The Nine Clans of the Iron Wood

There are nine clans of the Iron Wood, the great magical forest in Jotunheim that is the heart of that world. Their totems are Wolf, Serpent, Hyena, Lightning, Ghost Deer, Cave Bear, Knife River, Blood-Alder, and Hound-Beetle.

The folk of the different tribes have different gifts, although there is so much intermarriage and mixed blood that only half of any given tribe is likely to have the classic gifts and appearance of that tribe. First, the Wolf Clan, which is ruled by Angrboda the chief of chiefs, does have the most werewolves and weredogs. They are the border guards of the Iron Wood, and the first Jotnar that you meet when you enter. They are known to be great warriors, although they have a reputation for being the first to strike, occasionally before it is warranted. While they are not opposed to an offensive maneuver, their warriorship is mostly pointed toward guarding and protecting, and even their seemingly unprovoked aggression tends to come from fear of future reprisals. They are often hot-tempered, but can be kind and fiercely protective of those they love.

The Cave Bear tribe is full of werebears, and they tend to be large and shaggy. They also have strong tempers, although they are slower to wrath. They live near the center of the Iron Wood and guard the innermost magic, the place where no outsiders are allowed to enter. They speak rarely, and tend to communicate in grunts and bodily signals. They speak to stones, though, and know much magic of stone and tree. While all Iron Wood Jotnar know how to take on tree forms, the Cave Bear clanfolk often stand as great forbidding trees whose branches can reach out and catch intruders.

The Lightning tribe, ruled by Farbauti the father of Loki, carries the strongest fire-etin blood, as well as a good deal of fiery red hair (which is actually unlike pure fire-etins, as they tend to be dark and swarthy). They work with fire magic, and weather magic, and they guard the sky above the Iron Wood. They are the few who take the form of birds, living in the treetops, although they tend toward larger size and do not make their homes there when in two-legged form. 

Serpent-clan are often weresnakes - Jormundgand was proof positive of some Serpent-clan in Angrboda's bloodline - and specialize in poisons; some can poison with a mere touch, although they can often also create poisons with their blood that are strong medicines and fight disease; they are as likely to be healers as assassins.

Hyena-clan folk are carrion-eaters and carry a good deal of psychic vampirism in their lines.They collect bones from the kills of other tribes and clean them. Children are raised communally among them, including sometimes the children of other clans. They are the collectors of knowledge among the clans, and thus known to be excellent teachers, especially of the young. Both Serpent-clan and Hyena-clan are known for having a high number of hermaphroditic offspring.

The Ghost Deer clan are known to be silent, endlessly patient hunters, and work with the Dead and the Ancestors; the priests who oversee funerals are usually Ghost Deer clan members. They supply the Clans with arrows and bows, and their clan is known for its tanning of skins and leathers.

Knife River clan folk are largely fisherfolk and know a lot of freshwater magic, as well as being the best carvers and toolmakers. All the Iron Wood Kindred Jotnar tend to be shorter than other kin and kinds, but the Knife River folk are the smallest - some say that they have Duergar blood in them, shown both in their smaller stature and their love of handiwork and crafts. Their obsidian glass blades are prized as sacred knives by most of Jotunheim.

Blood-Alder clan folk have a lot of healers, herbalists, midwives, and many folk who seem to be able to shape themselves into trees and bushes, and are even more likely to do so than the Cave Bears. It is said that their yearly tribal ceremony consists of them all merging into the form of one great alder-grove, save one who is the sacrifice and will open their throat to feed the roots of the tribe. They do the most sex magic, and know much about fertility magic. They are also the ordeal priests of the Nine Clans. 

Hound-Beetle clan, named for the carrion beetle much loved by Hela, live in the high ground of the Iron Wood, where it slopes up the mountains, and are the most generally troll-like; they have a strong affinity for insects and small vermin. They consider themselves to be wholly devoted to the Lady of Death, and periodically send members of their tribe to serve Her. (Hela's chambermaid Ganglati is of this tribe.) They understand all the homely mysteries of specialized decomposing, including fermenting and special molds and bacteria - they are the brewers and cheesemakers of the Nine Clans, and more than half their food is fermented, giving them a rather recognizable smell.

Lightning Clan

Serpent Clan

Hound Beetle Clan

Blood Alder Clan

Knife River Clan

Hyena Clan

Ghost Deer Clan

Wolf Clan

Cave Bear Clan