A World of Winds
Kromus Culture Coffee Klatch
During the trip south, Princess Kalisma (still in her Anbilla form) gave the rundown on the relevant aspects of Kromus Clan culture to those who didn’t already know.
They are insular in nature, fractious, but with a strong bond of cultural traditions. There are few laws in place as they exist in other nations. Instead, there are widely held foundational customs and beliefs. Deviance from these typically results in being shunned or attacked. A few key ones are: “No one can make you do anything,” “Violence is always an option,” and “There is always another way.”
More relevant to our interests is that they view outsiders in general as fair game for cheating, raiding, and worse. Once they accept a deal or offer hospitality, different customs come into play and we’re afforded most of the ‘rights’ due to full clan-members.
My suggestion is that we contact one of the border clans, perhaps the Vostang or the Estarelder and hire them as escorts to the Rakstani where the king holds court. If we try to simply pass through, they won’t think twice about trying to raid us and take our belongings. But if we bargain with them and hire them, then an attack on us becomes an attack on our guardian clan, and can lead to all sorts of self-destructive bloodfeud madness wise leaders avoid.
The clans are traditionally supposed to follow their chief, who is advised by the Ring, a council of the most capable members of the tribe as recognized by their wealth and demonstrated prowess in various areas. I visited the Clans more than once, and the whole process seems like a mess. It’s appeals to tradition and culture mixed with a lack of laws to actually force people to follow them. The chief selects the Ring, but the clan voices its opinion on who should join. Occasionally the clan loses faith in the chief, and the chief might step down or might try to banish the agitators. But fortunately we don’t need to get too involved with local politics to do what we need to.
Depending on the scale of bargain, there will be a few customs we need to observe. The Kromus Clans incorporate religion into their day-to-day lives quite thoroughly, unlike in the Empire where it’s usually kind of a background with observances at temple and holidays. So he’s probably going to ask you to swear on a small god to seal the bargain. The aspects are considered too far removed from their reality to have much social cachet.
Gift-giving is also a big thing. The more ostentatious the display the more status you gain. It also reflects relative status change. If you receive a gift and don’t reciprocate with a gift of roughly equal value, everyone who witnesses it is going to appreciate his generosity. Having enough wealth that you can afford to give some away marks you as successful, important, and capable. Not reciprocating suggests the opposite about you.
They also have a complex relationship with violence, that I think I’d need to grow up with to fully understand. Clans can raid neighboring clans for cattle, and the deaths are accepted as the cost of testing their strength. But individual thefts can be reciprocated and escalate into multi-generational family grudge murders. Insults can lead to duels, murders, or even blood feuds. So be polite.