Birth and Childhood
Most female kaern will give birth to two to three babies kaern after a gestation period of six months. Most kittens will be male. No more than one in three will be a female. The chance of having female children also decreases with the age of the parents. Twin female children happen once every other generation at most, and are considered an omen of great destiny for the family. The family also invariably gathers a great deal of renown.
Order of birth is important to the kaern and the order in which each kitten arrived is always carefully memorized. The first-born male is usually given a special name to mark him as such. This name may differ from one kaern dialect to another but it is usually recognizable to most other kaern. Female kittens are considered separately from the male kittens for this tradition and the first male kitten to arrive, even if preceded by his sister, will always be referred to as the first-born. The relative rarity of female kittens makes it rare for a female kitten to be first-born. When this does occur it is considered a good omen for the entire family. That female will carry the omen of being a first-born female with her for as long as she lives. Her brothers from the same litter are also considered lucky (and respectful for letting their sister be born first) and therefore are coveted as mates. Although kaern do not have royalty in their culture, at least as humans know the concept, a first-born female and her siblings are treated with similar respect. This respect enhances the reputation of the Pride she belongs to. The eldest first-born female is referred to as the Mother of the Pride. Foreigners often mistranslate this to mean ‘Ruler of the Pride’, but the position is more that of a respected elder, especially if the eldest first-born female is still relatively young. This is a generalization and some Prides will be different. Like all females, first-born females do not have Place names. This is wholly a male thing. Their names are always joined with the formal name of the Pride to indicate their status.
In general, a first-born son is valued the greatest. He is the one taught to fight and defend his female. He will also be the one chosen as a mate. All of the other males will be trained to do whatever they have an aptitude for, or whatever their female requires of them. The second-most valued male would be one with an artistic or moneymaking skill and these males are sometimes coveted more than the firstborn mate is. In the rare case of a second female born to one family, the second female child will be attended by all of her brothers born with her and after her.
The colour of fur is passed down from the female side but variations in pattern, build etc come from father. Prides tend to be similar to each other in colouring.
No kaern child is named until they draw their first breath. Stillborns never receive a name. All male children use the generic child place name -Shinih. This is replaced after adult trial with place name.
The most significant right of passage for any kaern is their Adult Trial.
For a male child to complete his Adult Trial he must performe a significant act to show he is ready to be an adult. The exact nature of the act varies based on location and the place he is expected to fill in the pride. The senior males in the pride decide on the task. The females take no part in either setting or evaluating the task. For example, male hoping to be a kahtar (hunter) might be tasked with taking down a significant game with only his claws (no weapons). Once the male has completed the challenge he can begin to use his adult place name instead of the child place name.
The adult trial for females varies more from pride to pride then the male trials. The pride mother adjudicates it. It can be as simple as reaching a specific age or as complex as negotiating a trade agreement with another pride. Once a female has completed her adult trial she can start to claim males.
Claiming and Life Mates
The typical Kearn family will consist of a single mature female, two to six males, and possibly children. The males are considered the property of the female and in turn possess only what they can carry on their backs. All other property also belongs to the female. The female runs the household, delegating tasks and chores to her males. It is unheard of for a male to have more than one female at a time but may have several during their lifetime. A male begins life by serving his sister until she is old enough to mate. The female will then find a male that pleases her and trade one of her brothers for her future mate. In some cases she may have to trade several brothers and/or give money or land in order to gain a mate from a family with more renown than hers. In the case of a pride with no female children, the Firstborn male will assist and be an apprentice of the elder mate by protecting his mother until the hoped-for daughter arrives. At any point a female may choose to trade, sell or give away one of her males although this is rarely done lightly.
A female may mate with as many of her males as she chooses but most have a favored male, usually a firstborn son. Only that male may initiate mating with the female though he may often be refused. All other males must wait on the female for her to choose them. This is usually a reward for pleasing the female. Should the female begin to choose another male more often than the favored one then her favor passes to the new male. This will be confirmed the first time he offers to mate and is not beaten by the female, or by the other males at her order. A change in favor is not done lightly by most females, as it tends to breed jealously and resentment. Many males have gone rogue from this sort of mistreatment.
Occasionally, a female will become so enamored with her mate that she may choose to become life mates with that male. This tradition is one of the few things that a male kaern has any true say in. The male may refuse the female in this matter and choose to remain a normal mate. The primary difference between the two states are that once the male is known to be a life mate no other female will try to gain him and tradition does not allow the male to be abandoned or replaced lightly. He is considered to speak with the voice of his mate and disrespect to him is considered disrespect to her. This is as close as traditional kaern get to an equal relationship.
Claiming ceremonies generally occurs after some arrangement has been reached between female Kearn. (Example, an exchange of brothers). In this ceremony the female symbolically claims the male and gives him some token to represent that he is now hers.
A rogue male may offer himself up for claiming by ceremoniously presenting a female with his bedroll or other valuable goods he owns. This symbolizes that he and his possessions are now hers. The female is not required to accept him.
In rare cases, a female Kearn may choose a male as a life partner. This does not preclude her from owning other males but does give this male special status as her one true love. This is considered to be a very serious comitment. One most female Kearn will never make. This is also one of the rare occasions where the males have a choice. No male has to accept being his female’s life partner. Prior to taking a life partner a female Kearn must submit herself to a ceremony conducted by all her female friends and relatives. This ceremony consists of each of the participates individually asking her if she is sure that this is a commitment she wishes to make. There may also be actions taken to ensure that the female about to take a life partner is not under any undo influence and is in her right mind.
A male chosen as a lifemate, changes his place name to the first syllable of his female’ name. Being a lifemate becomes his place in the pride and supersedes any other place he had prior to being chosen as a lifemate.
Death and Burial
Baring an accidental or violent death, the average kaern will live approximately 120-130 years. They stay healthy and active until 100 or so. Elders, past their prime often help in the training of younger members of the pride and may be assigned apprentices who will help them with their daily activities.
When a member of a pride is dead (or thought to be dead) a far-seer is sent to the land of the dead to try and find the sole. The rest of the pride gather to wait for the far-seer to return (and look after the far seers body) the far-seer finds the sole in the land of the dead, they ask it if it plans to return to it’s body. If it does then a party will be held when it get back otherwise it will be wished good luck in the land beyond and a funeral will be held.
The Final Journey
The Final Journey is a ritual trip performed by kaern who know they are going to die (usually through sickness or old age). They will leave the pride and prepare themselves for death somewhere where they will not be a burden to the others.
Burial rights vary from pride to pride. Most prides will simply follow the most common custom of the region they live in.
A kaern pride is made up of a number of kaern families who live in the same region. Most prides are fairly small (50 – 100 kaern) but there are some prides which are much larger.
The leader of a pride is the Pride Mother. Depending on the pride, the Pride Mother may be a hereditary position or the other females may choose her. Prides will defend their territory from other prides or perceived invaders.
The hereditary position of Pride Mother is passed to the first-born female in the first litter of the last Pride Mother. If for some reason the Pride Mother does not have children the position of Pride Mother will pass to the first-born daughter of one of her sisters. First-born females not in line to become Pride Mother will often break off and form new prides.
In most prides, the Pride Mother’s word is law. There are rarely any means of appealing her rulings. What the Pride Mother decides becomes the prides law. The Pride Mother has first pick of any rogue males assimilated by the pride. As such she often has more males at her disposal then any other female in the pride.
Male Status Fights
These fights are often mostly bravado as each combatant tests the other to see how tough they are. (In Game: Such a combat would begin with the two unarmed kaern circling and attacking for 1 mauling, escalating the damage by one after every exchange until one of them backs down.) It would be consider forfeiting to use mental abilities, armor or other such skills during a status fight. It is uncommon for such fights to drop either combatant because it is dishonorable in the extreme to strike a cowed opponent.
Inter-pride politics tends to be a very black and white affair. You are either a friend to a pride or you are their enemy. Prides in the process of settling long standing disputes will often exchange children of prominent females as hostages. This is to ensure that the other pride stays true to their word.
Young females may travel to another pride for a year or more to learn how things work in a different pride. Many prides believe that this makes them better leaders/advisors when they are older. It also gives them the opportunity to exchange males with females in another pride. Second daughters may choose lives as diplomats or merchants of their prides trade goods. These females and their males may spend years away from their prides, traveling and meeting people.
For kaern first impressions are everything. A kaern meeting members of a pride for the first time will usually bring a gift of food. This gift is intended as a way of greeting others and showing no hostile intent. The exact kind of food varies based on the culture of the kaern involved. A city kaern might bring a cake, while a country kaern might provide a freshly killed deer. Failure to produce this gift or a suitable replacement would be considered a grave insult to the pride.
Crime and Punishment
A Kearn female expects complete loyalty from her males and generally receives it without complaint. If not then she is typically capable of disciplining the wayward male. Kaern females are NOT generally weaker than the males, just slightly smaller. If necessary, a misbehaving male may be punished by the other males of the household. As a final resort, a bad male may be cast out of the family and off of their lands. This is considered the worst form of punishment for these social creatures. A male without a female is called a “rogue male” and they are either absorbed or destroyed by other Kaern that they encounter. In any case they would be treated with the utmost suspicion.
The pride mother or her appointed reprehensive often settles crimes between females or between households.
- Cutting of whiskers
- Ear Notching
- Females can become the property of another female (temporally or permanently)
- Required to give up a male or property
- Branding or tattooing
- Loss of status within the pride
Work and Play
Kaern tend to consider being psyche more a way of life then a calling. There have been very few kaern smiths. Most kaern have great respect for smiths but the work is hard and kaern do not like hard work. Although excellent fighters, kaern do not often make good warriors in the traditional sense of the word. In most armies, the kaern will instead be utilized as assassins or ambush troops. They also make excellent scouts as they have extreamly good night vision.
Kaern are very territorial creatures. A kaern pride will typically claim a region of land and will not permit other kaern to use that land. Kaern traveling across another prides territory must be sure to pay the proper respect to the local pride.
City kaern may consider an industry their territory instead of an area of land. In these cases, they would not permit other kaern (or possibly anyone else) from working in that industry in their town or city.
Kaern maintain fairly civilized homes but never feel the need to build the vast structures that humans seem so fond of. They will occupy empty human buildings and maintain them effectively, but if left to their own devices they will create much more modest buildings. Kaern of the plains tend to be nomadic and follow the local food supply (which is usually on the hoof). They live in tents for most of the year, until inclement weather forces them to return to land where they have prepared long houses. Kaern from other regions tend to stay put, building houses out of wood and thatch. Stone buildings take too much effort to construct, so kaern have never been known for their fortifications. Sod dwellings are too messy, and kaern don’t like mud. Forest kaern have been known to build homes in trees.
Division Of Labour
The division of labour between females and males varies widely between prides.
Kaern have difficulty learning magic and as such tend to disregard it. While many will admit it might be useful, few will pursue it an many will simple disregard it as “A lot of pretty lights”. There are very few kaern mages. Kaern mages are generally treated with suspicion by other kaern. The kaern difficulty in learning magic seems to relate to the difficulty many on them have in distinguishing colours. This makes it difficult for them to tell the different types of mana.
Looking Like a Kaern
Kaern are recognized in game by their cat-like facial features. The easiest way to achieve this is facial makeup, but latex prosthetics are available at any makeup or theatrical supply store. Coloration may vary as with any felines, and beyond. Still, the overall effect should be easily recognized. Some groups of Kaern have tails, but this is not a required costume element. A Kaern’s disposition towards personal comfort and pleasure usually causes then to dress in light clothing. Clothes are typically made of the most comfortable cloth available, such as silk or cotton. Kimono-like robes, loose tunics and baggy pants are popular among stylish Kaern. If armor is worn then it is almost always light leather armor.
Thinking Like a Kaern
The kaern, especially the men, are extremely impulsive. They rely on gut instincts to remove the need for tedious and unnecessary thought. Kaern are quite emotive and tend to share their feelings with everyone. Thus, if anyone doesn’t know what the local kaern thinks of them then they have not been paying attention. This outgoing (if simple) nature makes it easier to confuse a kaern than to embarrass one. Kaern revel in sensuality. They consider pleasure (and displeasure) to be of the utmost importance. Kaern may be adept at their chosen profession despite these tendencies, but the phrase “Work hard and play harder,” would definitely apply. Kaern females tend to be better suited to thinking than the males and are typically as clever as any human or elf. They do however, tend to be very possessive of anything they feel they have a right to. Most kaern make up for their impulsive natures by being exceedingly cunning and intuitive when they need to, although females have been known to practice cunning as a matter of course. Female kaern social tradition and typical mind games could confuse a Tawdonian noble. Male kaern rarely bother with social cunning, and often don’t have the attention span to wrap their brains around it. Male kaern rarely win when playing poker. Female kaern rarely lose.
Acting Like a Kaern
It would be doing the race a disservice to think that they are just cats who walk upright and talk. They do share several mannerisms with felines of all sorts, but there are differences. Kaern are children of the Faerie and as such they have a rich and varied heritage. They are long-lived like most of the Fae and so they don’t pay much attention to the passage of time. Unlike many of their Fae kin though, they often live only in the present moment.
There is a vast difference between the sexes in kaern society that shapes much of their culture. Do you like to catch a quiet nap after a fight or good meal? Are you more upset about being woken up in the morning than about a possible attack on the village? Do you dose off when the Elf changes the topic of conversation to philosophy? If so, then you may be a male kaern. Enjoy the moment, and if the moment is not one that you enjoy then change it. Life is for playing but you’d better do what your female tells you to do, or naps and play will be pretty hard to manage for a while.
Generally speaking, males say and do what they feel and let the chips fall where they may. This often results in spontaneous “cat fights” between males as they discover others in their way. These fights are often mostly bravado as each combatant tests the other to see how tough they are. (In Game: Such a combat would begin with the two unarmed kaern circling and attacking for 1 mauling, escalating the damage by one after every exchange until one of them backs down.) It is uncommon for such fights to drop either combatant because it is dishonorable in the extreme to strike a cowed opponent.
Do you believe in the phrase, “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine too.”? Is every meeting with a merchant a chance to outwit them with your clever haggling? Do you only tolerate your lazy male sleeping all of the time because he makes such a good pillow? If so, then you may be a female kaern. The world is your playground and it could all be yours if you are clever enough. Persistence and cunning will triumph. You may enjoy outwitting those around you just to keep your mental claws sharp. Victory is even sweeter when they don’t realize that you have won. Don’t bother outwitting your males though. That would be a battle with an unarmed opponent.
Fighting Like a Kaern
All kaern share certain other characteristics. They have less population than the Elves, Dwarves, Halflings or Orcs. Their prides tend to be smaller than the villages and towns built by these other Fae species. This, and the general lack of discipline of most kaern, has led the kaern to be much more free willed and independent in thought. War with the kaern does not consist of two armies meeting head to head. Kaern skirmishers travel in small groups looking for stragglers and supply routes. It is the nature of kaern to know little of magic which at first seems an odd trait for children of the Faerie and yet a closer look at the kaern race reveals an insight beyond the understanding of most mages. It is said that the have eyes in the back of their head or that they can see around corners. They can feel the movement of magic around them and while not adept at forming the magic to their will, they can read in it’s movements things that have yet to occur, and they can detect where a creature has directed their kaern attention. This ability makes them deadly warriors as they evade even the swiftest strikes and most powerful magics. Anyone who has seen the results of a battle against the kaern will attest that the victims rarely saw their kaern assailants until the first blow was struck, and then it was usually to late. As skirmishers they are unmatched, yet they tire more easily then their durable Dwarf and Orc cousins and rarely stay long in a stand up fight if they can help it.
Naming your Kaern
In all named Prides, the mothers of the Pride usually favor names that resemble that of the first mother. The Ka’Rassar prefer names beginning in “R”. In conjunction with the tradition of Pride names this means that most children of each generation begin their names with “Ka’R”, although all of the rest will still begin with at least Ka’. Many kaern also prefer names that resemble a growl or purr. These names are thought to be more personal as they resemble the venting of emotion. Soft consonants are more common. The kaern pronounce the letter J as the letter Y in Yellow.
Kaern Names follow the convention of Pride, Personal, Place. Example: Ka’Rassar was the name of a firstborn female who lived three generations ago in a small tribe southwest of Tor’jadin. Neighbors who wanted their rich hunting ground and forests preyed upon her Pride. Ka’Rassar and her brothers all proved to be brave and powerful warriors. They were directly responsible for forcing the other Prides to leave their land and respect their borders. Ka’Rassar was named Mother of the Pride during this conflict and the surrounding Prides came to know her people as “The people of Ka’Rassar. The honor gained by their name has kept peace since that day.
Ka’Rassar translates to: Ka (Sky) Rassar (gift of). Other Examples: These samples are based on the dialect of the tribes east of Tor’jadin. They are predominantly forest and hill tribes living in this area.
First Names (Male)
Shoru, Sharr, Iago, Issus, Muursh, Tamn, Reshin
Tahl(us) meaning: Protector/Warrior
Kah(Tar) meaning: Provider/Hunter
Lan(tier) meaning: Healer/Caretaker
Ju(lus) meaning: Jester
Surk(in) meaning: Assassin
Using the above, we could arrive at “Ka’Rassar Shoru Tahlus.” This kaern is a warrior (probably firstborn) of the Ka’Rassar pride. While he may use his full name for formal introductions kaern will abreviate the name, using only the first sylable of Pride and Place names for general use. This kaern will usually be known as: “KaShoru’Tah” or in this case “KaShor’utah” because it sounds better. Note the emphasis on the personal name.
First Names (Female)
Niomi, Nissa, Sarri, Lamia
If your kaern character comes from a powerful/major pride then add a Pride name to the front.
Ka’Rassar Known for fierce defence of thier small lands
Zie’murr Known for living with other races, diplomacy, and subterfuge
Bast’ial Known for Xenophobia, aggressive warriors
Sune’ik Reknowned merchants and explorers
Suar’ri An old and respected pride of peaceful, but not pacifistic.
The sound of a personal name is considered an art of vocal engineering to the kaern and they do not understand anyone who does not claim their true name with pride. A kaern will never trust anyone who refuses to give their name. This tradition of importance will often cause a kaern of either sex to be amused by names that are monosyllabic and plain sounding. They might fall over laughing upon being introduced to Bob. The personal name of a male may be only one syllable but it is without exception, a stretched syllable and usually carries the emphasis when spoken. Female kaern typically have longer personal names than males.
Names are very important to the Kaern. They are the title to the story of that kaern’s life. The typical kaern naming convention is: Pride name, personal name, and place name (only males have a place name). The emphasis is placed on the personal name. Abbreviations are often used for Pride name and place name. Both are optional although there is disadvantage to not having them. A kaern with a Pride name is given more respect as they belong to a strong social circle. This respect is greater if the Pride is known and greater still if it is known to be powerful. A kaern without a place name is considered a worthless layabout by his own admission. The place name of a kaern is sometimes emphasized by kaern to bring attention to its significance. A firstborn male may emphasize his own place name to dominate the other males and assert his status. Other male kaern may do this to kaern of lesser importance as well. Female kaern do not emphasize place names as they consider themselves above all of the males. Also they do not traditionally have Place names. They consider the practice of Place name emphasis to be a rude male quirk.
When a kaern truly trusts or respects someone then they may invite that person to call them by just their personal name. This is a very telling and personal gesture that is not done lightly and it says, “I honor you by giving you my true name.” It is an insult to address a kaern by just their personal name before you are invited to do so. Such a blunder is the equivalent of saying, “Your name is unimportant so I will take it from you.” A nice kaern will allow someone to make that mistake twice before killing them.
Zel’ is the prefex for kaern friends who are not kaern. It means acceptable other.
Quirks and Disadvantages
To add to your character, you could choose to take on some idiosyncrasies. Quirks common to kaern include: bad temper, short attention span (males mostly), feminism, “feminazism”, hedonism. Possible character Disadvantages might be: Gullibility (males mostly), Intolerance, or Intolerance against Rogue Males, Verbal Intolerance against people with a monosyllabic name, Blind Loyalty to all females, Blind Loyalty to kaern females.
Sounding Like a Kearn
Male Place Reference Names
“‘Ne” could be added to pretty much any of the place names (ie: Tahlus’Ne), indicating either not first born, or perhaps lower in the chain of command (big Prydes would likely have several hunters; there would be a pretty tight pecking order; additions of ‘San, ‘She, etc as you went lower in the ranks)
To make higher numbers, just put the two appropriate halves together (ie: 15 = shu’own; 28 = ne’hashio). Rudimentary, but it gets the job done.
an: near (ann)
ari: you (singular) (ah-ree)
ari’le: you (plural)/group (ah-ree-lee)
at: to (at)
boku: kiss (bow-koo)
do: for (doh)
fa: jump(s)(ing) (fah)
ga: away (gah)
grikah: kill (greek-ah)
os’grikah: kill it (oss-greek-ah)
hai: go/walk/run (hi)
iri: I/me/my/mine (eye-ree)
iri’soku: I vow (eye-ree-so-koo)
iri’le: I (plural) (eye-ree-lee)
iro: our (eye-roe)
jit’ar: essence (je-tar)
jit’ru: void (je-true)
ka: sky (kah)
kage: shadow (kah-gshee)
ka’la: fly (kah-lah)
keno: climb (key-no)
krun: temple/church (k-roon)
kuta: steel (koo-ta)
la: wing(s) (lah)
laou: down (lah-ow)
lus: from (loos)
miz: water (meez)
miza: river (meez-a)
mizo: ocean, lake (meez-oh)
mizur: swim (meez-oor)
mri: good (mree)
mri’fao: goodnight (mree-fay-oh)
mri’tanno: good day (mree-tan-oh)
nayo: help (nay-ow)
ness: house/home (ness)
nre: heart (nree)
nre’fa: dancing (nree-fa)
o: superior/good (oh)
ober: throw (oh-burr)
os: inferior (os)
o’su: elders (oh-sue)
os’su: friend (os-sue)
oz iri’le: the kaern race (oz-i-ree-lee)
rassar: gift (ras-are)
ri: in (ree)
ri’raum: inside (ree-rah-oom)
raum: space/area/place (rah-oom)
sash: far (sash)
senko: trouble (sen-ko)
shingai: terror (shin-guy)
sho: thank(s) (show)
sho’ari’le: thank you (group/plural) (show-ah-ree-lee)
sho’ka: thank heaven (show-kah)
sho’Ky: thank Goddess (show-k-eye)
soku: vow (so-koo)
su: family (sue)
surmu: sleep (sur-moo)
surmi: dream (sur-mee)
surke: lie down (sur-kay)
surri: earth (sur-ree)
surta: crawl (sur-tah)
ton: the inn (ton)
tou: sit (too)
ur: out (oor)
ur’raum: outside (oor-rah-oom)
ves: fire (ves)
vess: pet(s) (vesss)
yaku: promise (yah-koo)
zel’: acceptable other, used as a prefix to the name of a friend who is not kaern (zell)
Previously mri = “sleeping” and mri’fa = “dream” . However, mri’fao = “goodnight” (as established by previous kaern linguistics), and mri’tanno became established as “good day”; both mri’fao & mri’tanno are in common use IG currently. This has become confusing; so it has been changed so that mri is “good”, and new word(s) as “sleeping” & “dream” (surmu & surmi).
do’Ka’Kuta: for Ka’Kuta (doh-Ka-Koo-ta)
do’iri: for me (doh-i-ree)
iri’grikah: kill me (i-ree-greek-ah)
hai at surmu: go to sleep (hi-at-sur-moo)
iri’yaku: I promise (eye-ree-yah-koo)
os’ot’az: bad not Kaern (os-at-az)
ri’senko: in trouble (ree-sen-koh)
sash’ga lus’ness: far away from home (sash-gah-loos-ness)
su’nre: best friend (sue-nree)