On October 28, 1962, many nuclear weapons struck Michigan. An EMP sent the region back to the Dark Ages. Massive riots broke out across the land. Hundreds died in these riots, and many people died in the subsequent Winter of 1963 and the Summer after.
The people had no electricity so they reverted to using fires like their ancestors did. They resumed hunting, and even changed their diet to that of their forefathers. Many say that was how those who survived did so: by using tribal methods to hunt and gather food. Michigan is filled with many tribal groups. In eastern Michigan, many of these tribes, by unknown means, came under the control of hegemons called Chiefs. Due to the common culture between the clans, they are often lumped into one political entity. They often ally, compete, and war with one another, and the politics of Axeland are complicated.
While unverified, some hypothesize that we might glean some amount of truth from the creation myths of the Axers. The Myth is told in several ways, though the most common form goes like this:
"Lon-lon waybak, teyre is teh Shroom Fye, weyda jian skaiwoo o' faya stana solaik ooks, jos to vall ona teh graun an rase klin teh graun. Losa mens lonwok den. Men dat kikon solaik tarfu, cus tey izk Ol'en, an teh ablo Rush Sin nick'd tey's Lect Rissy. Tey thodaun fo rash, cuz tey nay ablin to sowgraun, nay to hunplei fo tey's beesfesh. Sokom teh Lion'en ovda Sunoun Ston'gadda, dema will'd stanoun to no'on, comed an raskew'd teh Ol'en from lonwokin tey's own. Lion'en greeb'd Ol'en dat ablin to thodaun, and sowgraun, and bring'd dema geda solaik gang'n. Teh Lion'en don ticha an ailona o teh Ol'en. Teh Lion'en greebed whisgolv fromst teh Ol'en, and tey's Bleed o Valla slop'd wis Bleed a Ole, an teh Noo'en don setov. Teh Noo'en kom ablin to sowgraun an hunplei, kom ablin teh Fye an thodaun. Dis gib ablin can nay loss, cuz need'n teh Lion'en lon-lon fowa com'n, oso be snafu hooah,"
"Long Ago, there was the Mushroom War, where great clouds of fire rose like trees, only to fall onto the land and destroy it. Many people died. The people who survived were f*cked over, for they were Old Men, and the Demon Rush Sin had taken away their magic. They fought over scraps of food, as they did not know how to reap the land, or to hunt for their meat. Then the Lion Men of the West City, who would yield to none, came and saved the Old Men from themselves. Lion Men gathered Old men who could fight, and farm, and brought them together as families are together. The Lion Men were teachers and protectors of the Old Men. The Lion Men took wives from the Old Men, and their Blood of Bravery was mixed with the Blood of Old, and the New Men were born. The New Men learned to farm and hunt, learned the art of war, and the crafts of new. This lesson must not be forgot, for should the Lion Men ever need to return, we will have fallen far indeed,"
The bold words are important to the working theory of the Axer's origins. Note Shroom Fye, often translated as "Mushroom War" is commonly believed to be the Great Nuclear War, and that the ablo Rush Sin is commonly believed to be a syncretism of Russia and the Christian Devil. The Axer word for magic is Lect Rissy, derived from "Electricity", and it is thought that the demon Rush Sin stealing the "Magic" (electricity) from the Old Men of the past is a reconciliation of the EMP blasts that turned Michigan into a Dark Zone, or region where technology was near completely lost. Further on, the tale talks of Spirits known as Lion Men (Lion'en) whom taught the Axers how to survive, and whom had "Blood of Bravery/Valor". The theory states that these Lion Men were soldiers from a city somewhere west of Axeland, whom organized the clans currently in place. Where exactly West City would be is unknown, as few expeditions into Michigan have been made.
Lifestyle & Organization
The Axers are organized into family groups called Clans. Clans developed a territory based on the native men who came to accept the authority of the dominant group in the vicinity. A clan also included a large group of loosely related dependent families all of whom looked to the clan chief as their head and their protector.
According to an ethnically Axer historian, Athler Chovala, a clan is a community that is distinguished by heraldry and proved their mettle in sport, war, or craft. Each clan is made up of everyone who lived on the chief's territory, or on territory of those who owed allegiance to the said chief. Often, those living on a chief's lands would, over time, adopt the clan surname. A chief could add to his clan by adopting other families, and also had the legal right to outlaw anyone from his clan, including members of his own family. Anyone who has the chief's surname is automatically considered to be a member of the chief's clan. Also, anyone who offers allegiance to a chief becomes a member of the chief's clan, unless the chief does not accept that person's allegiance. Clan membership goes through the surname, except when a married woman takes that of her husband's surname, and then on to her children. Children who take their father's surname are part of their father's clan and not their mother's.
A Clan Chief call call levies, collect taxes if he pleases, and ordain marriages. He is a combination political and spiritual leader. It is notable that clan chiefs must have "Lion Bleed" in order to be powerful enough to rule.
Most clansmen never leave Axeland, and live rural subsistence existences. Settlements often cluster around castles built by the clans chiefs. The largest of these is Bad Axe itself, the only real city in Axeland. Port Axe comes as a close second, but it is mostly inhabited by merchants from elsewhere.
Axers often wear berets, with wool tunics, button-up shirts, and trousers. In addition, similar to the post-dress act Scots they have certain woven cloths (called Lakeens) associated with family groups. Like Heraldry, however, these are declared legal representations by the High Chief, leader of Axa'fam. A example would be Magga'fam's Lakeen, a black and white houndstooth pattern. These Lakeens may be worn as the cloth of one's shirt or tunic (never trousers), or as a sash, which may have a large pocket sewn into it. The weaving pattern can be similar to a Tartan, can be Houndstooth, Garbardine, or Diamond Weave. In addition, the Axers wear properly soled boots unlike most Michiganders.
War is an accepted part of Axer culture. All young men are subject to levies when posed, but it is possible for an Axer to never taste combat. Axer armor is made from forged steel (when made by a rich Chief), or hardened leather and small metal plates simialr to scale maile and brigandine. Arms recovered from Axeland by archivists display an acute knowledge of smithing and leatherworking.
The most common helm design bears similarity to viking designs, though this is likely a result of effective design rather than intent.
The most common tactics are outwardly very similar to the Greek phalanx or Viking shield wall tactics.
The most common crop is a local variety of Amaranth Grain, although tobacco is often grown for trade. Many chiefs have quarries to build their castles, and sell the stone in Port Axe. The most common import is steel from boom towns across the ruined Michigan landscape, used to make weapons, armor and structures on occasion. They trade heavily with Owen, importing his steel and crops, and as such a common second language among Axers is Low Welsh.
Axa'fam, also known as Clan Axer or the Axe Men, is the largest and most powerful Clan, as well as the namesake of Axeland. Their flag depicts a crowned lion, signifying that they are of the purest Lion Blood.
Chovala'fam, or Clan Chovala, is the second most powerful clan, as they are a clan of merchants who run the port city of Port Axe. Their name is said to come from a Lion'en word for not having an army, reflecting upon the nature of the Chovala, wherein their army is entirely sponsored by Axa'fam.
Magga'fam, aka Clan Maggoter or the Maggot Men, are a notable clan, as they are mainly miners and stonecutters. They are the main suppliers of stone and slag to Axeland. Their name comes from an Axer saying about being a miner, as follows, "Kikon solaik Graungreeba, lonwokin solaik magga,". This phrase means "Living as a miner means dying like a maggot".