The Grey Watches
The Mountains of the Moon in the Vale are home to a population of clans with a common culture that is distinct and independent from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms’ feudal society. They are a poor people that subsist by raiding local villages and attacking small groups of travelers. The clans have an egalitarian culture without class or gender restrictions. Some women even participate in raids. They are not considered vassals to any master, and will attack even the Lord of the Eyrie if he is not properly protected.
The mountain clans have a fairly loose structure. They fall into minor family units which are united to a greater or lesser degree into a larger clan, which was probably originally based around family ties, but now seems largely a system of shared customs, beliefs, and traditions. Clansmen can decide to join a different clan by moving into that clan’s territory and adopting that clan’s beliefs and rituals, though such changes in affiliation are not common, they are known to happen. The clans are rivals, and the clans, and sub-clans within larger clans, will fight on occasion, though they tend to focus on harassing the Vale Men.
Rarely does a whole clan go to war as a unit, though smaller groups raid constantly for food and supplies. The clansmen only rarely work metal and must steal or scavenge their weapons (or barter with the unscrupulous). Rarely will they offer pitched battle by choice or seek conquest, but it has been known to happen. On occasion, a warleader with unite the whole clan and lead them in large scale raids to sack entire towns, such as under Nantas Bloodsky. However, when the warleader is killed, it is most likely the clan will melt away, as it is unlikely there is a second leader that can command them, and they are used to not having an autocratic leader.
The major clans in the Grey Watches region are:
Stone Eaters are the most audacious raiders. They have been known to range far beyond the mountains to raid. They prefer small raids and ambush, but will assemble in large numbers if the prospect of raids are good. They often darken their skin with soot, ash, or dirt. The maintain their range in the Northeastern Grey Watch Mountains.
Grim Faces often paint their faces or wear gruesome masks into battle. They are the most fierce clan, the most willing to give battle and raid in large groups. It is believed that Nantas Bloodsky was a member of the Grim Faces. They maintain territory in the western Grey Watch Mountains.
Scarred Men maintain territory in the southeastern mountains, on the edge of the Vale of Arryn. They are known to give themselves ritual scars as signs of prowess in battle or great deeds. Are expert raiders and masters of ambush.
Rock Snakes were the most aggressive clan, but also the most willing to treat with houses in negotiation. They had a tradition raiding for captives both for ransom and also to increase their numbers. The clan was led to its greatest glory and its eventual destruction by Serek the Halfblood, who raided extensively, seized the lands of house Gorham, but was destroyed Gorham’s counter-stroke. Scattered survivors of the clan were absorbed into other clans.
Blood Born. The Blood Born do not appear to be a separate clan, but can best be described as a religious movement among the clans. Members of this movement are more zealous than a typical clansman. They paint themselves in blood (human? animal? each others’?) before a raid and they tend to be spoiling for a fight more than the typical clansmen, (who are generally perfectly happy to take the booty and run, if able). Blood Born have been reported among both of the northern clans.