There are four major clans that comprise the population of Battle Realms Island. Each with unique characteristics, units, cultures and histories, the decision of which is best is up to you. Within the borders of this broken land, three clans maintain an uneasy coexistence, fraught with tension and, at times, slavery and open war.
The Wolf Clan in the northwest, the Lotus Clan high on their northern plateau, and the Serpent Clan in the fertile lowlands. And always, at least in some minds, there is a ghost of a fourth great clan, the lost Dragon Clan, forefathers of the Serpent. Despite their proximity, no three persons could be more different. As yet there is no clear victor in this three-handed struggle; alliances and enmities are unstable, and you never know who or what might be massing on your borders. If you are to survive in this world, you must study your enemies and your friends alike: know their ways, their warriors, and their weaknesses.
Those of the Dragon live and die by sacred ancient martial codes and philosophy and believe that power is worthless without wisdom and discipline to guide it. They live according to feudal traditions, each member of the clan fulfilling his role, for excellence and balance in life, and this philosophy permeates their lives.
Lord Oja, the Serpent Clan leader, was assassinated by unknown forces seven years ago. His first son is dead, and his second, Kenji Oja, the "Little Dragon," fled the country. Battle realms begins with his return, and he must decide what path he is to walk as he takes control of his father's people.
The beliefs of the Dragon Clan are expressed most perfectly in their fighting units - their swordsmen, archers, and geisha healers embody the Dragon traditions of bravery and wisdom.
In Kenji's hands, this clan is like a perfectly balanced sword, a tool that may bring order and peace back to a land torn by civil war.
The Serpent Clan was forged out of those who fled south to escape the ravages of the Horde. Since then, for four generations the Serpent Clan has dominated through force and cunning, until the death of Lord Oja, and the treachery of the Lotus Clan created a dangerous struggle for power among the three Clans on the Island.
Like their Totem, the Serpent Clan knows the value of a stealthy approach and a sudden, lethal strike. The soldiers tend to be tricksters and thieves as well as deadly fighters, skilled in techniques to baffle mounted pursuit and lure opponents into ambush. The Serpent Clan also possesses the secret of gunpowder, and has adapted it to many of their offensive purposes. The Serpent rules through strength and fear, knowing that other clans are waiting to take over should they show weakness.
Kenji may restore the Serpent Clan to dominance, if he chooses to rule through strength and pragmatic cunnning rather than the conventions of honor. If Kenji proves to be his father's true son, he can re-forge the stability that is now in doubt, and the Serpent may rule again. Unfettered by high-flown morals, all ways are open to them.
The Wolf Clan lives closer to nature than the other clans; they are as fierce as their namesake, and at times seem primitive and superstitious. The Wolf Clan were early arrivals on the Island, when long ago their island was flooded in climatic disruptions that followed the breaking of the continent. When they went out to sea the currents in the channel drove them on to the shores of the Serpent Clan's land. There they settled in a high, craggy region, isolated, until the Lotus Clan arrived and enslaved them after a long, bloody struggle.
As shown in Grayback's flashback, the Wolf Clan was said to be brought into the Serpent Clan's Island by their Druidess' Order with the use of the relic of their Clan's totem, The Skull of the White Wolf, in order to be saved from the climatic disasters they were experiencing. When they arrived at the Island they had a truce with the other two clans that were already there, the Serpent and the Lotus. Soon everything was peaceful again for the Wolf Clan, but it was not to last. Not soon after the Wolf Clan had settled in its new home, the Lotus attacked their villages with the lead of Lord Zymeth and after a brutal war, they were enslaved, and forced to work in the Lotus' shale mines.
Wolf Clan tribesmen are brutally strong, and the Lotus used them as laborers to mine their own land for metal and minerals. This still shows in their fighting style - long denied weapons, they adapted mining tools into combat equipment. Spikes and clubs used to shatter stone were repurposed to deadly effect when they won a vicious war of liberation led by a former miner named Grayback.
Of all the clans, the Wolf are the most attuned to nature; it is the focus of their religion, and even their homes, tools and weapons are fashioned from raw stone, bone and uncarved wood. Their culture revolves around a game called Wolfball, a very rough cross between rugby and baseball (except with wolves running about and a metal ball the size of a man's head), that trains them for war, keeps them strong and fierce, and embodies their sense of life. Their religion and magic are druidic - they worship the power of nature, and draw on it to inspire their fighters and frustrate their foes.
Alone among the clans, the Wolf Clan does not seek to control or conquer its enemies - their only goal is to return home, and to survive. To this end, they hope to recapture the Serpent Orb, the ancient artifact by which the land was broken, and use its magic to return them to their own land, since their fabled relic the "Skull of the White Wolf" was destroyed in a battle between Grayback and Yvaine.
Those belonging to the Lotus are exiles from their own people - a sect of wizards that were banished from their homeland and parent clan for breaking clan law and pushing the Forsaken Path (Forbidden Path). Their people are thin and pale, bleached-white hair is universal. The length of a soldier's hair indicates his rank - the longer the better (though it may not be right all the time, with exceptions like Soban). Their armor is shiny and metallic, gold and silver in color, but flimsy and actually less effective than the Dragon Clan's Samurai Warrior or the Wolf Clan's Shale Plates. Weapons are equally thin and flimsy, but often magically touched and able to strike multiple opponents at once.
The Lotus Clan's society has built its foundations on an odd religion that revolves around a tree tended by three Brothers. Each brother speaks for a different aspect of the tree - one brother who prunes the leaves, another that tends the trunk, and the last wields the blade that tends the tree's roots.
The clan has a problem, they are being consumed from within by their corrupting magics. The corruption attaches itself to human life, but can be temporarily contained in other vessels (such as single-staffs of the Unclean). Even the Master Warlocs can only contain their corruption for so long. If the Lotus had discovered the problem early enough, they could have returned to their people for help, but now it is too late. The attacks of the Lotus Clan's second-tier units are attempts to expel the Corruption temporarily, maintaining just enough balance to keep the units alive until they can contain the corruption with stronger magics.
Physically weak but magically strong, alternately sycophantic and vengeful, the Lotus Clan bows to the strong and rules the weak. Their ability to manipulate the superstitious Wolf Clan has served them well. By raking the Wolf Clan's lands of all its best metals and minerals, the Lotus Clan has become rich on the blood, sweat and tears of others.