Stonesteer Species in Rivendom | World Anvil


Tuqhud are the quintessential beasts of the desert. They are a cornerstone of nearly every culture of the Pāll-tanír, and nearly every tribe has bred a lineage of them to best suit their needs. Stout, strong, and hardy, tuqhud represent the qualities necessary to survive in the inhospitable environment of the Pāll-tanír. As such it is hardly surprising that among many of the Pāll-taníri peoples, it is considered customary to represent, somehow, the spirit of the tuqhud when embarking on a journey into the harsher parts of the desert to improve the chances of survival.
  Stonesteer or tuqhid (pl. tuqhud) in Arventiri, from the words tuq meaning "rock" and ahid meaning "beast of burden," stonesteer are a bovine species considered one of the most vital aspects of life in the Pāll-tanír, and even more so for the desert's many nomadic peoples who rely on them for transportation, food, and materials.

Basic Information


Stonesteer are relatively short, often less than four feet tall from the bottom of the foreleg to the top of the head, putting them at just the right height to eat the shrubs that they subsist on in their natural habitat. They are, however, quite stout, with a broad torso and thick legs underneath them. Their bones are also quite dense, their skulls capable of taking a battering if necessary. Fully fed and watered, Stonesteer bellies droop almost all the way to the ground as a result of fat-storing organs located on the ventral side of their bodies.   Stonesteer have a coarse coat of fur that helps prevent water loss and facilitates thermoregulation. Underneath, their skin is tough, leathery, and smooth, often requiring the use of specialized tools or incredibly sharp blades to pierce. While stonesteer coats are typically sandy to reddish-brown to best reflect the desert pavement of their natural habitats, underneath, their skin is a rather stony gray color.   With regard to secondary sexual characteristics, females develop udders similar to other bovine species with four and, rarely, six teats, at sexual maturity. Males, on the other hand, develop large, relatively flat horns that form a plate on the top of their skull which is used to butt heads during the mating season.

Genetics and Reproduction

During mating season, stonesteer males compete for females by butting heads and pushing back and forth until one male has been forced into a submissive posture by the other. Stonesteer horns are relatively flat except for at the ends, where they curve upward into points. These points interlock during butting and provide leverage for the pushing that follows. Once If the female finds the victor acceptable, the victor will mount her and breed her, often repeatedly over the course of the following weeks.   For a relatively large species, the gestation period of stonesteer is surprisingly short. Herds with pregnant females migrate to nearby oases as soon as the third or fourth month of gestation, as the pregnant females will be too burdened to move in the month before birth, five or six months after mating. Stonesteer females typically birth litters of three or four calves which are almost completely incapable of walking at birth.   Stonesteer calves grow at a rapid rate over the next two months, gradually depleting their mother's fat reserves while she is unable to properly get up and feed herself. At the end of the two month period, calves are typically able to eat solid food and no longer rely on their mother's milk, but still supplement their diets with it. At this point, the herd stays for about another month until the mothers are able to replenish their fat stores and then depart to their favored terrain once again.   After giving birth, stonesteer females are generally unable to bear more young for up to two years.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Stonesteer survive primarily on hardy shrubs found in the flatlands of the Pāll-tanír, and other vegetation that grows around oases. While classified as generally herbivorous, stonesteer have been known to consume meat opportunistically, particularly during lean times. They have also been reported to resort to cannibalism when there is not enough food around, but only if the stonesteer being consumed died as a result of starvation. They do not outright kill members of the herd for the purposes of survival.

Additional Information

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Stonesteer have eyes on the sides of their heads, allowing them to see almost 360 degrees around their bodies. However, unlike most herbivorous prey species in the Pāll-tanír, stonesteer possess neither an cute sense of smell nor hearing. This is due to a number of reasons: foremost is the natural habitat of the stonesteer. As they reside primarily in the flatlands of the Pāll-tanír, and they have good eyesight, they have relatively little to worry about with regard to surface predators. Because their skin is so thick and tough, venomous insects and reptiles are of little concern. Lastly, because of their size, none but the smallest of them can be carried away by predatory birds, and even the divebombing strategies employed by Windriders have only a low rate of success due to their dense skeletal structure and solid flesh.   Instead, stonesteer are incredibly sensitive to the movement of the earth underneath them. As it so happens, the natural habitat of the stonesteer is also the favorite hunting ground of Sandwurms. Being large and capable of breathing a poisonous mist, sandwurms are the only natural predator of stonesteer, and as such they have evolved to be able to tell when one is approaching from beneath.
Conservation Status
While there is little research into the status of the stonesteer population, sporadic surveys conducted by the Al Zeresh academy indicate that stonesteer populations are healthy and stable in their natural habitats. Scholars believe there is no reason to think this will change in the near future as hunting stonesteer is considered taboo.


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