“Listen for the thundering of their hooves. Like a storm falling upon the plains, they are coming. And you can not stand against them.”
Centaurs hail from the islands of Sporades off the coast of Thessaly. A nomadic herd by nature, it can be very difficult to track them. Even then, once located, they are hostile, even aggressive towards outsiders. Without some assurances of your safety, it would be very unwise to approach them. They take the safety of the herd very seriously and will kill trespassers into their territory.
Procuring the trust of the centaurs is no easy feat. Often it requires either a long standing bargain with them, allowing for merchants to trade wares. Merchants who have the trust of the herd do not reveal their secrets, and by now there are only a few families left who can pass among the herds unimpeded. For anyone else, a life debt would be necessary in order to acquire their good faith.
Once their people numbered in the thousands, but it has become more difficult for them to go unnoticed in the modern world. A herd consists of about ten to thirty centaurs, with a rigidly enforced, yet seamless social hierarchy. There is one dominant stallion who oversees control of the herd. His orders are unquestioned, and it is he who decides where they will travel and graze, where they will make camp for the long winter months, if they will permit trade with a merchant or if they will raid a village. The dominant stallions position is constantly under threat by younger stallions, and so his treatment of them is ruthless. In older times, younger males were driven from the herd when they came of age. However, with their number depleted and secrecy needed, younger stallions will stay with the herd much longer and learn to tolerate one another.
His mare is his second in command, and her word is as quickly obeyed as his. However, her position in the hierarchy is reliant upon two things. Her ability to bare offspring, and her ability to keep other mares at bay! As hard as a stallion is on their underlings, a dominant mare is twice as hard on the others under her command. Lower ranking centaurs cannot mate without her permission, so it works best to placate her. If the dominant stallion is killed or incapacitated, his mare assumes command of the herd until he is recovered or until a suitable stallion proves themselves.
Beneath the dominant stallion is the second in command, which may be either another stallion or mare, but most likely the offspring of the dominant couple. Their duty is to keep the herd in line and maintain the safety of their established area for however long they are in it. Often they will form a small troop to patrol with, acting as guards for the territory. Obviously, this group has a fairly high ranking within the herd structure. Their word will usually be obeyed as it is assumed to come from the dominant stallion.
Raiding parties form the next rank in a centaur social structure. When resources dwindle, or when the younger stallions need to blow off steam before they become too rowdy, a dominant male will allow the guard stallions to form raiding or hunting parties. They seem to consist of the same five to ten centaurs on a regular basis, creating little gangs of brawling youths who either run into the nearest town to scavenge and steal, or (if the group is more even-headed) head out into their wilderness to find food, supplies, and better pastures to move the herd to. It is not common for mares to join in on these parties, but it is not entirely unheard of.
Beneath the raiding parties are the foraging groups. Typically made up of the unmated mares or any stallions who have become too injured to participate in raiding, their duty is to work the local areas for vegetation, fresh water, and anything else that can be used to supplement their diet. They also tend to any chores or duties which need preformed, and held foaling mares with watching over the children. However domestic they may seem, it would be unwise to underestimate this group. If threatened, their hooves are no less sharp, and their kicks no less back breaking than the stallions. Often along the same hierarchy as the foraging groups are the foaling mares. Bound to their homes because of their pregnancy, they are heavily protected. Unfortunately this also means they are the least capable of defending themselves. Once foaled, they will usually take on small duties and chores around their area rather than risk venturing out and running into trouble.
Last within the group are the foals. Any centaur underage is considered to be a foal, and remains within their herds territory until they are old enough to attend their first raid. They often form their own little herds, mimicking the actions of the raiding groups under the watchful eye of their parents. They are given little in the way of chores, and while they may be lowest on the social ladder, they are the most protected group.
In personality the centaurs are as varied as any other species, but there is no denying a general, taciturn attitude towards anyone not in their herd. A special distaste seems to linger around them whenever they deal with humans. But they do seem to be passively tolerant of any other “taurian” species such as Minotaurs, Harpies, and Merfolk. Perhaps because all of these species have suffered some kind of trauma between themselves and humans in the past. Even if you are ‘tolerated’ within the herd, do not expect a warm welcome. You will be given food, water, and a place to sleep. But it is expected that you will conduct your business swiftly and then be on your way. The herd guards it’s secrets closely.