Northern edge of the Murrogh Forest.
Settled. Gorram village is the clan’s home, and numbers some 600 souls (200 children, 360 adults and 40 elders)
Murrogh. Gorram supports the Canach blood feud with Murrogh although it holds no feud with Murrogh itself.
A farming community ﬁ rst and foremost, Gorram occupies a quiet valley in the shadow of the Murrogh forest’s northern edge. The clan tends cattle, sheep and goats, using the grazing lands nearby for pasture. Some small areas around the village are used for vegetables, and the clan supplements its livestock with hunting in the forest. Given its reliance on livestock, Gorram has developed an effective defensive system of territorial patrols with its lands being constantly under watch by the clan’s warriors.
Nine warriors form a guardian band, and nine patrols circulated throughout the Gorram lands, watching for animal and human predators alike. The guardian bands react ferociously to any perceived attempts to interfere with livestock, using the terrain to their advantage, and employing maximum force to protect their ﬂocks and herds. The bodies of would-be rustlers are strung from trees, the carcasses deeply scarred and pummelled, as a warning to others. The guardian band is compulsory duty for all warriors, men and women, and is considered an excellent education for the ﬂ edgling ﬁ ghters of the clan. Every boy and girl from the age of 12 is expected to undertake guardian duty and, when they have participated in their ﬁrst protective action, are considered to be adults.
The Gorram people favour the colour red and its representation is everywhere, from the red dyes used in the rough textiles of the clan, to the red daub used to cover the huts of the village. The dye is plant-based, and found in ferns taken from the Murrogh forest. The ferns are dried, ground, pounded, and then mixed with water, urine and tree-sap to arrive at the rich, scarlet dye that the Gorram then use extensively in their daily lives. The dye is known outside the clan and is called, in Cimmerian, gor – hence the clan name of Gorram.
Gorram warriors paint their bodies with broad strokes of gor, and, when going to war, cake their hair with it. Women adorn their lips and cheeks with diluted dye to highlight their fair appearance but, when accompanying their men folk to battle, streak their bodies with it so that they resemble red demons, their hair spiked into menacing scarlet coxcombs.
The clan has a long association with clan Canach and many bonds of marriage exist between the two. Gorram and Canach are therefore allies, and Gorram sends its warriors dutifully to support Canach whenever it goes to battle: Canach reciprocates the duty, although Gorram has little need to call upon its aid. Although Gorram has no speciﬁ c feud with the Murrogh clan, it considers it an enemy and many raids on the Gorram herds have been made by Murrogh rustlers. Gorram therefore has no qualms in sending its war bands against Murrogh when clan Canach calls for help, and the red-daubed Gorram warriors take great glee in delivering death to the Murrogh clan’s lands.
The clan possesses a small cache of treasures unearthed by one of the herdsmen around one hundred years ago. The treasures are a closely guarded secret, known only to the chief and the closest, most experienced members of the counsel.
The herdsman, grubbing through a cave in the low hills overlooking the Murrogh forest, found a shallow pit. Within was a heavy chest wrapped in oiled goatskin. Curious, he broke open the casket and found it contained a set of three, life-size crystal skulls, identical in design, and quite beautiful to behold. Along with the skulls he found a dagger wrought in gold and ebony, and an amulet fashioned in the shape of a triple-headed dragon.
The treasures were brought back to Gorram and given to the Oracle. Following a trance lasting three days, the Oracle declared that these items were made by the Ancients who once bestrode the land like giants. The skulls are the real skulls of the chiefs of the Ancients, and the dagger and amulet represent their authority and dominion over the gods who ruled long before Crom and his kin came to the Earth.
The skulls have no intrinsic magical properties but it is believed that Gorram’s fortunes changed for the better on the day the skulls were unearthed. Before that time the herds were sickly and prone to predators; since then Gorram has defended itself against all foes and has prospered. The skulls, it is believed, watch over the clan and are thankful for being brought out of the darkness.
Every chief of Gorram is shown the skulls, which are now kept buried beneath a cairn outside the village, and must lay hands upon each one in turn. His palm is cut with the gold and ebony dagger, and the amulet is placed on his head as he recites the vows of protection for the clan. The wisdom of the Ancients’ skulls is believed to pass to the new chieftain, and Gorram has, indeed, been fortunate enough to enjoy good rulership
Gorram’s chieftain is Ceinwyn, the ﬁ rst female chief of the clan for more than sixty years. She is beautiful but battle-hardened, her dark hair streaked with the scarlet gor dye, her ﬁne, angular cheekbones delicately tattooed with interlocking knots of the same pigment. She has ruled over the clan for twelve years, assisted by her brother Kenhuir, and in that time has proved herself the equal of any male warrior Gorram has produced.
Her leadership is wise, but hard. She places little stock in the words of oracles and did not feel the need to replace the last oracle when she died. She believes ﬁrmly in the inherent wisdom of the three skulls, which was communicated to her when she challenged for the leadership of the clan and won it in single combat. Her favoured weapon is Truethrust, her knotted battlespear, which is tipped with a single, perfectly knapped blade of razor-like black ﬂ int. Like everyone else in the clan, she takes her place in the guardian bands, protecting Gorram’s borders, and in the war-bands when Gorram marches with Canach to engage the Murrogh clan.
Many suitors have come seeking marriage with Ceinwyn, but she has refused every entreaty. Marriage is not her way, because she is the spirit of Gorram, and the spirit must forever be true to itself. She tolerates neither weakness nor sentimentality but loves Gorram and its traditions as any mother loves a child (and as far as any Cimmerian entertains notions of love). In her heart she believes she is descended from the Morrigan and, in battle, the outstretched wings of the raven, painted in red, are her standard.
Notable Clan Members:
Ceinwyn’s brother, Kenhuir, is considered Gorram’s champion. He leads a guardian band of eight other warriors which is known as The Red Death and he is a ferocious and highly skilled ﬁ ghter. Despite his prowess he is essentially a man who prefers a peaceful existence and, whilst he does not seek power for himself, enjoys advising his younger, more capable sister, on the affairs of the clan.
He knows of the clan’s treasures and believes fully in their power. He has also been troubled by strange dreams, which he has told no one about (not even Ceinwyn). In these dreams the pure, clear crystal of the skulls changes to a midnight black as a shadow from the east descends around them. Eyes form in the blank sockets and wherever they gaze all turns to death. He believes Gorram’s purpose is to prevent the skulls from becoming these weapons of sorcerous evil.
History and Outlook
The people of Gorram have always been pragmatic, using the fertile lands to raise livestock and grow crops, so that they need not rely on the constant cycle of raiding, hunting and near-famine so many other Cimmerians risk yearly. They remain ﬁercely independent, despite being tied to the land, and their propensity for husbandry has made them hardier warriors, as well as hardier farmers.
Despite Gorram’s complete intolerance for raiders, bandits and rustlers, it is a welcoming clan quite happy to offer hospitality to those who deserve it and do not breach the clan’s trust. Its longstanding alliance with Canach is a testament to Gorram’s loyalty and stability whilst the grisly remains of those who would raid Gorram are a testament to its determination to resist those who would steal.
Under Ceinwyn’s rulership Gorram has continued to be strong and resourceful, despite the misgivings some other clans have for female rulers. Her personal strength, and her brother’s prowess in war, means that clan Gorram is rarely underestimated, even by the likes of clan Murrogh.