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Old December 25th, 2019, 09:15 AM
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Post Vargr Krampus

Recently on the Traveller Discord, I was asked if the Vargr had any such observances in the Vargr Extents or Vargr Enclaves. I thought about this question and came up with an IMTU concept.

Close to the end of the Imperial Calendar year, some week or more before Holiday, comes the Vargr Krampus. It is not referred in any ethnic Vargr language by such name, but it is the closest reference in Anglic. Its names are as varied as the Vargr sub-species (ethnicities to some), regions of space, or the many temporary polities across Charted Space. The images vary somewhat as well.

But one thing this being has in common in the hearts of Vargr who observe the Vargr Krampus is Charisma. Vargr Charisma hammered into the hearts of cubs establishing their personal self-esteem, group clout, familial pecking order or place in the Pack, is always present. Each Vargr wants to stand out and be recognized whether they lead or follow. Each wants to deserve victory or learn from setbacks. The rules of Vargr Charisma are touched upon elsewhere.

Where the Vargr Krampus comes in is that time of year, after harvests, after spoils of war are divided, where the reserves are taken from winter vaults and distributed among those who serve. This entity is born of some of the darker sides of Vargr sense of justice, interwoven with Vargr Charisma. Near the end of the year, the Vargr Krampus comes to seek out the leader of each grouping of Vargr, no matter the scale.

Dressed in imperious robes of blood red and black, this pale Vargr monster arrives, a bale of birch switches in its elongated and sharp claws. Horns curve up and back from the cranium of this canine being and its eyes glow with a wintery, freezing glance. Chains are often part of the Vargr Krampus motif, though they vary widely as to where on this frightful Vargr they hang. The overall pelt of this bringer of dark justice is generally white, though grays and light tawny are also represented. Most often, the visual appearance of the Vargr Krampus takes on the pelt pattern of the regional or ethnic Vargr it visits, to better identify with those whom it is to confront.

The Vargr Krampus seeks out the Vargr with the highest Charisma, true or perceived, small-unit authority. That Vargr, whether self-serving, exalted, put on pedestals by their underlings or despised for their tyranny is the target of the Vargr Krampus. Once a year, this dark entity comes and admonishes such leaders, reminding them to respect Vargr Charisma to listen to those who follow them, heed their words, yield fair dividends and to lead with compassion over control. If the leader has been particularly cruel or harsh over the calendar year, the Vargr Krampus has been known to punish such leaders through corporal use of gathered clawfuls of birch switches. Often such discipline is performed before the leader's subordinates as an extended lesson, a cautionary example to all Vargr.

Leaders who know they are in for a future visit from the Vargr Krampus will try to placate this dark entity by laying out a share of the year's spoils as a side tribute or extra place at the table should the entity's freezing gaze fall upon them. Often, a leader will drape a heavy link chain over themselves and rattle it that week in hopes of showing sympathy with the Vargr Krampus, hoping for clemency this year. Some more superstitious leaders will overcompensate dividends to the lowest Charisma Vargr the closer to the arrival time of the punishing of harsh leaders.

Near to the time of the visitation of the Vargr Krampus is a Day of misrule similar to the Human version, the Roman Saturnalia. Leaders will reverse their roles and seek out among their group those Vargr underlings with the lowest Charisma and treat them for a full Day (about 24 hours with variations). Servants are to dine first, speak freely unto mouthing off or criticizing the leader or the Pack policies obeyed through the calendar year. Such "smack-talk" is even then never pushed too far on this Day. For to go too far may attract the coming of the Vargr Krampus upon them instead. Gifts are given to the lowest Charisma Vargr first and followed in climbing through the pecking order with the leader to be gifted last. This Day, Vargr leaders hope to appease the Vargr Krampus into showing leniency in its dark discipline.

The Vargr Krampus tradition came to zenith just after the Vargr Pillaging era, where the entity arrives to punish leaders for mistakes perpetrated on other Vargr, Humaniti and other sophonts contacted by or adjacent to the Vargr Extents and Vargr Enclaves. Many ethnicities assume the Vargr Krampus visit the Suedzuk most often and the Irilitok the least with others arrayed between the two extremes. The psionic ethnicities of Vargr observe this superstition the least, chief among them the Roth Thokken even when they are intermingled among the Suedzuk or "Red Vargr".

Cubs and adolescents are threatened with front row seating in observance of the arrival of the Vargr Krampus as the monster punishes cruel leaders or tyrannical Pack Alphas annually. Often, those who climb to leadership through Infighting or other Charisma challenges are gently and privately reminded of their new position and responsibility lest the Vargr Krampus seek them out too.
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