Part 235: Sects, Clans, and Kingdom - by SaffronKitForgive me daoist brothers and sisters for my tardiness, today I will talking with a bit more candidness about sects, clans and kingdoms. Honestly, you could probably figure out the differences via some inference but I'll go ahead and lay out the main points about them in cultivation novels.
This will be a bit more in-depth than the following two because it is relevant to the game and us!
Sects are typically a big part of any cultivation novel to no one's surprise! A sect is typically founded by a very powerful cultivator (or group of) with the goal of passing on their techniques to a bunch of willing slaves who are willing to do all the menial, bothersome work that interrupts cultivation eager young disciples. There are a few other reasons sects are founded, such as when a previous, larger sect is destroyed and the remnants successfully flee, a (peaceful) schism occurs within a sect, or an offshoot is made with the intent of being a lesser subordinate sect that doesn't receive direct teachings but contributes to the main sect via promising disciples and resources in exchange for protection. Sects differ from Clans in that they are generally more open to accepting new blood that don't have any connections to the sect previously, though the wishful may need to pass tests to join an established sect.
Sects are quite hierarchical starting (not always) with the Ancestor/Founder at the top > Sect Master (previous gen core) > Elders (previous gen core/inner) > Core Disciples (personally groomed geniuses) > Inner Disciples (above average) > Outer Disciples (average) > Servants (below average/mortal). When long established Sects typically have a reclusive Ancestor of some sort who is extremely powerful and reached a point in cultivation/lifespan where they don't want to be bothered by anything short of their sect being annihilated. The Sect Master is usually the strongest public facing figure, usually the greatest genius of the previous generation. Elders come in many flavors but are basically the head managers of the sect so that Sect Master doesn't have to do everything and can actually cultivate too. Core Disciples are the current generations peak geniuses and personally groomed by the sect to be the very best in hopes of helping the Sect grow more powerful in the future. Inner Disciples can aim to be a core disciple but if they get too old can become Elders. Outer Disciples are basically sect lackeys who have to work their asses off to get hand outs and maybe work up to Inner Disciple. Servants are the poor sods that do the most menial of jobs no one wants to do, and are barely ever mentioned in novels.
Age (respect your elders) and position is an important factor when addressing your fellow sect mates. When addressing someone in the same social rung and similar age/talent Brother or Sister is fine, make it Senior Brother/Sister if they're higher cultivation realm (or you want to flatter them) but same generation as you. If they're a rung up the social ladder and the same generation, you always address them as Senior Brother/Sister or by their title if they have one (Core Disciples typically have these). Elders are addressed by their titles always unless you happen to be family or their personal disciple, and the Sect Master is Sect Master along with formal shows of respect. Ancestors are also always addressed as Ancestor plus their title and extra respect is shown usually via kowtows or deep salutes.
It is a surprisingly common trope in cultivation novels that merits and talent allow one to ignore age when talking with another sect mate, Core disciples for example can address anyone older then them of a lesser social tier however they want, and sometimes speak with Elders on equal terms. Inner Disciples and down have to always treat Elders with respect however. Then you add in familial relations and it all becomes kind of a mess. Long running sects usually develop powerful families that either have techniques or bloodlines that make them particularly important to the sect. This gives them higher social standing and/or greater wealth. We don't have to worry about that in our sect (yet) so I won't delve too much more into it.
Sects typically promote intersect competition/conflict in an effort to spur on the cultivation efforts of their disciples and while killing is typically taboo, crippling or maiming lesser members isn't typically punished if done by valuable sect members. Nyaa has even mentioned that he'd prefer Inner Disciples (I consider these core disciples) not go on murder sprees till we have at least 3 of them, so it is a very real and represented facet of the game.
Now I think it's obvious, but our sect falls into the remnants of a fallen sect category and frankly it's even the lowest version of that where we've lost nearly every valuable resource and have to start from scratch. As such, and with Sect Master Hats only being a Qi Condensation cultivator and a distinct lack of ancestor we are honestly a sect only in name. Other actual sects will probably barely give us any face or outright rob us if we find anything of actual value. but we'd be universally looked down upon for the most part. Hopefully with time and effort we shall rise back to the top!... But that might take a while.
I could talk a shitload more minutiae on Sects but for now I'll let the subject rest as an introduction to the insanity that is cultivation novels.
Clans are pretty much super insular sects where the only thing that matters is your bloodline. Based around a single family, the core of a Clan are always members of that clan with only a rare exception given. Side branches of the clan will start popping up as the clan expands and are typically used as a way to expand influence and gather resources. Hierarchical roles are more straightforwardly based on age, generation, and how direct your relation is to the head of the clan rather than merit based. A lot of how sects and clans function bleed together and are essentially aim for the same goals aka improve the wealth/power/land your clan/sect controls.
How sects and clans function together is pretty simple: Sects can have a clan or clans within them, but a major Clan will not have subordinate Sects. There are always exceptions of course.
There are two 'types' of kingdom: mortal kingdoms and cultivation kingdoms. Mortal kingdoms are pretty much Romance of the Three Kingdoms style ancient Chinese kingdoms, with the cavet that maybe you gotta deal with horrible demonic beasts eating the populace and the occasional, elusive cultivator that everyone and their mother venerates even above the emperor/king. Wars happen, peasants farm, scholars learn and teach, life goes on.
Cultivation kingdoms on the other hand... are the exact same thing, except massively bigger (read: planet or cosmos spanning) and everyone is a cultivator already. Typically they are formed by particular powerful Sects or Clans that managed to conquer/subordinate a bunch of other sects/clans. What do you mean that sounds like mortal kingdoms? Clearly those people are flying and controlling the elements, it's completely different. Really, I swear!
My apologies for being so late on the write up, hope this helped anyone not as familiar with xianxia! Feel free to ask any questions to clarify. I'd also like to do blurbs on some of the novels I've personally read to help folks new pick out some they might like to try. There are absolutely a bunch of mediocre reads out there, so I am never surprised to hear people bouncing off the genre.