The boggard settlement of M’botuu is the largest of its kind in Hooktongue Slough—although there are other boggard communities in the swamp, none are as large as M’botuu. The city is built on the bones of ancient fallen mangroves and the giant mushrooms that grow from them. The main city is built from a giant mangrove stump 400 ft across.
The word “M’botuu” loosely translates as, “Those Who Swim in Blood.” Boggard legend claims their tribe sprang wholly from the marsh itself when Gogunta, their vile, bloated demon goddess, flooded this part of the River Kingdoms by vomiting up a swamp. The boggards then multiplied over the years, waging war against their hated rivals the Vesket Lizardfolk, killing the water-walking bog striders, slaughtering human settlers, and eventually dominating the Hooktongue Slough.
Life within boggard society is, above all else, pragmatic. Lairing in swamps or alongside forested rivers, they live among a multitude of rival races and natural predators. Faced with such perpetual dangers, their society, rather than rewarding strength, simply expects it. The weak and sick receive little sympathy, and any young with visible or even perceived defects never progress past the tadpole stage—being culled and left to dry for use in religious ceremonies or other rites. Those that do survive begin their training as members of boggard society, and finally go through a series of trials to reach the ritualized passage into true adulthood.
For their first 9 months of life, most immature boggards are largely sheltered from harm, kept within the confines of their spawning pool and within the clan’s village. After they emerge, however, they immediately begin their rapid ascent to adult responsibilities and expectations. Roughly a year after emergence, they develop adult teeth and receive a blessing from the tribe’s priest-king, as well as a ritual meal to mark their visible ascent to adulthood. This feast tends to be cannibalistic, when possible, being prepared from the flesh of those among the current year’s newborns judged too flawed or weak to survive. The rite serves to cull the clan of its weakest members, their meager lives going to join and increase the strength of their greater brethren.
For 2 years after their emergence from the spawning pools, boggard young live in gangs overseen by more experienced warriors, where they actively learn to hunt beyond the sheltered confines of the village periphery, gaining the practical skills and physical prowess needed for their and the clan’s survival. Regardless of gender or bloodline, all boggards receive virtually identical training, the only exception being those rare individuals with an inborn talent for sorcery.
Already considered adults, boggards’ final rite of passage confers membership within the clans of the Hooktongue Slough, but the task is far from easy, with failure resulting in dire consequences. Each potential clan member is provided 1 month to find and single-handedly kill a sentient humanoid, be it a boggard from a rival clan, a lizardfolk, or any other humanoid traveling through their domain. All the hunters must return by the end of the month for the full moon ceremony. Those who bring a corpse back to their village are welcomed as true warriors, attaining the title of Battle Taod. They are accepted into one of the many tribes of the Hooktongue Slough. Those who return empty-handed furnish the feast of those who succeeded with their flesh, being cannibalized to nourish the heroes of the tribe. Many simply never return, but due more to the dangers of the swamp than out of fear of failure’s fatal price—though a rare and exceptional few do use this opportunity to flee their brutish culture.
While there are many Boggard tribes in the Hooktongue Slough they all owe fealty to the preist-king of M’Botuu. The preist-king emerges from the ranks of the tribes through cruelty, brutality, and the perceived favor of the Gogunta from various superstitions. Boggard society enforces reliance on the community and the whims of the priest-king so thoroughly that thoughts of abandoning the tribe or disobeying the will of the group rarely enters the minds of individuals—often to fatal effect. The three most powerful tribes in the Hooktongue Slough are the Witch Breakers, Poison Eaters, and Tongues of Gogunta.
The Witch Breakers are the most brutal and superstitious of the boggard tribes. They see all arcane magics as heretical tricks of the weak used to steal the power of Gogunta. Their hatred of magic is so strong that they are able to shatter spells with their weapons. They are know for the practice of creating shrunken heads. This tribe also quite fond of wearing fine cloths of more civilized races.
The poison eaters are drug addled band or stealthy expert alchemists. They are usually lethargic, happily lazing the day away licking poisonous frogs and drinking strange potions while talking to their numerous fetish dolls. Their demeanor shifts quickly when threatened or given a mission by the leaders of their tribe. Their usually dilated pupils contract, relieving large vibrant irises. Their muscles become taught and every motion is filled with eerie silent purpose.
The Tongues of Gogunta represent one of the smallest boggard tribes. Though their mastery in playing on the superstitions of their brethren means that priest-kings commonly come from their ranks. The members of this tribe are almost exclusively made up of clerics.