The Reivan Clans Organization in Arenia | World Anvil

The Reivan Clans

The most established and numerous inhabitants of the Reivan Wastes are the Reivans, a hardy subrace of humanity indiginous to the region. These people have historically claimed the ashlands as their birthright, asserting that they have been its children since time immemorial. With their great city-fortress of Rannock Reivasa, and the many walled settlements they call Reivas, they stand as the lone bastion of civilization in the Wastes.  

Societal Structure

  Reivan society is matriarchal and matrilineal, with an individual’s loyalties attached to the pillars of clan (family lineage) and reiva (home settlement). These pillars are represented in the trinary personal naming convention of the culture, with each individual’s full name consisting of given name, clan, and reiva.  


  The Reivan population is divided among twelve clans. Membership is fixed, inherited matrilineally at birth. Clans are not tied to any geographic location, with all clans represented in each reiva. The population of a clan within a reiva is, in effect, a sub-clan or semi-independent branch of the larger clan family.   The clan represents the fundamental unit of social order within a Reiva. Reivan culture does not and cannot adhere to a nuclear family structure, as the traditions and duties of Reivan men result in a disproportionate mortality rate, yielding an adult population that is over seventy-percent female across the ashlands. As such, Reivans do not wed, nor do they form monogamous relationships. Paternity is not acknowledged in any form. Although maternity is acknowledged to preserve the clan lineage, and children are expected to show deference to their birth mother, the reiva is said to be the true mother of a child. Children are raised and educated communally, with the responsibility falling first to the child’s clan, and the remainder of the reiva supporting as needed.   It is forbidden for Reivans to mate within their clan, and for men to mate within their birth reiva.   Each of the twelve clans has developed a traditional role within the Reiva, with its members specializing in the customary trades of the clan. These roles are not enforced, but a byproduct of the communal upbringing by the clan. Although children will naturally pick up the knowledge and skills of the clan that raises them, children that find passions or talents beyond these traditional roles are suitably mentored.    

Reivan Clan Traditions

ClanTraditional Specialization
KorathSmelting of ores, production of steel, maintenance of The Crucible
KerakSmithing and mastery of forges, especially armor-smithing
JunipkilMining and working quarries
KhazadMasonry, stonecutting, and construction
AkurkamMasonry, stonecutting, and construction
VusaitMilitary defenses and scouting
AkitaraMilitary defenses and scouting
SkallaHunting and scouting
VertlithiTanning and leather-working, production of textiles and clothing
ValchekButchering, food preparation
AzgoliukTrade and supply caravans between Reivas, escorting foriegn travelers
IlmechTending of cave crops and domesticated animals


  A walled settlement in the ashlands is known as a reiva, or Little Mother. More accurately, the word reiva properly refers to the settlement’s source of heat, such as a geothermal vent, fissure, or exposed magma chamber. In practice, the term is used interchangeably to refer to either, as all Reivan settlements are built around such a feature, and all such features are colonized by the Reivans after they are discovered.   Reivans belong to a single reiva, which becomes the third element of their name. Boys are named as a child of their birth reiva. A boy born in Kalon Reiva, for example, would be named, “nar Kalon” - literally, “child of Kalon.” As a rite of passage, boys will eventually leave their birth reiva on a pilgrimage to be accepted as a citizen in another reiva, never returning to their birthplace. Upon completion of this pilgrimage, they are named as a citizen of their new home. A man becoming a citizen of Kalon Reiva would take the name, “vas Kalon,” or “citizen of Kalon.” Women do not make such a pilgrimage, and girls have citizenship in their reiva from birth.   Outsiders, with the exception of guests from the dwarven clans of the Shield, are forbidden from entry into a reiva. Reivas in the border region of the Wastes, which engage in limited trade with outsiders, have an additional wall enclosing a designated trade zone for foreign caravans. These trade zones offer heat and basic lodgings, but little else. Reivas deeper within the ashlands are not designed with this feature.   Reivas vary in size, with populations ranging up to two thousand in the case of Karnak Reiva. Most are fairly small, with fewer than two hundred inhabitants. The physical size may be somewhat disconnected from population, as the perimeter wall is built based on the capacity of its heat source - the wall is built to accommodate the population that the reiva could support, not the population that settles it.   When a new heat source is discovered, initial colonization is a joint effort, with Elders from nearby reivas convening to commit resources. Colonists sent to establish a new reiva will adopt it as their new home, taking it as their new name, and becoming its first generation of citizens - this is the only case where women will migrate from their place of birth. To be chosen by the Elders to settle a new reiva is regarded as a great honor.   It is not known how many reivas exist, and thus foreign scholars disagree in their estimates of the Reivan population. Some scholars believe there to be only a few dozen reivas, with the Reivan populations numbering only in the low tens of thousands; others believe there to be many more deep within the waste, hiding a population many times larger.  

Gender Roles

  Reivan society is matriarchal, with strongly defined gender roles. Reproduction and fertility are of utmost importance to offset the extreme mortality rates in the Wastes; women of childbearing age are carefully protected and given priority over all others in the allocation of supplies and care. When food or supplies are short, pregnant women are the first to be fed, even to the deprivation of the Elders.   Men sleep in shared, barracks-style quarters. A smaller reiva will typically have one barracks for men, and another for boys, while sufficiently large reivas may have separate housing for each clan. Women are divided between several smaller shared barracks for women of lower status, and individual quarters of varying size for those holding positions of greater importance in the reiva.   Aside from a handful of specific exceptions, women do not leave the relative safety of the reiva, and they bear arms only when there is a threat inside the walls. Men handle the defense of the reiva, and all tasks beyond the protection of the walls: hunting, foraging, scouting, exploration, and the transportation of goods and messages between reivas. Within the reiva, men may work almost any trade, but do not hold any positions of authority in matters other than defenses.   Positions of authority within the reiva, those responsible for planning or for the management of subordinates, are solely within the purview of women. Only women may become clan Elders, or selected as acolytes to be groomed as potential future Elders. The use of magic is restricted to Elders and acolytes; for men, even education or sharing knowledge about magic is strictly forbidden, and most Reivans believe that it is not possible for men to wield magic. Some trades, such as medicine, are learned only by Elders and their acolytes; as such, they are de facto only practiced by women, though it is not forbidden for men to attempt to do so if needed. Beyond this, women may practice any trade within the reiva, though generally gravitating to those which require less physical strength.  

Property Rights

  Individual property ownership is minimal among Reivans, with most property owned communally by clan and reiva. It is said that a person is entitled to the fruit of their own labor, but no more than they might hold in their own hands or wear on their own back - anything more belongs to the clan. Land is shared by the reiva, and allocated at the discretion of the Elders. The same is true of central, shared-use buildings, and infrastructure supporting the reiva. Natural resources are owned by the clan whose laborers extracted them. Clan Elders may grant tools and equipment to anyone in their reiva, and larger forms of property to women, but such property cannot be inherited; it is, in effect, leased to an individual, and returned to the clan on death or at the discretion of the Elder.  

Defenses and Communication


Soldiers and Armaments

  Although all Reivan men are trained in the use of weapons, they do not maintain a standing army, nor do the difficulties of communication in the waste allow for military coordination between reivas on a large scale. Each reiva commits a limited number of men to keep watch, and guard walls and gates. Men of the Akitara clan historically commit most of these guards, and Akitaran men receive the most training and drilling for combat as youth. Reivas that are subject to more raids commit more men to this task.   As steel is one of the few resources that Reivans possess in excess, each reiva maintains an armory adequate to equip its entire population with arms and armor. No Reivan would dare leave the reiva and brave the ashlands without being fully equipped. Reivans wear steel armor over leather padding or woolen gambesons. The baseline for protection consists of brigandine vests for the body and light plating for the legs. Scouts may be equipped instead with a lighter breastplate, while heavier full plate armor is uncommon but not rare. Weaponry is meant for defensive capabilities and hunting, with most preferring spears, various polearms, hammers, and crossbows. Swords, daggers, battleaxes, and the weapons of orcish raiders are viewed with a measure of disdain, seen as the weapons of cruel murderers rather than of stalwart defenders.   Cavalry is ill-suited to the ashlands, and Reivans make no use of it. Winter wolves are tamed in small numbers and used as mounts for scout units, and most reivas will have one such wolf, though only the largest reivas are able to field a fully mounted scouting force. The Skalia clan is known for its expertise in handling these beasts.  

Structure and Fortifications

  Reivas are not standardized in layout nor in size, but have certain common features. All are fully enclosed in a high, roughly circular perimeter wall centered around a heat source. When the heat source originates from an undermountain cave, the cave entrance becomes the center point around which the walls are constructed. When a heat source is deeper within a cave system, especially in the case of a stronger heat source, then the cave system will be expanded into habitable chambers.   The central structure (or chamber, if underground) is a large, heavily-reinforced, multi-purpose hub for the settlement. An extensive system of hypocausts is used to funnel heat from here to all other structures. This structure houses a great hall for dining and community gatherings, storehouses, basic barracks for shelter, and growing rooms kept at a temperature suitable for the cultivation of fungi.   Reivan construction uses a combination of concrete and masonry, with both concrete and mortar incorporating ash as an ingredient, giving incredible resilience against the elements and against direct damage. Reivan walls are effective barriers against teleportation and scrying, owing to the magical properties of the ash. Defensive walls and critical structures add steel reinforcement to concrete, giving additional resistance against earthquakes. Less-critical structures make use of masonry instead of concrete.   The perimeter wall, to an outsider, will appear unorthodox in design, and perhaps poorly designed as a fortification. This is because Reivan walls are not designed primarily for defense against military assault; they are designed for defense against the wasteland itself. The angles and curvature of the wall are carefully engineered to redirect ashen winds and pyroclastic flows around and over the reiva, leaving the people and structures within relatively unscathed. These walls render the area within completely safe from even the most intense ash storms. While the pyroclastic flow of a very large volcanic eruption is a force of nature too great to resist, small and mid-sized eruptions can be shrugged off with relatively safety. The walls have walkways and small fortified defensive positions to deal with attacks, but do not incorporate any features that would compromise their primary purpose. Only in the borderlands, where the wastes begin to yield to the fields of the outside world, do walls begin to prioritize warfare over wasteland survival.   Beyond the perimeter of each reiva is a carefully arranged array of lightning rods. These lightning rods serve a dual role. The first and most obvious role is to draw lightning strikes away from the reiva itself, providing safety from storms. The second is to create, together with careful modification of the soil, a complex system that channels and directs lightning into a labyrinthine kill zone that must be carefully navigated to approach the walls. These arrays, relying as they do on ever-shifting deposits of surface ash, must be continuously dismantled and rebuilt. Skilled Reivans have been known to deploy impromptu versions of these dangerous arrays in the wasteland, using spears joined into lightning rods, both for self-defense and for trapping and ambush hunting.  

The Beacons

  Communication between reivas is severely limited. The magical interference in the ashlands impedes the use of magical communication, although the true capabilities of the Elders in coping with this is unknown. Travel through the ashlands is slow, arduous, and perilous, and only undertaken when necessary. The ashlands are not home to any suitable messenger animal to domesticate.   As an emergency communication method, each reiva has a structure known simply as a beacon, to be activated in times of crisis by an Elder. The beacon is a system of polished obsidian mirrors around a central spire designed to cast a light skyward, creating an illuminated aura in the air above the reiva. Larger and more remote reivas will have larger, or multiple beacons. The visibility of an active beacon is unreliable; on a clear night, a beacon might be visible far on the horizon, but days with heavier, obscuring ash cover will prevent neighboring reivas from seeing a beacon. Different mineral fuels are burned to cast different colors of light and convey the nature of the emergency - a request for military aid, for supplies, etc. The most severe of situations use the colors that are most visible.   The smaller beacons located in the reivas are an attempt to reproduce the luminous properties of the ancient Great Beacon, located in Rannock Reivasa. The central spire of the Great Beacon seems to predate the Reivan colonization of Rannock. It is a massive obsidian tower, only 100 feet in diameter but extending high above the ash line. With careful direction of light into the base of the Beacon, the entire body illuminates - it is said that the light of the Great Beacon is visible across half the Wastes, even in poor conditions, but it has been activated only once in history.  

The Fortress City of Rannock Reivasa

  Rannock Reivasa, the city-fortress at the base of Reivasa the Great Mother, is unique not only in its size but in its design. Rannock was not built from nothing around a geothermal feature, but built on the ruins of an ancient fortress long-buried by ash and lava. This ancient fortress once guarded the narrow mouth of a lone pass leading high into the mountains. Reivans have painstakingly excavated the ruins, digging and carrying away seemingly endless tons of tephra and igneous rock to restore and rebuild the site into a de facto capital.   Unlike the reivas, Rannock’s fortifications are not designed to protect from ash storms - nestled into the pass, Rannock is sheltered by the Mother’s Shield. They are not designed to withstand an eruption - for if the Great Mother were to erupt again, no defenses could withstand her wrath. Rannock’s fortifications are built for war, with multiple lines of outward facing defenses. An outer curtain wall is fronted by a ditch, and is intended to be manned only to slow an attacking force before being abandoned. The outer wall’s primary purpose is to bar any siege equipment from reaching the greater inner wall. The inner curtain wall is thicker and taller than any reiva, with a single steel gate flanked by bastions. The wall is topped with defensive towers at regular intervals, battlements, machicolations, and embrasures. Behind the inner curtain wall is the bailey, a large clearing sufficient to encamp an army, and from which missiles could be arched over the wall. Last, was the great wall of the fortress-city itself, lined with catapults and ballistae capable of launching projectiles beyond the curtain walls. Between each defensive wall were additional ditches and palisades to allow a tactical withdrawal and delay the attacking force.   Tunnels have been excavated into the mountain, leading to cliffside firing positions above the bailey between the curtain walls. These are equipped with ballistae and can be manned by additional crossbowmen to rain missile fire down on an invading army from an elevated vantage point.   By contrast, the rear of the fortress is only minimally defended, with a low wall and watch towers. An attack approaching on the High Road from the mountains would find Rannock Reivasa relatively unguarded.  

Military Doctrine

  Reivan military doctrine is built around defending against border raids, and falls back to attrition to cope with any attack that attempts to push deeper into the ashlands. The wasteland itself is a profoundly effective defensive obstacle; any invading force is an ash storm or eruption away from annihilation. Reivans, with their advantage of knowing the terrain and having the skills to recognize and avoid these hazards, can engage in skirmish and guerilla tactics to slow and whittle away at attackers, retreating to shelter when needed to let the environment do most of the work.  


  With the walls and heat of a reiva providing the only safe havens in the Wastes, voyages into the ashlands have taken on a place of great cultural significance to Reivans. Even routine expeditions beyond the walls begin with a departure ceremony, where Reivasa, the Great Mother, is beseeched for safety and warmth. Lone voyages outside the walls have become the basis for rites of passage known as Pilgrimages.  

First Pilgrimage

  Reivan boys are regarded as children of their birth reiva, but not as citizens. Their lives offer very little self-determination, and are focused heavily on training and mentoring by their clan. Boys are trained to fight from a young age, and begin joining men on expeditions outside the wall by the age of eight to learn to survive in the wastes. In their first expeditions, they will be passive observers only, carefully protected by their mentors. On subsequent expeditions, they will be given more and more duties, until eventually their mentors will refrain from their own normal duties and serve only as a safety net for the child.   This training continues until a child’s sixteenth birthday, when they undertake their First Pilgrimage. On this day, the boy is given a tattoo to chronicle his birthplace and the date his pilgrimage commenced, and sent out into the ashlands alone to prove his worth as a citizen. He will not be allowed to return to his birth reiva before his pilgrimage ends, and most will never see their birthplace again.   The First Pilgrimage has no defined destination. The pilgrim is expected to survive independently for a period not less than one year, and prove his meret by finding something of value to the clan. Upon retrieving a suitable offering, the pilgrim takes it to a reiva as an offering to his clan’s Elder; if the offering is accepted, the pilgrim is accepted as a citizen of the reiva, and adopts that reiva as his new name. Only half of all boys survive to bring an offering.   The First Pilgrimage has no set destination or goal, and it may be prolonged as long as the pilgrim feels necessary, sometimes continuing for years. Some pilgrims may wander the wastes; some may make the trek to any of the ancient ruins throughout the wastelands; some may venture into the mountains, or to foreign lands (and these young pilgrims are normally the only Reivans ever seen outside the ashlands). The offering may be of any nature, tangible or intangible. News from the outside world, trade goods, an artifact recovered from the old ruins, a trophy from a dangerous beast, a map, a crafting technique learned from outsiders, a recon report of an impending raid - all these and more might be given in offering.   In practice, it is rare for an Elder to reject a pilgrim’s offering to their reiva, for survival alone is proof of merit, as the reivas can rarely afford to refuse an able-bodied worker. Nonetheless, there is a great stigma to bringing a subpar offering, and proud pilgrims may spend years in search of the honor of a truly worthy offering. Rannock Reivasa, alone in having the population and resources to turn away pilgrims, still rarely finds cause to do so, as only an arrogant pilgrim would deign to approach the Reivasa with an unworthy offering.   Once a pilgrim has been accepted into a reiva, he becomes a full-fledged citizen, with the right to choose his own destiny and trade. He is also allowed to mate and form relationships in his new home, which was forbidden in his birth reiva.  

Final Pilgrimage

  Reivan men have great fortitude, but this fortitude is tested constantly by intense and grueling labor, and by the harsh conditions beyond the walls. Men accumulate deep scars from encounters with the beasts of the wastes, and cracked, weathered skin from exposure to ashen winds. Reiven men in their twenties physically resemble foreign humans in their middle ages, and all have deep, gravelly voices as a byproduct of the damages incurred breathing in the ashen winds. Eventually, ash inhalation does permanent damage to the lungs. Even the hardiest of men begin to find themselves unable to work in their fifties, and it is exceedingly rare for men to remain able-bodied past the age of sixty.   Once a man finds himself unable to work and contribute to his reiva, he begins his Final Pilgrimage. All of his clan brothers, and all Elders of the reiva, gather at the gate to see him off as he once again braves the brutal ashlands alone on a pilgrimage in search of an offering of value to the clan. He will not return.  

Elder’s Pilgrimage

  There are very few circumstances in which a woman will leave the safety of the reiva. One is the death or retirement of an Elder, necessitating the need to elevate a new Elder from the ranks of the acolytes. When this occurs, an acolyte from the appropriate clan is nominated to undertake the Elder’s Pilgrimage, and will leave the reiva escorted by two other Elders. Further details beyond this are a secret known only to the Elders. None but the Elders know where this journey takes them, or what rites are performed there.   The escorting Elders return before the acolyte pilgrim does. On the acolyte’s return, she should have a pattern magically tattooed on her forearm, marking her to take upon the mantle of an Elder. Any acolyte who returns without this tattoo is summarily killed on sight. Sometimes, the acolyte does not return. In either of these cases, another acolyte is nominated, as many times as needed until the pilgrimage is a success.  


  The Reivans clans operate as a loose confederation of semi-autonomous colonies, united by shared cultural identity and way of life. They cannot be considered a true nation state, limited as they are in ability to communicate or coordinate on a large scale, but nonetheless regard themselves as collectively sovereign over the ashlands.   Each reiva is governed by its local council of Elders - there are twelve clans, and in each reiva, there is an Elder from every clan. They govern and lead by consensus; when there is disagreement, traditionally deference is shown to the most senior Elder, regarded as, “first among equals.”. Because the Elders convene in secret and no others are privy to their deliberations, all other citizens will assume that any Elder speaks with the full authority of the council. All power originates from this council; any authority wielded by others is merely delegated at the council’s discretion.   Despite the name, Elders need not necessarily be among the oldest women of a reiva. Each Elder mentors acolytes of her own choosing from her clan, with the sole restriction that only women past child-bearing age may be chosen as acolytes. Acolytes often occupy positions of authority within the reiva, as assigned by the Elders, performing most of the day-to-day administration and coordination of the settlement.   When multiple reivas have cause to act in unison, they will coordinate as they can by dispatching scouts to act as messengers between reivas. In practice, smaller reivas will defer to larger ones, challenging the decisions or requests of the larger reiva only when there is a strong consensus in opposition. Although the use of messengers to reach consensus is slow and inefficient, Elders will risk leaving the reiva to convene in person only in the most extenuating of circumstances.   Rannock Reivasa is again unique, as each clan has a triumvirate of Elders, and a correspondingly larger pool of acolytes. Aside from the larger council, the principles of governance remain the same. As Rannock is far larger than any reiva, with more wealth, prestige, and with control of the all-important Crucible steelworks, all reivas will defer to the will of Rannock’s council of Elders.  


  Reivan culture is largely defined by an ethos of industrious commitment to industry, a trait they share with their dwarven allies. Reivans are masters of metallurgy and stone, and craftsmanship of their smiths, artisans, and builders rivals that of even the most renowned of dwarven masters.  


  The most important economic product of the Reivan Wastes is the peerless steel produced in the great Crucible of Rannock Reivasa. The massive steelworks of the Crucible are built deep beneath the Great Mother, channeling flowing lava from Her great magma chambers to power immense furnaces. The full details of the process to produce the unique Reivan alloy is a closely-guarded secret of the Elders, but it is known to involve the magical ash of the Wastes as a component, and requires the incredible heat of Reivasa’s lava. Steel is also produced and smithed in much smaller quantities in many reivas, but most iron is sent to the Crucible. The Crucible’s steel output feeds the many forges of Rannock Reivasa, and surplus steel is sent to other reivas to supply their smiths and builders. Reivan steel, once cast, is difficult to smith, requiring intense heat and great force, but is exceptional in its strength.   Ore veins are aggressively mined at every opportunity, even if a temporary encampment must be established beyond the warmth of a reiva. Quarries are established more conservatively, rarely more than a few hours travel from the safety of a reiva, though somewhat more risk is accepted for obsidian quarries.   Ash is also harvested. Tripodal pillars are erected, topped with a lattice of netting. This netting acts as a sieve that captures the precious, magical particles in the ash, while allowing most mineral dust to pass through. This netting is sewn by acolytes, and completed by Elders with a treatment known only to them.  


  Trade between clans and reivas is based on the direct exchange of goods for goods, without any intermediate unit of exchange. Reivans also prefer to engage with foreign traders in the same way. As such, Reivans do not produce any currency of their own, nor do they maintain any substantial reserve of foreign currency. They do, however, accept coinage in trade with foreigners. Such coinage is rare to find outside of Rannock Reivasa or the border settlements.  


  The ashland soil, were it thawed and exposed to more light, would in fact be spectacularly lush, fertilized by centuries of volcanic minerals. In its current state (frozen, buried in ash, in a land bereft of sunlight), there is almost no arable land in the Reivan wastes. Cragroot are suitable for forage, but not for cultivation, and the surface fungi that fuel the food chain are inadequate for intensive agriculture.   Although surface farming is not an option in the ashlands, some fungal crops can be grown underground. Any warm, damp caves available to a reiva will be used for the cultivation of mushrooms. Above-ground dark rooms are also built in reivas not founded around a cave system, though they are not as productive. Rare caves have been found to have a soil mixture that can viably grow some hardy flowers that prefer low-light environments. These are slow-growing, but are not directly harvested once mature; instead, Reivans use them to establish apiaries for the collection of honey.   The surface fungi in the vicinity of many reivas is adequate for a limited degree of grazing land. Reivan hunters will, where possible, attempt to capture mammoth calves that are still young enough to be tamed as beasts of burden. Only female calves are captured; adult bull mammoths, even when tamed young, will become too unruly to handle as they mature. Most reivas have enough grazing land to support at least one mammoth, with some able to support as many as three.   The other very notable Reivan livestock is the grotesque ash centipede. It would be a stretch to say that these horrific beasts are domesticated; rather, Reivans have discovered that, with a carefully placed spear strike into the back of the creature’s head, its brain may be pierced to render the beast docile and pliable without killing it. The underside of the ash centipede extrudes a viscous mucosal layer of bitter, foul-smelling, fatty, blue, gelatinous slime. This gel can be scraped off and used as an edible, calorie-dense paste, or mixed with water to make ‘centipede milk.’ Centipede milk is rich in mineral nutrients, and serves as a staple of the Reivan diet. Jars of the paste are an excellent, compact, lightweight traveling ration - so long as one doesn’t mind the vile stench and horrid flavor. It has been speculated that the centipede slime is actually a poison to which Reivans have developed a unique immunity, but this is unclear, as outsiders seem wholly unwilling to taste it.  


  Domestic trade is conducted between clans, both within and between reivas. Traders always seek trades that are beneficial to their clan, but there is little profiteering and most exchanges are made in good faith. Goods are often granted as relief to a reiva in crisis, and remembered as a debt of service the recipient owes to the benefactor. Mammoths are the only animals in the ashlands suitable to be used as pack animals or beasts of burden, but Reivan men have the strength and fortitude to haul wagons without the aid of domesticated animals.   Reivans rarely travel beyond the ashlands, with young pilgrims as the only ashlanders that foreigners might expect to see in their land. They do not send trade caravans abroad, but do receive merchant caravans in their border reivas. These border settlements keep stockpiles of resources for export. Such caravans came via the Empire of Vudon, though recent events have left the future of such trade an uncertainty.   The dwarven clans residing in the Mother’s Shield are the closest trading partners to the Reivans, and have been for centuries. Caravans frequently come down from the High Road to trade in Rannock Reivasa. Dwarves have exclusive access to Reivan honey, which they use to produce mead - a favorite drink of Reivan men. Dwarven caravans are, in fact, the Reivans’ gateway to foreign markets. Caravans arriving in Rannock will leave behind their horses (which are ill-suited to survive the wastes) and travel under Reivan protection to Sethas Reiva, a border settlement which maintains stables for dwarven use. From there, the dwarves will hitch their wagons at the local stable, and continue on into the Empire of Vudon. These dwarves provide an intermediary for Reivan trade abroad.   Timber, parchment, and textiles are key Reivan imports. Timber is especially precious in the ashlands, to the extent that tools and weapons are typically made entirely of steel, without wooden hafts, shafts, or grips. Culinary imports are valued; although the region is generally self-sufficient in food production, foreign foods are a precious delicacy. Steel is the prevailing export, both as raw ingots and as finished equipment. Tools are preferred for foreign trade to outsiders other than dwarves, for fear of providing strong arms and armor to potential enemies. Obsidian sculptures and jewelry are a major export. Other raw resources, including copper, iron, and obsidian are exported as well.  

Art and Culture

  The harsh conditions of the Wastes necessitate that Reivan society is oriented around survival and productivity, with minimal education afforded especially to men. The culture lacks strong traditions in music, art, and literature, but is not bereft of them. Reivan music uses simple, percussive beats, and vocals consist of throat singing. Songs resembling shanties are sung while laboring in groups, especially by miners. Some women learn to play a bowed, fretless string instrument known as a morin khuur, but this is seldom seen outside of Rannock Reivasa.   Reivan men are only marginally literate, learning only to read and write insofar as it is necessary in their trades. Women receive substantially more education, but are still neither producers or consumers of literature. Oral histories are conveyed to all, with only acolytes and Elders serving as scribes of written historical chronicles, and only Elders having access to complete historical libraries.   The one area of art where Reivan cultures excel is in the sculpture and carving of stone and especially obsidian. Rannock Reivasa, and to a lesser extent many reivas, are the home to many beautifully crafted statues. Walls are often carved and etched with intricate designs. Obsidian jewelry and ornaments are common, including decoration inset into armor and weapons. Most Reivans wear an obsidian pendant with the symbol of their clan.   Reivans do not wear any arbitrary tattoos, as the tattoos they do bear are of cultural significance. On coming of age, women have their left forearm tattooed with a pattern representing their clan. Boys receive a similar tattoo before undertaking their First Pilgrimage, but also receive a runic tattoo representing their birth reiva, covering one half of their chest, and a tattoo on their other forearm indicating the date their pilgrimage began. Upon completion of their pilgrimage, the forearm tattoo is completed to note the date their pilgrimage ended, the other half of the chest is tattooed to represent the reiva that accepted their citizenship, and a more personal tattoo is designed to chronicle the accomplishments of the reiva.   Reivans have no diplomats, and their culture of survival against adversity places little value in interpersonal sensitivity. Reivan communication is direct and forthright, with little of the doublespeak and careful diplomatic language found in other societies.  


  Reivans do not have a formal, organized religious structure. They are aware of the pantheons worshiped in foreign lands, but do not study nor worship them. Most Reivans are unlikely to be familiar with the names or portfolios of any specific deity, except those worshiped by dwarves. Their own object of reverence, if not outright worship, is the volcano Reivasa, the Great Mother; to a lesser extent they also revere the Reivas, or Little Mothers. They do not pray or perform rites of any kind to the Mother, but regard her as the bringer of life and protector of the Reivan people. For all things fortunate, especially warmth and shelter, Reivans give gratitude to the Great Mother. Though Reivans do not build temples or churches, the intricate decoration of the heat chambers at the core of each reiva, as well as the Crucible of Rannock Reivasa, gives them the appearance of shrines.   Reivan attitudes towards magic have a pseudo-religious undertone. There is a religious fervor to the inviolable restriction of magic by the Elders, the dogmatic refusal to allow men to possess knowledge of magic beyond the fact of its existence, and the general cultural rejection of the notion that men are capable of magic.  

Funeral Rites

  Reivans have a short mantra regarding death, known as the Tenet of Returning:  
Our bodies are prisons for our souls - our skin and blood, the iron bars of confinement. But fear not, for all flesh decays. Death turns all to ash. And thus, death frees every soul.
  The Tenet is a deeply ingrained attitude, acknowledging and embracing the inevitability of death in due time. It is commonly cited, both in part or in full, in dangerous situations, and is recited when Reivans are laid to rest. This philosophy focuses mainly on the dangerous lives and mortality of Reivan men, but does not explicitly exclude women.   The deep permafrost of the wasteland is unsuitable for burial grounds, thus Reivans do not dig graves for their dead. As with many aspects of Reivan culture, the treatment of the deceased differs by gender.   For men, Reivan funerals are minimalist, and often impossible as Reivan men rarely die of natural causes within the safety of the reiva. When a body is available, it is covered in ash and buried under stones to form a shallow cairn. It is preferred to cap these cairns with a single block of obsidian, and for the capstone to be the only obsidian stone used, but if necessary, the cairn will use whatever materials are available. This is performed by those present at the time of death, or those who discovered the body, with no gathering or additional ceremony beyond the recitation of the Tenet of Returning. When the death occurs close to a reiva, the cairn is usually placed in areas with significant fungal growth, allowing the decay of the body to be reclaimed into fungal crops. Reivan men are said to have been “returned to ash,” on death, regardless of whether burial rites have been observed.   For women, funeral ceremonies are more elaborate. Women are interred in crypts built some distance outside of the reiva, which may be freestanding structures or subterranean catacombs, depending on the terrain. Upon a woman’s death, a procession of the men of her clan will carry the deceased to the crypt and place the body within. Each man will, in turn, say a farewell to the deceased and thank her for her wisdom, with the last also reciting the Tenet of Returning. Being built outside the reiva’s walls, it is accepted that these crypts may eventually be destroyed or buried in future eruptions - this is seen as a reclamation by the wasteland, and simply triggers the construction of a new crypt. A woman is said to have “returned to the mothers,” only upon being interred.   Both men and women are buried or interred with their clan dagger.   When an Elder dies, she is not interred in her reiva’s crypt. Instead, her clan will undertake the dangerous journey to deliver her body to the Elders of Rannock Reivasa - regardless of how far or dangerous the journey. The fate of the departed upon being handed over to the Elders is secret, but the deceased is said to have “returned to the Great Mother.”  

Clan Daggers

  Reivans are rarely seen without a personal clan dagger, which is customarily worn at the left hip. These daggers are forged before a child's birth, and the blade engraved with runes representing the child's clan and reiva, making the blades relatively ornate compared to the minimalistic and utilitarian nature of most Reivan tools and equipment. At birth, the mother uses this dagger to cut the infant's umbilical cord; if the mother is incapable, an assistant will place the dagger in her hand and guide it for her. This act is symbolic of severing the connection between child and mother, marking the newborn as a child of clan and reiva. Losing or surrending a clan dagger is considered to be a mark of great shame.   Clan daggers are perfectly servicable as weapons, but are more commonly used as survival tools, with a curved and sharpened edge on one side, a serrated edge on the other, and a heavy steel pommel. The most important function of the clan dagger is to uphold the duty of Reivan men to place the needs of clan and reiva above the self: it is said that their dagger was the first weapon to taste their blood, and so it must also be the last. When a man is injured or incapacitated beyond the safety of the reiva, he shall use his dagger to guarantee that none of his brethren will risk themselves to rescue or preserve him, for one cannot rescue a man who is already dead.  

Legacy of the Old World

  There are many ancient sites scattered across the ashlands, in various states of ruin: cities, structures, some crumbling and some largely intact, some easily-found and some almost entirely buried in ash and volcanic stone. The origin of these is unknown, at least to the Reivans, but they regard them as sacred sites to which they hold an ancestral claim. Reivans feel a sacred duty to protect and preserve them.   Entry into these ruins is completely forbidden for anyone other than a Reivan on their Pilgrimage. Foreigners encountered by scouts within the waste are not attacked, but will always be watched, and warned not to approach any ancient ruins. If these warnings are ignored, Reivans will bar the interlopers’ entry at any cost. Anyone, or anything, seen emerging from these sacred sites is struck down in retribution as defilers.  


  The Reivan oral history goes back only so far as an event known as the Gift. The Gift refers to a period where the Reivan forefathers, who were then eking out a nomadic existence on the precipice of extinction, first encountered dwarven explorers. It is said that these dwarves shared their knowledge of mining, smithing, and stonework with the Reivans, setting them on the path to their current civilization. This historical kinship continues to this day: Reivans hold dwarves in the highest of regard and admiration, and extend all hospitality to them.   In the centuries since the Gift, the Reivans began to build settlements and gradually expand their dominion over the ashlands. Excavation and rebuilding of Rannock Reivasa began early in this period. This status quo of gradual expansion continued for centuries, with little outside contact aside from occasional trade and the persistent raids from orcish and subterranean neighbors. Only recently was this status quo disrupted by war with the Empire of Vudon.  

War with Vudon

  The Imperial invasion of the ashlands came as a great surprise to the Reivan clans. For centuries, relations with their western neighbors had been ambivalent but peaceful. The Reivans had no interest in expanding beyond the ashlands, and their neighbors had no interest in entering the ashlands. Without open lines of communication, the Reivans were unaware that the Empire of Vudon had annexed the territory on its continuing march eastward. The first reiva to be sacked was completely unprepared for the invaders. Their beacon was lit to call for aid when scouts discovered the approaching enemy. Aid did come, but aid came expecting to reinforce a reiva struggling with large raids, not expecting to find a reiva conquered and occupied by a full expeditionary army. These reinforcements were wiped out.   The Imperial invaders managed to turn some Reivans to their cause, or somehow compel their assistance. With Reivan aid, their army was able to avoid the devastating hazards of the Wastes with relative safety. The Reivan defenders were unprepared for a war in which they could not rely on attrition. Multiple reivas fell, but even with assistance, the invaders could not move as quickly as word of the invasion spread, and warning beacons lit up throughout the ashlands. Coordination was limited by communication, but when the Great Beacon of Rannock Reivasa were illuminated for the first time in history, the message was understood in most reivas: all forces were to converge to make their stand in Rannock.   Reivas that stood between the invading army and Rannock Reivasa took an absolutely unprecedented break from tradition: women ventured beyond the reiva’s walls. Many of these reivas embarked on a massive exodus, emptying out in their entirety to evacuate to Rannock. Only small groups of warriors remained to harass and delay the enemy. Sadly, even in the direct path of the invasion, some Elders refused to break with tradition, and would not evacuate their women, choosing instead to stay in their homes until the end. Reivas in the east were spared this decision, needing only to send their men to Rannock. Reinforcements and evacuees from across the ashlands found themselves in a race against time to reach Rannock before the Empire.  

The Battle of Rannock Reivasa

  Before beginning their siege of Rannock Reivasa, the Empire occupied Karnak Reiva, the largest nearby settlement, which by this time had already been evacuated. From Karnak, they had safe shelter from which to launch a series of assaults probing the fortress’ defenses. Fighting continued for days as Reivan forces inflicted heavy casualties on the invaders, but were inevitably pushed back through layers of defenses. The battle reached its climax as the Imperial forces breached the final curtain wall, forcing the Reivans to fight in the streets, with even women taking up spears in a desperate bid to reclaim the wall.   All hope seemed lost for the Reivans until the boom of dwarven war drums echoed into the fortress from the High Road. The dwarves had seen the beacon and came to their aid. The army was not large, but with their stout and stalwart allies to reinforce and hold the line in key positions, the Reivans were granted a reprieve to regroup and flank the invading army. Finding itself encircled within the streets of Rannock, the army routed and fled back to the walls, but found themselves trapped with no escape. With the bulk of their forces slaughtered or captured, the Empire was unable to continue their assault and had no choice but to retreat. What men remained were devastated in their forced march out of the ashlands, with only a small fraction making it to the Imperial border.   In the aftermath of the battle, the Reivan survivors shed their signature yeti-fur cloaks and obsidian clan pendants, giving them as gifts to their dwarven saviors whom they declared to be Reivan citizens in spirit if not in blood.   Reivan Victory was achieved, but such a pyrrhic victory was no cause for celebration.  

Reivan Retribution

  After tending their wounded and restoring what damage they could, the Reivans began to prepare a counter-attack. Leaving behind only a small garrison to protect and repair the damage to Rannock Reivasa, and absorbing the reinforcements from the reivas that failed to reach Rannock in time for the battle, the Reivans began a retaliatory campaign. They planned to enact a scorched earth strategy in the border regions, torching fields and destroying bridges. The Reivans had never before raided beyond the ashlands, but declared that from this day forward, they would destroy any enemy capability to supply and support the movement of an army on the path to their borders.   Reivan retribution came first against their fellow ashlanders. A purge was initiated by the Reivan attack force on its path to the border, cleansing the reivas that had harbored or collaborated with the enemy, violently rooting out traitors - or anyone suspected of treachery. This fervor grew as the campaign continued, and by the time they reached the Imperial lands, they were not merely destroying supply and infrastructure. Villages were torched, and civilians cut down wholesale.

Foreign Relations

The Great Mother provides as she takes. From fire and ash, life.

Geopolitical, Country
Alternative Names
Ashlanders, Reivans
Government System
Power Structure
Economic System
Barter system
Official Languages
Related Ranks & Titles
Neighboring Nations
Related Species

Articles under The Reivan Clans