Swampers, for the most part, are blunt people. They speak their mind and often choose to settle their arguments through violence. Religion also plays a heavy part for Swamper culture, with Swamper's following a post-war religion of their own making.
As mentioned earlier, violence plays a huge role in Swamper culture. With Swamper's fighting amongst themselves and against outside foes, it seemed only natural that violence began a norm rather then the exception. Males are expected to learn how to use the various improvised melee weapons that the Swampers prefer, along with learning a fighting style known as Swamper Boxing. Swamper Boxing is a mish-mash of boxing techniques, bar-brawl fighting, and wrestling mixed in together. Swamper Boxing focuses on pure power, with the goal to knockout an opponent as soon as possible. The fights themselves can be long and drawn out, as both fighters stand and swap punches with one another until one knocks the other out. Fathers are expected to teach Swamper Boxing to their sons as a rite of manhood.
As for sports, Swampers often play fight with one another when they aren't busy. However, they are largely concerned with survival and as a result they don't have much time to actually have "play" fight. Pushball is a semi-popular sport, but, due to clan's hostility against one another it's rarely played on an organized basis.
As the Swampers contiuned to try and tame the post apocalyptic Swamps that they called home, most Swampers contiuned to follow the old Southern Baptist form of Christianity during their early years in the Swamps. However, as the years passed since the Great War, the Swamper religion mutated into something different. Instead of following the monotheistic religion of it's predecessor, the Swampers began to recognize two separate gods. The first, Nuck (which some suspect is a bastardized word for 'nuclear'), had sway over war and misery. The other, Hara, was the exact opposite of Nuck. Hara had sway over a good harvest and over health. Swampers viewed Nuck as a masculine figure and Hara is the more feminine of the two. However, due to the all the conflict the Swampers go through they view that Nuck is the much more dominant and violent one in the relationship; causing destruction whereever he goes. Swampers are largely fearful of Nuck, and believe that only human blood shed in battle can appease him. They believe that the Great War (which they call "The Great Rage", in which Nuck descended to Earth to wreak bloody havoc on all with his great club.) was the result of Nuck not having his blood quota fulfilled, and believe that if the blood quota is not filled then the world will be destroyed for a second (and final) time. Hara is believed to be a female, and often calms and soothes Nuck.
Along with Nuck and Hara, according to the Swampers there are hundreds of thousands of different spirits that roam the Swamps. The spirits themselves aren't spirits of anything, they simply just exist. The spirits are neutral presences upon the world, existing from before the Great War. They move about meaninglessly in the swamps, often in the form of a lightly colored wisp in the night. Although they don't mean harm, spirits that enter a Swamper are said to be highly harmful and result in a Swamper acting in a harmful manner to both himself and others.
To Swampers, only a select few are already selected by Draun or Hara to get into the afterlife. Although you can be admitted through acts of glory and valor, along with constant faith, most of the time the few that are selected to go to Heaven are the one's that are going to go. They do not believe in Predestination, they simply just believe that those who are going to be granted entrance into heaven are already chosen.
Prayer follows a strict guideline. In order to pray, a Swamper must first set all weapons aside during the duration of the prayer (showing his submission to Nuck and Hara). Next, the praying Swamper must spread a small amount of swamp dirt across his forehead in a single straight line, and place two other lines of dirt on the back of their hands. Following that, the Swamper must rest on his knees and clasp his hands together; fingers interlocked. The Swamper may pray either silently or aloud, although it's generally believed that louder you are the more likely you are going to get the god's attentions. A holy book for the Swamper religion doesn't exist, and as a result hundreds of offshoots of it exist throughout the Swamps as Swampers bend and twist their religion to their own belief.
Swamper Priests are well respected within their community. They are rather shamanistic in nature, overseeing scarifies to Nuck and Hara, along with serving as a sort of 'witch doctor' to cast out spirits that have possessed Swampers. They also work to solve sickness, often using roots and other natural alms to heal the sick. Priests often lead their clan in mass prayers in an attempt to gain the eye of Nuck and Hara, and bless the Clan's warriors before they go off on a Raid. Some Swamper Priests are believed to be able to see the future, and those that have their predictions come true often find themselves courted by a variety of clan leaders in order to predict their own future.
Swampers that convert away from their religion, are viewed with mistrust and disdain by other Swampers. They believe that those that convert are doomed to a life of agony, being forced to walk the areas outside of the Swamps (called the "Great Sands") forever, never being able to satisfy hunger nor thirst, and having wounds covering their body (inflicted by Nuck himself) that will contiune to inflict pain until they are killed by a faithful and eventually having their skin fall off. They view Ghouls as those that had converted away from Swamper religion and are now spending forever in torment and, as a result, kill whatever Ghouls they see in an attempt to release them from their eternal pain.
Swamper Clans are, basically, a group of family's that swore to support and to protect one another; and often chose to consolidate whatever land they owned in the Swamps in order to increase their own power. Although no one family is the ruler of the clan, it's often recognized that the largest family or the one who's land happens to sit on something else besides mud and water (thus allowing crops to grow) is the pesudo-ruler/warlord. The various Swamper clans, almost innumerable to count, are fiercely independent of one another and often engage in various border disputes with neighboring clans. Although some clans do sign various peace treaties, these are often short lived and only last until both sides realize that they'd rather just have each others stuff.
The Swamper Clans originally grew out of the immediate need for protection following the Great War. Once the people who would become the Swampers moved into there namesake swamps, they quickly discovered that most family's wouldn't be able to survive alone (considering the various mutated beasts and unhealthy conditions). As such, they slowly began to branch out to their neighbors, forming various support networks and coming to their add if others (such as animals attacking their homestead or other Swampers attempting to take their supplies) attacked. Over time, these various informal agreements became cemented; thus resulting in the clans that there are today.
Clans often live together in small hamlets, called "parks". These are fortified compounds, built on whatever dry land possible, with several dozen people living inside of the walls. Most clans only own a single park, with scattered homesteads throughout their holdings. Most Swampers choose to live inside of these parks, as defense from rival war parties and from the beasts of the swamps. Swampers that chose to live outside of the parks are regarded as eccentric, as they chose to live outside of the support structure of the rest of the clan. However, they are still invited back to the park whenever they chose, and these homesteaders often provide valuable supplies from within the swamps that those living inside of the parks cannot attain.
The Clans themselves take the last names of one of the early leaders of the clan, even if the family that was originally in charge of the clan is no longer in charge. The Clans also choose to mark their boundaries in a variety of ways, often with various improvised signs with the clan's chosen symbol, stacks of both human and mutated animal skulls mounted on posts, or various other ways. A clan's symbol is often determined on where they are at in the Swamps. For example, a Clan who inhabits an area with a large population of mutated alligators might choose to use an alligator's open maw as a symbol; while a clan who resides in a area where flooding's prone might choose to have a small wave as a symbol (however crudely drawn it may be.)
Much like the tribes of the Native Americans before the war, the Swamper Clans often raid against one another for supplies at a regular rate. Swamper War Parties will slip through the swamps, assaulting rival Clan parks before taking what they can and slipping into the night. These raids are often carried out with melee weapons, as firearms tend to fail in the wet climate of the Swamps. The raids themselves typically kill few, as the intent is to take supplies and take captives.
Marriage and Funerals Edit
Marriage follows a strict set of rules. First, the groom must secure permission from the family of the woman he wishes to marry. If they accept, then the groom will be allowed to ask for the women's hand in marriage. If they do not accept, the groom has the challenge of fighting the father for the right of marriage in an unarmed match. If the suitor in successful or at least impresses the father, then he may proceed with asking the women's hand. If the women accepts the groom's offer, the marriage often is completed within the following week.
The marriage itself is a simple affair. Both the groom and the bridge are married within their clan's park, overseen by both their clan's leader and priest. They both are expected to dress in the best clothes they have, and the majority of the clan is often present for such ceremony's. The bridge must offer up some small token to Hara, while the groom must offer up another token to Nuck during the ceremony. The priest, after the items are sacrificed, leads the clan in prayer; asking both the gods to look over the couple. After the prayer is finished, the clan leader then gives his blessing over the marriage the new couple is allowed to mingle with the rest of the clan for a few hours before retiring to their new homes (often the groom's parents home). Gifts are not typical of a Swamper marriage, as most Swampers believe that whatever the couple earns should be of their own work rather than others.
Polygamous marriages are only common amongst clan leaders. They are really the only ones inside of the Swamper community with the resources to support multiple wives, as most Swampers struggle with a basic day to day existence.
Funerals, as with marriage, are simple. The dead Swamper, no matter male or female, are placed on a small funeral pyre. Those that knew him or her well often say a few words about their life, with the surviving spouse lighting the funeral pyre at the end. If a spouse isn't alive, then a close friend is often nominated to do it. If a body isn't present, then the funeral pyre still exists it just lacks the dead person's body.
Rite of Manhood Edit
About the time a Swamper boy is fourteen, his father give's him a sharpened stick known as a Whomprat poker. A families whomprat poker is passed down from generation to generation, and is highly decorated according to the last generations whims and preferences. Tied at the end of the stick is a string with some sort of trophy according to the creates that have been killed by it such as a Grator's jaw, part of a Mirelurks shell, and so on. Losing the whomprat poker is a source of shame for families, and in a handful of cases lead to the person who lost the whomprat poker to commit suicide.
The Swamper Rite of Manhood is when a young Swamper boy, armed only with a whomprat poker, must venture out into the swamps and kill the largest and most dangerous animal he can. It's a highly dangerous task and has led many to become seriously maimed or even killed. Although it doesn't matter what kind of animal is killed, most fathers encourage their children to go after the largest ones in order to bring honor to their individual family. It can take anywhere from hours to days depending on the circumstances. Afterwards, once the boy returns with proof that he has killed the animal, he is deemed to be a man within Swamper culture.
Women, on the other hand, have no such ritual. Rather, they are all considered to be girls until they are asked for their hand in marriage which is when they become a woman. As such, women are encouraged to marry as soon as they can in order to lose their "girl" status within the clan and become a woman.