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Clan Glossary


The language of the Clans is based on what is known of Star League Standard English, but they have added many words unique to their culture. Some were adapted by the Kerenskys from the Russian language and military terminology. All these words represent the Kerenskys' efforts to express concepts they felt were lacking from Star League Standard English. The following list includes terms used by the warrior caste and other useful explanations of Clan concepts. This list is not exhaustive, and does not reflect the many differences in terminology existing between the various Clans.

Clan military unit structure is as follows:

Point = 1 'Mech or 5 infantry
Star = 5 'Mechs or 25 infantry
Binary = 2 Stars (10 'Mechs)
Trinary = 3 Stars (15 'Mechs)
Cluster = 4-5 Binaries/Trinaries (40-75 'Mechs)
Galaxy = 3-5 Clusters (120-375 'Mechs)

Nova = 1 'Mech Star and 1 infantry Star (5 'Mechs 25 Elementals)
Supernova =1 'Mech Binary and 2 infantry Stars (10 'Mechs 50 Elementals)


When a problem arises within a caste or Clan can be resolved by no other process, the troublesome element may be ejected from Clan society trough a Trial of Abjuration. The target of the ritual is stripped of rank and caste, which paces them outside Clan law, and sually forcibly ejected from Clan territory. Members of the Clans may no longer even speak the name of the abjured member or Clan and, in the case of warriors, their genetic material is purged from the gene pool. A Clan also may abjure a warrior for negligence of duty or conduct unbecoming a warrior. The results of a Trial of Abjuration may be overturned by the Clan Council that enacted it or by the Grand Council.

An abtakha is a captured warrior who is adopted into his new Clan as a warrior.

The ultimate punishment in Clan society, the Trial of Annihilation calls for the destruction of the accused. Such trials amy only be carried out following a unanimous vote of the CLan or Grand COuncil, and may be invoked only for the most heinous crimes. Such sanctions have been declared against individuals, stars and clusters, and once was used against an entire Clan. Everything associated with the target - possessions, genetic material and descendants - is destroyed, and no member of nay Clan may speak the name of those annihilated.

The batchall is the ritual by which Clan warriors issue combat challenges. Though the challenge may take many forms, in most cases the batchall begins with the attacker identifying himself, announcing the objective of the trial and requesting to know what forces stand against him. The defender must reveal the forces they intend to use in the trial, and also may choose the site of the battle. The defender also has the right to ask the attacker to ante up a prize of equal value against the possibility the defender wins the trial, though the challenged party rarely takes advantage of this opportunity.
   When the batchall is complete, the attacking and defending units bid among thesmelves to determine who will participate in the battle. The sub-commander who bids lowest wins the right and responsibility of the battle, a practice that minimizes losses. Because Inner Sphere troops regularly use deception and other tactics the Clans consier dishonorable, many Clans abandon the batchall while fighting Inner Sphere forces.

Blooding is another name for the Trial of Position that determines if a warrior cadet will qualify as a Clan warrior. The candidate must first demonstrate physical prowess in personal combat by defeating at least one of three successive opponents. If he defeats two, or all three, he is immediately ranked as an officer in his Clan. If he fails to defeat any of his opponents, he is relegated to a lower caste. If the candidate is successful in the trial, a complex ceremony takes place. He or she must be ritually defended by several Clan warriors when challenged by other representatives of the Clan, or else face those representatives in mortal combat.

Bloodname refers to the surname of each of the 800 Warriors who stood with Nicholas Kerensky during the Exodus Civil War. These 800 are the foundation of the Clans' elaborate breeding program. The right to use one of these surnames has been the ambition of every Clan warrior since the system was established. Only 25 warriors, which corresponds to 25 Bloodrights, are allowed to use any one surname at one time. When one of the 25 Bloodnamed warriors dies, a trial is held to determine who will assume that Bloodname. A contender must prove his Bloodname lineage, then win a series of duels against other competitors. Only Bloodnamed warriors may sit on the Clan Councils or are eligible to become a Khan or ilKhan. Most Bloodnames have gradually become confined to one or two warrior classes, but certain prestigious names, such as Kerensky, have shown their genetic value by producing excellent warriors in all three classes (MechWarrior, fighter pilot, and Elemental).

Bloodnames are determined matrilineally, at least after the original generation. Because a warrior can only inherit from his or her female parent, he or she has a claim to only one Bloodname.

The warriors bearing or eligible to bear a particular Bloodname form a Bloodname House. The House acts as a substitute family for the warriors and exerts considerable political influence in the Clans. In some Clans, most notably the Fire Mandrill Kindraas and the Cloud Cobra Cloisters, groups of Bloodname Houses band together to form larger, and more powerful associations. After the first generation, Bloodnames are determined matrilinealy and so a warrior may only claim membership of one Bloodname House.

The history of the Bloodnamed warriors of a particular Bloodright is called the Bloodheritage.

A specific Bloodname lineage is called a Bloodright. Twenty-five Bloodrights are attached to each Bloodname. A Bloodright is not a lineage as we define the term because the warriors who successively hold a Bloodright might be related only through their original ancestor. As with Bloodnames, certain Bloodrights are considered more prestigious than others, depending largely on the Bloodright's history.

The Trial of Bloodright is a series of one-on-one, single-elimination duels fought by warriors to wn possession of a Bloodname. Each competition consists of thirty-two entrants, the majority of which are nominated by the existing Bloodnamed warriors of the house. The Head of the House (or Clan Loremaster) nominates all but one of the remaining entrants, and the thirty-second slot is filled by the winner of a Grand Melee.

The woven bracelet worn by bondsmen is known as a bondcord. Warrior-caste bondsmen wear a three-strand bondcord on their right wrist, with the color and patterning of the cords signifying the Clan and unit responsible for the warrior's capture. The cords represent integrity, fidelity and prowess. The bondholder may cut each strand as he or she feels the bondsman demonstrates the associated quality. According to tradition, when the final cord is severed, the bondsman is considered a free member of his or her new Clan and adopted into the warrior caste. Each Clan follows this tradition to varying degrees: for example, Clan Wolf accepts nearly all worthy individuals regardless of their past, while Clan Smoke Jaguar generally chose to adopt only trueborn warriors.

A bondholder is the individual, traditionally the member of the warrior caste responsible for the bondsman's capture, to whom he or she "belongs." The Clan considers the bondsholder responsible for the actions, education and punishment of the bondsman.

Clans can keep prisoners taken during combat. These are called bondsmen, and are considered members of the laborer caste unless and until the capturing Clan releases them or promotes them back to warrior status. A bondsman is bound by honor, not by shackles. Custom dictates that even Bloodnamed warriors captured in combat be held for a time as bondsmen. All bondsmen wear a woven bracelet called a bondcord. The base color of the bondcord indicates to which Clan the individual is now bound, and the striping indicates which unit captured him.

The ritual by which a warrior avoids the fate of a bondsman is called bondsref. Because the Clans consider escaping after being captured dishonorable, bondsref allows the warrior to die before being given a bondcord, either by suicide or at the hands of an accomplice. Performing the ritual of bondsref after receiving a bondcord is considered cowardly and dishonorable, unless the bondholder gives his or her permission.

A Brian Cache is a Clan equipment store, usually one established during the demobilization process Kerensky created upon arriving in the Pentagon. The name is derived from the Star League Castle Brian fortress.

Clan slang for the eugenics program of the warrior caste. It can also refer specifically to the artificial wombs.

Clan slang for the artificial breeding element of the eugenics program or the tureborn warriors that result from the process.

The Clans are divided into five castes: warrior, scientist, merchant, technician and laborer, in descending order of influence. Each has many subcastes based on specialized skills. The warrior caste is largely the product of the artificial breeding program; those candidates who fail their Trial of Position are assigned to the scientist or technician caste, giving those castes as significant concentration of trueborn members. Most of the civilian castes are made up of the results of scientist-decreed arranged marriages   within the castes.
   The children of all castes undergo intensive scrutiny during their schooling to determine the caste for which they are best suited, though most end up in the same caste as their parents. Thsi process allows children born to members of civilian castes to enter training to become warriors, though they belong to the less-prestigious ranks of the freeborn.

Anything or anyone who challenges the Clan caste system is considered a chalcas.

The area in which a trial takes place is known as the Circle of Equals. It ranges in size from a few dozen feet for personal combat to ten miles for large-scale trials. Though traditionally a circle, the area can be any shape.

During the fall of the Star League, General Aleksandr Kerensky, commander of the Regular Star League Army, led his forces out of the Inner Sphere in what is known as the first Exodus. After settling beyond the Periphery, more than 1,300 light years away from Terra, Kerensky and his followers settled in a cluster of marginally habitable star systems near a large globular cluster that hid them from the Inner Sphere. Within fifteen years, civil war erupted among these exiles, threatening to destroy everything they had worked so hard to build.

In a second Exodus, Nicholas Kerensky, son of Aleksandr, led his followers to one of the worlds of the globular cluster to escape the new war. It was there on Strana Mechty that Kerensky first conceived and organized what would one day be known as the Clans.

The codex is the each warrior's personal record. It includes the names of the original Bloodnamed warriors from which a warrior is descended. It also records background information such as the warrior's generation number, Blood House, and codex ID, an alphanumeric code noting the unique aspects of that person's DNA. The codex also contains a record of the warrior's military career.
   Most often worn as a bracelet, a codex is a warrior's identification and service record. It includes details of their bloodline, house and generation as well as an electronic representation of their DNA for identification. See also Master Codex.

ComStar, the interstellar communications network, was the brainchild of Jerome Blake, formerly Minister of Communications during the latter years of the Star League. After the League's fall, Blake seized Terra and reorganized what was left of the communications network into a private organization that sold its services to the five Successor Houses for a profit. Since that time, ComStar has also developed into a powerful secret society steeped in mysticism and ritual. Initiates to the quasi-religious ComStar Order commit themselves to lifelong service.

A contract is an agreement between the commanders of two units that allows the commander of one to include the units of the other in his bidding for rights to a battle or trial. During the invasion of the Inner Sphere, Cluster commanders within Galaxies frequently made contracts to allow greater, and often more extravagant, bidding, while still maintaining a good mix of BattleMech, Elemental, and fighter combat units.
   The Clan definitino of a contract denotes an agreement between two commanders by which one officer may include the troops of another in his or her bidding. Usually agreed upon between Clusters or Galaxies, such contracts are occasionally undertaken between Clans.

A personal aide to a Star Colonel or garrison commander.

The accepted minimum force necessary to win any trial for which there has been bidding. Bidders who can push their opponent into making a bid below the cutdown are considered clever, while those who win trials with forces below the cutdown receive great honor.

A fighting unit that disgraces itself is known as a dezgra unit. The name also refers to the ritual whereby that unit is marked and punished. Any unit that refuses orders, panics in the face of the enemy, fails in an assigned task, acts dishonorably or demonstrates cowardace is disgraced.

The large, muscular infantry derived from the Clan artificial breeding program are called elementals. Their battle armor suits also are referred to as elementals.

The CLans believe strongly in the principals of eugenics, the improvement of the population by controlled breeding. The Clans implement such a program along two distinct strands. The warrior caste uses an artificial breeding program based on genetic engineering and incubation in artificial wombs in order to create the ultimate warriors. In the civilian castes, a system of mandatory arranged marriages provide a similiar but less technical means of advancement. According to a strict definition, both of these methods may be called eugenics, but within the Clans only the artificial breeding program is commonly referred to as such.

Freebirth is an epithet used by trueborn members of the warrior caste, generally expressing disgust or frustration. If a trueborn warrior refers to another trueborn as a freebirth, it is is a mortal insult.

An individual conceived and born by natural means is freeborn. Because the Clans value their eugenics program so highly, a freeborn is automatically assumed to have little potential.

This is the sample of DNA taken from a warrior who died with great glory in combat. The giftake is considered the warrior's best DNA sample and the one most likely to produce improved warriors.

The Grand COuncil is the body responsible for governing the Clans as a whole. It consists of the assembly of Khans, two from eahc Clan, as well as the ilKhan (if one exists). Its authority covers any matters involving more than one Clan, and it also determines general policy for Kerensky's descendants. The Grand Council serves as the highest court of the Clans.

A free-for-all battle offering no targetin restrictions and ignoring the ules of zellbrigen. Any trial may become a melee if a participant violates zellbrigen by firing on a target already engaged in combat with another participant. The battle to determine the thirty-second place in a Trial of Bloodright is by default a Grand Melee.

The Trial of Grievance is used to settle disputes between two parties. The victor in the match is deemed to be in the right. Often such trials are fought over points of honor, and often to the death.

Victorious Clan warriors sometimes extend the courtesy of hegira to defeated opponents. Hegira allows the opponent to withdraw honorably from the field without further combat or cost.

The ambassador-messengers that Clan Blood Spirit assigns to its allies.

The war-leader of the CLans, elected from the members of the Grand Council. He or she also serves as the arbiter between Clans in times of crisis, acting with the power of the Grand Council. The ilKhan enjoys wide-ranging powers in military amtters, but his or her power is not absolute; the ilKhan answers to the Grand Council and his authority is limited to those matters ordinarily belonging to the Grand Council. The ilKhan normally may not interfere in events deemed internal to a Clan, but when the martial code is in effect they operate largely unhindered.

The spoils of battle that victorious warriors can claim as their right, including bondsmen, are known as isorla.

The Keshiks comprise a combination of bodyguard and command unit, usually serving a Khan. Traditionally, a Khan commands a Keshik, but in practice a Star Colonel oversees day-to-day matters. Keshiks range from Trinary to Cluster size.

Each Clan Council elects two of its number as Khans, who serve both as rulers of the Clan and its representatives on the Grand Council. Traditionally, these individuals are the best warriors of the Clan, but in practice many Clans instead elect the best politicians. The most senior Khan acts as the head of the Clan, overseeing relationships between castes and Clans, while the junior Khan - the saKhan - acts as the Clan's warlord. The senior Khan decides the exact distribution of tasks, however, and may assign the saKhan additional or different duties.

A political-military faction within Clan Fire Mandrill compsoed of one or more Bloodname houses.

A kurultai is a Clan war council. A Grand Kurultai is a war council involving all the Clans. Traditionally, Grand Kurultai are held in the Hall of Khans on Strana Mechtry and only may be convened by the petition of three or more Clans. An ilKhan may call a Grand Kurultai at any time or place.

The Loremaster is the keeper of Clan laws and history. He or she plays a key role in investigations and tirals and is the only individuals allowed totake action against active Khans. Unlike the Khans, who are nominally above the political infighting in the Grand COuncil, the Loremaster can take a proactive role in any inquiries and tirals, acting as either advocate or inquisitor. Traditionally, however, the Loremaster does not vote on issues save in the event o a tie, at which point his vote decides the issue.
   The position grants considerable political power, conompassing the equivalent of several more familiar minor roles such as the High Baliff (responsible for issueing writs and summonses), the Provost Marshall (head of the Clan's police) and Adjutant General (chief administrator). The Loremaster also oversees any trials resulting from Clan Council decisions and is the final arbiter in such desputes. Further, it is the only postr withing the Clan able to authorize an internal investigation without the authority of the Khans (though only when the Khans thesmelves are implicated in the charges). in times of crisis, elgal provisions allow for hte Loremaster to take the place of a Khan in the event of incapacity, death or censure. As a result, many ambitious warriors view the post of Loremaster as a stepping stone to a Khanship.

The Martial Code is a collection of rules and laws governing Clan actions in times of war. Its primary goal is to minimize the political prevarication that often accompanies Gradn Council meetings, forcing the participants to keep to the matter at hand and carry out business with the minimum of fuss. When in effect it also grants the ilKhan extraordinary powers, such as the right to dismiss any charges brought before the Clan or Grand COuncils that he or she deems frivolous.

The master codex comprises the master files of the Clan breeding program, mapping the DNA and genealogy of every trueborn warrior, alive or dead.

The Oathmaster is the honor guard for any official Clan ceremony. The position is similar to that of an Inner Sphere sergeant-at-arms, but it carries a greater degree of respect. The Oathmaster administers all oaths, and the Loremaster records them. The position of Oathmaster is usually held by the oldest Bloodnamed warrior in a Clan (if he or she desires the honor), and is one of the few positions not decided by combat. They administer all oaths taken at the ceremony and are traditionally the oldest and most experienced Bloodnamed warrior at the gathering.

This is a term of respect reserved for someone of higher rank.

There are two forms of the Trial of Position. The first - also known as the blooding - determines if a warrior candidate is qualified to take his or her place as a member of the warrior caste. Failure in that trial results in demotion to a civilian caste; success (defeating one or more opponents) determines both status and rank.
   The second form of Trial of Position, known as testing, is held periodically and determines whether a warrior is qualified to maintain his or her rank in the Clan military. Those who perform as expected (against targets based on role, rank and age) maintain their rank, while those who perform better than expected "test up" (are promoted). Those who perform more poorly than expected "test down," or are demoted. A non-officer MechWarrior, pilot or elemental who tests down is relegated to a non-combat role or else is transferred to a civilian caste.

A Trila of Possession resolves disputes between two parties over ownership or control. This can include equipment, territory or even genetic material. The traditional batchall forms the core of the trial in order to encourage the participants to resolve the dispute with minimal use of force.

Powless is the vulnerability that a warrior, particularly an Elemental, feels when forced to fight without his accustomed weapons. The word is probably derived from "powerless."

Grammatical onstructions associated with rhetorical quetions. They are a formalized vrsion of language structures used with spoken language, intended to remove any ambiguity. When the speaker expects a negative answer, he or she ends the sentence wqith quineg; when expecting a positive answer, the sentence ends in quiaff.

Clan custom dictates that a warrior who has been successful at his Trial of Bloodright may be rewarded with a gift by the Clan. Depending upon the warrior's success during the Trial, the ransom might range from the right to choose what type of weapon he will use as a warrior to the right to command a special unit. At the time Khan Natasha Kerensky returned from the Inner Sphere and then underwent her second Trial of Bloodright, ilKhan Ulric Kerensky awarded her a ransom of the right to form the Thirteenth Wolf Guards.

One of the many forms honor takes in the Clans, a rede is an honor-bound promise usually administered by a Council, anyone breaking a rede is severely punished, commonly by execution.

Any decision made by a Clan Council or the Grand COuncil may be challenged by a member of that body. The Trial of Refusal epitomizes the Clan belief that might makes right, with the victor of hte trial being regarded as in the right. The odds of the battle are determined on a pro-rated basis, with the forces of the two sides matched according to the ratio of winning and losing votes. The challengeer announces what forces they will use and the defender can field fores proportionate to their margin of success in the vote. For example, a Trial of Refusal against a decision that passed five-to-one could give the defender a force five times the size of that used by teh challenger. In practice, the result of bidding among those wishing to defend the decision usually shifts the odds in favor of the challenger.

The Remebrance is an ongoing heroic saga that describes Clan history from the time of the Exodus to the present day. Eah Clan maintains its own version, reflecting its opinions and perceptions of events. Inclusion in the Remembrance is one of hte highest honors possible for a member of the Clans. All Clan warriors can recite passages from the Remembrance from memory, and written copies of hte book are among the few non-technical books allowed in Clan society. These books are usually lavishly illustrated in a fashion similur to the illuminated manuscripts and bibles of the medieval priod. Warriors frequently paint passages of the Remembrance on the sides of their OmniMechs, fighters and battle armor.

This term refers to a particularly gifted warrior on his or her way to high position. It is probably derived from the expression "rising star."

Safcon is a Clan ritual that allows troops to land on a world unmolested in advance of a trial. In the absense of safcon, the incoming DropShips, JumpShips and warshps are open to attack. Even in those cases when Clan ships are not approaching a world to engage in a trial, the inbound vessels may broadcast a "mean of neutrality" - a message indicating non-hostile intentions - when they are attempting to make planetfall while avoiding any hostile actions from the occupying troops.

A satarra is a veto used in Clan Councils to settle or postpone disputes within or between castes. Traditionally, the Councils invoke satarra only when negotiations have reached an impasse or the dispute threatens the ability of hte Clan to function as it should.

A Clan epithet.

A ritual response in Clan ceremonies. THe origin of this phrase is unkown, though it may be a variation of the French phrase "c'est la" (that is it). Another possible origin for this phrase is the Biblical notation "selah," thought to be a musical notation or a reference to comtemplation.

Derogitory name used within Clan Jade Falcon for those members of the sibkos who underwent accelerated training and whose Trial of Position consisted of the Coventry campaign. This term is also used a sa derogatory epithet to imply poor training or a young, inexperienced warrior of any kind.

A group of trueborn warrior-caste children raised and trained together. In many Clans, sibkos are produced from the same gene-parents and thus are literally siblings. A few Clans, most notably Clan Wolf, create sibkos from members of a number of Bloodname Houses and subcastes. Such groups tend to be smaller (twnety individuals rather than the hundred or so in gene-parent-based sibkos), with more emphasis given to cooperation. In both types of sibko, usually only four or five warriors pass their initial Trial of Position.

Members of the same sibko.

Clan warriors considered too old to serve in mainstream units are assigned to solahma units. The members of such units generally seek suicide missions in order to die in combat, but most often they serve as garrison troops.

A Clan epithet, probably a combination of the Clan words stran, meaning independent, and vagon, meaning birthing.

The surkai is the Right of Forgiveness. The Clans honor uniformity in thought and belief above all else in their society. When warriors disagree, when a Clan disagrees with the Clan Council, or when a member of one caste offends a member of another caste, surkai is expected. It is a matter of pride that the offending party freely admit his wrongdoing and request punishment. Those who show great surkai are held up as examples to others for their willingness to accept the consequences of their independent thoughts. Those who do not show surkai when it is expected of them are viewed with suspicion.

The Rede of Forgiveness, or surkairede, is the honor-bound agreement between the majority and any dissenters. According to the surkairede, once a dissenter accepts punishment for having disagreed with the majority, he should be allowed to resume his role in society without suffering any further disgrace for having spoken out.

The term given to the fighting arm of a Clan.

A series of one-on-one, single-elimination contests determines who wins the right to use a Bloodname. Each current Bloodnamed warrior in that Bloodname's House nominates one candidate. The head of the House nominates additional candidates to fill thirty-one slots. The thirty-second slot is fought for by those who qualify for the Bloodname but who were not nominated. The nature of the combat is determined by "coining." Each combatant places his personal medallion, a dogids, into the "Well of Decision." An Oathmaster or Loremaster releases the coins simultaneously, so that only chance determines which coin falls first to the bottom of the well. The warrior whose coin lands on top chooses the manner of the combat ('Mech versus 'Mech, barehanded, 'Mech versus Elemental, and so forth). The other warrior chooses the venue of the contest. Though these Bloodname duels need not be to the death, the fierce combat and the intensity of the combatants often leave the losing candidate mortally wounded or dead.

The Trial of Position determines whether a candidate will qualify as a warrior in the Clans. To qualify, he must defeat at least one of three successive opponents. If he defeats two, or all three, he is immediately ranked as an officer in his Clan. If he fails to defeat any of his opponents, he is relegated to a lower caste.

This trial resolves conflicts in which two or more Clans claim the right to the same thing, be it territory, a warrior's genes, or even supremacy in a difference of opinion. This trial uses the formal challenge of the attacker and the response of defending forces, and favors those commanders from the attacking Clan skillful enough to bid minimal forces.

The Clan councils and the Grand Council vote on issues and laws that affect the community. Unlike Inner Sphere legislation, however, any decision can be challenged and reversed by a Trial of Refusal. This trial allows the losing side to demand the issue be settled by combat.

The forces used in the Trial of Refusal are determined on a pro-rated basis. The faction rejecting the decision declares what forces they will use. The side defending the decision (the attacker) can field a force equal to the ratio of winning to losing votes. For example, if the contested vote carried by a three-to-one margin, the attacking forces can field a force three times the size of the force challenging the decision. Bidding usually results in a smaller attacking force, however.

Used formally, this term refers to members of an extended sibko. Less formally, a warrior will use the term trothkin when referring to someone he considers his peer.

A warrior born of the Clan's artificial breeding program is known as a trueborn. In less formal sitautions, the Clans use the term truebirth.

Members of some Clans, most notably the Nova Cats, collect keep-sakes of their battles. These items are called vineers, probable derived from the word souvenirs.

Zellbrigen is the body of rules governing duels. these rules dictate tht such actions are oneon-one engagements, and that any warriors not immediately challenged should stay out of hte battle until an opponent is free. Once a clan warrior engages a foe, no other warriors on his side may target htat foe, even if it means allowing the death of the Clan warrior. Interfering in a duel by attacking a foe that is already engaged constitutes a major breach of honor, usually resulting in loss of rank, and also opens the battle to a melee.

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