These are a Sacred Society of Prax. Made up exclusively of warriors, the Sword Brothers worship the Iron Man, whom others know as Humakt, and forswear the use of any weapon other than swords. The Sword Brothers Society accepts any non-chaotic person as a member, whether Praxian, foreigner or even non-human. Some members are accepted even though they are Chaotic, but they are often killed out of hand by those who are not quite as tolerant. It is one of the few organisations in Prax that accepts Ducks as members. Even outlaws may join the Sword Brothers.
The Sword Brothers Society was formed in the First Age when the Council of Friends entered Prax. The members of the Council tried to integrate themselves into Prax by HeroQuesting to identify the deities of Prax with the deities they knew of. One of the deities they found in Prax was the Iron Man who had defeated many of the Wargods of Prax. The Humakti of the Council recognised the Iron Man as being their god, Humakt, and tried to expand his worship. However, they came up against the standard conservatism and xenophobic nature of the Praxians. Their solution was to create a Sacred Society that took membership from across the entire spectrum of Praxian tribes so that the worship of the Iron Man would be accepted by all. However, the Praxian gods accepted the Sacred Society by severing it from the rest of normal society as the Iron Man was severed from the rest of the Praxian Gods. This meant that the Sword Brothers were accepted by the Praxians as an outsider Society. During the First Age, members of the Society HeroQuested until they had defeated all the Praxian Gods in combat. The continual combat reduced their numbers and they relied more and more on the Praxian members until they had become fully Praxian in nature. When Prax was invaded by waves of people, first the Jrusteli, then the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, then the trolls, then the Pol Joni and finally the Lunars, the Sword Brothers fought each successive wave and established their superiority. Only in the most recent times have they struggled, as the Lunars have brought with them powerful deities. However, the Sword Brothers know that the Carmanian Wargod of Humakt is the Iron Man and that even the Lunar Wargod Yanafal Tarnils could only fight Humakt to a standstill, so they are confident that they will be able to defeat the Lunar Gods at some point. After all, they took over a generation to defeat the Jrusteli of Robcradle and Corflu.
Prospective members of the Sword Brothers must be willing to sever their normal cultural ties. They give up the use of their cultural weapons and take up the sword, receiving geases not to use any other weapon. Most of the Sword Brothers ride their old tribal animals but some extremists take a geas never to Ride and receive a gift of running without tiring in exchange, but these are rare. Typically, the initiation ceremony involves circumcision for men and the removal of the nipples for women, setting them apart from other Praxians and marking them as being different.
Members of the Sword Brothers worship the Iron Man, a deity that defeated all the Praxian Wargods during the God Time and First Age. The Society is a repository of HeroQuests with members who delight in HeroQuesting against Praxian Nomads and defeating them in combat. With the arrival of the Lunars came a host of new warriors and wargods for the Society's members to defeat. As new members join from the Holy Country and from Sartar, the Society absorbs the HeroQuests of the Humakt cult as the Iron Man has long been recognised as being the god Humakt.
Even though the Sword Brothers worships Humakt, it does so by worshipping the Iron Man, a distinctly Praxian Aspect. The Iron Man roughly equates to Humakt the Warrior and almost completely ignores the Truth and Honour Aspects. The Sword Brothers have no particular powers against the Undead that plague Prax, but members often contact Humakti Demigods and Spirits to gain anti-Undead powers. Members tend to fight each other according to previously agreed rules, but treat all outsiders as fair game where anything goes. There is no general proscription against the use of poison, ambush, back-stabbing or ganging up on opponents, although individuals may receive geases preventing these acts. Where the members engage in HeroQuest against other Praxians, the rules of engagement are strictly defined according to the particular HeroQuest, so these fights are often perceived by the enemy as being easier than normal ones.
These are not the normal dour, bright-sworded Humakti of Dragon Pass or Peloria, rather these are whooping, paint-wearing, kill-crazy maniacs who descend on their opponents in war-bands of near-naked sword-wielders. Members generally wear little armour, as befits Praxians, and make liberal use of the Berserker spell. Their body-paint gives them some magical protection and they often have magical tattoos that toughen their skin. Each member records the number of fights, the number of kills, personal status and status in the Iron Man cult in different ways - usually by wearing different clothing; wearing feathers; having different tattoos; ritual scarring and special decoration.
The cult of the Iron Man teaches all Sword skills, the Bladesharp spell, Truesword, Berserker and Shield. Initiates are called Knives, Rune Priests are Blades. Initiation into the Sword Brothers is also initiation into the Iron Man cult, although people can join the Iron Man and not be members of the Sword Brothers Society. Initiates of the Iron Man cannot be resurrected once they have been killed, but they do have access to certain spells that make it harder for them to be killed, normally through HeroQuesting. For instance, most have the knowledge of how to make war-paint that is similar to Orlanthi Woad but not as powerful, some can perform a ritual allowing them to fight without tiring, without feeling pain, being able to ignore the effects of damage until they are dead, the ability not to take damage from certain types of weapons and so on. These abilities are kept secret from outsiders and are only known when they are used, in which case their opponents generally do not live to tell the tale.
The mythos of the Iron Man is fragmented, known in part by members of the Sword Brothers and in part by various tribes and cults of Prax. Nobody knows the whole story and many HeroQuestors of the Sword Brothers have tried to collect the myths and form a common core. New members are always welcome as they bring their own myths to expand knowledge of the Iron Man. Members of the Sword Brothers from one Oasis use a special three-bladed sword, unknown elsewhere, that the Iron Man gave them during the God-Time to repay them for their hospitality.