Called the wanderers by humans, a group of shifters have long been living a nomadic existence. The elves call them Travelers of the Night but as is so often the case, this title is just a convenient conversion of elven to common. If one considers the nuances of the elvish tongue it is not at all clear if the word Night means after sunset or perhaps dark.
They call themselves the Tribe and sometimes Family in public. This is in fact how the group appears to outsiders; one big family from Elders to newborn. However, as the group is in constant flux with small groups leaving and merging, no two people ever give the same number of the group. One person might say there are 50 yet another will swear there are 100’s.
This nomadic band of shifters travels freely covering 100’s of miles in a year or staying in an area as fancy suits them.
They trade in goods and services both mundane and exotic and though they never seem to charge much for these services they seem to not lack any of the basics. Nor do they make any display of individual wealth. Their clothing is of medium to high quality and often displays styles from many different lands. Similarly their wagons and other traveling and living gear is in good repair and often decorated with exotic art.
Their most guarded and expensive commodity is information. They seem to have the pulse of vast areas and many suspect they have extensive spy networks. It is a common saying among the Tribe that ones life often depends on a mere scrap of information.
It has been noted that they often arrive with little warning and almost without fail leave an area before events such as drought or floods. This has lead to many rumors and a sometimes mixed reception. Some see them as nothing more than unwanted interlopers feasting on the goods of an area before moving on. And others take a darker view that they are nothing more than harbingers of trouble. Others point out that agriculture and hunting often picks up prior to the Wanderers arrival.
Though the Tribe may settle near other shifter communities they do not seem to integrate with them. At times this has lead to accusations that the Tribe feels they are better than other shifters. When such situations happen the Tribe is rarely seen in that region again in large numbers.
The most notable aspect of the Tribe is that they seem to be in harmony with each other in a way not found in other societies. There appears to be an almost complete lack of ego among the members. No matter what role they play, each seems to view the other as equals and work for the good of the group as a whole.
Even their leaders do not receive special treatment and are expected to contribute to the daily chores of life in the community. Other than a subtle respectful altitude the leaders would appear a simple member of the community.
A peace loving people, they have learned how to exist without causing trouble as they travel. Insults and aggression are met with humility and a yielding attitude. Though a seemingly passive people, they will defend their family and homes vigorously. Those that have seen the skill of their defenders often choose to forgo physical attacks.
Foolish or cruel outsiders who attempt to exploit the Tribe usually end up wiser for their efforts as the Tribe seems to always gain the upper hand in such situations. Often those would be exploiters find bad luck an unwelcome companion. Similarly those who deal in good faith with the Tribe find good fortune. Perhaps they discover a item long lost or earn profit on a business dealing. Many rumors abound contributing such things to the mysterious powers of the Tribes.
Seemingly in tune with the ground they travel, they always arrive appearing fresh and un harried. Their camps are seldom bothered by marauding animals and their hunters and gathers rarely fail to find enough food to fill the needs of the Tribe.
The Tribe is an apparently Matriarchal group lead by Alana and a council of elders. The Council is a semi elected body of elders. The number fluctuates to meet the needs of the group and its members are those that have gained the respect of the group during their life. Most are over 50 years of age but it is not uncommon to see younger members assume these roles when needed.
Alana is rumored to be a powerful shaman and perhaps only the elves hold in their living memory when she assumed leadership of the Tribe. To outsiders she appears to be an older woman of indeterminate age with an undeniable beauty. She is not only the final say in all matters but the groups spiritual leader also.
The council of elders is made up of 6 elders; Julian, Carol, Reesa, Argist, Selma and Hector. Their role seems to be to take care of the day to day administration of the Tribe. They act as judge and jury in any matters that need attending. Though, as with Alana, they rarely exercise the full extent of their powers, preferring to work with those involved to reach an acceptable solution.
At one time the Tribe may have been a group of separate families trying to survive the aftermath of what these shifters call the “Great Meddling “, there is little such distinction within the group now. Only those thoroughly familiar with the Tribe begin to see loose family units. Of course this leads to the impression that the tribe is a band of heathen wretches unbound by the conventions society.
While it is true that the human concept of marriage is not practiced by the Tribe, they do form “family” units. However they have found that for the good of the group, relationships only last until either party feels the need for change. As this is the normal way this causes few problems. It does however give rise to complex lineages which baffle most outsiders.
Children are raised by the entire group. Mothers may take the primary caring roles but everyone is expected to be part rearing children. As such children call all women Mother or Grandmother and all men Father or Grandfather. Like aged members call each other cousins and those that may be especially close often use brother or sister. If asked who their mother or father is, the most common response is I am son/daughter of their birth parents.
Much more obvious to outsiders are the day to day roles that members of the Tribe fill -Leaders, crafters, defenders, cooks, etc. these roles are not defined by birth but rather by ability and interests. Most often Alana and the Elders assess the abilities of children and assign them roles accordingly. They are seldom wrong in their choices but when they are quick to remedy the error.
When roles are assigned the children begin their apprenticeships with the current masters of the skill. All are welcome to learn any skill or role but they are expected to excel at their assigned or chosen task. Apprenticeships normally start around 10 yrs of age. Until this time children are expected to help with daily chores are they are able.
As a rule the Tribe has little interest in written language. They do however, have a rich and far reaching oral tradition. Children are taught not only how to live and what is expected of them, they are instructed in history and the cultures and languages of the many different races the Tribe encounters. Thought few pursue expertise in many languages, most know the polite greetings and introductory customs of dozens of cultures.
The tribe is a peaceful, non-partisan group. This trait has allowed them to travel freely for the most part in and out of areas where others may not be allowed. They are fully capable of defending themselves but prefer to avoid direct conflict whenever possible.
If they can not avoid conflict they will move from the area if possible. Many a would be attacked has found nothing but empty space where a robust encampment was just the evening before. If they can not avoid the conflict they will most often fight only as a delaying tactic allowing the body of the group to escape.
Many of the defenders choose a path they call Everlong. They devote their energies to learning defensive and delaying tactics that do not unduly place themselves at risk. This path requires intense training and personal discipline. It also relies on a deep connections to the spirits dear to the Tribe so these warriors may draw upon the spirits powers for protection and healing.
A key role of these warriors to ensure the survival of the group and each is expected to give their life if necessary to fulfill their mission. They are, however, not interested in suicide and employ many delaying tactics and team work to accomplish their goal.
One of the most simple and successful tactics is a show of military might. As part of their training they are instructed in ways to discourage attackers from battle. Their demeanor, equipment, deployment, and weapons are all chosen to give the enemy pause before pursuing battle. They are not above suing all means to this end including exploiting the superstitions of their would be attackers. All is fair when ensuring their survival.
Like their ancestors the Tribe see spiritual things in terms of nature. They actively seek the favor of spirits and work to improve their knowledge of old ways passed through the ages. They have gained an extensive knowledge of the spirits where they travel and never pass up an opportunity to venerate the sacred places of the spirits.
The spiritual leaders of the Tribe are shaman. They span the spectrum of spirits with the exception of those that require evil deeds. Such spirits are not reviled but not sought after for their powers either.
The core of their belief system is passed on though their complex oral tradition.
Though all children are instructed in the basics of the Tribes religious practices, Alana personally instructs each member in and ancient tradition called Dream Walking. This tradition is never taught to outsiders and only rarely discussed above a whisper lest the wrong ears over hear.
As children enter their teens, Alana teaches each the basics of how to be aware in their dreams. This technique is extremely difficult to grasp and most only gain the most basic of benefits. Those that show promise are inducted into an very exclusive group and gain further instruction in the art.
Even the most basic benefits of this technique are extraordinary. By retaining a minimal awareness while dreaming, basic practitioners can receive information from those more skilled. In this way messages can be passed quickly from one mind to the next. These communications contain all the information necessary to communicate even the tiniest nuances of the message.
For those that gain proficiency, their power to communicate grows as their command of the technique increases. As one approaches mastery of the art, they are able to communicate with increasing more of the Tribe and convey longer more detailed messages.
It is said that those who truly master this art do not even need to enter into dreaming to communicate. It is said they can move from ordinary awareness to a state of heightened awareness with a fluidity that allows them to use this power at will.
An while perhaps only Alana knows the true extent of this power, there is a story told of old times that intimates at one time this art allowed reading minds of those not instructed in the art and similarly it allowed a impenetrable barrier to be raised protecting ones mind from intrusions of all kinds.
It is no doubt through Alana’s mastery of this art that has given rise to rumors that she must be in two places at on time. Many who have solicited her knowledge have found her predictions and information to be uncannily accurate, even when the events she speaks to are taking place concurrently.