This was written for a character that only got played a time or two. The GM asked me to use my personal experience of horses to come up with a culture for the 'centaurs' in her world, and this was the beginning results. It was a pity I was not able to game the half horse Revka longer... I rather liked the way the former lead mare was shaping up, personality-wise.
The Horse People
They call themselves 'half horses' or 'the Horse People,' since that's how they think of themselves, and they herd horses on the plains. They consider the term 'centaur' a bit rude -- something you'd call a barbarian. There's still a lot of ideological division on how to think of the current rampant territoriality some of the 'wild ones' or 'the insane' are showing. Those folks are often referred to as centaurs.
Herds are usually no more than 20 or so, more likely about 10ish. They consist of the lead stallion, a number of mostly related females of various ages and their pair-bonded stallions: perhaps a few of the lead stallion's brothers and/or uncles and/or sons. The actual bonding between stallions and mares tends to be quite strong, and there are also strong inter-female friendships. If a male is not the lead stallion he will have no more than one mare bonded to him, and he and his mare will be calmly accepted into the herd as long as they're willing to be a part of the group. The lead stallion may have more females or not, as the mood strikes him, but he will be very attached to all the mares he's bonded with.
The Horse People realize there are no lasting bonds between true horses, and the fact that the People bond for life is a bit of a source of pride to them. If one were to point out that a half-horse mare in heat will usually accept any stallion of the People, and such a stallion would usually be drawn inexorably to such a mare, one would get flattened ears and tails and very chilly stares -- even though it's true. Being in heat for the People is almost instinctively strong -- it takes a lot of will power to deny its call. Sex and love, to them, are two entirely separate things. They consider it a good thing that mares come into season only once a year, in the spring.
Like true horses, gestation is 11 months, and the foal nurses for about 9 months to a year. After that, the foals mature slightly more quickly than true humans, but far more slowly than the 4 years required by a true horse. A 10 to 14 year old half horse is considered an adult, and will live about as long as a human. However, the mares do not go through menopause. This also is considered a good thing, since the half horses do not bear as many young as humans, and have a slightly higher death rate due to their mode of life. This is one of the reasons half horses are so attached to their young. For an example of how strong this feeling is, think getting between a mother bear and her cubs in a threatening fashion -- in the case of the Horse People you'd have the entire herd enraged and on your tail.
Touching is very important to the Horse People. With touch, the People can tell a lot about each other. The tension of the muscles under the skin, the quality of the fur, whether there is lean muscle, glossy fat, or gaunt bone directly under the skin -- all these things let one know how the other is. How well is the other caring for themselves, are they not grooming well, are they feeling sick, has it been a rich summer, is your friend angry or worried or content -- touch can tell you all these things. They're a bit like any herd of horses, or like whales in a pod, if you've seen that. Their bodies tend to brush against each other a lot, they'll lean against each other on occasion, they'll rest their arms across the shoulders or back of a friend, that kind of thing. Children are especially cared for -- a foal running through the herd might have several People lightly brush fingers against her as she passed.
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Last Updated: Thurs Dec 31 1998