From the outsider's perspective, the nomadic Hy-Plains Drifters may look like nothing more than raiders; marauders who take what they want and leave nothing behind but death and wreckage. Their nomadic lifestyle and violent, warrior caste society certainly lend credence to that description, as do the terrified stories of anyone lucky or cursed enough to survive one of their assaults. However, there is a storied past and rich culture that ties these warriors of the Wilds together.
Each Tribe is woven together through a complex weave of familial loyalties and general awe of brute strength... and in that sense there is a reward for political cunning amongst its ruling clans. While generally fractured and splintered, there is a complicated set of Tribal alliances and the ruling lords (who are members of the largest and most influential Tribes) maintain loyalty through a rewards system from shared spoils. Any good leader must always be winning. Failure is devastating, both to the leader (who is almost always immediately deposed) and to that Tribe, which might be lucky to survive this all-or-nothing approach to survival. Strength, in this sense, is valuable, but it is oddly matched with some shrewd element of devious cunning that exists among the ranks of the Drifters.
Many of the Drifters owe their ancestry to men and women who were prisoners during the time of the Big Push. These familial relations are venerated and passed down from one generation to the next as a badge of honor, to the point that many fabricate their ancestral history. While they are generally transient and nomadic by nature, this is not always the case. There are known instances of static Drifter’s settlements, however, they are very rare.
To the Tribe, there cannot be true death while one of a Drifters bloodline still lives, and they memorize detailed (and somewhat fabricated) lines of lineage in order to honor those that came before them among the warrior caste. Only in the pure violence of battle can a warrior unlock more knowledge of their ancient ancestors, with an elaborate oral history of feats and behavior used to determine what historical (or neo-mythological) persons they may add to their line. It is common for a tribe to call a number of kings, generals, khans and outlaws members of their bloodline- with nothing more than a vague perception of their character in mind. Although knowledge and literacy are not commonly respected among the tribes they are always hungry for the telling of heroic feats of ages past, with authenticity taking a backseat to how epic the telling is, and how the characters may apply to their tapestry.
Accomplishments bring complex tattoos and ceremonial recognition; lawbreaking can lead to sterilization and banishment from the tribe as a reviled No-Ghost. For a Drifter whose life is spent collecting victories in the hope of being honored as an ancestral spirit, life as a No-Ghost is a fate worse than death.
Young warriors fight. Old warriors lead. Slaves are used up and failures are forgotten.
This is the way of the Hy-Plains Drifters.
Freedom or Death.
Loyalty to the Tribe.
Make Nothing, Take Everything.