|Official Name||Drowdan Stag|
|Common Nicknames||Dark Stag|
Drowdan Stags are beasts built for agility and strength, capable of carrying light burdens and people, which has made them key to the life of many Sihndar Holds in distant Drowda. The animal’s origins are obscure, but their usefulness to the Sihndar has resulted in their presence within the Holds today. Dark in fur color and with a unique shape to their antlers, Drowdan Stags are also marked by their high sociability within the herd, capable of forming collectives of friends whose memory will last long beyond the childhood years that they were developed in.
The Drowdan Stag was one of the very first creatures on Drowda that the Sihndar encountered after their transformation on that far northern land. It is said that they often relied on these nimble, elegant creatures in helping them find untainted water sources. As for where the creature itself came from, most scholars suspect a taint of Void or Exist energy mutated normal Reindeer in the region into the modern Drowdan Stag. As the decades wore on, most Drowdan Stags remained wild within the interior of the continent, while small herds were ultimately domesticated and trained by the Sihndar as mounts for use in combat and for general transportation. Each Hold eventually came to possess its own small population of these creatures for such uses, though in the south and central lands, they became exclusively mounts for transportation. In recent years, the animal was seen outside of Drowda when a large Sihndar force entered Daen and helped to beat back the Kathar invading the region outside of their Dread Empire. Among the Sindhar’s forces were elite cavalry units made up of warriors riding Drowdan Stags. They proved exemplary in combat, but unfortunately for the Altalar nobles interested in the combat form as well as the beasts, they were some of the first Sihndar forces shipped back home, being considered of enormous importance and not for outsiders to engage with. Ultimately, thanks to years of work the Sihndar have spent killing the worst beasts of Drowda, the Drowdan Stag is likely to live and thrive in the exotic continent for many more years to come.
The Drowdan Stag is one of the more exotic species of cervid in Aloria, with many unique physical features. They range in height, but generally stand between seven and eight feet, with a similar length,and with weights greatly varying thanks to their antler formations and the gender of the animal. Beginning at the head, their muzzle is very narrow, with extremely small mouths and only a small dot of a nose. Their small eyes appear in shades of blue, with purple sometimes occurring in particularly large male members of the species. These eyes rest below the animal’s crowning feature, two antlers fused at the base that stretch out in a backwards narrow V. These antlers are also strange, with two small cynidrial nodules emerging up right from the top of the head before a stretch of bone reaches large, upturned hook-shaped formations. Altogether, the structure acts as an excellent natural shield for any rider, protecting them from attacks from both sides due to the bizarre shape, and also allows some protection from the front while still granting them a viewpoint of what they have coming at them. Their head is then completed by a pair of short rounded ears. The animal’s head is then connected to the wider body by a thick and muscled neck, well built to support the sometimes extraordinary weight of their strange antlers. The rest of their body is also built for strength, which is largely why the animal was selected as a Sihndar mount, that being that it could easily support the weight of most of that Race’s members. A strong and deformation-resistant bone structure along the animal’s spine helps with this, as do the four powerful legs that it stands upon. Each leg ends in a sturdy black hoof designed for the open terrain they mostly inhabit, and their whole body ends in a small sleek tail. The Drowdan Stag is covered in a thick coat of black fur, though traces of white are present on its face, sides and tail.
It is often hard to determine a Drowdan Stag’s gender at first glance. Both members of the species have antlers and both generally possess the same physical appearance. There are two ways to tell that an individual is male, though. The first is through the existence of excessive hair along the underside of their neck, which is often streaked in white, helping it to stand out on the animal. Secondly, there is the fact that sometimes, male Drowdan Stags can grow to truly extreme sizes, measuring at nine or ten feet rather than the seven or eight normally seen, while also possessing purple eyes. It is not known why this occurs, just that it only happens in males.
Life Span and Development
Drowdan Stags are liveborn from their mother and only one calf can exist at a time. While most cervid calves are up and running fairly soon after being born, the Drowdan Stag calf outmatches all of them. When they emerge from the womb, they are already lightly furred, with legs that quickly steady themselves and allow them to run within just a few minutes. As a result of this, Drowdan Stag calves are also some of the most self-reliant youths of any species, forming small collectives known as Mate-Herds (named after a Sihndar term for friend), and playing together as they grow up. However, again unlike other cervids, a Drowdan Stag’s physical development is rapid. In just three months, provided they have sufficient diets, they will have reached their adult size. Mentally, however, they mature only after a year or a year and a quarter. As a result, when they finally do go their separate ways, these connections with their Mate-Herd remain. Indeed, should two members of the same Mate-Herd find themselves competing for the same female, one usually defers to the other, or they both participate. Drowdan Stags can live for thirty to forty years, though a rare few in Sihndar captivity have reached fifty.
Drowdan Stags are docline and calm creatures at all times. They are said to possess an intellect and deep thought process, though most non-Sihndar animal scholars would instead point out of the benefits of silence in a hostile world like Drowda. Indeed, they are also very quiet creatures, only making sounds when in their very early years or for those few thousand domesticated, when they are with their Sihndar keeper. Drowdan Stags are also built for flight rather than fight, their powerful and agile bodies rapidly carrying them away from even the worse Drowda has to offer them. Still, should a foe loom large, Drowdan Stag antlers and powerful legs are a great tool in driving back the threat. Additionally, as mentioned before, the animal also has a great pension for making life-long attachments. In herds or groups, there is the Mate-Herd, but in more domesticated surroundings, a deep bond between steed and rider can also be forged, especially if they are of the same gender.
Territory and Groupings
Drowdan Stag herds in the wild number into the low 100s, though the full groups only collect together during the mating season, before splitting up into groups of anywhere between 30 to 60 individuals for the rest of the year. In domesticated surroundings, Drowdan Stags are capable of living alongside many other animals and, as each Hold is different in size and scope of needing the mount, so too do their numbers vary. In general though, it can be said that each Hold possesses at least fifty Drowdan Stags at any one time.
- Drowdan Stags, when going into combat, are further defended from damage by unique Xaven armor, lightweight protection made from leather and local plantlife that is mostly used to protect the animal’s sides.
- Some speculate if the Drowdan Stags were actually failed Void-infested animals, who either were discarded or who received a burst of Exist energy to cancel out the darker energies of the Void.