Re: The Steeds of Prax

From: Jonathan Coxhead (jonathan@doves.demon.co.uk)
Date: Tue 31 Mar 1998 - 13:50:57 EEST


   A while ago, I asked about the 6 Great Steeds of Prax, and the 22 Lesser
Steeds (mentioned in _King_of_Sartar_). No-one answered, so I thought I'd
make something up.

   I know least about Eanjak (mentioned in Drastic #Prax, maybe?). Any
clues?

The 6 Great Steeds of Prax

      Bison Sturdy, unstoppable, much like their riders, who
                     have an exceptional fondness for the cult of
                     Storm Bull. Rumours of a bisonburger concession
                     in Pavis are untrue.
      Bolo Lizard Ridden by the Bolo Lizard Folk of the Ten
                     Independent Nations of Prax. The lizards have
                     long, thin necks and long, thin legs, so it's not
                     surprising that anyone who chooses to use a bolo
                     while astride one has to be an expert.
      High Llama Their height gives their riders an enormous
                     advantage in combat, and these are the most
                     feared of the steeds of Prax. Often, the owner
                     will keep all his or her possessions on the
                     beast, and stay astride for weeks at a time. This
                     may be because most tribes have no ladder.
      Impala Numerous, fast-breeding, small and agile, and that's
                     just the riders. Though they are rumoured to be
                     able to attack from the safety of distance using
                     bows and arrows, in practice they normally do
                     this shortly before disappearing before an
                     onrushing stampede of bison.
      Rhino Ridden by one the Ten Independent Nations. Though
                     rumoured to be short-tempered, in fact the rhino
                     is at least as intelligent as any other beast,
                     and is well served in combat by its armoured
                     hide. However, a Rhino Rider's attempt at
                     Peaceful Cut is rarely successful.
      Sable Essentially a larger form of the impala, a sable
                     rider has a special form of saddle that sits much
                     further back on the beast than is necessary with
                     other steeds. The necessity for this is obvious
                     once you've seen one.

The 22 Lesser Steeds

      Auroch Smaller and stringier than the type of cow herded by
                     the Pol Joni, and more able to run away, this is
                     the native Praxian breed. It has never been popular.
      Bellow Beast Easily found by following the distinctive cry,
                     though the effort is usually wasted. Unable to
                     carry much because of its spindly legs, and a slow
                     runner because of its long weak neck, if cornered
                     the bellow beast bursts into tears. Not much
                     meat, either.
      Brontosaur Herds of Brontosaur wander nearby Dragon Pass,
                     and some have been seen by Praxian nomads, who
                     are normally quite surprised by this. After they
                     work out how to actually kill a brontosaur, a lot
                     of very fat nomads can be seen sleeping in the
                     long grass, and the clan can then take a year or
                     so off from hunting and develop other aspects of
                     their culture.
      Chaos Herd Normally seen only after a misguided attempt to
                     gain divine help at an oasis, these beasts are
                     left well alone unless they threaten to lead
                     their wake of destruction over the lifegiving
                     oasis. Then you can hear many shamans going
                     "Shoo! Shoo!" and "Down, Shep!"
      Clawfoot A single herd of these wanders the plains, leaving
                     some much more threatening-seeming footprints.
                     The wise nomad recognises these for what they
                     are, and follows; the unwise takes them for a
                     herd of giant eagles, and goes the other way.
      Cow Herded by the Pol Joni, so shunned by everyone else.
      Deer Too small for most nomads to ride, but too large for
                     the pygmy impala riders, these animals are
                     sometimes seen in the company of the Silver Deer.
      Demibird Ridden throughout Dragon Pass by Dragonewts, wild
                     herds of demibirds are sometimes seen in
                     Prax. There isn't much meat on them though, and
                     they are very difficult to break to the saddle.
      Eanjak Sons of Genert, now rarely seen.
      Goat Herds of goat are most often seen in the less flat
                     areas, such as Tada's High Tumulus, Dwarf Knoll,
                     and the gorge sides between Agape and the Zola
                     Fel River. They are often followed by bands of
                     broo, for obvious reasons.
      Herd Man Only ridable by pygmies, too slow for transport,
                     not much meat on them, only one stomach each.
                     Pretty hopeless, really.
      Horse Ridden by the Pol Joni, who are the only nomadic
                     tribe that do not eat their steeds (or ride their
                     herds, whichever). Ridden AND eaten by the Pure
                     Horse Tribe, who are not to be found any more.
      Longnose The noses of these beasts are specially equipped for
                     pulling branches off trees, so they aren't often
                     seen on the chapparal of Prax.
      Lost Herd These beasts are rarely seen, possibly because
                     their humps enable them to wander for long periods
                     over the desert without stopping for food or
                     water. In consequence, they don't really care
                     where they are.
      Herd Morocanth Though Morocanth are normally respected as
                     fellow-nomads, there has been an occasional
                     accident with a "fix INT" spell, resulting in an
                     adequate herd beast. They are normally seen in
                     ones and twos among the herds of the more
                     agressive clans.
      Nosehorn A bit too much like a horse for anyone to take
                     seriously, when a herd wanders past, it is used
                     like any other till it goes its own way again.
      Ostrich Ridden by the Ostrich Riders, one of the Ten
                     Independent Nations. Sometimes herded by other
                     tribes, but ridable only by pygmies. Farmed in
                     Sun County, and you can buy shares in the farms
                     in the seedy parts of Pavis.
      Pig Kept by Oasis Folk for food, and occasionally
                     ridden by a youngest son off to seek his fortune
                     in the wide world, these are scorned by the
                     desert nomads who are liable to mistake them for
                     tuskers (or chaos boars), and kill them on
                     sight. Very tasty though.
      Plains Elk These do prefer the cold, but perhaps their low
                     numbers can be attributed to the fact that they
                     are visible from MILES off, because of their
                     enormous and distinctive head ornaments.
      Sky Herd When Prax was a dense forest, a herd of beasts
                     with long necks nibbled the high leaves of
                     the trees. When Oakfed burned the forest down,
                     they stretched their necks so far that they ended
                     up in the sky. Or so my grandma told me.
      Unicorn Ridden by the Unicorn Women, an Independent
                     Nation. Fast, intelligent, armed in their own
                     right, and untamable. Best left alone.
      Zebra Ridden by the Pavis Survivors, and (though easily
                     mistaken for horses) tolerated because of their
                     disguise of stripes. Strangely though, if they
                     are captured, sometimes the stripes come off.

/| Jonathan Coxhead Philips Semiconductors
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