[DRAFT: 1/2/95]

[preface: These notes are compiled from sundry sources, with an eye towards consistency and playability. There are areas where they do not agree with known Earth fact, but that is the nature of AErth. I have contrasted our history with AErth's where possible.]


In more than one source, the Iroquois of Earth are referred to as the closest of all North American tribes to the ideal of the 'noble savage'. The Irouk of AErth, then, would fit the mold more closely.

The Irouk will not tell a falsehood, no matter how innocent the falsehood may be; nor will they break a treaty or agreement made at a council-fire where the peace-pipe was smoked, or where food was taken together after the treaty was made.

They do not neglect their elders, and are doubly careful of neglecting their parents. They share food and shelter with anyone who might apply for either (although one who is able-bodied and capable will not do so, fending for himself instead), and they make certain to assist in the care of the sick and orphaned children and widows.

They do not kill any animal, save for food and covering, or for the protection of human life and growing crops. They will not take a human's life, save if the person is a member of a tribe with which the Irouk are at war.

They are forbidden to show cowardice when meeting any sort of danger, nor may they shrink from exposure, pain, suffering, sickness, or death. In fact, they will point to animals for examples, stating that they do not cry out when in pain.

Language is a sacred gift, and is as much a part of a person as one's head, arms, or feet. The Irouk will not speak another people's language, save in the capacity of an interpreter, for to do otherwise is to affront the Great Spirit and one's ancestors.


The Great Spirit has made council fires important, and even warring tribes may meet at a council-fire in peace. To violate this is an affront to the Great Spirit. The timing of a fire is also of utmost importance, because only war may be discussed at a council-fire after dark, no talk of peace is permitted.

If an agreement is made at a council-fire, and afterwards the parties eat together or smoke the peace-pipe, the agreement is inviolate. No Irouk will knowingly or willingly violate such an agreement.


Throughout this treatise, tobacco is mentioned. It is not a major crop, but it is very integral to the Irouk beliefs. Tobacco is burnt as a sacrifice to the spirits, and it is used in the peace pipe. Tobacco smoke is often used in cleansing ceremonies. No Irouk would use tobacco for so base a purpose as to smoke for relaxation or recreation.


The Irouk believe in many spirits, most of which dwell among them, invisible. There are contentious spirits that cause disagreements, wars, and the like, and other malign spirits which cause disease, sickness, infirmity, and weakness. However, above all of these reigns the Great Spirit, whose kind hand shaped the aerth and who allows those who have lived well to pass into the Happy Hunting Grounds.

At the beginning of time, the Great Spirit shaped the mountains and the trees and the land and the seas, and he went to journey from his lodging. He sent forth a white bird to carry the water from his spring, so that he could go forth and view his creation. Rivers sprang up where water was taken, and those places without rivers were not viewed by the Great Spirit.

When he first looked upon the aerth he had created, he discovered another being, a 'stone-skin'. He removed the stone-skin from around this stranger, and asked him what he was doing in this, the Great Spirit's creation. And the stranger replied that he had always been here, and that this was his place, and the Great Spirit must depart it.

The Great Spirit laughed, and said, 'Look, see that mountain. If you can make it come here, then this will all be yours.'

The strange creature nodded, and asked that the Great Spirit turn around while the mountain was moved. Solemnly, the Great Spirit complied, and the strange creature commenced speaking in a strange language, and danced in frenzy. After a while, the Great Spirit turned back around, but the mountain had moved not. He asked that this strange creature sit facing East, away from the mountain, as well, and simply asked the mountain to move closer. When the mountain had done so, the Great Spirit told the strange creature that he had moved the mountain.

The stranger, amazed at the thought, turned quickly to see, but his face smote the mountainside, and broke his nose. The Great Spirit sensed that this one had great power, however, and instead of banishing him, offered that he would be allowed to stay if he would help the People cure their ills. The strange spirit, though wounded, hesitated, and so the Great Spirit offered that the People would make him offerings of tobacco and mush, and this strange spirit agreed.

When the Irouk were set on AErth, they were told of this strange spirit, and they fashioned False Faces in honor of this spirit, and offered them tobacco and mush, and used them to blow ash upon the ill.

One of the distinguishing marks of the Irouk are their reliance upon masks for many of their religious rituals. Most of these are carved in a tree before the tree is felled, then decorated and painted and used. The remainder are typically woven out of corn husks. The wooden masks are generally called False Faces, and they are supplications to the first False Face, the broken-nosed spirit discovered by the Great Spirit. The woven masks are often called Husk Faces, and they are used in introductory and agricultural rituals.

There are planting and harvest rituals, as well as an annual 'begging' by the False Faces. In the latter, one of the medicine men of the village dons a False Face and goes from dwelling to dwelling, making the whistle of the False Faces, and watching as tobacco and mush are made and sacrificed for him.

In the various curing and healing rituals, the wearer of the False Face will juggle hot coals and use ash and is apparently immune to cold (see below), and he bears a turtle-shell rattle to shake at the person being cured. No Irouk medicine man can do any healing or curing without the rattle and the False Face.

[As a side note, in Earth's history, it appears that the masks were fairly normal until the Europeans brought diseases that disfigured (such as small-pox), at which point the spirits that bore disease were seen as uglier, and the False Faces began to be very grotesque.

Also, though the Tuscarora joined the Iroquois, they did not fully adopt the religion and rituals, and their masks appeared to almost be parodies of the original Five Nation's. On AErth, with a single religion and a people not scattered by the colonists, the Tuscarora would have been properly and fully instructed, and there would be one, mostly consistent, set of beliefs and rituals among all Six Nations.

The Huron are closest to the Iroquois in culture on Earth, and it can be assumed that this carries over onto AErth. If the Irouk and Huron were not at war so constantly, it is feasible that the Huron may become the Seventh Nation. The Delaware share the tradition of False Faces as well, although that may be imitative, and the Shawnee also use False Faces (although the surrounding culture and beliefs have marked differences). A number of other tribes, further from the Irouquois center, become increasingly far from the use of False Faces, if they use them at all.

For use on AErth, if the JM wishes that the Irouk develop a major nation on par with many AEropan nations, the Huron should join the Irouk, as should the Cherokia (which have different dances, but many similarities in the use of the masks), and Delaware.]


This is a group of carvers, medicine men, and cured people who perform the rituals. No one may be a member of the Society if they have not been cured by a False Face, and being cured causes automatic membership. Those who wish to join will often spend time carving and playing with masks, in order to make certain that they become ill, are cured, and join.


The Irouk believe that, after death, warriors pass on to the Happy Hunting Grounds (to use an imperfect translation), where they hunt and feast, and never tire, never feel pain, and are tremendously happy. After particularly successful hunts, the departed build a tremendous bonfire, and sometimes one can see the reflected light in the Northern sky (the Aurora Borealis).


[Now we get to the game-related stats of the material]

FALSE FACES: False Faces are carved by members of the Society of False Faces, and they are carefully tended during the carving. Tobacco smoke is blown over them, and they are told who they will help protect. Most carvers place one or more small pouches of tobacco on the mask, as initial offerings, and a ritual is held in order to pass a mask from one person's ownership to another.

False Faces are often made for a particular purpose, but sometimes are used for other purposes. When used properly, in a ritual, the False Face may, by using Heka channeled by the person wearing it, cure nearly any disease or speed up the healing of any wound (at a reasonable expenditure of Heka). In addition, while being worn properly and for a ritual, the False Face confers immunity to heat, fire, and cold. Often, when a ritual is in the deep winter, the wearer will wear little more than a loincloth, yet be unaffected by the snow.

Those who play with the masks or fail to show the proper respect are struck by infirmity and disease, equating to a loss of one point on each of the Physical ATTRIBUTES per day, until reparation is made or the person is cured by a member of the Society of False Faces. Note that one will not die from such ATTRIBUTE loss, for no ATTRIBUTE may be reduced below 5 by this method. The effect is permanent until cured.

Those who would wear the mask for non-ritualistic purposes (such as protection in battle, or for show or as a costume) will be struck by a fatal, non-communicable disease:

Disease of the False Faces:
CON-R: 0 (will not spread beyond the victim)
STR: 55

  1. Inflicts 10 points of Physical damage per week
  2. Victim becomes less controlled (each PN ATTRIBUTE reduced by 8)
  3. Victim is effectively Dazed (halve STEEP, -2 to Initiative)
If not treated, a slow, painful, and lingering death

Note that the False Faces themselves are barely enchanted, and they cannot act as Heka reservoirs or storage of any sort. The healing ability is fueled by the wearer's own Heka, and the disease is fueled and encouraged by a False Face spirit (see below), rather than any innate enchantment.

HUSK FACES: These masks, woven by Irouk women, are worn by the runners who precede any False Face ceremony. The runners will typically run through each dwelling that the False Faces will enter, both as warning and to make certain that the dwelling is open to the False Faces. If it is not, or if a guard animal (such as a dog) bites the runner, the house is marked and the False Faces pass it by. In this capacity, and only in this capacity, the wearer of the Husk Face is immune to any and all wounds.

Much weaker than the False Faces, the Husk Faces do not have any detrimental effect if mis-used, although the sole power mentioned above is very limited.

TURTLE-SHELL RATTLE: These are crafted from snapping turtles, with the shell containing pebbles, dried corn kernels, peas, cherry pits, or the like, and the head mounted on a length of wood to provide a handle. They are staple of the medicine men, and are necessary for the working of most Castings. While not particularly powerful themselves, they grant +5 STEEP to the user's Priestcraeft K/S Area when used for Casting purposes.


The Great Spirit, who has caused all things to come into existence, has many spirit servants of varying powers. A few examples are mentioned below. Of particular importance is the realization that there is but one gate to the Happy Hunting Grounds, and that is death. Though the spirits may pass freely back to AErth, they do not do so lightly, for they must bring death upon themselves in order to return.

"Hunchback": (sometimes called Hadui or Gagohsa)
Hadui is the original False Face. He is hunchbacked, and he scurries when moving. His nose is bent and broken, and his mouth is twisted to one side. It is said that Hadui continues to dwell in the forests near the mountain that the Great Spirit moved (probably the Adirondacks), from which he sends forth the False Faces to keep the Irouk free of ills. His power is not so great as to permit him to alter the Great Spirit's creation, but he is at least Supernatural in puissance, and most Castings known by medicine men of the Irouk are said to come from him.

False Faces:
Not to be confused with the masks and practitioners above, these are the spirits, of varying visages, which run invisibly through Irouk villages and spread good and ill health, and it is they which are appeased by the tobacco and mush sacrifices. Of little power, their one strength is the capability to cause or remove diseases of various sorts. It is said that certain AEropan diseases, by virtue of their alienness, may not be subject to the False Faces.

This spirit appeared to an Irouk woman many centuries ago, sent by the Great Spirit to teach his people of healing and medical arts. He took the appearance of a very ill and disfigured man, and sought throughout the Irouk until he found one woman willing to look beyond his appearance and offer him a place to stay. In return, he taught her of medicinal herbs to ease ailments and the like, and when he had taught all he could, he caused himself to suffer a fatal illness which she could not cure, so that he could pass once more to the realm of the Great Spirit.

Spirits of Contention:
These spirits are said to be the cause of disagreements, feuds, and war. While they cannot be appeased, it is said that if two parties of a disagreement reach an understanding and speak the discontent into a hole in the ground, and then the aerth is replaced in the hole, the disagreement is buried until someone comes along and releases the trapped spirits. A similar ritual is the burying of a tomahawk to signify the ending of a war (burying the hatchet).

The Face of the Great Spirit:
This is not, strictly speaking, a spirit, in that it is the sun. By means of eclipses (the Great Spirit turning his face from his people), the Great Spirit can make his wishes known. It is only at moments of great importance that such an omen is made.

The Irouk believe that, while the sun is the Face of the Great Spirit, the stars at night are held aloft by spirits for just that purpose. The spirits, however, sometimes wander (and thus the stars move throughout the night), with the North Star, called 'the Guide' an exception to this (it is held in place by the Great Spirit).

Material by: Mike Phillips