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The Blackened Claws

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Image:Scroll2.png "Eschew all weapons, for you need only yourself."
- Jazak the White Tigress, Matriarch of the Blackened Claws
The Blackened Claws

The Claws Banner

A historical yet small Myrian Clan, the Blackened Claws are aptly named. Known usually as just the Claws, these Myrians are those who keep the ancient yet powerful magic of Morphing in common use, notorious in some circles for the use of their named weapon. Every member of the clan is a practitioner of the ancient magic, though to varying degrees based upon one's desire to master it.

Myrians from the Claws are especially vicious in a different way from their kinsmen. Whereas Myrians as a whole demonstrate a brutal savagery in all walks of life, those from the Blackened Claws can be downright bestial in their nature. Modeling their appendages and bodies after the great predators of the jungle, members of this clan tear into their enemies with tooth and claw as naturally as a tiger pounces its prey. Many of the more practiced members of the clan actually like to take on the form of a Myrian Tiger in battle, hunting all sorts of prey both man and beast. It is not the magnitude of their ferocity that is noteworthy, rather it is the animal style in which they revel that marks a true Blackened Claw from some soldier who dabbles in Morphing. Those who advance far enough in their discipline are often treated as elite shock troopers, capable of getting anywhere in the jungle in a short amount of time thanks to their animal models.

Their number remains surprisingly constant, usually fluctuating between 50 and 60 members at any one time. They favor small families so that parents can carry on wholly their expertise, from mother to daughter and father to son. Even though all children of the clan are raised together, blood relations are kept in mind for many considerations.

There is also a certain ageless quality to many of the Blackened Claws. An older woman may not appear as such due to her Morphing, and a younger Morpher of the clan may appear to look older to be taken seriously. With this clan, not all is as it seems.



Clanswomen of the Blackened Claws are invariably bestial in their savagery, setting them apart from other Myrians in style rather than quality. They make no attempts to hide their magic nature either, though any clanswoman is reluctant to share their knowledge of their favored discipline. While different from the 'average' Myrian, a Claw will get along grandly with any of their race, and their clan as a whole has a somewhat deeper respect for all things knowing that they can all kill brutally.

Among family, however, their nature changes drastically. While they prefer to keep families small and personal, the clan is very familial itself. Kids are raised together and by whoever is available, kin of the same profession tend to congregate, and those with the respected positions advise all with the Matriarch's word taken as law. Aside from the Myrian ethics, the clan has no real taboos or traditions beyond a willingness and priority to help their kin. Perhaps because of this, it is always expected of every clanswoman to teach her or his skill to those in the clan who desire to learn, as it is how their ancestral magics have survived so well and it is how the clan will grow. This nature sometimes extends outside their clan as well, as they are happy to teach those who wish to learn.

Attitude Toward Other People

Long ago, the Blackened Claws kept themselves isolated from other Myrian clans out of mutual fear born from their arcane practices. They are much more open today, and if anything are incredibly outgoing thanks to their wild natures. Kin always have a seat by their fires, and the Blackened Claws have no rivalries to speak of. However, this does not mean that they are well-liked - they hold vastly different views on outsiders than most Myrians, and this puts them at odds with nearly every other clan. This animosity is not reciprocated, but any respectable Claw will always fight to protect their pride rather than simply take abuse with a smile. No clan has outright declared themselves a rival of the Blackened Claws, nor has there been any adversarial tendencies of late, but those more public and prominent clans make a concerted effort to avoid relations with the Blackened Claws as a whole.

Though far from welcoming of outsiders, the Blackened Claws have an inherent respect for all the intelligent species of Mizahar, knowing that if an animal can make a grisly kill then any sentient being is just as capable. They allow outsiders in their lands and their zoo, though entering their longhouse is forbidden under punishment of death. They are willing to show outsiders around Taloba, but they're sure to butt heads along the way to discover their worth. Part of the reason for this acceptance is that the other sentient races also have powerful abilities worth imitating with their Morphing, and the more models a Claw knows the better.

The one exception to the rule in this instance is the Kelvic race. Since they are born only of human pairings, they are not a race native to Taloba, no matter how much the Claws would love that to be the case. To the Claws, Kelvics are considered animals of the wilderness granted a human form with which to walk among the 'civilized' of the world, and whilst they are still outsiders all Kelvics are honored with a place by their fire. Much like their fellow Myrians, the Claws afford their animal kin much the same respect. This is especially true for Kelvics whose animals are those that belong in the jungle.

When it comes to the races despised by all Myrians, the Blackened Claws have at least a grudging respect for them, for they too are capable of glorious kills. This respect only improves their treatment from taunting and gloating by the clan to a quick death. Once their enemy is a corpse, any Claw worth her meat will examine it thoroughly, to make their enemy's advantages their own.

Attitude Toward Other Magics

Morphing isn't considered so much sacred as an ancient tradition that honors the clan, but the Claws' perception of other magics can vary wildly. For example, Malediction and Glyphing are revered magics with no small amount of tradition in the clan as well. Flux is also greatly respected as a method to improve oneself without external influence, though it is not as emphasized.

Other than that, they mostly view magic as Talobans view magic with few discrepancies. The only noteworthy differences from the city standards are the way they regard Magecrafting, Leeching, and Reimancy, all of which they revere slightly less than the rest of Taloba. The reason for Magecrafting should be obvious: the Blackened Claws do not use weapons and thus have no use for someone who can make a world-splitting sword, though they still respect the discipline's power. Leeching is frowned upon because it weakens the self by outright stealing power from other things: the Blackened Claws imitate predators to add to their own strength, but it is still their own and they grow with it. For Reimancy, it is because of the potential chaos it can cause at such great ease: the Blackened Claws have great respect and admiration for the jungle, and careless use of Reimancy can cause damage to the wilds with almost any mistake.

Attitude Toward the Gods

Myri is their Goddess-Queen for whom any Blackened Claw would lay down their life should she ask. That, however, is not a reverence unique to the clan. They worship Navre as well, and to a somewhat greater degree than their kin because of their respect for his jungle cats, which they do their best to emulate.

The clan's most respected deity besides Myri is Caiyha, mother of the wild jungle which they prowl and from whose bounty the clan grows strong. That is why they have a position dedicated to Caiyha's worship and following: the Wild Witch. She leads prayers to Caiyha frequently, and is charged with caring for the jungle as she can. The clan is all too happy to aid her in these tasks, a common desire to give back to the jungle from which they take driving their actions. They know that their strength comes from Caiyha's bounty, and are of a mind to do their best to respect her if they cannot repay her.

Other deities with their domain in relation to nature are also revered, and the clan's Wild Witch will on occasion lead prayers to these gods as well. Makutsi, Zulrav, Navre and Eywaat are all examples of deities whose names are often heard in worship or by the campfire in a story. Syna and Leth too hold important places on the clan's pantheon, even having their own ritual worship on the clan's days of celebration at sundown. Kihala and Dira are also influential deities whose domains are worshiped by the clan, many of whom seek a greater understanding of these profoundly powerful areas of divinity.

Shrines to each of these powerful beings can be found either around the clan lands or the longhouse itself, taken care of by those Blackened Claws who care enough about those deities to keep them maintained. There are always at least a few for each shrine, since the Blackened Claws are a reverent clan and have a tradition of respectful worship.

Clan Rituals

It is very important to the Blackened Claws that they maintain their close connection with nature, even if it is mostly so that they may study the workings of the wilds, so there are a number of rituals to this purpose. Other ritualized magics like the Power of the Bones and the Power of the Runes - called Malediction and Glyphing elsewhere - are also practiced and taught, not quite as integral to the clan's identity as Morphing but still very much ancestral magic.

When it comes to the death in the tribe, the rites are very simple, yet carry powerful meaning in the clan. The deceased and her dearest possessions are wrapped in cotton and cremated upon a funeral pyre while the clan prays to Kihala for thanks and Dira for the deceased's future. The deceased's bones are then gathered, as well as whatever else is left behind, and placed under the care of the Mistress of the Bones along with the rest of the clan's remains. These bones are to remain undisturbed, though clanswomen are allowed to visit to pay respects. The choice of whether and how to empower the bones of the fallen is solely that of the Mistress of the Bones.

The Black Hunt

The most common of all Blackened Claws rituals, a Black Hunt is called by the clan leader for whatever reason she wishes. There are no regular Black Hunts, instead the ritual's frequency increases and decreases according to the clan leader's whim. The purpose of the Hunt varies, but it always begins with a gathering of all capable hunters in the longhouse. Those who can beat ceremonial drums and dance in celebration while the clan leader leads the hunters in a prayer to Caiyha for magnanimity in her world-spanning hunting grounds. This prayer is echoed at the end of the hunt, except this time in thanks.

Day of Devotion

At least once a season, the Blackened Claws have a day of celebration dedicated to all the deities they hold dear. Myri and Caiyha are heavily featured, along with any gods whose domains touch upon the nature of the jungle. The clan's ceremonial instruments, their religious drums and reed flutes, are played and dances performed, made even more beautiful by the Morphing they incorporate into their worship. Offerings are made and prayers spoken, and clan myth claims that there were times when the very worshiped gods themselves would present themselves and partake in the celebration. There are no strict times for the Day of Devotion to begin and end, but traditionally the reveling lasts from about late afternoon to nearly sunrise.

Trials of the Wilderness

This ritual is an individual trial to see how well one can live with the wilds. Children of the clan who wish to enlist in the army, and thus begin their journey to the Blooding Ceremony, must first prove themselves learned of the clan's ways enough in this trial. It is also administered to men who wish to marry into the clan, to ensure that they do not let in any who are weak or alien to the ways of the jungle. The trial itself is simple: survive for a day out in the jungle wilds. However, there will always be a veteran clan member observing from out of sight, unbeknownst to the one undergoing the trial. This Myrian is always the final authority on whether someone passes the trial, so it is a position exclusively chosen by the matriarch.

Clan Heirarchy

In keeping with Myrian tradition, the Matriarch of the Blackened Claws is the oldest woman of the clan. For the Claws, this unfailingly means that she is a powerful Morpher of fearsome skill, capable of some of the greatest feats in the clan. Upon her ascendancy, after the crematory rites of the previous Matriarch, it is tradition for the new Matriarch to pick an animal title such as the Black Jaguar or the Red Wolf. This animal title becomes part of her name and is hers to keep until the day she passes and the next Matriarch ascends. Sometimes the Matriarch likes to take on this animal title in a physical form, as with the current Matriarch. Because the Blackened Claws is a relatively small clan, she wields absolute authority in most clan decisions without any intermediary council. Because of the atmosphere the clan perpetuates, the Matriarch has historically always been responsible in her position, though there is one particular myth that terrifies the children of the clan.

The Wild Witch is another revered position in the clan, an adviser to the Matriarch and the clan on all matters of the wilds. This is because she is Caiyha's chief worshiper and disciple in the clan, and is required to have a mark of Phylonura. Beyond advising the clan, she is also charged with her natural responsibilities as a Phylonurist, leaving the longhouse frequently to care for her biome. A Wild Witch can only leave the position either through Dira's door or by becoming the Matriarch, and to ensure that the clan always has a Wild Witch a newly ascended one must take on a disciple within a season.

Two of the remaining positions of authority are the Mistress of Bones and Mistress of Runes, the clan's eminent practitioners of Maledcition and Glyphing respectively. These positions are important but more easily accessible than the Wild Witch, and an existing Mistress can always step down from her position whenever she wishes. When this happens, or if a clanswoman wishes to challenge a Mistress, each person vying for the title will present their best work to the Matriarch, who will decide the victor and hence the Mistress.

Finally, the Beastmaster is the only position that has historically been held by a male, and even then his authority is nothing compared to any of the four female positions. He is in charge of the clan's zoo, ensuring that the animals are fit for study and alerting the Matriarch when more are required.

Beyond that, all Rune Witches and Bone Witches are held in high respect, as well as those who have reached a great level of expertise in their ancestral magic of Morphing. They traditionally have no authority, but the respect the clan has for them gives their advice some weight. Those who dabble in other respected magics or specialist disciplines also receive some measure of recognition, but it is all informal and offers no real clan power to these specialists.


The majority of the clan's activities take place out in the wilds, whether it be hunting or training or whatever else may be necessary, so their clan lands within Taloba itself are little more than a small copse of trees that surrounds their longhouse. These lands are still used, however. In a zoo-like area outside their longhouse, the Blackened Claws keep a number of different animals for the purpose of studying their bodies and trying to imitate them. Care for the animals is usually taken care of by the men, though there are no clan laws or traditions that prohibit a woman from doing it as well.

What earns the Blackened Claws quite a bit of scorn is that they keep snakes to study and imitate as well. While the clan argues that they are as natural to the jungle as any other predators, and thus are worthy of examination and imitation, the stigma of suspicion surrounding the reptiles. Just to be safe, and to allay the fears of the other clans, the Claws kill all their snakes as the near the end of their usefulness, dissecting their corpses to better understand them.

All Myrians are welcome to explore their little copse and mock zoo, especially Morphers seeking to learn more about the animals they imitate. They are a good deal more suspicious of and demeaning to barbarians, but they have no clan laws outright banning their entry.

Clan Myths

There are a number of myths that the circulate within the clan, usually one and often more of which make an appearance around the clan's fires in the evening. Those who know more often enjoy telling stories about them so that the myth stays alive. Whether these myths are history or merely traditional story is difficult to tell, but they certainly do not lack for mysticism.

The Claws

There are many tales of the clan's origins, though there are a few that are distinctly more popular than the rest. One of the most commonly told myths is how the Claws, which was their initial clan name, were originally far more animal than human. They would prowl the jungle as various animals, truly one with the wilds and living off its bounties along with what they pillaged from rival clans. Before the clans were united, they ruled their part of the jungle. Myri's arrival changed everything - they saw a power capable of unifying the jungle peoples into a great clan, a mighty clan that would be the scourge of the world. And the creatures she commanded, the Myrian Tigers, were a sight to behold. So their Matriarch pledged loyalty, and as one their clan drove through those who would dare oppose their warrior queen, slaughtering rivals until their claws turned black from the blood.

The Black Widow

Long ago, before the Valterrian and maybe even before Myri herself, there was a clan Matriarch whose name has been lost to the void of history. All that is remembered is her title: the Black Widow. Her arachnid form was so terrifying that even her own kin feared her. She killed those who did not meet her expectations; she ate her own husband for trying to offer her advice, then every subsequent husband because she claimed to like their taste. For decades, she remained at the head of the Claws, unrelenting in her ruthlessness and unreasonable in her decisions. In the end, it was not the Myrians of the clan that ended her, but a giant snake that fought and killed the twisted Matriarch. Whether this snake was a Dhani is left up to the listener.

PCs and NPCs of the Blackened Claws

Player Characters
heightVurkFrom Taloba, Falyndar.
heightTarrukoFrom Taloba, Falyndar.
Non-Player Characters
heightJazakMatriarch of the Blackened Claws
heightWeraMistress of the Bones
heightLoxWild Witch
heightYnoMistress of the Runes