Wolves on Watch
“Five, Nicholas proclaimed, was the foundation
Upon which our true society was to be built.
Laborers to till the land, to do the tasks:
They shall have our undying gratitude,
For they are the muscle behind us all.
Merchants to buy and sell with fairness:
They shall have our commerce and respect,
For they are the bones upon which we are built.
Technicians to build and fix the machines:
They shall have our admiration,
For they are the fingers with which we grasp life.
Scientists to create and discover:
They shall have our awe and our attention,
For they are the mind of our society.
And above all, the Warriors who protect:
They shall have our cooperation and worship,
For they are the blood and soul of us all."
- The Remembrance
Clan society is based on a strict caste system. Births between members of two different castes are frowned upon. Normally in Clan Wolf any children born are trained in the skills needed for their parent’s caste, on the assumption they are genetically predisposed to that caste. This tends to lock them into that caste (i.e. the child of two technicians will become a technician) unless they do not qualify during training, or somehow manage to prove worthy of a higher caste. Other clans, with a more orthodox outlook, would maintain the founding caste system where inter-caste relationships were actively forbidden, and children were locked into their parent’s caste, with only downwards progression possible for those who were unfit for the caste they were born into.
The five castes are the Warriors, Scientists, Merchants, Technicians, and Laborers, with the Warriors being the most prestigious. Among other things, the Warriors act as the military, police force, and rulers of the entirety of Clan society. The only Clan where a different caste is held in esteem comparable or possibly even greater than the Warriors is Clan Diamond Shark (formerly Clan Sea Fox), where Warrior-Traders are fairly common and Merchants are now the de facto rulers.
Castes are further broken down into sub-castes. So, within the warrior caste are the infantry sub-caste, MechWarrior sub-caste and fighter pilot sub-caste, among others. This is important for the warrior caste, since each sub-caste requires different attributes and hence different gene-pools.
Washing out of a caste will usually mean demotion to a lesser caste. This is usually the case with warriors, but can happen to others; for example a scientist caste child with learning difficulties. This demotion fulfills the Clan ideal of reusing or recycling all resources and avoiding waste. The demoted person is supposed to embrace their new caste, and usually do with few exceptions.
The warrior caste is the most powerful of the castes, however the pros of this power is countered by the harsh environment the warriors have compared to the other castes, one reason for the other casts not rebelling is because they see how tough the warriors life is. The vast majority of warriors proudly trace their lineage directly to the 800 Bloodnamed. Each looks like the product of the genetic breeding program. Clan MechWarriors are robust, with lightning-quick reflexes and quicker intelligence. Fighter pilots are thin, their heads disproportionately large and with far-seeing eyes. Elementals, the Clan infantry, are huge, unusually strong soldiers possessed of grace and speed far exceeding what is expected of people of such intimidating size.
The warrior caste’s eugenics program is a completely alien means of reproduction. It seems cold and analytical, making no allowance for the passion and love we consider necessary to a full life. Warriors, however, gain great comfort and strength from their sense of belonging to the sibko, and from their unbroken lineage to Kerensky’s 800. Each warrior’s lineage is recorded in his codex, a copy of which is electronically stored in a band worn on his right forearm. A warrior’s career, from his first sibko test to his dying oath, is recorded by the codex and analyzed by his Clan. If a warrior’s deeds are judged worthy, his genetic material helps create the next generation. Failure means the termination of his or her line. It is little wonder that the drive to excel overshadows all other considerations.
Seldom do freebirths, those not born from the eugenics program, win a chance to join the warrior caste. Those who do are usually consigned to garrison and paramilitary police units, with little hope of advancing to a level where their genes would be incorporated into the warrior pool. This attitude does change from clan to clan, some being very oppressive and exclusive and some embracing freeborns more. The few freeborns that excel enough to be included into the eugenics program are necessary for introducing new material into the gene-pool.
The attrition rate for warrior training is extremely high throughout the entire training program, with slightly under a tenth graduating as a warrior. All drop-outs however are delegated to lesser castes. If they are clever enough they will become scientists, otherwise each sub-caste will have a lesser caste they are usually placed into. For instance, MechWarriors, pilots, and cavalry are often assigned to the Technician caste, because of their familiarity with the equipment; infantry are more often assigned to the Laborer caste.
The scientist caste has two responsibilities: continued technological development and genetic control of the population. The warriors’ eugenics program naturally occupies a place of prime importance in their work. Assignment to the scientist caste is considered a high honor for civilians because it literally holds the future of the Clans in its hands. This caste is also responsible for educating and testing all freeborns.
The scientists caste is under control of the warrior caste, but it is usually allowed to operate without much interference or meddling, giving members of the scientist caste a freedom not seen in any other caste, including the warrior caste. Scientists, engineers, and most teachers fall into this caste.
The merchant caste is powerful because it controls all commerce within the Clans. The merchants’ economic power is held in check by the warrior caste’s monopoly over JumpShip travel.
Though merchants own their own vessels, explicit laws require that all vessels carry warriors for protection and long journeys are allowed only with a naval escort. This arrangement effectively prevents merchants from gaining too much power.
The merchants still feel free, however, to indirectly criticize the warrior caste for the way the merchant caste’s affairs are handled. Indeed, many suggest that the impetus for the invasion of the Inner Sphere originated in the merchant caste, which was eager to pursue new monetary endeavors. The merchants are the most rebellious of the lower castes, though some have suffered severe punishment for their protests. The Clan Widowmaker merchants, for example, precipitated an internal dispute with the warrior caste that ultimately led to the whole Clan’s annihilation.
Note that full-time artists are reassigned to this caste, however part-time artists or those with artistic hobbies but who work full time for their caste are not.
The technician caste is less defined than the others. In general, a member of the technician caste is responsible for the upkeep, repair, and operation of complicated equipment, including everything from a cyclotron to an agribot to a BattleMech. In fact, a technician’s status in Clan society is directly related to the caste he is supporting. Thus, technicians assigned as support for a BattleMech Star are much higher in status than technicians assigned to maintain agribots, even though the two groups possess the same skills.
The laborer caste is both the largest and lowest-level caste in the official Clan hierarchy. This caste farms the fields, operates the factories, and provides all basic services. In short, it is composed of the common citizens, except for bondsmen.
The Dark Caste (also known as the Bandit Caste) refers to the lowest caste in Clan society, that of the outcasts and bandits. This caste is not recognized by Clan society, yet it exists. It supports the failures of Clan society, the unwanted, and the rejects. The dark caste has no voice in Clan affairs because their group is not sanctioned.
Clan literature is filled with stories of malcontents who fled to the bandit caste and came to unsavory ends. Bandit caste atrocities are the stuff of legends, but it is difficult to believe that the caste is strong enough to be more than a minor nuisance to the Clans.
It is unknown whether the Clans allow the Bandit Caste to exist or not; some cynically believe that it is fostered on purpose to provide both an outlet for those disaffected by Clan society and as a built-in enemy for training purposes. Regardless, the caste does serve two purposes. First, it is incentive to children to excel in their caste’s profession to avoid needing to join the Bandit Caste if they are not deemed useful to the Clan. Lastly, it provides an enemy, although a somewhat weak enemy, for the Warrior Caste to sharpen its skills against when a Bandit Caste settlement becomes strong enough to become enough of a nuisance.
Warriors who fail to test up or who grow too old to be of service sometimes slip away to this caste, as do scientists whose discoveries are deemed counterproductive to the Clans. However the bulk of the Dark Caste are those choose to leave a ‘lower’ clan caste in favour of a perceived easier or more free life in the bandit caste. This is predominantly from the labour caste who ‘want better’ or are merely too lazy, leading to the Dark Caste being looked upon as weak and contemptible people even among the lowest levels of Clan society, as even a labour caste janitor has proven themselves more capable, dedicated and praiseworthy than the stereotypical Dark Caste member; at least according to the teachings within Clan society.