Northern Brown Bear
|Northern Brown Bear|
|Official Name||Northern Brown Bear|
|Common Nicknames||Ursa, Skagger Bear, Grizzled Bear|
|Habitat||Northern Regalian Archipelago|
The Northern Brown Bear is a large mammal that inhabits the entire northern region of the Regalian Archipelago. These bears are highly respected by the members of the School of Skagger, as well as the Velheim tribes as a whole. Much of Velheim culture is derived because of their proximity and respect for the Northern Brown Bear, which is considered one of the mightiest animals in the northern wilderness. It features a wide range of pelt colors and so the Northern Brown Bear is sometimes referred to as the Grizzled Bear for these unique fur patterns, however as the name dictates, these patterns and colors always keep a brownish tint to them. The Northern Brown bear was originally thought to be a wide variety of species but was eventually reclassified into the single species that exists today. While bears have a popular spot in folklore as a whole, no other bear is as represented as the Northern Brown Bear.
The Northern Brown Bear is regarded as the original ancestor of the common Ursidae by some biologists and researchers, theorizing that all other species of bears have derived themselves from the Northern Brown Bear. The original belief was that there was a single species of bear, and the regional variants were only different in fur color and preferred climate. When more modern scholars concluded that regional variants had a wider variety of differences, including bone structure and density as well as fur color and overall size, the Northern Brown Bear was reclassified into its own species and separated form other species of bear. The Northern Brown Bear has always been the apex predator of the Northern regions of the Regalian Archipelago, and that is something that is not likely to change. Among both the more superstitious Velheimers it is believed that the Northern Brown Bear are the animal champions of the Old Gods, and have always been widely respected for their strength and impressive stature. The Grizzled Bear has been inhabiting the northern parts of the Archipelago, and have in fact done so for much longer than any of the sentient races living there today. In present day, the bear populations are largely the same as they have always been. With no natural enemies, they have not had to develop any new defenses or strategies. Due to the sheer amount of food that the Northern Brown Bear consumes daily, their populations are widely scattered but still commonly seen, especially around Ailor settlements where they like to raid food storages. Members of the School of Skagger wear their pelts, and Northern Brown Bear skin rugs are widely prized for their durability and resilience.
Northern Brown Bears are primarily quadrupedal mammals, meaning that they walk on hind and forelegs. While they are capable of walking and even fighting on their hind legs, however they cannot be classified as bipedal because they do not possess the proper balance or body structure to function on two legs for long. Their heads are round, with a wide muzzle that ends with a black nose and holds a set of varied teeth. Omnivorous molars, and carnivorous incisors that, that are prized for making trinkets, open the bear up to a varied diet. Their head features two small ears and front facing, backset, brown eyes. Their bodies are large and contain a high level of body fat; needed for surviving long periods, in case of a lack of food and to keep them warm. The forelegs of the Grizzled Bear end in paws that closely resemble hands and own five forward facing “fingers” with sharp claws, which can be used for more complicated operations like catching fish or batting open unlocked containers. The hind legs are less complex, though are much more powerful and capable of supporting the bear upright for short periods of times. Each hind leg ends in five toes, and each toe ends in a long claw. While they do have tails, they are short, stubby, and hardly noticeable. The fur of the Northern Brown bear varies widely depending on region and diet, though is most often a shade of brown.
Male and female Northern Brown Bears share no differences besides reproductive organs. The diversity in the species is determined by region, and can only be seen in fur color and food preference. Those that inhabit Drixagh and Rikeland are the reasoning for the nickname “Grizzled Bear” because they have lighter brown fur streaked with grey. The reasoning for this change in pelt color is widely unknown, though it is theorized that originally the Grizzled bears used it to blend into the rocks of their dens and trap unknowing hunters. Northern variants also tend to be more carnivorous, increased hostility, and are much larger. Those that live closer to the regions of Calemberg have darker pelts, closer to a chocolate brown. These bears are much less hostile, though not overly so. While they are often seen around more civilized settlements they are still aggressive if accosted. Northern Brown Bears around Calemberg are much easier targets for hunters, and have a more omnivorous diet due to the fact that they have been known to eat anything that people will throw out.
Life Span and Development
Northern Brown Bear cubs are liveborn, and pregnancy usually lasts four to five months. Bear cubs are born in twos, and will follow their mothers until they enter adolescence at the age of four years. During the time of adolescence, the Northern Brown Bears will begin learning to hunt with the help of their siblings under the watchful eyes of their mother. In the meantime, the mother will often settle into her den when she is not attending to the cubs. After an additional two years, this will continue but the cubs will often hunt on their own. Northern Brown Bears are considered fully developed after a period of five years, and will then go off to either: mother their own cubs in the case of females, or join large male ‘convents’. Northern Brown Bears that live in Drixagh can live up to sixty years, while their Calemberger counterparts usually only live into their thirties. Bear cubs are often friendly to even the sentient races, and need to be watched closely by their mothers. Any attempts to domesticate these bears have gone well until they progress into adolescence when they develop increased hostility and will turn on those that try to domesticate them.
Northern Brown Bears are considered by scholars to be incredibly intelligent, arguably one of the most intelligent predators on the Regalian Archipelago. Their brains are incredibly complex in design, though not as advanced as that of an Ailor or Magus’s. What studies have been done on them during the critical window, before they enter adolescence, shows that they are capable of understanding body language and tone of voice, as well as outsmarting even the most skilled hunters in Drixagh. They seem are able to catch prey by surprise and have been known to silently follow packs of hunters for miles, even going so far as to backtrack or walk in untrackable circles. Another asset in favor of their intelligence is the defensive groupings male bears have. The groupings, called convents, are exclusively male and have been known to be able to communicate information and band together to chase off large groups of hunters. Contrary to what some would believe, combat within the bears is not chaotic but incredibly organized and disciplined. Northern Brown Bears primarily engage threats by standing on their hindlegs, pounding their chests, and growling wildly. Desite this being merely an intimidation tactic, the demise of many a hunter has been brought about by underestimating the intelligence of these bears. Some groups of Blackmarks have tried to imitate the way that the bears fight, as the organized method of intimidation displayed by the bears is very similar to their own.
Territory and Groupings
Until they progress into adolescence Northern Brown Bears often live with their single sibling and their mother. Male Northern Brown Bears usually have no place in these groupings of three, and primarily reside with groups of other males. Northern Brown Bears are incredibly territorial, especially when it comes to their dens or offspring. While female Northern Brown bears live in caves or under rock outcroppings called dens, male Northern Brown Bears live in small group. Convents of Northern Brown Bears exist in sizes of anywhere from five to ten, and travel around fathering cubs and keeping hunters away from other bear dens.
- Among hunters in Drixagh, it is said that if a Grizzled Bear survives your intial assault it is bad luck to continue the hunt until the next year, as it is seen as being bested. Due to this superstition, many elderly bear carcasses are found with numerous arrow and spear heads deep into their flesh.
- The largest convent of Northern Brown Bears in Drixagh is called the Visdom, a nickname given because they have supposedly been seen sending members to “train” other convents and relay information as to where hunters are. The leader of the Visdom is called Vis, and there are entire legends told about hunters who have sought him in vain.
- While it is said that the best way to defend yourself in the event of a bear attack is to make yourself appear bigger, or scream, but really there is no good defense. Northern Brown Bears fear nothing and should be avoided unless accompanied by a hunting party.