Children turn into Borribles gradually, usually if they have a "bad start" in life and are left on their own a lot. Their ears become pointed when they leave home and are a sign of their independence and intelligence. The more pointed a Borrible's ears, the more cunning they are. Borribles do not age. Technically, they can live forever if they are not killed or captured. The worst thing one can do to a Borrible is clip his ears, since then he will be forced to grow up. Clipped Borribles lose their memories and often go slightly mad. The only Borrible tribe that practices ear clipping is Wandsworth, which is one reason other tribes tend to view them with fear and loathing. The authorities clip the ears of any Borrible they capture, and therefore Borribles will do anything to be avoid being captured. So intense is this fear that the common Borrible farewell (and highest commandment) is "Don't Get Caught".
To escape detection by the authorities Borribles mingle with ordinary children, wearing woolen hats to disguise their ears. They live in abandoned houses and steal food and other supplies. They are thin and small - small size is considered a great advantage among Borribles. Borribles value their independence above all . They have no leaders, although someone may come into prominence from time to time because he has good ideas. To obey orders is considered unBorrible. A Borrible may own no possessions, and above all no money, which is also considered unBorrible. Borribles live in tribes and are suspicious of strangers. However "Borrible must always help Borrible" - if a strange Borrible is in danger of being killed or captured the local Borribles must come to their rescue even if it puts them in personal danger. Sometimes non-Borribles are designated to be of Borrible status, and the same laws apply to them as apply to ordinary Borribles.
The only thing a Borrible does own is his or her name, which can only be won by daring adventure or by playing a particularly witty trick on someone. Names are the only way to win glory within the Borrible community. The more names a Borrible has, the more he is respected by his peers. Most Borribles only get one name; some never get a name at all. When an expedition is mounted, first priority is always given to Borribles who have not yet won their names, making it difficult for an already named Borrible to gain another. Until a Borrible gains a name, he or she is referred to as "Mush", "whazzisname" "Fingy" or "You, Oi". To call a named Borrible by any of those monikers is an unforgivable insult and will result in blood being shed. Upon greeting a strange named Borrible one must always compliment him on his name and ask to hear the story of it one day. Stories are very important to Borribles. The story behind a name is as important (if not more) than the name itself, which is why Borribles who have lived extraordinary lives and had lots of adventures may sometimes only refer to themselves by their first name, or if they have earned their name on an adventure that became legendary, may never take another.
Three texts serve as the major texts of Borrible society: The Borrible Book of Proverbs, which contains their most famous sayings, The Borrible Book of Rules, which contains the laws of Borrible society, and The Book of Borribles, which contains stories of legendary heroes.
Borribles fight with knives and catapults. Some tribes that live close to the Rumble border have adopted the Rumblestick as a weapon. A Rumblestick is a long lance of wood with a sharp four inch nail or knife driven through one end. It can be used as a spear or as a dagger and quarterstaff combined.
The enemies of the Borribles are adults, Rumbles and other Borribles. Adult enemies fall into three categories: the authorities, who capture Borribles and clip their ears; Borrible Snatchers, who capture Borribles and keep them as slaves/thieves; and meffos, zombie-like drug addicts who are not above cannibalism. The Rumbles are giant lisping rodents who occasionally fight bloody wars with their Borrible neighbors.