Considerations of the Ho-Jebline
Date: Sun, September 23, 2001
Topic: Peoples & Culture

Discovered in a scroll case the morning after Reynard of Waybury was murdered in his bed, the author of this treatise may have been the same olven assassin. Tanya of Ehlenestra translated the scroll from the olve-vocca, 25 Sunsebb C.Y. 582

Author: MTG

Considerations of the Ho-Jebline and assorted humanoids, from One who Danced beneath the Tree when the flameflowers burst, 16 Violets 4,544 O.C.

By: Marc Tizoc Gonzalez (
(Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)

Ho-Jebline are the most intelligent and organized of the humanoid races. While in personal prowess a Buheer, Kell, Eiger, or Orog-hai are all superior to the lone Ho-Jebli, as a fighting tribe, small bands of Buheer, Kell, or Eiger would be wise to give way. Even an equally sized tribe of Euroz (with attendant Orog-hai) would be wise to defer to the Ho-Jebline. Of course, none of the humanoid races are known for their sagacity.

The intelligence and organization of Ho-Jebline make them almost as dangerous as humans. Yet in a fight, the savagery and disregard for personal discomfort makes the average Ho-Jebli soldier superior to the average human militia or levy.

The loyalty to the tribe and submission of individual will to its authority is difficult for most humans to understand. Nonetheless, the organization and success of the Ho-Jebline comes directly from the primacy of the tribe in the everyday life of each member. While females are so little respected when compared to adult (fighting) males as to be ostensibly chattel, regardless of gender every member of the tribe is protected from all outside threats with a viciousness and intensity that has become infamous.

Each adult male is a ready fighter because soldiery is absolutely necessary for the survival and continuation of the tribe in the face of the dangers of the land. From infancy onwards, male Ho-Jebline are rewarded for their aggression by the entirety of the tribe and impressed with the truth that there will always be more powerful creatures than any Ho-Jebli can conquer alone. Yet, the infant who pushes its siblings out of the way is rewarded with a larger portion of food, verbally praised, and in all ways taught that might is natural and right. In childhood, that same Ho-Jebli is exhorted to excel in all manners of often-violent competitive games by the entirety of the tribe.

Of course parents of a specific child are biased toward their own offspring, yet this bias which might be exclusive for human parents lacks the potency of the Ho-Jebline concept of the compelling good of the tribe. From the Ho-Jebline parental point of view (which is experienced individually by father and mother, not as a supportive dyad), if one's child consistently fails to beat the other children, then it is weak, and while it will not be abandoned, surely another offspring will be stronger.

It is important to understand that more than any other humanoid race, when discussing Ho-Jebline, we are only talking about the males. No other race has a more obvious sexual dimorphism than they do. Ho-Jebline females are on average eighteen inches shorter than the males. They lack the musculature of the males and the characteristic blue-red nose, too. The coloring of their faces is uniform with the rest of their faces, and in fact, the color of a female tends to be dimmer than the average male of her tribe.

By the time that a Ho-Jebli child is nine years old (although Ho-Jebline do not celebrate birthdays), his upbringing switches from being principally a female responsibility to being a masculine duty. The child's training as a warrior intensifies, and perennial fatalities in the old games of violent competition are not unexpected. By the time a Ho-Jebli is fourteen years of age, he will be expected to accompany raiding parties and defend the tribe with his life. Indeed after his first raid, he will be considered a full member of the troop, a term denoting an adult male fighting-capable member of the tribe. Only troop mates can hold arms, and the heavy work of mining is reserved for them as well.

Female children of a similar age are kept from the males from nine to fourteen. While not cloistered, they are still sexually immature yet very vulnerable. They continue to be taught and expected to perform the work that female Ho-Jebline contribute to the tribe and are expected to defer to all troop mates while avoiding being alone with any of them.

Ho-Jebline practice a form of polygamy. Specifically Ho-Jebline are polygynous but with an undeveloped concept of marriage. Typically a chieftain will have the most mates, and the females without sons are more concubines in a harem than they are wives in a household or family. Sub-chiefs have fewer mates than their chieftain, and the number of mates is a significant measure of power, prowess, wealth, and overall social status in the tribe. In fact the aggressiveness of young males is mitigated by the social control of the chieftain's award of mates to hobgoblins who strengthen the tribe. It is the authority of the chieftain that legitimizes a male hobgoblin taking his first mate.

A tribe of Ho-Jebline is led by its strongest and smartest male member. It is he who has overall command and responsibility for each member of the tribe. The various sub-chiefs make up a secondary tier of command. From their rank comes the next chieftain, and each of them represent the best that the tribe has to offer. Each sub-chief has beneath him various sergeants who are the best of the young males of the tribe. Sergeants and their assistants are some of the toughest and meanest of the youths. They are identified early by older sergeants who report to the sub-chiefs. These youth are then watched and occasionally given tests to prove their worth to the tribe. Intermediate to the sergeants and sub-chiefs are the bodyguards of the chieftain. Sergeants aspire to be accepted into the bodyguards' rank, and it is from the aging bodyguards that the majority of sub-chiefs come.

Technology is the province of the elder sub-chiefs and the chieftain. While any Ho-Jebli has the strength and endurance to mine, only a few Ho-Jebline, often sergeants, assistants, or bodyguards are judged smart enough to be taught the secrets of metallurgy.

While it is true that mining, metallurgy, and war is the exclusive domain of male hobgoblins, female Ho-Jebline are responsible for leatherworking, herding, and food preparation. It is the female Ho-Jebline whose meticulous and unseen work makes possible the fearsome uniform clothing that distinguishes hobgoblins from all other humanoids. The ubiquitous black leather is cut, tanned, dyed, and polished by the daily toil of the female members of the tribe.

From the Ho-Jebline-vocca, the word that constitutes their most potent virtue translates as hard as iron and strong as stone. When considering the nuances of the word, it is important to note its concreteness, its purposeful lack of abstraction. For a young Ho-Jebli, the ultimate goal is to be harder than any other substance in the world. From racial doctrine, the young soldier knows that the Ho-Jebline are better than any other race from birth. Therefore, it is the task of every Ho-Jevli to harden himself continually through discipline and the regimen of daily toil. Toward this end, every aspect of Ho-Jebline culture is directed. From the birthday ritual of making the newborn crawl uphill a short distance to its waiting mother, who may not physically aid the newborn at all, through the ubiquitous violent childhood games played with clubs and bo-sticks, including the grueling work in the mines, and always culminating in the ultimate test of warfare. So Ho-Jebline believe that hardness is the best way to be strong.

Ho-Jebline mining involves much brute strength, but there is also some skill. Their mine shoring is very basic, consisting of no more than pillars and a lintel. Typically the shoring is wood, if nothing is available, or masonry on occasion, but if expedient, then Ho-Jebline accept the risk of potential tunnel collapse. Even when wood for shoring is available, Ho-Jebline tend to shore at longer intervals than humans, dwur, or noniz. (Dwur miners, of course, say that Ho-Jebline skill and care is so crude to be nonexistent.) Ho-Jebline dig very quickly, however, and they do so in ways that despoil the natural beauty of the stone according to the dwur. It seems that Ho-Jebline mining is at as rapacious a rate as the stripping of the battlefield dead, for which humans are infamous.

Mining, metallurgy, herding, and tanning seem to be the most highly developed cultural technologies and arts that the Ho-Jebli has developed. The former two are male-dominated while the latter two are female tasks. Thus Ho-Jebline do make their own weapons and armor. Yet their ironworking is still cruder than the general skill of human cultures. While they can fashion studded leather and ring mail armors, Ho-Jebline weaponry has reached its pinnacle in broad-bladed swords that are overly brittle yet do not retain a true razor edge.

They provide some of their meat food through their herds, but these are poorly managed and need to be supplemented and re-stocked regularly through raiding. Finally Ho-Jebline make their own leather goods, from boots and belts through pants and vests to actual cuir bouli - the basis of almost every armor type. There is some crossing of the gender divide in skills; however, it is almost always a case of an elder male (usually a sub-chief) overseeing the females at their tasks.

Ho-Jebline are not a long-lived race when compared with humanity or the demi-human races. This is a significant factor regarding the relative poverty of Ho-Jebline art, culture, and technology. Most Ho-Jebline cannot expect to live long enough to form an elder-mentor group. Without a living group dedicated to teaching wisdom to the young and adult Ho-Jebline population, the retention of advanced knowledge or techniques is stymied. While each generation does not have to re-invent the bow, so to speak, any discovery that promotes a Ho-Jebli to prominence is unlikely to be shared while that individual is still an actively competing member of the tribe. Illiteracy compounds this problem tremendously.

It is worth it to comment on how phenomenal the survival and occasional flourishing of the humanoid races is when their collective cultures' lack of literacy is considered. When compared with humanity and the demi-humans' mastery of language and retention of advanced discoveries from each generation, then the infamous fecundity of races such as the Ho-Jebline can be seen accurately as insufficient to the struggle for dominance.

Of course in the Common Years successful humanoid tribes have benefited greatly from interacting less violently with humanity. (This situation can be seen in varying degrees in the Bone March, Horned Society, and Iuz. The Pomarj is a special case.)

In the Bone March, Euroz and Kell enslaved the humans, which they spared from slaughter, and established dominance over the other humanoid races. To keep their lives, the humans are forced to use their skills to benefit their cruel masters. In the Horned Society, Ho-Jebline became mostly subservient to the Hierarchs - those sinister hybrids of diabolism and humanity. Ho-Jebline troops fill the armies of the Society and some Ho-Jebli toil in the Flame Shops of Molag. In Iuz, Euroz are dominated by humans and demons but the control is less than complete; a very few Euroz, Orog-hai, and assorted half-breeds have token leadership positions.

The Pomarj offers one of the most dynamic relationships between humanoids and humanity. While humans make up only a fraction of the Pomarj's humanoid population, their numbers are significant, and they are concentrated in the cities of Highport, Blue, and the capitol of Stoneheim.

Thus while humanoids are dominant in numbers, the majority of the tribes must go to the cities to trade pillaged loot for useful weaponry and other durable gear. Humanoid chieftains and their sub-chiefs, along with their sergeants and bodyguards, go to the cities for chain mail and plate armor. Similarly the mines' silver, electrum, and gold ore moves via caravan to Stoneheim for processing, and each of the cities has some jewelers and precious metalsmiths.

There is good land for farming in the Hilly Pastures/Highland Meadows, wherein Prince Corond's relief expedition was turned back by the combined might of the tribes. While the grass on the surrounding hills cannot sustain large herds of horses or cattle, goats and sheep find adequate grazing although the tribes tend poorly to their herds. While the animals can be kept alive, little hinders the humanoid rapaciousness - certainly not any consideration of saving for the future.

Some of the smarter humanoids apprentice themselves to the cities' human metallurgists, but intelligence is a rare trait in the humanoid races. So most of the metallurgy occurs in the cities. Of those settled tribes that retain a tribal smithy, few are able to produce chain mail, which is the prerequisite for all further advanced armors. In weaponry, the broadsword, halberd, and scimitar are the most technologically advanced types though some innovators are working with hand-and-a-half designs.

Here the scroll ends.

Sheldomar, Ulek,

This article comes from Canonfire!

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