This nomadic bovine species roams the galaxy in extremely protective herds. Their bulky strength and defensive instinct make them fierce mercenaries.
Agility 3D+l: brawling 5D, firearms 4D+2, running 3D+2
Mechanical 2D+1: gunnery 3D+ 1, shields 3D
Knowledge 2D: intimidation 3D
Perception 3D: command 4D
Strength Damage: 3D
Fate Points: 0
Character Points: 2
Body Points: 25
Wound levels: 3
Disadvantages: Cultural Unfamiliarity (R1), insular society and view others wirh suspicion; Devotion (R3), to herd; Prejudice (R1), +2 to difficulties while interacting with meat- eaters; Quirk (R2), claustrophobia aboard confined starships sets in after six months
Advantages: Contacts (R1), with herd; Size: Large (R1), scale value 1
Special Abilities: Hardiness (R3), +3 to damage resistance rolls; Natural Hand-to-Hand Weapon: Horns (R1), +1D damage
Total creation point cost: 1
Total defined limit cost: 1 skill die
Disadvantages: Devotion (R3), to herd; Prejudice (R1), +2 to difficulties while interacting with meat-eaters; Quirk (R2), claustrophobia aboard confined starships sets in after six months
Advantages: Contacts (R1), with herd; Size: Large (R1), scale value 1
Special Abilities: Hardiness (R3, cost 3), +3 to damage resistance totals; Natural Hand-to-Hand Weapon: Horns (R1, cost 2), +10 damage
Note: Taurid characters often have Cultural Unfamiliarity (R1), insular society and view others with suspicion, or Employed (R1), as mercenary, which offsets the cost of the package.
As descendants from bovine stock, Taurids have massive bull heads and muscular, anthropomorphic bodies. Millennia of evolution have allowed them to develop genetic mutations to better adapt, particularly a pelvic arrangement and sense of balance to enable upright posture. They also possess articulated hands with three fingers and an opposable thumb, the last digit of each still encased in a rigid, hoof-like covering. They possess many characteristics attributable to their bovine heritage: a great head with wide nostrils, horns that vary in shape and length, a mouthful of large molars for grinding food, burly muscles, a coat of short hair, and a massive, four-chambered stomach that can digest nearly any organic matter. Over rime, female udders have become smaller and nearly unnoticeable on fully clothed Taurids.
Taurid fur coloration ranges from solid colors of black, white, and brown to blotched combinations. Horns also differ in length: some long with curved tips; others shorter and more forward-facing. These characteristics vary by herd and often help Taurids identify each others’ cultural groups. Those belonging to specific mercenary units typically come from one herd and therefore exhibit similar color and horn features.
Taurids constantly eat to satisfy their large digestive system and great size. Luckily they can subsist on a variety of grasses that grow plentifully on savannas across the galaxy. Bales, tubs, and barrels of grass occupy every room within a tent complex and every chamber aboard a transport vessel. Work stations always provide bins offering food. The lowest-ranked Taurids have the overwhelming responsibility of making sure every receptacle is fully stocked. Nearly every Taurid carries a satchel with a stash of food to munch while away from a ready supply. Although they tolerate dried hay – a necessity during long transport voyages – they prefer freshly harvested grass.
Given the physical similarities, scholars familiar with the Ancient Earth legends of the Greek minotaur speculate that this mythical beast was a Taurid scout who crash-landed on the planet and was imprisoned in the labyrinth of the Minoans. In the species’ oral tradition, Uumagre, a primordial cultural hero and the first interstellar Taurid traveler, purportedly visited Earth, where he became a great warrior and protector of a tribe of primitive Terrans.
Taurids evolved on the grassy homeworld of Arigadeen but lost it lost to the depredations of aggressive development, industrial exploitation, and environmental irresponsibility at the hands of off-world er entrepreneurs. Facing extinction, they quickly adapted to the space-faring life, learning to operate technology more advanced than theirs to survive among the stars and seek new worlds to suit their nomadic lifestyle. Now they settle on any planet with vast, open plains where their herds can search for the most verdant grass.
Great prairies ranging from equatorial savannas to northern tundras dominated the terrain of the Taurid homeworld. Here they found abundant food and basic materials for crafting their roving civilization. Their communities wandered to find the best vegetation for sustenance, often confronting hostile predators or ocher herds intent on feeding in the same territory. Such encounters encouraged a stern defensive instinct. Protecting and providing for the herd became the primary premise upon which their society grew.
Some herds specialized in industrial concerns, settling in resource-rich areas to develop and manufacture technological breakthroughs. Early space exploration focused on finding new worlds suitable for Taurid colonization. First contact with other species brought an influx of ideas, technology, and manufactured goods, which initially’ improved life on Arigadeen. But bad deals with exploitative corporations brought ruin to their homeworld, and the Taurids left in a mass exodus to seek new planets where their herds could flourish.
Taurids currently lead three different lifestyles among the scars. On worlds where they’ve found prairie territory, herds live much as they did on Arigadeen, wandering to find food or seeding near resource-rich areas where they can engage in light industry. These communities face constant discrimination from the planet’s other inhabitants, who don’t like leaving massive tracts of property undeveloped. Even herds colonizing uninhabited worlds cannot sustain a prolonged defense against later settlers. Rather than face drawn-out confrontations – even with the aid of well-armed Taurid mercenary units – herds pack up and take to the stars in migration ships.
At anytime, about a third of the Taurid population inhabits immense migration vessels that transport entire herds from one planet to another in their search for grassland sanctuaries where they can live undisturbed. Converted from decommissioned military and merchant vessels, these craft provide at best cramped and temporary living quarters, with holds packed with harvested grasses and water to fast the journey. Having evolved in the wide, open plans, the Taurids do not endure the confines of space travel well. Most can only last six months aboard ship – even vessels with vast spaces or simulated prairie arcologies – after which they begin exhibiting various destructive behavioral disorders. The Taurid claustrophobia and the eventual consumption of their supplies require these transports to make port every six months to allow the herd out into the open. They swarm through planetside landing facilities seeking open spaces where they can sec up their shelters and grasslands where they can harvest food for the next leg of their journey.
The final third of the overall Taurid people works as mercenaries for petty warlords, crime syndicates, corporate dirty-works divisions, or anyone else who can afford heavy muscle. These Taurids leave their herds, settled or migratory, to join units char fight for pay sent back to communities in need. These funds sustain the constant migrations necessary to survive in a galaxy that consumes opens spaces where the Taurids settle.
Each herd has at least one mercenary unit working for it; larger herds have several, each specializing in a different form of combat. Females serve alongside males and receive respect as seasoned warriors. Most Taurid soldiers-for-hire train on a variety of equipment: infantry firearms, emplaced guns, heavy weapons, combat vehicles, to name a few. They eschew all melee weapons, preferring to maul with their horns in close combat. The more infamous Taurid units include Kavaam’s Borderers, the Taurid Heavy Infantry Regiment, and the Horned Death.
Taurid mercenary units travel to many different worlds during their service. They note which ones have suitable prairie lands for future settlement and relay this information back to related transit herds seeking new homes. In this capacity, they view themselves as the legendary Taurid scouts who initially sought a fresh homeworld for their people.
Most space-faring adventurers encounter Taurid mercenary units fighting for a variety of patrons and causes. These warriors battle fiercely despite their mercenary business practices. In a Taurid warrior’s mind, he’s essentially fighting for funds to ensure a herd’s survival.
Those visiting more remote systems, especially ones that haven’t been thoroughly explored, sometimes encounter lone Taurid scouts seeking new grassland worlds for herd colonization. Sometimes they precede migration vessels that serve as base ships.
Herd transports and any escorts maintain a good distance from non-Tau rid ships. They broadcast warnings that they regard any alien vessel approaching as hostile and will open fire to defend themselves against anyone violating their transit space. Although they often look like junk ships refitted with a hodge-podge of parts, these transports sport gunnery emplacements and shields to protect the herd from space-faring predators. Characters may also encounter herds overrunning a planetside landing facility while they repair their transport, gather food supplies, and bask in the open sky. These provisional settlements cover any clear spaces near landing fields, with Taurids temporarily claiming the space as their enclave. No matter who really owns the land, the Taurids forbid outsiders from entering the area or coming near their spacecraft unless they have official business in helping to repair or resupply the transports. Bold Taurids often leave the sprawling encampment and venture into the starport’s other districts, where their gruff demeanor and intimidating presence inevitably sparks conflicts with locals and transient spacers alike.
Taurid society revolves around the herd’s survival. Whether a Taurid serves as a mercenary, food-gatherer, transport pilot, or low-ranking family member, everyone contributes to the constant quest for new grassland worlds to settle.
Individual herds consist of extended family groups (though some members may have left to join mercenary units), each appointing a lead member to a herd council that makes decisions for the community by debate and consensus. Each family concentrates on a productive activity to ensure the herd’s prosperity, from gathering and storing food to maintaining the herd’s vehicles. As a people they don’t manufacture much worth exporting, just the goods they need to remain relatively self-sufficient; however, their administration for harvesting, processing and scoring grains and grasses long-term is impressive. They operate under a communal property system, where anything owned by one Taurid belongs in theory to the entire herd. The council oversees commodities and money exchanged with outsiders for necessary goods. Taurids depend heavily on technology purchased from others, particularly the secondhand, refitted transport ships. They have no difficulty learning to operate these machines, but they do not have the capacity or the resources to manufacture ones of their own design.
Taurid mercenary units remain dependent on their patrons to provide the necessities of life and combat equipment. As a military force, they organize themselves along more rigid lines, with officers in charge of the entire regiment, and lower-ranks commanding smaller companies, platoons, and squads. A herd mentality still exists, with soldiers watching out for each other and taking extreme risks to ensure the unit’s survival. Although they serve a patron who may have questionable motives overall, Tau rid mercenaries realize that their pay helps herds “back home.” They don’t mind suspending their morals to fight and earn credits that ultimately ensure the continuation of their species.
Taurid culture focuses on their migratory plight. They elevate the role of mercenaries as the ultimate providers and protectors, emphasize their people’s constant persecution at the hands of predators, and stress the importance of herd survival through the never-ending search for a bountiful, secure homeworld. Even children’s games encourage the herd mentality. “Push the Pragarr” arranges a crowd of children in an outward-facing circle arow1d an imaginary herd, while one child, playing the part of the legendary pragarr predator, tries to bully, punch, and butt his way into the circle. Many engage in mock combat to prepare for future mercenary service.
The Taurids have no written form of communication, conducting all information exchange and storage through speech and memory. Telling stories – with tales including elements of prosecution, wandering, and strife – orally recounting news and council proceedings, and singing hymns of legendary heroes help build verbal and mental skills. Taurids can read and even learn to write other languages, a skill often found among mercenary units required to interact with outsider worlds and technology. Despite this access to systems of writing, they have little interest in writing down their heritage.
Taurid material culture is limited to items easily packed up and carried, often on their own brawny backs. They’re particularly renown for their skill in weaving fabrics and rugs decorated with fantastic floral motifs, carving and assembling everyday items from wood, and creating a leather-like substance by weaving specially treated vegetable fibers. Drinking helps alleviate Taurid despair over their plight, and their brewers can concoct an amazing variety of potent alcohol using naturally grown ingredients and portable stills. Some Taurid drinks – particularly kabach and tremador – have reputations for temporarily boosting the imbiber’s strength, virility, combat reflexes, and other aggressive traits. Herd industry concentrates on small-scale manufacturing, with portable equipment for forced herd migrations. Looms, alcohol stills. woodworking shops, and harvesters all collapse and store for easy transport.
Occasionally rumors emerge that a particular Taurid herd has hoarded and hidden some kind of treasure (usually valuable ores or other substances) among their portable possessions. Such tales attract pirates and other raiders intent on obtaining such riches, but they inevitably discover – after far too much violence and bloodshed – that the Taurid remain a poor, itinerant people.
A popular legend centers around the mythic Taurid explorer Uumagre, who supposedly landed on Ancient Earth during one of his fabled scouting expeditions. During his adventures, which included conquering an island empire, dominating other tribes, and ruling from a vast, labyrinthine palace, he acquired a great, double- headed axe rumored to have magical qualities. This axe and his fearsome bull head became symbols of his empire on earth. He left the planet in the face of an uprising among the peoples he conquered, taking the axe with him as a memento of his experiences on Earth.
Uumagre’s axe figures prominently in subsequent tales. When they gather at night to relax, Taurid herds frequently retell these stories to entertain their young and offer hope that they might someday find a suitable, safe homeworld. After many exploits, Uumagre and his legendary axe were lost while exploring an unnamed, uncharted nebula. Few Taurids have any hope of finding relics of this hero’s existence; discovery of Uumagre’s remains, and certainly his famed axe, might give the entire species a symbol around which to rally in ensuring their overall survival in a hostile universe.
Laws and Customs
Taurids rely on an oral tradition of laws passed from one generation to the next. Two directives dominate and guide the laws governing Taurids:
1) Help the herd survive.
2) Keep predators at bay.
Herd survival edicts reward service to the community and discourage individual selfishness. Among their own herds, Taurids exhibit great caring and understanding typical of the familial and communal life shared by any cohesive society. They show respect to their elders and mercenaries, nurture younglings, value contributions of community members, and work together to ensure survival. Herd laws reinforce these attitudes. Minor breaches – stealing, hoarding goods, avoiding duties – are considered trivial violations, earning perpetrators short spans of isolation from the rest of the herd, increases in workload, or forfeitures of privileges. Intentionally inflicting physical harm on another Tau rid is considered a capital-level offense; yet their respect for members of the herd, even criminals, commutes the penalty for this transgression from a death sentence to permanent exile from all herds and banishment into the territories held by savage, meat-eating aliens. To deter violence, herds forbid personal weapons in their midst; even visiting members of mercenary companies store their weapons in a locked arsenal before integrating back into a herd.
Although the admonition against foes might appear as a derivative element of the first dictate, it plays a dominant role in Taurid attitudes. They view most other aliens-including Terrans – with a healthy dose of suspicion. Their prejudice against meat-eaters assumes any creature that consumes flesh in any form is a natural predator that exists to destroy peaceful vegetarians like Taurids. This intolerance colors every interaction with outsiders. Until proven otherwise, Taurids assume everyone is a foe. This behavior manifests itself in a range of reactions, from quiet caution to open aggression in the name of self-defense. Taurids act haughtily in the presence of foreigners, flaunting their large build and sharp horns to deter potential predators.
Taurid herds insulate themselves from foreigners for survival. Outsiders must settle for dealing with the herd council, mercenary leaders, or other designated liaisons in any matters of commerce, diplomacy, or other interaction. Most fo1mal statutes relating to predators limit outsider access to herd personnel and resources.
As long as these infringements do not physically harm other Taurids, those who allow outsiders near the herd or its holdings face censure by the council and social exclusion for short periods. Should a Taurid allow a foreigner to physically harm any herd member, they receive treatment as if they themselves had inflicted the injury.
Taurids have no restrictions against violence toward outsiders, and they chafe at any alien authority imposing penalties on them for such aces. They believe if aggression is necessary against foreigners, it was self-defense provoked by a viable threat.
The Taurids do not have a religion as others perceive it, but revere cultural heroes: prominent scouts, warriors, and leaders who protected the Taurids and guided them to safety. They respect those who rise as champions in the constant struggle for the herd’s survival. They have faith they will find a secure homeworld covered in grasslands, one from which no predatory group might force them, and one where all the disparate herds can gather in peace and prosperity. After centuries of persecution and forced migration, they depend only on their own hardiness and determination to help them through troubling times.
Taurids have developed very little useful technology of their own superior to contemporary devices. Much of their equipment focuses on the unique cottage industries necessary for migratory herd life.
This does not mean Taurids live a primitive life among the other more advanced societies in the galaxy. They have acquired handy items from ocher civilizations encountered during their constant migrations. Aside from the vast herd trans pores, they prefer small devices they can easily carry with their other goods. These often include entertainment gadgets to offer diversions during long journeys, machines for preserving food or purifying water, portable power generators, and household appliances to make daily herd life easier. With their prohibition against personal weapons within the herd, they avoid dealing in side- arms and military equipment, though many herds maintain a small, locked armory for defense.
Most herd members aboard migration transports do not generally worry about ship-related technology. The council authorizes the Tau rid crew operating the vessel (often veteran mercenaries with some shipboard experience) to acquire whatever equipment they need to maintain, repair, and defend their craft.
By their very nature, Taurid mercenary companies use whatever technology their patrons provide. The better their benefactor, the more powerful and up-to-date their weapons, equipment, and vehicles. Although these technically remain the property of the patron or the company, some Taurids receive their equipment as a bonus when mustering out of the unit, and bring it back to their herd arsenal for general defense.
Taurid Migradon Ship
Massive, refined starships form the backbone of space-borne migratory herds. To convert these vessels, the Taurids strip out most amenities and replace them with bulk cargo space. Taurids upgrade shields and weaponry if necessary to ensure their safety against space-faring foes. Airlocks allow docking with other ships to take on supplies or transfer passengers in emergencies. Ex-mercenaries with service aboard military vessels assume the duties of transport crew. Despite their origins as mothballed or antiquated refits, migration ships have atmospheric flight capabilities, with landing gear to allow planetside docking.
Existing personnel quarters serve the crew, council, and high-ranking herd members. Most of the habitable space consists of pressurized bulk cargo modules in which the general herd populace encamps as if they inhabited an open prairie. Taurids stock their own water in large holding ranks, and fill entire cargo bays with bales of preserved grasses to consume during long journeys.
A typical herd requires two transports, while larger communities often field fleets of eight to 10 ships. During massive migrations, a herd fleet often saves enough funds to purchase an antiquated yet armed frigate or corvette to provide additional defense.
Crew: 50 (pilot, navigation, gunners, sensors, communication, repair)
Cargo: 2,200 cubic meters, including equipment, storage, supplies, launch bay, and four scout ship hangars
Life-Support Supplies: 6 months
Move: 4 (space), 200 (atmosphere, 560 kph)
Interstellar Drive Rating: 0.2
Weapons: 3 medium laser cannons (each: damage 7D, range 3/12/25, on side-mounted turrets with four arcs)
Hull Toughness: 40
Atmosphere Capability: streamlining, landing gear
Length (approximate): 2,050 meters
Total Cost: Not for sale
Taurid Scout Ship
Each herd transport carries several scout ships in landing bays. These vessels fly patrols, explore nearby systems for potential habitable worlds, and help fend off aggressors. Tau rids who gained piloting experience through prior mercenary service act as scouts, maintain their ships, and consult with the herd council when they make significant discoveries.
Between migration ship jumps, several scout ships travel ahead of the fleet to reconnoiter several potential destination systems. Aside from seeking possible settlement worlds with open plains and lush grasslands, the scouts also patrol for the presence of hostile ships, astrographical hazards, and authorities who might turn the herd away.
When the herd fleet isn’t jumping to the next system, at least one scout ship for every transport patrols the nearby space to intercept any threats. The lightly armed craft are capable snub fighters armed with shields and a medium laser cannon to engage enemies and defend any transport under attack.
Life-Supporting Modules standard bridge (4 areas, 2 tons, 0.4 eu, 100 cr) with sensors and gunnery +1D upgrades (2 eu, 1,800 cr)
Cargo Modules: None
Life-Support Supplies: food storage (1 area, 0.5 tons, 0.5 eu, 10 cr); standard food. (1 person/5 months, 0.5 tons, 500 cr); atmosphere (1 person/6-months, 600 cr)
Weapons 1 medium laser cannon (7 areas, 8 tons, 13 eu, 15,000 cr, damage 7D, range 3/12/25, forward arc)
In-System Drive (10 areas, 10 cons, 24 eu, 8,500 cr)
Move: 8 (space), 400 (atmosphere, 1,150 kph)
Maneuverability: +2D (12 eu, 3,600 cr)
Energy Units: 85
Interstellar Drive: 0.2 (3 areas, 12 tons, 20 eu, 11,000 cr)
Total Energy Requirements: 76
Power Plant: 100 energy units generated (8 areas, 13 tons, 14,500 cr)
Hull Toughness: 10+2 (28 tons, 14,000 cr)
Atmosphere Capability: streamlining (7 tons, 2,800 cr), landing gear (6 tons, 2,100 cr)
Shields: +2D (2 areas, 3 tons, 6 eu, 22,500 cr)
Total Tonnage: 44
Total Area Units: 35
Length: 11 meters (ellipsoid)
Total Cost (new): 97,010 credits/Price Difficulty: 30
Given a stable, well-defended homeworld, the Taurids could easily fulfill other roles in the galaxy than nomadic mercenaries.
Safe and seeded herd communities could easily foster a learned culture fed by information brought from other worlds by explorers, merchants, or mercenaries. The oral nature of their intellectual history would encourage entire academic herds centered around prominent scholars with the cerebral capacity to remember vast amounts of information.
A Taurid society built on agriculture and commerce would prominently feature starfaring merchants with a penchant for buying, transporting, and finding markets for foodstuffs. A grassland Taurid world could produce vast amounts of food with entire herds cultivating the land. Herds migrating from one planet to the next could use space aboard their transports to haul bulk foodstuffs for sale in markets farther along their route.
Explorers would focus on discovering new worlds with suitable prairie environments to settle expanding or uprooted herds. Endangered Taurid worlds might sponsor expeditions, or uprooted herds aboard transports might send scouts ahead to determine if any planers along their course might serve as suitable homeworlds.
With a strong connection to the herd and a general suspicion of meat-eaters, Tau rid crime syndicates would be extremely insular, with herd associates as centralized leaders, mercenaries as strong-armed enforcers, and occasional outsiders on the very fringe of the organization as informers, minor couriers, and scapegoats. Although their activities could range nearly anywhere, such criminal organizations would have their headquarters in alien quarters of urban centers where their brawny appearance and gruff demeanor generally would go unnoticed, being seen as typically alien behavior.