This post is an intro to essential Minmatar lore for people who want to play Minmatar characters or just to know more about their chosen faction.
See So you want to get into roleplay? for information on getting into EVE RP in general. You might also want to look at the lore resources megathread. For more player-driven speculative takes, see Aunty Teinyhr's Minmatar Fiction Corner - #5 by Teinyhr.
I welcome comments, additions, contradictions, references to more lore. I also most certainly welcome corrections and suggestions for new “chapters” to this guide. In addition to here you can find me on the RiP Discord (an out-of-character Discord chat server for EVE roleplayers and lore enthusiasts).
So welcome, brothers and sisters of the tribes! Click on the following sections to find out more!
Intro to this guide and some disclaimers
This intro tries to make up for the fact that the Fiction Portal lacks write ups on Minmatar government, history, demographics, and religion. Some of that lore exists, but it is hidden in other lore, in short stories, and in world news over the years, or behind a paywall in Eve Source.
I have also included information from what I call “established play”, meaning how players have usually in my view played it, regardless of whether it is actually backed up by canon lore. I try to make clear what is from where.
Disclaimer: There are parts of this that touch subjects that are kind of controversial spots of EVE history and lore that contradicts itself. I am therefore going to give you only the very basic details on historical events, without going into interpretations and details much, and I try to stick what characters would know, not touch conspiracies etc that would not be public knowledge.
The slaves and the free
A defining feature of the Minmatar is their history with the Amarr Empire. Originally a free, spacefaring and technologically advanced empire consisting of several united tribes, the Minmatar were invaded and largely enslaved by the Amarr Empire in AD 22480 (about 900 years ago). The majority of the Minmatar stayed in slavery for over 700 years, during which time the Amarr worked hard to eradicate the Minmatar culture [ES]. For the majority of that time, the Amarr/Minmatar were not aware of the existence of other spacefaring civilizations, until first contact with the Gallente/Caldari and Jove, which kicked off the Minmatar Rebellion and subsequent independency.
It is a small miracle that anything of the Minmatar culture survived, and probably a lot of what is pegged as “Minmatar traditional” things today, only after 150 years or so of freedom, must be taken with a grain of salt and as reconstruction from sporadic oral tradition and archaeological findings.
Today, while those of Minmatar descent are the most numerous of peoples of New Eden, the Minmatar Republic is the smallest of the four nations. There are Minmatar everywhere: still in slavery, living in the Gallente Federation, moving around as itinerant workers and in nomadic caravans, and, last but not least, “fair number make their living on the darker side of the law, acting as pirates, smugglers and peddlers in all kinds of illegal goods, and many of the larger criminal groups in the world of New Eden are run by Minmatar”.
Tribes, clans and circles
The Minmatar are a tribal people. There are seven recognized Minmatar tribes ( Sebiestor, Krusual, Brutor, Vherokior, Nefantar, Thukker and Starkmanir). Each tribe is largely independent in internal matters, and currently, the highest governing body of the free Tribes (the Minmatar Republic) is the Tribal Council consisting of the seven tribal Chiefs.
While lore occasionally uses “clan” and “tribe” interchangeably, “clan” in practice always in play and news refers to a small sub-unit of a tribe, consisting of families. Sizes of clans vary, from just a couple of families to vast related networks of individuals over a continent or space stations of a region. Each clan tends to specialize in a particular trade or niche, which in part dictates the practical size for it. [ES]
A free Minmatar is born into a family and a clan and a tribe, and into a position inside the clan/tribe, but that does not mean that you get to keep this position if you do not develop the skill and inclination to it. One’s status in society depends largely on one’s clan’s status, and one’s relationship with the clan. A Minmatar child’s/youth’s education is largely about rites of passage, contests, traditional rituals, and both the individual and their clan learning through these about what they can and cannot do, leading eventually to an adult life. Progression, advancement, self-reliance, and putting the benefit of yourself and your people (clan, tribe) before others are values that result from this kind of upbringing. [ES]
As far as I know, the lore is not very explicit on how individuals not born into a clan fit into this, so what follows is largely speculation and established play.
It seems to be a fact that you can become a member of a tribe without being born into a tribe (the usual case being born in slavery), probably by some kind of a naming ritual, which might or might not include going through the Voluval. This is certainly the case for underaged refugees (evidenced by how Karin Midular, freed as a child, was only adopted to a clan after her Voluval).
Some slaves will have an idea of their bloodline when they are freed, because at least in some places the Amarr maintain those lines (eg slaves are sold as “pure Sebiestor”, or “mix of Krusual and Brutor”, or “mongrel”). We have to assume at least some, possibly most, would not have this information, though, or be of a very mixed line. A process where refugees learn about the ways of the tribes, with the help of a refugee center or on their own, and then choose which one to apply to is often assumed by players of former slaves; some assume a process where a tribe is simply assigned to you. Genetic testing could help in choosing but would in practice be unlikely to reveal conclusive information on everyone (due to mixed lines and how genetic markers actually work). Who exactly decides who gets to enter which tribe and on what basis, is quite unspecified. Given the size and resources of the Republic, the number of refugees, and differences in tribal and regional customs, it is possibly unlikely the process would be similar for every port of entry and every refugee center, so interpretations can easily co-exist.
It is also generally assumed in play that one can be adopted or married into a family/clan, and that genetics play less of a role in that than skill, mindset and a goodness of fit. Source mentions that traditional clans rarely marry outsiders of the tribe - implying that some people do. Most people would probably wish to join a clan, one way or another, as who your clan is determines a lot about your basic position and possibilities in the Minmatar society, and “clanless rabble” can be looked down at. Clans also have varying status, some seen as “more traditional” and “more established” than others, and having differing positions of power and status locally.
How this seems to work is that you are a member of a clan if you belong to a family that the clan says is part of it, and you are a member of a tribe if that tribe says your clan is a part of it, and that clans have varying customs about who they accept. Outsiders can have opinions, and those opinions can of course affect how willing they are to work with that clan/tribe and via that the status of the clan, but they cannot not interfere in the legal process as such. Adoption and/or marriage are also how foreigners have become members of the tribes, though it is quite rare for traditional clans to accept members in marriage from outside of the tribe [ES].
Established play also has examples of newly freed establishing new clans - often running into difficulties of acceptance by other clans, but eventually finding their niche.
The lore does say, that permanently fitting in is difficult for those not born into the society, and that many raised in the Amarr faith keep it, subjecting themselves to prejudice and outright persecution among those who hail from the heritage of the Great Rebellion. [ES]
Sidenote: the lore is also not explicit about what happens to or is required of clan status in marriage, and it is assumed by players that different clans have different habits of who gets to marry who and which spouse changes families/clans, and which family/clan the children are assumed to belong. EVE Source does state that traditional clans do not allow marriages to individuals not of the tribe, and that they might restrict marriage candidates to only certain families inside the tribe. Though it does not explicitly say, it would also be natural in this kind of a socienty that marriages are a means to forge alliances or strengthen ties between clans.
Circles are a concept introduced in the EVE Source, a kind of parallel organization to a clan inside a tribe. They are kind of like a mixture of an adoptive additional clan, a professional guild and a secret society, and can be for example generations-old exclusive clubs, research groups, or circles temporarily set up for a particular project. Various circles criss-cross and overlap clan, business, and military organizations, adding to the complexities inherent in them, making the Minmatar society an often incomprehensible mess of status relationships and complex webs of loyalties. Circles decide about their own membership, are pretty much always intra-tribal to one specific tribe, and often charge a “dowry” type of an entry fee. An individual does not leave their clan to join a circle, but circles are in addition to your blood-ties. [ES] (Capsuleer corporations can possibly be seen as a form of circles, too.)
Quick overview of the seven tribes
This is mostly abbreviated from EVE Source, but heavily paraphrased. These kind of short descriptions are obviously always stereotypes, and each tribe has all sorts of clans and people.
Often seen stereotypically as dumb grunts of the Republic by players, the Brutor actually are more a stoic warrior caste (think Samurai, or Spartans, or storybook knights) and masterful tacticians. Originally a splinter from Starkmanir, and having suffered greatly under the Amarr themselves, they consider themselves the primary guardians of freedom for all Minmatar. We come for our people, and all that jazz. Maleatu Shakor, the current Sanmatar, is of the Brutor Tribe.
Krusual, on the other hand, often are the Minmatar grunts, a lot of gangs and assassins of the underworld being Krusual. They are clannish, retaining a lot of their original culture due to never having been fully subjugated by the Amarr, and keeping themselves somewhat aloof and isolated from the rest. They are not dumb, though, either, being shrewd politicians willing to keep power in their hands, and traditionally also good at science, especially biology and chemistry.
Sebiestor are known for their engineering excellence, with weapons, with spaceships, and with machines of all kind. The technical capability protected them somewhat under the Amarr rule, who recognised that letting some communities remain enhanced the preservation and transmission of skill. Sebiestor are also known for skills diplomacy and co-operation, as well as passions for information and projects that can turn into obsessions and temper. In the resistance and Rebellion, the role of quartermasters and armourers often fell to the Sebiestor.
Traditionally nomadic people, Vherokiors are the mystics and shamans of the Minmatar people, handling e.g. Voluval preparations for everyone. Since joining the Republic, many of them have given up the nomadic lifestyles, and Vherokior clans often run small businesses, restaurants, etc. Unlike for most other tribes, for Vherokior the family is the basic unit of social / tribal life, and their clan structure is rather loose.
Another traditionally nomadic tribe, the Thukker tend to live in Great Caravans, fleets of ships constantly roaming from system to system. The Caravan largely replaces clan as the basic social structure for the Thukker, and while there are Thukker that consider themselves part of “a clan”, those clans are more often than not criminal families, renegades and pirates. During Amarr occupation, the Thukker were trouble for the Amarr, and their reputation as trouble-makers continued well into the Republic era. They originally opted not to join the Republic and were long considered not much better than criminals by the Republic forces; only recently have they joined the Tribal Council. Thukker also do not consider tattoos as important as other tribes, and going un-tattooed is not socially questionable for a Thukker the same way it would be for many other tribes.
Originally one of the major powers of Minmatar, and the one that managed to end intra-tribal warfare and forge the Minmatar Empire of old, the Starkmanir were treated comparably well by the Amarr Empire for a long time. However, in the end the Starkmanir were almost exterminated under Amarr rule, and have lost basically all of their cultural heritage. Only existing as a free tribe for about a decade now, and in small numbers, many of them still follow the Amarr Faith, and do not for example follow the custom of the Voluval.
Always known as politicians, opportunists and schemers, during the Amarr invasion the Nefantar collaborated with them, and became to be known as ‘The Ammatar’. While not all Nefantar were outright traitors - some played along in order to gain intelligence for the underground network of rebels, and Nefantar were instrumental in sheltering the remaining Starkmanir - many or most of them were, and they also stayed behind in the Great Rebellion. In YC110 when the Starkmanir were revealed, the tribe effectively splintered, some staying behind in the Ammatar Mandate, and some defecting to the Republic as Nefantar again. They have faced a lot of prejudice in coming back, and the fact that many of them refuse to give up the Amarr faith has probably not helped.
The Minmatar Republic, short history and current state
Of the seven tribes, four (Sebiestor, Brutor, Krusual, Vherokior) have been members of the Republic since its start. The other three have joined it only very recently (in YC110-112, or 2008-2010), and their ways and history differ from what is considered traditionally Minmatar.
After hundreds of years spent mostly in slavery, the Minmatar managed to stage a major rebellion in AD 23216 (that is YC -20, which would have been, to give perspective, real-world year 1878 if EVE had existed then). The Rebellion was long in the making, but certain events such as the Khumaak incident, Amarr contact with Gallente Federation, and the Amarr loss to Jovians in the Battle of Vak’Atioth conspired to make it happen at the time.
The suddenly freed tribes faced a huge task to set up government for people who had not governed itself for over 700 years, and to protect its borders against re-invasion. Initially, joining the Gallente Federation was discussed, but the threat of the Amarr Empire and the ruined state of the tribal lands were factors against this. The Republic set itself up as an independent nation with help from Federation (a strong force in aiding the rebellion too) and by joining the newly-minted CONCORD assembly, guaranteeing an international peace. [ES]
At that time, the Nefantar tribe was still considered Ammatar (Minmatar part of the Amarr Empire) as a whole so they kept to the Ammatar Mandate. Regardless of a nominal state of peace, the Mandate and the Republic fought each other in constant wars over the century and more that followed the Rebellion. Starkmanir were believed extinct in a revenge bombing of their planet by the Amarr Empire. The Thukker chose to stay away in their caravans, often leading to a strained relationship between them and the Republic (until ~2008, there even were Thukker and Republic missions against each other in the game).
In this ‘early Republic’ as it is sometimes now known, the Republic Parliament had the final say on all inter-tribal matters, and tribes as such only had influence via the ability to influence who would vote how. As the nascent nation grew, also tension between the stances of needing to keep peace to establish a force that actually can take the Amarr Empire and the need to “come for our people” still in slavery as soon as possible also grew.
In YC110, or 2008, it was suddenly revealed by the Sisters of EVE that descendants of the Starkmanir tribe were still alive in the Amarr Empire, hidden away by leaders of the Nefantar tribe in the Ammatar Mandate. This in turn lead to the Minmatar utilizing a secret fleet built in the Wildlands with embezzled Federation aid money to attack first CONCORD and then the Empire. Long story short, the fleet was blapped on the orbit of Mekhios, but we regained the Starkmanir, and many Ammatar decided to defect and come to the Republic.
Prior to this, the government’s inaction in the matter had thrown a spark in the gunpowder keg of rising tensions between appeasers and warmongers. Simultaneously to the attacks, a lot of government officials were found assassinated, by what appeared to be Thukker assassins, leaving with each body proof allegedly revealing their corruption and collaboration with the enemy.
As a result, the Republic underwent a change in structure and government over the next couple of years. Maleatu Shakor was elected prime minister in an election where he was the sole candidate, and with general support he proceeded to reform the government to what was (at least perceived as) more traditionally Minmatar.
The best write up of this modern history is the description of Karin Midular’s memorial at the Tribal Council Orbital Caravanserai in Pator, see copy of the text later in this thread.
In these reforms, the power of the Republic Parliament has been greatly reduced, it becoming a sort of “lower house” to the “upper house” of the Tribal Council of the Chiefs. Tribes have gained even more independence in handling their own matters than they previously had. Peace has been made with the Thukker and they, as well as Nefantar and Starkmanir, now sit on the Tribal Council. Maleatu Shakor was named ‘Sanmatar’, a position he has held since (a Tribal Assembly names a new one every two years, in the end of odd-numbered years), a de facto head of state and mediator without a vote of his own for the Tribal Council. [ES]
There is, unfortunately, very little official information on the actually current state of affairs. In the description of Pator, it is mentioned that there “is unprecedented growth in the tourism, heritage, culture, and governance fields” but that “other industries have suffered major disruptions”, with "mining industry alone “figured to have lost millions in held-up mining rights, as the government tries to process tribal land claims.”
Minmatar beliefs and spirituality
Minmatar customs and spirituality are topics that are not described in any one place comprehensively, but must be pieced together from various sources.
Minmatar religion, such as it is, is “based around the principle that all entities or forces have a spiritual essence.” Source also states that the First Elders are not “simply traditional spirits worshiped or contemplated”, implying that spirits in general are used in worship and/or in contemplation.
EVE Source tells us that all tribes believe in some form of a pantheon of seven spirits or gods of First Elders. There is a continuing tradition of “Living Elders” selected from each tribe when the previous one dies. These Living Elders function as the keepers of an accumulated wisdom of the tribe and give advice. The Elders chronicle describes how the original line of these Elders was presumed dead and returned during the events of YC110, and also explains that they are not a political but rather a spiritual power that sometimes intervenes when hard choices must be made. The rare times they appear in public they usually wear etched masks to not present their birth-identity, and are assumed to have great spiritual, even magical powers. (See below, ‘Who the hell are the Elders’?)
As mentioned above, EVE Source tells us that Minmatar tend to bring up their children and youth in a manner that helps them discover where they fit in and what unique skills and tendencies they have. This leads to valuing of progression, advancement, self-reliance, and putting the benefit of yourself and your people (clan, tribe) before others. This mindset of raising young people towards the fulfilment of their gifts and their position culminates in the ritual of Voluval, a coming-of-age ceremony, where a Mark is made to appear on each person that is believed to reveal something about their personal fate or lifepath. There are no official reference catalogues OOC for the Marks, so for roleplay purposes you basically get to invent your own: a physical description of the mark and its location, its name, and what it means to the local clan/tribe is what you need.
It should be noted that the Voluval is the beginning, not the end, of one’s journey to full adult-hood: it gives additional guidance as to what to train / where to study, and only after completing one’s education is one considered fully a member of the society. [ES] The Frigates of EVE also mentions that there is mandatory 2-year period of military service with an earliest enlistment age of 14, implying that all Minmatar youth are trained in some way or another for the defense of the tribes. (The enlistment age for actual Republic forces is given as 17.) As speculation, this probably means that the common mandatory military training is for clan militias / local forces, and possibly as mandatory classes / courses / camps during other training rather than full-time service.
Another widely-spread custom among the tribes is that of tattoos. Tattoos are not simply art or expression of personal belief for Minmatar, they are signifiers of identity, life history, allegiances and so forth, the usage of which is governed by custom and tradition. Tattoos can be seen as a form of spirituality: an artistic expression of a person’s essence and experiences. In general, parts of the face are reserved for the clan tattoos and the shoulders are reserved for the rank tattoos, which show the occupation and status of the person. War tattoos that only become visible when a person is angry or upset also exist.
The Chronicle Death gives us the information that “aspects of the mysticism, such as a belief in tattooing and nature spirits, are held in common between all the tribes”. Beliefs about death vary, but all tribes “profess a belief in souls, and believe the spirits of the dead can have some impact on the living. In general, they all believe death is not a complete end, but merely the end of a part of the journey; life as we know it is only the first step in a true spiritual lifetime.”
Rituals, tests, and Rites of Passage seem to be of importance to the Minmatar [ES]: “The son of a clan chief may have certain advantages over other children, but only so long as he can justify and earn them. Rites of passage, contests, and other traditional rituals help young Minmatar discover what is best for them and their people. [—] As [they] grow and develop, they continue to devise tests for themselves.”
The information on Karin Midular explains in the end a one-body-one-spirit-one-mind philosophy that many Minmatar subscribe to. It also hints that at least certain personal beliefs are considered private issues among those of the tribes.
For some information on Minmatar attitudes to cloning see this separate lore compilation.
As explained in Source and having come up in several CCP storylines, many Minmatar also still hold to their Amarr Faith, especially some recently freed and their offspring. There have also been more or less successful attempts of proselytizing, which the tribes generally seem to allow on a high level. Those of the Faith can face persecution by other Minmatar, though. Hybrid religions are also common, often controversial as “intricately entwined with the Amarr religion from the point of view of the Minmatar, and heretical to the Amarr”.
Weirdly, there is a write-up about Sebiestor spiritual beliefs, which seems to me to be a compilation of player-invented material canonized as tribal info. Of the concepts in it, many things, including at least animistic spirituality and personal lifepath or Fate are not, in established play or in lore itself, particularly Sebiestor, but more generally Minmatar. On the other hand, the document is quite long and detailed, and many things in that document that are said to concern or be known to “every Sebiestor” are not in fact played that way by many well-established Sebiestor characters. Some parts, like colored Voluvals, contradict other established lore.
On the Minmatar language(s)
"Many Minmatar still speak Amarish as their first language, even more so since the return of the Nefantar and Starkmanir, and “Republic Matari” is considered an unsatisfactory reconstruction of the common language of the old Minmatar Empire. All tribes are concerned to address this cultural issue and wish to live and speak according to their true heritage.
Due to these concerns, major efforts are underway within the Republic to recover what is possible of all historical tribal languages and dialects, so as to restore them for use in modern Minmatar tribal societies."
(This bit is quoted directly from the description of the item “Matari Word Calendar” in the game.)
Who the hell are 'The Elders'?
The Elders and the Elder Fleet feature strongly in the recent Minmatar history, though before 2008 and Empyrean Age they were not really mentioned in the lore. There are at least five partly contradictory explanations of who/what ‘the Elders’ are and this is my attempt at making sense of it.
- The Elders chronicle and EVE Source both mention the original pantheon of seven spirits, clearly putting the ‘First Elders’ into the realm of myth.
- “The Elders” chronicle opens with stating the Elders were the leaders of the tribes before the invasion - roughly equally to current Tribal Chiefs, but that in the current day they are not a political power and only rarely intervene. The Minmatar lore “recent” events expects Elders to guide the formation of the new government (but when the story progressed, either they did not, or it was not mentioned).
- The Empyrean Age and to some extent The Elders chronicle present ‘the Elders’ as mystical, semi-supernatural creatures with “magical powers” (the Tulraug form, ability to mind-control Minmatar) and seemingly almost limitless influence over historical events. The “recent” events part of the Minmatar lore page says that prior to YC110, many people did not even believe the Elders exist, but that now they do.
- The Source and “The Elders” chronicle both also explains a Living Elder tradition separate from the First Elders (the way these are selected is a little different in the two sources). They are seen as separate from the political, material government and intervene only rarely, to make the hard decisions that may not generally be popular but are nonetheless necessary.
- There is something called ‘The Elder Network’ whose shenanigans and conspiracy involvement in a lot of things is explained in the chronicle “The Elder War”. A lot of what they did is attributed to the Living Elders, but how much this is factual and how much an unreliable narrator is unclear.