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Tatanka Roundup

A Winter Celebration

In the summer months, herds of dark Tatanka roam the rolling hills of the Cradle of Clay, often not straying far from the villages that care for them. Their space to roam is hundreds of miles, stretching to the edges of the Clay Giants' homeland, even to the northern reaches against the chill of the Neither Tundra. These animals roam wild and free, but their shepherds keep an ever-watchful eye on their herds. The Tatanka need little help against the predators of the Cradle of Clay, but it is the unseen things that prey on the great beasts that are the most deadly.   Even with their thick coats, the winter months bring dangers for the Tatanka herds. Disease and lack of shelter during the snowy months spell death for the older and youngest amongst the herds, thinning those that are meant to build the herd to strength. This is where the Clay Giants step in, creating another tradition surrounding their love of their animals and the crops they raise. As the days turn cold and the snows begin to fall, the herds of Tatanka are gathered in great corrals with plentiful shelter in the safety of hollows and valleys that do not feel the effects of the winters like the rest of the Cradle of Clay does.   The yearly Tatanka Roundup is an event planned, prepared, and looked forward to for months, minds turning to the winter event as soon as the last hours of Harvest come to an end. Coordination across the Cradle of Clay is paramount, people from every bit of the area coming together to protect the herds that give them so much life. For millennia, little has stopped this event from happening, not even the horrors and battles of the Eldritch War stopped the necessity of this event. For many, the Tatanka Roundup brings the same electric excitement of the Vollan Rue, although with much less bloodshed on the part of those participating.  

The Roundup

The Roundup has occurred since the first appearance of the Tatanka as the new breed had some distinct differences from its ancestors. While the giant Tante was not susceptible to the cold and sometimes harsh winters of the Cradle of Clay, the Tatanka required shelter to stave off the cold and help prevent illnesses. Certain diseases became prevalent with the Tatanka that never existed with the Tante, such as Wasting Disease which would cause the horns and hide of the animal to begin to rot while the animal was still alive.   Keeping a close eye on the herds during the winter months became extremely important, as well as allowing an opportunity to grain feed and vaccinate for the various diseases that could easily be stopped or cleared up through the use of specific potions or poultices. Through stewardship in the winter months, the herds become much stronger and healthier, sustaining themselves so that some of the herd can be hunted throughout the year. The Clay Giants see this roundup as a requirement of proper animal husbandry.  


Bison by RiverFang
Tatanka are large creatures descendant from the giant Tante that once roamed the Cradle of Clay. Breeding efforts of the Clay Giants led to the first Tatanka.
The Roundup often takes months to prepare for, with preparations beginning as soon as Harvest is finished. Corrals built in Tantes Hollow to hold the herds must be maintained and any issues repaired before the roundup can begin. Watering and feeding areas are established throughout the large area, usually at a spread of about ten Tatanka to each station. This keeps the herd from fighting amongst itself for sustenance during the winter months when their roaming area is greatly diminished.   Another key part of the roundup involves the horses that the Clay Giants use. These horses are raised and bred in the Cradle of Clay to be slightly larger and stockier than horses found elsewhere in Vóreios to handle the size of the Clay Giants. Throughout the months leading up to the roundup, the horses are trained around the smaller herds of Black Stout that are often kept in large pastures near villages. Here, the horses can get used to other large creatures as well as the movements of herding. Only the horses that do the best with the Black Stout are chosen for the roundup.  


Once preparations are complete and the time has come for the roundup, large numbers of Clay Giants from across the Cradle of Clay saddle up and begin the process of moving the many herds to Tantes Hollow. This can sometimes take days or weeks to accomplish as all Tatanka are counted and all stragglers are accounted for. Once all animals are corralled, the celebrations really begin.   Much like Harvest, all people of the Cradle of Clay have some part in the celebration,
whether it be the preparation, the actual roundup, or the celebrations after the fact. As all Tatanka are accounted for, a week of celebration begins, including feasts, storytelling, dancing, and more. During this time, vaccinations for the Tatanka will begin while food and drink are continuously served in a barn near the edge of Tantes Hollow. This is where the herd's caretakers will spend the winter, but for now, it is a place of constant celebration.
Tatanka Roundup
Bison Roundup by RiverFang
The goal of the Tatanka Roundup is to limit the roaming space of the Tatanka during the winter months to provide greater safety for the herds. The Clay Giants provide many shelters, plentiful food, and vaccines for many of the common diseases that would wipe out large parts of the herd if left unchecked.
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Animal Vaccinations

The Clay Giants are one of the few races that handle animal illnesses strictly with potions, poultices, and salves instead of magic. Those in the Human Empire have offered assistance during this time of year to cast spells, but the Clay Giants prefer natural remedies that can be made on a moment's notice.   The Tatanka are the largest group of animals that get vaccinated, but these animals are integral to the livelihood and diet of the Clay Giants. Simple potions brewed with ingredients found in the Cradle of Clay can cure nearly any ailment in these creatures.


Author's Notes

This event is heavily inspired by the roundup of bison done every fall in Custer State Park in South Dakota. This roundup allows for vaccinations and checkups that have kept the herd in the park relatively disease free since the 1980s.   Enjoy the lore in this article? Discuss it in the Lore Discussion board!

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3 Dec, 2021 21:11

Nice article and fun that it is inspired by real life! Also interesting to have vaccination in a fantasy setting which you don't see that often. It seem like they they good care of them :)

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7 Dec, 2021 23:22

I love this. I can see why they look forward to the event every year. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
11 Dec, 2021 07:47

It's been years since I heard that name and it brings back warm memories...   I love the number of details you weaved into this. There is a tonne of history behind the event, threats awaiting the herd and a connection/cooperation between Tatanka and the Clay Giants. I really would like to think there is more to it than just people tending to their stock.   Did the Clay Giants stop the breeding of Tante after the first Tatanka were raised or is this a process that continues?

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