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Common Critters



Livestock

  Cattle are raised throughout Velitrium, though there is a breed of beef cattle in Argentium that is unique to that area, being a cross between domestic cattle and the huge wild bulls.  These animals are generally reddish brown in color with longer than average horns, huskier in build and easily provoked into charging. They are also hardier in extremes of weather, able to survive on minimal fodder and resistant to predation. Though they yield more meat than a common beef cow, their meat tends to be tougher and less flavorful.

 The rocky, barren regions of southern Gemmatus (just above the desert) is most suitable for goats and the locals in that area maintain large herds both for meat, milk and wool.  The area around Dwarfdale also supports large populations of sheep and goats, primarily because goat meat and mutton are popular with the Dwarves.

Virtually every family that has even a minimum of space available keeps pigs. The slaughtering of a pig is an annual event in every family.  Generally, if the family has room, several are kept to allow one or more to sell at market.

Most families, even those living in town, keep some chickens.  These are primarily for eggs, though unwanted roosters and hens past their prime wind up in the cook pot.  Most villages and farms have a duck pond. In a town or village the ducks are owned by individual families, but their care is collective. There is someone, usually an older child, responsible for watching the ducks during the day and herding them back to the pens at night.

Many families in the cities and larger towns raise pigeons. These are primarily for food, but there is a breed of carrier pigeon that is widely used for messenger service.  The government keeps hundreds of these birds and regularly exchanges them with the Duchies, Counties and military posts.  Most wealthy nobles and merchants keep a few as well.

Most villages also maintain a fishing pond or an area of a stream or river with a weir to retain fish. This is a communal resource and its produce is carefully husbanded.  Annually the fish are harvested, smoked or salted, then distributed to the village population on a per person basis.


Horses, Ponies and Jackasses
  At the time of the Exodus, the Velitar Horse Archers were the best mounted in all of Calbazar.  This gave them a tactical advantage that was decisive in countless engagements.  Unfortunately the long string of battles and the months of crossing the desert devastated the Horse stocks.  Very few survived the crossing, those that did proved invaluable in the battles with the Jhensari.
  For generations the breeding stock was carefully husbanded and nurtured, until their numbers were brought back to their pre-Exodus levels.  Even today a pureblooded charger is an expensive and valued asset.
   The Velitar found wild ponies in the valley and quickly domesticated them. Neither the Jhensari or the Hob-Goblins domesticated the ponies, seeing them only as a food source.
The ponies were small, hardy and shaggy, unsuitable as mounts though useful for pulling carts, wagons and as pack animals.  Domestic Valley Ponies are still generally used for carts or as pack animals and are commonly called �Cart Ponies�
 Selective breeding and cross breeding has produced a larger, smoother, riding animal
that is now the most common riding/work pony.
  Interbreeding between these larger ponies and suitable specimens of the Velitar War Horse has resulted in a smaller, calmer and cheaper riding horse that is widely used.
  Wild Onagers were domesticated and bred to yield donkeys and mules, both valuable for heavy work that horses are unsuitable at.
Note, in Velitrium, Chargers are the largest, strongest and best bred of the common palfrey type horse. While Destriers are the largest, best bred of the Draft Horse type.

Dog Breeds
  Lord Rhanos Wingstan, (grandson of Vathak) began breeding a large hunting dog capable of taking on, as a pack, the fierce lions that roamed the Valley in the early days.  (Though rare, they are still to be found  in the wilder areas.)  Known today as �Rhanos Hounds� they are widely used in hunting, as guard dogs and by the Army as security. Tall, with thick curly hair that is generally either tan or dark gray.
  Durham Terriers, so called because the were first bred in the town of Durham in Gemmatus, are popular as small game hunters and as pets. Small, wiry haired in a variety of colors and mixes.
  Grazers are a type of border collie that is popular as a herding animal and general watchdog on most farms.  Generally black and white in color with some golden brown highlights.
  Clost Hounds.  The origin of the name has been forgotten, but the dog is widely used.  Generally a pack hound, similar to a fox hound, it is a very good scent tracker. Brown and white or red and white, they have short hair and long legs.
  Stahl Hound.  This is a Husky like dog that is bred and used by the Jhensari.  They employ it as a hunting hound, attack dog, pack animal and sled dog.  Fierce and wolf like in appearance and tactics they are formidable opponents, they work best in a pack with other Stahl Hounds.  Some Stahls have found their way into Velitar hands but they are rare and expensive.

Mixed Breeds & Mutts
All of the varieties have been crossed, intentionally and unintentionally at one time or another.....  The prices found in the Livestock section are for purebred puppies.  The further off they are from their principal breed, the less they are worth.
For example: 1/4 Grazer is worth 3/4 of a Rhanos Hound.  It won�t be as big and strong as a purebred.



Other Domesticated Animals

Voi
Voi are a member of the ferret/mongoose family. They were kept by the Jhensari to fill the role of domestic ratter, hunt small game and to kill snakes and serpants around the home area.  They have become popular with the Velitar for the same roles and are very common in Gemmatus, around the Palood and in the villages and towns near rivers because they are so efficent at killing snakes, even big, poisonous ones.


Pigs
Virtually every family that has even a minimum of space available keeps pigs. The slaughtering of a pig is an annual event in every family.  Generally, if the family has room, several are kept to allow one or more to sell at market.

Chickens, Ducks and Geese
Most families, even those living in town, keep some chickens.  These are primarily for eggs, though unwanted roosters and hens past their prime wind up in the cook pot.  Most villages and farms have a duck pond. In a town or village the ducks and geese are owned by individual families, but their care is collective. There is someone, usually an older child, responsible for watching the fowl during the day and herding them back to the pens at night.

Pigeons, Falcons and Hawks
Many families in the cities and larger towns raise pigeons. These are primarily for food, but there is a breed of carrier pigeon that is widely used for messenger service.  The government keeps hundreds of these birds and regularly exchanges them with the Duchies, Counties and military posts.  Most wealthy nobles and merchants keep a few as well.
Falconry and hawking are popular sports with the nobility and wealthy elite of Velitrium, but it also has a practical side.  The military, and some private individuals, maintain falcons for downing messenger pigeons. And, bothe the military, individuals and local towns keep large hawks that are trained to attack flying individuals; this being a reliable technique to engage attacking wizards.

Fish
Most villages also maintain a fishing pond or an area of a stream or river with a weir to retain fish. This is a communal resource and its produce is carefully husbanded.  Annually the fish are harvested, smoked or salted, then distributed to the village population on a per person basis.










Wild Beasts of Note

Most common North American mammals are present. Racoons, skunks, porcupines, badgers, gophers, squirrels, rabbits, weasels, fox, deer, elk.

Bears
There are in fact three varieties of bears to be found in and around the valley. The most common is the Brown, also called the Valley Bear. This is actually a Grizzly Bear and has all the traits of grizzlies, big 7' average, bad tempered, agressive.... It can be found almost everywhere except the Palood.
In the Palood and along the major rivers is found a Black Bear, also called the Swamp Bear. Less agressive than the Valley Bear as well as being smaller, about 5' is average, they have been domesticated as guard and performing animals.
In the mountains and rarely, fortunately, in the valley, can be found the Great Bears.  These are a variety of Cave bear, a larger, meaner, cousin of the Grizzley. The Great Bears average 12' in height and are so formidable even the Ogres and Giants are said to leave them be.

Golden Lions
At one time common throughout the valley, they have been hunted out of the settled areas, though they do sometimes wander in.  The Golden Lions or "Big Tooths" are a actually a type of Sabre Tooth Tiger. They are VERY BIG cats! 400 - 600lbs with 11" fangs.  They often hunt in pairs, though males will spend much time alone.  They hunt by ambush and short, fast rushes or pouncing from above.  Though they have learned to respect Man, both from the Velitar's efforts and the Jhensari, they cannot be said to truly fear man. The Golden Lions are almost never found in the Palood.

Swamp Cats
A leopard like cat that is found in the Palood and along the major rivers.  It hunts from trees or from the water. It is quite at home in the water and has even been known to submerge for short distances when approaching unwary prey. Its color is a dappled grey, they are solitary and cautious regarding people.

Wild Cats
These are actually Ocelots and are found throughout the Valley (though they are rarely seen in the mountain areas.

Lynx
Found in both the valley and the surrounding mountains, but it favors the northern half of the valley which is heavily forested and less populated.


Wild Boar
Quite common in almost all parts of the valley, both from wild sources and feral pigs.


Giant Weasel
Fortunately rare, but when seen they come in packs. They have been known to attack isolated homes after dark, treating the house like a chicken coop.


Snakes
There are a number of varieties of snake in the valley, most are harmless and include species like the Garter, Black snake and Corn Snake.  However, there are several venomous varieties.

River Viper or Swamp Viper
Found in shallow water and along waters edge. It is not very large, 2'-3' being common, but it is aggressive. Muddy green color makes it -3 to see. Type A venom, 2+1 damage.

Cobras
The Cobra is found primarily in Gemmatus, it is very rare to see one north of the Lendalfoot River.  There are two varieties, the Great Cobra and the Spitting Cobra. Other than size they appear the same.  The Great Cobra is quite large, 7' - 10'. It has Type B venom 2D damage.  The spitting Cobra is slightly smaller, 4'-7'. It has Venom type S for spitting purposes, blinding + pain,  but Type B for biting, 2D.

Wood Adder
Found throughout the Frontier, Ferramentium and Argentus (Though very rare in Gemmatus.)  Found mostly in woods and dense underbrush it is a orange and brown leaf pattern that makes it very hard to see -3 vision rolls. 1-4' in length.  Aggressive, Type A venom 2D


Wolves
Wolves are common throughout the valley, though they are wary now of settled areas. During severe winters the packs will raid up to and even into, unfortified towns and villages.


Coohlari
A primarily acquatic, though it can come out on land, giant lizard.  Known as `Coohlari' by the Jhensari and called `River Devils' by the Velitar. The Coohlari are a large, crocodile sized, carnivorous, egg laying predator that can be found throughout the Palood, along the eastern half of the Lendalfoot river, the entire length of the Varsol River and along the southern shore of Lake Adrin.
In size they can reach 12' or 15'.  They have a blunter snout than a crocodile and smoother, snake like skin. The leather is highly prized. It attacks from ambush, by biting, pulling its victim underwater and tearing it apart. Fortunately the other rivers appear to be too cold for Coohlari.


Snapping Turtles
Snappers are common throughout the Palood and all the lakes and rivers of the Valley. Some of them get big, very, very big some weigh in over 800lbs.

Honey Bees of Alfan
  Found only in Gemmatus along the edge of the Palood is a species of honey bee that seems to make its home exclusively in the Alfan region.  It is speculated that it gains some essential nutrient found only in the mosses and funguses of that part of the Palood. The size of the typical worker bee is 12" long (About the size of a football.) They sting for 1pt damage and inject Venom type H 1D. Three or more stings (in an individual's lifetime) will cause an allergic reaction. Roll for each sting thereafter. Roll vs HT at -1 for each sting over three (use lifetime total)Success does listed damage.  Failure causes a coma for 7-12 hours. Roll again. On a success he wakes up -4DX for three days. If another miss, coma continues for 1-6 hours. Continue rolling until victim has been in coma 24 hours. If a success is rolled anytime after 24 hours the victim will be -1DX permenantly. If 48 hours pass in a coma the rolls are reduced by 1 for every 12 hours additional. Five days in a coma is death. Critical failure at anytime is death.
The honey produced by these bees is of exceptional quality and quantity.  The Royal Jelly is highly regarded for magical, medicinal and culinary purposes.


Bugs, etc.
There are a variety of bugs in Velitrium, everything from ants to wasps. This only concerns those that are venomous.

Spiders & Scorpions

The nastiest spiders are Type E venom and do 1D
There are several varieties of Scorpion the nasty type are Type C venom and do 2D
There are rumors of Giant Scorpions being found in some parts of the desert,,,,

Centipedes

Several unpleasant varieties can be found in and around the valley. They range from finger size up to forearm size.  Most have Type E venom 1D  The largest do 2D.  Legends tell of truly monstorous ones found deep underground....








Lake Adrin

Though trout, bass, perch and smelt can be found in Lake Adrin, and most of the rivers and smaller lakes, this concerns the more unusual creatures.
Lake Adrin appears to have hot springs feeding the southern part which keeps its temperature higher. The northern part is fed by several rivers that bring icy waters down from the mountains.  These rivers can and do, freeze over. The Varsol, the outflow of the lake, is always warm and never freezes.
Sages speculate that it is the temperature gradient found in the lake that causes many species to be so prolific.
Though the lake itself has never frozen completely over, the areas around the northern rivers do sometimes. When the ice begins breaking up it can be tricky navigating.  Also, sunken logs are carried into the lake and have holed many a careless fishing boat.
Most of Lake Adrin is very deep, 400 - 800 feet, parts seem to have no bottom at all.  Fishing is very good in the lake, though the Coohlari and the snappers can be dangerous to a careless fisherman. Generally, if you stay in the boat and stay alert, you'll be fine.  However, there are legends, rumors, of something big, something really, really big in the lake.  It is remembered that the Jhensari called the lake "Tehama Ducor" which means, `Hidden Menace.'  Occaissionally, only rarely mind you, a fishingboat dosen't come home and nary a trace is ever found.


Crayfish of Lake Adrin
Crayfish are found in most streams, ponds, lakes and rivers in the valley. These are your ordinary prawn rarely bigger than a finger. To make a meal out of these large numbers are needed. In lake Adrin there are vast numbers, both in normal sizes and in heroic sizes.  Crayfish as large as a mans arm are regularly caught, either in nets, by hook & line or in `pots' (like Lobsters.)  The big ones can make a meal in themselves.  Rarely, truly gigantic ones, the size of a rowboat, are brought in.  Fishermen report masses of crayfish so dense that they have been mistaken for the bottom with sounding lines, until the mass suddenly shifts.

Coohlari are found in the lake, though rarely north of the center.

Sturgeon, which can reach 10 - 12 feet or more.

Fresh water eels, they average 6-8 feet, but bigger have been reported.

Snapping turtles are also found here, big ones.



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