Vuxte Kinship

Vuxte are extremely family oriented. Most live in clans, which can vary in size from a single couple and their offspring to entire family lines sharing a space. Traditionally, only select Dams (Matriarchs) and their mates (Sires) have the right to reproduce, while subservient females are enlisted as nursemaids to care for pups (among other things), but may never have any legitimate children of their own as long as they live with their natal clan.

Close social bonds are foundational to a healthy sense of security and purpose. The vuxte who lives alone is a strange, sick individual in the eyes of their fellows, and likely suffering from poor mental health, either as a cause or a product of isolation.



Traditionally, Vuxte clans are matriarchal and polyandrous, and this is still true in many regions of the city. The highest ranking female is often the mother, grandmother, or eldest daughter, in the case her predecessors are infirm but alive. New matriarchs are selected by the old ones, and approved by the members of their clan. They are initiated during special, often elaborately produced ceremonies, and thereafter granted access to special clothing, spaces, and rights in addition to the allowance of reproduction. Most clans have 1-3 matriarchs, depending on size and wealth, usually all directly related. In some cases, separate clans may merge, in which case the two families are joined as one and all members consider themselves family, regardless of blood.

Matriarchs are chosen with several characteristics in mind, the exact nature of which varies based on cultural values, but most agree a strong willed, diplomatic nature is essential. They provide stability, comfort, protection, and guidance to their clans. Traditionally matriarchs were the overseer of hunts, but this is rarely the case in modern life, instead they simply direct the activities of their clans. Not only are they the emotional backbones of their families, but also representatives for them.


These leading ladies collect mates, called sires, and can acquire as many as 15 in truly massive, wealthy clans. Sons are often traded between families as displays of goodwill, but they may also be purchased by matriarchs for ‘sireprice’ as an attempt to forge social ties. A large number of sires indicates wealth, as it takes a lot of resources to support such a harem. Sireprice historically included tools, weapons, meat, produce, and jewelry, but nowadays it's usually exorbitant amounts of cash, and maybe an elaborate fruit basket or decorative hatchet for the sake of appearances. In cases where there are two matriarchs of the same generation, sisters or cousins for example, they often share their sires. Cross-generational sharing is strictly taboo in nearly all cultures, however, as all the males possessed by one’s mother are considered to be one’s fathers, regardless of biological relation. Sexual activity between Sires is not only common, but actively encouraged, as it's seen as strengthening the emotional fabric of the harem.

Sires perform managerial tasks that matriarchs don’t have the time to do themselves, such as allocation of resources, financial planning, and division of labor. Some sires may be better equipped to these tasks than others, and distribute their work accordingly. The role can be one of the tensest, or most relaxed, positions in an entire clan, depending on the number of sires and their dedication to their work. In no other position could one really get away with laying around eating jerky and berries all day than in the harem of a powerful matriarch. As such, sires are the most likely to be artisans and craftsmen for their families.


Subordinate females who aren’t selected to become matriarchs often stay with their families for life, and aren't allowed to reproduce, though they can still have sex (but only with those outside their clans, of course). These individuals perform a range of jobs, from cooking, cleaning, tool-making, etc, but the most unique function of subordinates is their role in child-rearing. Especially esteemed individuals, usually the sisters or adult daughters of a matriarch, are entrusted to rear her pups, something matriarchs’ are usually much too busy to handle themselves. Older subordinates with good reputations often reach levels of status equivalent to sires, and may even work alongside them.

Male subordinates are rare, as they are usually sold off to become sires soon after reaching sexual maturity. If a male remains with his natal clan for long past this, it can usually be assumed he has some developmental defect that makes him undesirable as a suitor. How these males are treated depends on their relationships; they may be cherished sons allowed to assist with pup-rearing, or they may simply fall through the cracks, ending up disowned and abandoned, a not uncommon fate for mentally ill vuxte of any sex.

Subordinates are defined within clans by their lack of reproductive rights, but that doesn’t mean such things never happen. The cost of getting caught violating this taboo is dire, however. The offender may be cast out along with her pups, all left alive but alone. More often, however, the pups are taken from her and killed. If found at an early enough age, they may be seized and eaten by a matriarch as a display of power. The age range where this is considered acceptable varies between cultures, most agree it’s fine treatment for infants that have yet to grow all six limbs, while others place the line before the growth of hair. It's during this stage that pups are easiest to conceal, but this fortune is a double edged sword, as this only guarantees the inevitable culling will be a bloodier affair when it does happen. Most find the social repercussions more painful than the loss of their pups, as they become pariahs in the eyes of their families. Occasionally, those in such a situation face such intense shame that they leave to join an unrelated clan as a stranger. This is usually a resort only for the desperate, those with little to lose, as they’re all but guaranteed much lower status among any non-natal clan. Still, even being a lowly stranger is better than being alone.

It need not come to this, however. If a subordinate finds herself with pups, she is encouraged to dispose of them on her own, or take them immediately to someone willing to do so. By doing this she can preserve, and possibly even improve, her standing within her clan, establishing herself as trustworthy and willing to follow even emotionally taxing rules.


Strangers are members of a clan who are not related by blood and have no breeding rights, but have been accepted, however tentatively, into the family. They can be of either sex, but are often female. Male strangers have a chance to become sires, should a matriarch take a fancy to them, but this is unlikely, as they are seen as much less appealing than males that are offered up by their clans, or sought out and purchased. It’s simply unsightly for a good son to actively pursue such a position. Strangers join clans because they’re either looking for work, unsatisfied with the positions available in their natal clan, or looking for mates, as they want to start their own family, but were not appraised as matriarch material by their own. For this reason, strangers are seen as inherently untrustworthy by the clans that take them in, at least at first, and one might wonder why a family would ever bother. The simple reason is free labor, as the worst jobs, such as sanitation and hard labor, are handed to them. They essentially join their new families as slaves.

Strangers that elope with clan members do so at great personal risk to themselves and their chosen mate, but many new clans are born from this exact scenario. Stranger females that are caught with pups of their own are treated much harsher than natal pack members caught committing the same offense. Instead of simply being banished, they risk their own lives, and instead of just having their pups killed, they are often attacked and mutilated themselves: the wings, pouch, and genitals are the most common targets. Strangers marked by such injuries are unlikely to ever be accepted into a clan again.

While it may seem harsh, reproduction by those without the right to do so are putting strain on the entire family by creating more mouths to feed, and for a stranger without any relation to the clan to attempt such a thing is paramount to thievery and parasitism, an immoral thing to do to those who have trusted you into their fold.

Vertical Mobility

A stranger is not necessarily doomed to their lowly position forever. There are stories of strangers who have gained control of clans as matriarchs, though this is unspeakably rare. In fact, such tales are held by many families as reasons to distrust strangers, seeing them as possible infiltrators. Those strangers who succeed in improving their station are, in most cultures, those who are shrewd, tactful, and submissive, with a keen ability to navigate the social politics of their new families.

Elderly matriarchs who become feeble or senile are almost never stripped of their position, and allowed to live the rest of their lives being cared for as respected family figures. Matriarchs who are physically disabled, especially when the injury is acquired in a way regarded as ‘noble’, are also unlikely to lose status. However, in both cases an additional matriarch may be selected from the pool of subordinates to take over any jobs the infirm leader can no longer accomplish. When a matriarch is truly stripped of her position, it is usually because she has been diagnosed with some form of incompetence. Those who lead their families to disaster, or are afflicted with debilitating mental illness (conditions not mutually exclusive) may be removed from their positions, and replaced by subordinates determined more able. These demoted matriarchs lose access to their sires, as well as any other special rights. While sometimes other matriarchs make the decision to demote one of their own, it’s a choice that can also be made democratically by entire clans.

Subordinates who attempt to depose their matriarchs through violent means, are, in most cultures, despised by the clans of the females they are attempting to usurp. Although some cultures, such as those of the Sclera Sinistra, are more accepting of violence as a means of gaining respect and status, very few take kindly to a stranger attempting to attack their (usually literal) mother. Even fewer are keen to accept such an attacker as a suitable replacement for her. Most cultures do not regard aggression and strength as core qualities of a successful matriarch; diplomats fare much better in the role. In most places, the killing, or even wounding, of a matriarch is an almost universal way to get marked for death in the eyes of her clan.

In the catastrophic situation that all existing matriarchs of a clan somehow all meet their deaths at once, leaving their family headless, clans are more often than not thrown into turmoil. Sometimes subordinates squabble violently for power. Sometimes a particularly able subordinate may step up to replace their lost leaders in this time of crisis. However, more often than not, It is the sires of a clan who band together to initiate a search for a new mate. While sire-headed families can run smoothly without a matriarch, it's usually imperative to find a replacement quickly, as many matriarchs are unwilling to conduct business with sires directly, especially those not acting on behalf of a female mate.

Sires who don’t get along well with their wives or her other mates risk being demoted to a subordinate role and stripped of breeding rights, or even banished from the clan if disliked strongly enough by enough people. For males, the only chance of upward mobility is to marry the matriarch of a different clan. Even those who become sires of well respected matriarchs, who gain charge of essential responsibilities within powerful families, are never seen as true leaders the same way as matriarchs are. However, in harusper dominated areas of the city, male vuxte exposed to these more patriarchal models of society are beginning to question the older notions ingrained in them by generations past...

Further Reading

Copyright © Dani Otten 2020