The Wereclan Universal Cultural Foundations

No matter which clan a were is born into, there are certain similarities between each of them.  The first thing that all shifters learn is the most harshly enforced law of the shifter world:  You do not mate across species.  The reason for this is that weres have a very hard time carrying their young to term, even when the young are pure blooded shifters.  The shaman and local healer will do everything they can to help a mother bring her offspring into the world, and if the young are not pure blood, the chances of being carried full term dramatically decrease.  (See Beslynx Spiritwalker: A Companion Novella for an example of this.)

There is one exception – that is if the shifter mates with a non-shifter, such as a Leukreschen.  If such a pairing forms, it is highly celebrated by the local clan.  Most Leukreschen have difficulty being around a shifter, finding most to be “eerie” or “off putting” due to the slight differences in appearance.

The second universal piece of wereclan culture is for each shifter to learn how to control their shift during their moon phase.  Unlike the Earth legends about werewolves, Alterraden shifters can shift at any time – though it is easier when they do so during the same lunar phase as their first shift.  Eight phases are recognized by the shifters – some are considered exceptionally good luck, others considered exceptionally bad luck.  A few are considered powerful, as well.

  • New Moon
    • This is considered to be an omen of good luck
      • Ring Moon
        • This is an exceptionally powerful and good luck omen. This occurs when the new moon has a faint outline, making it visible in the night sky
      • Waxing Crescent
        • This moon phase starts once there is a discernable crescent shape to the lunar phase as it comes out of the new moon and continues until approximately half the moon’s face is illuminated.
        • Those whose first shift is under this moon are often seen as destined to become the next leader. All waxing moons are considered good luck and good fortune, since the light grows throughout this half of the lunar cycle.
      • Waxing Quarter
        • While this is still considered an omen of good luck, the emotion that prompts the first shift carries more prophetic weight than the lunar phase itself.
      • Waxing Strong
        • This lunar phase starts with the face of the moon approximately three quarter’s illuminated and continues until the full moon.
        • Those who shift under a waxing strong moon are often seen as fighters, or destined for positions requiring strength of character or morality. Though it is still considered an omen of good luck, most shifters with this lunar phase must work through a difficult life full of strife and personal loss.
      • Full Moon
        • This lunar phase occurs when the entire face of the moon is illuminated and ends when a discernable crescent of shadow is visible.
        • Shifters whose first shift is the full moon are often pitied. The full moon is often considered the weakest of the good omen phases, and very few full moon shifters live beyond their middle years.
      • Falling Moon
        • This is the first of the waning moon phases, starting with the first visible crescent of shadow on the moon and continuing until the shadow grows to cover approximately one half of the moon’s face.
        • Waning phases are considered bad luck omens, as the light is fading during this half of the lunar cycle. The falling moon tends to be seen as an omen of poor choices and ill-fated decisions.  While most shifters with a Falling Moon phase live a normal life span, they tend to be the ones most often injured doing normal tasks – such as a broken leg getting water from the communal well, or stabbing themselves with a silver needle when sewing clothes for an upcoming festival.
      • Falling Quarter
        • This is the second waning moon phase. It starts when the moon is about one-half covered in shadow until only a crescent of light remains.
        • The bad luck omens for this phase are more life threatening than the falling moon, especially for those shifters engaged in raids and work conditions which require heavy labor. Most Falling Quarter shifters survive until middle age before their penchant for bad decisions results in a disabling injury or premature death.
      • Falling Crescent
        • This is the last recognized moon phase. It starts when a crescent of light remains visible on the moon’s surface, and ends with the first night of the new moon.  Those shifters with a Falling Crescent are actively discouraged by their people from becoming a warrior or blacksmith – primarily because these two professions lead the Falling Crescent shifter to a premature death.  Often this death is only a few anni past adolescence.  Even in a less dangerous profession, Falling Crescent shifters rarely live to see old age due to accidents, poor decisions, or some form of life-threatening addiction.

 

 

In addition to the lunar phases, each shifter also has a defining emotion, which helps to trigger their first shift.  While the triggering emotion does not have as much impact on the shifter’s life, a few are considered more likely to achieve a leadership role within their people.

  • Laughter – For most shifters, if laughter is the lunar phase trigger, the individual is considered a candidate for a strong leadership position. The belief is the individual will be able to maintain a level head during the worst of times through the use of humor, or other levity, to balance the darkness their settlement is going through.
  • Anger – For those desiring to become fighters, anger is a guaranteed acceptance into training. Though they will learn how to control their shift, when angered they will find it easier to shift into their animal or war form, and are less likely to suffer from battle madness.
  • Sorrow – This is seen as an extremely bad luck trigger. Most of those triggered by sorrow have their first shift at a funeral, or while the affects of a natural disaster are evaluated.
  • Compassion – Shifters with this trigger will often find themselves called to serve their people as a shaman, healer, or teacher. Very rarely will a shifter with a compassion trigger willingly assume the role of unlimited leadership (such as herd stallion, lead mare, pack or pride alpha).  They prefer to remain in the ranks where they may dispense their skills without worrying over political fallout if their patient/student does not make progress.

 

Most wereclans follow The Woodland Path, the few exceptions follow The Tormentor (in His darker aspects).  They also adhere to a set of laws that are tailored to their specific environment.

  • Value the land you live on. It provides your food, shelter, and way of life.
  • Do not marry across species.
    • Any such marriages that are discovered shall be considered null and void
      • The only exception to this is if the marriage is between one of our own and a Leukreschen (or for those who follow the Tormentor – Melkreschen)
    • The non-species within our territory shall be killed, the other shall be outcast, and their name struck from our lineage
    • Any progeny that lives from a cross species marriage shall be outcast, their names struck from our community – non shall give them succor on pain of death
  • All marriages must be approved by the communities leader
    • All offspring of such unions must be taught a life-skill that will benefit the larger group
    • None may be promised in marriage without their consent.
  • Visitors are to be treated with kindness, but not trusted. Let the leader(s) determine if they are to be trusted by the larger community
  • Do not bring shame upon your family
    • If you are captured in battle, you must serve your captor one annum to expunge the shame incurred by your capture.

 

The third, and last piece, of universal were culture is the acceptance of other shifter species as guests.  Anytime a shifter travels, they can always find welcome in another were encampment, so long as the two enclaves are not at war.  While the visitor is living among the locals, they are expected to pull their own weight, however.  Usually this includes helping to perform the day-to-day survival tasks required by the local Clan to make it through the upcoming winter months, or to help teach or train any local child not considered old enough for heavy chores.

 

For the canine and feline shifters, this often means they help teach fighting skills, while the bear shifters help teach metal or woodwork, and the equine shifters teach agricultural skills.  In this way, though the clans are scattered over the face of Alterraden, the entire wereclan culture benefits from any technology advancements the visitor has encountered.  When there is a sudden boom in technology, a small group from every enclave will dedicate themselves to traveling throughout the world to discover and learn about the new advancements, in order to bring them back to their home.  Along the way, they also spread any new ways to the enclaves they visit, helping to accelerate the learning for their people.

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