Herd Men

From: Guy Hoyle (ghoyle1@mail.airmail.net)
Date: Fri 29 Aug 1997 - 21:10:15 EEST

I sent this out a few days ago, but I haven't seen it show up yet.
If this is a duplicate, I apologize.


- ------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
I currently have the honor of playing a former Herd Man in Sandy's
campaign, and I have been following the Herd Man debates with
interest. I don't have much to say about Herd Man biology, but I
think that Herd Man biology and human biology must be nearly
identical. If there were differences, I think it would be much
easier for non-Praxians to say, "They just look human, but really
they're not like us at all. Pass me another rib, old boy---er, old

The fact that Herd Men are JUST LIKE US except for their placid,
beastlike intellect serves to underscore the horror of the situation
for strangers to the plains. That Herd Women look so much like
human women must be perversely tempting for young Praxian braves,
Oasis youths, and the sexually-repressed Yelmalions, of course; the
punishment for this probably involves watching the poor beast
being put to death, whatever happens to the human. Even more
horribly, humans and Herd Women are interfertile, even though the
product of such a union is a Herd Man whelp.

That Herd Men can derive nourishment from grass and the other
vegetation native to Prax is true, and is unmistakeably a
magical result of the Covenant of Waha, not a change in their
biology. However, I think that Herd Men must fare badly on such a
diet; dwelling near the comparative fertility of the Cradle valley,
they can find more nourishing food. I think that they must have at
least some meat in their diets as well, such as rats, small toads and
frogs, and the occasional fish. They are less adapted to life in
Prax than other species of herd beast; they are smaller than almost
every other herd beast, they mature more slowly, they give less milk,
they have less meat and hair, and you can get less leather per beast.
 They breed very slowly; their young must be carried by their mothers
for years. If the Morocanth cheated when the Covenant of Waha was
created, at least they got the leanest pickings.

I have had to consider the effects of living as a herd beast whn I
created Fido Two Big Clubs. He was a trained Herd Man much beloved
by his owner; the wealthy Morocanth was a regular winner when Fido
fought other trained herd men. His master's last act before death
was to free Fido from Waha's covenant. Playing Fido is very
different from most other characters I've played; he's almost
house-trained; he likes foul-smelling things, like durrians; he pines
for his mate, who is still a Herd Woman among the Morokanth. He has
a high intelligence, but few of the background skills that human
characters take for granted; he's very naive, but inquisitive about
the worlds and humans. He does not usually parry with his maces,
since he was tought to fight when he was a dumb beast; it's hard to
teach dumb beasts to parry. He knows that humans have families,
which he did not, so he got initiated into the ancestral cult of his
newfound friends, the player characters; he had no intelligent
ancestors to object. Fido's main worry is that his mate will be
eaten by the Morocanth before he gets back, but he doesn't fear or
hate the Morocanth, any more than cattle fear a herdsman. Fido has
even had scraps of mock pork before. "Hey!" he said happily at a
banquet in the East Isles one time. "This tastes just like Herd
Man!" The other characters were not appreciative.

I think that making the Herd Men less like humans detracts from their
uniqueness and appeal. When a thoughtful Bison Rider gazes at the
Herd Man he has just taken in a raid, he might be thinking, "But for
Waha's covenant, this might be me." Then he would sharpen his knife
and make the Peaceful Cut....

- ----------------------------------
Guy Hoyle (guyhoyle@iname.com)
Visit The Gamemaster's Bookshelf
and the PANGAEA Project!


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