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Shattered Kingdoms
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Centaur Tribes

An exerpt by Halth of the Idatsa-teh...

__________

"Centaur culture is centered around the tribe, the village or camp, and the family. Many outsiders might take this to mean that we are a primitive society, but in reality these associations are loose compared to those of other cultures, and for this reason our civilization has been more flexible and adaptable. At any rate, tribal affiliation plays an important part in our initial assessments of each other because, as in other societies, each group's traditional and historical roles give rise to generalizations and stereotypes, both favorable and not so favorable.

The five centaur tribes are Yazze, Desapva, Mel'nas, Hostia, and Idatsa-teh. These tribes are joined together in an alliance we call the Centaur Federation, and each tribe can call on all the others for help in a moment's notice should our race come under attack.

While there is frequent tension between two or more of the tribes, one of the main tenets of every tribe is that Centaurs must all help one another in times of need, no matter what their differences. Oral history and ancient texts point to more than one time in history when our race nearly destroyed itself by engaging in internal strife while a common enemy killed us off. It is said that in ancient times, one whole tribe, the Aru, was destroyed as a result of brutal infighting. Recognizing that disunity is a major weakness to be overcome, our people now put aside their arguments when facing a common enemy. The current state of peace between the Centaur Federation and the outside world should not be mistaken for a weakness, however. It is common knowledge that one of our people in simple hand to hand combat with a human, dwarf, gnome, elf, drow, halfling, or sprite (if the sprite can be caught) will be able to quickly render the said humanoid into a meaty paste. Thus, centaurs with weapons, armor, and magic are truly a force to be respected.

We live not in tribal groups per se, but rather in groups of families that form a village or camp. These villages and camps are usually dominated by one tribe in number, but in no other way. Still, we refer to these camps by the name of the tribe that dominates its population--a "Hostia camp" or a "Yazze village" can have members of any other tribe living in it. There is a high degree of intermarriage between tribes, especially during the seasonal Centaur Federation gatherings. Membership in a tribe is matrilineal--the child of a couple belongs to the tribe of the mother, though ties to the father's tribe are carefully maintained.

Especially important to our culture is our origin and the consequences for centaur religion. All centaurs but those few who completely reject their heritage hold the Goddess of Nature to be our creator and patron. Even centaurs who are formal members of other religions (and this is not frowned upon) pay homage to the Lady Reina at least once a year. Centaurs worship the immortals they follow in a true and steadfast manner, preferring to offer heartfelt prayers or small but meaningful offerings rather than memorized sayings and mechanical rituals.

In keeping with our origins and our preference to live in the wild, we try not to stay in urban areas unless we have business there. The accomodations in humanoid cities are often unsatisfactory, and unthinking people often assume that we wish to sleep in a barn and eat hay, as if we were merely horses. Matters are made more difficult by the small size of humanoid buildings. As well as causing some of us claustrophobia, it is difficult to maneuver oneself without knocking something or someone over..."

__________

There are five centaur tribes. Each is unique and has characteristic generalities to identify them.

  • Tribe Desapva
    This is the tribe that is the most distinguishable from other centaurs by appearance alone--Desapva have dark brown skin and jet black hair, pelt, and tail. However, a high rate of albinism in this tribe results in fully one third of all Desapva children being born with snow white skin, pelt, hair, and tail, and pink- or red- colored eyes. Many Desapva possess outrageously sharp intellects. To make matters still more complicated, Tribe Desapva has the misfortune of having its members be more prone to insanity than those of the other tribes. While there are many examples of loving, law-abiding, and sane Desapva centaurs, other centaurs are wary when making initial contact with another member of this tribe. Together with the Yazze, the Desapva have the largest proportional number of magic users and healers in their population.
  • Tribe Hostia
    The Hostia centaurs generally have sandy or blonde hair and golden pelts, but no other distinguishing features except for their slightly gracile builds. This tribe is very suspicious and and defensive in its dealings with other species, almost never allowing outsiders knowledge of where their camps are. The Hostia are by far the most skilled hunters in a race of hunter-warriors. Hostia children are taken on the hunt as young as is possible, sometimes within just a few weeks after their birth. During hard times, Tribe Hostia hunters make themselves available to other tribes as hunters and survival trainers, thus increasing the food supply and survival skills of the entire Centaur Federation.
  • Tribe Idatsa-teh
    Idatsa-teh centaurs are identifiable by their "paint" or spotted pelts and their blue, grey, green, or violet eyes. Tribe Idatsa-teh is classified as the ruling tribe of the Centaur Federation, though in centaur civilization's loose hierarchy, leadership holds less prestige and responsibility than it does in other cultures. Famed for their diplomatic and mediation skills, Idatsa-teh are often invited to settle disputes not only between other tribes but between other races. They are the most frequently involved in the affairs of the non-centaur world, and therefore serve as conduits for information. Everyone, except perhaps some Hostia, maintain contact, if not blood relations, with members of Tribe Idatsa-teh in order to keep abreast of important events. Centaurs of this noble tribe do not have any prescribed profession. Instead, Idatsa-teh is a "Jack-of-all-trades" tribe, its members divided equally between the professions accepted by centaur society.
  • Tribe Mel'nas
    The members of this tribe are generally indistinguishable from members of other tribes except for their tendency towards red or auburn hair. Mel'nas have the sturdiest, most impressive physiques of all centaurs, combining brute strength with beauty. They also have a reputation of being gentle, reliable, and reasonable...unless they've lost their temper. No one with any sense at all wants to pick a fight with a Mel'nas centaur. The Mel'nas have earned the trust and respect of many bands of elves and sprites through their senses of humor, their love of song, and their trustworthiness. This tribe has few members who practice the arts of magic or healing.
  • Tribe Yazze
    The Yazze are easily distinguised from others of their species by their tendency to have olive skin, a chestnut pelt, and black hair and tail. They are generally of a slighter, more delicate build than most other centaurs, but much faster on their feet and with lightning-quick reflexes. This is the only tribe that can truthfully claim to have the full trust of Tribe Hostia. Centaur lore places this tribe as the oldest--the one that Nature created first. As such, even their young seem to have been gifted with the wisdom of age. Along with Tribe Desapva, they have the largest proportional number of mages and clerics in their population.

-- by Indigo


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