Tribal Mutants are the oldest and most populous branch of the mutant species in The Wastelands. They're a hearty and durable folk who live off the ruined landscape. Prepubescent Tribal Mutants are scrawny and spry, allowing them to to avoid natural predators. During adolescence, they gain a phenomenal amount of muscle mass, which they retain until they become elderly. Their skin color is probably the most varied in the Wastelands, but browns, deep reds, and dark greens are the most common. Genetic defects are common, but embraced. Once in a blue moon, some "defects" are really enhancements, granting special abilities such as improved vision, stronger bones, tougher skin, or even a fully functional extra limb. Tribal Mutants have an excellent metabolism, are always lean, and have a voracious appetite; with that in mind, they spend a lot of time hunting game and cultivating the few edible plants that grow in the Wastelands. Most mutants live for about sixty seasons, and those who live longer become tribal elders. There are a few tribal elders who've lived as many as one hundred thirty cycles. Tribal Mutants' intelligence ranges from primitive to developed, but because tribal mutants speak in a form of pidgin common, most non-mutants assume they are far less intelligent than they are.
It is not known when mutants first appeared, but it is known that mutants have been keeping a spoken record of their history since the Age of Fire. Because there is no written or pictorial record of their upbringings, and since a lot of the stories seem far fetched, many points of their history are disputed by most non-mutant cultures. However, if you travel to distant mutant tribes and ask about their history, the separate stories will be surprisingly similar
The history of mutants is of a spiritual nature, revolving around the deeds of the King of Fire. And so his story goes...
In Ages past, darkness was still upon the world and all was strife and turmoil. But the blackened skies would sometimes part, and the King of Fire would look down upon the world. And he saw that the world was fraught with chaos, that the Humans and the Mutants were uncivilized and barbaric, that they waged unending wars and performed the most ghastly abominations upon each other. Enraged, the King of Fire rose up from his throne on the Sun. Those that saw it through the darkness say the night sky lit up as bright as day.
The people were still not afraid, for what power could the King of Fire wield when he dwelled so far away? But soon the work of the King of Fire became clear: he had cast his crown down upon our world. For the next three days and nights, everyone beheld its approach. When it arrived, the the darkness of the sky was cast aside and lit ablaze, and noon was never ending. Plants and trees bowed before his glorious might. The rivers and lakes saw his divinity and flew away to be with him. The oceans stepped back to make way for him. The mountains themselves threw fire into the sky to pay homage to him. And his crown did burn the world for six days.
Before the King of Fire called for his crown to return, he spoke into the hearts and minds of all creatures big and small. And he told them: "Prove your worth. Only the fearless and strong in heart may join me in the afterlife. The weak and the craven shall forever be forgotten, like the dust of the old world. Those who live shall inherit the new world."
It was one month before the sky became clear again. The air was scalding hot, the remaining waters were poisonous, and the creatures were strong and savage. Those who wanted to live would scorch their lungs with every breath, would drink the stinging water, and would fight the fearsome beasts of the world without blinking an eye. To bask in the burning sun is to not be afraid to be seen by the King of Fire. This is to be a true Tribal Mutant. All who failed these challenges from the King of Fire, we do not mention their names, as they are the forgotten.
Tribal Mutants have quite an interesting social structure. Like most mutants social hierarchy is based on the honorable or heroic deeds of an individual. One way they "show rank" is to wear a trophy of a defeated opponent. For instance, some tribal leaders carry around a battle standard composed of sandworm tusks. More savage tribes might wear a belt of fingers collected from their opponents and so on.
Much of Tribal Mutant social culture is based on the beliefs and stories of the King of Fire. For instance, Tribal Mutants tend to prefer the "old ways" of doing things. They prefer to craft their armor, weapons, and tools from things that reside above the ground. This is derived from the belief that anything under the ground is cowardly and not worthy of the Fire Kings grace. Because of this Tribal Mutants do not dig, nor do they bury their dead. Most funerals have the bodies burned, and the ashes of the fallen made into a soup that the tribals consume. It is in this way that the heroes and spirits of the fallen remain with the tribe forever.
All tribals, returning exiles, and the very rare non-mutant initiate, must pass the Trial of Endurance. The Trial of Endurance consists six days meditation in the sun without food or water, constructing a weapon, and bringing back a fresh kill for celebration on the seventh day. Initiates are sent out with nothing, but a scrap of cloth. Trackers from the tribe monitor the initiate from afar, and do not interfere, even if the initiate dies. Many non-mutants who take this trial do not survive, those that do are barley alive at the end.
The Tribal Mutants that denounce and call the stories of the elders falsehoods are exiled and sent on a "Truth Seeking" geas. Whether they return or not is up the the individual. The Few who return must pass the test of the Fire King again. Those that do not return are Exiled Mutants, or more commonly called Exiles.
Tribal Mutants live a pretty simple life. They are very content living out in the open, but most live far away from popular settlements. Mutants command a good amount of Trade, as they are the only ones brazen enough to take down many of the creatures that roam the wastes. In many respects mutants have many things you can only get from them.
Tribals are a bit introverted and xenophobic, but respect all living things; even if their belief system isn't quite compatible.