The Chiefdom of Gautlond is for all intents and purposes a Kingdom. Whilst the official name for the clans of the north is called the Chiefdom of Gautlond, the Chieftain of the united tribes is as much a King as any other. In Gautish culture, King and Chief are interchangeable and the use of either as a title is up to the individual.
Although Gautlond has officially been one nation for thousands of years since the Avalonian and Aridian conquest of the north, Gautlond is comprised of many, many different Clans, some of which are more prestigious than others. However, Gautlond is a complete meritocracy, and completely accepting of any and all who would fly their banners.
Whilst the majority of the Clans are Human, Orcs comprise much of the Gautish nation. The Chieftain can only be Human, due to an agreed pact between Aridia and Gautlond some thousands of years ago, but the prestigious title of Warlord, Second to the Chieftain, can be anyone.
During the Aridian and Avalonian conquest of other human civilisations, known as the Land March, The Northern Tribes were as divided as they were numerous. Avalonian forces, having recently conquered the Naga Shogunate with the aid of the Aridians and reformed the nation as Nakata, turned their gaze to the Northern Tribes.
At first, it was an easy campaign. The tribes, embroiled in bitter land wars with each other, whilst formidable were easily swept up one at a time by the Avalonian conquest and subjugated into the war-machine. It wasn’t until a considerable amount of the North had been swept up did the tribes unite under one clan, the Khota Clan, and form Gautlond, ‘The United Tribes’.
Gautish fighters were formidable and extremely well suited to the harsh northern environments, and soon the Avalonians found themselves being pushed back. The war raged on with the Gautish gaining considerable ground back, and even inciting some of the conquered tribes to rebel against their oppressors. Ramm Khota was declared the first Chief of Gautlond and his Clans banner chosen to represent the Chiefdom forevermore by the moot, a collection of tribal elders, as he led his newly organized forces to raid the Avalonian realm.
As the Land March grew to a close, Avalon requested aid from their Aridian Allies, who arrived in force with the High Queen at their head. It was said that as the Gautish armies formed on the borders of Avalon, ready to push forth into the Land of Lions and raze the Kingdom to the ground, the High Queen emerged from the Emerald Forests bordering the Kingdom, and Chief Khota was so mesmerized by her beauty and power that he halted his advance.
In a tale now told around campfires called ‘the Chieftain and the Queen’, Ramm Khota met with the High Queen on the dawn of the great battle and agreed to join her alliance, if she accepted his hand in marriage. Amused by his boldness, the High Queen accepted and formed The Aridian Pact, a binding agreement with the Gautlonders that meant only a Human could sit on the Gautish Throne, for she would marry no other. In return, the Gautlonders would be made honorary allies of Aridia and Avalon, and have all their lands returned to them immediately.
Ramm accepted in the presence of the moot, and was met with equal part acceptance and protest. It was said that a line of elders and leaders challenged him for the right to rule the Gautlonders, and he bested them all one at a time, without break. Those that were too cowardly to face him in single combat returned to their lands to raise rebellion, but were met with the united front of High Queen and Chieftain.
The Gautlonders have been united ever since, and most of the separate cultural identities have blended into one, overarching culture. There have been many different Chieftains, or Kings, since the rise of Ramm Khota and Gautlond was even chosen to be one of the four core nations behind the formation of the High Kingdom.
The Gautish have a long lasting history of being the High Kingdom's strongest fighting force, perhaps rivalled by the Naga Blademasters, but also have a history of being a little harder to control. Despite their apparent savagery, the loyalty to the High Queen is second to none.
On the face of it, Gautlond is considered the most Barbaric of the Kingdoms, perhaps rivalling even that of the Steppe Nomads. However, most who would consider the Gautish to be nothing more than savages would be wrong in their assumption, as theirs is a culture that blends easily over a hundred different tribes, clans and petty Kingdoms of the past.
Their religious beliefs are as varied as the different clans that exist in the frozen North. The Gautish pantheon is probably one of the biggest and most diverse in the entire High Kingdom and beyond. Despite this, many of the Gautish religious practices have come to adopt or even replace certain figures in their mythology with the figure from the Ekklesiastic Faith.
One cultural aspect of the Gautish, that is often regarded with confusion by the other nations, is the utter acceptance of any and all within their people, and the complete meritocracy the Chiefdom is based on. No one is looked down on, man woman or child, and any role is honorable be it Warrior or Blacksmith so long as you are good at your trade. To many Gautish, to regard one as lowly or lower than yourself on account of their profession, gender, sex or race is downright insulting and will have entire swathes of angry Northmen demanding you explain why you think that way.
The King, or Chief, of the Gauts is not any more noble blooded than his people. In fact, the Kings and Chiefs that act in arrogance and self righteousness are often the ones removed from rule the quickest by challengers. The King can only be Human due to the Aridian Pact and is the strongest and the best leader, anything less is an insult to the people. This can sometimes be overlooked by a stronger and loyal Second, the Warlord of Gautlond, who acts similar to that of the Nakatan Shogun.
The Warlord differs from the Shogun however in that it is an optional title bestowed by a King or Chief, and has equal power to the King in the eyes of the people, whereas the Shogun only has military authority. In some rare cases, due to the limitations on who can be King, some ambitious Orcs have acted as Warlords for weaker, puppet Human-Kings and been the true power behind the throne, though these types of arrangements never last long.
Gautish culture is heavily shamanistic, religious and pagan. Trinkets for good luck, spells for fortune and blessings from absent Gods are given by the seers and shamans of the people. Tattoos are heavily common and braiding of hair is considered to be desirable. Honesty and a friendly attitude are to be expected from a Gaut if you treat them with respect and many can be considered a fellow Gaut through an act of bravery or doing something extraordinary to showcase a talent. Many chose the solitary but adventurous lifestyle over the military and feudal like their Avalonian neighbours. However, nothing is more terrifying in the eyes of many than a Gautish Horde, the Northern rage often manifesting if their way of life or their High Queen is threatened, their King at the head of the charge.