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Trophy Hunting

The Stenza differentiate between hunting for food, which is planned to all get-out and relegated to Hunting Season, and trophy hunting, a chiefly status-driven activity, although opinions have been known to vary based on the items taken and how they are placed. Trophies are displayed on the face, facilitated by the lines and creases that develop on the Stenza face as young as half a year old. (On that note, pups may take "trophies" from certain "kills", usually inanimate objects; this is typically regarded as an adorable practice behavior, and children will learn appropriate and inappropriate trophies over time.)

History

Trophy hunting as a formalized practice was first utilized by individual Stenza clans as an intimidation tactic in their various on-and-off wars with one another. The best warriors frequently also had the most impressive facial and decorative trophies, as can still be seen when one goes far enough back into the Caves of the Dead.   However, following the Battle with the Stone Menace and unification of Stenza clans, trophy hunting began to evolve. The first known Leadership Challenge, undertaken by Stowua, involved the return of the beak of a sea creature that still has yet to be identified. This has set a precedent that put less emphasis on intimidation and more emphasis on demonstration of skill and bravery.   While the precedent has been upheld by most, there are a few who simply take trophies from whomever they happen to kill. Debate on the topic has waxed and waned from furious to a dirty secret among the Stenza that they would rather not address. The Earth Fandom has kept the flame going since its inception, especially as far as the practice of hunting humans is concerned.   Although it is rare, some targets have been known to escape trophy status, gaining their freedom through various means. Ta'zhen is arguably the most notable example, but Karl Wright (T'zim-Sha's target) also deserves special mention. These edge cases are frequently used by both sides of the issue to make their points.

Execution

The ideal trophy comes from a particularly challenging beast to kill, which is not also a prey animal. Alien fauna are considered perfect for this, and many Stenza have claws, fangs, or other small bones from such animals carefully placed into their faces. (Notable exceptions are Ta'zhen, proud owner of a pair of mandibles from an Azorian bug, and Ed'ha, proud owner of a mosaic worth of exotic teeth and bones. On the other end of the bell curve is T'zim-Sha, with an estimated eighty human teeth of unknown provenance scattered randomly across his features.)   The act of trophy collecting is done kneeling, as with certain hunting rituals and funerary rites. A trophy can be any size and any part of the animal (or person) in question, but teeth, claws, and equivalents where they can be found are most common. The second most common category, especially in wartime, is the weapon of a particularly challenging opponent. Larger trophies, such as weapons, are usually worn on the clothes, especially the Ceremonial Uniform, or, if even that is impractical, displayed in special cases. (A modified trophy case, a purpose-built stasis chamber, is used to house the captives of successful Leadership Challenges.)

Components and tools

Stenza strength is enough to break open the faces of most creatures with relative ease, but hard carapaces require more thought and effort (leading some to believe that kills with these features are more "worth it" than the "easy" human targets preferred by others).

Participants

The principle dynamic is between hunter and prey, and the ideal situation involves weeks of patience and intensive planning and observation. In some cases the scenario also involves "finding a needle in a haystack", or solving a tricky problem with few to no resources to demonstrate cunning and adaptability.

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