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 occassion, a warleader will 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 Argent Valley region are:
The Gray Faces are believed to be the most numerous of the clans. They were the home clan to Turmek Stonecrown. They are the most aggressive raiders, raiding in large groups most often. Clan members paint their faces with ash before setting out on raids.
The Blood Eagles are widely believed to produce the fiercest individuals of all the clans, but they do not often raid in large groups. They are true raiders who prefer to avoid battles if possible. They are masters of stealth and ambush.
The Sons of the Sky prefer raids that lead to skirmishing, seeing no honor in slipping away undetected without bloodshed. However, the Sons have a knack for picking targets they can overwhelm or strike with surprise. They have been known to gather in large numbers to raid fairly frequently, but these large concentrations exist for one raid and then disband until another promising raid presents itself.
Screaming Stones are actually found largely in the Swiftstone River Valley, but the clan has been known to have members that travel north to raid. While they seem to prefer raiding in small bands, they also appear to be the most tight knit clan, with several large gatherings and the possibility of sharing of loot within the entire clan.