"The power of the herd is strong. Alone, one centauri can travel only as swift as his hooves can carry him. But in a herd, we can cover in an hour ground that would take a human weeks.”
— The Shenshyn to a traveler
  Within the depths of the Enchanted Wood run the herds of the centauri, powerful creatures blessed by Drakala to run as swift as the wind. One of the thirteen sentient races of the Wood, their leader stands as one of the members of the Kingdom Council.


Centauri are quadrupedal beasts with the lower body and legs of a horse and the upper body of a human. Their two "halves" meet at their equine withers and their human waist. Their equine half has all the typical features of a horse: a coat of sleek but sturdy hair, hooved feet, and a tail of longer hair. Their upper half likewise has many of the same features as a typical human, though their ears are much closer to a horse's than a man's, and their hair forms more of a mane that continues down their spine. It is also not uncommon for their hands and lower arms to also bear a coat of horse hair.   Coloring varies widely from centauri to centauri, with endless combinations of skin color, hair color, and coat patterns. While it is common for a centauri's skin tone to be close to the color of its coat, completely mismatched bodies aren't a rare sight.  
Centauri anatomy is, unsurprisingly, a combination of human and equine. While their skeleton and musculature are mostly how one would expect them to be, their internal organs are quite different. A centauri's heart is located in its lower chest, and is slightly larger than an average horse's to account for the additional human mass. Their enormous lungs take up almost the entirety of their human torso, where the distance from them to the nose and mouth is shortest. The space where lungs would normally be in a horse is instead taken up by a second stomach and small intestine that helps what would normally be an herbivorous system process meat.  

Centauri share many of the same reproductive traits as horses. Gestation takes between 12 and 13 months, usually resulting in one foal. As in horses, twins are possible but rare, and present dangers to both themselves and the mother. Twin foals are usually quite small, and it isn't uncommon for one, if not both, to die before they take their first steps. In an effort to avoid this, mares pregnant with twins are forbidden from almost all normal activities.

Like horses, mares have seasonal heats during the spring and summer. Depending on when she conceives, a mare will usually give birth between late spring and early fall. On rare occasions, a mare may not get pregnant until much later in the year, leading to birth in winter. Winter births are especially dangerous for the foal, and very few born at this time survive.

Mares with foals generally don't go through their seasonal heat again until their child is an adolescent. Since a mare's breeding cycle usually stops between 40 and 45 years old, most don't have more than three or four foals in their lifetime.

Genetics are extremely important to centauri. Unlike in humans, inherited genes are much more apparent in centauri. Strong or fast parents produce strong or fast young. Conversely, weaker parents produce smaller or weaker offspring. As for coloring, a foal's human skin and hair is often similar to their parents', though their equine coat can come out completely different.



At birth, centauri are smaller than average horse foals, weighing between 50 and 200 lbs. depending on parentage. Foals nurse for 3-6 months, after which they are weaned and start eating the same foods adults do. Around this time, they usually begin talking as well, and by two years, their ability to speak is fully developed.


At a year old, a foal's growth rate explodes. They gain most of their height from the age of 1 to 5, and many find themselves stumbling over new inches from day to day. Cognitive growth explodes as well, but at a rate closer to that of human children.


By the age of five, most foals have found their stride and are allowed to join the herd on hunts. This is also the time when young centauri start filling out and developing their adult musculature. However, it isn't until closer to ten years that their mental state catches up with their physical growth. Until it does, they are still considered children by the adults, and rarely allowed outside the company of their mother. This is one of the most important stages in a centauri's life as their development during adolescence will determine how easily they gain status as an adult.


Centauri are considered fully grown by the age of twelve, and are sexually mature by the age of fourteen. Once they reach this stage, they are expected to cooperate fully with the herd. Their size, strength, speed, and agility are all used as measuring sticks to determine their status as a potential mate. This combined with the skills they gain during adolescence determines their overall status in the herd.


Between the ages of 40 and 50, a centauri's ability to breed is drastically reduced, and they are considered elders. This change is commonly marked by gray hairs in their mane and tail, aches and/or pain in their joints, and slower movement overall. Elders may continue running and hunting with the herd for a time, but eventually retire to their foaling grounds to take on less strenuous tasks of caring for and teaching the young. Centauri rarely live past 60.

Centauri are omnivorous. Their diet consists primarily of root vegetables, wild berries, and game, all things that can be found easily within the Wood. At their foaling grounds, they have clay ovens and firepits where more complex foods like breads can be made. Cooking and foraging are usually done by mares and hunting by stallions, but all centauri are expected to be able to contribute where needed.  


Centauri have an oral culture, and thus have no written language of their own. Few bother to learn how to read or write, and those that do use Elven or Wuldfraeli. Their spoken language, called Shenjaya, is a combination of equine vocalizations and Elven-like words. Because of the unique sounds they make, very few non-centauri are able to speak their language. Most centauri are taught Elven during their foalhood so that they can communicate with other peoples in the Wood.  
A centauri's sense of smell and hearing are significantly higher than that of humans, though their vision is much more impeded in darkness. Taste and touch are roughly the same, though the hairs of their coat offer them an advantage in feeling changes in their immediate environment.  
Unlike most sentients of the Wood, centauri do not possess the ability to use thought-speech. They do, however, have a much greater sense of body language than humans, almost to the point of being able to have full conversations without uttering a word.  
Magic is almost a foreign concept for centauri. They rarely possess any sort of magical skill, and those that do are severely limited in what they can do with it. The most centauri have been able to do with magic is a form of Elemental magic that allows them to sense changes in the earth and air around them, as well as some basic Life magic. On rare occasion, a centauri displays a mild gift of foresight that gives them heightened instincts for danger.  
Though they generally lack magical abilities, centauri have one notable gift that no other species in the world possess; Shifting. While most believe their ability to teleport is due to living in the Wood, centauri are able to use this gift in any location as long as their herd is of sufficient size. Shifting requires a minimum of ten centauri, and the more there are, the farther they can Shift. To Shift, the herd gathers closely together and builds up to their full speed. Whoever is leading the herd begins the Shift by envisioning the place they desire to be. Most of the time, that place is no farther than they can see. But if the entire centauri population runs together, they can cross the whole of the Wood in seconds if they wished. To those lucky few who get the chance to ride with a herd, Shifting feels as though their body is being stretched for leagues before snapping into place in the new location.  



The centauri are led by the mare that has proven herself the strongest, swiftest, and smartest in a series of contests with her fellows. The competition to determine a new Shenshyn takes place every year just before the annual mating contests. Eligible mares are any in good health and without foals under the age of five. After the contest is over, the herd's strongest stallions choose the Shenshyn from those still standing. The winner is expected to lead her people wisely and fairly. Though it is possible for there to be a new Shenshyn every year, it is rare for the current one to be beaten unless she is approaching her elder years. On average, there is a new Shenshyn every 10-15 years.  
Though centauri have no concept of social classes, they do rank each other based on age, strength, and skills. Stallions constantly compete with each other in both formal and informal challenges. Mares and stallions that are acknowledged by their peers as superior are deferred to by others. This system allows for a constantly fluctuating flow of rankings, and though it is difficult to prove one's superiority, it can be very easy to be brought down.  


Centauri beauty is almost exclusively based on health and form, features that weigh heavily in desirability as a mate. For centauri, it is all about producing strong, healthy foals. They have no concept of makeup, and any ornamentation they wear is used more as symbols of accomplishment or status than for beauty. Desirable mares have sleek and well-maintained coats and hair, well-developed muscles, and ample breasts for nursing foals. Likewise, handsome stallions have defined muscles both in their equine and humanoid halves, healthy hair and coats, and good stamina. Overweight centauri are considered slow and lazy, and thus, poor breeders. Those with skin conditions or dull coats are viewed as less healthy or weak.  
Unlike many human ethnicities, centauri view males and females on equal footing. To the stallions, strong mares are integral for the healthy growth of a herd, and to the mares, stallions are essential for providing protection and food when mares are with foal. While mares do tend to keep to more "domestic" tasks, they can be just as strong and fast as stallions, and mares who die in childbirth are regarded with the same honor as a stallion who dies in battle. Mares who successfully birth healthy twins are considered particularly strong and highly desirable as mates.   On extremely rare occasion, a male foal is born with a more effeminate form. These colts are called shenvana, and regarded as a gift from Aurial. Shenvana tend to shy away from contests with other males and prefer quiet activities such as foraging, weaving, and cooking. While they usually fall short physically, they have higher intellects than other centauri. Reading and writing is easy for them to learn, and they are also much more likely to possess magical gifts than their fellows.  
As a primarily nomadic race, centauri have little need for anything that does not assist them with survival. They do not use coin, instead trading for supplies with barter. In their eyes, wealth is measured in the health and quantity of foals produced, rather than any material wealth.  



Centauri wear little to no clothing, as to them it is nothing but a hindrance to running. Mares wear chest wraps for the sake of modesty and comfort while running, but otherwise centauri "clothing" is limited to harnesses for weapons and supplies. In winter, however, they will wear specially-tailored coats to keep their upper halves - and therefore, lungs - warm.

Despite their lack of clothes, centauri do wear ornamentation. These can vary from earrings, dyed feathers added head or wrist bands, beaded necklaces or bracelets, and even tattoos. Ornamentation is most commonly used as a visual representation of a centauri's strength or skills, though styles tend to run in families.



 Centauri artwork is very limited. Their main forms of artistic representation are in woven blankets, satchels, and baskets, as these are things they carry with them regularly. The patterns on these items are primarily geometric, as such designs are easy to use with different materials. Many centauri also add a symbol of their lineage to their items.


 As centauri have an oral culture, they have no need for books or literature. Some of their stories - those regarded with special significance - are woven into tapestries using symbols and images. Such tapestries are rare and kept in safe locations such as ritual or foaling grounds, where they are far less likely to be damaged.


 Centauri are primarily nomadic and have no permanent structures. The tents at their ritual and foaling grounds are made of sturdy but flexible hide that can be taken down and transported easily. These tents are often painted with the same kind of geometric patterns and symbols that appear in their weaving.

Centauri have a mostly nomadic lifestyle. Pregnant or foaling mares stay at the foaling grounds with their young and a few centauri elders, where sturdy hide tents are set up to protect against foul weather. While they rarely move, foaling grounds are also temporary camps that can be moved at a moments notice. The rest of the centauri travel through the Wood in herds of a few dozen to several hundred, and due to their ability to Shift, they can travel to anywhere in the Wood in a matter of days.  
Centauri weapons and tools are primitive compared to other races. They care nothing for technological advancement, and what they can't make on their own they are usually willing to trade for with the elves and wüldfrael.  

Despite their humanoid half, centauri do not consider themselves human whatsoever, and being referred to as or treated like a human is extremely insulting. They also consider the idea of falling in love with a human disgusting and unnatural. Their story of Veeda & Roderik is told as a warning to youngsters drawn to the romanticism of adventure.

Their biggest taboo, however, is abandoning the herd. If one willingly leaves the herd without been sent away, they are shunned and treated as though they don't exist.




Centauri courtship and mating is a relatively simple affair compared to other races. Every year at the end of winter, they travel to their ritual grounds for the annual mating competitions. Stallions compete against each other in displays of speed, strength, and agility in an effort to prove who has the best genes and would therefore be a good mate. At the end of the competition, mares expecting to enter their mating season choose their mate from the competitors.

Mates usually only stay together for one season at a time, though some stay together longer if the mare doesn't take in the first season.

During their later adolescence, usually between the ages of 10 and 12, foals that have proven themselves capable are invited on a hunt. During this First Hunt, they are expected to successfully bring down an animal that provides enough meat for their entire hunting party as well as some extra to take back to the herd. Once a foal succeeds on a hunt, they are accepted as an adult in society.  
Like elves and wüldfrael, centauri believe in giving their bodies back to nature. When a centauri dies, a quiet ceremony is held to acknowledge their passing, during which certain customs are held depending on how they died. Centauri who fall in battle are commemorated with an engraved stone laid at the site of their death. Mares who die in childbirth are similarly marked in a communal “graveyard” near the foaling grounds. Victims of old age have their hearts removed and burned in a ceremonial fire so that their strength returns to the wind god. Centauri believe Aurial will then bless new foals with the strength of their elders.

Regardless of how the centauri died, their body is transported to one of four “spirit grounds”, large, communal, open-air graveyards. There, the deceased is laid in the open among the bones of other centauri. Though done with reverence, they are placed in a spot that is easy to get to. In this manner, the centauri’s flesh can provide food for other beasts of the Wood, and their bones will eventually be buried by time.
"I saw a centauri grave once. Eerie place. Thousands of bones piled up. Gave me the shivers. I don't know how they can just leave their dead out in the open like that, but I suppose that's horse-men for you."
— a human traveler

by Kaari13
Table of Contents

50-60 years
Average Height

15-18 hands at waist/withers

19-24 hands at shoulder

Average Weight
1000 - 2400 lbs.
Average Length
8 ft.
Geographic Distribution

Centauri are fully sentient.

Average intelligence:

While few centauri can read or write, they have the same mental capacity as humans, though they do not possess the ability to utilize thought-speech.


As with all sapient races, centauri acknowledge the supremacy of Malorel. And as beasts, they place Drakala above all others. After her, they revere Aurial for granting them the gift of speed and Shifting. In their few depictions of the Wind God, Aurial appears as either a mare or stallion with a brilliant white coat, golden skin, and a silver mane and tail. Aurial features prominently in their stories and legends, and many of their funerary customs evolved from their reverence of the wind. Other gods they focus their worship on are Florian, the Green Lord, Thegus, God of the Earth, and Articus, God of the Hunt.

Centauri worship ranges from ritualistic hunts, prayers at small shrines, and even a few festival-like gatherings at their ritual grounds. Centauri also observe some Elven celebrations, such as the astrin fael and Festival of Florian's Grace. As an additional ritual honoring Drakala, every twenty years, the centauri stallions all gather to take part in the Wild Hunt.

Veeda & Roderik
The Wild Hunt   The Enchanted Wood   Drakala, the Queen of Beasts   The Shenshyn   The Kingdom Council

Cover image: by ArtTower on Pixabay


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