Clever-Men lore

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Clever-Men lore

Post by Tristior »

What is a clever-man?
“Clever-Man” is a loose term in Nordic society, though the concept has existed in some form since Atmoran times and the significance of the title extends to the gods themselves. A clever-man is, roughly, an educated and cunning Nord - one who is learned is one or more of the Nords’ “clever” trades. This is often, but is not limited to, the study of magic; Nords have mages and wizards of their own, who may well be referred to as “clever-men” for their learning, but the terms are not interchangeable. Other clever trades include law-speaking, auguring and bone-reading, and a Nord who specialises in these is no less clever in the eyes of his fellows.

Where do they come from?
Generally, particularly cunning Nords will apprentice themselves with a clever-man for several years, assisting them in their work and learning on the job. Clever-men who are willing to actually teach their students - rather than merely tolerating their presence - are especially sought-after, and as such are often tutors to noble families, although technically graduates from places such as the College of Winterhold may be considered clever-men as well. Since pre-Imperial laws and mores are part of a largely oral tradition, rote learning plays an enormous role in the training of a clever-man and the cleverest among them can recall great tracts of verse at will.

What is their role in Nordic society?

The Nordic legal system and YOU
The Nordic legal system is as chaotic and contradictory as anything else in their culture; a gallimaufry of historic pronouncements, decrees, and edicts enforced at the discretion of jarls and kings. This means that skilled law-speakers - those who have memorised the laws and can craftily apply them to the benefit of their liege - are highly sought-after retainers amongst the Nordic nobility.

Although Imperial law has generally held sway in day-to-day matters since the Second Empire of Reman, disagreements on matters such as inheritance and land are left to be settled by the law-speakers of the disputants. These adjudicators might be the courtiers of powerful rulers, or itinerant judges who travel between the villages to settle the minor disagreements of townsfolk and farmers.

In cases where both parties put forward a law-speaker to make their case, a debate will ensue and each clever-man will attempt to demonstrate the weakness of their opponents precedent when considered against the strength of their own knowledge, until one party admits defeat. There is little formal recourse beyond this, although hall-burnings have historically been popular amongst losing parties and many of the nobility now ward their homes against fire for this very reason.

A point of interest is that the formalised, pecuniary punishments for serious crimes enforced by Imperial law - particularly the payment of blood-money in cases of murder - has historically been seen as venal and shameful law-making by the Nords, who preferred to let the local thane or jarl decide the punishment in consultation with the community.

How are they characterised?

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