Due to a combination of their beliefs, the average Machtig has little to no fear of death. They also have an abiding hatred for anything that violates or disrupts the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, such as death magic and resurrection type magics.
Machtig desire to be returned to the elements when they die, and there are various means of doing this which have been in and out of favor at various times and in various regions. Some of the most common include the perennial favorite funerary pyre, being buried in a barrow, being put out to sea in a small-boat.
More uncommon include being exposed to the elements on a ten foot tall platform until carrion feeders and the elements wear the body down to bones, and combinations such as being put to see in a small-boat that is on fire, or being interred in a small-boat but buried in a barrow.
Old wives tales even say that the Ulthferen feed their dead to wild wolves, but thats just superstitious nonsense as everyone knows wolves dont eat carrion.
The Machtig do not, contrary to popular myth among some of the the Undari, practice Human sacrifice and never have. They respect life and have a very sharply distilled perception of killing a man in battle vs killing him out of battle. Sacrificing anyone would be highly dishonorable to a Thegn, and they would not look favorably on anyone else doing it either, Druid or no.
Druids have been know to sacrifice a bull or lamb on some occasions, such as a particularly auspicious solstice, as part of their rituals. However, this is the exception rather than the rule, and the animal remains are rendered to food stock afterwards.
The Machtig believe that each persons geas is set when they are born. It is normal for a Druid delivering a babe to give a rede of the babes geas (which is to say that the reading is called a rede, what is read is called a geas). This geas defines some thing that babe must do or not do lest they suffer death or some other calamity; .
Some geas are less dire and rather than point to a single event instead describe a mindset or pattern which will repeat itself, always leading the person into worse straights if not avoided.
A geas is always symbolic and often difficult to puzzle out exactly, but because it pertains to dying unexpectedly or other similar disaster, many Machtig have what seem like strange hang ups or things that they avoid if possible; other Machtig will nod and say "It's their geas", but to outsiders it makes the Machtig seem even more unpredictable.
The Machtig believe that you can dodge the geas with luck if you are careful, and their lore contains a handful of stories regarding those who were reputed to do so, but in all cases it is very difficult and accomplished only via great courage coupled with great luck.
The end result is that a Machtig often grows to adulthood with the knowledge of an event that will presage their death or some doom that will shadow their steps and over time they typically grow accustomed to the prospect. Thus the fear of death or consequence looses it hold over them and this contributes to the Machtig being famed by outsiders for their apparant fearlessness.
The guiding principle of the Machtig is that you must make yourself. They believe that heredity has less to do with a persons worth than personal determination. Any person might become a Thegn, challenge for leadership and win it. To their minds there are no excuses for mediocrity and a person has no one else to blame for their lives than themselves. Due to this, they take personal honor very seriously and put much faith in strength of arms.
The Machtig are aligned along Clan lines, with nine Great Clans each composed of families and bloodlines of note. The Great Clans are in order of largest to smallest the Huarthmunn, Herodi, Raevoring, Wundvolding, Jagrling, Ulthferen, Pargori, Hengsting, and Faendradi.
Each Great Clan is ruled by a Laird (Lehrd) who is semi-democratically chosen by a process of challenge and sidings, and in turn one of the Great Clan Lairds is recognized as the Oberlaird (Oh-bher-Lehrd) by the same method. Each Laird is equivalent to a King in more civilized lands, and the Oberlaird is equivalent to an Emperor.
However, the Machtig are a chaotic people much given to self-determination and respecting only strength; in short the authority of a Laird is both less and more than that of more civilized sovereigns.
The current Oberlaird is the Pargori Laird; voted into power twenty years ago by majority; only the Herodi, Ulthferen, and Raevoring voted against them (the Raevoring voting for themselves and the other two for the Herodi). His name is Kaenha Kennering, and he is the fourth consecutive Pargori ruler of the Machtig, stretching back almost ninety years to the power struggle that saw an end to the Herodis rule.
The Pargori favor peace and productivity to war and have the support of many Skalds, Zauberer, and even the Grand Druid. However, the Grand Druid of the day when the Pargori ascended to power prophesied that the Pargori would reign for a century bringing prosperity to the Machtig, but Balance would require another time of war to keep the people physically strong.
That century is almost past and the more warlike Clans are gritting their teeth waiting. The current Oberlaird is aging but very able, and is often called the Great Laird by those who approve of his policies. He should be able to hold his rule for another decade.
Machtig naming is very person-centric and there is a certain internal logic to the way most people, places, and things are named.
Most of the Clans still adhere to the traditional patronymic naming that the Machtig have practiced since days of yore. The name of the father is used to form the last name of the children, with a "son" or "daughter" suffix. The suffix for son varies across the Clans with some using -son, others -sen-, and still others -sun. The suffix for daughter is almost invariablly dottor across all the Clans that use the naming convention.
However not all of the Clans follow this pattern entirely or at all. Among the Ulthferen most children are not named at birth and are later given a single long descriptive name which is usually based on some trait or behavior of the person as a child. Typically a shorter familiar version is used by friends and relatives.
Faendradi still use the patronymic but many families use the gender neutral Aelfing suffix -aled, which means simply "offspring of".
Some Pargori use the variations of the "son" and "daughter" suffixes, but in the last millennia or so many families have been keeping a constant last name from generation to generation based upon the name of a notable ancestor and typically using an -ing, -ings, or -ingas suffix which means "people of". This is the same naming style used for the names of many Clans such as the Hengsting, Raevoring, and Wundvolding. Frequently the normal patronymic is used as a middle name in addition to such a family name, but isn't used in every day speech.
The Machtig tend to be very consistent about naming locations. Most place names are either descriptive or named for the person that found or first settled the locale. For instance Hafenstadt translates roughly as "Safe Landing", while Fallenheim basically translates as "home where the water flows together".
Across all of the Clans the name of a mountain fortress is preceeded by the word Caer (CARE), which translates as mountain fortress. Similarly the name of a walled settlement not in the mountains is preceeded by the word Dunn (DOON) which unsuprisingly translates as "hill fortress". To qualify as a fortress, such a wall must be made of stone; the Machtig do not recognize wooden stockades or forts as being significant.
There are some places with anomalous names that typically indicate something unusual about the place; the most notable example is the Wundvolding capital of Steinern, which should be called Caer Steinern. It deviates from the norm due to its origin as a Varhold and the fact that Var lived there in the early days of the Wundvolding Clan; the Machtig clansmen called it Steinern (literally stone cavern) while the Var lived there and when they moved in later the name had already become ingrained.
The Great Clans have different preferences for which style of names they use, and these preferences have shifted over time as well so that there are old places that may not conform to newer modes. For instance the Wundvolding generally prefer to name places after the original founder and thus names like Caer Ungorhaus are seen, which means "the mountain fortress founded by Ungor", but when there is no clear founder or a single leader to base the name on they use a descriptive name such as Caer Svatopluk. 
The Machtig were once one people, but in the early days of settling the Vold they spread out and began to crystalize into the nine Great Clans that are extant in the modern era.
By default a Machtig is of the same Clan as their parents. If you are born to Huarthmunn parents then you are Huarthmunn.
However, on occasion a Machtig is of a tempermant more suitable to a different Clan, and more frequently two Machtig of different Clans are joined in marriage, particularly along the borders between the Clan Holds.
In the case of marriage across Clan lines one of the couple, it doesnt matter which, must announce for the other's Clan. This is more a matter of practicality, for otherwise the couple would have to pay besterung to two Lairds. This is usually determined by the expedient of both being part of the Clan appropriate the Clanhold that they reside in.
For instance if a Raevoring lass married a Huarthmunn lad from a neighboring steading, if they planned to reside in the stark Raevoring lands then the lad would declare for the Raevoring and cease to be Huarthmunn; whereas if they planned to live in the fertile Huarthmunn lands then the lass would declare as a Huarthmunn and cease to be Raevoring.
If a spouse should die and the surviving spouse declared for their spouse's Clan, then they may revert to their original Clan or remain among their spouses Clan at their option, decided at the funerary ceremony.
Changing Clans due to marriage is an accepted practice, and though a persons former Clan members might be a tad put off that a Machtig chose another Clan over their own, the Machtig are a practical enough people to accept that the day to day needs of living outweigh the larger concept of Clan membership.
If a person seeks to change their Clan affiliation by choice its a different matter. To do so requires the permission of both the Laird of ones current Clan and the Laird of the Clan one wants to become a member of.
This can be difficult to accomplish due to the logistics involved of seeking audience before two Lairds; essentially a Machtig trying to do this should be sure that the Laird of the Clan they wish to be a part of will accept them before asking to be released from their own Clan, so it can be a tricky affair to manage.
This is most often done by Machtig who are just ill-suited to be a member of a particular Clan, and is perhaps most common amongst Zauberers, many of whom move to Fallenheim or nearby and change their Clan affiliation to Pargori. Conversely some Pargori merchants that decide to settle down in some other Clan Hold and become Landsgraf must seek to become members of that Clan to own property there.
Another less common but slightly accepted case revolves around Huarthmunn lads along the borders of that vast Clan Hold preferring a less agrarian existance and seeking to become Herodi or Reavoring if of a violent bent, or less often one of the other Clans that border on the Huarthmunn Hold.
Finally, it is not unheard of for a talented smith or similar craftsman to seek to join the Wundvolding where their talents might be more appreciated, though Lairds are loathe to see their smiths depart and often require a hefty "boon" from the requesting smith to permit it.
There is often, but not always, a stigma involved in switching Clans in this fashion, in as much as members of the previous Clan tend to be affronted by a Clansmen who spurned their fellowship, essentially.
However, in practice few Clans are sorry to see a Zauberer go, the Huarthmunn are just as glad to see lads unhappy in their peaceful lands go into another Clan rather than become malcontents and troublemakers, and smiths tend to be a standoffish lot anyway so in these cases it's barely remarked upon.
The vast majority of Machtig reside in the Clan Hold of their own Clan. However, it is possible to live in a Clan Hold of another Clan, though the inability to own land in Clan which is not your own makes this extremely impractical for many.
The overwhelming majority of instances of a Clan member residing in the Clan Hold of another Clan is found among the Pargori, where a goodly number of craftsmen from other Clans reside as it is easier for them to get supplies and move their goods via the Pargori trade network.
These Clansmen still must pay besterung to their own Lairds (usually assessed in coinage due to the distances involved). The Pargori Laird permits this because it is good for trade, making his own traders much more lucrative and thus able to pay greater besterung.
In the distant past before the concept of an Oberlaird was part of Machtig culture there was occasionally conflict, though never outright war, among the Clans. This was almost invariably a Herodi affair, where they would uses the threat of force and raids to bully dissenting Clans. This ceased after the inception of the Oberlaird role twelve hundred years ago.
Each of the Great Clans is further composed of lesser Clans and Families, although in the Machtig fashion of self determination these Clan and Family lines are not given any special significance. However, individual Machtig typically know who their close kinsmen are, cousins and second cousins, and of any notable members of their lineage.
Though it is not proscribed by law, it is traditionally expected that kinsmen are given more consideration than non-kinsmen, and that families will see to their own in times of need. However, because the Machtig dont give formal recognition to lesser Clans and Families, it is practically impossible for an outsider, even from another Great Clan, to determine easily who is kinsmen to who.
The Skalds track the lineages of the Machtig as best they are able, and ensuring that records of Heredity are shared among the Clans is one of the responsibilities of the Werblich Meister Skalding. Further, each Clan Skalding Hall maintains the Honor Roll of that Clan, recording the deeds of the Clan's heroes, and it is one of the responsibilities of the Ehren Meister Skalding to ensure that the most notable of these deeds are proliferated to the other Skalding Halls.
Another important concept to the Machtig is that of Faring and Steading.
Simply put when a person is living at their home going about their business they are said to be in steading. When in steading, a person is responsible for their person, their properties, and their families. If a Thegn they must answer their Lairds call to battle, if a Landsgraf they must maintain their properties and pay their taxes, if a Fertigkeiten they must see to their craft and also pay their taxes.
On a occasion a person might have need or desire to travel beyond the bounds of Vold to undertake some quest or goal. To do so such a person must appeal to their Laird for permission to go on a Faring. As part of this process the applicant(s) must prove to the Laird that their properties, responsibilities, and families have been accounted for and will not be untended in the meantime; then the Laird decides yea or nay.
Failure to request leave to go Faring and failure to abide by the Lairds ruling can result in exile or monetary penalty or both upon return. A person must actually go on their Faring in a reasonable interval from requesting; if 2 weeks have passed and the applicant hasnt left yet, their permission is automatically revoked.
While on a Faring the applicant is exempt from all requests, responsibilities, and calls to war from his Laird or any other Machtig authority. Often, at least one Skald will either be assigned or voluntarily choose to go on a Faring both to document any deeds and to collect news from outside the Vold.
Also a Laird can declare a Faring; this is done automatically whenever he calls his Thegns to war outside his own lands; in this circumstance the Thegns in the war band are exempt from taxes for the duration and cannot be called upon to conduct any service other than fight in the Lairds band. As most Thegns are also craftsmen or Landsgraffing this abeyance of besterung is significant.
Alternately a Laird may put out a call known as a Freiwilliger (FREY-WILL-EH-GUR), where he calls for any Thegn that wishes to offset their besterung via service to make their way to a location specified, where they will be given a task to accomplish. This is used to get things done when a Laird doesn't want to commit their Huscarl to a task, but dont need the assembled might of the Clan's Thegns either.
The Machtig traditionally did not trade much with outsiders in any large-scale organizaed fashion, prefering to take what they want. However, in the last century of Pargori leadership, the Pargori Oberlairds have taken great pains to establish and maintain trade ties with several other nations, particularly the City State of Shidaal and the Free City of Worfinal.
Merchants have felt safe enough to come into the Vold in numbers in the last five decades, and trade has really picked up in the heartlands over the last thirty years particularly.
The ancient carvan route which runs from Shidaal to far Daelanthanor and the lands of the Nordmnner has effectively been extended into Machtig lands, hooking into the heartlands and eventually ending at Fallenheim. This route is called the Stone Road in the lands of the Wundvolding, but the Shidaalweg (literally "The Shidaal Road") everywhere else.
The Pargori also buy anything they can from the three Varholds in and around the Vold, selling the goods in the Free City of Worfinal across the ocean to the south where they fetch a high price.
There are special considerations concerning the ownership of property among the Machtig.
Of the castes Thegns, Thralls, and Fertigkeiten are allowed to own land and property. Any person that owns property beyond a personal residence and personal effects are Landsgrafing (LONDS-grah-fing), or Landsgraf (LONDS-grahf) individually and are expected to pay quarterly besterung (taxes) to their Laird rather than yearly.
While accrued quarterly, this besterung is still often paid annually for reasons of practicality in its collection. In return for this besterung, the Laird maintains a contingent of Huscarls and Reeves to maintain peace and administer the Clan Hold.
A Machtig may only be a Landsgraf in their own Clan Hold, which is to say that to own land in a Clan Hold, you must be a member of that Clan. However, a Landsgraf can own property in another Clan Hold, so long as it isn't directly taxable by besterung. This basically means a wealthy Clan member might own a residence and accountrements in another Clan Hold, but not much else.
The Machtig do have Slaves, but they are not regarded as a commodity and they are not owned by private citizens. Also, any Slave strong and wily enough to escape the Vold is considered to deserve their freedom.
The idea of taking people from their homelands and making them serve is acceptible to the Machtig, but oddly they also consider the idea of one man literally owning another to be somewhat repugnant. It is a fine moral line, but one which most Machtig seem unaware of.
The Machtig call their taxes besterung (BESS-ter-ROONG). All non-Slaves have some measure of besterung that they are responsible for, based upon their ability to pay it. For most people besterung is yearly, and most often paid for in services or trade rather than hard currency.
However Fertigkeiten and Landsgraf have their besterung calculated quarterly. Besterung is a major concept among the Machtig, upon which not only their entire system of government and economy is based but also many of their traditions and social castes.
The Machtig produce many things which are valued outside the Vold and make for good trading.
The primary exports for the Vold are Wundvolding metalwork and jewelry, Hengsting steeds, Jagrling leather goods and furniture, Ulthferen furs, Huarthmunn produce and clothing, Herodi blankets and wool, pickeled fish from the Pargori, and goods brought from afar by the Raevoring. The Machtig also enjoy favorable trade status with three Varholds, and have become a key reseller of lucrative Var goods.
Ultimately, the Vold provides pretty much everything the Machtig need somewhere within it's expanse, which is one of the reasons why the Machtig never really bothered with trading in the past.
However, the three most warlike clans also live in lands which dont provide for all of their needs and traditionally two of them, the Herodi and the Raevoring, have turned to raiding neighbors to take the food and other necessities that could not be satisfied internally.
In the last half a century there has been so much surplus via trade that this hasn't been as necessary. Primarily the Machtig trade for novelty items and things which they don't have the capacity to make for themselves, like silk from Ullushorvas.
The Machtig dont recognize "days" by name, only concerning themselves with the end of a 6 day week, which is called "SHLIEBLICH" (SHLEE-blick); this refers both to the week itself and to a lesser extent can be used to refer to the day, depending on context. Two Shlieblichs, 12 days, is called a Zweiblich (ZWEE-blick) in slang, or Zwei Shlieblich (ZWAY SHLEE-blick; literally "Two 6-days") more properly.
The Machtig also dont have the concept of a month per se, though two Zweiblich is often used as a measurment. The Machtig go by seasons, seperated by the spring and winter solstices and midsummer. The planet of San'Dora has 15 lunar cycles per revolution with a 360 day year, and thus approximately 90 day seasons.