The Katallah are a unique tribe, just as the Velitar are. Their ancient origins are identical to the Velitar, having migrated from Paradise during the Destruction. With the other surviving tribes they settled into the lands that became Calbazar. The traditions of the Katallah were different than the Velitar or the Savarn. Though they ruled themselves comfortably, the Lords of the Katallah did not seek to rule the other Tribes. Further, of all the Tribes, the Katallah had the weakest ties with the Mitraen Church, a larger percentage of Katallans adhered to the Old Faith (Druidism) then any other Tribe. (Conversely, more Velitar were Mitraen than any other Tribe.) Most scholars feel that it was this lack of allegiance to the Church or interest in Power for its own sake that led the Katallah into the business of selling their support to the highest bidder. As the only real neutrals in the inter tribal dynamics they were in the unique position to profit from the various tribal struggles. To be in a position to profit, the Katallah had to be regarded as trustworthy by those relying on their services. Since most Katallah did not ascribe to Mitraen beliefs and the Old Faith does not ascribe to Divinely enforced Oaths, the Katallah had to be as good as their word. Over time the reliability of Katallahn mercenaries became a matter of honor to the Katallah and a by word amongst the Tribes.
The Origins of Katallah tradition go back to the misty ages before the Destruction, even, or so it is whispered, before the coming of Mitra. To understand it one needs to understand something about the origins of Man in Paradise and, most of all, the nature of the Lords of the Tribes.
It is said that in those First Days there were no Tribes, all men were of but one Tribe. That men were little better than beasts and knew not the ways of civilization. In these times men were few in number and weak, compared to the things that walked the world. In this time of danger it was the Eldred, the Elves who succored Man and gave him the skills and knowledge of letters, agriculture, metallurgy, music, the arts and religion. There was, it is said, a special relationship between the Eldred and some of the Men they taught. There was an intermingling of bloods and a new kind of Man appeared in the world. He combined elements of both races, though his affinity was more to men than Elves. Thus were created the First Lords, great was their power and long did they live. As the generations of man passed into time, these Lords gathered unto themselves, those peoples to whom they had the most affinity and thus were born the Tribes.
(Somewhere in that void of time, something happened with one of the Tribes, the one that grew to be the Velitar, that caused a deep bond, almost a racial bond, to develop between the people and their Lords. The depth of this bond was never duplicated with the other Tribes and it plays a role throughout Velitar history, even unto today when there are no more Velitar Lords.)
Though the Lords and their Tribes all sprang from the same stock, there have always been rivalries and even periods of open warfare between the groups. It was this history of intercine struggle that gave birth to the Katallahn mercenary tradition. The Lords of the Katallah, though willing to negotiate contracts for whole armies of their warriors, always remained neutral themselves. Warfare for the Lords of the Katallah was only waged to protect the clan. These outbreaks of inter clan warfare, though savage and severe, have never been enough to completely split the Tribes, until…….
The coming of Mitra brought new elements into the mix of clan politics. For the first time the Lords and their people swore allegiance to a Higher Power than themselves. The Lords of the tribes made their decisions regarding how the people would interact with the new Deity. Of all the Tribes, the Velitar tied themselves most whole heartedly to the God, while the Katallah, in keeping with their traditions of neutrality, made the weakest of contracts. (This is not to say that there were not individual Katallah who were devout followers of Mitra, there were and are, but speaking as a whole, the Tribe is not.)
It was the devotion of the Tribes to Mitra that eventually caused one of the perpetual power struggles to permanently rend the Tribes. The details of the Velitar’s attempt to seize the Throne of Calbazar, their defeat and the subsequent Exodus are well detailed elsewhere. What is less clear is the fact that the reason the Velitar were unable to make peace with the victorious Tribes was religious. Just as the Velitar’s unique ties to Mitra brought forth some of the greatest Clerics and Saints, it also yielded some of the most depraved monsters allied to all that Mitra abhors. It was some of these Velitar that committed the ultimate sacrilege and brought the unending wrath of the Tribes down on the clan.
The Lords of the Katallah had, as was their wont, cut the best deal they could for the services of their warriors in the Velitar’s rebellion. Such struggles had happened many times in the past so this was nothing unusual. Win or loose the Velitar would endure and the Katallah would prosper. But this time the nature of the game took an unexpected turn. Because of what happened during the fighting, the other Tribes swore to not just defeat the Velitar, but to utterly destroy them! This put the Katallah in an awkward spot. Those who had signed on with the Velitar had done so till the end of the fighting, but there was to be no end to the fighting. In the tradition of the Katallah the warriors stayed by their employers to the bitter end. When it became clear that the Velitar would have to flee Calbazar the Katallah fighters gathered their families and marched with the Velitar. It is true, to the shame of all Katallah, that some few Katallah, very few, deserted the Velitar. Some did so out of religious convictions, others to keep their families in Calbazar, but these were the exception. All told about three thousand Katallah, both warriors and non combatants, went into the desert with the Velitar. However, the bulk of the tribe, including all of its hereditary leaders, remained in Calbazar and did not participate in the Exodus.
Today the Katallah in Velitrium have no Clan leaders (Not that the Velitar have any now either!) and very few hereditary Nobles that can trace their lineage back to Calbazar. Most Katallahn Nobles (and their are a few) were elevated by the Velitar Kings after arriving in the Valley.
Like all the Tribes, the Katallah is subdivided into family clans (The term Tribe and Clan are used interchangeably for the most part, but their also exists another level of organization that the term clan applies to.) These clans trace their origins back to the families of the Lords of the Tribe. Each tribe placed different emphasis on their clans. The Velitar virtually ignore them, there is no attempt to keep or even track clan bloodlines. The ties and the individuality, along with the names and identities have all but vanished. (The only exception to this is the White Book where family lineage and clan are still carefully recorded.) The Katallah however still place some emphasis on the Clans. The Clans in the Katallah Tribe are of course related by blood. There are no Clan Lords in Velitrium (presumably they still exist in Calbazar.) and the real function of the Clan is to determine which of the Books of Honor an individuals name is recorded in.
The Clans and the Books of Honor
These are a written record of the Katallah’s Honor. Each clan maintains a Book (it runs to several volumes.) In the Book is recorded the name of every Katallahn at birth. The next entry after that is the Katallahn’s death. No details are listed, no notes about how he or she died, but if the Katallahn failed to live up to the Honor of the Tribe, then his or her name is stricken from the Book. It doesn’t matter how you lived or died, it doesn’t matter whether you were good or evil, a hero, mighty warrior or a simple peasant. If you lived honorably, fulfilled your Contracts and never shirked your Duty, then you earn a place in the Book. (Even if a Katallahn never went to war or sold his sword his name will be entered, if he did no harm to the Clan’s Honor.) However, if you did break your contract, cheated an employer, deserted a battle or failed to uphold the Clan’s Honor, then your name is lined out. It remains as an object lesson. The presence of a Struck Name in an individual’s lineage is not in itself a problem, but if their are more than one, especially in the last seven generations, it is a negative to your family name (-1 reputation to other Katallah in your clan) and if a clan has a lot of Struck Names in its Book, (more than 10 in the last seven generations) that is a negative to that entire clan! (-1 reputation to all Katallah. This can be cumulative with a family reputation.)
The Katallah of Calbazar had twenty three clans, only eleven of these are represented in Velitrium. The original Books for these clans were left in Calbazar, so the Books maintained today only date from the Exodus on. (Almost 800 years ago.)
The eleven clans and their Totems are:
Clodis Clan: Raven Lahmak Clan: Serpant
Coldon Clan: Wolf Wahlen Clan: Oak Tree
Barak Clan: Horse Droovis Clan: Shooting Star
Mahlvis Clan: Eagle Rochav Clan: Turtle
Mahgar Clan: Lion Aylor Clan: Lightning Bolt
Halgar Clan: Griffon
A relic of the ancient origins of the Katallah are the clan symbols or totems. The original meanings and function of these totems is lost in history (Though it is rumored that the Druids know the truth.) Today they serve simply as an identifying mark between Katallah (very few Velitar know, or care, which totem goes with which clan.)
Many Katallah (though by no means all) have the clan mark tatooed on their weapon arm, it is believed to add strength to their blows and speed to their parries! It is often found on the weapons that are made for a Katallahn warrior or by a Katallahn craftsman. The presence of a torem on a Katallahn style sword or dagger is considered proof that it is a ‘Genuine Katallahn.’ (The fact that many Velitar craftsmen add these marks to their products is generally ignored.) Katallahn craftsmen NEVER turn out cheap or shoddy goods (It may not be a high quality weapon, but it is always at least of Good Quality.)
The Books are maintained by elders in each clan, chosen by acclimation for their integrity and strength of will. Though the clans are not geographically defined, there are concentrations found in different regions.
Clodis Clan = Ferramentum, Glenluce City
Lahmak Clan = Ferramentum, eastern half
Coldon Clan: = Gemmatus, western half -1
Wahlen Clan = Frontier, Rannoch City
Barak Clan: = Argentium, north east
Droovis Clan = Frontier, countryside
Mahlvis Clan = Velitrium City
Rochav Clan = Gemmatus and Ferramentum, countryside -1
Mahgar Clan = Gemmatus, Drunmore City -1
Aylor Clan = Argentium, south central -1
Halgar Clan = Ferramentium and Argentium, countryside, central
The Rebellion was hard on the Katallah clans. Aside from the high casualties that depleted the Katallahn ranks throughout the Valley, the clans of Rochav, Mahgar, Aylor and Coldon were heavily recruited by Duke Mulgrave. When he marched his army, retainers and families into self imposed exile in Khun Dhagra, his Katallahn mercenaries had a hard choice to make. Honor called for them to stay with their employer, but that meant leaving Velitrium forever, King Urien made it quite clear that they would never be permitted to return! Khun Dhagra is, as all know, home to hordes of Goblins and the center of the Demon serving, cannibalistic Scarlet Cult, which routinely cuts the heart from followers of Mitra on their bloodstained altars. Even the Druidic Katallahn were hardly safe from similar fates. Consequently, all but a handful of Mulgrave’s Katallahn mercenaries abandoned him along the line of retreat. Many waited till the absolute last moment before leaving, but only a handful passed through the Gates of Blood. Because of this all Katallahn from the Clans Rochav, Mahgar, Aylor and Coldon are at -1 with all other Katallahn and most members have an additional -1 for their family lineage.
In the event that a Katallahn fighter does something to get his or her name Struck, he is automatically at a -3 reputation within his clan and a -2 with all Katallahn and -1 with all who regularly hire mercenaries (in the Valley.)
Katallahn Disciplines (Advantages and Skills)
Thousands of generations of combat experience have allowed the Katallah to develope a series of mental exercises and disciplines that have enhanced their combat abilities. Some of these disciplines are unique to the Katallah, some can found in all fighters. There are basicly two schools of discipline, and though both may be learned over the course of ones life, only one may pursued at a time.
These Disciplines are available AFTER Character creation. Though a character may be able to buy some or all of the Advantages inherent during creation, these are not the same as the Disciplines. Practicing the Disciplines will allow the advantages they contain to be had at a reduced cost.
Disciplines of Strength
Through mental and physical exercise, drills and conditionings, the Katallahn warrior seeks to strengthen his Will to the point where he is able to virtually ignore pain and even some injury.
The first step in this discipline is to strengthen one’s Will Power. This is the hardest part and generally takes the longest to do.
A Character may put no more then 2 points per GAME YEAR into buying 1 level of the Strongwill advantage (It costs 4 points per level. If the Character started play with Strongwill, he or she must buy an additional level at the above mentioned time pace to qualify for the Discipline. What ever you were born with must still be trained and focused.)
Once the Character has obtained the level of Strongwill, the next step is easier. It involves Focusing this extra Will Power on one’s body and its reaction to pain. 1D months after achieving the Strongwill level, the Character may spend 1 more CP and make an IQ roll. If he fails the roll he may try again in 1D months. Success allows the character to increase his pain resistance to that of the High Pain Threshold advantage.
The final step in this Discipline is in the actual toughening of the body through the power of ones will. Some time after achieving the discipline of pain resistance, usually 2d months, a character may attempt to achieve the Discipline of Immunity. (This Discipline is not true immunity, rather it adds an extra level of DR to the character and may be learned even if a character has already started with the advnatges Toughness I or II. The extra DR achieved, adds to the existing DR.)
To achieve the Discipline of Immunity, the character must pay 15 CPs AND make an IQ roll without the benefit of Willpower or any other enhancements. Success means you add 1 to your natural DR. Failure means you still add 1 to DR, BUT you ALSO gain the Disadvantage of Berserk. Your Strongwill bonus from the Disciplines DOES NOT aid you in resisting Berserk.
Disciplines of Prowess
These Disciplines seek to enhance the Katallahn’s awareness and defensive reactions.
The first step in this discipline is to enhance one’s Awareness. This is the hardest part and generally takes the longest to do.
A Character may put no more then 2 points per GAME YEAR into buying 1 level of the Alertness advantage (It costs 5 points per level. If the Character started play with Alertness, he or she must buy an additional level at the above mentioned time pace to qualify for the Discipline. What ever you were born with must still be trained and focused.)
Once that has been achieved the character must choose one of two Focuses for enhancing his defensive prowess… Either the Shield or the Sword. Having selected one, the character must spend extra time each day (at least 1 hour a day) for 1 year plus 2D months practicing with the chosen Focus. At the end of that time 3 CPs must be spent and an IQ roll is made and if successful the character gains either Enhanced Block or Enhanced Parry. If it is unsuccessful the character may try again in 2D months. Once one Focus is completed, the other may then be studied using the same parameters.
When a Katallahn has achieved mastery over both these Focuses, he or she may concentrate on enhancing his Dodge. As before, this requires extra practice on a daily basis (at least 1 hour a day) for 1 year plus 3D months, at the end of which the character invests 10 CPs and must make an IQ roll. Success means the character gains Enhanced Dodge, failure allows the character to try again in 3D months. Two failures means that the Discipline cannot be achieved and the 10 CPs are lost.
Any time after achieving the Enhanced Parry Discipline, the Katallahn warrior may buy the Parry Missile Weapon skill. (PH)
One of the few `day to day’ advantages of being Katallahn and having your name inscribed in the clan’s Book of Honor, is that when a young Katallahn desires to begin a career in the ancient tradition of mercenary, the clan elders can (usually) arrange for the fee of his (or her) first weapon permit to be waived. Future ones, needed after that one expires, will still cost.
Contracting for Service
There is a traditional saying amongst Katalla, “My Word is My Honor and My Honor is My Life.” It is widely used and a shortened version, “My Word is My Honor” has come to be used as the `Seal’ or acceptance in negotiating terms with a would be employer.
Any Katalla mercenary, who does not suffer from being “Struck from the Book” can demand and expect 5% more pay than a non Katalla merc. This is because there are certain terms that all Katallahn mercenaries live by. These are universal and are implicitly understood by an employer who seeks to hire Katalla.
The Katalla NEVER break a contract.
The Katalla NEVER desert an employer
The Katalla NEVER kill Katallahn prisoners
If a contract is Honorably Discharged (both parties have lived up to their obligations) the Katalla will not accept a contract to serve against that employer for one year and one day after the original contracts termination.
If a contract is broken by the employer, then all bets are off. The following actions will break a contract.
Failure to live up to the terms.
The obvious one of these is a failure to pay. But it can also include failure to supply sufficient or adequate food, shelter and equipment (if the contract called for it.) It can also occur if the employer seeks to utilize the Katalla in a way not originally specified. For example, Katalla hired to protect a caravan are called upon to hunt down a group of bandits. This is a task that could easily be negotiated, and the Katalla might even be convinced that it is essential to their original Duty, but if the employer attempts to push them into such a task without consultation, then the contract can be considered broken.
(As a qualifier: It often comes to pass that, during an extended campaign, especially one with much field work or sieges, that pay, supplies, etc. are delayed. It does not reflect well on a Katallahn if he voids the contract due to the unavoidable messiness of war. But, if the employer fails to live up to the terms at the first reasonable opportunity, that is a different story.
If an employer fails to pay because of the fortunes of war, ie; he was defeated and lost everything, a Katalla is expected to shrug off the loss and move on. After all, he bears some degree of responsibility for the defeat. But, if the employer refuses to pay what is in his means to do, the Katalla may, with out any reflection on their Honor, take what is coming to them….. This may not sit well with the Law, but that is another issue all together.)
This is a less obvious contractual problem. If an employer sets the Katalla a clearly suicidal task, without assuming the same or similar risk himself, the contract can be called void. What this means is, if the employer assigns his Katalla mercenaries to fight a clearly hopeless rearguard while he and his hauscarls hightail it over the hills, the Katallah can ground arms and consider the contract void. If the employer wants a charge against an impregnable position or impossible odds and he is going to lead it! Then the Katalla will follow. This limitation can lead to problems of interpretation. For example, ordering the Katalla to hold an impossible situation while reinforcements are gathered is legitimate, as long as their is reason to believe that the employer is honoring his word. Evidence of good faith on the part of the employer is a willingness to place Hauscarls in the same situation as the mercenaries. (Hauscarls are highly valued and since a wergild is owed by the Lord for their death, they are rarely sacrificed uselessly.)
Duke Mulgrave led his Katalla into an impossible situation, but he never Wasted them. Even when he was unable to lead personally, he never asked anything of the Katalla that he didn’t ask from his own hauscarls.
Contracts are rarely in writing, though an employer hiring large units of Katalla generally will put it in writing. Sometimes, if the terms and duties are particularly complex or extended, written contracts are drawn.
A few other Notes:
Most Katallahn fighters are infantry. This is not to say that they can’t or don’t ride. But Katalla combat tradition is infantry.fighting.
Katalla Swords and fighting Katallahn Style
The practice of putting a thrusting point on broadswords and the style of swordplay that takes advantage of the point is of Katallahn origin. It was already in use before the Exodus and now is widely practiced throughout Velitrium, but the style and the weapon type are still known as `Katallahn.’ (A character must define whether or not the Broadsword skill reflects the Thrusting style. The `Default’ is not.)
The Katalla are not a disenfranchised or subjugated minority in Velitrium. They are held in the same esteem as any pure blood Velitar. Many Katalla are Druidic and subsequently suffer some degree of religious discrimination, but no more so than a Velitar Druidic follower.
The trade of Mercenary is not unique to the Katalla, nor is it universal amongst the Katlla. Probably 70% of the male Katalla population spends at least some time under arms. (As with the Velitar, Katalla women can and do take up arms, though it is MUCH less common than with men.) They aren’t always sell swords (or Blankshields) some serve in the Army or with Ducal troops or those of the lessor nobles. Wherever they serve though, a Katallahn can be relied on to keep his contract.