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Minotaur

Strong in arm and ferocious in battle, Minotaurs are well versed in the ways of war. However, far from being brutish thugs, they are noble creatures who show far more decorum, loyalty and calm than most other humanoids you will come across.
Extract from Ingrid Aevardottir's Corpus Animalium.   Feared and respected in equal measure, Minotaurs are thought to be the hybrid creation of some deranged being from the Hellish Planes, who fused together cattle and an assortment of humanoids thousands of years ago. Since their creation, Minotaurs use their natural strength and affinity for battle to carve their way in life as mercenaries and soldiers across Ulskandar. However, rather than being ruthless, mindless killing machines, Minotaurs are on the whole calm and patient, which not only makes them stable to live and work alongside, but also makes them great allies if one can get them onside.

Basic Information

Anatomy & Morphology

In form, Minotaurs resemble large, heavily muscled humanoids, whose heads are in the form of a bull’s head. Their heads, faces, necks, shoulders, upper chest and arms are covered by fur, similar to what you would find on cattle, though their physical form is similar to what you would find in Human like humanoids. On average they stand between c.7-8ft/c.2-2.5m in height, though their height is also augmented by the size of the horns that they have on their heads. Both male and female Minotaurs have horns, which are generally similar to the horns one would find on a bull, though the horns of male Minotaurs will tend to be larger than those of females.

Growth Rate & Stages

Minotaurs mature quickly and have usually grown to their adult size by the time that they are 15 years old, after which point they are considered to be adults. Under the right conditions, Minotaurs can live for hundreds of years, and the Herd Shamans that lead Minotaur tribes frequently exceed 300 years of age. However, due to their propensity as a species to work in martial environments as mercenaries, guards and soldiers, most Minotaurs do not live beyond their hundredth year, but meet their end in combat before that.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Minotaur society is based around a tribal system, where families and individuals will belong to a larger group called a Herd. These Herds have their origins far back in the mists of time and is thought to be a variant of the nomadic tribes that other sapient species used to belong to before the advent of the Settlement Era. Minotaur Herds do not act like nations, nor do Minotaurs live, work or move with their Herd, but each Herd will maintain an ancestral Ritual Ground, on which the Herd Shaman (an individual who is the temporal and spiritual head of the Herd) will live with a small retinue of guards and disciples. The Ritual Grounds act as focal points for Herd gatherings when they occur, and have been used by Minotaurs in this way for countless generations. On the whole Minotaurs will tend to travel and live either as individuals, or as small family groups, and it is only at specific times that a Minotaur will be reunited with their Herd.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

As a species, Minotaurs are thought to have originated in the area that is now known as the ‘Free States’, with the most common theory being that they were created in the area around Prophet's Peak by a denizen of one of the Hellish Planes that strayed onto the Material Plane and toyed with the creatures it found there for its amusement. Whatever the truth is in this creation myth, since their appearance in Ulskandar, Minotaurs have spread all across the continent of Turoza, though they very seldom stray from its shores, though they have been known to appear on the continent of Tafran.   The Ritual Grounds that are linked to each Minotaur tribe are all in territory that is claimed as part of one of Turoza’s nations or kingdoms, rather than being recognised as Herd land in its own rights. On the whole, however, nations that have a Minotaur Ritual Ground in their territory will tolerate the influx of Minotaurs at certain parts of their ceremonial calendar, if for no other reason than that they do not wish to aggravate so many powerful individuals moving through their territory.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

In addition to their natural strength, Minotaurs have very good night vision, so good that they can live and work in near total darkness and this is bolstered by the fact that they also have a very keen sense of smell. As well as this, they are naturally very intuitive when it comes to directions and getting their bearings, and they can almost always find north or one of the other cardinal directions, something that has even been observed to work when a Minotaur us underground.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Minotaurs will tend to bear two names, one of which is in Common Speech and is generally drawn from the naming traditions of the other sapient species that the Minotaur was born amongst. A Minotaur’s second name will be in Abyssal, their native tongue, and are names that are only really used amongst their own kin, as non-Abyssal speakers find them very hard to pronounce. Like all words in Abyssal, these names will tend to have round open sounds such as Oumalo, the Abyssal word for light.

Average Technological Level

Minotaurs are very happy to utilise all forms of technology that they encounter, either in their travels, or that is available within the communities they settle in, however, they are best known for their skill in the production of martial weapons and armour. Minotaurs that do not take employment as soldiers or mercenaries can often be found working as armourers and weapon smiths, where they excel at producing implements of war.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

There are a number of traditions that all Minotaurs, regardless of the Herd that they belong to, will generally accept and practice, whether alone, in their immediate family group or within the wider community of their Herd.   5-year Ceremonial Calendar: Although Minotaurs recognise and use the calendar that almost all other sapient species use, especially in Turoza, they maintain their own ceremonial calendar that is linked to the activities of their Herd, and that dictates when they return to their Herd’s Ritual Ground. Three times within the 5 year cycle, Minotaurs will make their way back to their Ritual Ground for three specific festivals:   The first time, at the end of the first year of the cycle to celebrate the renewal of life, and it is during this time that Minotaurs born during the last cycle will be presented before the Herd, and where male Minotaurs will undergo unarmed, but brutal combat to win the favour of a female.   The second time, in the middle of the third year, Minotaurs will gather to honour their ancestors, and will bring the cremated remains of all those that have died in the last cycle to be interred at the Ritual Ground.   The third time, at the beginning of the fifth year, Minotaurs travel to their Ritual Ground to celebrate the impending closing of another 5-year cycle, and to pray for prosperity in the cycle to come. Many will also have their fortunes read by the Herd Shaman at this time, to see what the next 5-year cycle will have in store for them.   Incredible Loyalty: Minotaurs are renowned for being incredibly loyal, both to those that have employed them, and to those that they have befriended. It is this custom that has led to myth emerging amongst other sapient species of Minotaurs being vicious and cruel creatures that will slaughter parties of adventurers with no regard for their own safety, and ignoring any pleas for mercy. It is not that Minotaurs are inherently vicious or merciless, it is just that they will follow to the letter the orders of those who have gained their loyalty, which is one of the things that makes them so appealing to potential employers as guards and soldiers.   Dislike for Money: All Minotaurs have a natural distrust and dislike for money, which they view as being disingenuous. Rather than paying Minotaurs in coin, one is far more likely to win their trust by paying them in food, goods or services.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

As Minotaurs are larger in both height and bulk than most other humanoids, they tend to be treated with suspicion by those that have not come across them before. This view of them is not helped by the fact that Minotaurs are frequently depicted in folk tales and legends as being vicious, uncompromising beasts, whose main aim in life is to rend and destroy all that they come across, and then most likely feast on their victim’s flesh. However, this is far from the truth, as Minotaurs are naturally very good natured and gentle beings, whose reputation is mainly driven by legendary individuals who are infamous for their ferocity and cruelty. Those who get to know Minotaurs well, or who have a Minotaur living in their community will testify to the fact that they are a far cry from the blood thirsty abominations most people think of when Minotaurs spring to mind. To begin with, most Minotaurs are in fact vegetarian….   Having said that, a Minotaur’s natural strength, talent in the use of martial weapons and immense courage also means that they are rightly respected by those they come across, especially when encountered on the battlefield. Most Minotaurs find employment as mercenaries or full time soldiers in the armies and garrisons of Ulskandar, where they can earn a respectable living for themselves in communities dominated by other sapient species. A Minotaur’s innate patience and natural disinterest in money also means that they are popular choices for guarding treasuries and vaults, with the Guild of Coiners & Moneyers being particularly keen to hire Minotaurs to guard their vaults and minting facilities.

Lifespan
90 years (Can extend well past 300 in the right circumstances).
Average Height
c.7-8ft/c.2-2.5m.

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Cover image: by Chris Pyrah

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