* The Korla The Wolf Bandits
_We are the wolves of the high mountains, and the ravagers of the plains. The Korla are the chosen pack of the great wolf and he has made all others as sheep for the slaughter.
Long ago all people lived as sheep, tending fields and herds. Their sedentary way of life made them fat and weak. Only Korl Tysymshyn raised his voice against this way of life. He realized that his people were losing their very souls to the weakness of this way. Korl did them the favor of showing them their weakness by leading his clan in raids of murder and pillage. But even the weakest animals can be dangerous in number, so the sheep joined together to force Korl away.
He fled into the wilds pursued by his enemies every step of the way. His brilliance and viciousness served him well as he was able to elude capture for months. Finally it seemed as though he was cornered and was to be captured. It was then that the Great Wolf appeared to Korl. In exchange for eternal worship the Wolf lead him out of the trap.
Korl Lupul became the first Korla, or follower of the wolf. Soon others joined him as they threw off the shackles of farm and civilization. Now we make our homes in the deep places, mountain and forest and hunt those that are weaker then we._
Geography* The Korla live have been forced to the margins of the areas they live in. More civilized groups will fight to force them out of an area. Therefore they are forced to eke out a living in the foothills of the Kes Mountains. This regions experiences heavy spring rains that cause widespread flooding. Each tribe jealously guards an area that is immune to these floods. Summers tend to be drier but as the days pass vegetation becomes sparse. Fall and winter see heavy snow falls that makes travel difficult.
Living Quarters Korla live in hide tents. A person’s status proscribes the standard of the living quarters (The picture to the left shows a wealthy Korla’s tent). It is a man’s skill in raiding that dictates the level of accommodation available to his family.
Family Structure The Korla live in loose family groups. A strong leader attracts more followers. It is custom for these new recruits to carry out inter-marriages with the new leader’s family to cement bonds. These family ties, while important can be fleeting.
A strong leader can punish, up to death, those that fail to obey him or refuse to support the family. These men generally engender enough fear in their followers to keep control. Weaker leaders have trouble controlling their groups. As time passes they slowly bleed away followers who move onto a stronger leader.
In a smaller sense the strongest male heads each sub-family. The man may take as many wives as he can afford. Many of these marriages are political in nature in order to cement alliances. Competition is fierce among multiple wives to convince their husband to name them first wife and head of the household.
Children are raised by the mother or as part of a multi-wife brood. Their inheritance is based on the mother’s relationship to the father. The children of a favorite wife can rise above the older offspring of a less popular woman.
Daughters are generally viewed as chattel and trade goods that can be used to cement alliances. Most tribes view beauty and child rearing ability as the most important qualities for women.
Power Structure Power in this society is based completely on the leader’s ability to provide for his family and enforce his rules. It basically comes down to whether or not the leader is successful in raiding the Korla’s civilized neighbors. Each profitable raid brings more power as more Korla join the leader’s group. There have been rare times when an incredibly successful leader has raised a large army.
Increasingly as has faced invasion and political/social unrest some Korla leaders have moved into the vacuum left by the war. A lot of fertile land has been abandoned as war and plague have decimated the population. These tribes now live in these areas, some as civilized farmers others as bandit lords.
Power in the family is held the same way. The strongest male enforces his word by the power of his arm. Any signs of weakness can lead to challenges by other males in the family. He will often go to stronger allies to ask opinions before making a decision but it is almost always his choice.
The Korla have no written laws, instead relying of family tradition to decide most arguments. These customs are filtered through the ideas of the leader so interpretations can vary greatly. An excessively arbitrary leader will usually find his rulings challenged.
Economy and Currency Most of the Korla’ wealth is gained by raiding. These people have been known to raid against the settled people of the region. Korla raiders look for almost any portable loot, whether money or food. Women and girls are often a popular trade good.
Some Korla tribes have established contacts with slavers and have begun to supply them with victims. These tribes tend to be better equipped then their fellow Korla. They jealously guard their contacts seeking to keep this source of wealth to themselves.
At times almost all Korla groups deal with northern traders. While few merchants will deal here those that do often can become rich trading cheap weapons and poor quality food for goods plundered by the Korla. These travelling markets are held at set times and locations and it is a great crime for any Korla to attack a merchant travelling to them. Such attacks usually cut these trade routes for a period of time casting the Korla into subsistence living.
Education Korla see no value in education beyond that needed to survive in their world.
Language The Korla language is a mish-mash of tongues. It retains some of the ancient regional dialect but has been heavily influenced by Tyranthian . Learning to write is considered a waste of time so no written language is present in their society.
Religion and Ritual The main god of the Korla is the Wolf Lord , a cruel master. He expects the Korla to give sacrifice and to live by his violent creed. Tribes who have suffered great loss have occasionally taken to worshipping Wracu in one of her most violent aspects.
Ceremonies can be held anywhere although Old Kingdom ruins are often seen as areas of special holiness. Almost every ceremony carries with it some element of blood sacrifice up to and including human.
Heroes The Korla often revere their ancestors and all claim to have the most direct ancestory to Korl. Any gathering of Korla will often see a story telling competition as members of different clans or tribes attempt to outdo each other with stories of the great deeds of their ancestors. In many cases these competitions turn violent as drink and resentment build.
Folklore Korla are superstious and fear much of the world beyond their limited understanding. They have any number of prohibitions, from wearing a specific color to eating a certain food.
Food The diet of an individual tribe of Korla is largely decided by the its success. While the most prudent tribes stock up for the lean times many live hand to mouth. This often leads to inter-tribal battles as food stuffs run short.
Sheep are commonly raised by almost every tribe, although some need to replenish their herds with raiding each year. Crops are not grown but women will harvest various wild plants in times of need.
Clothing Males wear long double breasted jackets over simple cloth jerseys. Their pants are baggy to allow easy riding. Boots are leather and go to just below the knee. Finally they wear a fur trimmed pointed hat.
Women also wear a long single breasted jacket over a simply under dress. Their boots are also leather but are often more colorful. They also wear pointy hats with a long flowing wimple.
Wealthier Korla will have more ornate clothes that are made form more expensive materials.
Defense Korla are largely horse archers. They prefer quick attacks that overwhelm their foes. Failure to win in the first few moments will usually result in a hasty retreat.
In hand to hand they prefer to use spears of sabers.
Most Korla wear padded armor, with only the wealthiest able to afford chain.