"I stay away from Bladeling territory. If you want to live, so will you." -Storm
Speed, brutality, and honor. The Bladelings are a feared warrior culture. Ruled by a code of honor, they are constantly at war, conquering lands with fierce battlefield tactics, matchless archery, and brutal war magic. They are symbolized by the spiked gauntlet of Bane, representing their divine origins and natural weapons, and they mobilize in great, thundering waves of warriors. Their success in conquering territories may be unmatched, but they live for the hot moment of battle, not for the slow years of ruling the lands they overtake.
Although not every member of Bladeling society rides to war, every Bladeling abides by a warrior's code called the Edicts of Bane, named after their god. The Edicts, inscribed on a collection of ancient scrolls, govern the rules of honor and combat for Bladeling warriors.
At the heart of the Bladeling philosophy is the idea that a warrior earns by taking. They view the world through the lens of scarcity. There are more mouths than there are days of grain, so the one who fights best gets to eat.
On the other hand, the Bladelings rarely rely on committing resources to a particular place. They spend little energy creating permanent infrastructure or integrating conquered peoples into their culture. It's common for Bladeling armies to blaze across a territory, take a week's worth of grain, then move on without establishing any sort of settlement.
When the Bladelings go on the attack, they go full tilt. The archetypal image of a Bladeling warrior is her riding into battle, leaning forward, standing up in the stirrups, sword out or bow at the ready - demonstrating great agility and riding mastery, but also demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice everything to hit hard and destroy the enemy. The Bladelings leave nothing in reserve, preferring to die rather than fail.
After coming of age, each Bladeling is eligible to prove himself or herself in an act of brutal honor. This usually involves the killing of an enemy in battle. The Bladeling then earns a war name, a new surname that usually takes the form of a compound word. A Bladeling who has not yet earned a war name is a 'soft heel,' while one who has is worthy of the term 'warrior.'
Among the Bladelings, the khan is an absolute, despotic tyrant - but one who commands legitimate respect. Every khan who has taken command of the Bladelings has been a powerful and fearless warrior. Many khans have worn a bone trophy of the previous khan somewhere on their person, whether they lifted it from their fallen predecessor on the battlefield or took it personally in a duel to the death. Most Bladeling warriors are fanatical in following their khan, toward whom they feel an almost religious awe.
The Bladelings are a seminomadic culture with a large proportion of full-time warriors. Bladeling armies wage war constantly, raiding and plundering enemy territories to sustain their culture.
The Bladelings cannot sustain themselves without war. They have little homeland infrastructure or agriculture to provide food or shelter and are constantly in danger of being unable to survive through the year. And while their warcraft is fearsome, they do little to occupy or hold claim over the lands they conquer. For the Bladelings, war is not just a way of life - it is the only way of life.
The Bladelings do have agricultural workers, especially shepherds for herd animals and wranglers of war-beasts, and many Bladeling craftspeople create fine weapons and armor. But these are not enough to sustain food for the ravenous Bladeling armies, and their work must always be supplemented by war plunder. However, the labor classes enjoy a measure of social freedom. As Bladeling warriors are almost always involved in skirmishes on multiple fronts, the labor class is generally left on its own, and tends to have more representation in domestic matters than the lower classes of other clans.
The Bladelings have elevated archery into an art form, combining it with shamanic magic into a discipline called dakla. They use ritually blessed bows and specially enchanted arrows as foci for impressive magical effects. The Bladelings don't have archmages, per se. Instead, champion archers weave powerful spell magic into their art. Volleys of whistling arrows raining out of the sky are often the first sign of a Bladeling attack, and many battlefield generals have met their demise by being targeted by Bladeling heart-piercers.
For generations, the Bladelings have used concealment magic, an evolved form of wyrm magic from ancient times. The Bladelings use concealment as a support magic for battle, primarily to disguise the strength of their warriors. Concealment can be used to create ambushes and to set up flanking maneuvers on unsuspecting enemies. On the other hand, Bladeling archers often target concealed foes first to prevent being overwhelmed by similar tactics.
The battle cry of a Bladeling warrior is itself a kind of magic. Bladeling warriors and shamans can use war shrieks to strike fear in their foes, enhance their strength and skill, or even lash out with shock waves of sonic power. Bladeling chiefs trace this tradition back to the breath of the wyrm itself.
The steppes and plateaus the Bladelings call home are constantly raked by winds. Bladeling shamans use great winglike motions to control and manipulate the wind, using it as a weapon against their enemies or guiding archers' missiles more effectively.